Day 273 of the Invasion of Ukraine: “Russia is not a Terrorist State but a Sponsor of Terrorism” according to EP

World » UKRAINE | November 23, 2022, Wednesday // 11:25
Bulgaria: Day 273 of the Invasion of Ukraine: “Russia is not a Terrorist State but a Sponsor of Terrorism” according to EP The European Parliament

Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:

ISW: Kremlin prepares to stage Ukrainian attack near Russia's borders

Russia appears to be preparing the ground in information terms for an attack in the Belgorod region - on the border with Ukraine - to blame on Ukrainian forces.

The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said in its daily briefing, a day after authorities showed new fortifications in the city.

Kremlin propagandists have been quoted as saying that Ukraine wants to attack Belgorod Oblast - bordering Kharkiv in Ukraine - and for security purposes Russian forces need to regain control of Kupyansk. The city was abandoned by Moscow's military during Kyiv's surprise counteroffensive in September.

Belgorod region is among those subjected to shelling by Ukraine during the war, explosions in military and other facilities have been reported several times. It is one of the two areas where the construction of defense lines began with the help of the most famous private military company "Wagner" of the businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin.

"Russian claims of an imminent Ukrainian attack in the Belgorod region are absurd and only intended to scare the public into supporting the war," ISW wrote. They note that Ukraine has no strategic interest in attacking Russia, nor the ability to do so on a similar scale, while it is busy recapturing areas in the Luhansk region. Meanwhile, support for a Russian invasion of the border areas is waning.

The speculation, however, may simply be part of the Kremlin's efforts to pay tribute to Russia's pro-war nationalist community, ISW continues. However, the threat was also used by Prigozhin to consolidate his power in the border areas and in Russia more generally, after Belgorod Oblast initially stopped construction of the defense facilities; he is currently "rebranding" this and his other projects in the Leningrad and Kursk regions, a sign that he will try to establish himself in Russia while showing support for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

A newborn baby was killed in a Russian strike in Ukraine

A newborn baby was killed on Wednesday in a Russian missile strike that hit a maternity hospital in the city of Vilniansk, in Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia region, AFP reported.

A two-story building in which the maternity ward was located was hit. The building was part of the city hospital complex, said the rescue teams.

Immediately after the attack, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of terror and murder.

"The enemy once again decided to try to achieve with terror and murders what he could not achieve in 9 months and will not be able to achieve," Zelensky announced on social media. "Instead, they will be held to account for all the evils they have brought upon our country."

"Russia is not a terrorist state. It is a sponsor of terrorism"

Russia is no longer a terrorist state, but "only" a sponsor of terrorism and uses terrorist means in the war against Ukraine.

At least that's what the latest version of the European Parliament's resolution sounds like, which should be voted on later today in Strasbourg.

In the end, out of a total of five projects, one remained, which combines the variants of the European People's Party (EPP), the liberals of "Renew Europe" (RE) and the group of European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR). Co-sponsors are also 8 Socialist MEPs, but on their own behalf, not the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D).

However, the projector resolution is somewhat toned down. The point proposed by ECR, in which MEPs declare Russia a terrorist state, has been dropped. Neither is the EPP's request that the parties represented in the Duma, led by President Vladimir Putin's United Russia, be included in the EU's list of terrorist organizations. The Russian head of state is not mentioned anywhere in the final text.

Also missing from the project are the explosions in ammunition warehouses in Bulgaria attributed to agents of the Kremlin services, but the explosions in the Czech Republic remain. These incidents were contained in the ECR proposal.

Bulgarian conservative Angel Djambazki (VMRO) is no longer among the proponents of the draft resolution, although he was among the authors of the ECR text.

However, two other Bulgarian importers remain - Andrey Kovachev and Alexander Yordanov (GERB/EPP).

The Bulgarian Socialist Party: The text unties Putin's hands

A large part of the Socialist MEPs will support the resolution, sources from their parliamentary group told Bulgarian media ClubZ.

The same opinion is held by Petar Vitanov - chairman of the Bulgarian delegation in the S&D group. He added that there is a division on the issue within the delegations of Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal. But according to him, the ratio is 60 to 40 or even 70 to 30 in favor of the resolution.

However, none of the five Bulgarian MEPs from BSP will support it.

"Four out of five of us will vote 'no'." I'm almost sure that Tsvetelina Penkova will do the same," said Vitanov.

