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Open newsletter – march 7, 2022 p.m.

CHINA – INDIA

Global Times

China and India should treat each other as partners of mutual success rather than adversaries of mutual attrition, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during a press conference on Monday, noting that the two countries should not allow territorial disputes left over from history to affect the overall interests of bilateral cooperation (China, India should be partners for mutual success, not adversaries of mutual attrition: Chinese FM)

CHINA – RUSSIA

Global Times

China-Russia relationship is valued for its independence, and the friendship between the two peoples is “rock-solid,” Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Monday at a press conference on the sidelines of the fifth session of the 13th National People’s Congress. Experts noted that Wang’s remarks have set the tone for China’s stance on China-Russia relations which are free from interference. No matter how much the West provokes, the China-Russia relationship will not be affected by the Ukraine issue (y Fan Anqi – China-Russia friendship ‘rock-solid, free from interference by any third party,’ says Chinese)

CHINA – USA

Global Times

The US is working to have a zero-sum competition with China, provoke China on issues that are related to China’s core interests and draw small circles to contain China, a move that not only hurt bilateral relations but damages international peace and stability, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi told a press conference Monday afternoon on the sidelines of the fifth session of the 13th National People’s Congress (Liu XinChinese FM criticizes US for drawing small circles to contain China)

 FOOD PRICES

Al Jazeera

While energy prices are an ongoing risk to inflation in countries around the world, several emerging-market countries face a different problem: The pace of food price inflation is rendering their currencies vulnerable. The UN’s February World Food Price Index, released on Friday, was essentially unchanged at 20.7% y/y vs 19.2% in January, perhaps surprisingly given the rampant rally in soft commodity prices such as corn and wheat. But inflation measures in general are severely lagging indicators, and the index should soon start to reflect recent rallies in soft commodity prices (Simon White –Soaring food prices threaten emerging-market currencies)

INDIA

Observer Research Foundation

As the election campaign in Uttar Pradesh enters into the final lap, all eyes are on the factors that would shape the final outcome of a very high-pitched campaign. While much of the focus is on the role of caste alliances and Hindutva/polarisation, lately the focus has shifted to welfarism (Ambar Kumar Ghosh, Niranjan Sahoo, PhD – Uttar Pradesh elections: Will welfarism triumph over the identity politics?)

MALI 

Reuters

At least two soldiers and two United Nations peacekeepers were killed in separate attacks in Mali on Monday, the army and the U.N. mission said (Attacks kill two soldiers and two U.N. peacekeepers in Mali)

RUSSIA – UKRAINE 

The New York Times (LIVE)

