Eastern Europe Geopolitical Watch – From 25 to 3 March 2023

Eastern Europe monitoring team : Séverine Ly, Claire Aréthuse, Sarah Wilpotte, Olivier Husson

The files we follow: EU-Ukraine relations and the Ukraine/Russia conflict resolution process, Domestic Policy of Belarus and political prisoners, Situation in Moldova and Transnistria, Opposition government diplomacy in Belarus and the Belarusian diaspora

Consider subscribing for free access to the full content!

– EU-Ukraine relations and the Ukraine/Russia conflict resolution process

We will continue to intensify the pressure on Russia for as long as necessary,” said Josep Borrell in an EU Council press release dated 25 February. The institution voted a “tenth comprehensive package of sanctions” including new “restrictive measures” against 87 people, including “members of the Federation Council“, deputy ministers, MPs, military leaders, prosecutors “of the four illegally annexed Ukrainian regions“, public figures accused of “disinformation” and “military commanders of the Wagner group“. Thirty-four economic actors have also been targeted, including banks and insurance companies now obliged to reveal the amount of frozen Russian assets they are holding. New “export bans on critical technologies and industrial goods” on electronic components for military use were adopted, including Iranian drone manufacturers. In addition, Russian nationals cannot hold positions in the EU’s “governing bodies” or possess “gas storage capacities“. Finally, it was decided to restrict imports of goods such as asphalt and synthetic rubber. Poland blocked its vote on this last point by demanding that no exemptions like those granted to Italy be accepted.  “We are not satisfied with the package, it is too weak,” Prime Minister Morawiecki told. For Dmitry Peskov the new sanctions are “absurd” as they would only target “random people (…) who have no connection with the subject of the sanctions” and said that this decision “will not cause them any discomfort“.

European Commission deputy spokesperson Dana Spinant also announced on 27 February a new initiative in cooperation with Poland and under the leadership of President Ursula Von der Leyen to “gather evidence so that the kidnapped children can be found and those responsible for this crime brought to justice“, referring to the thousands of Ukrainian children allegedly sent to Russia. In parallel, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky issued three decisions of the National Security and Defence Council (NSDC) against Russians “involved in the kidnapping of Ukrainian children (…), representatives of the sports sector (…) and those who help maintain mercenary structures“. “The pressure from Ukraine will continue. The global pressure on the terrorist state will continue,” he concluded.

The publication on 24 February on the website of the Chinese Foreign Ministry of a proposed 12-point resolution of the conflict in Ukraine has provoked numerous reactions. Although according to the media outlet Ria Novosti, Dmitry Peskov said that the Chinese plan would be “carefully analysed“, he maintained that the “special military operation” was moving “towards the achievement of the objectives that have been set“. President Biden categorically rejected the proposal, saying that he “saw nothing in the plan that would indicate that there was anything that would be beneficial to anyone other than Russia” and refused to allow China to take part in the negotiations. Josep Borrell noted in a blog post that “the key problem is that it [the Chinese plan] does not really distinguish the aggressor from the victim, putting the parties on an equal footing“. The Ukrainian president was more restrained, welcoming the “important signal” sent by China while stressing that only a complete withdrawal of troops would be acceptable. In point number one, Beijing calls for the respect of “the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries” without specifying which country did not meet this criterion in the conflict or the limits of Ukrainian territory, particularly with regard to Crimea. On 26 February, Ukrainians celebrated the Day of Resistance to Russian Occupation in the region. On this occasion, US Department of State spokesman Ned Price stated that “the United States does not and will never recognise Russia’s alleged annexation of the peninsula” and President Zelensky announced that he wanted to return “the Ukrainian flag to all corners of Ukraine” including Crimea, whose return is necessary to restore peace. However, Russian spokesman Dmitry Peskov told that Crimea “is an integral part of the Russian Federation” and therefore cannot be returned to Ukraine.

Vous devez souscrire à un abonnement EurasiaPeace pour avoir accès au contenu - Prendre votre abonnement
Previous Article

Central Asia Geopolitical Watch – from 25 February to 3 March 2023

Next Article

Does Nowruz symbolize a return to the roots for the former soviet socialist republics of Central Asia?