Tag Archives: Russia

EU Defence ministers convene in Brussels

Brussels 17.05.2022 The EU Defence Ministers convene in Brussels to discuss the implementation of the Strategic Compass with a focus on the future of CSDP missions and operations. The Strategic Compass provides a shared assessment of the strategic environment in which the EU is operating and of the threats and challenges the Union faces. The roadmap makes concrete and actionable proposals, with a very precise timetable for implementation, in order to improve the EU’s ability to act decisively in crises and to defend its security and its citizens. The Compass covers all the aspects of the security and defence policy and is structured around four pillars: act, invest, partner and secure.

The other focus of attention is Russian aggression against Ukraine.A Ukrainian military base about 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the border with Poland was targeted in a Russian missile attack early Tuesday morning, according to Maksym Kozytsky, head of the Lviv regional military administration. He gave no further details in a late-night Telegram post.

Informal lunch with the NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg and the Minister of Defence of Ukraine, Oleksii Reznikov (via videoconference).

The Russian President Vladimir Putin said the entry of Sweden and Finland into the US-led alliance will not create a threat to Russia, but military expansion into the territory will “certainly cause our response.” The Swedish government said on its website that it has decided to apply for NATO membership, following a similar declaration from Finland on Sunday.

Azovstal troops humanitarian corridor

Brusssels 17.05.2022 Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky confirmed in his video address that an evacuation of national troops from Azovstal steelmaking complex in Mariupol had started.

“… We cherish a hope that we will be able to save the lives of our boys,” Zelensky said. “There are severely wounded ones among them and they need medical attendance.”

The Ukrainian President said that Kiev hoped to return all of them home as soon as possible.

“The work is underway to return boys back home, but this work is very delicate and time-consuming,” he explained.

The Russian Defense Ministry announced on Monday, May 16, that an agreement was reached to evacuate wounded Ukrainian troops from the Azovstal steel plant and subsequently a humanitarian corridor was opened.

The Ministry added that a ceasefire had been introduced in the surrounding area of the embattled plant and a humanitarian corridor was opened to provide exit for wounded Ukrainian soldiers to be taken to a medical facility in Novoazovsk in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR).

The Ukrainian authorities announced earlier that 53 severely wounded Ukrainian military servicemen were evacuated on May 16 from Azovstal plant in Mariupol to Novoazovsk (in DPR), while 211 more Ukrainian troops were evacuated from the plant through a humanitarian corridor to the city of Yelenovka (also in DPR).

EU: Sweden moves towards NATO

Brussels 16.05.2022 “Let me stress my strong support to Sweden and Finland. Some minutes ago, I had a conversation with the Swedish Minister [for Foreign Affairs, Ann Linde], who was kind enough to call me, to inform that the process has started, that they are going to inform the King, and that there is strong support for this decision inside the Swedish society and the Swedish political spectrum” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said at the doorstep of the EU Foreign Affairs Council, Brussels.

“So, I think the European Union Member States will support this decision, and I hope we could override the opposition of some members of NATO,” he added.

Finland joins NATO without delay

Brussels 12.04.2022 Finland announced it would apply to join NATO “without delay”, with Sweden expected to follow suit, suggesting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will bring about the very expansion of the Western military alliance that Vladimir Putin attempted to prevent.

The decision by the two Nordic countries to abandon the neutrality they maintained throughout the Cold War would be a giant shift in European security structure in decades. Finland’s announcement provoked indignation from the Kremlin, which called it a direct threat to Russia and promised an unspecified relevant response.

The announcement by President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin means that Finland is all but certain to join the Western military alliance, though a few steps remain before the application process can begin. Neighbouring Sweden is expected to decide on application for NATO membership in coming days.

“NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security. As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defence alliance,” Niinisto and Marin said in a joint statement.

“Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay,” they said. “We hope that the national steps still needed to make this decision will be taken rapidly within the next few days.”

