Asked if this signals a change in attitude in Berlin, Yafimava said that is a minority view whereas the attitude of the government of German Chancellor Angela Merkel has remained unchanged, namely that construction must be completed. We will inform about further planning in due time,” the spokesperson added. With over 95% of the pipeline complete, Washington may not be able to stop the Nord Stream 2 project. “We agree with European governments and the EU Commission that US sanctions actions against companies conducting legitimate business in the EU on the Nord Stream 2 project are contrary to international law and a violation of Europe’s energy sovereignty,” the Nord Stream 2 spokesperson argued, adding that it is up to these governments and the European Commission to protect companies operating in Europe from unlawful extraterritorial sanctions. Peter Beyer, a member of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, Germany’s coordinator for transatlantic relations reportedly called for a temporary halt to the construction of Nord Stream 2 gas to give Merkel’s government time to work on resetting ties with the US. “If any of the alleged third-party interference incidents resulted in violation of that prohibited area it would be for the Danish authorities to take measures to stop it,” she explained. In early January, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas reportedly said the federal government will not change its position on Nord Stream 2. Meanwhile, Nord Stream 2 said the company does not comment on speculations on US sanctions actions on the project. There are approximately 93 kilometres in Danish waters and approximately 28 kilometres in German waters to be laid. “But I’d argue there won’t be much on offer from Europe/Germany as they know that the US itself is weary of imposing sanctions on European companies and the damage it would do to US-Europe relations,” Yafimava said. “I would expect Nord Stream 2 to do as much pipe-laying as possible and as fast as possible by using both Fortuna and Cherskiy,” Katja Yafimava, a senior research fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, told New Europe on April 9. EPA-EFE/JENS KOEHLER/FILE PICTURE

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As the new US administration under Joe Biden is reportedly weighing additional sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany, the pipelay barge Fortuna is continuing pipelay works in the Danish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the pipelay vessel Akademik Cherskiy is implementing preparatory works prior to commencing pipelay. On January 18, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell said the EU opposes unilateral sanctions affecting EU companies conducting legitimate and lawful business activities as is the case of the legislation vis-à-vis Nord Stream 2. “My view remains that the Biden administration wants to stop/complicate the project but does not want to sanction any European companies involved in it,” Yafimava said, explaining that the February sanctions report only listed the Russian Fortuna and its owner. At the same time, the Oxford energy expert argued that the Biden administration wants to “trade” its non-imposition of sanctions on European companies in exchange for something – a quid pro quo. follow on twitter @energyinsider The pipelaying vessel had traveled more than 10,000 kilometers from Nakhodka, Russia to the Baltic Sea. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Berlin, Moscow await next US steps on Nord Stream 2

By Kostis Geropoulos
Energy & Russian Affairs Editor, New Europe

The Russian pipelayer vessel Akademik Cherskiy is at anchor in Binz, island Ruegen, northern Germany, May 10, 2020. “Therefore, one could expect the US to ratchet up the sanctions threat during the period preceding the adoption of the next sanctions report at the end of May with the aim of scaring more European companies away from the project,” Yafimava said. “Approximately 121 kilometres or 5% remain. Asked what are the next steps after Nord Stream 2 is completed in Danish waters and when is it supposed to come into operation, Yafimava said, “I think Nord Stream could finalize construction of both strings in 2021, but the start of operations appears more uncertain – subject to German NRA certification and whether the politics will be able to influence this independent entity’s decision – and could be anything between winter 2021-22 and winter 2023-24”. “Halting Nord Stream 2 construction would dramatically weaken the Germany’s position vis-à-vis the US in respect of the aforementioned quid pro quo and would only enable the US to drive a tougher bargain,” Yafimava said. Regarding alleged incidents with other vessels and low-flying “foreign planes” reportedly appearing close to Nord Stream 2’s vessels, Yafimava explained that according to the Danish maritime authority notice to mariners, there is a temporary prohibited area with a radius of 1.5 nautical miles around Fortuna and Cherskiy. “The commissioning of Nord Stream 2 is in the interest of Europe’s energy security, European consumers, and EU economic competitiveness,” the spokesperson said. “As of March 31, a total of 2,339 kilometres out of 2,460 kilometres or 95% of the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline have been laid, a spokesperson for Nord Stream 2 pipeline told New Europe on April 9.

