Russia changes tack and targets Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure: Emerging Europe this week

You can read all of our coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including explanations and articles offering background and background information here.


The Russian invasion of Ukraine

A bridge connecting the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea with Russia was badly damaged by an explosion last Saturday. Russia, which illegally occupies the peninsula, accused Ukraine of responsibility for the attack and on Wednesday arrested eight people as part of an investigation. Andriy Yusov, spokesman for the Ukrainian Interior Ministry, called the investigation “nonsense”.

On Monday, at least 20 people were killed and dozens more injured after Russia has launched a massive wave of strikes targeting towns across Ukraine, including the capital Kyiv, which was attacked for the first time in several months. In response, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said his country was “dealing with terrorists” and accused Russia of targeting electrical installations and civilians following the missile attacks.

Russia has since continued to attack key civilian infrastructure in Ukraine with missile strikes, despite warnings from UN and NATO countries that Moscow could commit a war crime. On Tuesday, Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko said 30% of the country’s energy facilities had been damaged in the previous 48 hours. Halushchenko said the attacks were “the largest in the war” and carried out “along the chain in order to make switching supplies as difficult as possible”.

While emphasizing that the energy system was “still stable”, he confirmed that Ukraine would stop exporting energyand joined calls for Kyiv’s Western allies to provide “air protection systems that could really help us protect our infrastructure”.

US President Joe Biden said this week that Vladimir Putin completely underestimated Russia’s ability to invade Ukrainebut added that he did not believe Moscow would use a tactical nuclear weapon against its neighbor despite recent thinly veiled threats to use its atomic arsenal.

On Thursday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that the war in Ukraine was part of a larger move against the West by Russia. He said: “Vladimir Putin and his supporters have made one thing clear: this war is not just about Ukraine. They see their war on Ukraine as part of a larger crusade, a crusade against liberal democracy.

The UN General Assembly this week overwhelmingly condemned Russia’s “attempted illegal annexation” of four Ukrainian regions. Three-quarters of the general assembly’s 193 members — or 143 countries — voted on Wednesday in favor of a resolution calling Moscow’s move illegal, deepening Russia’s international isolation. Only four countries joined Russia in voting against the resolution: Syria, Nicaragua, North Korea and Belarus.


Other news

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić claimed last weekend that France and Germany had encouraged Serbia allow his former province Kosovo join international institutions and organisations, including the United Nations, in exchange for early membership of the European Union. He quickly added that such a solution was unacceptable for Belgrade and contravened the Serbian constitution. Neither Paris nor Berlin have confirmed the offer of such a quid pro quo deal.

In a speech to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg on Wednesday, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said Swiss Senator Dick Marty’s 2011 report for the Council of Europe, which made allegations of war crimes against Kosovo Liberation Army officers, should be considered as “a question of truth and justice”. Rama said the report’s suggestion raised false suspicions that human organs were being trafficked by senior KLA officials, and that subsequent indictments of former KLA officers confirmed that the allegations were false. “There is not a single word that clearly or implicitly mentions the issue of human organ trafficking,” he said.

The European Commission recommended this week that Bosnia and Herzegovina obtain official status as a candidate country for membership of the European Union, on the understanding that a series of reforms will be carried out in key areas. These include strengthening democracy, ensuring the functionality of state institutions, upholding the rule of law, combating corruption and organized crime, guaranteeing media freedom and managing migrations. The Commission also reiterated this week its assertion, first made in 2018, that Kosovo meets all the criteria required for visa liberalisation.

Hungary could seek to join the euro’s ERM-2 waiting room this year or next, its finance minister said this week, as officials scramble to find ways to halt the fall of currency as it wreaks havoc on the economy. Finance Minister Mihaly Varga said the government could consider trying to join the exchange rate mechanism, which locks a country’s currency in a fixed band against the euro before adopting the single currency, if and when it manages to strike a potential year-end deal to unlock European Union funding.

Poland The European Union relations minister resigned on Wednesday, saying he agreed with the prime minister, amid the government’s fractured relationship with the bloc and internal tensions. Konrad Szymański’s departure was interpreted as a weakening of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s team at a time of rising tensions within the government over the energy crisis and ways to counter inflation and the rising cost of electricity. life.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday accused Russia of deliberately provoking the recent clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan as part of an effort to destabilize the Caucasus region and beyond. The worst fighting between the two ex-Soviet countries since 2020 erupted in late September, killing more than 200 people. Moscow, which has a defense pact with Armenia and a military base there, deployed thousands of peacekeepers to the region after a ceasefire in 2020.

Slovakia Prime Minister Eduard Heger condemned a shooting that killed two people outside a gay bar in the capital Bratislava, saying on Thursday that extremism had no place in the country. A gunman killed two people and injured another near the downtown bar on Wednesday night. Police said they found the suspected attacker dead on Thursday morning. Officers did not release any details about the alleged motive. Slovak media reported that the main suspect had posted messages with the phrases “hate crime” and “gay bar” hashtags on Twitter.

The proposed IPO of Romanian State-owned hydropower producer Hidroelectrica could be smaller than initially expected and won’t happen until March or April next year, shareholder Fondul Proprietatea said on Tuesday. Fondul, the company’s sole minority shareholder, had previously set November 15 as the target date for the listing launch. Fondul was created as a fund to compensate Romanians for assets seized under communism and holds minority stakes in a series of public companies, including 20% ​​of Hidroelectrica.


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