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Ukraine and Eastern Europe

Stories under this heading cover Ukraine and Eastern Europe. 

Ukraine faces emergency power blackouts as Russian military bases targeted

Following continued Russian strikes on Ukraine's critical energy infrastructure on Monday (5 December), President Zelensky announced on Tuesday that the country would begin implementing emergency power shutdowns in order to stabilise its power grid.

He added that regions throughout Ukraine would be affected, and that about half of Kyiv region would remain without electricity for the coming days.

patrickn97 Tue, 12/06/2022 - 10:59 Monday Commentary: NATO’s new sense of purpose well reflected during last week’s Bucharest Ministerial Meeting
The Foreign ministers of NATO member states met in Bucharest on Tuesday and Wednesday,  (29 – 30 November), at a time when, as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Europe faces one of the most serious security challenges since the alliance came into being in 1949. It was not NATO that triggered the Ukraine crisis. Indeed NATO, in its’ past quest not to alienate Russia, is sometimes accused of being overcautious in its relations with Ukraine prior to February. The Russian invasion has tested the alliance in many ways – the political will and unity of the member states; the capability of the alliance to support an ally who is not a member through a hybrid response; and the speed with which it could bolster its military capability on its Eastern flank to reassure member states. So far one can say that NATO has performed well, writes Dennis Sammut in today's Monday Commentary on commonspace.eu. This response however needs to be sustained. NATO comes out from the Bucharest Ministerial meeting strengthened and resolute. It is an alliance that is on the move as it responds to new challenges. But NATO also remains rooted in its principles. As the foreign ministers declared in their final statement, NATO is a defensive alliance. “We will continue to strive for peace, security and stability in the whole of the Euro-Atlantic area”, they declared.
dennis2020 Mon, 12/05/2022 - 04:54

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Biggest prisoner exchange between Ukraine and Russia, including Azov battalion fighters

Biggest prisoner exchange between Ukraine and Russia, including Azov battalion fighters

In a surprise move, Russia and Ukraine on the night from Wednesday to Thursday (22 September) implemented the biggest prisoner exchange since the start of the war between them in February Russia released over a hundred captured Ukrainian fighters in a prisoner exchange, including fighters from the Azov battalion.  In numerical terms, the prisoner swap represents a major victory for Ukrainian morale. Among others, Ukraine got back three commanders who led the last Ukrainian resistance in the port city of Mariupol and over 100 more members of the battalion. A total of 215 Ukrainians have been released. Among them are policemen, border guards, soldiers and pregnant fighters. In a seperate move ten foreigners who were fighting for the Ukrainian side and were captured by the Russians, were released thanks to the mediation of Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.
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Commentary: Putin’s partial mobilisation exposes how weak he really is

Commentary: Putin’s partial mobilisation exposes how weak he really is

Speaking in a pre-recorded speech that was originally scheduled for the evening before, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday morning (21 September) a partial mobilisation of 300,000 reservists to boost his faltering invasion of Ukraine. Far from being a demonstration of strength, however, his announcement exposes how weak a position Russia currently finds itself in, and on a number of levels too, writes commonspace.eu Deputy Editor Patrick Norén. The Russian President finds himself hamstrung across three fronts: his narrative of "everything is going according to plan" is imploding; the risks of doing nothing or declaring a full mobilisation have resulted in an unsatisfactory fudge that does not address the root cause of the problem; and Russia's far-right, furious at the disastrous invasion of Ukraine, is baying for blood.
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Russia mobilises 300,000 reservists in a desperate effort to reverse setbacks in Ukraine

Russia mobilises 300,000 reservists in a desperate effort to reverse setbacks in Ukraine

Russian president Vladimir Putin has ordered a partial mobilisation as part of an effort to boost its military effort in Ukraine. Putin made the announcement during a pre-recorded television speech which was first scheduled to be aired on Wednesday evening, but was eventually delayed until Thursday morning. After the speech was aired, Russia's defence minister, Sergei Shoigu gave further details on the partial military mobilisation, saying 300,000 reservists will be conscripted into the armed forces. Sergei Shoigu said that number represented a small fraction of Russia's available resources, while students and those who had already served as conscripts would not be called up. He said all those being conscripted would be given military training before being sent to Ukraine. In his speech Vladimir Putin said the decision, which followed the announcement of referendums to pave the way for the formal annexation of swathes of Ukraine, is meant to "protect our Motherland and our territorial integrity." Claiming the West was threatening Russia with nuclear weapons, Mr Putin said: "We have lots of weapons to reply - it is not a bluff."
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Russia attacks power stations and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine

