Photo : PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE
09 May 2022, Monday| NIAS Europe Daily Brief #196
War in Ukraine: Day 73 & 74
By Ashwin Dhanabalan, Rishma Banerjee, and Emmanuel Royan
War on the ground:
On 08 May, president Zelenskyy in a video conference with the Group of Seven (G7) countries appealed for more weapons for Ukraine. He stressed the need to sanction all Russian authorities, police, soldiers, judges, and citizens and urged financial support during the war and post-war reconstruction. Zelenskyy estimated USD 600 billion to rebuild everything after the war and USD five billion per month to handle the ongoing war situation.
On the same day, president Zelenskyy addressed the country to commemorate the Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation for those who lost their lives during the second world war. He stated that evil and darkness had returned to Ukraine after decades, in a different uniform and slogan. His video message was filmed in front of burnt and destroyed buildings in black and white to emphasize the grief and return of winter in Ukraine. Throughout his video message, Zelenskyy avoided mentioning Putin, but he used evocative language to show his grief at the devastation.
World leaders visit Ukraine
On 08 May, president Zelenkyy met with the prime minister of Canada Justin Trudeau in his unannounced visit to Irpin and Kyiv. They discussed Canada’s support for Ukraine and numerous bilateral matters as well. Zelenskyy mentioned that negotiations are underway to lift trade restrictions, abolition of customs duties, and limit the visa regime for citizens of Ukraine. Trudeau stated he would provide anti-tank weaponry, satellite communications systems, demining equipment, and arms assistance. Trudeau also visited the suburbs of Kyiv to witness the devastation.
The first lady of the US had also visited Ukraine without prior notice to demonstrate solidarity for the country's people in the wake of Russia's invasion. She visited a school that was functioning as a temporary shelter and met Ukraine's first lady, Olena Zelenska.
On the same day, president Zelenskyy met with the president of Norway's parliament Masud Gharahkhani on his visit to Ukraine. They discussed increasing Norway’s security support for Ukraine and cooperation in the field of energy as well. Gharahkhani expressed grief over the atrocities done by Russia in Irpin and Bucha.
Also on 08 May, president Zelenskyy met with the president of the Bundestag of Germany Bärbel Bas in Kyiv. Zelenskyy appreciated the resolution of the Bundestag, asking Germany to expand and hasten the provision of heavy weapons to Ukraine. He also expressed his expectation that Berlin would favour the candidature of Ukraine in the EU.
President Zelenskyy also met the prime minister of Croatia Andrej Plenkovic to discuss defence and energy cooperation. Following the meeting with Andrej, Zelenskyy stated that he would like to receive modern and powerful weapons to gain knowledge and experience. Zelenskyy said: “Croatia is a principled member of our anti-war coalition. Together we defend the right not only of our citizens, not only of the citizens of Ukraine but also of every European nation to an independent and democratic life.” He further mentioned that Ukraine does not have access to European modern technologies in other spheres as every EU or NATO member state has.
Executive meeting held in Kyiv
On 07 May, president Zelenskyy presided over a meeting on the matters of the executive branch. Head of the president's office Andriy Yermak and his deputies, prime minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal, and members of the cabinet were present. The conference focused on developing a strategy for Ukraine's post-war rebuilding and growth. Minister of finance Serhiy Marchenko, briefed on the national budget's implementation under martial law. He stated that the government had a UAH 125 billion deficit in April. At the same time, tax and customs receipts surpassed expectations, totalling UAH 53 billion. It is expected to get UAH 57 billion in May.
The minister believes that the monthly shortfall would be covered by foreign grants and loans. International funds worth USD 11 billion are still being negotiated, with Ukraine having already received USD five billion.
On 08 May, buses transporting the last wave of civilian evacuees from the besieged Azovstal steelworks arrived in Ukrainian-controlled territory Zaporizhzhia, concluding an international effort to free those trapped in bunkers under the Mariupol facility. The vehicle, carrying roughly 175 refugees, arrived at the camp after dusk. They comprised about 40 civilians who had been holed up in Azovstal's huge network of subterranean bunkers for weeks with the Ukrainian military under intense fire.
On 08 May, the regional governor of Luhansk Serhiy Gaidai reported that a Russian bomb hit a school where 90 people were given shelter. She stated that after extinguishing the fire caused by the bomb, 30 people are rescued but two were found dead under the rubble. It is feared that 60 people who remain under the debris are probably dead.
