Photo : IAEA
20 January 2023, Friday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #415
War in Ukraine: Day 330
War on the Ground
On 19 January, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged EU members and candidate states to come together to implement the Peace Formula. Speaking at the press conference with European Council President Charles Michel, Zelenskyy called upon European Partners to support “relevant international efforts and decisions, in particular the resolution of the UN General Assembly that is being prepared.”
On 19 January, Kyiv Regional Military Administration Head Oleksiy Kuleba said that 16 people were still hospitalized after the helicopter crash on 18 January. Out of the 16, six are children and Kuleba added that none of them was seriously injured. The helicopter crash in Brovary, Kyiv injured more than 25 people and killed 14 people.
The Moscow View
Claims by Russia
On 19 January, Russia’s Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed that Ukraine and Zelenskyy would have preferred if Russia and President Vladimir Putin did not exist. Peskov said: “It is clear that both Russia and Putin are a big problem for today's Ukraine and for Zelensky.” These statements were made due to Zelenskyy’s statements at Davos 2023. Peskov stressed Ukraine agreed to Russia’s demands to bring an end to the conflict sooner.
On 19 January, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) in Ukraine blatantly biased. Lavrov said: “it was aimed at supporting the version of events that the Ukrainian authorities painstakingly presented to the public, and in many cases, the mission withheld information about the real situation.” According to Lavrov, the Mission was sent to Ukraine to see through the implementation of the Minsk agreement’s provisions. He added that Russia is looking into the information which implied that the SMM officials withheld information and aided Ukraine’s administration to carry out military operations against civilians.
The West View
Responses from the US and Europe
On 19 January, Estonia, the UK, Poland, Latvia, Denmark, and Lithuania Defence Ministers and the Czech Republic, the Netherlands representatives released a joint statement reaffirming their resolve to support Ukraine’s fight against Russia. In the statement, the defence ministers and representatives pledged to continue their military and civilian support and expansion will now include battle tanks. The aid will come from the country’s supply. The pledge termed the “Tallinn Pledge” outlines donations by each country. Poland and the UK outlined plans to supply Ukraine with Leopard 2 and Challenger 2 tanks respectively. The other donations include howitzers, ammunition, aircraft, and training in the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
On 19 January, the UK Ministry of Defence said that Russia was allegedly looking to deploy a few T-14 Armata main battle tanks in Ukraine. The Ministry made this assumption based on Russian media reports which claimed that the tanks were being prepared to be sent to Ukraine and imagery showing T-14s in southern Russia. The Ministry said that any such deployment will be mainly for propaganda purposes as it will have a high-risk factor for Russia in its operations. The ministry added: “Production is probably only in the low tens, while commanders are unlikely to trust the vehicle in combat.”
On 19 January, Ministers of European Parliament (MEP) urged Russian leadership to hold themselves accountable for the “crime” of aggression against Ukraine. The MEPs said the “atrocities” committed by Russia in Ukraine show the “brutality” of the war and undermined the importance of a comprehensive international action to bring justice to those responsible. They pushed the EU to make a special international tribunal to persecute Russia and its allies. The MEP’s added that a tribunal would “fill a vacuum” in international criminal justice and also lead the jurisdiction to investigate “not only Vladimir Putin” but the rest of Russia’s allies as well. Further, they reiterated that the EU plays an imperative role in building a special tribunal and that it must focus on “building” arrangements for the court in cooperation with Ukraine.
On 19 January, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that Poland is “willing” to give Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine without seeking Germany’s approval if it fails to agree to Poland’s re-export at the Western defence ministers at the Ramstein air base. Morawiecki remarked that consent regarding the tanks was of “secondary importance” and that military aid to Ukraine was of primary importance to Poland. Morawiecki added: “We will either obtain this consent quickly, or we will do it ourselves.”
Implications of the Ukraine War
On 19 January, International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi briefed President Volodymyr Zelenskyy about the extending and “intensifying” activities of the IAEA. The discussion entailed detailed briefs about nuclear safety and the security protection zone around the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP), which is Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. Grossi reiterated that the zone is “essential” for putting a stop to a “severe” nuclear accident and that the IAEA would “press ahead” with efforts to make the zone a “reality.” This comes as the IAEA has planned to implement its activities across Ukraine and has ensured the country of consistent support to prevent a “nuclear accident” during the war and resist any “dangers” from happening.
