Tag Archives: Ukraine

EU Condemns Russian actions

Brussels 25.05.2021 The European Council held a strategic debate on Russia.
– It condemns the illegal, provocative and disruptive Russian activities against the EU, its Member States and beyond. It reaffirms the EU’s unity and solidarity in the face of such acts as well as its support to Eastern partners. (Image above: Crimea bridge, Azov sea).

– The European Council expresses its solidarity with the Czech Republic and supports its response.
– The European Council reaffirms its commitment to the five principles governing EU policy vis-à-vis Russia. – It invites the High Representative and the Commission to present a report with policy options on EU-Russia relations, in line with these principles, with a view to its meeting in June 2021.
– The EU will continue coordination with like-minded partners.

Since March 2014, the EU has progressively imposed restrictive measures against Russia. The measures were adopted in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and the deliberate destabilisation of Ukraine:

The EU imposes different types of restrictive measures:

Diplomatic measures
individual restrictive measures (asset freeze and travel restrictions)
restrictions on economic relations with Crimea and Sevastopol
economic sanctions
restrictions on economic cooperation

Diplomatic measures
In 2014, the EU-Russia summit was cancelled and EU member states decided not to hold regular bilateral summits. Bilateral talks with Russia on visa matters as well as on the new agreement between the EU and Russia were suspended.

Instead of the G8 summit in Sochi, a G7 meeting was held in Brussels on 4-5 June 2014. Since then, meetings have continued within the G7 process.

EU countries also supported the suspension of negotiations over Russia’s joining the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Individual restrictive measures
Asset freeze and travel restrictions
177 people and 48 entities are subject to an asset freeze and a travel ban because their actions undermined Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence.

The measures were introduced in March 2014. They were last extended until 15 September 20

Donbass 1M residents receive Russian passport

Brussels 25.04.2021 The number of residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk self-proclaimed People’s Republics who have received Russian citizenship in a simplified manner may almost double by the end of 2021 – up to 1 mln people, according to Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee for CIS Affairs, Eurasian Integration and Relations with Compatriots Viktor Vodolatsky.

“Today, there are 538,000 citizens of Russia living in the territory of Donbass. According to the forecasts that exist today, and according to the statements that exist today, by the end of this year, up to 1 mln residents of Donbass will become citizens of the Russian Federation,” Vodolatsky said.

In two years it was possible to develop a system of clear interaction between the Main Directorate for Migration Issues of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia and the relevant services of the Lugansk and Donetsk for processing documents for obtaining Russian citizenship.

“At the beginning, there were certain difficulties, problems, people simply did not know and did not understand where to turn, which way to go. To date, all bureaucratic barriers have been removed, a very active process of obtaining Russian citizenship is in progress,” the State Duma deputy said.

On April 24, 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree simplifying the process of obtaining Russian citizenship for residents of the Lugansk and Donetsk self-proclaimed People’s Republics. The first passports were issued on July 14.

EU-USA: Blinken visits Brussels

Brussels 24.03.2021 The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell and the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken
have issued a joint press-release: EU-U.S. joint readout
“Joint press release on the meeting between High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell and the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

On 24 March, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, and the Secretary of State of the United States of America, Antony J. Blinken met in Brussels to discuss ways to strengthen the EU-U.S. relationship and coordinate responses to priority foreign policy, security, and economic issues. They also committed to cooperate in the face of global challenges, including addressing the global climate crisis, bringing an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, facilitating a sustainable economic recovery, and defending democratic values and fundamental freedoms including within multilateral structures.

During the meeting, the two sides decided to re-launch the bilateral dialogue on China, as a forum to discuss the full range of related challenges and opportunities. They acknowledged a shared understanding that relations with China are multifaceted, comprising elements of cooperation, competition, and systemic rivalry. They also decided to continue meetings under the framework of the dialogue at senior official and expert levels on topics such as reciprocity, including economic issues; resilience; human rights; security; multilateralism; and areas for constructive engagement with China, such as climate change.

High Representative Borrell and Secretary Blinken confirmed that credible multi-party democracy, the protection of human rights and adherence to international law support the stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific. Both aim to cooperate to promote secure, sustainable, free and open maritime supply routes and supply chains and look forward to deepening cooperation with like-minded partners where interests and approaches intersect.

The two principals also discussed EU-U.S. partnership on climate action and working cooperatively to raise global ambition to put the world on a path to net-zero emissions by 2050.

The two sides plan to work together in multilateral fora, such as through the WHO and COVAX initiative to jointly address the global challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, including facilitating global distribution of safe and effective vaccines, addressing humanitarian impacts, and building future pandemic preparedness, including through advancing global health security.

