Eastern Europe Geopolitical Watch – From November 5 to November 11, 2022

Eastern Europe monitoring team: Matisse Grenier, Olga Chekhurska, Séverine Ly, Olivier Husson

06/11/2022: Kosovo Serbs massively resign from Kosovo’s state institutions. -Matisse Grenier-

According to Euronews, it was at a meeting of the Kosovo Serb party “Srpska Lista” on November 5 in the Serb-majority town of Zvecan that the decision to withdraw from Kosovar institutions was taken.

This choice is motivated by the disapproval of the new law on the harmonization of license plates, supposed to enter into force on 1 November.

Thus, resignations were recorded as early as the weekend in the state institutions of northern Kosovo, especially in the four majority Serb municipalities. Public services are affected, including in the ranks of the local police, as reported by Balkan Insight. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, according to Balkan Insight, expressed concern about future security in northern Kosovo, recalling that the Kosovar authorities did not have the right to impose their law there, “neither according to the Brussels agreements nor according to the will of the people“.

However, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has denied the accusations of incitement brought against him by the Kosovo authorities. He nevertheless announced that he would “support the Serbsof Kosovo to defend their rights, first and foremostthe respect of the Brussels agreements“, signed in 2013 between Serbia and Kosovo under EU mediation, and notably providing for anAssociation of Serbian municipalities” in northern Kosovo.

Finally, the 10 Serb MPs in the Kosovar Parliament also resigned from their posts, although these 10 seats are constitutionally guaranteed for the Serb community. The NATO Armed Force for Kosovo (KFOR) has stepped up its surveillance of the territory.

06/11/2022: Nationalisation of five strategically important companies by the Ukrainian authorities. – Olga Chekhurska-

On November 6, the State Securities and Stock Exchange Commission of Ukraine issued a decision on the expropriation of the assets of the five strategic companies to bring them into state ownership.

These five companies include hydrocarbon producer UKRNAFTA, aircraft manufacturer MOTOR SICH, engine production company ZAPORIZHTRANSFORMATOR, truck manufacturer AVTOKRAZ and oil refining company UKRTATNAFTA.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky explained that the decision was made at a meeting of the Supreme Commander’s headquarters. The products of these strategically important enterprises are indispensable to the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the energy sector. The National Security and Defence Council explained that the seized property had acquired the status of military property. Their management was transferred to the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine.

According to Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, ” the assets of these five companies will be managed by the Ministry of Defense to ensure the urgent needs of the armed forces. It’s about providing fuel and repairing military equipment and weapons .” After martial law is lifted, property can either be returned to the owners or its value will be refunded.

According to Ukrainian media outlet Epravda, about 42 percent of Ukrnafta’s shares were held by Igor Kolomoisky, a Ukrainian oligarch. The State, represented by Naftogaz, held 50% plus 1 share. Ukrnafta is Ukraine’s largest hydrocarbon extraction company. The share of Igor Kolomoisky and his partner Gennady Bogolyubov in the Ukrtatnafta refinery enterprise was about 60%. As for Motor Sich, its owner was Vyacheslav Boguslaev, who in 2017 sold 56% of the company to the Chinese company Beijing Skyrizon Aviation. But due to antitrust violations, trading with Motor Sich shares was blocked and then stopped. Vyacheslav Boguslaev was arrested in October for high treason. AvtoKrAZ is part of the Finance and Credit Group of another Ukrainian oligarch Konstantin Zhevago. The company is engaged in the manufacture of heavy vehicles. Finally, Zaporizhtransformator is a bankrupt company producing transformer and reactor equipment. Its owner is Konstantin Grigorishin, a Russian-Ukrainian billionaire.

10/11/2022 : Belarus bans slogan “Long live Belarus” as a Nazi. -Olivier Husson-

According to the independent newspaper Zerkalo, the interior minister of Belarus added the slogan Žyvie Bielaruś” (“Long live Belarus“) in the list of Nazi symbols on Thursday.

During the 2020 protests after rigged elections, this slogan became a rallying cry for all opponents of Lukashenko. Other symbols were used such as the white-red-white flag which is also banned by the regime.

According to Radio Free Europe, this ban is justified by the regime that this slogan is a “collaborationist salute” that was invented by the 30th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS during World War II. Historian and House of Representatives deputy Ihar Marzalyuk told the СТВ TV channel in 2021 that “Žyvie Bielaruś” is a copy of the Nazi salute “Zig Heil”.

This slogan was actually introduced by Yanka Kupala, a Belarusian poet and writer in the years 1905-1907 in a collection of poems, so long before the existence of the Nazi regime recalls Radio Free Europe.

People face up to four years in prison if symbols from the list of Nazi symbols are used. Opposition leader Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya wrote on Twitter that the ban is “a new attack on our identity.”

10/11/2022: New delivery of US weapons to Ukraine. -Olivier Husson-

The United States will deliver additional weapons to Ukraine to the tune of $ 400 million, according to the statement of the Department of Defense, published last Thursday.

The results of the midterm elections raised fears that financial aid for the war against Russia would decline if Republicans took control of Congress.

Vote counting in Tuesday’s election continues, with Republicans closing in on a narrow majority in the House of Representatives. According to LeMonde, the Senate could remain Democratic, they have only one seat left to fill, it will depend on the result of Nevada and Georgia.

According to The Hill, this aid comes less than a week after another $400 million military assistance program. Military aid intensifies as the Russian army withdraws from the city of Kherson. However, the Russians have begun a month ago a bombing of civilian infrastructure: With Russia’s incessant and brutal air attacks against critical Ukrainian infrastructure, it is essential to have additional air defense capabilities,” reads a statement from the Ministry of Defense.

According to the statement, the aid package will contain large quantities of ammunition and, for the first time, Avenger air defense systems. Officials said there will also be ammunition for HIMARS systems, which Ukraine is successfully using in its counteroffensive against Russia. 

11/11/2022: Liberation of the city of Kherson after the withdrawal of Russian armed forces. -Séverine Ly-

On November 11, the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, declared officially on TV at the end of the day the entry of Ukrainianspecial units” in the large city in the south of the country, Kherson.

This advance, of both symbolic and strategic importance, follows the announcement 48 hours earlier by Russian Defense Minister Sergey Surovikin on TV of the withdrawal of his troops from the right bank of the Dnieper, including the administrative capital Kherson. 

According to Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Chechen Republic, via Telegram, the Russians did nothandKherson to Ukraine, they chose to preserve the lives of soldiers and civilians since it washard to fight” and the price “to ensure supplies will be too costly in human lives“. Nor is this withdrawal a sign of Moscow’s abandonment. Russian Prime Minister Andrii Gurulyov recalled that it was “only a matter of time” before his country’s troops reached Ukraine’s western borders. 

However, the Ukrainians largely celebrated this victory. Videos of residents celebrating the arrival of Ukrainian forces in the newly liberated territories have poured into social media. The President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, also reacted on Twitter to welcome “the return of Kherson to Ukraine“. Finally, Olena Zelensky, the First Lady of Ukraine claimed that “thousands of people in the streets of Kherson meet their defenders with blue and yellow flags“. “Ours are at home. Kherson is free. Soon all of Ukraine will be free. ” she concluded.

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