Emerging Europe This Week

As NATO dithers, Russia attacks Kyiv: Emerging Europe this week

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

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

At least one person was killed and four wounded on Thursday as Ukrainian air defence units fought off a Russian drone attack for the third consecutive night in and around Kyiv.

Ukraine’s air force spokesperson said 20 Russian attack drones and two cruise missiles were shot down over Kyiv and elsewhere in the country in the early hours of Thursday morning.

“We have a successful air defence operation,” spokesperson Yuriy Ignat said. “Twenty Shaheds were destroyed – all those flying were downed. Two Kalibr cruise missiles were also destroyed.”

Emergency services responded to calls in the capital city’s Solomyanskyi, Shevchenkivskyi, Podilskyi and Darnytskyi districts following “explosions”, Kyiv’s Mayor Vitali Klitschko said earlier on Thursday.

“In Podilskyi district, during the firefighting in an apartment building, a body of one dead person was discovered,” Klitschko posted on the Telegram messaging app.

At NATO’s Vilnius summit, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky failed to secure an invitation for Ukraine to join the alliance after leaders signed off on a declaration that did not give a firm timetable or clear conditions for its eventual membership. 

The frustrated Ukrainian president had accused Joe Biden and other leaders present at a NATO summit in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, of showing disrespect and complained that there was “no readiness” to invite his country to join. 

But the dramatic lunchtime intervention on Tuesday had no impact on the final summit communique, issued a few hours later.

It said that while “Ukraine’s future is in NATO”, the alliance would only “extend an invitation to Ukraine” when Kyiv had completed certain “democratic and security sector reforms”. 

In a bizarre outburst on Wednesday, Ben Wallace, the British defence secretary, suggested that Ukraine needed to put more emphasis on saying thank you for Western help. 

Wallace said Ukrainians’ haste to get all the help they could meant they did not always say they were grateful for the help received. “Whether we like it or not, people want to see a bit of gratitude,” the minister said at a briefing in the margins of the NATO summit. 

“Sometimes you are asking countries to give up their own stocks” of weapons, he added, suggesting that making repeated demands from the west could risk alienating some key constituencies. “Sometimes you have to persuade lawmakers on the [Capitol] Hill in America.” 

Wallace revealed that he had travelled to Ukraine last year to be presented with a shopping list of weapons. “You know, we’re not Amazon,” he said. “I told them that last year, when I drove 11 hours to be given a list.” 

A senior Russian general was killed in a missile strike in Ukraine on Wednesday, Russian sources said. 

Lt Gen Oleg Tsokov is said to have died in a strike on a hotel housing Russian military commanders in Berdyansk, a city in the south-eastern region of Zaporizhzhia on the coast of the Azov Sea. 

While Russia’s defence ministry did not officially confirm his death, it was widely announced by Russian war channels on Telegram.  

Lt Gen Tsokov was deputy commander of Russia’s southern military district.  

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has proposed to Russian President Vladimir Putin that he extend a deal allowing the safe Black Sea export of grain from Ukraine in return for connecting a subsidiary of Russia’s agricultural bank to the SWIFT international payment system. 

Russia has threatened to ditch the grain deal, which expires on July 17, because several demands to dispatch its own grain and fertiliser abroad have not been met. The last two ships traveling under the Black Sea agreement are currently loading cargoes at the Ukrainian port of Odesa ahead of the deadline. 

A key demand by Moscow is the reconnection of the Russian agricultural bank Rosselkhozbank to the SWIFT international payment network. It was cut off by the European Union in June 2022 over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. An EU spokesperson said in May the EU was not considering reinstating Russian banks. 

Other news from the region

Czech author Milan Kundera, whose dissident writings in communist Czechoslovakia transformed him into an exiled satirist of totalitarianism, died this week in Paris at the age of 94. Kundera was born in the Czech city of Brno but emigrated to France in 1975 after being ostracised for criticising the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. He won accolades for his style depicting themes and characters that floated between the mundane reality of everyday life and the lofty world of ideas. 

The Polish authorities have signed a contract with a Belgian-Qatari consortium to finance, construct and operate a planned new deep-water container terminal in Świnoujście on the Baltic coast. The Polish government wants the project, which will cost billions of euros to develop, to create “a serious competitor to Hamburg”, currently the busiest port in the region. The new terminal is expected to become operational by 2028.

The director of the Moldovan Intelligence and Security Service, SIS, Alexandru Musteață, said on Monday that his institution he leads and the Prosecutor’s Office for Combating Organised Crime and Special Cases, PCCOCS, had dismantled an FSB spy network in the country. The two bodies sent the court a criminal case for treason and espionage against a group of people led by two FSB officers who recruited Moldovan citizens for socio-political intelligence gathering, disinformation campaigns and denigration of the pro-European leaders of the country. 

Hungarian low-cost airline Wizz Air has apologised after it would not allow a wounded Ukrainian soldier to travel on one of its flights. In videos shared to TikTok, the unnamed man can be seen speaking to cabin crew at the front of a plane bound for Warsaw, Poland, from Tel Aviv, Israel, where, according to reports, he had been receiving treatment after losing his leg fighting against Russian troops. Despite being allowed to board the plane, he was asked to leave before the plane took off. 

In order to maintain its current ratio of working-age population to retirees, Poland would need to attract almost two million immigrant workers over the next decade, the state Social Insurance Institution (ZUS) has found in a new report. ZUS notes that Poland has already been drawing record and growing numbers of immigrants in recent years, with 74,000 new foreigners registered in the social-insurance system in 2020, 150,000 in 2021 and 188,000 in 2022. However, it admits that the two million target – which would require over 200,000 new foreign workers to arrive every year for the next decade – is “unrealistic”. 

Kosovo’s government has announced that it will reduce by one-quarter the number of special police deployed around administrative buildings in the ethnic Serb-majority north and organise fresh mayoral elections in four northern municipalities as part of measures to de-escalate simmering tensions with neighbouring Serbia. The steps are to be “finalised within a two-week period,” the government said in a statement late on Tuesday. Clashes broke out last month between international peacekeepers and ethnic Serbs after three ethnic Albanian mayors took office following a local election that Serbs boycotted. 

Shavkat Mirziyoyev was overwhelmingly reelected on Sunday for a third term as president of Uzbekistan in a snap poll whose result had been seen as a foregone conclusion. The preliminary vote tally published on July 10 showed that Mirziyoyev had secured 87 per cent of the ballots cast and that almost 80 percent of voters turned out. Under rule changes effected through a choreographed constitutional referendum earlier this year, he will be eligible to stand for another term once this one is over. 

Shares in majority state-owned Romanian hydro power producer Hidroelectrica rose by around nine per cent on the Bucharest Stock Exchange on Wednesday in Europe’s largest initial public offering (IPO) so far this year. The placement was many times oversubscribed, with 80 per cent of shares going to institutional investors. Trade volumes reached more than 300 million lei (around 60 million euros) in the first hour, three times the daily average for the entire bourse so far this year. 

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