Photo : REUTERS/Stringer
25 July 2022, Monday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #262
War in Ukraine: Day 150 & 151
By Emmanuel Royan and Sai Pranav
War on the Ground
On 23 July, Russia struck Ukraine's military infrastructure in Odesa port with missiles. The attack followed a day after the signing of the Istanbul agreement which unblocked Ukrainian ships that carried millions of tonnes of grains from the Black Sea port. The Kalibr missiles that were allegedly launched by Russia destroyed military infrastructures and a Ukrainian patrol boat in Odesa port with high precision. Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelenskyy claimed that the attack on Odesa exhibited the credibility of Russia's promises. He also said that it was "spit in the face" of the deal that was made at Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul.
On the same day, Ukraine reported that its air defence systems shot down two cruise missiles before two more struck the port of Odesa. In the Eastern Ukraine region of Donetsk, the fighting continued in which two Americans and three people were killed.
On 23 July, Zelenskyy in his address spoke about the developments in the Donbas, Kharkiv regions and the advancement of the Ukrainian Armed Forces troops in the occupied Kherson region. He reported that Odesa Art Museum was also demolished during the strike. Apart from this Zelenskyy mentioned the discussion that he had with the president of Kazakhstan on projects in the fields of energy, economy, and digitalization.
On the same day, President Zelenskyy met with the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee of the US, Adam Smith. Zelenskyy showed his gratitude to the US for its staunch support of Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. He also thanked them for the warm welcome that first lady Olena Zelenska received during her visit to the US. Which has provided the latest package of weapons that included HIMARS launcher systems, shells and unmanned aerial vehicles to Ukraine. They also discussed the reconstruction of Ukraine post-war with the Fast Recovery Plan.
The Moscow View
Claims by Russia
On 24 July, Moscow confirmed the missile strike in the port of Odesa in the Black sea. Russia's defence ministry denied its claims of Ukraine saying it attacked Ukraine's military infrastructure and arms stockpile and nothing more. They had destroyed a shipyard, a docked warship that belonged to Ukraine, and a warehouse that contained Harpoon anti-ship missiles that were supplied by the US to Kyiv on the Odesa port. They were destroyed by sea-based high-precision Kalibr missiles. Ukraine claimed Russia targeted the grain silos that were there but Moscow refused to accept the accusation.
On the same day, an attack from the UAF in Melitopol was repelled by the Russian air defence systems. Ukraine's military had sent attack drones and missiles during the night which was incapacitated by Russian air defence and thus protecting the residents of Melitopol.
On 23 July, a seven-member election committee was to be formed in the Kherson region to conduct a referendum that allows the region to accede to Russia. On 22 July 2022, the head of the Kherson Region's military-civilian administration placed the decree stating that a seven-member election committee that serves for three years was to be created and the nominations for the same were accepted. The Kherson region will not have the right to express its opinion on the future of the region. Also on the same day, the head of the military-civilian administration of the Zaporizhzhia region signed a decree on the creation of an election committee to hold a referendum to accede to Russia.
On 24 July, Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov after talks with his Egyptian spokesperson stated that Russia was not looking for the removal of western sanctions but urged to fix the food insecurity that the west had created on the global market itself. Even though the west claims that they do not include Russian ships that carry grains in the sanctions, they bar Moscow's ships from admission to foreign ports and restrict the entry of foreign ships in Russian ports. The west has been silent about the grain ship restrictions that increased the global food crisis. He urged the west to free Russian grain exports to ease global hunger. The UN chief Guterres agreed to remove the sanctions placed on Russian grain export if Russia follows through with the deal to unblock exports of grain, food and fertilizers from Ukraine made in Istanbul with Ukraine.
The West View
Responses from the US and Europe
On 23 July, Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orban urged the US and Russia to hold peace negotiations stating that Ukraine cannot win the war. He also added that the EU needs to restructure its strategies toward Russia as the sanctions are not playing an effective role. Orban stated: "A new strategy is needed which should focus peace talks and drafting a good peace proposal...instead of winning the war." In his speech to Romania, he claimed that the four pillars of the Western strategy on Ukraine were that Ukraine could defeat Russia with NATO weapons, sanctions would weaken and destabilize Russia's government, sanctions would hurt Russia more than Europe, and the rest of the world would unite in support of Europe. However, he mentioned that this strategy is toppling European governments and rising energy prices.
