Photo : Nato.int
13 June 2023, Tuesday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #541
War in Ukraine: Day 474
By Nithyashree RB and Sreeja JS
War on the Ground
On 11 June, a Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat in an interview with Ukrainska Pravda said: "If Russia controlled the sky, we probably wouldn't have our country by now." He discussed why Russia's missile strikes are continuing, and the usage of Telegram by military personnel and politicians. He said that because of the inefficiency of sanctions Russia is able to acquire and manufacture missiles. He stated: "The air defence systems our partners have given us are not sufficient." According to him, the current air defense systems mostly consist of Soviet systems and even with the addition of new ones, they would not be sufficient in the long term..
On 12 June, the head of the Luhansk Oblast Military Administration reported in Telegram that a Mavic drone purchased from UNITED24 destroyed two VSAT antennas. The antennas were used by Russian troops for communication on the Svatore-Kupiansk front. The same was reported by the Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Mykhailo Federov in Telegram.
On 12 June, Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar said Ukrainian troops have the control of Storozheve village. According to ABS-CBN, Ukrainian flags were raised in Blahodatne and Neskuchne villages and advances had been made in the Makarivka region. Dutch Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren announced that training of Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16 jets will begin within six months, reported Reuters, quoted ABS-CBN.
On 12 June, according to The Guardian, the IAEA's Director General Rafael Grossi expressed concerns over the discrepancy in the water levels in the Kakhovka dam. Grossi said: "The height is reportedly continuing to fall elsewhere in the huge reservoir, causing a possible difference of about 2 metres." He said that the discrepancy can be a consequence of measuring the water levels of a water body that is isolated from the dam. He added that it may complicate the supply of water to cool the six reactors in the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.
The Moscow View
Claims by Russia
On 12 June, according to lenta.ru, the Russian Defence Ministry signed a contract with Akhmat Special Forces, a volunteer unit, over the activities in the NVO zone. The Russian Defence Ministry reported that Russian Deputy Chief of the General Staff Colonel General Alexei Kim and Russian Special Forces University's director Adam Dashaev signed the contract. The contract follows the order of the Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu which urged the volunteer units to sign an agreement with the Defence Ministry for efficiency.
On 12 June, according to lenta.ru, the chairman of "We are Together with Russia" Vladimir Rogov, Russian troops supported by the Russian Aerospace Force undertook a counterattack in Zaporizhzhia's Vremensky ledge and in Makarivka.
On 12 June, according to TASS, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited a hospital in Krasnogorsk. Putin spoke with the Russian soldiers in the Vishnevsky Central Military Clinical Hospital and presented awards. He also met with the Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu in the hospital.
On 12 June, according to TASS, a Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov reported that the Russian troops attacked the reserves of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Konashenkov added that sea-based long precision weapons were used the night before to destroy the reserves. He said that the Russian troops killed Ukrainian soldiers in Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, and Kupyansk. He stated that Akatsiya and Gvozdika self-propelled artillery mounts in Krasnolymansk, and the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system in Dnepropetrovsk were destroyed.
The West View
Responses from the US and Europe
On 12 June, Allied air forces began the "Air Defender" exercise, hosted and led by Germany. It is the largest deployment exercise in NATO's history, and 25 nations will participate in the two-week exercise. It will go on until 23 June. NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu said: "Air Defender is necessary because we live in a more dangerous world. As we face the biggest security crisis in a generation, we stand united to keep our countries and our people safe."
On 12 June, Euractiv reported that talks of the Defence Contact Group of Ukraine, also known as the Ramstein Format group, will happen on 15 June. The defence ministers of the Netherlands, Denmark, the US and other countries will participate in the talks, according to Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov. He also said in Telegram that they are only talking about training the pilots, technicians and engineers who would be responsible for the service now, quotes Euracitv.
On 12 June, Reuters reported Dutch Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren's comment that Ukrainian pilots could start training to fly F-16 jets as soon as this summer as part of the international jet coalition. She added that the training programme would be fully operational within six months. According to Reuters, Ollongren also said that the final decision has not been taken yet to supply F-16s to Ukraine.