  • Hundreds of Indian students remained stuck on Monday in the northeastern city of Sumy, Ukraine, amid days of shelling and gunfire that have made their evacuation too dangerous. For a brief period, there was hope on Monday that buses would evacuate the students from the city about 40 miles from the Russian border, but the Indian government informed them that their departure would be delayed. Mohammad Mahtab Raza, a medical student at Sumy State University, said on Monday that the students were initially “very happy” to see some buses arrive at the university. “The girls had taken their seats in the bus but we were told it is still not safe, so we didn’t go,” Mr. Raza explained in a video he posted on Twitter. The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said it is impossible to evacuate the students unless there is a cease-fire. On Monday, Mr. Modi appealed to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir V. Putin, in separate phone calls asking for their cooperation. In the calls, Mr. Modi conveyed his “deep concern for the safety and security of the Indian students still remaining in Sumy,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement. On Monday, the Russian defense ministry said it would open six humanitarian corridors, including two from Sumy to the central Ukrainian city of Poltava and to Belgorod, Russia. Meanwhile, the students’ appeals are becoming more desperate as they run out of food, water and cash. Mr. Raza asked the Indian government on Sunday to evacuate them or they will be forced to risk their lives and walk to the nearest border with Russia as the firing continued. “We are suffering day by day,” he said in a video on Sunday. “Our problems are not decreasing, they are increasing.” (Karan Deep Singh)
  • Ukraine turned to the United Nations’ highest court on Monday to try and stop Russia’s invasion, urging its judges to issue an injunction demanding that Russia end its violent incursion in the country. Anton Korynevych, head of the Ukraine delegation, told a hearing of the International Court of Justice at the Hague that “millions are in danger” from Russian attacks. He accused Moscow of defiling the Genocide Convention, the 1948 U.N. treaty prohibiting genocide, by falsely claiming that Ukraine was committing genocide against Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine as one of the pretexts for its invasion. “Russia must be stopped, and the court has a role in stopping it,” Mr. Korynevych told the 15-judge bench on the highest court for resolving disputes between states, adding that it was Russia that was committing genocidal acts in Ukraine. Russia boycotted the hearing. The presiding judge, Joan E. Donoghue, said: “The court regrets the nonappearance of the Russian Federation in these oral proceedings.”. Last month, Alain Pellet, a renowned French lawyer who has represented Russia in other international proceedings — including defending Moscow’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula — resigned from Russia’s legal team at the start of the invasion. In an open letter, Mr. Pellet wrote: “It has become impossible to represent in forums dedicated to the application of the law a country that so cynically disdains it.”. If the court orders an injunction, though legally binding, it is not expected to have an immediate impact on Russian military operations. But some legal experts said that it would carry important symbolic weight and help bolster future legal action against Russian leaders. Harold Koh, a professor of international law at Yale University and a member of the Ukraine delegation, urged the judges to order an injunction, arguing that failure to do so would threaten the post-World War II international legal order. “You have the means,” he said. “The world awaits your actions.”. The world court is the latest international forum to take up Ukraine’s claims against Russia. Last week, the United Nations General Assembly voted by a large majority to condemn Russia’s invasion and demand an immediate withdrawal of its forces. The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has also launched an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine, although any proceedings there could take years. Legal experts say the strategy of Ukraine and its Western supporters is to deepen Russia’s isolation and prepare the ground for legal action against Russia in international institutions. The most straightforward path would be to charge Russia with the crime of aggression — defined by the U.N. General Assembly as the attack by one state against the territory of another — but it cannot do so at the International Court of Justice without Russia’s consent. Instead, Ukraine’s representatives have focused on what they say is Russia’s false application of the Genocide Convention, to which both Ukraine and Russia are signatories. Experts said it was significant that the normally slow-moving court scheduled Monday’s hearings within a week of Ukraine’s request for an urgent meeting, suggesting it was under pressure to take quick action in the crisis. (Marlise Simons)
  • The Ukrainian government rejected a Kremlin proposal to evacuate to Russia hundreds of thousands of people seeking to escape bombardments by Russian rockets. Oleksiy Danilov, the head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said Russia was trying to “use people’s suffering to create a television picture” and accused Russia of blocking much-needed relief from reaching those most in need (Marc Santora)
