Photo : Cpl Anil Gurung/UK MoD
07 December 2022, Wednesday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #377
War in Ukraine: Day 286
By Padmashree Anandhan and Sai Pranav
War on the Ground
On 06 December, in an interview with CNN, Ukraine’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Economy Minister Yuliya Svyridenko pointed out the retainment of export potential by Ukraine despite Russia’s aggression. According to a KSE Institute and Agrarian Policy and Food Ministry report, Ukraine’s agricultural exports were worth USD 21.1 billion between January and November, which was 13.7 per cent lower compared to the same period in 2021. The direct loss in the agricultural sector was calculated as USD 6.6 billion and the indirect loss was USD 34.25 billion. The July 2022 Grain Corridor Initiative and the new Grain from Ukraine program boosted agricultural exports after Russia halted ships in Odessa port.
On 06 December, Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada Chairman Ruslan Stefanchuk said in a Facebook post that he participated in the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly meeting with Lithuania, Poland parliamentary heads and the US Congress's Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, Robert Kelly Menendez. The meeting focused on Russian aggression in Ukraine and its attacks on Ukraine’s important energy facilities and civilian infrastructures in the recent missile strike. The need for more anti-aircraft and anti-missile defence was also discussed.
On 06 December, Ukraine’s Armed Forces released a statement on the 120th defence brigade that was a joint-staff exercise with other military units near Ukraine's border with Belarus. The military exercise focused on training soldiers in the lower and upper headquarters with interaction skills. The exercise took place in the defence zone near the border.
On 06 December, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and Moldova’s Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita signed on defence, energy, logistics, trade and economic cooperation between both countries. European integration and ways to stop Russian aggression were also discussed. Ukraine and Moldova also agreed on air defence and border control cooperation.
On 06 December, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged Germany to provide them Leopard 2 tanks, Patriot systems and Marder infantry fighting vehicles in addition to the Gepard anti-aircraft guns and Iris-T air defence missile system that Ukraine had already received. He thanked Ukraine’s Western allies for providing military aid.
The Moscow View
Claims by Russia
On 06 December, Russian defence minister Sergey Shoigu accused Ukraine for launching 33 shells on Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and called the act as “nuclear terrorism.” Shoigu added: “Our units are taking all [necessary] measures to ensure the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant’s safety.”
On 06 December, TASS reported on Latvia’s National Electronic Mass Media Council cancellation of “broadcasting license” of Dozhd TV due to national security concerns. The cancellation comes into effect from 08 December.
On the EU imposing of energy price cap Russia spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated that the price cap would not affect it as Russia economy is has the necessary capacity. He highlighted that such measures will affect the stability of the global energy market but not on Russia’s special military operation.
On 06 December, Russian Governor of the Kursk city claimed on another drone attack on an airfield in Kursk which led to the blaze of an oil storage near the airfield. He added: “As a result of a drone attack, an oil storage tank caught fire in the area of the Kursk airfield. The fire is being localized. All emergency agencies are on site.”
The West View
Responses from the US and Europe
On 06 December, the EU and Norway signed an agreement to support EU Military Assistance Mission in Ukraine (EUMAM Ukraine) by contributing NOK 150 million as financial aid. The agreement was first announced on 31 October. However, it comes into effect after Norway signed formally. The voluntary financial contribution will help Ukraine’s Armed Forces with its training and additional equipment.
On 06 December, Latvia’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Janis Karklins, condemned Russia at the UNSC meeting. She discussed on energy needs of Ukraine in the winter. She added that Russian missile strikes have damaged the energy infrastructure of Ukraine, resulting in electrical shutdowns and energy shortages in afflicted regions. She supported the idea of the Special International Tribunal to prosecute Russia for its war crimes against Ukraine.
On 06 December, Hungary vetoed EU’s financial aid of EUR 18 billion to Ukraine for its 2023 budget at the EU Economics and Finance Ministers meeting. In response EU member states withheld Hungary’s EUR 7.5 billion aid that was assigned to it. The EU member states also withheld Hungary’s EUR 5.8 billion COVID recovery fund. However, the EU adopted the amendment to the financial regulation to allow financial assistance in the diversified funding strategy.
On 06 December, the UK Defence Ministry in its intelligence update reported that two Tu-95 BEAR heavy bombers were damaged at the Engels airbase in the Saratov region and a fuel tank exploded at the Dyagilyaevo airbase in the Ryazan region due to Ukraine’s drone attack. Engels airbase is over 600 kilometres from Ukraine-controlled regions. This holds Russia’s Long Range Aviation in western Russia and has 30 heavy bombers within it.
