Daily Briefs

Photo : Salvatore Di Nolfi/Pool via REUTERS

02 March 2022, Wednesday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #138

UK sanctions Belarus Defense Ministry for engaging with Russia

Ukraine President states Russian intent to 'erase' Ukraine; Seven Russian banks removed from SWIFT; US President vows to resolve the Ukraine conflict


By Joeana Cera Matthews and Padmashree Anandhan


Ruling bans barristers from wearing religious symbols in courts

On 02 March, France’s Court of Cassation upheld a ban on barristers wearing religious symbols like the hijab in courtrooms. The controversial verdict is bound to create a precedent for the rest of Europe. The rule, advocated by the Bar Council of Lille, stated that religious markers were not allowed in courtrooms since they could lead to biased judgements. This rule was challenged by Sarah Asmeta, a French-Syrian lawyer. The Court stated: "(the ban was) necessary and appropriate, on the one hand, to preserve the independence of the lawyer and, on the other, to guarantee the right to a fair trial.” Asmeta had previously challenged the Lille Bar Council’s rule in 2020 where she lost the case in an appeals court. (Layli Foroudi, "Top French court upholds ban on barristers wearing hijab in Lille courtrooms," Reuters, 02 March 2022) 


UK sanctions Belarus Defense Ministry for engaging with Russia in invading Ukraine

On 02 March, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the Russian President Vladimir Putin’s engagement in Ukraine “barbaric and indiscriminate.” On the same lines of US President Joe Biden, Johnson commented that Putin has underestimated the west's response and he remarked that the Russian invasion will not succeed. So far, the UK has heavily sanctioned those Russians close to Putin and recently Belarusian army chief was also sanctioned due to involvement in the Russian invasion. The sanction targets four defence officials and two military enterprises of Belarus. Although Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko has denied launching any attacks on Ukraine from Belarus, the UK will proceed to sanction. (Adam Durbin, “Ukraine: Vladimir Putin using barbaric tactics, Boris Johnson says,” BBC, 02 March 2022; “Ukraine conflict: UK sanctions Belarus for role in Russian invasion,” BBC, 02 March 2022)


Ukraine: Zelenskyy states Russian intent to 'erase' Ukraine 

On 02 March, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy claimed that 6,000 Russian soldiers had been killed since 24 February and stated that it was not possible to win the current conflict with rockets and bombs. Zelenskyy, during the video address, said: "They (Russia) know nothing about our capital. About our history. But they have an order to erase our history. Erase our country. Erase us all." Commenting on the Babyn Yar strike, Zelenskyy added: "We all died again by Babyn Yar. Although the world has promised again and again that it will never happen again." Meanwhile, Russia's Major General Igor Konashenkov gave a figure of 498 Russian troops being killed while 1,597 were wounded. As Zelenskyy called on the Jewish community to respond to this, Holocaust remembrance organizations condemned the strike. (“Ukraine: Zelenskyy says Russia wants to 'erase our country',” Deutsche Welle, 02 March 2022)


Ukraine: Seven Russian banks removed from SWIFT

On 02 March, according to the EU's official journal, the bloc formally imposed sanctions on seven Russian banks by removing them from the SWIFT global payments system. The targeted institutions include Russia's second-largest bank VTB, along with Bank Otkritie, Novikombank, Promsvyazbank, Rossiya Bank, Sovcombank and Vnesheconombank. The banks are expected to end their operations with the network in 10 days. The sanction intends to deter Russia in its decision to invade Ukraine. However, Sberbank and GazpromBank, major Russian banks, were not affected since they facilitate payments for EU's energy imports. (“Ukraine: EU excludes 7 Russian banks from SWIFT,” Deutsche Welle, 02 March 2022)


Ukraine: Fashion designers pressurized to support Ukraine 

On 02 March, The Guardian released an article stating the pressure fashion designers were facing due to the Ukraine crisis. The Ukraine conflict coincided with the fashion week, forcing those luxury brands to stop incoming Russian revenue. Russian consumers contribute to approximately 3 per cent of the global luxury sales. Balenciaga made a solidarity statement on the crisis, becoming the first Paris fashion week brand to do so. It also contributed to the World Food Programme. A department store in Kyiv is demanding that the fashion industry cut all trade ties with Russia. In an interview with Vogue Business, the store's marketing director said: “The fashion industry needs to stand up… Stop trading – stop supplying Russia. Stop your relationships with Russia.” (Jess Cartner-Morley, “Worldwide fashion industry urged to show support for Ukraine,” The Guardian, March 2022)  

US President vows to resolve the Ukraine conflict

On 02 March, US President Joe Biden in the state of union address said that Russian President Vladimir Putin had undermined the response of the west in the invasion of Ukraine. He promised: "an unwavering resolve that freedom will always triumph over tyranny. "Following the airspace bans by Europe and Canada, the US announced the ban of Russian aircrafts to fly in the US airspace. Both democrats and republicans supported the President’s vow and appreciated it. Biden also added: “Putin's war was premeditated and unprovoked. He rejected repeated efforts at diplomacy.” (“Ukraine crisis: Biden threatens to punish Putin over invasion,” BBC, 02 March 2022)


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