Daily Briefs


26 April 2022, Tuesday| NIAS Europe Daily Brief #185

War in Ukraine: Day 61

Golob lead over Jansa in Slovenia presidential election; Sentence against Kavala disappoints western nations; Trial against Gambian national

War in Ukraine: Day 61
By Padmashree Anandhan and Ashwin Dhanabalan

War on the ground: 
President meets with the US secretary of state and initiative to start a special tribunal

Zelenskyy’s meet and address
On 25 April, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy held a meeting with US secretary of state Antony Blinken and US secretary of defense Lloyd Austin. The meeting focused on military assistance, increasing sanctions on Russia, and financial aid to Ukraine. Zelenskyy highlighted the USD 3.4 billion military aid received from the US till now and also remarked how the US has been helpful in boosting the military capabilities of Ukraine. He said: “We understand what the next steps on this track should be. And we count on the support of our partners.” Apart from this, “peace process and prospects for strengthening the anti-war coalition,” were also discussed.

In the everyday address, Zelenskyy summarised the worsening humanitarian situation in the cities, Kherson, Kakhovka, Melitopol, Dniprorudne, Enerhodar, and the lack in basic necessities for people in that region. He also brought out the points discussed with the US secretary of the state and defence secretary on further tightening of sanctions to block opportunities for Russia and on the continuation of security guarantees. Apart from this he also pointed out the discussion with Turkey’s President Erdoğan on the evacuation of wounded people in Mariupol, the need for military exchange and the rising threat to the food market due to Russia’s block in Black Sea ports. He also remarked that, in the last two months, a total of 1,100 missiles had been launched against Ukraine by Russia and 9,781 defenders had been awarded. In the end, Zelenskyy highlighted the signing of the decree to award war heroes for courage and effectiveness on the battlefield.

Other developments
Ukrainian deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk appealed to the UN and ICRC to open an agreement to establish a humanitarian corridor from the Azovstal steel plant to Mariupol. She pointed out that, unilaterally agreed corridors are being constantly under breach by the Russian troops and hence an agreement or presence of both the international bodies will help evacuate citizens. She said: “It is important to understand that a humanitarian corridor is opened by agreement of both parties. The corridor, announced unilaterally, does not provide security, and therefore, is not a humanitarian corridor.”

Ukraine's president’s office deputy head, Andriy Smyrnov said that Ukraine was preparing draft statutory documents to begin a special tribunal to look into the “crimes of aggression” by Russia. He also noted that the initiative was supported by Europe and international lawyers. According to Smyrnov: “daily work on the Book of Torturers is being carried out in coordination with the President's Office together with the Ukrainian pre-trial investigation bodies, intelligence agencies and the Ministry of Digital Transformation. This is a set of information about every Russian war criminal involved in the war and atrocities committed and being committed in Ukraine.”

Ukraine's president’s office head, Andriy Yermak pointed out that, the way to bring an end to the war was through an increased supply of weapons, stricter sanctions on Russia and other parties who are expelling Ukrainians. Apart from this he also announced the establishment of an international expert group comprising, the director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI), and former US National Security adviser Michael McFaul to examine the sanctions imposed on Russia and to bring up proposals to further them.

The Moscow view:
Claims by Russia

Putin’s comments
On 25 April, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin highlighted the humanitarian violations carried out by the Ukraine nationalists and mercenaries. He said that such violating acts were discovered during Russia’s special military operation. According to Putin: “blatant provocations against Russian Armed Forces, including via foreign mass and social media, require scrupulous investigation as well. It is also necessary to thwart any crimes on the Russian territory in the most decisive way.” Apart from this, on the sanctions levied by the US and Europe, he confirmed that it had impacted Russia’s economy vastly reversing the post-cold war scenario. Former Russian finance minister Alexei Kudrin predicted that Russia’s GDP will fall by 10 per cent due to sanctions from the West. Putin added: “The Russian economy has every opportunity to work stably and without fail in the new realities.”