On 05 December, Montenegro’s Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a joined declaration at Abazovic’s office in Podgorica to help Ukraine become a member of the Euro-Atlantic society. Montenegro promised to support Ukraine’s defence force by donating 11 per cent of its military budget as defence aid.
The Global Fallouts
Implications of the Ukraine war
On 06 December, Poland received its first set of military vehicles from South Korea. Ten Black Panther K2 tanks and 24 Thunder K9 howitzers worth USD 5.8 billion arrived at the Gdynia port on the Baltic Sea coast of Poland. The deal replenishes and strengthens Poland’s defence systems as it had contributed to Ukraine’s military aid. South Korea’s Armaments Agency Minister Eom Dong-hwan said that South Korea’s weapons deal would strengthen its relations with Poland.
On 06 December, International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Prosecutor Karim Khan called out to the international community to help with ICC’s budget to conduct an investigation on Russia’s war crimes against Ukraine. He said that ICC has been facing a financial shorthand and could not implement the Special Tribunal against Russia, which was proposed by the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Khan warned of the difficulty in organizing a Russian Tribunal by the ICC.
“THIS YEAR, UKRAINE EXPORTED AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS WORTH 21.1 BILLION DOLLARS, - YULIA SVYRIDENKO IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CNN,” me.gov.ua, 06 December 2022
Ruslan Stefanchuk, “Meeting of the Presidium of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine.,” Facebook, 06 December 2022
“Ukrainian Armed Forces hold exercises near border with Belarus,” Ukrinform, 06 December 2022
“Ukraine and Moldova agreed to cooperate in air defense and improve border control, – Denys Shmyhal,” kmu.gov.ua, 06 December 2022
“Kuleba calls on Berlin to lift ban on Patriot, Leopard 2 supplies to Ukraine,” Ukrinform, 06 December 2022
“Kuleba: Ukraine warns Iran about consequences of arms supplies to Russia, ready to act.,” Ukrinform, 06 December 2022
“Moscow accuses Ukraine of ‘nuclear terrorism’,” RT, 06 December 2022
“Latvia pulls Dozhd TV channel’s license,” TASS, 06 December 2022
“Kremlin assures oil price cap won’t affect Russia’s special military operation,” TASS, 05 December 2022
“EU and Norway sign an agreement in support of EUMAM Ukraine,” consilium.europa.eu, 06 December 2022
“Statement by the Republic of Latvia on behalf of the Baltic States – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania UN Security Council Meeting on Ukraine,” mfa.gov.lv, 06 December 2022
Jan Strupczewski and Gabriela Baczynska, “Hungary vetoes EU aid for Ukraine, bloc delays decision on funds for Budapest,” Reuters, 06 December 2022
The UK Ministry of Defence, “Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine - 06 December 2022,” Twitter, 06 December 2022
Montenegro-Office of the Prime Minister, “Abazović and Zelenskyy to sign a joint declaration,” gov.me, 06 December 2022
“First delivery of S. Korean heavy weapons comes to Poland“ AP News, 06 December 2022
“ICC Prosecutor Warns over Russia Tribunal Plan,” Kyiv Post, 06 December 2022
By Madhura S Mahesh
Protests erupt in Tirana criticizing poor governance
On 06 December, Former Prime Minister Sali Berisha and his Democratic Party led a protest in Tirana criticizing Prime Minister Edi Rama. The opposition accused Rama for using the EU-Western Balkans Summit to cover up Albania's internal problems. The protest started at Skanderbeg square and ended at Martyrs of Nation Boulevard. The opposition members largely outlined the problems Albania is facing because of Rama and his administration and Berisha asked the EU to not support Rama. Berisha added “In Albania, the real power is the mafia, because the government is connected to it.” Berisha ended the protest by promising to, “do everything to overthrow Rama from Power.” (Kristi Geta “What Happened during 2 hours of Opposition's Protest,” Albanian Daily News, 06 December 2022; "Former PM Asks Police to Release Perpetrator Who Punched Him,” Albanian Daily News, 06 December 2022; "Berisha Calls on EU Leaders Not to Be Deceived by Rama,” Albanian Daily News, 06 December 2022)
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama calls for EU integration
On 06 December, Albanian President Edi Rama in an interview with EURACTIV on the sidelines of the EU-Western Balkan said that while EU enlargement is welcomed the actual integration process is “individual and merit-based.” Rama added that the integration process should be authentic and that the countries should follow due process and not “cheat”. At the Summit, Rama said that the decision to hold the summit in Tirana shows the EU’s commitment towards the integration of the region into the EU framework. He seemed hesitant on the support of EU members for the integration of the Western Balkan countries. Rama said that while there was “interest” among the members for the enlargement, except for Germany and France no other country has openly shown support for the integration of new members. (Alice Taylor “Rama: EU accession not an ‘exam you can cheat on’, more work needed,” EURACTIV, 06 December 2022)
