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EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 13/05/2022

EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 13/05/2022

Financial Times – Richard Milne / Baltic states hail Finland and Sweden’s expected Nato accession

  • The three Baltic states have hailed Sweden and Finland’s expected accession to Nato as dramatically improving their own security and ability to repel any attack from Russia.
  • The foreign ministers of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania told the Financial Times they would seek to ratify any membership application from Finland and Sweden as quickly as possible.
  • Finland’s president and prime minister said on Thursday that the country “must apply” within days. It is expected to do so, along with Sweden, as the Nordic nations draw conclusions from Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine, which is not a member of the western defence alliance.
  • “The Baltic Sea becomes a Nato sea,” said Edgars Rinkēvičs, Latvia’s foreign minister. His Lithuanian counterpart Gabrielius Landsbergis said in a separate interview: “It’s a very clear message that the northern part of Europe is Nato territory. For all practical, political and security perspectives, it would be safer.”
  • The Guardian – Jon Henley / Why are Sweden and Finland not yet in Nato and does the alliance want them?

Financial Times – Thomas Hale / China says it will ‘strictly limit’ citizens from going abroad

  • China said it would “strictly limit” unnecessary outbound travel by its citizens amid escalating efforts to stamp out an outbreak of coronavirus that has already prompted weeks of city lockdowns.
  • The National Immigration Authority’s announcement, made on social media platform WeChat, also referred to the need to prevent people bringing the virus into China and comes on top of existing measures that heavily limit movement within and into the country.
  • The move reflects the government’s decision to continue with its zero-Covid policies as it battles the most severe outbreak since the pandemic emerged in Wuhan more than two years ago.
  • Chinese citizens were already advised to avoid all non-essential travel, but the latest announcement suggests a greater degree of strictness in border control and is likely to reflect concerns that citizens who go abroad could bring the virus back with them.
  • The Washington Post – Christian Shepherd, Lyric Li and Vic Chiang / Xi’s strict covid policies prompt rumblings of discontent in China

Politico – Jacopo Barigazzi, Barbara Moens and Leonia Kijewski / EU considers shelving ban on Russian oil as Hungary blocks sanctions

  • EU diplomats are weighing up a radical option to get around Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s reluctance to ban Russian oil: park the plan.
  • One idea circulating in Brussels would see other elements of the EU’s sixth package of Russia sanctions move ahead, with the support of all 27 member countries. But the complete ban on all imports of Russian crude and refined fuels could be put aside for now, while work continues on a compromise deal that Hungary can accept, EU diplomats told POLITICO.
  • Such a delay would be a major setback for the EU’s efforts to counter Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine. In particular, it would be a blow to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who proposed the total prohibition of all imports of Russian oil in a draft sixth sanctions package on May 4.
  • The fact that diplomats are considering such a dramatic step shows how hard it is for the EU to escalate its economic offensive against the Kremlin and how painful it is to wean itself off Russian energy.
  • Project Syndicate – Various authors / Europe’s energy reckoning

Reuters – Jonathan Landay / Ukraine says it damaged Russian ship, seeks evacuation of wounded Mariupol fighters

  • Ukraine said it had damaged a Russian navy logistics ship near Snake Island, a small but strategic outpost in the Black Sea, while relatives of Ukrainian soldiers holed up in Mariupol’s besieged steelworks pleaded for them to be saved.
  • Renewed fighting around Snake Island in recent days may become a battle for control of the western Black Sea coast, according to some defence officials, as Russian forces struggle to make headway in Ukraine’s north and east.
  • “Thanks to the actions of our naval seamen, the support vessel Vsevolod Bobrov caught fire – it is one of the newest in the Russian fleet,” said Serhiy Bratchuk, a spokesman for the Odesa regional military administration.
  • Reuters could not independently verify the details. Russia’s defence ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
  • Financial Times – Ben Hall, Roman Olearchyk and John Paul Rathbone / Military briefing: can Ukraine push the Russian army from the country?

Longer reads for the weekend:

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and EsadeGeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.


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