Daily Briefs


10 August 2022, Wednesday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #276

War in Ukraine: Day 167

Erdogan inaugurates Ankara's largest drilling ship; The UK to face more energy price increase; Felixstowe Dock workers go on a strike

War in Ukraine: Day 167
By Rishma Banerjee
War on The Ground
On 09 August, in an interview with the Washington Post, president Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged the West to consider a blanket ban for Russian travellers. He argued that the current sanctions were weak and have to be furthered to exert more pressure on Russia's president Vladimir Putin. Zelenskyy said that Russians should “live in their own world until they change their philosophy.”

After explosions were reported in a military airport in Crimea, Zelenskyy said that the war with Russia “began with Crimea and must end with Crimea.” Though he did not claim responsibility about the blasts, he said that Crimea rightfully belonged to Ukraine. He added that while they did not know when the liberation of Crimea might occur, Ukraine was taking necessary steps in that regard.

The deputy chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on national security, defence and national intelligence, Yuriy Mysiahin reported that the armed forces of Ukraine had received 50 new Kirpi armoured vehicles from Turkey. The vehicles were equipped with a machine gun, a fire extinguishing system and a mine protection system and can carry 12 military personnel and crew. Another batch of 150 is scheduled to arrive soon.

On 08 August, Ukraine's ambassador to Turkey, Vasyl Bodnar, announced the construction of a new Bayraktar factory in Ukraine. He said that the parent company from Turkey, Baykar had already bought the necessary land and established a company in Ukraine. He also noted that the project for the manufacturing plant had been approved.

The Moscow View
Claims by Russia

On 09 August, blasts were reported at the Saki military airport, near Novofedorovka city in Crimea which killed one person and injured a few. Initially neither Russia, not Ukraine claimed responsibility for the blasts, but later Russia’s defence ministry said that the explosions resulted from the detonation of aviation ammunition. The claim has not been verified yet. However, if it is revealed that it was an attack by Ukraine, it might lead to further escalation, as this is the first explosion in Crimea, which has been under Russia’s control since 2014.

The defence ministry spokesperson, lieutenant general Igor Konashekov spoke about the mercenaries involved in the fight in Ukraine. He said that around 2,000 foreign mercenaries were fighting in Ukraine. Konashekov mentioned that due to the offensive launched by the armed forces and the people’s militias in the LPR and the DPR, the number had reduced from 2,741 to 2,192 in the past month. 

In response to Zelenskyy’s request of a blanket travel ban, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that it was irrational on Russians. He also questioned if Europe should consider the request and added: "This can only be seen extremely negatively. Any attempt to isolate Russia or Russians is a process that has no prospects."

On 09 August, Russian pipeline monopoly Transneft said that the supply of crude oil to three EU members states had been suspended by Ukraine from 04 August. It was due to Ukraine’s UkrTransNafta, which controls the part of the Druzhba pipeline in Ukraine, had refused payment sent by Transneft via the sanctioned Gazprombank. The stopping of supplies will affect Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic, who were most reliant on the Druzhba pipeline for oil. Hungary’s energy firm MOL said that it has enough reserves till september, after which it will consider importing oil via the Adria pipeline that connects the Hungary with Croatia. Slovakia’s options are more limited as it will have to import from Hungary. Whereas for Czech Republic it can import oil from the Trieste in Italy via the Transalpine pipeline, but it is confident over resumption of supply from Druzhba pipeline.

On 08 August, Russia’s communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor reported that they have censored around 138,000 websites since Russia’s invasion of Europe in February. Prosecutor general Igor Krasnov said that the move comes after over 300 requests came from prosecutors to combat “fake news” against Russia. He also said: “After the start of the special military operation, we have strengthened our counteraction to the spread of calls for extremism and terrorism, mass riots and fake news on the internet.”

