Daily Briefs

Photo : REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

22 February 2022, Tuesday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #131

EU leaders discuss tensions in Bosnia

Kremlin calls Putin-Biden talks as “premature”; Mount Etna blasts; 100,000 dead fishes spotted floating around the coast of France;


By Padmashree Anandhan and Ashwin Dhanabalan


EU leaders discuss tensions in Bosnia 

On 21 February, Foreign Ministers of the EU met in Brussels to discuss the issues in Bosnia. Their meeting highlighted the political crisis Bosnia is undergoing that could lead to a breakup. EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell said: “The nationalist and separatist rhetoric is increasing in Bosnia and Herzegovina and jeopardising the stability and even the integrity of the country.” He also mentioned the role the ministers would have to play to prevent the country from separating. The US has accused the Bosnian leader Milorad Dodik of corrupt activities and undermining the US-brokered Dayton Peace Agreement. (“‘Critical situation’: EU ministers to discuss ways to prevent possible breakup of Bosnia,” Euronews, 21 February 2022)


100,000 dead fishes spotted floating around coast of France

On 21 February, the fishing industry group PFA released a statement accepting on the accident over release of 100,000 dead fish into the coast of France. The images of thousands of dead fish was captured by a campaign group called the Sea Shepherd in France. According to the head: “What we filmed yesterday is a huge patch of what we estimate to be about 100,000 fish, dead fish, that have been thrown overboard by the Margiris (super trawler).” The reason behind the accident is due to the usage of trawlers, despite continued criticism from environmentalists, the trawling method leads to death of marine creatures and various ocean species. (Doloresz Katanich “'Shocking’ footage shows more than 100,000 dead fish discarded off the coast of France,” Euronews, 21)


Mount Etna blasts in the Italian Island

On 21 February, Mount Etna a tallest and active volcano situated in the Italian Island was reported to have blasted to a height of 12 KM high. According to the scientists from National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV) the reason for eruption was due to buildup of magma and it was observed to have erupted 50 times in October 2021. The civil protection agency has not recorded any injuries or property damage yet, but the authorities issued warning for flying of aircraft. (“Italy: New Etna eruption spews ash and closes airport,” Deutsche Welle, 21 February 2022)


Credit Suisse under probe after data leak reveal of secret fund accounts

On 20 February, an investigation into Credit Suisse after data leak revealed that 100 billion Swiss francs held in secret accounts, which belonged to autocrats, drug dealers, war criminals and human traffickers. The list also includes many leaders of governments such as Jordan's King Abdullah II, Iraq's former Deputy Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, ministries, oligarchs and business people. The European People’s Party (EPP) have urged the EU Commission re-examine “Switzerland as high-risk money-laundering country.” In response, the Credit Suisse bank has denied the allegations stating the investigation was conducted on inaccurate and incomplete information which has led to misinterpretations. (“Credit Suisse had autocrats, criminals as clients — report,” Deutsche Welle, 20 February 2022)


The UK and the EU soon to settle down the issue of Northern Ireland Protocol

On 21 February, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič met to discuss on bringing durable solutions for Northern Ireland issue. The statement said: “The joint bodies established by the Withdrawal Agreement should meet regularly, and agreed to discuss any point raised by the EU or the UK that is of relevance to the Withdrawal Agreement in general.” The Northern Ireland Protocol has been a conflicting issue between the EU and the UK, the protocol was signed to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland. But this has resulted in creating a new trade border between Northern Ireland and the UK. While the UK opted to exit being part of the EU’s single market, it still aims for more flexibility in trade with Northern Ireland. (John Campbell, “Brexit: UK and EU will find 'durable' solutions to protocol,” BBC, 22 February 2022)

Putin recognizes Donestk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic 

On 21 February, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into eastern Ukraine for peacekeeping duties. Russia’s deployment was a follow-up as it recognized two breakaway regions of the Donestk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic. The deployment was agreed in the text signed by the parties wherein the third article mentioned: “implementation of peacekeeping functions by the armed forces of the Russian Federation.” Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy accused Russia of wrecking peace talks and said they were still committed to peace and diplomacy. Putin said: “… take a long overdue decision to immediately recognise the independence and sovereignty of the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic.” Nato’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg responded: “This further undermines Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, erodes efforts towards a resolution of the conflict, and violates the Minsk agreements, to which Russia is a party.” (Andrew Roth and Julian Borger, “Putin orders troops into eastern Ukraine on ‘peacekeeping duties’,” The Guardian, 21 February 2022)


Kremlin calls Putin-Biden talks as “premature”

On 21 February, Kremlin released a statement on the discussion of a Putin-Biden summit. Kremlin said a meeting at this point with the crisis at the Ukrainian border would be premature. Their comments come as Ukraine had called for sanctions against Russia even if it did not invade. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “there is an agreement on the fact that we must continue the dialogue at the level of (foreign) ministers. Talking about concrete plans to hold summits is premature.” (“Ukraine crisis: Kremlin says ‘premature’ to discuss Putin-Biden summit,” Euronews, 21 February 2022)

Condemnation by US, UK, and the UN on Russia’s recognition of breakaway regions 

On 21 February, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared to recognize the independence of the two breakaway regions of Eastern Ukraine as independent entities. Donestk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic’s recognition were met with new sanctions from the US and Europe. White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said: “We will also soon announce additional measures related to today’s blatant violation of Russia’s international commitments.” The UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said sanctions by the UK would come on Tuesday “in response to their breach of international law and attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” Even the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said: “a violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and inconsistent with the principles of the charter of the UN.” (Julian Borger, Daniel Boffey and Angelique Chrisafis, “Dismay and condemnation as west begins to impose sanctions on Russia,” The Guardian, 21 February 2022)

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