Russia attacks power stations and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine

Russia attacked power stations and other civilian infrastructure in Ukraine on Sunday (11 September), causing widespread outages across the country as Kyiv’s forces pressed a swift counteroffensive that has driven Moscow’s troops from large swaths of territory it had occupied in the northeast. The bombardment ignited a massive fire at a power station on Kharkiv’s western outskirts and killed at least one person. President Volodymyr Zelensky denounced the “deliberate and cynical missile strikes” against civilian targets as acts of terrorism. Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv appeared to be without power Sunday night. Cars drove through darkened streets, and the few pedestrians used flashlights or mobile phones to light their way. Separately, the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in the Russia-occupied south completely shut down in a bid to prevent a radiation disaster as fighting raged nearby.
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Ukrainian army makes advances liberating big chunks of territory

Ukrainian army makes advances liberating big chunks of territory

Ukrainian forces have liberated over 2,000 sq km (772 sq miles) of territory from Russian occupation in a rapid counter-offensive in eastern Ukraine. Ukraine's rapid advance saw troops enter the key towns of Izyum and Kupiansk on Saturday, although fighting continues in the vicinity of the towns. Officials in Kyiv said Ukrainian forces were still fighting to gain control of a number of settlements around Izyum, while adding that more than 30 towns and villages have been retaken in the Kharkiv region. Russia's defence ministry confirmed its forces' retreat from Izyum itself and Kupiansk, which it said would allow its forces "to regroup" in territory held by Moscow-backed separatists. The Russian ministry also confirmed the withdrawal of troops from a third key town, Balaklyia, in order to "bolster efforts" on the Donetsk front. Ukrainian forces entered the town on Friday. Meanwhile, the head of the Russia-installed administration in the Kharkiv region recommended that its people evacuate to Russia "to save lives".
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Vostok-2022 military exercises are meant to show that Russia is not isolated

Vostok-2022 military exercises are meant to show that Russia is not isolated

For the last few days Russia has been conducting military exercises in the Far East, with the participation of tens of thousands of soldiers, and multiple military hardware. But apart from the limited military value, Vostok-2022 are meant to show that Russia is far from being isolated in the international community, despite the sanctions and pressure of the west, following its invasion of Ukraine on 24 February. Commonspace.eu political editor said in a comment that "it is to be noted that in recent military exercises, the Russian Ministry of Defence invited contingents from the unrecognised Russian protectorates of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. This allowed a number of countries to refuse to participate, citing  the Abkhaz and South Ossetian presence as diplomatically problematic. This year the Russians decided to take no chances. Participation of countries such as India was of much more political importance than that of Moscow's South Caucasus proxies." "Regardless however, Vostok-2022 has exposed once again a weakness in the diplomatic war that Ukraine is waging against Russia with the support of western countries. The response in the Middle East, Africa and Asia against the blatant aggressive invasion has been lukewarm."
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A bloody independence day for Ukraine

A bloody independence day for Ukraine

On Wednesday (24 August) Ukraine marked the 31st anniversary of its independence. The day also marked the end of the sixth month of the war, launched by Russia on 24 February. The Russians decided to mark the day with rocket strike on a Ukrainian train station that killed 22 people. Ukraine says five of the victims of the attack in the eastern town of Chaplyne burnt to death in a vehicle. An 11-year-old boy was also killed. This was not the first time that Russia targeted civilian train stations. In April, 50 people died in a similar attack.  In Ukraine, celebrations of independence day were subdued and the government had previously warned the Russians may use the occasion for a large scale provocation. However, around the world, there were gatherings of supporters in the streets to mark Ukraine's independence and world leaders also rallied to support the embattled nation to mark the occasion, with many countries announcing further assistance. A large rally in support of Ukraine was held in the Georgian capital. Tbilisi.