Eastern Europe Geopolitical Watch – from May 28 to June 3, 2022

Eastern Europe Geopolitical Watch Team: Louis Harand, Victor Martin, Amandine Paillette, supervised by Clelia Frouté.

05/31/2022: Washington announces the delivery of more advanced weapons to Ukraine – Amandine PAILLETTE 

On May 31, in an essay for the New York Times, U.S. President Joe Biden stated that the U.S. would provide more advanced weapons to Ukraine. This new U.S. military aid, in response to the war in Eastern Europe, is worth $700 million this time. The President of the United States said about this support «America’s goal is straightforward: We want to see a democratic, independent, sovereign and prosperous Ukraine with the means to deter and defend itself against further aggression». Following this presidential statement, a senior U.S. official held a press conference during which he specified that this equipment included Himars (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System). These are multiple rocket launchers mounted on light armored vehicles, with a reported range of 80 kilometers.

In order to prevent an international escalation, the senior U.S. official specified that «the Ukrainians had provided assurances on the fact that they would not use these systems against Russian territory».

29/05/2022 : Serbia ignores latest EU sanctions by reaching a three-year extension agreement for Russian gas imports into its territory – Amandine PAILLETTE –

On May 29, Serbian and Russian presidents Aleksandar Vučić and Vladimir Putin were discussing on the phone about different arrangements between the two countries. The main issue for the Serbian leader was the conclusion of a contract with the Russian company Gazprom regarding the delivery of gas at an attractive price to Serbia for the next three years. Proudly announcing this new agreement with Russia, Aleksandar Vučić exclaimed on Serbian television «this is by far the best deal in Europe». This agreement comes at a time when many European countries are emancipating themselves from Russian gas following the sixth package of sanctions decreed by the European Union. In this regard, Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin said «The agreement reached by President Vucic with President Putin proves how much Serbia’s decision not to participate in the anti-Russian hysteria is respected». The Kremlin press release summarised the telephone exchange as a way for the two nations to reaffirm the «mutual readiness» of the countries to strengthen their alliance on a strategic level. 

For the moment, out of 81% of gas imported by Serbia, 18% comes from Russia. This represents 6 million cubic meters per day. The official signing should take place next week and will make public the details of the deal.

05/30/2022 : Bulgarian government ends ukrainian refugee relocation programme -Louis Harand-

 The government is ending the plan to relocate Ukrainian refugees from hotels on the Black Sea coast to resorts in the interior of the country. Only «people who are really in need and have nowhere to go after 31 May» will be temporarily accommodated in the centres of Sarafovo and Elhovo. This was stated yesterday by Deputy Prime Minister Kalina Konstantinova in a video message on the measures taken by the state to support people fleeing the war in Ukraine.

 According to Ms Konstantinova, the state has done everything possible to provide housing for all refugees, but they have not wanted to receive this assistance. According to her, the decision to stop the integration plan was motivated by the fact that Ukrainians who had received temporary protection in Bulgaria did not inform the field teams of their accommodation intentions and did not use the possibilities of free transport to the new accommodation places. On Sunday, all the trains and buses organised by the authorities to relocate the refugees left almost completely empty. However, Ukrainian refugees with whom journalists from Svobodna Evropa (Free Europe) spoke said that they were not informed about where they would be relocated, or only at the last minute. 

 «Protection is a right, not an obligation. That’s why I will not let one more empty bus, one more empty car go. The development of the situation from now on is in the hands of the Ukrainian community in Bulgaria», said the Deputy Prime Minister. Nearly 300,000 Ukrainians have arrived in Bulgaria since the beginning of the Russian aggression. Of these, more than 110,000 have received temporary protection and shelter from the state.

06/03/2022: Belarusian president says he is ready to facilitate Ukrainian wheat exports. -Victor Martin-

On June 3, during a telephone call between UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, the latter said he was ready to facilitate Ukrainian wheat exports.

The objective is to transit these exports through Belarus to the ports of the Baltic States while the prices of wheat and more generally food, are rising sharply worldwide because of the war in Ukraine.

On the other hand, Alexander Lukashenko has asked that these routes for Ukrainian wheat be also opened for Belarusian goods. This request comes at a time when Belarus has been under European sanctions since April 2022 because of its support for Russia in the invasion of Ukraine. 

Antonio Guterres asked the Belarusian president for a few days before giving him an answer in order to consult with the countries that would be affected by these new routes. 

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