Police officer accused for shooting a teenager
On 06 December, a 34-year-old police officer in Thessaloniki was presented before the court on the charge of shooting a 16-year-old Roma. On 05 December, police chased the teenager after he ran without paying money at the petrol station. The officer fired two bullets and the boy reportedly lost control of his vehicle and crashed into the wall. He was taken to a nearby hospital to treat his injuries. After the incident, the police officer was arrested and suspended. In Thessaloniki, thousands protested, where Police used tear gas and stun grenades to suppress the protestors. Protestors also barricaded the hospital at which the boy is being treated and even set fire to dumpster cans. Six people were detained by the police. The officer has been given time to defend before the formal trial by an investigating magistrate. (“Protests erupt in Greece over teenager’s shooting in police chase,” Al Jazeera, 06 December 2022)
Cirkovce-Pince transmission line openend connecting Slovenia, Hungary and Croatia
On 06 December, Slovenian Prime Minister Robert Golob formally opened the Cirkovce-Pince transmission line and the Cirkovce substation juncture which connects Slovenia, Hungary and Croatia. The opening was attended by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and the Croatian Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Davor Filipović. The Cirkovce-Pince transmission line is a part of the EU’s efforts to integrate Europe’s energy market. The line is 80.5 kilometres long and will be run by Slovenian transmission system operator ELES. The project cost EUR 160 million of which EUR 48 million was funded by the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility. (Igor Todorović, “Slovenia completes power interconnection with Croatia, Hungary,” Balkan Green Energy News, 06 December 2022)
EU Regulation on deforestation-free supply chains agreement signed
On 06 December, the European Commission announced that the European Parliament and Council have reached an agreement regarding the EU Regulation on deforestation-free supply chains. The proposal once adapted will ensure that due diligence is done in the exports and imports of palm oil, cattle, soy, coffee, cocoa, timber, rubber and derived products. These products were identified by the European Council and Parliament as the products whose production contributes to deforestation. Companies trading these products will now have to prove that the products do not contribute to deforestation and are legal. The companies will also have to have information regarding the farms where the products are grown and check if they comply with EU laws. If companies fail to comply with EU regulations they will be fined. The Commission added that they will also be assessing producer countries for the level of deforestation risk and depending on this benchmarks for companies will be decided. (“Green Deal: EU agrees law to fight global deforestation and forest degradation driven by EU production and consumption,” ec.europa.eu, 06 December 2022)
Serbia and Kosovo receive an updated draft from the EU regarding the normalization of ties
On 06 December, EURACTIV reported that the EU sent Serbia and Kosovo a reworked draft regarding the normalization of ties between the two countries. The draft outlines a timeline that the two countries need to follow to reach a final agreement. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and Kosovan President Vjosa Osmani reiterated their support for the EU-led dialogue with Osmani adding: “Kosovo will be submitting its application for EU membership by the end of this year.” This comes as tensions between the two increased when Vučić and Osmani engaged in a verbal spat. (Alexandra Brzozowski “EU redrafts proposal on Serbia-Kosovo ties as Pristina sets sight on membership,” EURACTIV, 06 December 2022)
Turkey asks Finland to lift the arms embargo in exchange for NATO membership approval
On 06 December, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that for its approval for NATO membership Finland needs to lift the arms embargo placed on Turkey publicly. The arms embargo was placed on Turkey back in 2019 when Turkey conducted a military operation in Syria against the Kurdish militia. (“Turkey says Finland must end arms embargo to join NATO,” AP News, 06 December 2022)
Tukey asks Greece to cease militarization of the Aegean Islands
On 06 December, Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu urged Greece to follow international law and cease the militarization of the Aegean Islands. Cavusoglu said: "Either Greece takes a step back and abides by agreements, or we will do what is necessary." This is in reference to Greece’s violation of the demilitarized status of the Islands and the recent military drills conducted by Greece on the Islands. Turkey launched a formal complaint at the UN in July 2021 stating that Greece was violating the Treaties of Lausanne and Paris. Both treaties highlight the demilitarised status of the Aegean Islands. Cavusoglu added that Turkey will be forced to take necessary steps to protect its security if Greece continues its “provocations.” (Faruk Zorlu “Türkiye calls on Greece to abide by international law, stop militarizing Aegean islands,” Anadolu Agency, 06 December 2022)