On 12 June, Financial Times reported that French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Polish President Andrzej Duda met at Élysée Palace to project unity in support of Ukraine for its counter-offensive against Russian forces. The three leaders pledged support for Ukraine as long as it takes while the Western powers work on "security guarantees" to shore up its defences and ensure its sovereign future.
The Global Fallouts
Implications of the War
On 11 June, the first cargo of discounted Russian crude oil under a new deal between Islamabad and Moscow arrived in Karachi, said Dawn. Pakistan State Minister for Petroleum Musadik Malik did not disclose any specific details of the deal but said the payment was made in Chinese currency, according to Dawn. The purchase consisted of 100,000 tonnes and 45,000 tonnes reached Karachi port.
On 12 June, North Korea’s state media KCNA reported on Kim Jong Un’s announcement to support Russia in full solidarity. He assured to boost strategic cooperation with Russia to help preserve sovereign rights. He said: “Justice is sure to win and the Russian people will continue to add glory to the history of victory.” The move comes as North Korea accuses the West for its “hegemonic policy.”
Sofia Sereda, "Spokesman for Ukraine's Air Force: If we had surrendered the sky, the entire country would look like Mariupol or Bakhmut," Ukrainska Pravda, 11 June 2023
Tetiana Lozovenko, "Ukrainian drone destroys Russian satellite communication system: Ministry of Digital Transformation shows video," Ukrainska Pravda, 12 June 2023
"Kyiv claims first counteroffensive gains," ABS-CBN, 13 June 2023
"UN concerned by 'discrepancy' in Ukraine nuclear plant water levels after dam collapse," The Guardian,12 June 2023
"The Ministry of Defense signed the first contract with the Akhmat detachment," lenta.ru, 12 June 2023
"The Russian military launched a counterattack in the Zaporozhye region," lenta.ru, 12 Juune 2023
"Putin visits military hospital near Moscow, meets soldiers," TASS, 12 June 2023
"Russian forces attack positions of reserves of Armed Forces of Ukraine," TASS, 12 June 2023
Alexandra Brzozowski, "Ukraine looks for fighter jet coalition, repair hubs in Ramstein talks," Euracitv, 12 June 2023
"Germany hosts biggest ever air exercise of NATO forces," nato.int, 12 June 2023
"Exclusive: Coalition aims to begin Ukrainian F-16 pilot training by summer - Dutch minister," Reuters, 12 June 2023
Henry Foy, Leila Abboud, Felicia Schwartz, "France, Germany and Poland vow long-term support for Ukraine," Financial Times, 13 June 2023
"Pakistan's Russian crude shipment paid in Chinese currency: minister," Dawn, 12 June 2023
"Kim Jong Un Extends' Full Support' To Russia Amid Ukraine War As North Korea Seeks To Forge Closer Ties," ABP News, 12 June 2023
Europe in Brief
By Prerana P and Melvin George
Pro-EU party (PES) dominates the parliamentary election
On 12 June, Euronews reported the unofficial result of the nation's Parliamentary election, with Montenegro's Europe Now Movement (PES) has won 25.6 per cent of the vote. The 36 year old leader, Milojko Spajic, stated: "Tomorrow is a new day." He also expressed his willingness to strengthen ties with nations possessing similar ideologies. The pro-European Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) came second, with Milo Djukanovic, who has taken a back seat. ("Montenegro's pro-EU party wins election, initial results show," Euronews, 12 June 2023)
Appeal to the Court of Justice of EU
On 12 June, Politico reported on the Climate Minister of Poland Anna Moskwa's claim on Poland overturning the EU's combustion engine and climate laws. She further declared that the country would take the appeal of many Fit for 55 documents to the Court of Justice of the EU. Poland, along with Germany, sought to block the clean car sales mandate. But Warsaw banned the sales of polluting vehicles. The government stated its discomfort as they witnessed Green Deal chief's inability to engage with Warsaw's opposition. Regarding the issue, the spokesperson for the Commission stated that Europe is awaiting Poland's decision following the release of the judgement by the European Court of Justice. (Zia Weise and Joshua Posaner, "Poland to challenge EU climate laws before top court," Politico, 12 June 2023)
PM resigns as per the rotating premiership deal