According to him, there is no "state sponsor of terrorism" or "terrorist state" in the legal terminology adopted by European countries. These terms are borrowed from the US and Canada. There are "war crimes", "military aggression" and "war against humanity" in Europe.

"Secondly, when you call a country 'terrorist,' that means you torpedo any attempt to negotiate with it, because what government negotiates with terrorists? In my view, this ends any attempt at a negotiation process. And after all, the EU is founded on peace. There should be at least a single word about peace, negotiations and de-escalation of tension in these resolutions," continued Vitanov.

He also believes that it is ridiculous to first declare a country as terrorist and then create a legal framework to introduce such a concept.

"Ultimately, with this heavy rhetoric, Putin's hands are untied and he enters his narrative. Declare him a terrorist and you will free his hands to do whatever he wants in Ukraine", believes the head of the Bulgarian Eurosocialists.

He does not agree with new sanctions either, because European countries suffered mostly from them. And this happens mostly at a time when the USA seems to be looking for contacts with Russia.

Petar Vitanov is also against the immediate embargo on the import of any fuels from Russia. This would doom Bulgaria. If the trade in uranium is banned, the MEP does not know where we will get nuclear fuel from.

All are for helping Ukraine, Vitanov said on the occasion of the European Commission's proposal that the country receive a total of 18 billion euros for 2023. However, it is important to know where this money comes from and at whose expense it will be. Assistance should not be from existing programs.

The BSP also disagrees with the way of condemning Russia for occupying the Zaporizhzhia NPP:

"In my opinion, at least one sentence related to its shelling should be added. There is no doubt in my mind where it is coming from. And Ukraine, in my opinion, is trying to cause a serious incident related to the plant. Russia must back down - that much is clear. But all attempts by both sides to play with fire should also be avoided."

Vitanov believes that "rather, Russia is not the country that blew up the pipes" of the Nord Stream. He quotes the words of his unnamed colleagues.

Finally, the MEP stated that an attempt is being made to rewrite history. This is how he interpreted the request for a debate on the crimes of the Soviet regime.

Putin will participate in the CSTO summit in Yerevan

Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Yerevan to participate in the regular session of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).

Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, President of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Zhaparov and President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon are expected to participate in the summit. So far, there is no information about the participation of the Kazakh leader Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. In the early presidential elections held on November 20, Tokayev won over 80% of the vote. His inauguration is scheduled for November 26.

Earlier, the press service of the Kremlin announced that Russia and Kazakhstan will discuss key areas of cooperation and current international and regional issues in Yerevan.

Putin will meet with Pashinyan. Russian President Dmitry Peskov's spokesman noted that Putin "will have the opportunity to talk" with Lukashenko as well.

Borrell: The EU does not export goods to Russia through Turkey

The European Union's foreign policy chief has rejected suggestions that the EU is exporting goods to sanctioned Russia via Turkey.

Josep Borrell made the remarks while answering questions from MEPs during the European Parliament's General Assembly held in Strasbourg, France.

Asked by Spanish MEP Antoni Comin whether Turkey had helped Russia circumvent sanctions by selling it EU goods and what Brussels would do about it, Borrell said he had discussed the matter with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in the United Arab Emirates about two weeks ago.

"Çavuşoğlu gave me information on Turkey's imports from the EU and the country's exports to Russia, which shows a significant amount of Turkey's exports to Russia," he said.

"However, there is no significant increase in Turkey's imports from the EU," he added.

"So according to the statistics I received, the theory that the EU has created an export triangle to Russia via Turkey does not seem plausible."

Recalling that Turkey does not stand in solidarity with the EU regarding the sanctions against Russia, Borrell said: "This is very important: we would like Turkey to stand in solidarity with us because it is in the Customs Union. But I stick to the statistics that Çavuşoğlu provided for me".

The US provides another $4.5 billion for Ukraine's budget

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has announced that she is awarding a new $4.5 billion in grants as part of the Direct Budget Support Agreements.

This is according to her statement published by her institution. Their transfer will begin in the coming weeks.

This brings the total amount provided by the US in grants to $13 billion. The number does not include the military aid provided to the country.

What will they be used for?

According to the announcement, the funds should help the Ukrainian government:

  • to defend against the illegal Russian war
  • to guarantee economic stability
  • to ensure the operation of essential government agencies
  • to pay salaries to medical officers, government and teachers.

"We encourage other donors to increase and accelerate their aid to Ukraine," the statement added.

