Photo : Jonathan Brady/AP
07 July 2022, Thursday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #246
By Padmashree Anandhan
Political crisis in the UK: Four issues
On 06 June, more than 50 cabinet ministers of UK prime minister Boris Johnson resigned from their posts demanding resignation. The move comes upon growing criticism of Johnson's involvement in the party-gate scandal. In response, Johnson said: “But my job is to get on and deliver the government’s aims, which is what I was elected to do … The welfare of the British people and the security of the nation are indispensable.” Till now two senior-most Cabinet ministers have resigned followed by ministers in charge of Treasury, prison, health, home secretary, and junior ministers. Johnson’s Conservative party holds 358 seats out of 650 in Parliament. With the resignation of party members, Johnson is now under pressure to refill the positions to maintain the majority.
First, the problem of integrity amongst the party members. The row of the resignation of the party members comes as the division has sprung over Johnson’s integrity towards the party. Ministers who have resigned seem to have lost trust in Johnson in handling the scandal and removal of certain ministers. Although the scandal seems to be the reason upfront, the objection towards Johnson’s leadership is also due to the split in economic policy making.
Second, the worry over economic growth. The conservative party member is also dissatisfied with Johnson’s approach to UK’s economy and “tax trajectory.” In the G7 Johnson indicated that the UK was the fastest growing economy, but the Office for Budget Responsibility has estimated only 1.3 to 1.7 per cent growth after the pandemic rebound settles. Therefore, increasing inflation rates, cost-of-living prices, and the limitations in health care are other concerning factors that can worsen with a decline in economic growth. Although Johnson vows to keep national security and people’s welfare on the front the party thinks otherwise.
Third, the party’s leadership and unity in the focus of the conservative 1922 committee. In the UK, till now the government formed is by either the Labour Party or the Conservative Party. The conservatives fear that the factions created under Johnson will threaten the position held by the conservative in the parliament. One faction is socially conservative, the other being immigration focused and another set in the north demanding more funds for schools and hospitals, the party believes that the governance misses focusing on the hike in taxes. With the Labour Party gaining strength through new voters, conveying a message to rebalance the economy can be a threat to conservatives in the upcoming elections. Therefore, Johnson’s leadership will be put under test if the 1922 committee decides on a rule change to have another set of elections to choose the leader of the party.
Fourth, the future leader of the conservative party. If the conservatives decide to cast voting to choose the leadership, Johnson’s chances to win the majority seem uncertain. The likely leaders to replace him are expected to be Rishi Sunak who was responsible for UK’s COVID support program, Liz Truss who has the popular vote amongst the party and is the most likely to replace Johnson, and defence secretary Ben Wallace who has gained reputation over Ukraine war.
Therese Raphael, “Conservatives Have a Bigger Problem Than Boris Johnson,” Bloomberg, 14 February 2022
Zachary Basu, Dave Lawler, “The top candidates to replace Boris Johnson as U.K. prime minister,” Axios, 06 July 2022
Annabelle Dickson and Eleni Courea, “Boris Johnson clings on in the face of Cabinet coup,” POLITICO, 06 July 2022
Joe Mayes, “How Britain’s Parliament Could Bring Down Boris Johnson,” BloomberQuickTake, 06 July 2022
War in Ukraine: Day 133
By Rishma Banerjee and Emmanuel Selva Royan
War on the Ground
On 06 July, in his address president Volodymyr Zelenskyy reported that a Russian strike has destroyed the pedagogical university in Kharkiv. Further, he spoke about the Western artillery that he believes is helping Ukraine reduce Russia’s offensive potential. Zelenskyy said, “…the weapons we received from our partners - started working very powerfully. Its accuracy is exactly as needed.” He also reported about his successful conversations with the presidents of Paraguay and Mozambique, and his meeting with the prime minister of Ireland.
On 06 July, Ukraine’s military reported that Russia’s forces were now concentrating their efforts in the north of Donetsk region. Heavy bombardment was reported around Sloviansk as Russia aims to seize the towns of Kramatorsk, Sloviansk and Bakhmut and gain control over the highway linking Luhansk and Donetsk provinces. Shelling was also reported in Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, and Mykolaiv.
The governor of the Donetsk region, Pavlo Kyrylenko urged the 350,000 remaining residents in the province to flee the area. He said that evacuating Donetsk would help Ukraine’s forces put up a better resistance against a Russian advance.
The Moscow-installed director of seaport authority said that the Mariupol port was “operating in full-fledged” conditions. Earlier on the same day, the Ministry of Coal and Energy of the Donetsk People’s Republic reported that the power supply to the port was completely restored.
The Moscow View
Claims by Russia
On 06 July, the Chief of Russia’s National Defence Operations Centre, Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev reported than over 24000 people were evacuated from parts of Luhansk and Donetsk to Russia. Close to 4310 private vehicles have crossed to Russia’s state border. He also noted that Ukraine’s authorities did not participate in the process.
At a press conference after his talks with Vietnamese diplomat Bui Thanh Son, Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia’s army was not attacking their own cities, as alleged by Ukraine. He accused Ukraine of lying. Lavrov also urged the West to take responsibility for the civilian deaths in Donbas, as it was with their weapons that Ukraine was attacking them.
