War in the neighborhood: IPN updates

Congratulations, European Bessarabians!

A draft of the final declaration for this week’s European Union summit proposes candidate status for Ukraine and Moldova, according to the Wall Street Journal. The document also underlines the necessity of keeping and strengthening sanctions against Russia and Russia’s full responsibility for the world food crisis.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba had a telephone call with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell. Dmytro Kuleba told: “I spoke with Josep Borrell in the run-up to the historic EU summit this week. Ukraine’s EU candidate status will draw a line under decades of ambiguity and set it in stone: Ukraine is Europe, not part of the ‘Russian world’. Grateful to HR/VP for supporting Ukraine on our path.”

Minister Delegate for European Affairs in the French Foreign Ministry Clement Bon stated for Radio Europe 1 that Ukraine will not join the European Union under an accelerated procedure or with any privileges, integration will be a long process.

According to him, the issue of granting Ukraine the status of a candidate member of the EU is the subject of “full consensus”, but integration into the European Union is a long process, so “tomorrow Ukraine will not be a member of the EU.”

Seven steps towards Ukraine’s integration into EU

Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine Olga Stefanishyna said Ukraine intends to take seven steps towards accession to the EU by the end of this year.

Earlier, Germany’s Ambassador to Ukraine Anka Feldhusen said that Ukraine will easily cope with the seven requirements stipulated by the European Commission when making a recommendation to grant Ukraine the status of a candidate member of the EU.

“I think that Ukraine can easily cope, because in fact these are requirements that have been in place for many years, there is already progress, perhaps not what the Ukrainians themselves would like, especially in judicial reform. But Ukraine is not the first time thinking about how this can be done. We, your partners, especially the Group of Seven, are constantly in contact with the Ukrainian government on these issues,” the German Ambassador said.

Olga Stefanishyna also said that Kyiv doesn’t have big expectations for the NATO Summit in Madrid as no revolutionary decisions on Ukraine and the end of the war with Russia are likely to be taken there.

After Kazakhstan, Ukrainian vibrations in Italy

Italy’s Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Tuesday he was leaving the 5-Star Movement to form a new parliamentary group backing the government of Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

Di Maio’s move comes after he accused 5-Star leader and former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of undermining government efforts to support Ukraine and weakening Rome’s standing within the European Union, according to Reuters.

The split in the 5-Star Movement threatens to bring fresh instability to Draghi’s multi-party coalition.

Kaliningrad further from (P)Russia

Moscow will respond to Lithuania’s ban on the transit of sanctioned goods to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad in a practical way, the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

“One of the main questions has been about whether the response would be exclusively diplomatic. The answer is: no. The response will not be diplomatic but practical” stated Maria Zakharova. She did not specify the measures that Russia is planning to take, saying that “they are being worked out in an interdepartmental format”.

Lithuania has extended restrictions on the transit of sanctioned goods through its territory to Russiaʼs Kaliningrad oblast. The transit ban now applies not only to railways but also to highways. This was reported by Delfi, with reference to the representative of the Lithuanian carriers. Lithuanian customs officers do not allow trucks with prohibited goods, which is why queues are formed at checkpoints.

The Russian Ministry of Transport said Russia has sufficient capabilities to supply the Kaliningrad Region with the necessary resources and goods by sea. It said that four vessels are operating at the Ust-Luga – Baltiysk ferry crossing, including 3 railway ferries and a multifunctional vessel with the possibility of transporting rolling, general cargo and containers.

The German government has warned Russia not to take countermeasures over the dispute of freight traffic to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. We call on Russia not to take any measures that violate international law,” German government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit said. He said that Lithuania had taken these actions within the European Union framework of sanctions on Russia. Only certain goods are affected by the sanctions, and no people have been sanctioned.

Germany sees no possibility of negotiations at present

Ukraine and Russia are a long way from ending the war through negotiations, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Wednesday, adding that President Vladimir Putin still wrongly believed he could dictate the terms of peace.

“The truth is, we are far from negotiations between Ukraine and Russia. Because Putin still believes in the possibility of a dictated peace,” Scholz said in an address to German lawmakers.

There is gas, but… as weapon

Economy Minister Robert Habeck has announced that Germany will move to stage two of its emergency gas plan. It means Europe’s largest economy now sees a high risk of long-term gas supply shortages. „We mustn’t delude ourselves: cutting gas supplies is an economic attack on us by [Russian President Vladimir] Putin,” Habeck said in a statement.

Habeck said gas had now become a scarce commodity and warned an extraordinary price rally could persist. “This will affect industrial production and become a major burden for many consumers. It’s an external shock,” Habeck said.

Wheat as instrument for fighting for peace

No specific agreements have been reached so far about holding four-way talks of Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the UN to discuss Ukrainian grain exports, Oleg Nikolenko, spokesman for the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, said on Wednesday.

“At present, expert consultations between the parties concerned are ongoing. Specific agreements on holding four-way talks of Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the UN have not yet been reached,” he said, as Ukrinform news service reported.

Ukraine welcomes the efforts of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to resolve the issue of exporting grain from ports, Nikolenko said. He also said that the issue of security remains paramount for Kiev.

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