High Representative Borrell and Secretary Blinken acknowledged that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) remained a key achievement of multilateral diplomacy despite existing difficulties. They shared concerns about Iran’s continued departure from its nuclear commitments under the JCPOA and underlined their full support for the work of the IAEA to independently monitor Iran’s nuclear commitments. Secretary Blinken reaffirmed the U.S. readiness to reengage in meaningful diplomacy to achieve a mutual return to full implementation of the JCPOA by the United States and Iran. The High Representative welcomed the prospect of a U.S. return to the JCPOA. Both sides expressed support for the ongoing diplomatic efforts, and the contacts of the High Representative as JCPOA Coordinator with all relevant partners, to ensure full implementation of the JCPOA nuclear and sanctions lifting commitments. The United States expressed readiness to engage in result-oriented discussions to that end.

High Representative Borrell and Secretary Blinken noted their determination to further address, in a coordinated manner, Russia’s challenging behaviour, including its ongoing aggression against Ukraine and Georgia; hybrid threats, such as disinformation; interference in electoral processes; malicious cyber activities; and military posturing. Both sides also decided to coordinate their response to the shrinking space in Russia for independent political voices, civil society and media freedom and the dwindling respect for human rights and the rule of law. At the same time, both sides declared that they are ready to engage with Russia on issues of common interest and to encourage Russia to abandon confrontational approaches.

They also decided to continue close cooperation to encourage comprehensive reforms in the EU Eastern neighbourhood, including South Caucasus countries.

The two principals underscored that the EU and the United States share a strong interest in a stable and prosperous Western Balkans region. They reaffirmed their commitment to work together to support reconciliation and improve governance, build resilience and push forward key reforms for EU integration across the region. EU-U.S. cooperation on the ground is vital for progress, including on the EU-facilitated dialogue on normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia.

High Representative Borrell and Secretary Blinken affirmed the EU and the United States have a strategic interest in a stable and secure environment in the Eastern Mediterranean and will work hand in hand for sustainable de-escalation. Both the United States and the EU are interested in the development of a cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship with Turkey, underpinned by rule of law and respect for fundamental rights.

The two principals shared their concern about the continuing humanitarian tragedy and human rights violations and abuses in Tigray. They discussed a variety of measures to support unhindered humanitarian access, investigations of human rights violations and abuses, a cessation of hostilities, and the immediate withdrawal of Eritrea from Ethiopian territory.

On the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) negotiations, they called on all parties to show flexibility and move promptly to resume productive negotiations in the coming weeks. They expressed concern over increased tensions between Sudan and Ethiopia and encourage both countries to resolve their difference through peaceful means. They also discussed the situation in Somalia, where they expected a political consensus to deliver an election without delay.

The European Union and United States intend to intensify their cooperation on Afghanistan, together with key partners, to advance the peace process and to ensure the long-term stability and prosperity of the country. The European Union and its Member States are the largest civilian assistance donors to Afghanistan, contributing to the common goal of stability in the region.

High Representative Borrell and Secretary Blinken expressed support for continued NATO-EU cooperation. They agreed that NATO and the EU need new ways of working together and a new level of ambition because the multiple and evolving security challenges that NATO Allies and EU Member States face make robust NATO-EU cooperation essential to our shared security. The two principals recalled that capabilities developed through the defence initiatives of the EU and NATO should remain coherent, complementary and interoperable. They also noted that EU defence initiatives should enhance the European contribution to Transatlantic security and can offer concrete opportunities for cooperation between the EU and the United States. With this in mind, the principals supported the fullest possible involvement of the United States in EU defence initiatives and enhanced dialogue on these issues”.

EU-Ukraine Summit condemns Russia

Charles Michel, President of the European Council, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, and Josep Borrell, Vice-President of the European Commission on behalf of Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, met in Brussels today for the 22nd EU-Ukraine Summit, hold a press-conference and issued a statement.

In the statement they have reiterated their condemnation of Russia’s “aggression”, and “continued to condemn” the “illegal annexation” of Crimea and Sevastopol.