  • Concerns are rising over the operations of nuclear power plants in Ukraine without concrete agreements between Russia and Ukraine on safety and security, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said on Monday, adding that his agency, the nuclear watchdog of the United Nations, was working urgently to facilitate a meeting with the two parties. There has been no release of radiation, he said, and the agency is remotely monitoring nuclear material there. Still, problems, including staffing and supply issues, have arisen at nuclear plants in Kharkiv, Mariupol and other places. If the plants can’t get access to equipment, normal operations could be difficult to sustain. “We should not be losing time,” the agency’s director general, Rafael Mariano Grossi, told reporters in Vienna on Monday, adding that the agency was getting reports from the Ukrainian nuclear regulator. “Almost every day there is a new episode.”. “All of these are indications — more than indications, confirmations — that we cannot go on like this,” Mr. Grossi said. “There has to be clear understanding and clear commitments not to go anywhere near nuclear facilities when it comes to military operations.”. Russian representatives rejected an initial offer from the agency to meet at the Chernobyl nuclear plant, Mr. Grossi said, adding that the agency was communicating with Ukrainian representatives. He said the agency had not ruled out sending support personnel to the plants. The agency said on Sunday that, according to Ukraine, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant — Europe’s largest — was under the control of Russian forces, though its regular staff were still on site. He expressed “grave concern” over reports from Ukraine that the management of the plant was subject to the approval of a Russian commander, and that communications with staff were not reliable. Operations are safe, Mr. Grossi said, “but there are many, many questions on the ability to sustain this for much longer if we don’t support this in some way.” (Isabella Kwai)
  • The United Nations human rights office said at least 406 civilians, including 27 children, had died and 801 had been injured since Russia’s invasion. The true numbers are almost certainly much higher, U.N. monitors stressed, noting that the fighting has delayed information flows from areas of intense hostilities — including Volnovakha, a town north of the besieged city of Mariupol, where there were reports of hundreds of casualties (Nick Cumming-Bruce)
  • President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said on Monday that businesses would be exempt from paying taxes for employees who are drafted into the military or serve in the nation’s territorial defense forces, as he sought to deliver a boost to an economy reeling under the Russian invasion. He also announced that people living in areas where hostilities are taking place would be exempt from land taxes and would not have to pay rent for the use of state or communal lands. Even as his country fights for its survival, he said it was important to look to the future, and added that his government was “already working on how to restore our state after the victory.”. The goal, he said, was to give “strength to the country while we are fighting.”. He said that a special support package for businesses had been created and that all the measures announced on Monday would be in effect while the country is under martial law, and for at least a year afterward. “The payment of taxes for all enterprises that are unable to pay them is postponed,” he said, noting that this was the first part of a larger aid package. “All leaders of the central government have a clear task: to develop a system of action so that the recovery of Ukraine is rapid and focused only on people,” he said (Marc Santora)
  • When Visa and MasterCard announced on Saturday that they would suspend operations in Russia, the first people to feel the impact were Russians fleeing the country because they opposed the war in Ukraine. The American payment processors said that bank cards issued in Russia would no longer work abroad, while cards with the companies’ logos on them were expected to continue working inside the country because a local processor handles those transactions. That meant that the many journalists, activists and others who fled Russia in recent days because they feared conscription or prosecution would lose access to their Russian bank accounts. Wealthy Russians were less affected because they were more likely to have bank accounts abroad. “This won’t hurt Putin at all,” said Farida Rustamova, a Russian journalist who has worked for outlets that are now blocked inside Russia, Meduza and TV Rain. “He’s been dreaming about us leaving him alone — and now we’ll be abroad without any money.”. Ms. Rustamova said she had been on vacation when the war began and decided not to return. On Sunday, she said, she and her partner were “in panic” upon hearing the news of the decisions by MasterCard and Visa, and dashed from A.T.M. to A.T.M. to remove as much cash from their bank accounts — already devalued by the plunge in the ruble — as they could while their cards were still working. Visa’s chief executive, Al Kelly, said in a statement Saturday that the company was “compelled to act following Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine” even as it regretted “the impact this will have on our valued colleagues, and on the clients, partners, merchants and cardholders we serve in Russia.” MasterCard said it made its decision after considering “what would be most important to support the continued availability of services, if possible, to impacted people in the region.”