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Ukraine and Eastern Europe

Stories under this heading cover Ukraine and Eastern Europe. 

EU to give Ukraine €25m in demining support

During the EU-Ukraine summit occurring in Kyiv on Friday (3 February), the EU High Representative and Vice-President Josep Borrell announced an additional €25 million to support Ukraine’s demining of territories temporarily occupied by Russia.

Speaking on a visit to a demining site, Borrell said:

patrickn97 Fri, 02/03/2023 - 12:32 Ukraine gears up for EU summit amid warnings of anniversary invasion
As the one-year anniversary of Russia’s re-invasion of Ukraine approaches, Ukrainian officials are expressing concerns of a new major offensive following a recent large-scale Russian mobilisation. This comes as Kyiv prepares to host EU officials on Friday (3 February) for a summit on the embattled counry's progress towards EU membership. Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov estimates that Russia has mobilised up to 500,000 troops, despite official numbers claiming the mobilisation of 300,000 Russian troops. The estimates come after Ukrainian officials have announced high military activity on the Russian side of its border. Russia also celebrates its "Defender of the Fatherland Day" on 23 February, just one day before the one-year mark of the so-called "special military operation". 
patrickn97 Thu, 02/02/2023 - 11:22

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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.
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Russian occupied Crimea under attack

Russian occupied Crimea under attack

A drone strike hit the headquarters of Russia’s Navy headquarters in Crimea, sparking a huge explosion today in another suspected raid by Ukrainian forces. Smoke plumes billowed into the sky following the strike on Putin’s navy HQ. Russian forces tried to shoot down the drone but it detonated. No-one was killed. There were reports of "a powerful explosion" near the Russian Black Sea Fleet's headquarters in occupied Sevastopol at 8.20 on Saturday morning (20 August). The Russian-installed "governor" of occupied Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhayev said a drone hit the roof of the fleet's headquarters, writing on Telegram: "Unfortunately, [the drone] was not shot down, although they worked on the bay with small arms. [It] went low. There were no victims." It is the latest in a string of blasts, widely believed to be inflicted by Ukrainian forces, deep in the occupied peninsula. Russia considers Crimea to be an impregnable fortress and attacks on the peninsula which is full of military facilities is a serious embarrassment for the Kremlin
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Historic Lviv hosts meeting between Zelensky, Erdogan and Gutteres

Historic Lviv hosts meeting between Zelensky, Erdogan and Gutteres

The visit of Turkish president Recip Tayip Erdogan and UN Secretary General, Antoniuo Gutteres, to Lviv on Thursday once more opened the possibility of negotiations between Ukraine and Russia.  However a lot of the discussions were focused on the more immediate issue of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he has agreed to the parameters of a potential mission of the International Atomic Energy Agency to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, after repeated shelling of the complex raised fears of a nuclear catastrophe.. Speaking at a news conference in Lviv on Thursday following a trilateral meeting with the Turkish president and the UN secretary-general, Zelenskyy said “only absolute transparency and control of the situation” by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), among other bodies, could guarantee nuclear safety. It was not immediately clear if Russia would agree to the parameters. The Ukrainian leader also reiterated a call for Russia to immediately withdraw its forces from the nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine and stop all military activity in the area. Concerns about the plant mounted on Thursday when Russian and Ukrainian authorities accused each other of plotting to attack the site and then blame the other side. Kyiv and Moscow have accused each other of multiple recent incidents of shelling at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, which Russian troops captured early in the war. 
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International community calls on Russia to withdraw from Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant

International community calls on Russia to withdraw from Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant

EU member states and other countries in the international community have issued a statement on the situation around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, and have called on Russia to withdraw its troops from the territory of the plant. In a statement the 42 countries called on Russia to immediately withdraw its military forces and all other unauthorised personnel from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, its immediate surroundings, and all of Ukraine so that the operator and the Ukrainian authorities can resume their sovereign responsibilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders and the legitimate operating staff can conduct their duties without outside interference, threat, or unacceptably harsh working conditions. This will also enable the IAEA to carry out its verification pursuant to Ukraine’s safeguards obligations under safe and secure conditions and in a timely manner. The statement said that the international community will hold Russia accountable for its aggression, and Russia must bear full responsibility for its unlawful actions in Ukraine.
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Commentary: Ukraine crisis helps Europe re-discover the meaning of the word “solidarity”

Commentary: Ukraine crisis helps Europe re-discover the meaning of the word “solidarity”

Since the start of the Russian invasion, the EU and its member states have given Ukraine billions of euros of budgetary assistance, have welcomed more than 3.7 million refugees, and have extended unprecedented levels of military assistance. Europe has re-discovered the meaning of the word solidarity, even if not all of the solidarity is altruistic but involves also a measure of self-preservation in the face of Putin's Russia naked aggressiveness and expansionist ambitions. Solidarity with Ukraine and Ukrainians is also ultimately in the interest of every European Union country and citizen. But this does not in any way lessen the significance of Europe’s support for Ukraine. Can this solidarity be sustained for the months, and probably years ahead, as Ukraine struggles to defeat Russia, and hopefully afterwards, victorious, start the difficult process of reconstruction? The decision to give Ukraine EU candidate status was in this regard significant, and indicates that the EU sees Ukraine as a long term commitment. For sure, as the winter cold starts biting and Putin plays politics with Russian gas supplies, there will be those who will question the value of Europe’s solidarity with Ukraine.  It is important they remain marginalised. For this, European leaders, decision makers and opinion shapers, need to communicate constantly to European citizens the righteousness of the decision to help Ukraine to stand up to Russia, and to help the Ukrainian people in their hour of need.
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Three ships loaded with Ukrainian grain arrive in Istanbul

Three ships loaded with Ukrainian grain arrive in Istanbul

Three grain-loaded ships from Ukraine anchored at the Black Sea entrance of Turkey's Istanbul Strait en route to Ireland, the Turkish National Defence Ministry said on Saturday (6 August) The first ship, the Panama-flagged Navi-Star, which departed from Ukraine's port of Odesa on 5 August, is carrying 33,000 tons of corn under a recent grain shipment deal signed by Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, and the U.N. On July 22, those countries and the U.N. signed a deal in Istanbul to reopen three Ukrainian ports for exports of Ukraine grain. A team from the Joint Coordination Centre in Istanbul, consisting of representatives from all four sides, are inspecting the ship. After the inspection, it is expected to proceed on its way.