style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Energy Week Central Asia & Mongolia 2021 highlights renewable energy project potential

By New Europe Online/KG

epa05563683 A photograph made available on 30 September 2016 showing a wind turbine at the site of the highest wind park in Europe at the Griessee, near the Nufenenpass in the Swiss south Alpes, Valais, Switzerland, on 23 September 2016. EPA/OLIVIER MAIRE

EPA/OLIVIER MAIRE

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Central Asia’s promising renewable energy projects, including Uzbekistan’s clean energy ambition and reaching its climate action goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and dependency on fossil fuels will be the focus of a leading energy conference later this month. The high-level international investment conference Energy Week Central Asia & Mongolia 2021 (https://camoenergyweek.com/) will take place on a virtual event platform on April 27-29 bringing together the authorities, project operators of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Mongolia, as well as IFIs/DFIs, multinational energy companies. The conference will highlight promising construction projects, current and planned tenders, reforms, support schemes and financing of renewable energy, supply chain sustainability after the pandemic and other pressing issues. The main objective of the event is to facilitate cooperation with international companies and financial institutions to attract foreign investment and advanced technologies to foster the deployment of projects in the field of hydropower, solar and wind energy, hydrogen energy, as well as energy storage systems. The list of speakers and guests include Senior Investment Officer, Renewable Energy Department, FMO; Senior Investment Specialist, ADB; Principal Banker, EBRD; Head of Department of Perspective Development and Capital Construction, Electric Stations (Kyrgyzstan); CEO, Sainshand Salkhin Park; Director, National Renewable Energy Centre (Mongolia); Deputy Chairman of the Board, Thermal Power Plants (Uzbekistan); Head of Strategic Development and Standardization Department, National Electric Grid of Uzbekistan; Head of the Tariffs, Pricing and Market Department, Energy Regulatory Commission of Mongolia; Deputy General Director, Chakan HPP and CEO, SolarTech. The four wind turbines of this wind park were developed by the company SwissWinds GmbH and are inaugurated on, 30 September 2016.

My client didn’t have permission to print them. All I’ve read are stories about wanting to understand. Biot is telling the truth in this regard. Everything about this case is certainly an earthquake for international relations, and it is all happening in Italy. We could autonomously verify which documents he could actually access in his position. FLICKR
RVD: Of course the economic situation is very difficult in the family. Sometimes people might have more than one sim card for various reasons. I have to reiterate that in terms of secret and classified documents, there are very rigorous procedures when giving permission to individuals to have this access. It was only in the news, I don’t know then why the media said that and I don’t know what their sources were. They must be printed. Italy has since expelled the Russian allegedly involved in the case, as well as another embassy official. The seized documents have yet to be fully scrutinized by the presiding judge. NE: As the Russian Embassy was involved in the case, what was the relationship between your client and the Russian diplomats? The judge said the evidence showed the officer used four different mobile phones and “had no scruples betraying his duty and the trust of the Italian for personal economic reasons.”