. The companies did not respond to requests for comment on Sunday about what their decisions would mean for fleeing Russians. But numerous Russians opposed to Mr. Putin who have scattered around the world in recent days told similar stories about scrambling to access funds. “They’re trapped,” said Daria, a mobile developer who moved last year to Tbilisi, Georgia, describing fleeing Russians just arriving there. “They can’t go back and they can’t afford to stay.”. Inna, a copywriter from Moscow who, like Daria, asked her last name be withheld for security reasons, was on vacation when the war began. She and her husband decided to remain in Turkey as rumors spread that the Kremlin could close the borders to men of military age ahead of a possible draft. They had been stockpiling cash from A.T.M.s but by Sunday, their cards had stopped working. “They’re left with the minimum,” she said, describing newly arrived Russians she saw trying to access cash. “In the best case, they have a hotel booked for a few days.” (Anton Troianowski)
  • President Emmanuel Macron of France criticized the Kremlin’s offer to set up humanitarian corridors that head into Russia as “moral and political cynicism that I find insufferable.” Mr. Macron said in an interview on Monday with the news broadcaster LCI that humanitarian aid and safe passage for civilians were crucial but Russia’s offer did not fulfill those requirements. “It’s not simply corridors that are immediately threatened and it’s not this hypocritical talk of suggesting you are going to protect people to bring them to Russia,” Mr. Macron said. “All of this isn’t serious.” (Aurelien Breeden)
  • Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Monday that Russia’s strikes on Ukrainian atomic sites pose “unprecedented danger of a nuclear accident, risking the lives of people living in Ukraine and in neighboring countries, including Russia.” (William Broad)
  • Conditions in Mariupol, in southern Ukraine, are deteriorating but there will be no evacuation of civilians until an agreement to pause fighting is secured between Ukrainian and Russian forces, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, Ewan Watson, said on Monday. A deal to allow civilians from the port city to leave and drive northwest to the city of Zaporizhzhia broke down on Saturday because Russian forces failed to observe a cease-fire, Ukrainian officials said. A similar deal broke down on Sunday (Matthew Mpoke Bigg)
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the United States would send an additional 400 troops to Lithuania in the coming days, part of the expanded U.S. deployment to NATO member states in the wake of Russia’s assault against Ukraine. The troops are from the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, Mr. Blinken said at a news conference with Lithuania’s foreign minister in Vilnius, the capital, on Monday. Their arrival will bring the U.S. military contingent in Lithuania to about 1,000 troops (Lara Jakes)
  • The foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine will meet in Turkey on Thursday, Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, told a news conference. The meeting will take place on the sidelines of a diplomatic forum in Antalya, and Mr. Cavusoglu said he would also attend. Turkey, a NATO member that has economic and military ties with both Russia and Ukraine, has repeatedly offered to mediate in the conflict. Mr. Cavusoglu said he hoped the meeting would be “a turning point” in the war (Safak Timur)
  • A day after Ukrainian forces pushed them back beyond the city limits, Russian troops unleashed a ferocious artillery attack on the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv on Monday, hitting residential neighborhoods with rockets and sending streams of people fleeing. At about 5 a.m., the city awoke to an artillery barrage that lit up the dark sky. Residents took shelter in basements and truckloads of Ukrainian troops rushed to the east of the city, where the fighting appeared to be heaviest (Michael Schwirtz)
  • Strengthening deterrence in Baltic States “is no longer enough” to protect against Russia, Lithuania’s president said on Monday to the top American diplomat, who sought to reassure the NATO ally that his country would be defended if necessary. “An attack on one is an attack on all,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken told President Gitanas Nausėda of Lithuania, citing NATO’s collective defense pact. “The United States, with all allies and partners will defend every, every inch of NATO territory should it come under attack.” (Lara Jakes)
  • The Ukrainian government rejected a Kremlin proposal to evacuate hundreds of thousands of people to Russia, dismissing it as a cynical move by Russia to cover up the impact of its bombardments. Oleksiy Danilov, the head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said Russia was trying to “use people’s suffering to create a television picture” and he accused Russia of blocking much needed relief from reaching those most in need (Marc Santora)
  • Ukraine urged judges at the United Nations’ highest court on Monday to issue an injunction demanding that Russia end its invasion. Anton Korynevych, head of the Ukraine delegation, told the International Court of Justice at the Hague that “millions are in danger” and that Russia “has defiled the Genocide Convention,” the 1948 U.N. treaty prohibiting genocide. Russia has claimed, without evidence, that Ukraine’s government is committing genocide against Russian speakers in the country’s east. Russia did not send representatives to answer the allegations (Marlise Simons)

