Photo : UNICEF/Anton Skyba for The Globe and Mail
26 August 2022, Friday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #290
War in Ukraine: Day 183
By Padmashree Anandhan and Sai Pranav
War on the Ground
On 25 August, the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) was shut down for a few hours for the first time since the start of its operation. The power grid supply was disrupted due to a forest fire at the ash pit of the Zaporizhzhia Thermal Power Plant (ZTPP). According to the Ukrainian energy corporation, Energoatom, ZNPP’s power is supplied by ZTPP and works for the restoration of the connection between the nuclear reactor's power units and the Ukrainian electrical grid was ongoing.
On the same day, Spain’s ministry of defence announced that Ukraine would receive an anti-aircraft battery and missiles, 1000 rounds of field artillery munitions, 1000 tonnes of diesel fuel, various armoured vehicles and 30000 winter uniforms from their government as military aid amidst the ongoing war.
On 24 August, Ukraine's ministry of environmental protection and natural resources reported that the country suffered damages to the environment worth UAH 395 billion at the hands of Russian troops during the six months of the invasion. The damages include UAH 106.3 billion to water resources, UAH 176.5 billion from air pollution and UAH 8.8 billion to the soil.
The Moscow View
Claims by Russia
On 25 August, the chairman of the Russian State Duma Committee on Foreign Affairs and a member of the negotiating group said that his country is ready to resume talks with Ukraine if its president Volodymyr Zelenskyy accepts the invitation. He also noted that the previous talks ended in an inconclusive way due to the uncertain and inconsistent position of Ukraine.
On 25 August, Russia’s president Vladimir Putin signed a decree which stated that the country’s military would increase its size by 137000 troops from 01 January 2023. The decree also instructed that the armed forces will be expanded to 1.15 million soldiers and that the cabinet allocate necessary funds.
On 26 August, Russia’s Federal Agency of Air Transport (Rosaviatsiya) reported that the southern and central regions of the country would face an extension of restrictions on flights at 11 airports till 04 September 2022. Russia had previously closed off parts of its airspace to civilian aircraft on 24 February 2022 to help with the special operation in Ukraine.
The West View
Responses from the US and Europe
On 25 August, NATO announced on its impact assessment of the recent breach of military documents. During the hack the military documents such as the blueprints of the weapons used by NATO were sold out by the hacker group. As per NATO’s statement: “We are assessing claims relating to data allegedly stolen from MBDA. We have no indication that any Nato network has been compromised.” As per BBC report, the leaked data was found to be “NATO CONFIDENTIAL” or “NATO RESTRICTED” categorised as high classified details. It contained the details of Land Ceptor CAMM (Common Anti-Air Modular Missile) and MBDA Missile Systems. Russian cyber criminals have claimed to be behind the hack and selling of the data.
France’s energy company “Total Energies” has come under accusation of France's transport minister for direct sale of fuel to Russia’s air force. The accusation comes after the findings of the NGO Global Witness’s investigation of a liquid gas condensate in Siberia being converted into a refinery for jet fuel by Russians. Which the Total Energies company controls and holds half of the field. Although the company has denied all the allegations, close to 40000 tonnes of fuel had been sent to Russia from February to July, as per Global Witness.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who will be stepping down soon, during his visit to Ukraine, stressed on the West to “stay on the course” although the energy bills, and living cost crisis. He also announced GBP 54 million as military package, which will include state of the art drones and loitering munitions to support Ukraine in surveillance and attacks.
The Global Fallouts
Implications of the Ukraine war
Citigroup bank announced the closure of the remaining branches and end its operations in Russia. The stop of the operations will mean termination for 2300 staff and transfer of western businesses out of Russia. On 25 August, according to Citi's chief executive Titi Cole: “It's clear that the wind-down path makes the most sense given the many complicating factors in the environment.” Apart from employment loss, the customer deposit accounts, investments and credit bills are set to be affected.
On 25 August, High Commissioner for Human Rights, Bachelet on the six months of Ukraine war, reported that close to 5587 civilians and 1000 children had been killed. On the Zaporizhzhia nuclear developments, she urged the parties to respect the international law and called for demilitarization of the nuclear plant.
On 25 August, the UN-partnered Cluster Munition Monitor civil society group released a report the threat posed by the cluster bombs on people. It found that since 24 February, 215 civilians had been killed from cluster munitions, it brough out the practicality of the Oslo convention which banned the production, use and transfer of cluster munitions. But Ukraine war has been an exception to it. According to US Executive Director of Humanity & Inclusion, Jeff Meer: “Warring parties must immediately cease all use of cluster munitions, which have already killed or wounded hundreds of civilians in Ukraine this year. States must pressure countries that use cluster munitions to stop.”
