Photo : UK Ministry of Defence/Twitter
18 August 2022, Thursday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #283
War in Ukraine: Day 175
By Padmashree Anandhan and Sai Pranav
War on the Ground
Ukraine’s forces carried out nuclear drill in the surrounding area of Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, where the fighters on the front had protective gear and performed radiation scan. The drill is expected to continue for few more days. Ukraine government reported on the arrival of five new ships in the Chornomorsk Black Sea port to export 70,000 tonnes of grains further.
On 17 August, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy received the documents from the ambassadors of Kyrgyz Republic, Romania, Kingdom of Belgium, and Kingdom of Spain for opening embassies in Ukraine. Zelenskyy appreciated their efforts in renewing the bilateral cooperation with Ukraine and helping in reconstruction during the war. Spain’s ambassador agreed to provide humanitarian and defence assistance to Ukraine, in support of its sovereignty and territorial veracity.
The head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Andriy Yermak met Secretary-General of the UNCTAD, Rebeca Grynspan, discussed on the agreements signed on the operations of Ukraine ports and on dealing the food crisis of other countries. They also discussed on steps to boost Ukraine’s economy with help of international organizations and partner countries.
Ukraine’s economic ministry released a statement on the status of businesses in Ukraine on the relocation programme launched. So far, 710 businesses have been shifted from the war prone area, of which 500 have already started back its operations.
The Moscow View
Claims by Russia
On 16 August, Russia’s foreign ministry refuted the allegations made by the Wall Street Journal about Russia shelling the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP) to steal Ukraine’s electricity as a false news. According to the foreign ministry, the US along with Ukrainian officials are trying to spread falsified news blaming Russia for all the attacks on the power plant. Russia had presented the proof of Ukraine’s involvement in the bombing of the Zaporizhzhia power plant and also accused them of attacking the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station, which provides the nuclear plant with cooling water, to the IAEA. The latest attack by Ukraine hit closer to breaking a container carrying used nuclear waste.
On the same day, TASS reported that the China’s army will participate in the strategic command and staff exercise Vostok-2022. The exercise will be conducted in the Moscow region around 13 locations. The countries participating in the Vostok-2022 will have a week of training from 30 August till 05 September. China’s defence ministry said that the training would be a friendly one among armies of all the countries in the world and does not relate to any regional or international issue that is happening at the present.
Also on 16 August, Russia’s defence ministry signed a deal with Makeev Missile Centre for the production and supply of large amount of Sarmat Inter Continental Ballistic Missile. The ICBM is said to be the largest missile in the history and was boasted to tear through any missile defence system. Russia’s military not only announced signing of a contract for the non interceptible missile but also S-500 Prometheus air defence system.
The rumours of change in leadership to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet has been spreading after the consecutive attacks by Ukraine. The Russian administration has confirmed the change of personnel. The state-owned RIA agency said that there is a possibility of Viktor Sokolov replacing the current Black Sea Fleet commander Igor Osipov. The defeats faced by the fleet after the attacks from Ukraine in sinking their flagship Moskova last month and a hit on their base in Saki forced the defence ministry to change the leader of Black Sea Fleet.
On 17 August, research by a Russian high-tech company, GS group reported that the imports of smartphones, especially the cheaper ones have fallen down 38 per cent in the first half due to companies pulling out of Russia. The Russian invasion of Ukraine made major smartphone brands like Samsung to exit the market and firms such as Xiaomi and Realme has limited their supply. The rise in push-button phones was seen amidst the fear of supply chain disruption.
The West View
Responses from the US and Europe
On 17 August, the European Commission approved EUR 218 million as Bulgarian scheme to help the agriculture production. The aid was sanctioned under the “Temporary Crisis Framework” to support those small, mid-sized and companied dealing in primary produce of energy, fertilizers, fruits, salad vegetables and nuts.
In its intelligence update, UK defence ministry reported on the attacks in north and centre part of Crimea, where Russia’s military airfields are present and an important junction to supply resources to Russia for the Ukraine war.
