Russia Steps Up, Annexing Four Ukrainian Regions: This Week in Emerging Europe

You can read all of our coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including explanations and articles offering background and background information here.


The Russian invasion of Ukraine

The Kremlin announced on Thursday that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin will sign a decree today (September 30) annex four occupied regions in Ukraine (Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia). It will be the largest forced annexation in Europe since World War II. Russia previously annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014.

Last weekend, Russia held mock referendums in all four regions and, as expected, results reported by Russian state media showed overwhelming support for Russian membership. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Thursday that residents of occupied regions of Ukraine were taken from their homes and workplaces at gunpoint and sometimes at gunpoint during the referendums.

“It was the opposite of free and fair elections. And [annexation] is the opposite of peace, it is a dictated peace,” she said.

Once annexed, Russian leaders said they would view attacks on Russian-occupied areas as a direct attack on Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky responded by saying Ukraine “will act to protect our people” in Russian-occupied areas.

Russia does not fully control any of the four regions it has decided to annex. Although most of Luhansk remains in Russian hands, Moscow controls only 60% of Donetsk.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen this week proposed a new round of sanctions against Russia designed “to make the Kremlin pay” for the escalation of the conflict in Ukraine.

The proposed eighth package of “biting” sanctions includes a cap on the price of Russian oil and new restrictions on high-tech trade.

However, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has already indicated that he is unlikely to support another round of sanctions and recently announced a “national consultation” to see if EU sanctions against Russia have the support of the Hungarian people.

European leaders also said this week that they enhance security around oil and gas facilities after the alleged sabotage of two major pipelines.

The EU, US and NATO have suggested the pipeline damage between Russia and Germany was deliberate, but have not yet blamed Russia directly. Ukraine, however, accused Russia of deliberately causing the leaks in what it called a “terrorist attack”.

The leaks, on the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines, which are not currently used to supply gas to Europe, were discovered on Monday and Tuesday.

The United States confirmed on Wednesday that it would provide additional aid of US$1.1 billion to Ukraine, with funding for 18 more advanced rocket systems and other weapons to counter the drones that Russia is using against Ukrainian troops.

The latest package is provided under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which funds contracts to purchase weapons and equipment, and brings total US assistance to Ukraine to nearly $17 billion. dollars since the Joe Biden administration took office.


Other news

Bulgarians will be on sunday vote for the fourth time since April 2021 in the legislative elections, which is expected to be marked by low turnout: some 50.61% voted in April 2021, when the former ruling centre-right GERB won the popular vote but failed to find partners in coalition. Turnout fell to 42.19% in July 2021, when There Are Such a People came first but ignored coalition options in search of an outright majority in the next round. Turnout fell again to 40.23% in November 2021, when Kiril Petkov’s We Continue the Change came out on top and formed an uneasy, mostly pro-Western government. Before the vote, GERB is currently leading the polls with about 24% of the vote.

leaders of PolandNorway and Denmark attended a ceremony on Tuesday marking the opening of the new Baltic Pipe, a key step in the desire to wean Poland and Europe from Russian gas. The pipeline will transport natural gas from the Norwegian Shelf via Denmark and across the Baltic Sea to Poland. It is the centerpiece of a Polish strategy of diversification away from Russia that began years before Moscow’s February invasion of Ukraine sparked a global energy crisis. “The era of Russian gas domination is coming to an end, the era that was marked by blackmail, threats and extortion,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said at the inauguration in Budno, western Poland.

Slovakia the prime minister said this week soaring electricity prices had left his country’s economy threatened with ‘collapse’, in the starkest comments from an EU leader on the effects of the global energy crisis. Eduard Heger said the huge price increase following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine “would kill our economy” unless Slovakia received billions of euros in support from Brussels, and warned that he would be forced to nationalize the country’s electricity supply if that did not happen. .

Czech police fired warning shots in the air before arresting the driver of a van carrying 15 migrants on Thursday morning after Czechia and Austria have renewed border controls with Slovakia in the midst of a new wave of migration. Czech police reported traffic delays, especially for trucks, after the measure came into effect Thursday at 27 border crossing points, while Austrian authorities enforced it at 11 crossings. Controls will initially be in place for 10 days.

Armenia said three soldiers were killed by shelling Azerbaijan on Wednesday, the Tass news agency reported, as the two neighbors accused each other of violating a ceasefire that ended a two-day war. Tass cited a statement from the Armenian Defense Ministry but did not elaborate. Last Friday, the two sides accused each other of violating the truce by firing across the border. After border clashes two weeks ago that killed nearly 200 soldiers, the worst fighting since a six-week war between the two ex-Soviet countries at the end of 2020, the two sides agreed to a ceasefire agreement. fire brokered by Russia.

The European Union and the United States questioned on Monday Serbia proclaimed its commitment to join the bloc of 27 European nations after Belgrade has signed an agreement with Moscow promising long-term “consultations” on foreign policy issues amid Russia’s war in Ukraine. Serbian officials signed the accord last week in New York with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, where most Western delegations avoided Russia’s top diplomat during the invasion of Ukraine by the country.

Kyrgyz Education Minister Almaz Beishenaliev was detained for accepting bribes as part of student admissions to universities in the Central Asian nation. The Interior Ministry said on Wednesday that Beishenaliev was suspected of having accepted a total of 110,000 US dollars for arranging the admission of foreign students to Kyrgyz universities. The ministry statement said detailed information on the case will be made public at a later date. Beishenaliev, 41, has initiated multiple reforms to the education system since being appointed to the post in November 2020.

Rents have risen by a third in some parts of from Kazakhstan borders with Russia, as the housing market reacts to increased demand from Russians fleeing mobilization. The news will fuel concerns circulating on social media about the impact of the influx of Russians into Kazakhstan. Rents in border areas rose 15-34% in the week to September 25, according to research by Krisha.kz, a website that advertises real estate. “The price increase occurred mainly during the weekend [September 24-25] and is linked to an increase in demand for rental accommodation,” he reported.


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