On 24 July, the US secretary of state Anthony Blinken condemned Russia’s attack on the port of Odesa amid the grain corridor talks. He further blamed Russia for worsening the food crisis by not abiding by the grain corridor agreements signed with the UN, Turkey, and Ukraine. He stated: “This attack casts serious doubt on the credibility of Russia’s commitment to yesterday’s deal and undermines the work of the UN, Turkey, and Ukraine to get critical food to world markets.”
On 24 July, Siemens Energy AG firm in Canada submitted the documentation on the transportation of turbines for the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline to Gazprom. The documents also stated the exemption of sanctions from the EU and Canada for the turbines.
On 23 July, the deputy director of the European Commission’s energy department, Matthew Baldwin stated that the EU plans to acquire gas supplies from Nigeria in response to the anticipated supply cuts from Russia. During his visit to Abuja, the minister of petroleum resources, Timipre Sylva mentioned that the federal government is improving its security in the Niger Delta and is planning to reopen the Trans Niger pipeline in September which would potentially provide more gas to Europe.
On 24 July, the defence ministry of Turkey stated that the joint coordination center in Istanbul for the agreed grain corridor is operating successfully to ensure the shipment of grain to global markets. The ministry also mentioned that the first ship from Ukrainian ports is expected to leave soon.
The Global Fallouts
Implications of the Ukraine war
On 22 July, Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi visited Paris to meet France’s president Emmanuel Macron to discuss the economic, energy and global food security fallouts of the conflict in Ukraine.
On 24 July, bakers in the Philippines are reducing the size of a well-known breakfast bun to deal with greater inflation as the conflict in Ukraine drives up wheat costs and a weaker peso raises the cost of imported edible oil. The bun “pandesal” also known as the poor man’s bread which is preferred by workers and retirees had to be downsized to keep the cost constant.
The supply disruptions caused by the war in Ukraine have also affected Tunisia as it imports 60 per cent of its soft wheat and 66 per cent of its barley from Moscow and Kiev.
On 24 July, the secretary-general of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Rebeca Grynspan stated that the agreement on the grain corridor may partially ease the sanctions on Russia by reducing the logistical costs. She stated: “There are delivery problems, insurance problems, payment problems, freight problems, and all these things make prices go up. So the main thing I foresee is that these difficulties will ease and transaction prices will come down.”
Bohdan Nahaylo, "Breaking: Russia admits missile strike on Odesa port," Kyiv Post, 24 July 2022
"Russian Strikes on Odesa Port Cast Doubt Over Grain Deal," Kyiv Post, 23 July 2022
"Armed Forces of Ukraine advancing step by step in Kherson region – address of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy," president.gov.ua , 23 July 2022
"President of Ukraine meets with US Congress' House delegation," president.gov.ua, 23 July 2022
"Moscow reveals target of strike on key Ukrainian port," Russian Times, 24 July 2022
"Russian air defense systems in Melitopol repulse attack from Ukrainian military — official," TASS, 24 July 2022
"Kherson Region creates election committee for referendum on joining Russia," TASS, 23 July 2022
"Russia not asking for sanctions removal – Lavrov," Russian Times, 24 July 2022
Orban Calls For U.S.-Russia Talks On Ukraine War; Says Kyiv Can’t Win
“Orban Calls For U.S.-Russia Talks On Ukraine War; Says Kyiv Can’t Win,” RadioFreeEurope, 23 July 2022
US accuses Russia of deepening global food crisis – as it happened
US accuses Russia of deepening global food crisis – as it happened,” the Guardian, 24 July 2022
Siemens Energy hands Gazprom documentation for transport of Nord Stream 1 turbine -media
.U.S. to push Russia to fulfill Ukraine grain deal, says China is stockpiling
“Turkish defense ministry announces plans of soonest beginning of export of Ukrainian grain,” TASS, 24 July 2022