On 07 May, president Zelensky reported that a museum devoted to the 18th-century philosopher and poet Hryhoriy Skovoroda was destroyed by Russian artillery. The museum's roof was set ablaze by an overnight attack in the village of Skovorodynivka in eastern Ukraine, wounding a 35-year-old curator. The regional governor of Kharkiv Oleh Sinegubov stated the most precious exhibits had been evacuated earlier for safety reasons.
On the afternoon of the same day, four missiles hit the city of Odessa. The Ukrainian authorities have confirmed that areas around the airport, including a runway and a furniture manufacturing plant, were hit.
The Moscow View:
Claims by Russia
Weapons of the West and the US were destroyed at Sol railway station and Kharkiv region
On 08 May, Russia's defence ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov mentioned that the army was able to use high-precision air-to-surface missiles to hit Western military equipment at the Sol railway station. Russia claims to have also killed a few army reserves of the Ukrainian military.
On 07 May, the armed forces stated that they used Iskander missiles to eliminate Ukrainian troops and weapons supplied by the US and the EU. Konashenkov mentioned that the 58th mechanized infantry brigade of Ukraine's armed forces was eliminated using the high precision missiles near the stations of Krasnograd and Karlovka.
Russia's aviation destroys Ukrainian project 1241 corvette
On 08 May, Konashenkov stated that Russia's air defences downed more than two Ukrainian Su-24 bombers and one Mi-24 helicopter overnight. They additionally destroyed communications posts at the Chervonoglinskoye airstrip and a project 1241 corvette using precision air-based missiles. Konashenkov said: "During the night, Russian Aerospace Forces destroyed a mechanize brigade command post near Pyatikhatka, Kharkov Region, and a communications post at the Chervonoglinskoye airstrip near the settlement of Artsyz." He further stated that the airstrikes eliminated up to 420 nationalists and 55 combat vehicles.
Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin on the US participating in the war
On 07 May, Russia's state duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said that the US had admitted to being involved in coordinating Ukraine's combat operations. He added that this meant the US was directly involved in participating in the military actions against Russia. He further mentioned that the US should also be held accountable for the war crimes committed by the Kyiv Nazi regime in Ukraine.
Western firms leaving Russia
On 07 May, Volodin stated that the Western companies leaving Russia would face issues as domestic and Asian firms were replacing their market share. He further mentioned that foreign companies in Russia needed to have certainty about their activities in the country. He said that Russia was an open country and would always welcome investment in its economy.
Russia's air defences down 17 Ukrainian drones
On 07 May, Russia's missile and artillery forces claimed to have hit 240 targets overnight. Konashenkov said they downed 17 Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles, nine Smerch missiles and three Tochka-U missiles. He further stated that the drones were downed in Signalnoye, Luganskoye, Krasnkogorovka, Yasinovatoye, Zugres and Nikolaev regions. Defense ministry spokesman added: "Missile and artillery forces targeted 44 command posts and 196 strongpoints of the Ukrainian army and areas where Ukrainian troops and military equipment were deployed."
At the UN, Russia presents evidence of war crimes by Ukraine's military
On 07 May, Russia's diplomats at an informal meeting of the UN Security Council showed video evidence of the Ukrainian military hampering evacuation of the civilian population. Russia's ambassador Vasily Nebenzya stated that Ukraine and the West were trying to prevent this from coming under the spotlight and the global attention. Nebenzya stated that they had enough evidence to show that the Ukrainian army and paramilitaries had systematically violated human rights and used civilians as hostages and human shields.
Russia's deputy prime minister Marat Khusnullin visits Mariupol
On 08 May, Khusnullin's visit marked the first senior government official's entry into the southern port city after weeks of Russian bombardment. Khusnullin said Russian forces had liberated the city. However, Ukrainian forces are still holed up in the city's Azovstal steelworks plant.
The West View:
Responses from the US and Europe
On 07 May, the US first lady Jill Biden visited the Romanian capital of Bucharest and met with a group of refugee mothers and educators and Ukraine. She praised them for their resilience and strength in overcoming this ordeal.
On 08 May, Jill Biden made an unannounced trip to Ukraine and met with Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenskaa. She also visited a school that has been converted into a temporary shelter, currently housing 163 displaced Ukrainians. She met Ukrainian refugees and volunteers in Slovakia completing the last leg of her tour to Romania and Slovakia.