“Zelensky calls on EU members, candidates for membership to join implementation of peace formula,” Ukrinform, 19 January 2023
“Sixteen people, including six children, are in hospitals after helicopter crash in Brovary,” Ukrinform, 19 January 2023
“Psychologically, Zelensky would prefer Putin, Russia never existed — Kremlin spokesman,” Tass, 19 January 2023
“Lavrov scolds OSCE mission in Ukraine for Western bias,” Tass, 19 January 2023
“Joint Statement – The Tallinn Pledge,” gov.uk, 19 January 2023
Dan Sabbagh “Poland could send Leopard tanks to Ukraine without German approval,” The Guardian, 20 January 2023
“Ukraine war: MEPs push for special tribunal to punish Russian crimes,” europarl.europa.eu, 19 January 2023
“Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine - 19 January 2023,” Twitter, 19 January 2023
“Speech by President Charles Michel to the Verkhovna Rada in Kyiv,” consilium.europa.eu, 19 January 2023
“Update 143 – IAEA Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine,” iaea.org, 20 January 2023
Defence Minister meets US Counterpart, discusses supply of tanks to Ukraine
On 19 January, newly appointed German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius met US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on the same day that he took charge in the office. His meeting comes at a time when a debate rages on whether to supply Ukraine with more heavy military equipment or not. Germany is reluctant to provide its domestic Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine. Russia has threatened severe action if the West provides more aid to Ukraine. Pistorius has not as of yet issued any statement of what the future course of action is. (“New German ‘defense minister meets US counterpart,” Deutsche Welle, 19 January 2023)
District court sentenced two men of espionage found to be Russian agents
On 19 January, Stockholm's District Court sentenced two men to prison for being Russian agents. The men, who are brothers, have been acting on behalf of Russia's military intelligence service, the GRU, for more than a decade. The older brother was an intelligence officer with the Swedish intelligence agency Sapo, who passed on confidential information. The court convicted him of espionage and handed him a life sentence without provision for pardon. The younger brother has been convicted of managing contacts and planning communications with Russian counterparts and has been given a sentence of 10 years in prison. The brothers' names are Peyman Kia and Payam Kia, they became naturalised Swedish citizens after arriving from Iran, in 1992. (“Sweden: Two brothers convicted of spying for Russia,” Deutsche Welle, 19 January 2023)
Post-Brexit UK Bankers leave to the EU for better pay
On 19 January, the European Banking Authority published the data on the movement of banking employees post-Brexit. The data revealed that UK Bankers are leaving the country for Spain, Italy and France. The data showed that 1,957 bankers in total had relocated to other counties. These bankers were being paid more than EUR one million. The major reasons for migration are better to pay, and residency in the EU. (Rupert Neate, “Brexit exodus helps drive record number in EU banks paid €1m-plus,” The Guardian, 19 January 2023)
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Greenland records the highest temperature in a millennium
On 18 January, a study published in the journal Nature found that temperatures in Greenland have become the warmest recorded in a millennium. The study was conducted over many years and noted the temperatures of ice cores from 1995. Greenland's ice cores are some of the remotest and purest areas in which scientists study temperature change. Previously, the temperature change event had not been noticed as it had been masked due to an event known as "Greenland blocking." The ice sheets contain information on the earth's temperature history in the form of ice formation during different periods. Scientists are alarmed over the rise in temperatures as this will lead to a rise in seawater levels with the ice melting away. (Seth Borenstein, “New ice core analysis shows sharp Greenland warming spike.” Associated Press, 19 January 2023)
Data reveals Europeans used less energy to heat homes during Winter 2022
On 18 January, the smart thermostat maker Tado published its findings on household heating for the winter of 2022. The findings revealed that European countries in general reduced their energy usage for heating homes. The Netherlands reduced the temperatures most, nearly meeting the target set by the company of one-degree Celsius. In Germany, the government had decided to reduce temperatures in public offices to 19 degrees which helped in conserving energy. The European public too reacted in kind by reducing their personal usage. This is due to both the higher prices and the lack of natural gas. Europe imports most of its energy and gas fulfils 32 per cent of the energy requirements. European governments too had requested their citizens to use less energy due to the ongoing crisis. (Thomas Escritt, “Europeans dial down the heating, heed calls to save energy,” Reuters, 18 January 2023)
Head of the European Central Bank lays out 2023 goals: tackle inflation and finance EU's green transition
On 19 January, the Head of the European Central Bank Christine Lagarde spoke at Davos 2023 on Europe's Growth in the coming year. She identified inflation as the major challenge the bloc will face. This is also going to be the main aim of the bank, to reign in rampant inflation and bring it down to target levels. In the bank's view, the current inflation is unsustainable in the long run and needs to be brought back to 2 per cent. She announced the bank will raise interest rates by 250 base points to achieve this. Lagarde spoke of plans for Europe's transition to Green Energy. She outlined plans for financing the project, obtaining half a trillion dollars over 8 years and creating a single capital market. (“Lagarde at Davos 2023: Reducing inflation is 'prime
mission' of the European Central Bank,” World Economic Forum, 19 January 2023)