Photo : Press Service of the RF Ministry of Defense/RT
28 February 2023, Tuesday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #448
War in Ukraine: Day 369
By Padmashree Anandhan
War on the Ground
On 26 February, on the continuing fight between Ukraine and Russia in Bakhmut, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned over the increasing complexity of the situation in the frontline. He said that the forces are constantly defending despite Russia trying to destroy its protection. Since the fight in Bakhmut has been persisting, Zelenskyy urged for “modern aviation” to counter Russia than only combat aircraft. Zelenskyy removed Donbass Army Commander. The move comes as Ukraine is observed to be targeting to capture back Mariupol. On the same the UK Defence Ministry reported on series of explosions in Mariupol.
The Moscow View
Claims by Russia
On 27 February, RT reported on increased oil purchase by China from Russia in reference to the intelligence report from Kpler. According to the report, China had imported 1.66 million barrels of crude, fuel oil of Russia’s ESPO grade, Arctic grade, and Ural grade in January. Since the Ukraine war, China has been found to be contending with India on buying large amounts of Russian crude. The reason behind the purchase is mainly due to China’s recovery from COVID-19 and Russian oil being available at lower price.
On 27 February, Russia’s Defence Ministry claimed targeting a Ukrainian intelligence center in Kyiv by Russian missiles. It also updated on the continuing offensive in the Donetsk, where 250 Ukrainians are reported to have died and a ammunition depot near Bakhmut destroyed.
The West View
Responses from the US and Europe
On 27 February, the EU announced the extension of sanctions on Belarus to another year as it continues its support to Russia. Therefore the sanction will be extended till 28 February 2024, targeting 34 companies and will be banned from receiving EU funds.
On 27 February, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan announced the US decision to provide Abraham tanks to Ukraine after pressure from Germany. He stated that Germany agreed to send Leopard tanks only upon the US agreeing to send tanks along. Earlier, the US military did not approve the tanks as it observed to be not fitting, but to align with the interest of the alliance, the US has agreed to send the tanks.
The Global Fallouts
Implications of the war
On 27 February, on the Ukraine war, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said: “It has unleashed widespread death, destruction and displacement.” He remarked that the war was leading to many human right violations and UNHCR had recorded dozens of “conflict related sexual violence,” cases and there have been evidences of war crimes observed in Bucha, and suburb of Kyiv.
On 27 February, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning reiterated China’s position in Ukraine war. He said that China’s stance has been consistent and maintained talks with both Ukraine and Russia. Ning also stated the possibility of a meeting between Zelenskyy and China’s President Xi Jinping. Calling for the promotion of dialogue and political solution, stressed that in communication, it would ensure to involve Ukraine.
On 27 February, Kazakhstan’s government announced the liquidation of its “trade representation office” in Russia. According to the Ministry of Trade claimed that the scheduled tasks had been completed and the move would not affect the bilateral cooperation. The agreement between Kazakhstan and Russia came into force in 1992 and was renewed in 2012, the trade office was key to Kazakhstan exporters to access the Russian market and bring in foreign investors. The decision comes in reaction to the sanctions imposed on Russia, Kazakhstan does not adhere to international sanctions nor does it wish to help Russia circumvent it.
“We need modern combat aircraft to protect the entire territory of Ukraine from Russian terror - address by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy,” president.gov.ua, 27 February 2023
“Russia strikes intelligence center near Kiev – MOD,” RT, 27 February 2023
“Russia boosts oil exports to China – Bloomberg,” RT, 27 February 2023
“Ukraine updates: Belarus activists claim Russia A-50 attack,” Deutsche Welle, 27 February 2023
“China has always maintained communication with all sides including Ukraine - foreign ministry,” Reuters, 27 February 2023
“The trade representation of Kazakhstan in Russia was liquidated,” zakon.kz, 27 February 2023
“February 27, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news,” CNN, 27 February 2023
By Femy Francis
Proposes to follow Germany and France to phase out car emission law
On 25 February, Industry Minister Adolfo Urso proposed Italy’s interest in teaming with France and Germany in slowing down the pace of EU law regulating car and truck emissions. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s government have criticized the decision to halt the sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035. Urso called for a more pragmatic step that is non-ideological when it comes to climate change laws and that joining in with France and Germany would put influence European regulations. He proposed Italy adopt a broader revision of “the stages of modalities of ecological transition” by 2026. (“Italy seeks alliance with France and Germany to tame EU car emissions laws,” Euractiv, 27 February 2023)
Swedish forest ecosystem in danger; EU to regulate restoration law
On 27 February, EURACTIV reported that the Swedish forest ecosystem was in danger even though they look in abundance. The forest industry presents an existential threat to centuries-old Swedish landscapes. Thousands of old forests have been chopped have replaced with planted monocultures and therefore slowly ruining the habitats of sensitive species. Today there are 2000 forest species that come under the red list and tat 400 are affected by the clear-cutting of the forest ecosystem. The deceptive marketing has been called out by several activists and yet there is no local Swedish law that protects these ecosystems. Therefore, the pressure to protect these old ecosystems lies with EU legislation to protect the last remaining and restore the fragments that remain in the Swedish forest. (Gustaf Lind and Johanna Sandahl, “EU’s Nature Restoration Law: make or break for Swedish forests?” Euractiv, 27 February 2023)
France to hold meeting to form a pro-nuclear energy alliance
On 27 February, Reuters reported on the upcoming meeting organized by France with other EU member states to form an alliance to consider nuclear power into “EU energy policies.” The move comes as Germany, Spain, Austria, and Luxembourg still stand divided over renewable energy, while France, Poland, Sweden, and Hungary favors promoting nuclear as “low-carbon energy source.” The set meeting would focus on how nuclear energy can balance with climate goals and meet energy security of Europe. (Kate Abnett, “France seeks pro-nuclear alliance for EU energy talks,” Reuters, 27 February 2023)
Energy price cap raises concern over hike in household bills
On 28 February, BBC reported that the household bill is set to rise in April to EUR 3,000. While the Ofgem regulator has announced the cost cut faced by the government, there has been a call for the cut of April's hike stating that “Energy bills are out of control. The government must cancel April's hike. With the cost of wholesale gas plummeting ministers have no excuse for not stepping in.” The falling wholesale price can potentially save the government billions of pounds. The government states that the energy cap does not limit the total bill as it only limits the cost per unit of energy. (Kevin Peachey, “New energy price cap prompts call for help on bills,” BBC, 28 February 2023)
Olaf Scholz meet Modi to form trade deal
On 25 February, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz met India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the strengthening of business and defence ties between the two countries regardless of differences of opinions existing on the Ukraine war. Scholz said that both countries should move towards forming a trade deal between European Union and India which long has been held over a disagreement over tariffs. They also discussed the different positions the two countries take on the Ukraine war and openly sort opinions and engaged in the assessment of the war. Sholz said, “There is huge potential for intensified cooperation, in sectors such as renewables, hydrogen, mobility, pharma, digital economy, and many more”. (“Germany’s Scholz in India to press on EU trade deal,” Euractiv, 27 February 2023)