Photo : REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko
26 July 2022, Tuesday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #263
War in Ukraine: Day 152
By Rishma Banerjee
War on the ground
On 25 July, President Zelenskyy said that Ukraine’s forces are reclaiming territory under Russia’s control in Kherson. “Step by step” progress was being made by the forces to encircle Russia’s troops in the region.
Ukraine’s deputy minister of infrastructure, Yuriy Vaskov, reported that under the Istanbul agreement, the shipment of grains from Ukraine will begin from the Chornomorsk port, followed by Odesa and then Pivdennyi. Vaskov also mentioned that Ukraine will be ready to export soon. A deputy UN spokesperson, Farhan Haq also reiterated that all parties involved in the deal have “reconfirmed their commitment,” and that the Joint Coordination Centre will be coordinating the procedure.
Missile attacks have been reported in Chuhuiv in Kharkiv and explosions were also heard in Mykolaiv. While no casualties have been reported, around five people have been injured. Russia’s forces also opened fire in Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region with multiple launch rocket systems. Moreover, three districts in the Dnipropetrovsk region were also struck by close to 40 rockets.
The Moscow View
Claims by Russia
On 25 July, Russia’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov said that the strike on Odesa port was to target the grain shipments under the Istanbul accords. He further clarified that the strike was meant only to target the military infrastructure around the port. Since Russia’s forces only struck a ship repair plant and a depot of US-supplied Harpoon missiles, it will not be affecting the start of the shipment process.
On the same day, the head of Russia’s Investigative Committee, Alexander Bastrykin said that they have found that over 200 members of Ukraine’s military were involved in “crimes against the peace and security of mankind.” He also said that charges have been filed against 92 commanders and subordinates in Ukraine, while 96 are currently on the wanted list.
On 25 July, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov who was visiting Africa, met Congo’s foreign minister. Post the meeting, he said that Europe was sacrificing its own interests by trying to “submit to the dictates of the United States.” He was speaking in the context of a comment made by Poland’s president Andrzej Duda, about how Russia “must lose the war” against Ukraine. He also reiterated Peskov’s statement about how the strikes on the Odesa port do not contradict the recently signed Istanbul agreement regarding grain shipments from Ukraine.
On 24 July, the head of the Zaporizhzhya region military-civilian administration, Yevgeny Balitsjy informed that two more centers will be opened to receive applications for Russian citizenship. The centers will be in Melitopol and Berdyansk. Balitsjy said that this was due to increased demand in the region for Russian citizenship.
The West View
Responses from the US and Europe
On 25 July, UK’s outgoing prime minister Boris Johnson joined Ukraine’s troop's training in Scotland. He participated in a training exercise to learn how to throw grenades, shoot assault rifles, and use top-of-the-range rocket launchers.
The UK will be hosting the upcoming edition of the Eurovision Song Contest. This comes after the organization decided that it cannot be held in Ukraine, due to the ongoing war-time conditions.
After an executive order by the European Union, Lithuania has lifted its rail transit ban of Russian goods to the Kaliningrad exclave. As per EU sanctions, transport by road is still affected, but 60 wagons of cement will be taken to the territory soon.
The Global Fallouts
Implications of the Ukraine war
On 24 July, The Wall Street Journal reported that Kazakhstan will increase its defense spending and seek closer bilateral ties with China and NATO countries. This is amid fears of Russian aggression and geopolitical ambitions spilling over into Kazakhstan. An additional USD 918 million will be allocated to the defence budget.
On 25 July, Taiwan started its largest annual military exercise, consisting of trench warfare and shoulder-launched Stinger missiles. The exercise was simulated to be against Chinese attacks. In light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Taiwan’s increased military preparedness can be in apprehension of a similar Chinese attack.
The Human Rights Watch has said that Russia’s forces in the occupied areas of Kherson and Zaporizhzhya regions have tortured, unlawfully detained, and forcibly disappeared civilians. The organization reported on 42 such cases and said that the objective of these was to either obtain information or instill fear in the people to accept Russia’s occupation.
The World Food Programme (WFP) said that they were optimistic about grain export as a part of the UN-brokered deal between Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, and the UN. However, they warned that the export of grains alone will not be enough to mitigate the global food crisis, even if its implementation is smooth and immediate.
