Sanctions. Russian blockade moves to the next level, targeting the Russian oil and gas sector. The United States has banned the import of Russian oil, liquefied natural gas, and coal as a part of sanctions against Russia. The ban also applies to any further investments as well any other actions that could contribute to the Russian energy sector. Britain has also banned Russian oil. Following the United States, the British government issued a statement announcing its intention to stop importing Russian oil by the end of 2022. Russian imports account for 8% of total UK oil demand. The EU has announced its plan to make Europe independent of Russian fossil fuels well before 2030. At the moment, the EU imports 90% of its gas consumption, with Russia providing around 45% of those imports, in varying numbers across the EU member states. Russia also accounts for around 25% of oil imports and 45% of coal imports.
In addition to that, the U.K. ratcheted up its sanctions against Vladimir Putin’s administration by banning all Russian aircraft from entering Britain’s airspace and landing on the UK territory. The UK also officially banned Russian aviation and space-related exports. The aviation export ban applies to technology and spare parts, as well as insurance and reinsurance products.
Foreign policy. Japan has included the matter of the Kuril Islands on its foreign policy agenda. The Kuril Islands have been a part of Russia since the end of WWII. The dispute is reemerging in light of the ongoing Russian attempts to occupy Ukraine. The prime minister of Japan, Fumio Kishida, emphasizes the territorial dispute about the Kuril Islands remains unsolved.
Valdis Dombrovskis, the EU Executive Vice President, warns about a possible extension of the Russian military ambitions to the Baltic Sea countries of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia unless Russia is not stopped in Ukraine.
The EU will hold an informal meeting of EU heads of state and government in Paris on March 10-11. The meeting will focus on further discussion of EU defense capabilities, reducing energy dependency on Russian fuel export, and building a more robust economy in light of the Russian war against Ukraine. However, some Ukrainian MPs hope that member states will reach a consensus on Ukraine’s accession to the EU, though the following is not clearly stipulated on the agenda. Europa Nova think tank prepared a brief explainer on why Ukraine deserves the EU candidate status.
International community. Germany announces launching an investigation of Russian war crimes in Ukraine. German Prosecutor General Peter Frank has opened an investigation into Russia’s use of cluster munitions, shelling of residential buildings, gas pipelines, and nuclear waste disposal sites, according to Der Spiegel. Spain has also decided to open a probe into possible “serious violations of international humanitarian law by Russia in Ukraine”.
Humanitarian corridors. The Russian military fired at the humanitarian corridor again, not letting children, women, and elderly people evacuate from Mariupol, Donetsk region. The situation in the city continues to deteriorate. Russia launched an attack on the humanitarian corridor. Thus, people remain hostage in the city. As a result of continued shelling and limited access to vital resources such as food and water, a 6-year-old girl died of dehydration in Mariupol. BM-21 “Grad” shelled a humanitarian aid convoy. Follow messages from those whose families stay in Mariupol. In Mykolayiv region, Russian forces shelled a group of orphanage caregivers who were on their way to change shifts. As a result of the shelling, at least three caregivers were killed. Two more people were severely injured. More than 3000 civilians were evacuated from Irpin, Kyiv region. Around 5000 civilians were evacuated from the Sumy region and further evacuation will continue today, including foreign students. Early in the morning, an evacuation was announced to take place today from Bucha, Vorzel, Hostomel, Energodar, Irpin, Borodyanka, Mariupol, Izium, Volnovakha.
Cities under fire. Russian troops razed the hospital in Izium, Kharkiv region, to the ground. «I thought the gates of hell finally closed, but it turned out that it was only the first floor. This is the reception area of our City General Hospital. Probably another secret NATO base. Patients were trying to get out from the rubble as best they could,» wrote Deputy Mayor Volodymyr Matsokin. Following attacks will further target power infrastructure to cut the supply. The missile destroyed 7 houses in Malyn, Zhytomyr region, killing 5 people, including 2 children. Irpin, Vorzel, Bucha, Hostomel, Zabuchia, Mykhailivka-Rubezhivka in Kyiv region are actively attacked by Russian troops, as well as cut off of the food supply. Despite the Russian active offensive, Kherson and its region peaceful rallies continue in Oleshky, Gola Prystan, Berezhanka and Verkhnerogachytsia communities.
Energy security. Ukraine anticipates joining the European energy system ENTSO-E within a week, as the synchronization process is on the final stage. IAEA lost contact with monitoring systems of Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) that remain under Russian troops’ control. Zaporizhzhia NPP staff remains hostage and reportedly tortured by the Russians on the plant premises. A staged video with NPP personnel has been recorded, which is likely to be used for manipulation. Currently, there are approximately 500 Russian soldiers and 50 heavy military vehicles on the plant’s premises.
Closure of business. Shell officially announced they are leaving the Russian market, pledged to stop buying Russian oil, close Shell service centers, and shut down aviation fuels and lubricants operations after days of pressure. McDonald’s will temporarily close 850 restaurants. Unilever suspends its export to Russia. Bolt donates €5 million to Ukraine, and closes operations in Belarus. Coca-Cola and PepsiCO have decided to suspend operations in Russia. The world’s largest record company, Universal Music Group, has announced it is suspending all business operations in the Russian Federation and closing its offices.
Digital security. Widespread phishing attacks hit Ukraine and Poland. Google reports that attacks originated in Belarus, aiming to target members of the Polish military as well as Ukrainian officials, according to security researchers, which suggests the role of Belarus in Russia’s invasion goes well beyond staging Russian troops.
Disinformation. Russia found another reason to justify its military invasion of Ukraine. Reportedly, RIA Novosti stated that Russia’s attack on Ukraine allegedly thwarted a “large-scale offensive by striking groups of Ukrainian troops” against the pseudo-republics “LNR” and “DNR”. Allegedly, Ukraine is planning an offensive operation on L/DNR.
Notes from the field. Oleksandr Mykhed, a Ukrainian writer, authored an essay for Financial Times about his thoughts on the situation in his hometown Hostomel, which is currently heavily attacked and occupied. Letter from Ukraine: the language of war | Financial Times (ft.com)
- General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine announced the total estimated losses of the Russian military as of 6 a.m., March 9, 2022: troops – more than 12 000, tanks ‒ 317, APV ‒ 1070, artillery systems – 120, MLRS – 56, anti-aircraft warfare systems – 28, aircraft – 49, helicopters – 81, vehicles – 482, light speed boats – 3, fuel tanks – 60, UAV operational-tactical level – 7.
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