On the same day, Russia's foreign ministry announced that Russia will temporarily withdraw from the inspection regime as mandated by the START nuclear disarmament treaty, until the "existing problematic issues" are resolved. The ministry claimed that the US was getting undue advantage as the Western sanctions were preventing Russian inspection on American sites. The ministry also reiterated that Russia was fully committed to the provisions of the start treaty. In a statement, the ministry stated: “We would like to emphasize that the measures we have taken are temporary. Russia is fully committed to complying with all the provisions of the START Treaty, which in our eyes is the most important instrument for maintaining international security and stability.” 

The West View
Responses from the US and Europe 

On 09 August, Estonia’s prime minister Kaja Kallas called on the Schengen area countries to stop issuing tourist visas to Russian travellers. She said that travelling to Europe was a privilege and not a human right. The foreign affairs ministry announced that Estonia had temporarily stopped issuing tourist visas to Russia. On 08 August, a similar stance was taken by Finland's prime minister Sanna Marin, claimed that this issue will be discussed during the upcoming European Council meetings, and her position will be to introduce a travel restriction for Europe.

On the same day, Turkey’s defence ministry reported that two more ships carrying grains from Ukraine left from the Chornomorsk port, Ocean Lion which is the largest ship to leave will take corn to South Korea, while Rahmi Yagci will carry sunflower meal to Istanbul. So far, 12 ships have been granted a safe passage as per the deal signed by Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the UN.

On 09 August, the EU’s emergency gas plan came into force. As per the plan, the member states will have to reduce their gas consumption by 15 per cent by March 2023. The plan also entails ‘savings targets’ which could be made mandatory if there is a supply emergency. It aims to save 45 billion cubic meters of gas but also has several opt-out options available for individual countries as well. In Germany, the head of the federal agency responsible for electricity, gas, rail, mail and telecommunications, Klaus Muller said that the plan could help stop the rising prices of gas.

Germany’s economy ministry claimed that none of the Russian individuals sanctioned by the EU have declared their assets to Germany’s authorities, as mandated by sanctions law. Around EUR 4.28 billion belonging to the sanctioned oligarchs have been frozen in Germany. If they do not declare their assets, they might be fined or may be sentenced to a year in prison.

The Global Fallouts
Implications of the Ukraine war

On the same day, Russia launched the Iranian Khayyam satellite from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Concerns have been raised about whether Russia will use the satellite for surveillance of military targets in Ukraine. However, the Iranian Space Agency confirmed that they would be controlling the satellite “from day one”, and no third country will be able to access the information sent by the satellite to its encrypted algorithm. The Agency also clarified that the satellite will be used to improve productivity of the agriculture industry, preempt and manage natural disasters, survey water resources, monitor deforestation, mining explorations and border areas. The Communications and Information Technology Minister Issa Zarepour said that the launch will enhance the strategic cooperation between Iran and Russia in the space industry.

China to meet the global food security crisis, has been preparing for agricultural self-sufficiency. The ministry of agriculture and rural affairs released the “national seed industry formation” list of 69 breeding companies and institutions in the crop sector; 86 firms in the livestock and poultry sector; and 121 companies in aquaculture. Such companies will be given more resources technology and capital to create an independent seed industry.

Zelenskyy calls on West to ban all Russian travellers,” The Washington Post, 08 August 2022
Bayraktar Drone Factory to be Built in Ukraine,” Kyiv Post, 09 August 2022
Armed Forces receive first batch of 50 Kirpi armored vehicles from Turkey,” Ukrinform, 09 August 2022
Russian military comments on blasts in Crimea,” RT, 09 August 2022
Explosions Hit Military Airport In Ukraine's Russia-Annexed Crimea, Killing One Person,” rferl, 09 August 2022
Russian Defense Ministry reveals number of foreign mercenaries fighting for Kiev,” TASS, 09 August 2022
Russia Launches Iranian Satellite Amid Ukraine War Concerns,” The Moscow Times, 09 August 2022
Russia launches Iranian satellite into space amid Western concerns,” Daily Sabah 09 August 2022
Kremlin says Zelenskiy call for Western ban on all Russians is irrational,” Reuters, 09 August 2022
Russia Has Blocked 138K Websites Since Ukraine Invasion, Prosecutor Says,” The Moscow Times, 08 August 2022
Russia suspends US inspections of nuclear military sites,” RT, 08 August 2022
Ukraine round-up: Blasts in Crimea and travel dispute,” BBC, 10 August 2022
Finnish, Estonian PMs both find Russian tourism in Europe should be curbed,” ERR News, 09 August 2022
Two more grain ships leave Ukraine, bringing total to 12 under new deal,” Reuters, 09 August 2022
EU's emergency gas plan comes into force,” Deutsche Welle, 09 August 2022
Christian Kraemer, “Russians under sanctions fail to declare assets in line with German law,” Reuters, 09 August 2022
Homegrown Khayyam satellite put into orbit,” Tehran Times, 09 August 2022
Orange Wang, “China’s food-security push gets a boost with new list of 276 state-supported breeders, seed producers,” scmp, 09 August 2022