Al Jazeera

The decree signed by the Hungarian leader also permits weapons shipments to cross its territory to other NATO members, but not to Ukraine (Orban allows deployment of NATO troops in western Hungary)

Russia has boycotted hearings at the UN’s highest court during which Ukraine is seeking an emergency order to halt hostilities, arguing that Moscow has falsely applied genocide law in justifying its invasion. Hearings began at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, the Netherlands, on Monday without legal representation for Russia (Russia snubs UN court hearing in case brought by Ukraine)

Apologists of Russian President Vladimir Putin around the world continue to hold that he is a “realist” and “a rational actor”, and blame his invasion of Ukraine on the West breaking its 1989 promise to not expand NATO eastward. Following this line of argument, the most logical solution to the current conflict, they argue, is to allow Russia to reabsorb Ukraine into its sphere of influence (Chin-Huat WongXi should pressure Putin to end this war for China’s own sake)

Global Times

The Red Cross Society of China will provide a batch of emergency humanitarian supplies to Ukraine as soon as possible, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at a virtual press conference on Monday on the sidelines of the fifth session of the 13th National People’s Congress in Beijing (China to provide humanitarian aid to Ukraine, lays out six initiatives on Ukraine crisis)

Observer Research Foundation

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has entered its second week and images from war-hit Ukraine continue to pour through international media. The UN Refugee agency estimates that more than four million Ukrainian refugees will need assistance and protection in the future. Diplomats, policymakers, academics, and activists have come together to decry Russia’s “special military operation” as a blatant act of aggression against a sovereign and independent country, while Ukraine—rightfully so—has activated its right of self-defence (Aarshi TirkeyThe UNGA’s vote on Russian aggression against Ukraine)

Reuters

Russian tanks were firing on Monday at the main airport in Ukraine’s southern Mykolayiv region which Ukrainian forces had earlier taken back from Russian forces, Governor Vitaliy Kim said in an online post (Russian tanks are firing at Mykolayiv regional airport, says governor)

RFE RL

The International Court of Justice says it will rule “as soon as possible” after ending a hearing into a legal move by Kyiv to stop an unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops despite Moscow’s rejection of the proceedings (Hearing At UN’s Top Court Over Russia’s Ukraine Genocide Claim Ends As Moscow Boycotts)

Security Affairs

The popular hacker collective Anonymous continues to target Russian entities, a few hours ago the group hacked into the most popular Russian streaming services to broadcast war footage from Ukraine and demonstrate to Russians the atrocity of the invasion ordered by Putin (Pierluigi Paganini – Anonymous hacked Russian streaming services to broadcast war footage)

UN News

The development at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) came on day 12 of the crisis in Ukraine, where more than 1.5 million refugees have sought shelter across the country’s borders and where cities have been surrounded by Russian forces and civilians are subject to indiscriminate shelling (Russia reduced Genocide Convention ‘to confetti’, Ukraine tells world court)

US Department of State

Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis at a Joint Press Availability

Vox of America

A surreal soundtrack greets the sea of humanity fleeing Ukraine: a  highly accomplished pianist has arrived at the Medyka border crossing into Poland. His music drifts across the organized chaos of this small village, now the frontline of Europe’s rapidly growing refugee crisis. German pianist Davide Martello has visited numerous conflict zones in recent years, towing a grand piano behind his bicycle on a powered trailer, a white “peace” sign painted on its lid. Children encircle him as the melodies bring the crowd of refugees to a standstill. After long, dangerous journeys escaping the war, they seem dazed. Adrenaline has given way to exhaustion (Henry RidgwellPoland Embraces Fleeing Ukrainians, as Europe Faces Biggest Refugee Crisis Since 1945)

It took two days for Janet and some other Ghanaian students to reach Lviv from the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. Then they spent another 13 hours waiting to cross the border, the third-year engineering student explains. Even her mask couldn’t hide the agitation and fear she felt traveling across war-wracked Ukraine last week. Nor did it shield the surprise and anguish she felt as she recalled being segregated from white women and their children at Lviv’s railway station and blocked from boarding a train to Poland (Jamie DettmerGhanaian Students Say Flight from Ukraine Hampered by Discrimination)

SYRIA

Al Jazeera

Syria’s state media say an Israeli missile attack has killed two civilians and left material damage on the outskirts of the capital, Damascus.  Israel carried out the attack at about 5am (03:00 GMT) on Monday, hitting positions south of Damascus, Syria’s official SANA news agency said, citing a military source (Syria: Two civilians killed in Israeli attack near Damascus)

USA – SPAIN 

US Department of State

Spain-U.S. Cybersecurity Seminar