“The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) disconnected from the power grid for the first time in its operational history on August 25.,” ISW, 25 August 2022
“Spain to Send Anti-Aircraft Battery, Armored Vehicles to Ukraine,” Kyiv Post, 25 August 2022
“Environmental Damage Caused by Russian Invasion Estimated at $10 Billion,” Kyiv Post, 25 August 2022
“Russia vows to resume talks when Kiev is ready for them, says MP,” TASS, 26 August 2022
“Putin orders Russian military to boost manpower,” RT, 25 August 2022
“In Russia, again extended the regime of restrictions on flights to airports in the south of the country,” LENTA.RU, 26 August 2022
Joe Tidy and Benedict Garman, “Nato investigates hacker sale of missile firm data,” BBC, 25August 2022
Paul Kirby, “French oil firm TotalEnergies denies link to Russian jet supplies,” BBC, 25 August 2022
“Ukraine war: Citi bank to close Russian branches,” BBC, 25 August 2022
“Boris Johnson: Endure energy crisis to counter Russia in Ukraine,” BBC, 25 August 2022
“Russia’s war with Ukraine needs to end, UN’s Bachelet urges Vladimir Putin,” BBC, 25 August 2022
“Ukraine: Cluster munitions pose long-term risk to civilian safety,” BBC, 25 August 2022
By Rishma Banerjee
Trial commences for three journalists in Finland in unprecedented press freedom case
On 25 August, Helsingin Sanomat began the trial for three journalists. Who have been charged with publishing classified defence information and the prosecutor has demanded a minimum of an 18 month suspension if found guilty. The two journalists and their former editor had published a report titled “Finland's most secret place” in 2017. It has been alleged that the report revealed national defence secrets like the location and tasks of an intelligence unit of the defence forces. The chairwoman of the Finnish Journalists Union, Hanne Aho said that this kind of trial was unprecedented in Finland, which is among the top countries in the global press freedom ranking published annually by Reporters Without Borders. The editor-in-chief of Helsingin Sanomat, Laius Niemi supported the journalists and said that they had not broken any law. (Anne Kauranen, “Three Finnish journalists go on trial in rare press freedom case,” Reuters, 25 August, 2022
President Macron visit Algeria with the French delegation
On 25 August, France’s president Emmanuel Macron arrived in Algeria for a three-day visit. The agenda will be to mend France’s ties with Algeria, through the French delegation comprises 90 people, including seven ministers from his cabinet and several business leaders. Algeria being Africa’s biggest gas exporter, coincides with France’s efforts to secure more gas for itself before the winter months. Algeria’s president Abdelmadjid Tebboune and Macron will also discuss the issue of Russia being Algeria’s top weapons supplier and the withdrawal of French troops from Mali. (Hugh Schofield, “France's Emmanuel Macron to mend Algeria ties as energy crisis bites,” BBC, 25 August 2022)
France accuses the UK for violating environmental commitments
On 25 August, three MEPs from France claimed that the UK was neglecting environmental commitments by directing their raw sewage into the English Channel and the North Sea. The MEPs who are from the En Marche party, called for legal and political action from the European Commission on the issue. They said that UK’s action was threatening marine life, the oceans and violating the terms of the UN conventions on protecting shared waters. The UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokesperson however denied the charges. He said that since Brexit, the environment law in the country has been made even more stringent and thus it was “untrue” that the UK was not holding itself to water quality targets. (Elsa Maishman, “Sewage in sea: French appeal to EU over UK discharges of waste,” BBC, 25 August 2022)
Spain offers to host peace talks for Colombia
On 25 August, Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sanchez announced to host talks to secure peace. Sanchez recounted Spain’s longstanding relation with Colombia and referred to the historic 2016 deal between the government and the FARC guerrilla group. Through this visit, Sanchez is expected to renew the dialogue with the ELN guerrillas that was stopped by Ivan Duque’s government and to resume negotiations with the FARC and the Gulf Clan paramilitary group. Sanchez said: “We offer ourselves to the Colombian government to help in everything that I think is common sense to achieve peace… Spain would be willing and offers to host them.” (Fernando Heller, “Spain offers to host Colombian peace talks,” Euractiv, 26 August 2022)
Politico reports on the African climate summit
On 25 August, POLITICO reported on the upcoming Africa Adaptation summit at the Global Centre on Adaptation in September. Presidents from Senegal, Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, Gabon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia will be present at the meeting. They will be seeking the cash promised to them as a part of the commitments made at the U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, in November 2021. The summit will be of great importance to the African leaders as the financial assistance for climate adaptation will be a priority at the COP27 climate talks in November. (Karl Mathiesen, “European leaders to skip climate summit with Africa,” POLITICO, 25 August 2022)