Photo : president.gov.ua
21 February 2023, Tuesday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #442
War in Ukraine: Day 362
By Madhura S Mahesh
War on the Ground
On 20 February, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a press conference with US President Joe Biden said that the rules-based international order is being decided by the events in Ukraine. He said that 2023 should be the year of victory and added that Ukraine along with the US and its partners and allies will “ ensure that the democratic world wins this historic battle.” Zelenskyy said that the two discussed the issue of weapons that can be supplied to Ukraine, especially long-range weapons. Zelenskyy also invited the US to join the implementation of the Ukrainian Peace Formula.
On 20 February, Ukrainian’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said that Ukraine is looking forward to the launch of an IMF recovery programme worth over USD 15 billion. This comes as Shmyhal met with IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva in Kyiv. He said that the two discussed financial support for Ukraine and the IMF monitoring programme. The proposed IMF programme will be provided in two parts which will immediately provide structural reform support and financial support which aid in Ukraine’s recovery.
The Moscow View
Claims by Russia
On 20 February, Rosenergoatom adviser Renat Karchaa said that there is no combat taking place along the route used by IAEA officials to reach the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP). This comes as UN Department of Safety and Security officials and IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi claimed that the route was unsafe and that the condition around the ZNPP is “volatile and unpredictable.” Karchaa reiterated that Russia has guaranteed the security of the UN officials and IAEA experts along the route. He added: “There has been no fierce fighting in this area in recent days.”
The West View
Responses from the US and Europe
On 20 February, US President Joe Biden visited Ukraine where he met Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. In a press conference with Zelenskyy, Biden said that Kyiv has “captured his heart” from his previous visits to the city when he was the Vice President. Biden highlighted the role that the US has played in rallying support for Ukraine across the world in the form of military, economic and humanitarian aid. Biden also announced USD 500 million aid package which includes HIMARS artillery ammunition, howitzers, anti-armour systems, air surveillance radars and Javelins. He also announced that the US will be introducing additional sanctions against Russia and added that it will also be providing direct budgetary support to Ukraine.
On 20 February, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu denied that Turkey has not exported products which could be used by Russia in its defence industry. This comes as the US issued warnings that Turkish exports to Russia have been used to aid in its aggression in Ukraine. Cavusoglu said: “We asked the United States to notify (us) if there are any violations on this issue.” He also assured that Turkey will ensure that it will not violate EU and US sanctions on Russia and will take steps to prevent it too.
On the same day, US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken announced fresh military aid to Ukraine worth USD 450 million. The aid package includes HIMARS artillery ammunition, howitzers, anti-armour systems, air surveillance radars and Javelins. Blinken also announced an additional USD 10 million in emergency assistance to the damaged Ukrainian energy infrastructure and aid in its repair efforts.
The Global Fallouts
Implications of the war
On 20 February, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that he would be inviting Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the online G7 summit being hosted by Japan on 24 February. Kishida also announced an additional USD 5.5 billion in financial aid to Ukraine to aid in infrastructure reconstruction.
