Photo : Reuters
11 May 2022, Wednesday| NIAS Europe Daily Brief #198
Putin's Victory Day speech: Three takeaways
By Ashwin Dhanabalan
On 09 May, Russia's president Vladimir Putin gave a victory day speech commemorating the USSR's triumph over Nazi Germany's defeat in World War II. Putin mentioned how the victory united the Soviet people in "its cohesion and spiritual power, an unparalleled feat on the front lines and on the home front."
Justifying Russia's intervention in Donbass
Putin highlighted the controversies in international relations and advocated that Russia always stood for an equal and indivisible security system. He claimed that Russia proposed security guarantees to the US and the West, but they did not respond. He further accused Kyiv of planning operations in Donbas and Crimea, justifying Russia's intervention in the region.
Putin further accused Ukraine of acquiring nuclear weapons and that neo-Nazis were steering Ukraine's politics. This comes just days after he apologized to Israel's prime minister Naftali Bennett for Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov's comments about Adolf Hitler having "Jewish blood."
Call to unitedly fight for the Motherland Russia
Putin rhetorically spoke about a threat from Ukraine, the US and the West to Motherland Russia. He said that the West no longer respected the faith, traditional values, ancestors' customs, cultures, and Russia's people. Furthermore, Putin addressed the armed forces and the Donbas militia who were putting up a resistance to the West.
Finally, he mentioned how Russia's enemies used international terrorist gangs against the country to incite inter-ethnic and religious strife to weaken Moscow from within. But, their plans failed as the warriors of different ethnicities fought together as a great invincible power of the united multi-ethnic nation called Russia.
Unfavourable response from the West
The world was waiting in anticipation for Putin’s speech as rumours emerged that Russia would officially declare war on Ukraine on the Victory Day. His speech on Russian nationalism gave respite to the US and Europe; however, the claims he made in the speech incited their reactions.
Ukraine’s presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak debunked a claim saying: “NATO countries were not going to attack Russia. Ukraine did not plan to attack Crimea.” UK’s defence minister Ben Wallace mentioned how the victory day could be no victory day as it only brought dishonour to Putin and a defeat in Russia. He added: “He (Putin) must come to terms with how he’s lost in the long run, and he’s absolutely lost.”
“Victory Parade on Red Square,” Kremlin.ru, 09 May 2022
“Reactions to Putin’s Victory Day speech,” Reuters, 09 May 2022
Roman Goncharenko, Michel Penke, Tatjana Schweizer and Joscha Weber, “Fact check: Vladimir Putin's Victory Day speech,” Deutsche Welle, 09 May 2022
War in Ukraine: Day 76
By Rishma Banerjee and Emmanuel Royan
WAR ON THE GROUND
On 10 May, Russia’s Black Sea port of Odesa came under a new set of attacks. Seven hypersonic missiles hit a shopping centre and a depot, killing one and injuring five. The air raids at Odesa also interrupted a meeting between the European Council President Charles Michel and Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.
Also on the same day, the press officer, Tetiana Apatchenko stated that Ukrainian troops have recaptured the villages of Cherkaski Tyshky, Ruski Tyshki, Borshchova, and Slobozhanske, located in the northern region of Kharkiv. The counterattack might indicate the start of a new phase in the war, with Ukraine going on the offensive after weeks of Russian assaults have failed in any breakthroughs.
On 10 May, president Zelenskyy addressed the parliament of Slovakia and its people. Zelenskyy said that Russia's assault against Ukraine is more than just an attempt to capture the country and obliterate national identity. Zelenskyy appreciated Slovakia for donating defence equipment to Ukraine at a crucial time and acknowledged the country’s inability to ban all Russian oil imports. However, Zelenskyy warned Slovakia that its dependency on Russian oil may threaten its sovereignty as well.
In his evening address, Zelenskyy spoke to the parliament of Malta and its people in a video conference. Zelenskyy drew comparisons between Ukraine’s struggle in the face of Russia's assault and that of the Battle of Malta 80 years ago. He urged for more weapons and defence equipment and further called on Malta to end the privileges given to Russian citizens like Golden passports and dual citizenships. The speaker of the House Anglu Farrugia responded by stating that Malta's neutrality, which is engrained in the institution, prevents the nation from intervening militarily. However, Farrugia said that Malta would continue to give humanitarian help.
