Eastern Europe Geopolitical Watch – From September 24, to September 30, 2022

The Eastern Europe Weekly Geopolitical Watch Team: Olga Chekhurska, Clelia Frouté, Alicia Tintelin.

09/23/2022: Kyiv announces the breakdown of diplomatic relations with Tehran, accusing Iran of delivering drones to Russia. – Alicia Tintelin –

The Ukrainian authorities announced on Friday, September 23, the downgrading of ties with Iran. The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was then going to lead to the revocation of the Iranian ambassador’s accreditation. This is explained by the «hundreds of drones» that were sent by Tehran to Russia, reports the spokesman of the Ukrainian army. «Supplying Russia with weapons to wage war against Ukraine is an unfriendly act that deals a serious blow to relations between Ukraine and Iran» said a statement on the foreign ministry’s website. The weapons in question, which the Ukrainian authorities claim to have found debris in the east of the country, are Shahed-136 attack drones, with a range of 2000 km and a maximum speed of 180 km/h.

After these announcements, Volodymyr Zelensky insisted that «consequences» will exist for «every instance of collaboration» with Russia.

If Tehran denies these accusations and says it remains neutral in the war, the United States had already assured that Russia was ready to receive drones from Iran. For its part, Washington signed a contract with Ukraine for the production and delivery of similar equipment. Ukraine is also seeking support from Israel, including information about the technology used by Iranian drones, as evidenced by the recent presence in Kyiv of Simona Halperin, Israel’s deputy director for Euro-Asia.

The use of drones is increasing and some of them have even targeted civilian infrastructure. Noting the difficulty of observing these drones, a Ukrainian soldier admitted on American television the need for Ukraine to receive radar and anti-aircraft equipment. Despite this, the Ukrainian army announced on Tuesday, September 27, that it had shot down three Iranian drones in the Mykolaiv region.

09/27/2022: The French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Catherine Colonna, visited Kiev. -Olga Chekhurska-

The visit of September 27, is the third visit of the French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs to Ukraine. For the first time, the Minister travelled to Kiev on May 30 for her first working trip.

Catherine Colonna met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba in Kiev to discuss strengthening Ukraine’s defence capabilities, the provision of financial and humanitarian aid, and the proposals of the Director of the IAEA to create a protection zone around the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant. According to the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, this visit marked the increased support provided by France to Ukraine.

Following this meeting, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Ukraine is grateful to the French state for its defensive support during a war with Russia and hopes for a clear reaction from official Paris to the pseudo-referendums organised by the Kremlin in the occupied Ukrainian territories.

The restoration of our territorial integrity is impossible without modern weapons. We appreciate the military aid that France has provided all these months. We also expect a clear reaction to the pseudo-referendums that Russia is organising in the occupied territories. It is important for us to know that France is ready to be close to Ukraine for as long as necessary,” stressed the Ukrainian head of state.

On September 22, Catherine Colonna, the French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, announced before the UN Security Council sending a new mission to Ukraine to support investigators on site. Two teams of investigators are already on site to help Ukrainian justice establish the circumstances of the crimes committed in Boutcha. The new mission will investigate the war crimes committed in Izyum.

The first humanitarian shipment, which was discussed during this visit to Kiev, was launched on September 28 in Marseilles in the presence of Catherine Colonna. The “Boat for Ukraine” operation was carried out by the Crisis and Support Centre of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the CMA CGM Foundation. According to the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, more than 1,000 tonnes of humanitarian goods will be transported to the port of Constanţa (Romania) to meet the priority needs expressed by the Ukrainian authorities.

09/27/2022: Referendum results in Ukraine’s breakaway and occupied regions. – Clelia Frouté –

The referendums concerning the annexation of the Ukrainian breakaway regions of Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic, as well as the regions occupied by Russian troops in Kherson and Zaporizhia, ended on September 27, 2022.

Both local and Russian authorities announced a high turnout, however, there was a low presence of men, some of whom expressed fear of being mobilised to the front.

According to the official Russian media, the turnout was over 80%, and more than 90% of voters voted for the accession of the Ukrainian regions and self-proclaimed breakaway republics to the Russian Federation. More precisely, the results announced after counting were 99.2% for the Donetsk People’s Republic, 98.4% for the Lugansk People’s Republic, 93.1% for the occupied region of Zaporizhia, and 87.1% for the occupied region of Kherson.

According to the press service of the Ukrainian Security Service, illegal actions of the organisers and participants of these elections have been documented. The latter accused them by name of collaboration, a criminal offence under Article 28, part 2 and Article 111-1, part 5 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine: Denis Pushilin, “President” of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), Vladimir Bidevka, Chairman of the DPR People’s Council, and Elena Radomskaya, Secretary of the DPR Central Executive Committee, Yevgueny Balitsky, Chairman of the military-civilian administration of the Zaporizhia region, Galina Katyushchenko, Chairman of the Central Electoral Commission of Zaporizhia region, Andrei Siguta, Chairman of the military-civilian administration of Melitopol district, Maxim Zubarev, Chairman of the Akimov community of Melitopol district, Volodymyr Saldo, Chairman of the Military-civilian Administration of Kherson region, Kirill Stremousov, Deputy Chairman of the Military-civilian Administration of Kherson region, Marina Zakharova, Chairman of the Central Electoral Commission of Kherson, Olga Kulik, Chairman of the Territorial Electoral Commission of Genichesk district, Tamara Miroshnichenko, Chairwoman of the Territorial Electoral Commission of the Berislav district, Elena Sayakhova, Chairwoman of the Temporary Electoral Commission of the Kakhovka district Lyudmila Kozlova, Chairwoman of the Temporary Electoral Commission of the Skadovsky district.

09/30/2022: Formalization of the annexation of the four Ukrainian regions that were subject to a referendum. – Clelia Frouté –

On September 30, 2022, Vladimir Putin signed the agreement on the admission of the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk and the occupied regions of Kherson and Zaporijia to the Russian Federation. This annexation follows the referenda that ended on September 27. The Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation validated all the documents related to these “accessions”. Namely, the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics will adopt Russian as the official state language, and an agreement was signed to ensure the preservation of the native languages of the people living in these territories. It was announced by Pavel Krasheninnikov, Chairman of the Committee for State Building and Legislation, that draft laws will soon be submitted, which should concern social protection and the constitution of the rights and freedoms of the new citizens.

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