Future of Europe conference conclusions

Strasbourg 08.05.2022 The Conference on the Future of Europe is going to conclude its work on May 9, Monday, in Strasbourg, presenting the reports to the heads of the institutions for further consideration.

The conference was established last year with the aim of bringing citizens and politicians from across the EU together to come up with ideas to overhaul the bloc.

At a session in Strasbourg on Saturday, the conference plenary — composed of representatives of EU institutions, national parliaments and citizens’ panels — approved more than 300 proposals. They include the abolition of national vetos, granting the European Parliament the right to propose legislation, more investment in climate change mitigation, the launch of “joint armed forces” and transnational voting lists.

MEPs from the right-wing Identity and Democracy (ID) and European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) groups of the European Parliament refused to support the proposals, arguing that they don’t reflect public opinion in the EU, but are achieved through the deliberate selections of the participants, promoting the EU Federalists point of view.

“The selection of citizens participating in the Conference was itself very flawed,” the ECR group said in a statement. “Research shows that citizens who are in favour of a more centralised Union were much more likely to accept an invitation to participate in the citizens’ panels of the Conference than those more sceptical.”

The group said it rejects “the idea the conclusions being reached represent an expression of the will of the Europeans and … hereby [withdraws] from the Conference on the Future of Europe.“

The Conference on the Future of Europe is a citizen-led series of debates and discussions that will enable people from across Europe to share their ideas and help shape our common future.

The Conference is the first of its kind: as a major pan-European democratic exercise, with citizen-led debates enabling people from across Europe to share their ideas and help shape our common future.

This is done via an innovative Multilingual Digital Platformwhere any European can share ideas, and both national and European Citizens’ Panels. These contributions feed into the Conference Plenaries. The Conference offers a new public forum for an open, inclusive, and transparent debate with citizens around a number of key priorities and challenges.

It is part of President von der Leyen’s pledge to give Europeans a possibility to be more eloquent on what the EU does and how it works for them. All Europeans – whoever they are and wherever they are – can take part.

The Conference aims to reflect our diversity, and to bring Europe beyond its capital cities, reaching every corner of the EU, strengthening the link between Europeans and the institutions that serve them. It does so through a multitude of Conference-events and debates organised across the EU, as well as through an interactive multilingual digital platform. Young people in particular are encouraged to take part and share their ideas. European, national, regional and local authorities, as well as civil society and other organisations can also organise events to involve as many people as possible.

MEPs protect Ukraine women

Strasbourg 05.05.2022 The European Parliament (pictured) debated and will vote on how to protect women fleeing Ukraine from violence and trafficking, and on granting them access to essential health services.

On Thursday, MEPs are set to strongly condemn the use of sexual and gender-based violence as a weapon of war and to express their deep concern about the growing number of reports of human trafficking, sexual violence, exploitation, rape and abuse faced by women and children fleeing Ukraine. They are expected to call for trafficking networks that profit from sexual exploitation of women refugees to be identified and prosecuted.

MEPs are also set to urge the EU and all host and transit countries to ensure access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), particularly emergency contraception and abortion care, including for victims of rape, as well as obstetric care.

According to the UNHCR, more than five million refugees – 90% of whom are women and children – have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion started on 24 February. A further 7.1 million people are internally displaced within Ukraine, including women and children in need of medical care.

AMENDMENT: The European Parliament adopted a resolution (462-19-89) calling on the EU to protect Ukraine women refugees from violence and sexual exploitation.

MEPs discuss aid to Ukraine

Strasbourg 05.04.2022 In a debate with French Minister Delegate Klinkert and President von der Leyen, MEPs said internal EU unity and solidarity is crucial now and for the future reconstruction of Ukraine.

On May 5, Wednesday, MEPs discussed the social and economic consequences for the EU of Russia’s war in Ukraine. They applauded the sixth packet of sanctions against Russia and the Ukraine recovery package, both outlined by Commission President von der Leyen. MEPs underlined the need to also support EU citizens and businesses affected by the war, calling for unity among member states. They also demanded support for countries facing the brunt of the effects of the war, whether as a consequence of their dependence on Russian gas and oil, or because of their hosting of a large number of Ukrainian refugees.