New Europe (NE): How would you define the documents that the accused officer gave to the Russians? NE: You had the chance to discuss these issues with important American journalists about the perception on the other side of the Atlantic about the suspected involvement of a NATO ally passing on secret information to the Russians regarding NATO. You have to know that for this crime you could get a life sentence. From the communications and from the places where they were, it’s clear that they were being used by his sons. What kind of access did he have to classified documents? In the investigation file, this fact was never mentioned. Without trying to understand. This led him to have access to evaluation and policy documents, but not to documents for the management of operations or details about the capabilities of NATO”. Italian naval officers. RDV: It is very simple, the sim cards were registered for different family members. Roberto De Vita (RDV): First, we have to take into consideration the sort of documents available to Biot. Obviously, he had his own phone. NE: Do you think that your client could have been in such a difficult economic situation as to justify committing a potentially criminal act like handing over secrets to an adversary? The problem here is that this case started from an assumption. About the relationship with the Russian embassy official, my client will explain everything in detail during the next interrogation session. Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio called the issue a “hostile act of extreme gravity.” The Italian media has quoted the judge presiding over the case as saying that the officer’s actions were “not isolated or sporadic, but well-planned”. Even Ambassador Gianpiero Massolo, who was Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, declared that there could not have been any damage to NATO or national security. Some media reported that my client met a Russian officer during a reception at an embassy, about this I can stress that Biot never entered a Russian Embassy or Consulate, or any other countries’ diplomatic missions. Since the beginning of the case, when he was arrested, Boit was very clear that he never had access to documents that were deemed “state secrets” or highly classified. These problems were related to the disability of his youngest daughter. RDV: My perception is that from a NATO, but also from an international, point of view that they took into consideration this case as it was presented by Italy. It is easy to verify what kind of information is being transited on a daily basis from like Biot. The Italian naval officer was arrested after Italy’s special operations force allegedly caught him in a parking lot handing over a flash drive with documents stored on it to an individual from the Russian Embassy in exchange for €5,000. The answer is very clear, I think. It is then important to say that highly classified documents can’t be seen on a PC because they undergo another procedure. through different layers, where the truth was. It is possible to concretely verify which secret information Biot had access to. It is easy to verify all this because there is a specific office that tracks all classified material that could be compromised. The other phones were being used by other family members. What is your feeling about that? In this case, I don’t think that this is the correct way to handle this matter. WIKIPEDIA

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Amid the fallout of an espionage case involving an Italian naval captain, Walter Biot, and his alleged passing on of classified information to Russia’s intelligence services, New Europe spoke with Roberto De Vita, one of Biot’s attorneys, about the case. This is the first issue, but the other idea is to understand if it was worth it for him to commit this kind of crime. He also claimed not to have access to information or documents that concerned national security or operational activities. Also, from the Russian side, there was always a quiet attitude about the whole situation. RDV: First of all, there wasn’t any relationship between my client and the Russian citizen in question, or other countries’ embassies or consulates. There has been a communication mistake, at the beginning of this case, that had a negative impact on my client, but also on public opinion at an international level. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>INTERVIEW with Roberto De Vita: Italy’s espionage scandal

By Federico Grandesso
Italian Editor, Journalist

The Palazzo Marina, headquarters of Italy's Navy Staff, in Rome. So, if this was true, should we wonder why he supposedly did it for only €5,000? At the same time, I felt, in Italy, there were a lot of emotions even before anyone understood the real facts. An Italian officer was caught in a car with a Russian diplomat. NE: One element that the media underlined was the use of four different sim cards by your client, can you tell me more about this? To give you a better clarification on this, we should consider what Lorenzo Guerini, the Italian Defense Minister, said in front of the parliament’s defense committee: “The officer had a position that authorized him to see classified material, but his responsibilities did not feature command or management activities. As we can trace everything, I can also exclude the possibility that my client could have ever met the Russian official at a reception in an Italian institutional place. What was only highlighted is that the documents are listed as ‘highly confidential’, and therefore as an assumption, they are supposed to be relevant in terms of national security. My client confirmed then that he never took part in such events. The place where Biot was working was not an operational command, and it is not dealing with strategic detailed activities, but it is only dealing with policies and producing analyses, but not from an intelligence point of view. Nobody can deny this fact, and because of this, we excluded the possibility that highly sensitive documents could have been in the hands of Biot. From east to west, there was an immediate understanding that this issue could be downplayed. I still haven’t read any specific news from the US or other NATO countries about the situation. The documents’ author can easily be confirmed, as well as who has security clearance to access the information. This speech from the Defense Minister confirms that the security of the country and of NATO was never put in danger.

