Photo : AP/FT
10 February 2023, Friday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #433
War in Ukraine: Day 351
By Madhura S Mahesh
War on the Ground
On 09 February, Ukroboronprom a Ukranian state defence conglomerate launched a joint project with a NATO country to produce 120mm mines. In a statement: “A contract was concluded with the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine for the supply of these weapons, so the Ukrainian military will soon receive them.” It said that these mines will be produced using modern technology and added that its manufacturing facilities will be spread out including some facilities in Europe. The 120mm mine can hit infantry in a radius of 25-60 meters and is capable of damaging lightly armoured vehicles and engineering structures.
The Moscow View
Claims by Russia
On 09 February, Russian President Vladimir Putin urged the Agency for Strategic Initiatives to introduce projects which will select and support domestic brands for them to grow and become successful businesses on a federal scale. Putin highlighted that domestic brands can take advantage of the system left behind by Western companies who withdrew their businesses from Russia. He also emphasised the Agency’s involvement in the development of the unmanned aviation systems sector in Russia for its indigenous production and increasing its scope for wider use. Putin also outlined that they should implement key solutions in developing and implementing socioeconomic programmes for the development of the four newly annexed regions.
On 09 February, Rosatom corporation CEO Alexey Likhachev met with the IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi. Likhachev outlined the steps Russia is currently taking for the creation of a security zone around the Zaporizhzhia NPP. Likhachev also highlighted the measures being implemented to ensure safe social and living conditions for the ZNPP workers and their families. Rosatom in a statement added: “In addition, current and future cooperation between Russia and the IAEA in other areas was touched upon.”
On 09 February, Russia’s Statistics Service Rosstat said that Russia’s stocks of grain and leguminous crops increased by 51.8 per cent and wheat stocks increased by 59.6 per cent in 2022. Wheat stocks in procurement and processing organisations have increased by 71.4 per cent to a total of 13.9 million tons which is 2.8 times more than the stocks in 2021. The grain stocks also increased by 47 per cent to a total of 19.4 million. In 2022, Russia harvested a total of 153.83 million tonnes of grain which includes 10.4 million tonnes of wheat. It also saw a record harvest of sunflower, rapeseed and soybeans amounting to 24.8 million.
The West View
Responses from the US and Europe
On 08 February, SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell said that they have introduced measures to prevent the Ukranian military from using Starlink satellite’s internet for the operation of drones. Shotwell said that Starlink was provided to Ukraine for humanitarian purposes which included the provision of internet services to families, hospitals and banks and later expanded the contract to include military communications. She added: “But our intent was never to have them use it for offensive purposes.” Shotwell did not outline the measures taken by SpaceX.
On 09 February, Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin said that they will be halting their prisoner recruitment programme. Prigozhin did not elaborate on why the group divided to halt the programme. This comes as the group has recently clashed with the Russian army and faced pushback from the Russian security services. Wagner group introduced the recruitment programme and increased its personnel to around 50,000 where 40,000 were convicts.
On 09 February, Slovakia and Poland express their support to provide Ukraine with fighter jets. Slovakia's Prime Minister Eduard Heger said: “You can count on our help because you are important to us and we want you to succeed.” This was also echoed by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Both Slovakia and Polan currently have MiG-29 jets but have emphasised that NATO support is required before any deliveries can be made. Other European countries have expressed hesitation over providing Ukraine with jets. The Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte said: “You have to make absolutely sure you are not getting into an Article 5 direct confrontation between Nato and Russia.”
The Global Fallouts
Implications of the war
On 09 February, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach called on Ukraine to cease threats of boycott over the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in the 2024 Paris Olympics. Bach called the threats “extremely regrettable” and “premature” as the IOC has not confirmed the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes under a neutral flag. He claimed that Ukraine is “pressuring” IOC members, international federations and future Olympic hosts to support the ban and “publically influence their decision-making.” He also added that any such boycott will be against the principles and fundamentals of the Olympic movement and a violation of the Olympic charter.
“Ukroboronprom, NATO country launch joint production of 120mm mines.” Ukrinform, 09 February 2023
“Meeting of the Supervisory Board of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives,” kremlin.ru, 09 February 2023
“Russia ready to go ahead with creating security zone around ZNPP — Rosatom,” TASS, 09 February 2023
“Russian Grain Stock Estimated at 31.7Mln Tons, Up 1.5 Times in 2022,” Sputnik, 09 February 2023
“SpaceX curbed Ukraine's use of Starlink internet for drones -company president,” Reuters, 09 February 2023
Max Seddon “Wagner Group leader stops recruiting prisoners to fight in Ukraine,” Financial Times, 09 February 2023
Henry Foy, Andy Bounds, Sam Fleming and Alice Hancock “Poland and Slovakia signal willingness to send fighter jets to Ukraine,” Financial Times, 09 February 2023
Jack Skelton “Olympics 2024: Ukraine should drop threat of boycott - IOC,” BBC, 09 February 2023