Daily Briefs

Photo : Russian Pool/Reuters TV via Reuters

01 March 2022, Tuesday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #137

Putin calls on Russian army to ready nuclear forces for “combat service”

Sanctions on Nord Stream 2 forces operator to end employee contracts; Belarus vote to reform non-nuclear status


By Joeana Cera Matthews and Padmashree Anandhan


Ukraine: Zelenskyy calls on the EU to “prove” support 

On 01 March, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the EU to prove its claim that it backed the country. Via a video link, Zelenskyy addressed the European Parliament: “The European Union is going to be much stronger with us, that's for sure. Without you, Ukraine is going to be lonesome.” Zelenskyy’s statement came a day after he signed an official request to accede into the EU. The President added: “Do prove that you are with us. Do prove that you will not let us go. Do prove that you are indeed Europeans and then life will win over death and light will win over darkness. Glory be to Ukraine.” (“"Prove you are with us", Ukraine president urges EU,” Reuters, 01 March 2022) 


IPCC report warns severity in living conditions of humans due to rising temperatures

On 28 February, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report on factors contributing to climate change. The report stated that the current changes to the environment were pushing the limits of the survival of humans and nature to exist. It is expected that more than 40 per cent of the world population will be put under vulnerable climate conditions and the IPCC team hopes if the increase in temperature is maintained at 1.5 Celsius, there might be lessening in the impact. According to Prof Debra Roberts, who is a co-chair of the IPCC: “Our report clearly indicates that places, where people live and work, may cease to exist, that ecosystems and species that we've all grown up with and that are central to our cultures and inform our languages may disappear.” The report will be the sixth assessment of the organisation, urging countries to go towards “Net Zero” emissions.


Ukraine: Sanctions on Nord Stream 2 forces operator to end employee contracts 

On 01 March, the Nord Stream 2 AG operator, Russian state-owned gas company Gazprom, ended contracts with its employees citing the heavy sanctions imposed by the US. An emailed statement saw the operator saying: “Following the recent geopolitical developments leading to the imposition of U.S. sanctions on Nord Stream 2 AG, the company had to terminate contracts with employees. We very much regret this development.” Meanwhile, there are also reports of the Swiss-based company considering filing for insolvency. While Nord Stream 2 AG ignored a request to respond, Gazprom refused to comment. (“Nord Stream 2 terminates contracts with employees following sanctions,” Reuters, 01 March 2022; Aziz El Yaakoubi and Shariq Khan, “Exclusive: Nord Stream 2 owner considers insolvency after sanctions,” Reuters, 01 March 2022) 


Ukraine: Putin calls on Russian army to ready nuclear forces for “combat service”

On 27 February, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a statement via a televised address calling on the Russian army to prepare their “deterrence”. Putin said: “I order the defense minister and the chief of the general staff of the Russian armed forces to put the deterrence forces of the Russian army into a special mode of combat service.” Following this, the Kremlin spokesperson said: “Statements were made by various representatives at various levels on possible altercations or even collisions and clashes between NATO and Russia… We believe that such statements are absolutely unacceptable.” Putin’s statement has raised concerns of further escalation in the Ukraine crisis while the Kremlin has justified the measure citing possible confrontations with NATO troops. (Carla Bleiker, “How serious are Vladimir Putin′s nuclear threats?,” Deutsche Welle, 28 February 2022)

Belarus: Voters reach consensus to give up non-nuclear status

On 28 February, Belarusian voters approved constitutional reforms discarding the country's non-nuclear status. This amendment allows the country to host nuclear weapons and strengthen military ties with Russia. The referendum also included reforms that would allow the president to remain in power until 2035 and have lifetime immunity from prosecution. Russia which is an essential ally of Belarus recently deployed troops there under the pretext of military exercises and then entered Ukraine in the ongoing invasion. Speaking at the polling station on 27 February, Lukashenko also admitted that he could ask Russia to return their nuclear weapons.   


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