According to the Uzbek Energy Ministry, this ground-mounted project will significantly increase Uzbekistan’s current solar PV installed capacity and contribute to the Government’s plans to boost energy generation capacity to 30 GW, including 5 GW of solar by 2030. The signing of the PPA with National Electric Grid of Uzbekistan, IA with the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Trade, with Phanes Group took place on April 1. Solar energy is an important part of this strategy and Phanes Group’s assistance will contribute to the success of this latest project,” Khodjaev said. Earlier, Ravnaq-bank and Phanes Group signed a memorandum of cooperation and cooperation in implementation of projects and initiatives. UZBEKISTAN ENERGY MINISTRY

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Dubai-based international solar energy developer Phanes Group have signed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) and Investment Agreement (IA) for a 200 MWАС grid-connected solar PV plant in Nurata, Navoi Region, Uzbekistan. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Dubai-based Phanes Group inks agreements to develop solar power plant in Uzbekistan

By New Europe Online/KG

(L-R) Artikov Sobirjon Sadullaevich, first deputy chairman of the board for the implementation of investment projects, capital construction, localization, expansion of cooperative relationships in industry and information technology of National Electric Networks of Uzbekistan and Phanes Group CEO Martin Haupts sign the Power Purchase Agreement in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. “With this agreement Phanes Group shares the vision for Uzbekistan’s clean energy ambition and reaching its climate action goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and dependency on fossil fuels.”
Uzbekistan’s Deputy Energy Minister Sherzod Khodjaev hailed the Power Purchase and Investment Agreements between the Uzbek government and Phanes Group. The PPA and IA between Phanes Group and the Uzbek government includes the technical and commercial terms for building, owning and operating a 200 MWAC solar PV project including facilities connecting to Khimiya 220/110 kV Substation, Uzbekistan’s Energy Ministry said in a press release on April 6. “Uzbekistan earned the Economist’s title of country of the year in 2019 and the nation is now regarded as a rising powerhouse in Central Asia,” Phanes Group CEO Martin Haupts said. Ravnaq-bank CEO Tursunov Iskandar Bakhtinurovich noted that recently renewable energy sources generate high interest among the industry community, and Uzbekistan also strives to follow modern trends in development of the power industry, especially as the country has a great natural, technical and economic potential for the large-scale implementation of such projects. “Our country is strongly committed to a low-carbon strategy and increasing the share of renewable energy in our energy mix. Ravnaq-bank will act as a coordinator between Phanes Group, the international developer of solar energy, and the state organizations of Uzbekistan.

As the project nears completion, a few ideas have been tossed around that do not involve stopping it cold and the train wreck that ensues. Another idea that could be realized in conjunction with the first proposal would be to charge a special tax – we at New Europe are calling it the “Navalny Tax”, in reference to the political prisoner and leader of Russia’s anti-Putin opposition, Alexey Navalny – on all gas delivered via Nord Stream-2. On that one, the real work is for the lawyers and diplomats. EPA-EFE/FABIO FRUSTACI

EPA-EFE//FABIO FRUSTACI

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The nearly complete Nord Stream-2 pipeline may not be the perfect storm, but it does present Washington and Berlin with a list of terrible options. Navalny was detained after his arrival to Moscow from Germany on 17 January 2021.  
Again, more work for the lawyers and diplomats. By New Europe
The European political newspaper

epa08963958 A view of a large poster depicting Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny behind bars with a dove freeing him from detention, by an unidentified street artist known as Harry Greb, in downtown Rome, Italy, 25 January 2021. A Moscow judge on 18 January ruled that he will remain in custody for 30 days following his airport arrest. Navalny urged Russians to take to the streets to protest against President Putin’s rule. A US-EU foundation with precisely that focus could be established and at least partially funded from the proceeds from the Navalny tax. Much has been written about the near-fatal impact on the United States’ outreach to its European allies if the Biden Administration does what it believes is needed to block the project’s rush to completion, all in the name of reducing Europe’s dependence on Russian natural gas supplies, and the potential for “weaponization of energy” that this project hands Moscow. One objective would be to make Nord Stream-2 less competitive than older pipelines.   
What if guarantees could be worked out so that the countries currently receiving transit fees for Russian gas shipments would receive the same payments in the future, no matter how much gas is diverted through Nord Stream-2?            
The second but critical objective would be to support democratization projects in and around the former Soviet Union. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Nord Stream-2: Why not establish a Navalny tax?