The Energy sanctions Roadmap
On 10 May, the head of the office of the president of Ukraine Andriy Yermak, and director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) ambassador Michael McFaul, presented the second document on recommendations for sanctions against the Russian Federation. The document includes policy ideas for depriving Russia of energy revenue while avoiding market and global economic disruptions. Maritime export service providers are scrutinized and targeted for circumventing the sanctions.
The Moscow view:
Claims by Russia
On 10 May, Russia’s defence ministry claimed that Ukraine’s forces had tried to claim the Snake Islands in the Black Sea. This small outcrop in the Black Sea has been a stage of clashes between Russia and Ukraine since when the war began in February.
On the same day, the deputy foreign minister of Russia, Alexander Grushko said that the decision of using nuclear weapons will not be haphazard, and will follow the military doctrine of the country.
The Russian video platform Rutube remained offline for the second day in a row. This is following a cyberattack that made the platform defunct, hours before they were supposed to stream the Victory Day parade in Moscow. In a Telegram message, the platform said that it will take more time to restore the platform than the engineers had originally thought.
The West view:
Responses from the US and Europe
On 10 May, BBC reported on the UK’s prime minister, Boris Johnson scheduled to visit Sweden and Finland, to discuss ‘border security issues.’ This is in light of the two country’s deliberations on applying for a NATO membership.
On 10 May, the US House voted 368-57 in favour of sending military, economic, and humanitarian aid worth nearly USD 40 billion to Ukraine. The measure will now be sent to the Senate, where the Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has promised to act swiftly on it.
Lithuania became the first country to designate Russia as a perpetrator of terrorism. In a unanimous vote, they also declared that Russian action in Ukraine was ‘genocide.’ Germany and Netherlands’ foreign ministers, Annalena Baerbock, and Wopke Hoekstra visited Ukraine on a surprise visit. They visited Kyiv which had been devastated by the war.
On 10 May EU Chief Ursula von der Leyen said they have made ‘progress’ in the talks with Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban. This is in the context of Hungary holding up EU’s plans for an oil embargo in Russia and Orban comparing the deal with an ‘atomic bomb.’ Regarding the same issue, France has said that a deal can be struck by the end of this week.
The Global Fallouts:
Implications of the Ukraine war
On 10 May, Japan’s industry minister said that they will deliberate on how to implement an embargo on Russian oil, considering the economic fallouts from such a decision.
On 10 May, International Organization for Migration (IOM) published a report on the survey of internally displaced people in Ukraine. The report estimates that over eight million people are internally displaced in Ukraine since the Russian invasion. This implies a 24 per cent rise from the previous estimates. The survey was conducted between 27 April and 03 May and assessed the needs of internally displaced persons (IDP) as well.
On 10 May, the head of the UN human rights monitoring mission to Ukraine, Matilda Bogner stated that far more civilians have been killed since the start of the war than previously estimated. The mission has verified 7,061 civilian deaths so far, with 3,381 dead and 3,680 wounded, but the actual number is said to be far higher.
On the same day, Europe’s regional director of the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that at least 3000 people in Ukraine, have died due to the lack of treatments and medications for chronic diseases such as HIV/AIDS and cancer.
“Speech by the President of Ukraine at the National Council of the Slovak Republic,” President of Ukraine, 10 May 2022
“Speech by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the Parliament of Malta,” President of Ukraine, 10 May 2022
“Yermak-McFaul's expert group has developed a roadmap for energy sanctions,” President of Ukraine, 10 May 2022
Emma Farge, “At least 3,000 have died in Ukraine for want of disease treatment, WHO says” Reuters, 10 May 2022
“Ukraine looks to regain territory in the east,” Euronews, 10 May 2022
“Civilian death toll in Ukraine likely 'thousands higher' than previous estimates, says UN human rights monitor,” Euronews, 10 May 2022
“Ukraine pushes Russian troops back in Kharkiv counter-offensive,” Euronews, 10 May 2022