Other developments
On 25 April, Russia’s Foreign Ministry announced the expelling of 40 German diplomats after Germany’s move of expelling Russia’s diplomats under the allegation of war crimes.

On 25 April, Lugansk People’s Republic head reported that Ukrainian military forces had targeted a mass number of civilians in the city of Rubezhnoye. He said: “Mines are delivered in such locations, the fire ensues and the deliveries [of the humanitarian cargo] are sabotaged under such conditions.”

The West view:
esponses from Europe 

The US
On 25 April, US defence secretary Lloyd Austin mentioned that he wanted to see Russia weakened to the degree that it could not continue its invasion of Ukraine. Along with the secretary of state Antony Blinken, Austin also met with Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv. He added that Ukraine could win the war if it had the right equipment and the proper support. US officials also said they would reopen the embassy in Ukraine following the visit of Austin and Blinken. 

On the same day, the US said it was planning for a new package that would be a part of a long term aid to Ukraine. This package would require the approval of US lawmakers. The White House press secretary Jen Psaki mentioned that the US would impose further economic sanctions against Russia. Psaki added: “No one is safe from our sanctions.” This comes as the US had also sanctioned Putin’s wife. 

US president Joe Biden spoke to France’s president Emmanuel Macron and agreed to increase their telephonic conversations on global issues and the war in Ukraine. The White House stated: “Biden conveyed his readiness to continue working closely with President Macron on our shared global priorities.” 

The UK
On 25 April, the UK said it planned to send more medical aid to Ukraine. The package would include ambulances, fire engines and medical supplies. UK’s prime minister Boris Johnson said: “The new ambulances, fire engines and funding for health experts announced today will better equip the Ukrainian people to deliver vital healthcare and save lives.” 

On 25 April, Canada’s defence minister Anita Anand stated that she would travel to Germany and the US to discuss providing support to Ukraine. Canada’s government stated: “Chief of Defence Staff General Wayne Eyre and Deputy Minister of National Defence Bill Matthews will travel to Germany with Anand on Monday.” 

On 25 April, a government building in Transnistria was shelled by a hand grenade launcher. This comes as a Russian commander had mentioned how Russia’s new offensive was to gain access to Transnistria by seizing control of Southern Ukraine.  

On 25 April, Poland announced that it would send tanks to Ukraine. Poland’s prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki confirmed supplying Ukraine with tanks. But regarding the offer to send planes, he said: “There is no such necessity, there are no such demands, there are no such requests.” 

On 25 April, Finland and Sweden announced that they would submit their applications together by the mid of May to join the military alliance. Sweden’s prime minister Magdalena Andersson justified the country’s stance and said they had to be prepared for all kinds of actions from Moscow as everything changed once Russia invaded Ukraine. Finland’s prime minister mentioned that they had to be prepared since they shared a 1,300-kilometre border with Russia.  

The Global Fallouts:
International implications of the Ukraine war

South Korea
On 25 April, an active-duty South Korean marine who went to Ukraine to fight the war in Russia was arrested upon his return to Seoul. The ministry stated: “We will take stern measures in accordance with laws and regulations after investigating why he had left his duty.” South Korea had announced a travel ban on its citizens for travelling to Ukraine, citing safety concerns right after the war began and the marine had violated the ban.  

Australia and New Zealand 
On 25 April, on Anzac Day, thousands of protestors gathered on the streets to honour their military personnel and to pay tribute to the people of Ukraine who were fighting against Russia’s invasion. Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison said: “On this particular day, as we honour those who fought for our liberty and freedom, we stand with the people of Ukraine who do the same thing at this very moment.”  

On 25 April, TikTok emerged as a platform for false videos about the war in Ukraine. Although Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have been labelling false videos as misleading, TikTok has not taken any precautions to deter such videos from going viral. 