By Sai Pranav

Unite union strike after the negotiation fail 
On 08 August, workers at Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company turned down the offer of EUR 500 in addition to a seven per cent wage increase after talks with the organizations. The Unite union will take strikes due to the failure of the negotiations. The Union said that the Felixstowe dock is a hugely profitable business but does not pay enough to its employees. The union had rejected the proposal and did not put it to its members. Due to the higher cost of living, the workers have asked for an increase in wage which was met with a poor response from the company. ("Felixstowe port workers to strike after talks fail," BBC, 09 August 2022)

Rise in energy price leaves households in debts
On 09 August, BBC reported that households in the UK are facing debts with their energy companies as opposed to 2021. The average debt of a household was found to be EUR 206 when the comparison site Uswitch surveyed 2000. Energy experts believe that the prices will be even higher in October. The government is advising its citizens to tell if they are unable to meet the energy prices. Plans to help out the people of the UK have been put forward by the government. The government is concerned about over eight million people who would not be able to afford to pay energy prices during winter. It has set out plans to protect every household during winter by providing EUR 400 to help with the rising fuel bills. There is also EUR 650 for the eight million low-income households and EUR 150 for disabled people. Pensioners also get an additional EUR 300. (Simon Read, “Households already in debt as energy bills rise,” BBC, 09 August 2022)

A new drilling ship is sent to the eastern Mediterranean by Ankara
On 09 August, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan inaugurated Ankara's new drilling ship, Abdulhamid Han, the country's largest undersea hydrocarbon drill ship. In his inaugural address, he said that the ship would be sent to an area in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, northwest of Cyprus.  The ship would begin drilling in Turkey's southwestern Antalya province off the coast of Gazipasa, at the Yorukler-1 well. The ship is named after an Ottoman sultan. Erdogan said that the ship would become a symbol of a new vision for Turkey in the area of energy. It will reduce its dependency on Russian energy. He also said that Turkey has the right to do its business on its border and does not need any permission from Greece or Cyprus. Turkey has a conflict with Cyprus and Greece over maritime borders and the drilling is likely to spark a new dispute. (“Turkey sends new drill ship to eastern Mediterranean,” Deutsche Welle, 09 August 2022)

Italy and Slovenia fight for balsamic vinegar 
On 09 August, Italy's government initiated an infringement proceeding against Slovenia to defend its popular and geographically protected balsamic vinegar. Slovenia informing the European Commission about its plan to standardize its vinegar production, merchandising wine vinegar mixed with concentrated fruit juice as balsamic vinegar in 2021 angered Italy causing a rift between the two nations. Aceto balsamico di Modena (balsamic vinegar of Modena) is a term that can be used only by producers in Modena and the Emilia-Romagna region. The Mario Draghi administration authorized the continuation of the proceedings, which requires consultation with the Commission and taking the case to the court of justice of the EU (CJEU) if necessary. Italy perceived Slovenia's action as an illicit attack on the country's food and agricultural industry and would do everything to defend the nation. Italy has already lost a legal battle with a German company regarding the term balsamico. The CJEU ruled the case in favour of the company as the terms were non geographic. (Angela Giuffrida, "Sour grapes: Italy takes Slovenia to court over balsamic vinegar," The Guardian, 09 August 2022)


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