Photo : Ukraine War Day 404: Australia to supply remote weapon systems to Ukraine
04 April 2023, Tuesday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #478
War in Ukraine Day 404: Australia to supply remote weapon systems to Ukraine
By Padmashree Anandhan
War on the Ground
On 03 April, Ukraine’s gas transmission system operator GTSOU issued a statement on the extension of the deal with Slovakia’s Eustream to increase gas imports. Initially, the GTSOU aided in providing a gas capacity of 42 million cubic meters in place of 27. Accounting for the new extension, the firm can provide 54 million cubic metres with additional capacity for four more. Therefore, under the current pressure of on gas supply and diversification of sources, maximum utilisation of existing gas storages proves to be potential according to GTSOU.
On 03 April, Ukraine’s General Staff of the Armed Forces reported on the ongoing training in the UK by the Norwegian National Guard. Under the training, the newly recruited were trained in “combat skills.” This is aimed to improve the security and capabilities of the armed force. On the same day, Ukraine’s Air Force spokesperson highlighted the upper hand held by Russia in the war and to counter Ukraine needed an F-16 multi-purpose aircraft to carry out targets in air, ground and water (on the surface level). On the MiG-29 received from Slovakia and Poland, the spokesperson reported it to be outdated and with Ukraine pilots already trained to use F-16, having that would be an advantage.
The Moscow View
Claims by Russia
On 02 April, Russia’s Wagner Group Head Evgeny Prigozhin announced the success in capturing Artyomovsk (Bakhmut) by releasing a video from the city’s administrative building. He said: “We hoisted the Russian flag with the inscription ‘Good memory to Vladlen Tatarsky’ and the flag of PMC Wagner on top of the city administration of Bakhmut.” He added that the Group had taken over western districts. Ukraine has not confirmed on the development yet but has only reported on continuing losses for Russia in the battle.
On 03 April, RT reported on increasing fuel imports by the EU. It reported that Poland continued to be the largest importer of Russia’s LPG. While oil and petrol products are subject to sanctions, LPG remains sanction-free and highly imported. According to Unimot, Russia’s LPG company with the increased cost and logistical issue the price of the LPG is higher.
The West View
Responses from the US and Europe
On 03 April, International Policy Bureau Head announced the delivery of first MiG-29 fighters to Ukraine. Under the partnership with Slovakia, Poland has planned to give 33 such aircrafts. In replacing the given aircrafts, Poland aims to buy US’s F-35s, modern equipment, and weapons.
On 03 April, UK Defence Ministry in its update commented on Russia’s Defence Ministry’s information operation. It revealed Russia’s efforts to rebuild its information operation due to its fallout in Ukraine. In a statement: “In reality, the 155th has likely been reduced to combat ineffective status at least twice in the last six months, due to being committed to tactically flawed frontal assaults near Vuhledar in Donetsk Oblast.”
On 03 April, Croatia proposed treating injured soldiers through the Croatian hospitals and rehabilitation centres present there. According to Croatia’s Veteran Affairs Minister: “We expect Ukraine to prepare the first batch of 20 wounded fighters to be sent to Croatian hospitals for treatment.”
On 03 April, Denmark and Norway’s Ministry of Defence announced the joint agreement to provide 8,000 artillery shells along with fuses to Ukraine. The assistance will also include 19 Caesar “self-propelled howitzers.”
The Global Fallouts
Implications of the war
On 03 April, UNESCO’s Director General met Ukraine’s first Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in Chernihiv. Discussing on the ongoing international cooperation in science, education, and culture, Zelenskyy indicated that 1190 “cultural objects” had been damaged in the war. The Director General issued a certificate confirming the inclusion of Odesa in the “List of World Heritage in Danger.”
On 03 April, Japan government issued an invite to Ukraine’s Digital Minister to participate in G7 digital and tech minister’s meeting. In the meeting, they are expected to talk about possible threats from Russia, China, and North Korea. During the gathering, they will also assess the impact of sanctions on Russia. Ukraine’s minister will have to share his experience in combatting Russia’s cyber attacks and gaps in telecommunication infrastructure during the meeting.
On 03 April, Australia’s Electro Optic Systems (EOS) announced the contract with Ukraine to supply “Remote Weapon Systems” worth USD 80 million. This is to ensure boost accuracy, readiness, and reliability and it can be installed into vehicles, allowing the crew to operate inside the vehicle.