The first response it received, however, was something I should have predicted. Conservatives need to do the same; the current drudgery of ideas – so far that there are any – is hardly inspiring. If there’s one thing that I admire about the political Left – well, it might be the only thing – it’s their willingness to occasionally embrace out-of-the-box ideas (I’m trying very hard to write ‘radical’ here). Before I give the details, I should first explain that there is something of a stereotype of British conservatives that more often than not turns out to be fairly accurate. I found myself rather in sympathy with this fictionalised portrayal of the old battleaxe, as Christopher Hitchens once called her, since I have lately had cause to think much the same. There’s nothing remotely admirable about pretending everything is fine when knife crime is at all-time high, and it isn’t as though we can pull together when the problem is within our own borders. This isn’t because  I find the subject matter disinteresting, but is instead due to a fear that it’s going to be overly American and riddled with inaccuracies; besides, with the recent Harry and Meghan drama dominating headlines and social media, I’ve rather had my bellyful of the Royals lately, monarchist though I am. Yet something the other day did catch my interest. To Europeans, this might explain how Brexit happened. Well, again, I had stressed that the military would be under direct police authority and direction. I explained that there is precedent for this, and highlighted the security measures taken over the 2012 Olympics, as well as comparable practices employed by our European friends, whose military and police forces are far more closely entwined than our own. Although in truth I may be looking too deeply into this, since the man I’m thinking of wrote ‘there’ when he meant ‘their’. My phone’s YouTube app autoplayed itself onto a scene from the show in which Margaret Thatcher is bemoaning her difficulties as leader of the Conservative Party (and what that says about my YouTube search preferences you must judge for yourselves). Middle-aged, of course, and while usually middle class, will often defend to the hilt the social and economic higher-ups to whom they’d love to belong. “The Army isn’t trained to do the police’s job,” it said, apparently ignoring the part of my post in which I’d explained how the military would have to go through months of re-training to do what I suggest. This is an enduring problem with British conservatives, with their view that ‘Dunkirk spirit’ and the much-vaunted British stiff upper lip will see us through any difficulties. The only comment on my post, therefore, was not surprising. EPA-EFE//JESSICA TAYLOR

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As a patriotic sort of chap, I have taken great pains to avoid watching The Crown. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Tory Story: Why Britain’s Conservatives need to change

By Timothy Ogden
A UK-born freelance journalist based in Tbilisi, focusing on defence matters

epa08969121 A handout photo made available by the UK Parliament shows Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson during Prime Ministers Questions in the House of Commons in London, Britain, 27 January 2021. It was, if I say so myself, rather well reasoned, argued, and researched – and as I seem to recall writing at the time, desperate times call for desperate measures. Although UK street crime is apparently completely beyond control, nobody is proposing anything other than “get the money for 20,000 more police officers”, which fails to acknowledge the complaints of police officers who claim they are not properly trained, equipped, or prepared to deal with what they are asked to face. Besides, the response is usually “there’s no money” – hence my suggestion to bring in military personnel, who currently aren’t doing much beyond helping to distribute vaccines, and whose impending reduction in size in the latest Defence Review will be accompanied by increased use of technology and robotics. If you were wondering why the current Conservative government seems so listless and uninspired, perhaps this might explain it: they are people who crave power, but have absolutely no idea what to do with it once they’ve won it. I should make it clear that those two ideas are things that I prize about the culture most, but the way in which they’ve been used is something that I find vexing. Indeed, I’d say that it’s far more in the Dunkirk spirit to do something radical about the problem of crime in Britain than it is just to grumble online hark back to days gone by, and think the issues will simply resolve themselves. To remain on the issue of knife crime, I’m not sure I’d feel any better if the government did actually put 20,000 more police on the streets, since they’ve basically admitted to being too terrified or too poorly trained to do anything about the problem anyway. Besides, it’s hardly a good endorsement of the British people that the only reason they’ve stopped stabbing each other is that now they might actually get caught. In the clip, she says something along the lines of her Tory MPs being “stuck in their ways….they have no imagination”. Take, for instance, the subject matter of a piece I published on these pages, in which I argued that if Britain’s street crime problem is as bad as the media are claiming and the police admitting, our Armed Forces – who currently have no wars to fight – might be called in to land their manpower. EPA-EFE/JESSICA TAYLOR/UK PARLIAMENT HANDOUT MANDATORY CREDIT: JESSICA TAYLOR / UK PARLIAMENT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson during the PM's questions in the House of Commons. Note: I must say, although I don’t approve of any slashes to the military budget and remain wary of robotics, I do rather like the idea of a Terminator with a cut-glass British accent: for ‘I’ll be back’, see ‘I shall return momentarily’, and for ‘Come with me if you want to live’, use ‘Would you mind awfully joining me in the event you wish to prolong your lifespan…?’
Indeed, I was so pleased with my idea that I even rewrote it and posted it on the Conservative Party’s policy ideas forum; again, desperate times, desperate measures. You might find the left-wing media sneering at these people as the ‘golf-club sweater brigade’, but again, if you are unfortunate or unwise enough to visit a British golf club, you’ll see that there’s something in it; boozy red faces complaining about their wives or the government, talking with great authority and questionable accuracy about policy, patronising anyone under the age of 35, and occasionally speaking with censorious admiration of strongmen figures like Vladimir Putin. “On no account should this be a police state”.