“Shmyhal says Ukraine hopes for launch of new $15B program with IMF,” Ukrinform, 20 February 2023
“We must make sure that this year becomes the year of victory - President of Ukraine following negotiations with the U.S. President in Kyiv,” president.gov.ua, 20 February 2023
“No fierce fighting along IAEA experts’ way to ZNPP — Rosenergoatom,” Tass, 20 February 2023
“Turkey not exporting items for use in Russia war effort - Foreign Minister,” Reuters, 20 February 2023
Remarks by President Biden and President Zelenskyy of Ukraine in Joint Statement,” whitehouse.gov, 20 February 2023
“More U.S. Security Assistance on the Way for Ukraine,” state.gov, 20 February 2023
“Japan to invite Ukraine president to G-7 online summit Feb. 24: PM,” Kyodo News, 20 February 2023
By Padmashree Anandhan
New set of earthquake causes panic
On 21 February, Turkish Health Minister reported on the death of 294 people in the earthquake in the border between Turkey and Syria. The first quake was recorded at the magnitude of 6.4 in the district of Samandag and second one followed with 5.8 magnitude. According to one of the Syrian activist: “It was strong like the first one but did not last long... it scared people and people rushed to the streets.” In terms of the support, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised to lend help “as long as it takes.” On the same Germany’s President vowed to help Syria and Turkey. Till now Germany has sent 82 tonnes of relief and EUR 26 million as humanitarian aid to Syria. (“New earthquake hits Turkey-Syria border region,” Deutsche Welle, 21 February 2023)
Teaching professional face regulatory challenges in shifting within the EU
On 20 February, EURACTIV reported on bureaucratic challenges faced by teachers in the EU. The education professionals when moved for better pay and job security within the EU faced issues in getting their domestic qualification certified. They were mandated to take additional training and condition of certified translations of their university documents to get through the selection process. According to the EU laws, all the citizens are allowed to work in other EU member states, but as per the 2005 Directive there are procedures to recognise the qualification of the professionals. The same is applicable for those in research who have to go through long process to get certified. In response, the European Commission stated that there are steps being taken to ease the regulatory process for those who look at mobility projects in the teaching profession, but such steps can take longer to come into practice. (Silvia Ellena, “Teachers face bureaucracy, extra training when relocating within EU,” EURACTIV, 20 February 2023)
France, and Nordic countries top in heat pumps installation while Germany ranks low
On 20 February, EURACTIV reported on the increase in the heat pump sale in the EU. The heat pumps known as “reverse fridges” can provide heat even at a negative temperature condition. It has the capacity to run four times than a gas boiler and as per the EU’s REPowerEU plan it aimed to double the installations of the heat pumps to 10 million in next five years and by 30 million in 2030. In 2022, France, Finland followed by Norway, Sweden have recorded highest number of heat pumps bought. Of all the EU member states, Germany which is most reliant on Russian gas was not listed top in the heat pump market. According to a German heat pump maker, Germany aims to cut down pure gas boilers and heaters that are less than 65 per cent of renewable energy and will boost hybrid model of heat pumps. (“Three countries became heat pump forerunners in 2022, Germany did not,” EURACTIV, 20 February 2023)
Germany’s economy and businesses affected due to hike in energy prices
On 20 February, the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) Head, Marcel Fratzscher made remarks on how Ukraine war has impacted Germany’s economy. He highlighted that because of the war, energy prices have increased costing the German economy by EUR 100 billion or 2.5 per cent GDP. Fratzscher said: “The German economy has been more affected by the crisis because it was more dependent on Russian energy, has a high proportion of the energy-intensive industry.” He predicts the impact to further if the companies fail to adapt to reduced energy consumption environment, as he foresees the energy prices to be unfavourable for Germany in the upcoming decades. (“Ukraine war costs Germany's economy €100 billion,” Deutsche Welle, 20 February 2023)
France to head into severe drought as ground water level reduces
On 20 February, Les Echos reported on continuing draught condition in France. According to Meteo France, the ground water level had reduced and there has been no rains since 21 January. It expects some precipitation in the coming week, but only heavy rains is considered beneficial to increase the groundwater which then can support the rivers. The Meteo France expects the February to end with a rainfall shortage of 50 per cent, which is still uncertain since there can be dry winters similar to 2016 and 2018 scenarios. In 2018, there were rains during winter but was followed by draught in summer, therefore, the temperature have been the decider for disasters. In response to this the government plans to hold a meeting on 23 February followed by a few in March and April to look into the hydrographic scenario of France and establish a plan to save water. (Anne Feitz, “Climate: France faces an unprecedented winter drought,” Les Echos, 20 February 2023)
French troops exit from Burkina Faso
On 19 February, the Burkinabe armed forces announced the end of France’s military operations. Previously in January, Burkina Faso had asked France to pull out its troops after ending the military accord. It stated that it would defend against the insurgents on its own. The exit of France marks a new turning point as the clash between Burkina Faso and the Islamist groups is expected to continue to displace million in the south of Sahara. This move comes after increased protests in Burkina Faso over French Military presence and it also means deterioration in the relations. (“Burkina Faso marks official end of French military operations on its soil,” EURACTIV, 20 February 2023)