On the same day, Russia’s parliament strengthened their legislation on state treason and espionage. Tougher prison terms have been introduced, where acts against Russia’s security are to be punished by up to seven years of prison term. In a statement released by the lower house of parliament, a senior parliamentarian, Vasily Piskarev said: “The changes are an adequate and timely response to the challenges that our country is currently facing.” Moreover, Russia’s parliament also introduced two bills which will ensure stricter controls on the economy. If these ”special economic measures” are signed by the president, one bill will mandate some businesses to supply goods to the armed forces. The other bill will require employees at some firms to work overtime
The Russian foreign ministry reported that president Vladimir Putin was invited to be a part of the G20 summit hosted by Indonesia and had also sent a preliminary confirmation of his attendance. The ministry mentioned that: “The format of his participation is subject to clarification depending on the development of the situation in the world and the sanitary-epidemiological environment in Southeastern Asia.”
On 06 July, a Russian court ordered the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) to suspend its operation for 30 days. The pipeline transports 80 per cent oil from Kazakhstan to the Western markets through the Black Sea. The court stated that it found “documentary violations” in the CPC’s oil spill response plan.
The West View
Responses from the US and Europe
Ireland’s prime minister, Micheál Martin met with Zelenskyy and visited Borodianka, Bucha and Irpin in Ukraine. They discussed the food security crisis, the energy crisis and spoke about a possible joint response. Additionally, the two leaders spoke about the seventh set of sanctions against Russia. Martin also reiterated his support for Ukraine.
NASA’s Harvest mission reported that Russia controls around 22 per cent of Ukraine’s agricultural lands. In their analysis, done through NASA Harvest satellite images, these territories are where mainly winter crops like wheat, rye and barley are grown.
On 06 July, defense minister of Latvia, Artis Pabriks announced that the country will reintroduce national military service, which it revoked in 2007. He mentioned that men between the age of 18-27 will be recruited and paid upto EUR 400 per month, for 11 months. The option for women to join is voluntary.
The Global Fallouts
Implications of the Ukraine war
On 06 July, the 2022 edition of the U.N. food security and nutrition report was released. UN agencies like Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Food Programme (WFP) and World Health Organisation (WHO) said that nearly 10% of the world's population, were affected by hunger in 2021. However, more concerning was the report’s forecast for 2022, where the food crisis is bound to be exacerbated due to the Ukraine war. WFP executive director David Beasley said: “The result will be global destabilization, starvation, and mass migration on an unprecedented scale. We have to act today to avert this looming catastrophe.”
42 countries have signed the declaration of the conference on the restoration of Ukraine in Lugano. They condemned Russia’s aggression and asked them to withdraw their troops at the earliest. They said that the draft Recovery and Development Plan initiated by Ukraine would be considered as the main framework for the recovery process. Other than the 42, representatives from the Council of Europe, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Commission, the European Investment Bank and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development were also present.
On the same day, following Donetsk governor’s appeal for the residents of Donetsk to evacuate, UN’s refugee agency said that the as per their reports, 8.793 million people have fled Ukraine since the war began.
The Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova reported that she is investigating more than 21,00 war crimes committed since the start of Russia’s invasion. She mentioned that trials will have to held in absentia of the accused and stated that: "Russian militaries who decided to kill civilians, to torture civilians, to rape civilians, they should understand that it's only a question of time when they all will be in court".
Russia’s president Vladimir Putin spoke with the president of Sri Lanka, Gotabaya Rajapaksa. They discussed bilateral trade and economic cooperation, particularly in the energy, Agriculture and transport sectors. Rajapaksa tweeted that their phone call had been productive, and that Putin has agreed to help import fuel to Sri Lanka.
On 06 July, the Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova reported that she is investigating more than 21,00 war crimes committed since the start of Russia’s invasion. She mentioned that trials will have to held in absentia of the accused and stated that: "Russian militaries who decided to kill civilians, to torture civilians, to rape civilians, they should understand that it's only a question of time when they all will be in court".
