German navy chief resigns after controversial statements on Ukraine

Additionally, NATO supports Romania and Bulgaria, imprisoned journalists in Kyrgyzstan and Turkey, and more.

The big story: Ukraine criticizes German position on Russian crisis

What happened: German Navy Chief Kay-Achim Schoenbach resigned after Kyiv authorities expressed outrage at his remarks on Russia and Ukraine, reports AFP. In an interview on Friday, Schoenbach said it was “easy to give [Russian President Vladimir Putin] the respect he really demands – and probably also deserves,” according to the BBC. He added that The Crimean Peninsula of Ukraine, which Russia annexed in 2014, “is gone and will never return.” Schoenbach resigned from his post on Saturday.

More context: Dmytro Kuleba, Ukrainian Foreign Minister summoned the German ambassador to Kiev and accused Germany of “encouraging” Putin to attack Ukraine. The diplomatic scandal comes amid growing fears of a impending russian invasion from Ukraine.

To note: As AFP mentions, Germany has been criticized for its refusal to send arms to Ukraine. Berlin has also been criticized for not allowing Estonia at send artillery who hails from Germany in Ukraine, reports the WSJ. Last week the three Baltic countries announced that they would offer military and cyber defense assistance to Ukraine.

News from the Regions

Central Europe and Baltic States

  • the Hungarian opposition hailed the successful collection of signatures for a referendum on a Chinese University of Budapest, reports BIRN. Initiated by Gergely Karacsony, Mayor of Budapest, the campaign collected 470,000 signatures in favor of the referendum on the repeal of the law on the transfer of assets to the University Foundation of Fudan Hungary. Last August, Karacsony announced that Hungary’s electoral authority had approved a referendum on hosting a Budapest campus. Fudan Chinese University. The decision came after widespread protests over the plans, which were funded by a loan from 1.3 billion euros of the China Development Bank.
  • Czechs confidence Slovak President Zuzana Caputova more than their own head of state Milos Zeman, reports Expats.cz. According to data from the Prague-based Center for Public Opinion Research on Czechs’ trust in political leaders around the world, 64% of poll respondents named Caputova as the most trusted leader; French President Emmanuel Macron ranked second, popular with 41%. At the other end of the scale, Russian President Vladimir Putin is the least trusted world leader among Czechs, with 70% of survey respondents expressing distrust of him. The first runner-up is North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, followed by former US President Donald Trump.

Southeast Europe

  • NATO rejected Russia’s request, which specifically mentioned Bulgaria and Romania, to withdraw military alliance troops from all member states that joined after 1997, reports bne IntelliNews. the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday that he wanted “the withdrawal of foreign forces, equipment and weapons”, as well as other measures to bring the NATO map back to 1997. Bulgaria and Romaniasays the ministry statement, although more than a dozen countries fall into the category. A recent NATO statement “Russia’s demands would create first and second class members of NATO, which we cannot accept,” adding “We reject any idea of ​​spheres of influence in Europe.”
  • the United States urged Bosnian leaders to put aside their differences for the good of the economy and the future of the country, reports Reuters. “Talk about war makes it incredibly difficult…to attract investment from the international community…and to build a strong and sustainable economy that creates jobs,” Samantha Power, the administrator of the US Agency for International Development, said Friday. She added that Washington was “very, very concerned about the political crisis, the political blockade and the obstructionism that has occurred.” Earlier this month, the Bosnian Serb political leader Milorad Dodik was hit with new US sanctions for alleged corruption.

Eastern Europe and Russia

  • Speaker of Parliament Igor Grosu says that Moldova declared a state of emergency – despite having enough gas – due to Moscow’s refusal to grant Chisinau a suspension of payments, reports the daily Adevarul.ro. “We hoped, until the last moment, that Gazprom would treat the situation in Moldova more respectfully,” Grosu told Moldovan media last week, adding that the state of emergency allowed him to “resolve the issue within hours.” Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita told Moldovan lawmakers last Thursday that a 60-day state of emergency was needed after Gazprom refused to postpone Chisinau’s gas bill for January, RFE/RL reports. the emergency state gives the cabinet more control over the energy sector, for example by allowing it to use funds from the state budget to pay for gas, according to Gavrilita.
  • World Athletics announced on Saturday that 22 Russian athletes were allowed to participate in international athletics events under a neutral flag this year, AP reports. These include Olympic high jump champion Mariya Lasitskene and Olympic silver medalist pole vaulter Anzhelika Sidorova, as well as high jump world championship bronze medalist Ilya Ivanyuk. Athletes can now compete as “Authorized Neutral Athletes” at international events without the Russian flag or hymn. The Russian team has been suspended from competition since November 2015 by World Athletics (formerly known as the International Association of Athletics Federations) for drug offenses.

Central Asia

  • Kyrgyz investigator journalist Bolot Temirov said police planted drugs on him, allegedly as part of his job, RFE/RL reports. Temirov was charged yesterday with “possession of illegal narcotics” hours after a to look for from his office. The day before, Temirov had been arrested and later released on bail after journalists, human rights defenders and activists staged a protest outside the Interior Ministry demanding his release. That of the journalist Youtube channel, Temirov Live, recently launched a report on President Sadyr Japarov and the head of the State Committee for National Security, Kamchybek Tashiev, about alleged involvement relatives of Tashiev in the state oil company.

Borderlands

  • A turkish journalist was jailed on Saturday after reciting a proverb believed to be critical President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, reports the BBC. Sedef Kavas faces one to four years behind bars after he said live on television: “There is a very famous proverb who says that a crowned head becomes wiser. But we see that is not true… A bull does not become king just by entering the palace, but the palace becomes a barn. She also posted the quote on Twitter, but later denied in court that she intended to insult the president. of Erdogan Chief Spokesperson Fahrettin Altun called his remarks “irresponsible”.

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