Eastern Europe Geopolitical Watch – From May 21 to May 27, 2022

Eastern Europe Geopolitical Watch Team: Clelia Frouté, Victor Martin, Amandine Paillette, Alicia Tintelin

05/22/2022: Ukraine initiates WHO Resolution. – Alicia Tintelin –

On May 22, the 75th WHO General Assembly was held to discuss both COVID-19 and Ukraine. This event was an opportunity for Kiev to submit a Resolution to the World Health Assembly, a forum through which the World Health Organisation (WHO) is governed by its 194 member states. This resolution would aim to denounce the attacks sent by Moscow on the Ukrainian health system but also the consequences of the invasion on the food supply of the states that previously depended on the Ukrainian granary. The WHO reported 248 attacks on health care in Ukraine between 24 February and 19 May, resulting in 75 deaths and 59 injuries.

The French President, Emmanuel Macron, has already called for support for this resolution which would condemn the Russian aggression on Ukraine and in this regard recalled «the full solidarity of France and the European Union with Ukraine».

The resolution should be voted on next Tuesday. In the case of a favorable vote, the WHO could not foresee the expulsion of Russia and its regulations will only allow it to impose weak sanctions at its level.

05/23/2022 : War in Ukraine: The sentence of the first trial for “war crimes” unveiled – Amandine PAILLETTE –

A Kyiv district court handed down its first sentence on May 23, 2022 concerning a war crime charge committed on Ukrainian territory. This is the first trial since the Russian invasion began. Vadim Shishimarin, a 21-year-old Russian army sergeant, was convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for life. The sentence, pronounced by Judge Serhii Ahafonov, occurred nearly three months after the events. Shishimarin was accused of shooting dead Oleksandr Shelipov, a 62-year-old unarmed Ukrainian civilian on February 28, 2022. The tribunal rejected the defendant’s statement claiming that he did not have the intention to kill the sixty-year-old Ukrainian. The convict now has thirty days to appeal. 

This is the first in a long list of war crimes trials opened by the Ukrainian justice system. As for the Ukrainian authorities, they have declared that they have listed nearly 10,000 war crimes perpetrated by Russian soldiers and want justice to be rendered.

As for the widow of the murder victim, named Katerina, after identifying the shooter during a hearing last week, the witness has declared that she hopes for a life sentence against her husband’s killer. However, she said, «But if he is exchanged for our defenders in Azovstal, I would not mind» as speculation emerges about the possibility of prisoner-of-war exchanges with the Russian authorities. 

05/25/2022: Igor Dodon, former Moldovan president, was taken into custody. -Victor Martin-

On May 25, Igor Dodon, Moldova’s former socialist and pro-Russian president, was taken into custody on suspicion of treason and corruption. The spokeswoman for the public prosecutor added that he would be held for at least 72 hours. 

Specifically, Igor Dodon is being investigated for «state treason», «passive corruption», «financing of a political party by a criminal organisation” and “illegal enrichment».  The former president is suspected of having received money from Vladimir Plahotniuc, a businessman considered the most influential man in Moldova until 2019, when he fled Moldova.

Igor Dodon accused the Moldovan president, Maia Sandu, of having set up a «political case» because she is unable to «manage the economic and social situation» of Moldova. 

On the announcement of his arrest, the Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said he was concerned about a «persecution of supporters of dialogue with Russia”. He added, however, that this is an «internal Moldovan matter». The party led by Igor Dodon, the Socialists and Communists of Moldova have announced that they will boycott the parliamentary sessions. 

05/26/2022 : Ukrainian authorities preparing for the possibility of a Russian chemical or nuclear attack – Amandine PAILLETTE –

Interviewed this May 26 on BFMTV, the Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Health Ihor Kuzin Verechtchouk expresses her concerns about a possible Russian chemical or nuclear attack. This possibility has pushed the Ukrainian authorities to «organise routine monitoring» in the event that Ukrainian companies dealing with chemical substances are targeted. These daily trainings are also aimed at the nuclear threat to the country. Ihor Kuzin added: «We have no guarantee that the aggressor will not resort to the use of chemical weapons in the future, that’s why we are always ready to react if necessary». Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had already shared his fears about the possibility of such a threat, calling all countries of the world to be prepared. Now it is the terms «deportation», «genocide» and «mass killing of civilians» that are used by the Ukrainian head of state, regarding the fighting in the Donbass area. 

05/27/2022: Moldova’s president convenes the Supreme Security Council to address economic risks. -Victor Martin-

On May 27, Moldovan President Maia Sandu convened the Supreme Security Council to address the economic problems that threaten the country. Russia and Ukraine account for 12% of Moldova’s exports and 24% of its imports, so the war is having a major impact on Moldova’s economy.

The World Bank and IMF estimate that Moldova’s economic growth in 2022 will be between 0.3% and -0.4% and its inflation was 22% in March and continued to rise to about 27% in April and May. Inflation will have an even greater impact as Moldova has a large trade deficit (29% of GDP in 2021).

At the end of the Supreme Security Council meeting, Maia Sandu announced a plan of eight measures to curb price increases. The plan includes parliamentary oversight of monetary policy, increased transparency in the functioning of markets, improved efficiency in public spending and targeted assistance to offset rising prices.

At the press conference, the Moldovan President announced that the Supreme Security Council will meet again next week to discuss food security. 

05/27/2022: A meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council. – Clelia Frouté –

A meeting of the Eurasian Supreme Economic Council was held on May 27, in which the heads of the six member countries of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) participated by videoconference.

The issue of economic sanctions on Russia and Belarus was widely emphasised by the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, who took the opportunity to warn the other member countries that because of their economic dependence on these two countries, they should realise that the sanctions would impact them just as much and that in this way they had to unite in common front to face the crisis.

The measures taken by the Commission, as well as the implementation of the «Eurasian Agroexpress» project, which according to the Belarusian president would allow a regular and unimpeded supply of agricultural products by rail, particularly for trade with China. He took the opportunity to recall that sanctions must lead to linking new economic links with third countries, particularly in terms of the supply of priority food products. He spoke about potential trade agreements with Egypt and Iran, as well as ongoing negotiations with Indonesia and the United Arabic Emirates’ interest in a free trade agreement with the EEU. He welcomed the expansion of economic, trade and industrial cooperation with the People’s Republic of China, and is counting on this partnership for development in terms of technological and digital innovation.

The Presidents of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, and the Republic of Cuba, Miguel Mario Diaz-Canel Bermudez, also took part in the meeting as heads of observer states. The Belarusian Presidency discussed the important potential of their economic cooperation with the EEU, including Venezuela.

The Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, welcomed the results of the implementation of the «Agenda 2025» and the measures taken to «remove the barriers of the internal market», but recalled that further consideration should be given to the new challenges posed by the new «emerging world order», and also stressed Armenia’s interest in the potential free trade agreements being negotiated with Iran and Indonesia. Like Belarus, Armenia is open to strengthening trade and industrial partnerships with third countries.


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