French Delegate Minister for Integration Brigitte Klinkert and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen opened the debate.

Most MEPs have underlined the need to defeat Putin but also suggested that the best way to do this was to minimise the costs faced by the EU itself.

This would allow unity to be kept among member states, cushion the effects on households and businesses, and allow the EU to better help Ukraine’s post-war reconstruction. MEPs underlined the plight of those in the EU having to choose between buying food or heating their houses and also asked the Commission to consider on a case-by-case basis whether to go ahead with new legislation that could add additional burdens on already-struggling businesses.

Scholz refuses Russian oil soon

Brussels 02.05.2022 The European Union will stop importing Russian coal in summer and will refuse Russian oil by the end of 2022, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (pictured) said in an interview with The Indian Express newspaper published on Monday, May 5.(Image above: illustration).

The European Union has adopted, along with its transatlantic partners, “unprecedented sanctions against the Russian Federation,” the Chancellor ensured. “Many countries have joined these sanctions, even if this necessarily implies economic costs for ourselves,” he noted.

“We are furthermore now implementing a very ambitious policy to reduce our dependency on the import of fossil fuels from Russia. We will stop the import of Russian coal this summer, we will phase out Russian oil until the end of the year and will reduce gas imports from Russia severely,” Scholz said.

Stoltenberg visits Europarliament

Brussels 29.04.2022 NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg visited the European Parliament in Brussels to meet President Roberta Metsola and the conference of presidents of the seven political groups in the Parliament. This is the first time that a NATO Secretary General has met with the group of European Parliament party leaders on Thursday, April 28.

The Secretary General praised the European Parliament for its strong support to Ukraine, and stressed that the NATO-EU partnership is vital at this critical moment for our shared security. He mentioned the unprecedented level of cooperation between the two organisations on a wide range of issues, including in the Western Balkans, on cyber, resilience and maritime security.

In a joint press point with President Metsola, the Secretary General emphasised that NATO and the EU “stand together in solidarity with Ukraine”. He welcomed the EU’s strong economic sanctions on Russia. He stated that to date, NATO Allies have pledged and provided at least US $8 billion in military support to Ukraine, and continue to step up.

Asked by reporters how quickly the process of NATO accession could go if Finland and Sweden decide to apply, the Secretary General said: “It is of course for Finland and Sweden to decide whether they would like to apply for membership in NATO or not. But if they decide to apply, Finland and Sweden will be welcomed with open arms to NATO. Finland and Sweden are our closest partners, they are strong, mature democracies, EU members, and we have worked with Finland and Sweden for many, many years. We know that their armed forces meet NATO standards, are interoperable with NATO forces, we train together, we exercise together, and we have also worked with Finland and Sweden in many different missions and operations. So if they apply, they will be welcomed, and I also expect the process to be quick. And that they can then join NATO after the formal process has been finalised.”

Switzerland blocks Russian $9bn assets

Brussels 27.04.2022 Switzerland has decided to ban Russian nationals from registering trusts there, its government said Wednesday, April 27, to prevent a potential EU sanctions evasion. It also replicated the EU sanctions on imports of Russian lignite, coal, caviar, timber and seafood, along with the exports to Russia of some chemicals and industrial robots.

It earlier blacklisted over 200 Russian individuals and entities “in view of Russia’s ongoing military aggression in Ukraine”.

The sanctions were also extended the ban on export of banknotes and sales of securities in Swiss francs and euros to Belarusian nationals and entities to cover all official EU currencies. The same measure is planned for Russia.

Switzerland froze approximately 9 billion francs ($9.34 billion) of Russian assets. This is reported by Reuters with reference to a publication in the Swiss newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung.
The mentioned amount is about one and a half billion francs more than the one reported by the country’s authorities in early April. The Swiss government has not yet commented on this information and has not responded to a request from journalists.

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