On 12 June, Romanian Prime Minister Nicola Ciucu resigned as part of a rotating premiership deal among the ruling coalition parties. The coalition was formed between Ciucu's centre-right liberals, Social Democrats (PSD) and ethnic Hungarian UDMR in late 2021. It is widely expected that Marcel Ciolacu would be the next Prime Minister. Ciucu said : "Our objective is to have a new government sworn in by Thursday, so that we can continue ... to handle the priorities." The new cabinet is expected to face the increase in salaries in the public sector and pressure to implement the delayed EU economic reforms for the recovery funds. The consolidated budget deficit of Romania has to be brought below the three per cent ceiling of the EU before the elections that are going to happen in 2024. ("Romanian PM Ciuca resigns in power swap agreed by ruling coalition," Reuters, 12 June 2023)
No reason to suspend Sturgeon's membership: First Minister of Scotland
On 12 June, Reuters reported that Scotland's First Minister Hamza Yousuf said that he saw no reason to suspend the membership of Nicola Sturgeon. The report says that he has been receiving calls from his senior party members and rival politicians to suspend her. She was released on 11 June after being arrested as a part of police investigation to track down EUR 600,000 raised by Scottish independence campaigners. Sturgeon's husband, Peter Murrel, who was the former chief executive, and former treasurer of Scottish National Party (SNP) also got released without charge but the investigation continues. The Labour Party, which constitutes the largest opposition in the British Parliament believes that they would be able to make use of this to acquire seats in Scotland in the next year's UK election. ("Scotland's leader won't suspend Nicola Sturgeon from party after arrest," Reuters, 12 June 2023)
Rishi Sunak rejects Boris Johnson's plea to overrule HOLAC committee
On 12 June, Reuters reported PM Rishi Sunak rejected Boris Johnson's plea to overrule an HOLAC committee (House of Lords Appointments Commission) and allow some of his nominees to the upper chamber of the parliament. The PM said: "Boris Johnson asked me to do something that I wasn't prepared to do, because I didn't think it was right." The HOLAC committee is an independent body that was constituted in order to screen the list of members to the House of Lords, nominated by the former PM who receives an honorary lifetime seat in the same when he steps down. The final list published on Friday did not include Johnson's nominees. Johnson said : "To honour these peerages it was not necessary to overrule HOLAC - but simply to ask them to renew their vetting, which was a mere formality." (Sachin Ravikumar, "UK's Sunak faces down critics after Boris Johnson honours row," Reuters, 12 June 2023)
UK's Revocation and Reform Bill can revoke EU laws
On 12 June 2023, Euronews reported on the UK government's new law, the Retained EU Law Bill, might enable lawmakers to cancel specific EU laws of the UK statute books. However, thousands of EU laws will automatically expire on 31 December 2023. The government has published around 600 EU laws which could suit the bill. The relationship between Brussels and London has enhanced after the Northern Ireland Protocol. Brussels has been following the evolution of the newly Retained EU law, alerting the UK of its negative impact on trade as a countereffect. Britain's Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, claims the EU-UK relationship as a: "much-valued ally and friend". He accepts UK's laws but reminds the government of the added consequences that could impact the relationship. (Alice Tidey, "UK bill to revoke EU laws could have 'negative impact on trade', Brussels warns," Euronews, 12 June 2023)
Investments in USD reduced but have weightage for some government bonds: says Andrew Balls
On 12 June, chief investment officer Andrew Balls said that the American investment management firm PIMCO is having less than the desirable investment in the US dollar and more weightage in investments in some of the UK government bonds. The dollar index stands virtually unchanged and gained eight per cent last year, along with the sharp rise in interest rates in the US. Unlike what was expected, the slow fall in inflation has been persuading traders to raise their stakes in investments as the Bank of England. Increases the rates. He said: "We tend to be neutral and in some of our portfolios are a little bit overweight in the UK. It looks like there is value when we compare the UK with the US or with Europe." The former Federal Reserve vice chair and the current economic advisor at PIMCO, Richard Clarida said that the central bank would struggle to bring to the two per cent inflation targets because of supply shocks the country is facing which would in turn reduce the policy support from the central banks. (Harry Robertson, "PIMCO's bond CIO says underweight dollar, sees value in UK gilts," Reuters, 13 June 2023)