On 25 April, the international criminal court announced it would join the EU-backed team to investigate crimes in Ukraine. The joint investigation team (JIT) comes under the purview of Eurojust, the EU agency for criminal justice cooperation. ICC’s prosecutor Karim Khan said: As I have stated since taking up my position as prosecutor, the effective exercise of the mandate of my office requires us to deepen cooperation and collaboration with all relevant actors. The Ukraine situation, in particular, demands collective action so as to secure relevant evidence and ultimately ensure its effective use in criminal proceedings.”  

The Orthodox world has seen that Easter means nothing to Russia - address by the President of Ukraine,” President of Ukraine, 25 April 2022
Ukraine is a real symbol of struggle for freedom - address by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy,” President of Ukraine, 25 April 2022
The Orthodox world has seen that Easter means nothing to Russia - address by the President of Ukraine,” President of Ukraine, 25 April 2022
Ukraine has prepared the necessary documents for the launch of a special tribunal on the crime of aggression as soon as possible - Andriy Smyrnov,” President of Ukraine, 25 April 2022
Russians continue to destroy Ukrainian cities and kill people, so it is clear that the existing sanctions are not enough - Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine,” President of Ukraine, 25 April 2022
Ukraine’s military target civilians lined up for potable water in Rubezhnoye,” TASS, 25 April 2022
Ukrainian nationalists, foreign mercenaries violate international law, Putin says,” TASS, 25 April 2022
Mauro Orru, “Putin Says Russia Faces ‘Unprecedented Pressure’ From Western Sanctions,” WSJ, 25 April 2022
Mauro Orru, “Russia Expels Dozens of German Diplomats in Retaliatory Move,” WSJ, 25 April 2022
War in Ukraine: Yorkshire-built armoured ambulances arrive in Lviv,” BBC Live, 25 April 2022 "The UK plans to send more medical aid to Ukraine, including ambulances, fire engines and medical supplies,” The Guardian Live, 25 April 2022 
The US will probably impose further economic sanctions against Russia, the White House said on Monday,” The Guardian Live, 25 April 2022 
The US said today that new aid for Ukraine will likely be apart of a longer-term aid package that requires approval from US lawmakers,” The Guardian Live, 25 April 2022 
Canada’s defence minister will travel to Germany and the US to discuss how to support Ukraine, reports Reuters,” The Guardian Live, 25 April 2022 
US officials have promised to reopen the embassy in Ukraine following a visit to the country over the weekend,” The Guardian Live, 25 April 2022 
"Poland said today that it sent tanks to Ukraine,” The Guardian Live, 25 April 2022 
French president Emmanuel Macron and US president Joe Biden agreed in a phone call today to “rapidly” have more detail discussions on a number of global issues, including the war in Ukraine,” The Guardian Live, 25 April 2022 
Jon Henley, “Sweden and Finland have agreed to submit simultaneous membership applications to the US-led Nato alliance as early as the middle of next month," The Guardian Live, 25 April 2022
A government building in Moldova’s breakaway region of Transnistria was shelled by a hand grenade launcher on Monday,” The Guardian Live, 25 April 2022 
US 'wants to see Russia weakened', says defence secretary,” The Guardian Live, 25 April 2022
Shayan Sardarizadeh, “Ukraine war: False TikTok videos draw millions of views,” BBC Live, 25 April 2022 
Haroon Siddique, “The office of the prosecutor of the international criminal court (ICC) has joined an EU-backed team investigating crimes in Ukraine in an unprecedented move,” The Guardian Live, 25 April 2022 
An active-duty South Korean marine who made an unauthorised overseas trip – reportedly an attempt to reach Ukraine," The Guardian Live, 25 April 2022
Australia, NZ show support for Ukraine at ANZAC Day commemorations,” Reuters, 25 April 2022