“…We reiterated our strong condemnation of the clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity by acts of aggression by the Russian armed forces since February 2014. We continue to condemn the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by Russia, the militarisation of the peninsula, the severe deterioration of the human rights situation there as well as restrictions of the freedom of movement for Ukrainian citizens to and from the Crimean Peninsula. We condemned the voting procedures on constitutional amendments of the Russian Federation concluded on 1 July 2020 that took place in the Crimean Peninsula, as well as the election of the so-called “governor of Sevastopol” on 13 September 2020, in violation of international law. We called on Russia to allow unhindered access of international organisations and human rights actors to the areas currently not under the control of Ukraine, including the Crimean Peninsula, and to respect international humanitarian law. We called for the immediate release of all illegally detained and imprisoned Ukrainian citizens in the Crimean Peninsula and in Russia, including Crimean Tatar activists. We continue to call on Russia to ensure unhindered and free passage to and from the Sea of Azov, in accordance with international law. We remain fully committed to implementing and keeping our respective non-recognition policies updated, including through restrictive measures and cooperation in international fora. In this context, we welcomed the diplomatic efforts aimed at restoring Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders”.

We reaffirmed our full support to the endeavours of the Normandy format, the OSCE, the Trilateral Contact Group and the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine. We welcomed the renewed engagement by the parties at the Normandy Summit in Paris last December, and stressed the importance of implementing the measures agreed on that occasion in view of the full implementation of the Minsk agreements by all sides, underlining Russia’s responsibility in this regard. We praised the constructive approach of Ukraine in the Normandy format and the Trilateral Contact Group and called on Russia to reciprocate. The comprehensive and unlimited ceasefire is an achievement that should be preserved.

“We called on Russia to fully assume its responsibility in this regard and to use its considerable influence over the armed formations it backs to meet the Minsk commitments in full and to ensure free and unhindered access of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to the non-government-controlled areas of Ukraine, including the areas along the Ukrainian-Russian State border, in accordance with its mandate. We again called on Russia to immediately stop fuelling the conflict by providing financial and military support to the armed formations it backs, and we remain deeply concerned about the presence of Russian military equipment and personnel in the non-government-controlled areas of Ukraine. We reiterated our condemnation of the Russian continuing measures entitling Ukrainian citizens of the areas currently not under the control of the Government to apply for Russian citizenship in a simplified manner, in contradiction to the Minsk agreements. The EU recently renewed its economic sanctions on Russia, whose duration remains clearly linked to the full implementation of the Minsk agreements.

“We agreed to continue cooperating to address the socio-economic and humanitarian consequences of the conflict, highlighting the necessity to ensure the supply of water, electricity and gas across the contact line, to facilitate the movement of people and goods, and to ensure that the people living in areas not under Government’s control fully benefit from their rights as citizens of Ukraine, in full respect of international humanitarian law. In the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is even more essential that humanitarian aid continues to be delivered and that the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, UN agencies, non-governmental organisations and the International Committee of the Red Cross have unimpeded access to the non-government controlled areas. We underlined the importance of pursuing demining activities also in new areas to be agreed. We also agreed on the need for Ukraine to establish a national mine action centre in order to effectively address the contamination by mines and unexploded ordnances in the conflict affected region. The EU stands ready to further support Ukraine’s inclusive approach towards its citizens in the affected areas and to play a leading role in reconstruction efforts of the country, including in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, once the Minsk agreements have been implemented…”

Crimea water supply prospects

The Head of Crimea, Sergey Aksenov, claims that the situation with the “water shortage” in Simferopol will be resolved in March 2021 thanks to new wells. As reported by “Interfax”, he made this announcement at a meeting of the operational headquarters for the city’s water supply. The Human Right to Water and Sanitation (HRWAS) was recognised as a “human right” by the United Nations General Assembly on 28 July 2010.

“We are drilling three wells, which can provide additional 10 thousand cubic meters per day now, and another 40 thousand cubic meters per day from three underground water intakes. This will be January-February 2021. We will definitely provide the water supply system for Simferopol … Starting point when our situation should be defused, even if there will be no precipitation, this is approximately March 2021, “Aksenov has underlined.

According to the Head of Crimea, underground sources will be used before the construction of the desalination station. “At underground sources, including at a certain stage, we will hold out until technologies are built,” Aksenov said.

As for the desalination plant, it “is being developed by the Ministry of Industry and Trade on behalf of the president, and within the next two weeks the federal government will propose a solution related to the construction of a desalination plant in the city of Simferopol. The plant will be built in the village of Nikolaevka, on the seashore … no one has ever implemented projects. In fact, the decision to be made here will be unique, “Aksenov said at a meeting of the operational headquarters on the issue of water supply to Crimea on Friday.

As reported, water scarcity is observed in Crimea in 2019 and 2020 and may, according to forecasts, last in 2021.

Rigid water supply schedules by the hour were introduced in August this year in Simferopol and 39 other settlements nearby. Residents massively complain in social networks about the poor pressure of water or no water at all, as well as the color – from red to black. From September 23, the water began to be turned off at night in the resort Alushta in the south of the peninsula.