Macdonald Dzirutwe, “EU looks to replace gas from Russia with Nigerian supplies,” Reuters, 23 July 2022
“France’s Macron hosts close ally Egypt’s al-Sisi in Paris to discuss security and defence ties,” South China Morning Post, 23 July 2022
“Ukraine war: Philippine bakeries shrink pandesal also known ‘poor man’s bread’ as inflation bites, South China Morning Post, 23 July 2022
“Soaring prices and more: Tunisian economy in trouble,” Daily Sabah, 24 July 2022
By Rishma Banerjee
Europe’s heatwaves move eastwards, spreading wildfires to Greece
On 24 July, several active blazes were reported in Greece. Wildfires were reported on the island of Lesbos for two consecutive days and nearby settlements had to be evacuated. In the mainland, blazes were seen in Krestena in the western Peloponnese, and in the forest near Dadia in the north. The Civil Protection Minister Christos Stylianidis, who is coordinating the firefighting efforts said that the difficult terrain and changing wind direction is making it increasingly difficult to deal with the fire. Greece faces wildfires for second consecutive summer. Last year, it had destroyed around 121,000 hectares of forest and bushland in the country. (“Wildfires burn coastal homes, forests in Greece as Europe's heatwave spreads east,” Reuters, 24 July 2022)
Prime minister Orban accuses Europe of racial mixing
On 23 July, in a keynote address at the Tusvanyos Summer University, Romania, Hungary’s prime minister, Victor Orban made a far-right comment. He said that they do not aspire to be a “mixed race”. Solidifying his position against the mixing of Europeans with non-Europeans, Orban mentioned that according to him, countries where European and non-Europeans mingle were “no longer nations.” He alleged that the EU, the West and the troops rallied by his Fidesz enemy, George Soros were attempting to "force migrants" into Central Europe. However, his speech drew widespread criticism from Hungary’s opposition Momentum party and Romania’s members of parliament. (Shaun Walker, “Viktor Orbán sparks outrage with attack on ‘race mixing’ in Europe,” The Guardian, 24 July 2022)
Italy sees the arrival of over 1200 undocumented migrants
On 24 July, it was reported that around 1,200 undocumented migrants arrived at ports in Sicily, Italy. The migrants hailed from Asia, Africa and Middle Eastern nations. In Calabria, 674 people were rescued and five dead bodies were discovered. A navy and mercantile ship, three coast guard patrol boats and a financial police boat carried out the rescue operation. In Lampedusa, 522 people were rescued, even though the island’s immigration center is already well over its 350 people capacity. The rescued migrants hailed from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia. (Matt Murphy, “Italy migrants: Nearly 1,200 arrive by boat in 24 hours,” BBC, 24 July 2022)
Traffic buildup continues in the port of Dover, amidst the France-UK blame game
On 23 July, a heavy build-up of traffic was reported outside the UK port of Dover. Since Brexit, UK’s custom officials carry out checks at the border, which is leading to the delays, as travellers now have to clear both the UK and French border checks. British foreign minister, Liz Truss accused French authorities for mismanagement and resource crunch at their checkpoints, but French member of Parliament Pierre-Henri Dumont said that the increased delays are occurring due to the post-Brexit increase in border control, for which France is not responsible. (“UK, France trade blame over Dover traffic chaos,” Deutsche Welle, 25 July 2022)
Monkeypox declared a global public health emergency by WHO
On 23 July, the World Health Organisation declared the ongoing monkeypox outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). This is the first time that Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghrebeyesus has made such an announcement despite a lack of consensus among WHO's emergency committee. Since the first cases were recorded in May, the outbreak has spread to 75 countries with over 16,000 cases. The current outbreak is centered in Europe, and the highest number of cases have been recorded in Spain, followed by the UK. (Sonya Angelica Diehn, “Monkeypox: WHO declares outbreak a global public health emergency,” Deutsche Welle, 23 July 2022)