Eastern Europe Geopolitical Watch – From 18 to 24 February 2023

Eastern Europe monitoring team : Séverine Ly, Claire Aréthuse, Sarah Wilpotte, Fiona Bessioud

This week :  Several Western officials visit Kiev nine years after the Maidan Revolution and one year after the Russian invasion, Creation of a Belarusian “territorial defence force”, Discovery of a Russian document detailing a plan for total control over Belarus, Commander Wolf, charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity, denies his guilt, Vladimir Putin cancels decree on Russia’s foreign policy in Transnistria: a new step in the potential destabilisation of the region, Estonia renews support for Ukraine by welcoming NATO and EU representatives to Tallinn for the country’s independence day 


20-24/02/2023: Several Western officials visit Kiev nine years after the Maidan Revolution and one year after the Russian invasion -Séverine Ly-

Between 20 and 24 February, many Western officials visited Ukraine, nine years after the Maidan Revolution and one year after the Russian invasion.

On 20 January, at around midday, President Biden’s presence in Kiev was officially confirmed on the two presidents’ respective social networks (Telegram, Twitter, Instagram) after they held a press conference at the Mariinky Palace, which was broadcast on the Youtube account of the Ukrainian presidential office and retranscribed on the White House website. At the end of the day, President Volodymyr Zelensky met with the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva, reported a statement on the presidential website. On the same website, it was reported that the Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, visited Kyiv on 21 January . On 23 January it was the turn of the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez and finally on 24 January Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, came to Kiev to commemorate the first year of the full-scale war.

The leaders all reaffirmed their support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity, its “accession process” to the EU and “an intensification of the partnership with NATO” in the words of Giorgia Meloni. The resilience of the population was praised, the IMF chief said she was “extremely impressed” by the way the country was functioning, “It’s amazing to see […] everyone – women, young people and children – trying to do something” said President Biden. The reconstruction of Ukraine was one of the main topics of discussion. The Italian Head of State affirmed the “leading role” that Rome wants to play in this area and the organisation in April of a conference on the subject, stressing the know-how of Italian companies. President Zelensky also discussed the Rapid Recovery Plan with Prime Minister Sánchez to “restore the necessary social space and infrastructure“. Finally, military material aid was the central point of the discussions. Giorgia Meloni criticised those countries in Europe that “pretend not to understand that a defeat of Ukraine would only be a prelude to a possible invasion of other European states” and stated that military aid is aid “for peace“. Biden announced that in total “nearly 700 tanks and thousands of armoured vehicles, 1,000 artillery systems, more than 2 million rounds of artillery ammunition, more than 50 advanced rocket launcher systems, anti-ship and air defence systems” have already been delivered by the 50 or so nations supporting Ukraine. Leopard tanks will be supplied by Spain and Poland. “Ukrainian soldiers are already learning how to operate these tanks in Spain” said Pedro Sánchez. President Biden also announced an agreement to send “artillery ammunition” to Ukraine.

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