Samantha Lock and Léonie Chao-Fong, “Russia-Ukraine war update: what we know on day 134 of the invasion,” The Guardian, 07 July 2022
“Artillery from our Western partners started working very powerfully, so the losses of the occupiers will only increase - address by the President of Ukraine,” President of Ukraine, 06 July 2022
Pavel Polityuk and Simon Lewis, “Ukraine battles to push back Russian advance in northern Donetsk,” Reuters, 07 July 2022
“Ukraine round-up: 'Massive' shelling and playing dead to survive,” BBC News, 06 July 2022
“Ukrainian army repels Russian offensive in three directions,” Ukrinform, 06 July 2022
“Mariupol port returns to normal operation — director,” TASS, 07 July 2022
“Francesca Ebel and Maria Grazia Murru, “Russia pounds rebel-claimed region, Ukraine pushes back,” AP News, 06 July 2022
“Over 24,000 people evacuated from DPR, LPR, Ukraine to Russia in 24 hours, says ministry,” TASS, 07 July 2022
“Lavrov slams Ukraine’s allegations of Russian army attacking Russian cities as lies,” TASS, 06 July 2022
“Russia introduces heavy prison terms for calls to act against security,” Kyiv Post, 06 July 2022
“Moscow comments on Putin's participation at G20 summit,” RT, 06 July 2022
Darlene Superville, “Biden tells Griner’s wife he’s working to get her home,” AP News, 06 July 2022
Maytaal Angel, “World hunger rising as U.N. agencies warn of "looming catastrophe,” Reuters, 06 July 2022
Daniel Boffey, “Nearly 9m people have fled Ukraine since Russian invasion, says UN,” The Guardian, 06 July 2022
“42 countries sign final declaration of Lugano Ukraine Recovery conference,” Kyiv Post, 06 July 2022
“Telephone conversation with President of Sri Lanka Gotabaya Rajapaksa,” President of Russia, 06 July 2022
“Ukraine alleges thousands of war crimes,” BBC, 06 July 202
By Emmanuel Selva Royan and Sai Pranav
Coalition party presents list of demands to Draghi
On 06 July, the leader of the Five Star Movement Giuseppe Conte presented prime minister Mario Draghi with a list of demands to ensure support for the coalition government. The demands included a call for minimum wage, protection of the Five Star’s flagship welfare payments and budget alignment to the cost of living crisis. The document mentioned that the party has “accumulated profound political discomfort,” in the Draghi government and needed “a clarifying discussion.” (Hannah Roberts, “Italy’s 5Stars present Draghi with list of demand,” POLITICO, 06 July 2022)
New migration bill makes achieving PR easier in Germany
On 06 July, Germany approved a new migration bill that allowed migrants, who lived in Germany for many years without permission, a permanent residency. This new bill was approved by the cabinet and would apply to those that resided for at least five years by 01 January 2022. Those that qualify for the conditions must apply for a one-year residency and then later go for the permanent residency application. They should have enough earnings to make an independent living, should know to speak German, and should be integrated into German society. People below the age of 27, can request permanent residency after staying in Germany for three years. The bill will integrate refugees who are seeking safety easily into Germany by providing them with language classes. The bill will also make the deportation of criminals easier. (Kristen Grieshaber, "Germany eases path to permanent residency for migrants," Associated Press, 06 July 2022)
San Fermin bull-running festival starts with celebrations
On 06 July, the world-famous sport of Spain, San Fermin bull-running festival in the city of Pamlona started off with “chuinazo” fireworks and celebrations. The fireworks were ignited by former soccer player Juan Carlos Unzue, who was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in 2018. He dedicated the fireworks to those suffering from the disease and to create awareness. The bull run festival was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The celebrations were interrupted by animal activists disguised as dinosaurs to protest against the sport. They marched under the banner “Bullfighting is Prehistoric.” (“Spain's Pamplona Bull Run festival returns after two years,” Deutsche Welle, 06 July 2022)
European Parliament votes in favor to label natural gas and nuclear power as green
On 06 July, the European Parliament approved the categorizing of natural gas and nuclear power plants as "climate friendly investments." The proposal to label them as green was initiated in the EU taxonomy and gained criticism from many member states of the EU including Austria, Luxembourg and Germany. The opposition grew as the states were phasing out nuclear power plants. Upon the approval, the countries have warned to file suit against the European Parliament. ("European Parliament backs listing nuclear energy, gas as 'green'," Deutsche Welle, 06 July 2022)
Czech Republic universities hesitant to follow the EU sanction on Russian students
On 06 July, Czech Republic universities are being compelled to follow the EU sanction of restricting Russian students from studying any technical courses. Many universities are hesitant to obey the EU sanction due to them being autonomous. According to the Europe-wide sanction, Russian students who are studying technical subjects were told to either stop their education or switch degrees. The EU worries that the Russian students would aid the rogue nation in its war against Ukraine using their technical skills. Russian students who are in Czech Republic universities denounce any support for Putin but are afraid of the consequences that their families who reside in Russia might have to bear. The universities are reluctant to throw out the students. The Russian students have written letters of their support against Putin and the Ukrainian war. (Lubos Palata, "Czech Republic: Russian university students face restrictions," Deutsche Welle, 06 July 2022)
FBI and MI5 join hands to tackle Chinese espionage threats
On 06 July, heads of the US investigation agency FBI and the UK intelligence MI5 met with business leaders in London to caution them about Chinese spying on them to disrupt the western economy and national security. They also warned about the Chinese government stealing western technologies for their gain. Both FBI Director Christopher Wray and MI5 Director-General Ken McCallum had called for unity against Chinese espionage and they had thought about the consequences it brings about to the western nations. They are ready to defend Taiwan if the need arises in the future. The democratic island was said to be under communist China's control due to the 'One China' policy but if it decides to invade Taiwan, both nations would support the island. As China is preparing its economy for sanctions by insulating it, the US and the UK are ready to face any threats that the communist nation might throw at them. (Amanda Rivkin, "FBI, MI5 warn Western business leaders about Chinese espionage," Deutsche Welle, 06 July 2022)