 
When it comes to Ukraine, the spectre of another potential Russian military offensive is by no means welcomed but does present certain political advantages for Kyiv to exploit. For Putin, it might be more severe than most. Given the diverse set of domestic problems with no end in sight, it is unlikely to resonate positively with locals who remain laser-focused on government accountability and exiting the pandemic. The recent success of three Russian submarines punching their way through Arctic ice is all too choreographed and a preview of what state propaganda has planned. Furthermore, the aid package included radar units for countering artillery; support for satellite imagery and analysis capability; and equipment to support military medical treatment and combat evacuation procedures. Some countries have even gone ahead and brought back the draft because Russia’s recent behaviour has the Baltic republics and Central Europe rattled. While there is a political imperative to change the domestic narrative, the risk-reward paradigm for raising tensions with Ukraine is mismatched. With national standards of living on the decline and pent-up social frustrations simmering over COVID-19, Putin can no longer disregard the domestic unease engulfing the country. None more glaring than the lack of judicial reform. Add in the national outrage over the assassination and imprisonment of Alexey Navalny, and suddenly the question of regime survival is not so trivial. With Russian forces massing on Ukraine’s border, he unexpectedly finds himself in a position to present an image of a country under siege and desperately in need of western aid. EPA/ROMAN PILIPEY

A Ukrainian soldier fires a rocket propelled grenade launcher during a training session near the southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol. Petersburg, over the removal of a popular regional governor serves as the truest proof of the political trouble the Kremlin is in.  
For someone who is lotted for being a master tactician, Putin has mishandled this situation. Should the Kremlin go ahead with a military operation, they would do well to temper expectations. Another $150 million is slated to Kyiv, should both the State and Defense Departments certify that Ukraine has made sufficient progress on key defense reforms. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>A ‘burn’ on the Ukrainian border

