Conflict Alerts # 512, 11 May 2022
In the news
On 9 May, Russia observed Victory Day; President Vladimir Putin gave a speech drawing parallel between the current hostilities and World War Two. He called the war in Ukraine as a special military operation and said it was the right decision for a "strong and sovereign country." The day marks the offensives launched by Russia and the mass extraditions carried out due to Nazi crimes.
On 9 May, the US announced additional sanctions on Russia. It imposed sanctions on eight Sberbank, 27 Gazprom bank executives, Moscow Industrial Bank (MIB) and its subsidiaries. Along with this, the private defence company and weapons manufacturer Limited Liability Company Promtekhnologiya, and broadcasting stations such as One Russia, Television Station Russia-1 and NTV Broadcasting Company were also sanctioned.
On 6 May, US president Joe Biden announced the next round of security aid to Ukraine which will include "artillery munitions, radars and other equipment." Previously Congress had declared USD 13.6 billion as a military, humanitarian and economic aid.
On 4 May, the European Union announced their sixth round of sanctions, imposing oil embargo on Russia. The consent of all the member states is yet to be reached as Hungary, and other EU members dependent on Russian oil have rejected the proposed oil ban. Hungary's prime minister said that agreeing to the terms would be like an 'atomic bomb' on Hungary's economy, and added: "The proposal on the table now creates a Hungarian problem, and there is no plan to solve it."
Issues at large
First, increasing sanctions on Russia. Apart from the oil embargo, EU also proposes to sanction Russia's banking and broadcasting companies. The sanction plan does not limit to EU but extends to Japan, Singapore, Canada, Turkey and Switzerland.
Second, the shift in war towards the east. Russia's failure at Kyiv led to increased aggression in the Donbas region and Mariupol. In light of the 75 days of the war, Russia continues to launch attacks in the east, capturing Mariupol, and several villages along the eastern flank of the country. The recent missile strikes in Odessa prompts speculation of shift in the focus from occupying Mariupol to establishing control over the strategically important Black Sea port of Odessa.
Third, the divide within Europe. EU's proposal on oil embargo has received mixed responses. Despite the exemption of one year to cut down the Russian energy imports, Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic have demanded a full exemption due to no alternate source.
Europe being the largest market for Russia, EU's newest set of sanctions if passed will cause severe damage to Russia's oil refineries. Second, EU's internal divide; if the deliberations with Hungary fail, the initiative taken to impose the embargo will have an impact.