By Emmanuel Royan and Sai Pranav

Voters re-elect Macron despite many disappointments 
On 25 April, an opinion in  Deutsche Welle examined the voter’s decision for re-electing president Emmanuel Macron for a second term despite his many failures. First, voters had to choose him despite his unfavourable reforms on public rail company SNCF and liberalization of the labour market. Second, Macron failed to address the yellow vest protesters' agendas and keep up with his 2017 pledge to “make our planet great again.” Thirdly, voters also forgave his decision to scrap a EUR 48 billion plan to raise the living standards of France's impoverished suburbs. Macron was accused of only implementing right-wing policies and being ignorant to day-day worries of the people. To keep the far-right from rising Macron needs to implement more leftist and ecological policies which he had promised during his campaigns and empathize with those who feel left behind by him. (Lisa Louis, “Opinion: Macron needs to bring France back together,” Deutsche Welle, 25 April 2022)

Political rivals of Macron tend to the legislative elections to overpower him
On 25 April, president Emmanuel Macron following his re-elections will soon confront another struggle in the upcoming legislative elections to be held on 12 and 19 June. His political opponents called on the voters to deny him a parliamentary majority. If Macron does not secure a parliamentary majority he will have to pick a prime minister from another party, which might lead to a “cohabitation.” During a cohabitation, the president retains command of the military forces and some foreign policy influence, but the government is in charge of administration and policies. Both the far-right and far-left parties plan to form an alliance separately with their close allies in the parliamentary elections to overpower Macron. (Sophie Louet and Ingrid Melander, “No respite for re-elected Macron as parliamentary elections loom,” Reuters, 25 April 2022)

Trials begin of a Gambian man accused of assassination
On 25 April, federal prosecutors start trials of a Gambian national accused of crimes against humanity and involvement in the assassinations of the critics of Dictator Yahya Jammeh during the years between 2003 and 2006. He is alleged of two murders, an attempted murder, and his involvement in the assassination squad called Junglers. The defendant was captured in March 2021 at Hanover and is being tried in the court of Celle. This case is the first time in the world that human rights violations in the Gambia during the Jammeh administration have been tried under "universal jurisdiction." Under the principle of universal jurisdiction, a state can claim criminal jurisdiction over an accused person regardless of where the crime was committed. (“Germany opens trial of Gambia death squad suspect,” Deutsche Welle, 25 April 2022)

Liberal Golob leads against three-time president Jansa in a partial count
On 24 April, prime minister Janez Jansa of Slovenia is likely to lose his reelection to Robert Golob. Jansa who has been a three-time prime minister of Slovenia has found himself in a race against the newcomer Robert Golob of the Freedom Movement (GS). Robert Golob who heads the small liberal party had almost 33 per cent of the vote compared to Jansa's Slovenia Democratic Party's 25 per cent. The partial results showed that the conservative Jansa is being ousted by the liberal Golob. Observers state that neither party will receive a valid amount of votes, making a coalition government a high probability. Jansa, who is aged 63, has faced a lot of criticism over his moves to suspend funding to the national news agency and also regarding rule of law in Brussels. These criticisms and corruption scandals as well are hurting his chance at reelection. Meanwhile, Golob, who is aged 55, is a political newcomer who advocates for environmental concerns. (“Slovenia: Newcomer set to oust right-wing premier Jansa,” Deutsche Welle, 26 April 2022)

Life imprisonment for the Turkish rights activist Osman Kavala 
On 25 April, Osman Kavala was charged with life imprisonment with no possibility of parole for espionage and planning to topple the government. He was already detained for five years before the sentence. The human rights activist was found guilty because he was involved in the 2013 Gezi protests and the 2016 coup attempt. He was already acquitted of these charges in 2020 but was again apprehended for allegedly providing financial aid to both the incidents. The western nations view this judgement on Kavala as an inhumane and unjust judiciary decision. They also speculated that it was a crackdown on Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan's critics. The European nations including Germany and the US have openly condemned the sentence given by Turkey's judicial system in this case. (“Turkey: Rights activist Osman Kavala sentenced to life in prison,” Deutsche Welle, 26 April 2022) 

Other Daily Briefs