On June 20, 2022, local time, in the Donetsk region, firefighters put out the fire after the local attack.People’s Vision
With the reduction of Gazprom supply, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and other European countries have turned to coal power to cope with the energy shortage problem, but claimed that environmental protection issues will not be put on hold. Negotiations about the Ukrainian food blockade are still ongoing, and no significant progress has been seen so far.
Just as the EU is mulling a new round of sanctions against Russia, the exchange rate of the Russian ruble has soared to a seven-year high. Some foreign media pointed out that this “represents Russia’s withstood the economic sanctions of Western countries”, but at the same time Russia is facing A decline in export competitiveness and a reduction in fiscal budgets. At present, Russia still lacks effective means to influence the ruble exchange rate.
Zelensky still shows a “fight to the end” attitude
In recent days, Russian troops have continued to strike military infrastructure across Ukraine, especially intensifying shelling in the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions.
Fighting also continues in Severo Donetsk, the main industrial city in the east. Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of Ukraine’s Luhansk region, told Ukrainian TV that Russia has begun sending a large number of reserve troops to Severo Donetsk from other war zones in an attempt to take full control of this front-line city in eastern Ukraine, where the Ukrainian army is also fighting. The last important stronghold of Luhansk Oblast. Ukraine has lost Metyolkine, a village on the eastern outskirts of the city of Severo-Donetsk, according to French TV 24, and Guede also acknowledged that Russian forces “have taken control of most of the city.”
At the same time, Gedai also posted on social platforms that the Azot chemical plant in Severo-Donetsk is being continuously bombarded by the Russian army, and it is said that “hundreds of civilians are hidden in the chemical plant”.
Cities in southern and eastern Ukraine are key areas for Russian troops to strike. In a report by Al Jazeera on the 19th, Ukrainian Kharkiv Governor Sinegubov stated that a gas plant in the Izum region was recently attacked by several Russian missiles, and a fire broke out, and some buildings were damaged. Izyum is the gateway to the Donbass from Kharkov, where the Russian offensive to seize the “vital” Donbas industrial zone has not stopped for weeks.
In addition, the Southern Ukraine Combat Command also stated that on the evening of the 18th, six Russian missiles flew towards Nikolayev in southern Ukraine, two of which were intercepted, and the other four missiles exploded in multiple locations in the city. On the 20th, Al Jazeera reported that the Russian army once again carried out a three-hour artillery attack on southern Ukraine, firing a total of 14 missiles.
As for the Ukrainian army, it allegedly attacked the oil rig of the Black Sea Oil and Gas Company in Crimea on the 20th, injuring at least three people and leaving seven missing. This is the first time since the Russian-Ukrainian conflict broke out that energy facilities in the Crimea region have been attacked, but the Ukrainian military has declined to comment on the matter.
In his national speech on the evening of the 20th, Ukrainian President Zelensky still showed a “confrontation to the end” attitude. Currently, Ukraine is continuing its efforts to acquire more weapons from Western countries. Ukraine’s chief negotiator, Allahamia, told the US political news website Politico that Ukraine must destroy Russia’s air defense systems from hundreds of kilometers away before it can use drones and other weapons “with confidence.” The U.S. military official said the U.S. was still studying all options for military support to Ukraine with its allies, but the decision to send four rockets to Ukraine “has not yet been finalized,” adding that the decision would be “based on Ukraine’s urgency need”.
Energy shortages still hinder food exports
With Russia’s natural gas supply plummeting, meeting domestic energy demand has become an imminent and thorny issue for many European countries. Since Germany and Austria announced on the 19th that they would use more coal-fired power to reduce gas consumption, the Netherlands also said on the 20th that it would start the “early warning” phase of the energy crisis plan and abolish the production cap of coal-fired power plants.
The Netherlands currently relies on Russia for about 15% of its natural gas, which is lower than the EU average of 40%, but the Netherlands still “expresses concern”. Previously, fossil fuel power stations in the Netherlands were limited to around one-third of total production, and lifting the limit is expected to save 2 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year.
