Russian ‘trampling’ of nuclear safety in Ukraine risks disaster, says UN

Plus: Georgian helicopter crash, fragmentary Romanian scan, razed Slovak “bio-project”, and more.

The big story: Nuclear safety chief warns of Russian violations in Ukraine

What happened: All fundamental aspects of nuclear safety have been “trampled upon or violated” during Russia’s occupation of Ukraine. Zaporizhia power plant, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said yesterday, UN News reports. Speaking in New York at the UN conference on nuclear non-proliferation, Rafael Mariano Grossi said the situation at the plant was “becoming more perilous day by day”, reports Euronews. The IAEA has not been able to send a mission to the site since the start of the war, he said. “We hope we can come to Zaporizhzhia because if something happens there,” Grossi said, “we will only have ourselves to blame.”

More context: Russia uses the nuclear power plant – the largest in Ukraine – as a military base and apparently as a shield; fear of causing nuclear disaster render Ukrainian forces unable to retaliate against missiles launched from the site.

To note: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned the conference that the world was “just a misunderstanding, a miscalculation far from nuclear annihilation.” António Guterres cited the Russian invasion – as well as the Middle East, the Korean Peninsula and elsewhere – as places where “crises – with nuclear overtones – fester”.

News from the Regions

Central Europe and Baltic States

  • Climate change deniers and right-wing forces in Europe – including Poland Ruling Law and Justice Party – joined former US President donald trump to turn farmers’ protests in the Netherlands into a political battle with the EU, reports Politico. Right-wing leaders like Geert Wilders and Marine Le Pen are also profiting from protests against limits on nitrogen and ammonia emissions, calling EU environmental regulations “climate tyranny.”
  • A contestant in a serial beauty pageant in Slovakia saw his lakeside “mobile bio-project” demolished because it was an illegal beach hut, reports The Slovak Spectator. Daniela Kralevich claimed the structure on the shore of a lake in the Zlate Piesky The recreation area was not a real building as it was not built on a foundation – and said it had permits for it anyway – but local authorities disagreed and have demolished the small building last week.
  • The huge forest fire in Czechia is under control and could be extinguished in the coming days, although residents are still not allowed to return to local villages, Czech radio reports.

Southeast Europe

  • bosnia deported two Pakistani immigrants as part of a test deal between the Bosnian Ministry of Security and the Pakistani Ministry of Interior, reports BIRN. Bosnia plans to deport larger groups of migrants without residence permits in the future.
  • Human rights groups are calling for the release of a Kurdish politician and activist currently on hunger strike in a Serbian jail, reports BIRN. Ecevit Piroglu, former director of a branch of the Turkish Human Rights Association, is wanted by Ankara for terrorism.
  • Slovenian authorities are watching closely coronavirus situation and are ready to reimpose restrictions in the event of a major resurgence of the disease, reports Total Slovenia News, citing STA. Ten COVID-19 patients died between Friday and Sunday, although the total number of cases fell by 10% compared to the same period last week, according to data from the Ministry of Health cited by The Slovenia Times.
  • Romania, Bulgariaand Greece had the lowest scores in the EU for their lagging digitization results, reports Romania Insider. Poland, Slovakiaand Hungary came next for low scores in the European Commission’s Digital Economy and Society Index report for 2022; Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden have the most advanced digital economies in the EU.

Eastern Europe and Russia

  • An article about one of the former Russian presidents by Dmitry Medvedev social media accounts said yesterday “Georgia had never existed before its reunification” with the Russian Empire in the 1800s and called Kazakhstan “an artificial state,” reports the Moscow Times. The message then quickly disappeared and an aide to Medvedev said the account had been hacked, although the Times notes that the statement is not too far removed from the former president’s recent hardline comment.
  • Ukraine began during a serious economic crisis – worse than anything since the Soviet era – due to the Russian invasion, reports bne Intellinews. The national currency is in free fall; the government runs an unsustainable deficit; large public companies are not repaying their debts; and the overall economy will most likely contract by more than 33% by the end of this year.

Central Asia

  • Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi recently made a quick tour through Central Asia in a bid to deepen economic and security ties in the region, Eurasianet reports. The minister was in Tajikistanyesterday after stops in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

The Caucasus

  • The crash of a Georgian rescue helicopter who killed eight people last week while trying to rescue two paragliders raises questions about the country’s emergency response system and unregulated tourism industry, Eurasianet notes. The state of the soviet era the helicopter – not the skills of the experienced pilot – is under surveillance, while the whole paraglider has been suspended. A tourist died in another paragliding accident in the area just two weeks before the crash.

Borderlands

  • Escalating armed conflict in Syria threatens to disrupt Turkey, Russia, and Iran in an all-out war, according to an analysis by Al-Monitor. Russian forces have recently conducted Airstrikes in northwestern Syria, and Turkish forces have also launched strikes against Kurdish forces in the area. Ankara did not get approval from Moscow and Iran – both allies of Syria – to launch its military operations, according to the report.

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