By Roger Hilton
Defense and Security Fellow, GLOBSEC

epaselect epa04689116 An Ukrainian serviceman of the ‘Donbass battalion’ fires a rocket propelled grenade launcher during a training session at a shooting range near of the eastern city of Mariupol, Ukraine, 01 April 2015. Though this equipment will not change the military balance, it will allow Ukrainian forces to increase their lethality and force Russian authorities to go to greater lengths to conceal the deaths of servicemen from a wary public back home. This unpleasant sensation is exactly what could happen to Russian President Vladimir Putin if he continues his foolish statecraft with his southern neighbor. Eastern Europe is seeing an upswing in military exercises, people training to be reservists and talk of resuming conscription. Should the former Dresden KGB resident select the former, it would be a failure on two fronts. The sight of summer protests in Khabarovsk, not cosmopolitan Moscow or St. With the vaccine rollout inside Ukraine behind schedule and stubborn corruption hindering foreign investment, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s western supporters remain underwhelmed by the state of progress he promised. A mortar mine tail in the Ukrainian village of Shyrokino. Just last month, the Pentagon announced a $125 million military aid package for Ukraine, that included two Mark VI patrol boats to defend its territorial waters. With his political legitimacy at stake, Putin is looking to recreate this winning political strategy by distracting locals with foreign escapades and promises of future imperial grandeur. German Chancellor Angela Merkel on 01 April urged the warring parties in Ukraine to follow through on their February truce and implement the rest of the promises aimed at ending the conflict. Even more troubling, is news that the White House will appoint a special envoy to lead negotiations on halting the final stages of the project’s construction. Berlin’s support of the project, already under heavy scrutiny, will only be intensified as Moscow’s actions only serve to confirm existing preconceptions of Germany’s NATO Allies. It would be ineffective in changing the current domestic narrative and indirectly further Ukraine’s long-term strategic goals of tighter relations with the United States and NATO membership. Consequently, Ukraine as the next battleground to project this political policy is logical due to its proximity and Russia’s overwhelming escalation domination. His 2014 annexation of Crimea catapulted his sluggish approval ratings and subdued growing dissatisfaction with his governance. These calls for support have been heeded by the Biden Administration with both action and rhetoric. Furthermore, it concentrates Western governments to the failures of the Minsk Accords and puts a new spotlight on the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission reports in the Donbass, which continues to report countless ceasefire violations and fatalities. Above all else, this violent prospect has reawakened western fatigue in the bilateral conflict, that had slid down the global security agenda with the onset of Covid and the American-China rivalry. Signs of a Russian military build at the Ukrainian border are well documented and suggest preparations are underway for an imminent invasion or at a bare minimum some extreme sabre-rattling. Finally, any operation resulting in Russian casualties would surely raise the media profile of the International Memorial Society, a national NGO that reports on Russian soldiers killed in action, which holds great respect throughout much of the country. Although Russian citizens long tolerated the pervasive kleptocracy under the Putin regime, the current levels of graft have reached a breaking point. On the diplomatic stage, the evolving security situation has provided Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Minster Dmitry Kuleba with newfound ammunition to attack the credibility of Russia as a strategic and reliable partner with Germany vis-à-vis the Nord Stream II pipeline. EPA-EFE//SERGEY VAGANOV
If that speculation were not enough to send Putin into a tailspin, the announcement that the Biden Administration was seriously exploring Ukrainian membership in NATO might have sent him into anaphylactic shock. The word ‘gorilka‘ is derived from the verb ‘gority‘, which means ‘to burn’ in Ukrainian. None of which are accomplished by invading Ukraine. Not only will any foreign adventure fail to sway his popularity, but it will reinforce the value of NATO and continue to legitimize a path for Ukrainian membership. Like most short-sided strategies, there is a high likelihood to get burned. EPA-EFE//ROMAN PILIPEY

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If you have been to Ukraine, you have surely tried ‘gorilka‘, the national vodka-style spirit. Of all the cardinal sins adversaries can commit against the Kremlin, none is more offensive than the prospect of NATO membership to perceived vassal states. To be clear, Putin has been in a similar predicament and survived.

The conclusion was reached after more than 80 cases in Europe were reviewed, 18 of which were fatal. European Union 2021 / EMA Twitter Page

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The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said it has found a possible link between the Coronavirus jab, developed by British-Swedish pharmaceutical AstraZeneca and the Oxford University and the occurrence of blood clots. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>EU medicine regulator finds possible link between AstraZeneca jab and blood clots

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

EMA’s safety committee (#PRAC) has concluded its review of very rare cases of unusual blood clots with AstraZeneca #COVID19 vaccine. “However, the PRAC has confirmed that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine in preventing Covid-19 overall outweigh the risks of side effects,” said Emer Cooke, EMA’s executive director. The Chair of EMA’s safety committee, Sabine Straus said that “although most of the cases occurred in people under 60 years and in women, due to different ways the vaccine in being used in different countries, PRAC did not conclude that age and gender were clear risk factors for these very rare side effects.”
PRAC said that the blood clots occurred in veins in the brain and in arteries, together with low levels of blood platelets and sometimes bleeding, noting that “one plausible explanation for the combination of blood clots and low blood platelets is an immune response, leading to a condition similar to one seen sometimes in patients treated with heparin.” 
The EU agency stressed that although the chance of having this side effect is very low, it is imperative that the receivers of the jab be aware of the possibility in order to get prompt medical treatment. “EMA’s safety committee (PRAC) has concluded today that unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as very rare side effects of Vaxzevria,” the Amsterdam Based company said in a statement issued on Wednesday.