According to Rosvodresursy, water losses in the networks in Simferopol exceed 50%, in some places they reach 80%, the department considers such a situation unacceptable in a water-deficient region.

The North Crimean Canal, intended to supply the arid zones of Crimea and agricultural lands with Dnieper waters, was blocked by Ukraine for the peninsula, disagreeing with its status after the referendum (2014). The Permanent Commission on International Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights of the Presidential Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights (HRC) asks the UN and the Council of Europe to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in Crimea, complained about Ukraine.

Kiev says that the water from the Dnieper will return through the canal to Crimea only in the event of “de-occupation of the peninsula.”

In the meantime, the main hope of the Russian authorities in Crimea is precipitation, which should fill the reservoirs and solve the problem of water shortage on the peninsula. To do this, officials in cooperation with Roshydromet are planning to induce artificial precipitation. The first such experiments are promised to be implemented by the end of 2020.

Crimea: EU stands for Ukraine territorial integrity

“Continued efforts by the Russian Federation to undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, with further attempts to forcibly integrate the illegally-annexed Crimea and Sevastopol into Russia, represent a violation of international law” reads the statement by the European External Actions Service (EEAS) spokesperson on recent developments in the Crimean peninsula.

“The recent keel-laying ceremony of two assault ships in Kerch is yet another clear step in the ongoing militarisation of the peninsula, with a considerable negative impact on regional security in the Black Sea.

“Another concern is the latest restrictions of the freedom of movement for Ukrainian citizens to and from the Crimean peninsula. Access to mainland Ukraine and the right to return to the place of residence has to be granted unconditionally and should not require a Russian passport.

“The European Union continues to expect Russia to stop all violations of international law in the Crimean peninsula. The European Union is unwavering in its support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders”.

Two latest universal amphibious assault ships were laid down for the first time at the Zaliv Shipyard in Kerch, Crimea, on July 20.
The ceremony was attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin who attached the keel-laying plaque to the Project’s first ship.

“Today three leading Russian shipyards are simultaneously laying down six new ocean-going ships. Here, in Kerch, these are two universal amphibious assault ships. At the Severnaya Shipyard in St. Petersburg, these are two frigates and at the Sevmash Shipyard in Severodvinsk, these are two nuclear-powered underwater cruisers,” the President said.

Ukraine National Bank independence in jeopardy

“Establishing a strong and independent National Bank has been a fundamental achievement for Ukraine, and remains crucial to the country’s future success. Over the past years, the National Bank of Ukraine has taken bold and much needed steps to ensure Ukraine’s macro-financial stability and facilitate a sustainable economic recovery. The Bank’s policies have served the Ukrainian economy and Ukrainian people well, by stabilising the national currency, reducing inflation and increasing foreign reserves, restructuring the entire banking sector and recovering assets lost in cases of bank fraud” reads the text of the statement of the European External Action Service, attributed to the spokesperson.

“The announcement of the resignation of the Governor of the National Bank of Ukraine, Yakiv Smolii, against the backdrop of alleged political pressure sends a worrying signal. The Bank must maintain its ability to fulfil its role independently. Undermining this important institution jeopardises the credibility of and support for Ukraine’s reform agenda.

“Ukraine’s path to reform is challenging, in particular in the current exceptional circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic. The European Union will continue to support Ukraine in the implementation of much needed reforms, and counts on the Ukrainian authorities to maintain their level of commitment”.

EU renews Russia sanctions

EU Council today decided to renew the sanctions targeting specific economic sectors of the Russian Federation for a further six months, until 31 January 2021.

This decision follows the latest assessment of the state of implementation of the Minsk agreements – foreseen to take place by 31 December 2015 – at the video conference of the members of the European Council of 19 June 2020. Given that full implementation has not yet been achieved, EU leaders took the political decision to roll-over the economic sanctions against Russia.

Such restrictive measures were originally introduced in 2014 in view of Russia’s destabilising actions against Ukraine, and target the financial, energy and defence sectors, as well as the area of dual‑use goods.

The sanctions limit access to EU primary and secondary capital markets for certain Russian banks and companies and prohibit forms of financial assistance and brokering towards Russian financial institutions. The measures also prohibit the direct or indirect import, export or transfer of all defence-related materiel and establish a ban for dual-use goods which may have military use or be used by military end users in Russia. The sanctions further curtail Russian access to certain sensitive technologies that can be used in the Russian energy sector, for instance in oil production and exploration.

Image: Saint Petersburg, Russia

EU Crimea sanctions «tradition»

European Council today decided to renew the sanctions introduced in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by the Russian Federation until 23 June 2021.