Ramsha Afridi, “Ukraine’s War: Kyiv’s Forces Advance on Occupied Kherson, says Zelensky,” Kyiv Post, 25 July 2022
“Resumption of Ukraine’s grain exports to begin from Chornomorsk port,” Ukrinform, 25 July 2022
“Russians launch missile attack on Chuhuiv, casualties reported,” Ukrinform, 25 July 2022
“Enemy opens fire on outskirts of Kramatorsk with MLRS,” Ukrinform, 25 July 2022
“Russian troops shell three districts of Dnipropetrovsk region. Child injured,” Ukrinform, 25 July 2022
“Russians again strike Mykolayiv and Kharkiv cities,” Ukrinform, 25 July 2022
Pavel Polityuk, Max Hunder, Michelle Nichols, “First Ukraine Black Sea grain shipments could move in days - U.N., Ukraine,” Reuters, 25 July 2022
“Strike at Odessa port’s military sites to have no impact on grain shipments, Kremlin says,” TASS, 25 July 2022
“Two more centers to be opened in Zaporozhye Region to file for Russian citizenship,” TASS, 24 July 2022
“Lavrov accused Europe of indulging the United States to its own detriment.” Lenta.ru, 25 July 2022
“Lavrov denied the violation of agreements on the export of grain,” Lenta.ru, 25 July 2022
Susie Blann, “Russia says it wants to end Ukraine’s `unacceptable regime’,” AP News, 25 July 2022
“Russia accuses Ukrainian troops of war crimes,” RT, 25 July 2022
Jay Beecher, “British PM Joins Ukrainian Soldiers Training in Scotland,” Kyiv Post, 25 July 2022
“UK to host next year's Eurovision Song Contest,” BBC, 25 July 2022
“Kaliningrad row: Lithuania lifts rail restrictions for Russian exclave,” BBC, 24 July 2022
Evan Gershkovich, “Putin’s Unexpected Challenge: Snubs From His Central Asian Allies,” The Wall Street Journal, 24 July 2022
Maytaal Angel, “U.N. World Food Programme optimistic on Ukraine grain export deal,” Reuters, 25 July 2022
“Ukraine: Torture, Disappearances in Occupied South,” Human Rights Watch, 22 July 2022
“Taiwan stages Chinese invasion war games with Ukraine in mind,” Channel News Asia, 25 July 2022
By Emmanuel Royan
Macron to visit three countries in Africa
On 25 July, France’s president Emmanuel Macron began his three-nation tour of western African states to revive the country’s relationship with the continent. Macron will be visiting Cameroon, Benin, and Guinea-Bissau to discuss food and regional security. The tour is said to “show the commitment of the president in the process of renewing the relationship with the African continent.” The first country Macron will be visiting is Cameroon which has been driven by ethnic violence and insurgencies. The next day Macron will be visiting Benin whose democracy has been eroded under president Patrice Talon. Macron will be ending his tour in Guinea-Bissau which is also in political crisis. (“Macron embarks on African visit to 'renew relationship' with continent,” France24, 25 July 2022)
The young population declines to record low
On 25 July, the Federal Statistical Office of Germany, Destatis stated that the proportion of the young population aged 15-24 has reached its lowest since the beginning of current records in 1950. The number of young people in Germany has been declining since 2005, except for the year 2015. Regarding the demographic landscape, youngsters in the city-state of Bremen constitute 11 per cent of the population, and in the eastern state of Brandenburg eight per cent. (“Germany: Number of young people falls to record low,” Deutsche Welle, 25 July 2022)
Freezing point in regards to altitude increases
On 25 July, the meteorological department of Switzerland, MeteoSwiss stated that the freezing point of its country is higher than its tallest summits. Weather balloons rose to 5,184 feet before identifying the freezing point. This was about 70 meters higher than the previous record of 5,117 meters measured on 20 July 1995 and also 375 meters above Europe’s highest peak, Mont Blanc located in the French Alps. This occurrence is said to be extremely unusual and is pushing the wild fauna that lives in cold climates to climb further up the mountains until they have nowhere to go to survive. (“Freezing point climbs to record high above Swiss Alpine summits,” The Guardian, 25 July 2022)
EU Approves smallpox vaccine for monkeypox
On 25 July, the European Commission approved the Danish biotech company Bavarian Nordic’s Imnavex vaccine for use against Monkeypox in the EU member states. The Bavarian Nordic vaccine was generally used for protection against smallpox. The company’s chief executive Paul Chaplin said: "The availability of an approved vaccine can significantly improve nations' readiness to fight emerging diseases, but only through investments and structured planning of the biological preparedness." He added that the vaccine was developed in collaboration with the US government. (“Monkeypox: EU approves vaccine to combat outbreak,” Deutsche Welle, 25 July 2022)
NATO ships dock at Estonia’s ports
On 25 July, two ships of the Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1) arrived in Estonia’s Tallinn port. The Dutch joint support ship and current SNMG1 flagship HNLMS Karel Doorman (A833) and the Portuguese NRP Corte-Real (F332), a Vasco da Gama-class frigate arrived at Old City Harbor. The Standing NATO Maritime Groups are NATO's two Maritime Immediate Reaction Forces, which are multinational, integrated maritime forces that are permanently available to the military bloc to perform tasks ranging from participating in exercises and operational missions. (“Gallery: Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 ships visit Estonia, News.ERR, 25 July 2022)
Insurance for ships exporting Ukrainian wheat
On 25 July, the International Association of Ports and Harbours (IAPH) recognized the international agreement to resume shipments and security of all port workers and seafarers from Ukraine's seaports to be “absolutely guaranteed,” to fulfill the agreement's objectives. Even when exports do resume initially, Lee from S&P Global Market Intelligence anticipates that they will be limited to small, domestic vessels rather than the massive, internationally-owned vessels that typically handle the sector. (“Updated: Security and insurance concerns hang over Ukraine grain export recovery,” Seatrade Maritime News, 25 July 2022)