Faced with worrisome environmental concerns, Dutch Energy Minister Rob Jetten said the Netherlands would still meet its 2030 climate goals and limit the output of its coal-fired power plants to 35% of capacity to limit carbon dioxide emissions.
Germany has made similar environmental commitments. In addition to “saving food and looking for meal replacements”, Germany also asked Russia to explain the sudden decrease in its gas supply and “replenish gas” in time. The Russian side said that due to Canada’s sanctions against Russia, its partner Siemens, Germany, failed to return the gas compressor components sent to Canada for overhaul to Gazprom, which in turn affected the operation of the pipeline. .” In the face of Russia’s request, the German side believes that this is not a technical problem, but a “political intention”.
Outside of energy, negotiations over a food blockade are underway. According to French television 24, Zelensky said Ukraine was in the midst of “complex negotiations” to lift the Russian military’s blockade of its ports.
But in a video address to the African Union, Zelensky said there was “no progress at this point” in the talks. Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, said Russia would be held “responsible” if it continued to block Ukraine’s food exports and starve the rest of the world, claiming “this is a real war crime”.
Faced with successive waves of condemnation from the West under the food crisis, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zakharova said that the West is the real “instigator” and “destroyer”. According to a report by the Russian Satellite News Agency on the 21st, Zakharova analyzed data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and concluded that this year, “the amount of food on the market is more than in previous years, and the volume of trade is also increasing.” There could be a number of reasons for the rise in food prices, and experts’ assessments vary, but prices “are not rising because of Russia’s actions,” she said.
The ruble continues to rise, raising concerns for Russia
Recently, the Russian ruble has continued to rise and has soared to its highest level in seven years, sparking a debate between the Russian government and the Russian central bank over whether to target the “optimal” exchange rate.
On the 20th local time, according to the price of the Moscow Exchange, the exchange rate of the ruble against the dollar rose again by 1.7% to 55.4 rubles per dollar, reaching the highest level since July 2015. That has brought the ruble up 35 percent this year.
Russian officials believe that this means that Russia has “withstood the economic sanctions of Western countries.” However, they are also vigilant and worried, because it will undoubtedly undermine the competitiveness of Russia’s exports and affect its budget.
In order to curb the “out of control” rise, Russia’s central bank has adopted a series of easing measures. However, these easing measures have had little impact on the ruble exchange rate due to restrictions on dollar transactions and weak demand for dollars due to poor Russian imports.
In response to the discussion of the ruble exchange rate target, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Belousov said on the 20th that he believes that the “best” exchange rate is between 70 and 80 rubles per dollar. Subsequently, Alexey Zabotkin, deputy governor of the Central Bank of Russia and a member of the board of directors, warned against this, saying not to seek such a policy change, “Any changes related to the exchange rate target will inevitably lead to the pursuit of The effectiveness of economic policy and the loss of sovereignty.”
Some analysts pointed out that Russia currently lacks the means to influence the ruble exchange rate. Economist Dmitry Polevoy said allowing foreigners to sell assets could weaken the ruble, but that was clearly a political impossibility.
Meanwhile, the EU is mulling a new round of sanctions against Russia. According to a Reuters report on the 20th, about a third of the 27 EU countries, mainly northern and eastern European countries, want the European Commission to carry out the seventh round of sanctions against Russia, EU diplomats said. Countries such as Germany, however, prefer to focus on implementing existing sanctions and plugging loopholes, rather than beginning the complex process of agreeing on new measures.
In addition, there are still major differences within the EU on the issue of giving Ukraine new military support. At present, the EU has provided Ukraine with 2 billion euros of military support from the “European Peace Fund”, and the northern and eastern European countries represented by Sweden and Poland have called for immediate payment of additional funds to Ukraine. The budget is capped at 5.6 billion euros until 2027, but half of its funds will be used up as Kyiv receives funding and plans to receive more.
As a result, countries such as Germany, citing budgetary concerns, are reluctant to make further use of the European Peace Fund, and they also see the risk of not having enough funds to deal with other crises.
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