“Ukraine, Slovakia extend increased firm capacity for gas imports,” Ukrinform, 03 April 2023
“Fire control in defense: Norwegian instructors train Ukrainian military in Great Britain,” Ukrinform, 03 April 2023
“Ukraine needs F-16s due to Russia's aerial superiority - Air Force spox,” Ukrinform, 03 April 2023
“Wagner chief declares Artyomovsk ‘formally captured’,” RT, 02 April 2023
“EU state boosts fuel imports from Russia – media,” RT, 03 April 2023
Jonasz Jasnorzewski,Robert Mazurek, “Marcin Przydacz: Wołodymyr Zełenski w środę przyjedzie do Polski,” rmf24.pl, 03 April 2023
“Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine - 3 April 2023.,” Ministry of Defence/Twitter, 03April 2023
David Spaic-Kovacic, “Croatia offers to treat wounded Ukrainian soldiers,” EURACTIV, 03 April 2023
Christian Baha, “Norway, Denmark donate ammunition to Ukraine,” breakingthenews.net, 03 April 2023
“President held a meeting with the Director General of UNESCO in the Chernihiv region,” president.gov.ua, 03 April 2023
“Japan to gear up G-7 process through series of ministerial meetings,” Kyodo News, 03 April 2023
“EOS to Supply Remote Weapon Systems to Ukraine,” eos-aus.com, 03 April 2023
By Rishika Yadav
Proposals for cooperation with Russia
On 03 April, Belarus’s President Aleksandr Lukashenko in a meeting with the Kaluga Oblast Governor Vladislav Shapsha discussed on boosting trade with Russia. In the aftermath of disrupted supply chains due to sanctions imposed by the West, Belarus is looking for counter-allies to promote industrial cooperation, introduce new high-tech technologies, and substitute imports. In trade and economic cooperation, Belarus has expressed readiness to engage in a detailed and substantive dialogue in the construction sector between Belarus and Kaluga Oblast. The agricultural sector is also a priority in Kalimantan Oblast, as the trade between Belarus and Kalgan Oblast remains USD 654 million, which has decreased by six per cent over 2021. While in 2022 it increased exports to the Russian region by almost 70 per cent, the trade deficit for Belarus remained. Henceforth, Belarus is ready to listen to and take on board all proposals to go beyond the designated range of cooperation areas according to Lukashenko ("Lukashenko seeks to achieve $1bn trade with Russia's Kalimantan Oblast," eng.Belta.by, 03 April 2023; "Lukashenko highlights the importance of Belarus-Russia cooperation," eng.Belta.by, 03 April 2023)
Fears over the effect of the price rise by OPEC’s decision
On 04 April, ERR reported on the possibility of a rise in oil prices from the banking sector crisis. Even though oil prices recovered, the Estonia Oil Association (Eesti Õliühing) predicts the cut in oil production to be more than a million barrels a day, as the OPEC’s decision will soon reach Estonian gas stations. Since the price change on 17 March the global market price of gas increased by ten per cent, which is yet to impact Estonia. However, Estonia’s fuel retailer Neste Manager Risto Sülluste said: “If the prices continue to rise, a lot depends on internal competition, and on the positive side, we are moving away from diesel to summer fuel, which is cheaper than winter fuel. We hope that this will help to mitigate some of the price increases.” (Mart Linnart, "Oil Association: Price rises may soon affect Estonian gas stations," news.err.ee, 04 April 2023)
Macron’s French model of the end of life bill to be introduced soon
On 02 April, in the attempts by the French government, the Head of State announced a bill “end of life” care that will be presented to the Council of Ministers before the end of the summer. In the vote held after four months of work under the aegis of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (Cese), 184 members voted (76 per cent) in favour of active assistance to die, namely assisted suicide or euthanasia while 23 per cent voted against. French President Emmanuel Macron came out in favour of the development of palliative care as well in his remarks on the bill. He announced a national ten-year plan to be launched in this regard since more than twenty departments do not have specific service and promised to improve the health care services. (Gregoire Poussielgue, "End of life: Emmanuel Macron promises a bill for the summer," Les Echos, 03 April 2023)
Proposal to ban the use of English and foreign words in formal communication
On 01 April, Italy's Prime Minister Georgia Meloni defended the Italian language, and the national identity proposed new legislation to penalize those who use English and other foreign words in official communications. The fine will be between EUR 5,000 and EUR 100,000. The legislation has been condemned by the Italy's most renowned scholars of Italian linguistics and philology. A member of Italy's lower Chamber of deputies, Fabio Rampelli tweeted: "In the lower chamber of deputies we speak Italian, we continue our battle for the use of our language instead of English." This new proposed legislation has pushed for a conservative approach that intends to virtually ban English words from public administration, schools, and universities. The proposed legislation is yet to go for parliamentary debate. (Gillian Carbonaro, "Ciao, hello, no! Italy's right-wing government wants to ban English words with €100,00 fines," Euronews, 03 April 2023)
NATO declares the membership of Finland
On 04 April, NATO announced the joining of Finland as its 31st member. Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership in May 2022, stepping out from the military non-alignment stance. Upon membership, the Finnish flag will be raised at NATO headquarters in Brussels. According to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the move assures security in Finland, Nordic and overall NATO. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said in response to Finland's accession that Moscow would strengthen its military capacity. ("Finland to officially become 31st member this week," Deutsche Welle, 03 April 2023; "Finland to join NATO as Allied Foreign Ministers meet," nato.int, 03 April 2023)
Trilateral talks between EU, France, and China on commercial ties to be held next week
On 03 April, Euronews reported on the upcoming visit of Macron and European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen to China. In 2022, China was the third largest partner for EU goods exports and the largest partner for the bloc's imports of goods, an important indicator of where relations between the two lie. However, the EU has accused China for bullying tactics to blackmail smaller countries into downplaying criticism of Chinese policies. The trilateral meeting will focus on the discussions on commercial ties including market access and fair competition practices. Sensitive technologies are observed to be key for bilateral relations but since China is still an export powerhouse and has access to European markets. However, the EU will focus on having its own strategy to maintain these cutting-edge technologies instead of being dependent on one actor or another. (Efi Koutsokosta, "All eyes on von der Leyen and Macron's high-stakes trip to China," Euronews, 03 April 2023)