On 17 August, Germany’s intelligence experts predicted to evidence more “Russian propaganda and espionage” in the ongoing war. Such acts are observed to be focused to fear amongst the Germans over food and energy shortage.
The Global Fallouts
Implications of the Ukraine war
Amidst the Ukraine war, the ties are deepening between Russia and Myanmar. The sanctions imposed on both nations has brough them closer together. The partnership pledged deeper military ties and cooperation on nuclear energy. Russia has supported and supplied weapons to the military junta, that is ruling now, at the time of coup against Aung San Suu Kyi’s government. As long as the junta is in power, Russia promised a friendly relations between itself and Myanmar. Russia is aiming to increase its influence over the Indo-Pacific region.
On 17 August, prime minister Denys Shmyhal had thanked Justin Trudeau and Canada in a tweet for providing CAD 450 million assistance for purchasing fuel for the winter. He also showed gratitude for the support and solidarity for Ukraine in their resistance to Russia’s invasion.
“Head of state receives credentials from ambassadors of Kyrgyzstan, Romania, Belgium, Spain,” president.gov.ua, 17 August 2022
“Yermak meets with UNCTAD Secretary-General,” president.gov.ua, 17 August 2022
“Economy ministry: 500 relocated businesses already resumed operation,” Ukrinform, 17 August 2022
“Russia-Ukraine updates: Kyiv runs nuclear disaster drills near Zaporizhzhia plant,” Deutsche Welle, 17 August 2022
“Daily News,” European Commission, 17 August 2022
“Intelligence update,” Ministry of Defence/Twitter, 17 August 2022
“Moscow rejects nuclear power theft claims,” RT, 17 August 2022
“Smartphone Shipments to Russia Drop 38% Amid Company Pullouts,” The MoscowTimes, 17 August 2022
“China’s army to take part in Vostok-2022 exercise in Russia, says Beijing,” TASS, 17 August 2022
“Russian military signs contract for ‘uninterceptable’ missiles,” RT, 16 August 2022
Maria Siow, “Partners in isolation: Russia-Myanmar ties deepen amid Western sanctions,” scmp, 18 August 2022
Denys Shmyhal, “Grateful for Canada’s aid,” Twitter, 17 August 2022
By Padmashree Anandhan and Rishma Banerjee
NATO chief meets leaders of Kosovo and Serbia
On 17 August, NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, met both president of Kosovo and Serbia on the recent clash in the northern Kosovo. The issue began after Kosovo ruled that the Serbian license plates and id’s will no longer be valid to enter Kosovo. Since then protests and roadblocks by Serbians have been continuing. NATO’s chief during the visit, he insisted the Serbian president Aleksandar Vučić, to value the rights of the communities and start a dialogue to settle the dispute. Whereas to Kosovo’s leader Aleksandar Vučić, asked to “engage constructively” and assured to support under NATO’s Kosovo Force (KFOR) to guarantee peace to all communities. He said: “KFOR’s neutrality is central to its mission success.. and KFOR is ready to intervene if stability is jeopardised” (“NATO Secretary General meets with Albin Kurti of Kosovo,” nato.int, 17 August 2022; “NATO Secretary General meets with President Aleksandar Vučić of Serbia,” nato.int, 17 August 2022; “Stoltenberg: NATO ready to intervene if Kosovo tensions escalate,” Deutche Welle, 17 August 2022)
Poland accuses Germany of having grand designs on polish territory and controlling the EU along with France
On 17 August, German newspaper Die Welt published an op-ed by Poland’s prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki. In the article Morawiecki alleges that the EU is democratic only in name, and the real power is wielded by Germany and France. He claims that the EU is functioning like a de-facto oligarchy and the member states should decide how to prioritise EU action and policies instead of the EU institutions. He said: "Europe finds itself in its present situation not because it is insufficiently integrated, but because it refused to hear the truth." Additionally, Poland’s central bank chief, Adam Glapinski also warned that Poland must keep in mind Germany’s designs on their former lands which now fall within Polish borders. He aimed his criticism at Civic Platform’s leader Donald Tusk accusing him being a stooge for Brussels. He said: “For a year it's been said that the task set by Brussels for Tusk is not only for him to overthrow Poland's existing government and put our country on course for the Eurozone.” He added that once these tasks are accomplished, Tusk will become the head of the European Commission and accelerate an effort to build a European state." (“Poland says Berlin and Paris running EU as an 'oligarchy',” Deutsche Welle, 16 August 2022; Jan Cienski, “Poland’s central bank chief warns of German designs on Polish territory,” POLITICO, 17 August 2022)