The US president, Joe Biden met with the G7 leaders and Ukraine's president Volodymir Zelenskyy and revealed new sanctions on 27 employees in Gazprom, several banking executives from Sberbank and three Russian television stations. It also banned Americans from providing consulting services to Russians. These news sanctions will be imposed on over 2,600 Russian and Belarusian military personnel too, who have been accused of war crimes in Bucha.
Kristina Kvien, the US Chargé d'affaires ad interim to Ukraine, and her team returned to Kyiv with the aim of reopening the US embassy in the capital soon. This comes after Anthony Blinken, the Secretary of State promised last month that the US embassy will resume its work in Ukraine soon.
The UK prime minister, Boris Johnson pledged that they will provide an additional USD 1.6 billion to Ukraine, in aid and military support. He made the announcement ahead of his video conference with Zelenskyy and the leaders of the G7 countries. This pledge almost doubles UK's previous commitments, and Johnson said that the money will come out of the reserve the government uses for emergencies.
On 08 May, Britain announced that they will increase the tariffs imposed on platinum and palladium imported from Russia and Belarus. Not only will the tariffs be raised by 35 per cent points, but Britain will also ban the export of goods like chemicals, plastics, rubber, and machinery to Russia, worth a combined USD 310 million.
On 7th May in Berlin, criminal investigators and prosecutors studied an explosive device that has been found and destroyed at a residential building that houses Russian news agency staff. A Berlin police spokesperson said that they are now looking into how dangerous the device was and who it might have been aimed at. Russia’s foreign ministry said that this was a direct consequence of the harassment that Russian media is facing in the West. This is regarding the new European Union sanctions and the decision to disconnect Russian media from their airwaves.
On 08 April, the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz gave a televised address marking the anniversary of the end of World War II. He referred to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and said: “Putin will not win this war. Ukraine will persevere.”
Canada’s prime minister, Justine Trudeau made a surprise visit to Irpin and Kyiv and said that the world will do anything that they can to ensure that Russia loses the war in Ukraine. After his talk with Zelenskyy, he addressed a news conference and confirmed that Canada will impose a fresh set of sanctions on individuals and organizations connected to Moscow. He also promised to provide more assistance to Ukraine, in the form of military aid and equipment.
Considering the new set of sanctions that are being discussed by the European Union, Bulgaria’s deputy prime minister, Assen Vassilev said that they will not be able to support the ban, unless they are granted a derogation for now.
On 06 May, under the new European Union sanctions, Italy ordered the seizure of a 459-foot motor yacht, allegedly owned by a person with “significant economic and business connections,” to Moscow. Italian media reports that the vessel, Scheherazade is owned indirectly by president Putin, and is the 12th largest privately owned yacht in the world.
On 07 May, Moldova reported on several blasts near the village of Vărăncău, it predicts it by explosives that could have been dropped through drones. This is alarming because this is the second week when similar incidents have been reported in the Transdniestria breakaway region, raising concern that Ukraine and Russia's war is spilling over to the frontier. While Transdniestria's interior ministry said that no one has been injured in the attacks, they also released photos of craters that the overnight strikes have allegedly created.
The Global fallouts:
International implications of the Ukraine war
On 08 May, after a virtual meeting with president Zelenskyy, the G7 leaders said that they will be reinforcing the economic isolation of Russia. They said that they will phase out the usage of Russian oil. A joint statement released by the G7 read: “We will continue and elevate our campaign against the financial elites and family members, who support President Putin in his war effort and squander the resources of the Russian people.”
The World Health Organization has said that they are gathering evidence against Russia for possible war crimes committed on healthcare facilities in Ukraine. Mike Ryan, the Emergencies Director of WHO said warring parties half to explicitly try and avoid attacks on health facilities but who has still documented over 200 attacks on hospitals and clinics in Ukraine.
On 07 May, the International Committee of the Red Cross (IRRC) said that they were hopeful that the civilians in the Azovstal steel plant could be successfully evacuated. A senior official Dominik Stillhart, said: “Experience shows that a successful action helps further evacuations because now both sides have seen that it works. We hope that we can now build on this minimum of trust.”