The restrictive measures currently in place include prohibitions targeting the imports of products originating in Crimea or Sevastopol into the EU, and infrastructural or financial investments and tourism services in Crimea or Sevastopol. Furthermore, the exports of certain goods and technologies to Crimean companies or for use in Crimea in the transport, telecommunications and energy sectors or for the prospection, exploration and production of oil, gas and mineral resources are also subject to EU restrictions.

As stated in the declaration by the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on behalf of the EU on 16 March 2020, the EU still does not recognise the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by the Russian Federation and continues to condemn this violation of international law.

Sanctions against Crimea, despite the diligent attempts of their authors and ideological inspirers, did not become an instrument of manipulation, did not drive us into a corner, but exactly the opposite made us strong and self-sufficient. Their next extension is only a tribute to the “tradition“, because in fact they can do nothing else. False accusations, vile incitements and reckless sanctions are the whole “arsenal” of the EU’s foreign policy instruments,” the Head of the Republic of Crimea Sergei Aksyonov wrote on his page in Russian social media.

The escalation of “anti-Russian hysteria” around the Crimean Repubic has become for the West a familiar form of hiding their own problems and a way to shift the focus of public attention from important topics, he continues. The head of the Republic emphasized that large infrastructure facilities on the peninsula were successfully implemented under the conditions of sanctions.

Of course, their absence would create more favorable conditions for Crimea for economic development, in particular, to attract investment. But this is not direct damage, but rather a lost opportunity, which we compensate for in other available ways,” he added. – “In short, my perception of Western sanctions is best demonstrated by the proverb “a dog barks, while caravan goes.”

There is a lot of work ahead! … The Russian Crimea is destined to successful development and prosperity” the Crimean leader concluded.

Borrell-Pompeo transatlantic dialogue

“Today we have had an important Foreign Affairs Council with a video conference with the Secretary of State of the United States, Mike Pompeo.

“The main point of the agenda was this: transatlantic relations.

“We engaged in a strategic dialogue with Mike Pompeo on our relations and on the key foreign policy issues both for the European Union and the United States.

https://twitter.com/eu_eeas/status/1272551225947537413?s=21

“…It is unnecessary to stress it, but let me do it – the transatlantic partnership is one of the key pillars of the world order and today’s video meeting reaffirmed the commitment of the European Union Member States to continue this close transatlantic cooperation. Maybe we do not agree on everything, but our commitment to transatlantic cooperation is as strong as ever.We focused on three main issues: China, the Peace Process in the Middle East, and the Eastern neighbourhood, with an emphasis on Ukraine. And we discussed as a cross-cutting issue, the problem of disinformation, which is affecting the three of them – and mainly the ones related to the Eastern neighbourhood and China.

“…We exchanged views on China and its growing assertiveness on many fronts. There are issues that we face together in the relationship with China and where our close cooperation is very important to address them jointly. This includes, for sure, the situation in Hong Kong. I suggested to launch a distinct, bilateral dialogue focussing on China and the challenges its actions and ambitions mean for us – the United States and the European Union.

“On the Middle East Peace Process, we made it clear that it is important to encourage the Israelis and the Palestinians to engage in a credible and meaningful political process.We recognise that the United States’ plan created a certain momentum about a political process that had stopped for too long, and this momentum can be used to start joint international efforts on the basis of existing internationally-agreed parameters. We, from the European Union, stand ready to help and to facilitate such a process.We were also clear about the consequences of a possible annexation for the prospects of a two-state solution, but also for regional stability. On that I think that many Member States were very clear about it.

On the Eastern Neighbourhood, which was the third pillar of our conversation today, we confirmed that the strong European Union-United States partnership will remain crucial – particularly on Ukraine.

Of course, we still need Russia to do its part in the full implementation of the Minsk agreements, and our position remains clear and unchanged.

Some Member States also raised the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, where we are increasingly concerned about the recent escalations from Turkey. We agreed on the need for de-escalation and to return to a true partnership. There have been some incidents during the last days around Operation Irini. We are aware of that and tomorrow we will talk about it in the Council of Defence Ministers.

I also recalled that we are organising the Brussels Syria Conference [Supporting the future of Syria and the region – Brussels conference] on the 30th of June. It will be the fourth time that we do that, and I asked for the United States’ participation.

Finally, disinformation – this is a shared challenge. External disinformation actors are targeting both of us and we agreed to look at ways to reinforce our partnership in responding to this growing problem. Truth has to prevail. Democracy is a system that works on the basis of free and fair information. If citizens do not have access to free information or if citizens are poisoned with fake news, then their participation in democratic processes can be jeopardised”.

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