NATO begins protection of Iceland’s airspace
On 17 August, Denmark’s F-16s began flying air policing units from Keflavik Air Base in Iceland, as a part of their mission to protect Iceland’s airspace. The Keflavik Air base is controlled by the NATO Control and Reporting Centre at Keflavik and NATO's northern Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC). The Danish detachment will work with Iceland’s coast guards. These units, which is the fifth deployment of Danish fighter aircrafts will be on standby until mid-September. The head of the CAOC certification team, colonel Wilhelm May mentioned that this marks the third time in 2022 that the team has conducted the certification of NATO fighters to conduct air policing above Iceland. He said: “The Royal Danish Air Force F-16 detachment have demonstrated again that they master the tactics, techniques and procedures to safeguard the skies.” (“Fifth royal Danish air force deployment to Iceland: Ready to secure the high north,” NATO, 17 August 2022)
NATO’s “Thracian Viper” joint flight training exercise commences
On 16 August NATO reported that from 08 August to 19 August, a joint flight training exercise called the “Thracian Viper” is being conducted. Greece, Canada, Romania, and the US are participating in the training exercise that has been conducted annually since 2010. Specific air defence tasks with increasing complexity are being performed. The objective of the exercise is to prepare for the joint participation in coalition operations. Bulgaria is operating from the Graf Ignatievo Air Base, Bezmer Air Base, and the Krumovo Air Base, and will focus on aeromedical evacuation. Canada and Romania is operating from Romania’s permanent base, while Greece conducts its drills from its own base. US air force is coordinating its operations from the Elena training area. (“Joint flight training Thracian Viper 2022 started,” NATO, 16 August 2022)
EUs first step to becoming a global leader in digital regulation
On 16 August, the world economic forum reported on the EU’s decision to open a new office in San Francisco, which is known as California’s Silicon Valley. The initiative is taken under the EU’s digital diplomacy to not only directly connect with US’s leading tech companies. It is also to act as a regulator of such tech giants overseeing their global implications. Through which EU’s digital policies, governance models and cooperation will strengthen with the US. Such trans-Atlantic cooperation reflects the shift from where countries had nuclear proliferation treaty to control other countries possessing of nuclear weapons, similarly the ongoing digital transformation insists for prevention of digital proliferation. (Spencer Feingold, “Why the European Union is opening a Silicon Valley 'embassy',” weforum.org, 16 August 2022)
Palestine president’s “holocaust” comment sparks outrage
On 16 August, Palestine’s president Mahmoud Abbas made a controversial statement in Germany at a joint press conference with Germany’s chancellor Olaf Scholz. Abbas was asked by a journalist whether he wanted to apologise for the deadly attack on Israelis by Palestine’s militants in the 1972 winter Olympics. He said: “If we want to dig further into the past, yes, please, I have 50 massacres that were committed by Israel… 50 Holocausts.” On 17 August, Germany’s chancellor Olaf Scholz criticized the statement and expressed outrage about Abba’s comments. The statement has drawn criticism from Israel too. Israel’s ambassador to Germany, Ron Proser said that ‘holocaust denial” in Germany should not be tolerated. (Philip Oltermann, “Uproar after Mahmoud Abbas in Berlin accuses Israel of ’50 Holocausts’,” The Guardian, 17 August 2022)