“Evil returns when human rights and the law are violated and culture is destroyed; this is exactly what happened to Russia - address by the President of Ukraine,” President of Ukraine, 07 May 2022
“Address by the President of Ukraine on the Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation,” President of Ukraine, 08 May 2022
“Speech by the President of Ukraine at the video conference of the G7 leaders,” President of Ukraine, 08 May 2022
“Ukraine is already a full-fledged part of the free world and a united Europe - address by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy,” President of Ukraine, 08 May 2022
“Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with the President of the Storting of Norway,” President of Ukraine, 08 May 2022
“Head of State met with the President of the German Bundestag,” President of Ukraine, 08 May 2022
“Ukraine is interested in exchanging experience with EU and NATO countries in the field of modern armaments and technologies - Volodymyr Zelenskyy,” President of Ukraine, 08 MAy 2022
“President held a meeting on fuel supply and execution of the state budget,” President of Ukraine, 07 May 2022
“Russian forces destroy weapons from US and Western countries at Sol railway station,” TASS, 08 May 2022
“Russian aviation destroyed Ukrainian Project 1241 corvette near Odessa - Defense Ministry,” TASS, 08 May 2022
“Russian Armed Forces destroy weapons supplied by West in Kharkov Region,” TASS, 07 May 2022
“US in fact admits it coordinates Ukraine’s military operations against Russia - speaker,” TASS, 07 May 2022
“Parliament speaker expects domestic, Asian firms to replace companies leaving Russia,” TASS, 07 May 2022
“Russian air defenses down 17 Ukrainian dones, three Tochka-U missiles last night,” TASS, 07 May 2022
“Russia presents at UN vast evidence of crimes by Ukrainian military,” TASS, 07 May 2022
“Russian Deputy PM visits ruined Ukrainian city of Mariupol,” Reuters, 08 May 2022
“US first lady Jill Biden makes unannounced visit to Ukraine,” Reuters, 08 May 2022
“Last wave of Azovstal plant evacuees reaches Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia,” Reuters, 08 May 2022
“Sixty feared dead in bombing of Ukraine school; G7 condemns Putin, Reuters, 08 May 2022
“Ukraine's Zelenskiy 'speechless' after shelling destroys museum dedicated to poet, Reuters, 07 May 2022
“Jill Biden meets Ukrainian refugee mothers and teachers in Romania,” Reuters, 07 May 2022
Jeff Mason, “U.S. first lady Jill Biden makes unannounced visit to Ukraine,” Reuters, 08 May 2022
“Jill Biden meets Ukraine refugees, volunteers in Slovakia,” Reuters, 08 May 2022
Jeff Mason and Steve Holland, “U.S. imposes sanctions on 27 Gazprombank executives, Russian TV stations,” Reuters, 08 May 2022
Juian Borger, “US unveils new sanctions on Russia, targeting services, media and defense industry,” The Guardian, 08 May 2022
Ken Thomas, “U.S. Targets Russian Media, Bank Executives With New Sanctions,” The Wall Street Journal, 08 May 2022
Andrew Macaskill, “UK to provide 1.3 billion pounds of further military support to Ukraine,” Reuters, 07 May 2022
“Britain to increase tariffs on Russian platinum, palladium in new sanctions,” Reuters, 08 May 2022
“Berlin authorities looking into device disabled at residence housing Russian media,” Reuters, 07 May 2022
“Germany's Scholz says on WW2 anniversary Putin will not win his war,” Reuters, 08 May 2022
"Canada's Trudeau announces new weapons for Ukraine in visit to Kyiv,” Reuters, 09 May 2022
Tom Balmforth, “Trudeau: World determined to make sure Putin loses in Ukraine,” Reuters, 09 May 2022
“Italy Seizes Yacht With Ties to Russian Leadership,” The Wall Street Journal, 07 May 2022
“Bulgaria says will veto EU oil sanctions on Russia if it does not get derogation,” Reuters, 09 May 2022
“Chinese calculations on Taiwan affected by Ukraine conflict, says CIA director,” Reuters, 07 May 2022
“G7 leaders pledge further economic isolation of Russia,” Reuters, 08 May 2022
“G7 to phase out Russian oil, U.S. sanctions Gazprombank execs over Ukraine war,” Reuters, 08 May 2022
“WHO gathers evidence for possible war crimes investigation against Russia,” Reuters, 07 May 2022
“ICRC official sees hope for more evacuations from besieged Mariupol,” Reuters, 07 May 2022
“Moldova separatists report drone strikes near Ukraine border,” Reuters, 07 May 2022