Brussels approved German aid for companies affected by the war in Ukraine

Germany can provide financial aid worth a total of around 45 billion euros to companies whose operations have suffered due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the European Commission has decided, as quoted by DPA.

In preparing the decision, the amendments in the German measures in response to the war and the negative consequences of it in Europe were studied specifically.

Companies will be able to receive money under the plan until December 31, 2023. In its previous version, the term of the aid was foreseen to be until the end of this year.

In addition, in its updated form, the plan stipulates that the aid ceiling that a specific company can receive will be 2 million euros and not 500,000 euros as before.

Businesses around the world are struggling because of high energy prices and disrupted supply chains, two problems related to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and subsequent sanctions against Moscow.

The money that will be available to German companies will be available as loans and grants.

Britain sends helicopters to Ukraine

Britain is sending helicopters to Ukraine, Defense Minister Ben Wallace announced.

Three Sea King helicopters will be provided to the Ukrainian army. One of them has already arrived, the BBC reported.

This is the first delivery of this type of combat equipment since the beginning of the war in Ukraine.

Over the past 6 weeks, Ukrainian crews have been trained in the UK to operate and maintain the helicopters.

Ben Wallace also stated that Britain was sending an additional 10,000 artillery shells. He said this in Oslo, where he is meeting with his colleagues to discuss continued support for Kyiv.

According to Wallace, the shells will help the Ukrainian forces to keep the territories they recently liberated.

Sea King helicopters were previously used by the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, but as of 2018 are no longer in service.

The escaping Russians became the subject of a chocolate ad in Kazakhstan

Vladimir Putin must not be happy. In neighboring Kazakhstan, Russians fleeing the mobilization became the subject of an advertisement for ... chocolate. With a biting political subtext.

The plot of the 45-second clip is as follows: A young Russian man, loaded with luggage, climbs a mountainside with his last strength. A horseman with Mongoloid features and Kazakh clothing comes towards him. He hands the exhausted young man a bar of chocolate in a light blue wrapper with a golden sun and an eagle with outstretched wings on it. The packaging copies the national flag of Kazakhstan. The young migrant takes the chocolate and asks: "What is this?". "This is the taste of freedom," replies the Kazakh. Narrator text follows: "Kazakhstan chocolate. Feel the taste of the free land!" The horseman disappears into the distance. An animated image of an eagle flapping its wings appears on the screen. Then the eagle mutated into the emblem of the national flag and of the advertised product - a sun and the inscription "Kazakhstan" in Latin letters.

Kazakhstan has an authoritarian regime similar to Russia. The country is part of the Russian-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization. But the resource-rich country's president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, distanced himself from Putin's war on Ukraine and refused to recognize the separatist regions of eastern Ukraine subsequently annexed by Russia. He opened his doors wide to welcome tens of thousands of Russians fleeing Putin's announced mobilization.

Last January, Tokayev requested and immediately received military aid from Russia to quell mass unrest that he described as an attempted coup. Immediately afterwards, however, he demanded the withdrawal of Russian troops and undertook reforms with the clear intention of showing that he understood popular discontent with economic inequality, corruption and the concentration of enormous power and wealth in the hands of a narrow political elite. Tokayev viewed the Russian invasion of Ukraine with concern because of the three million Russian minority in his country, the largest and richest in former Soviet Central Asia.

Tokayev, who was personally hand-picked to succeed former president Nursultan Nazarbayev in 2019, won a snap parliamentary election on Sunday with nearly 82 percent of the vote, which he called as a show of breaking with his former Soviet and post-Soviet patron irreplaceable leader of the former Soviet republic. He stripped the retired Nazarbayev of key posts he had reserved for himself after stepping down and forced him to publicly pledge his loyalty to the new government. Returned the old name of the capital Astana, which in 2019 was renamed Nursultan as an expression of the personality cult of Nazarbayev, called at home "Elbas" (The Leader). He limited the number of presidential mandates to one seven-year term and promised to build a "new Kazakhstan".

However, outside observers and internal critics point to his rule as a softer, enlightened authoritarianism. In putting down the January rebellion, Tokayev, who had served as foreign minister and speaker of parliament under Nazarbayev, ordered bullet fire on the rioters and 238 people were killed. During the election, the world media was unanimous that the other contenders for power were "statists" mimicking pluralism, none of whom received more than 4% of the vote.

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