Weekly update: 26 December – 1 January 2023
The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 26 December 2022 to1 January 2023.
Guernica 37 will provide weekly media updates from the International Criminal Court, European Court of Human Rights, United Nations, European Union and other sources. Should you wish to contribute or submit a media summary, opinion piece or blog, please send to Ned Vucijak at firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
Ukraine / Russia – 26 December 2022
Moscow said that a Ukrainian drone attack on an airbase for bombers in southern Russia has left three people dead. Air defences shot down the drone near the Engels base, but falling debris fatally wounded three technical staff, the defence ministry said. Earlier this month, Russia accused Ukraine of a similar attack on the airfield, home to bombers that have carried out missile attacks on Ukraine.
United Kingdom (UK) / Iran – 26 December 2022
All British people still in Iran should leave immediately because of the “industrialised” level of people being taken state hostage, the chair of the foreign affairs select committee has said. Alicia Kearns made her call after the Iranian government said it had arrested seven “British linked” suspects including some dual nationals allegedly involved in the country’s anti-government protests, which began 100 days ago British diplomats are seeking clarification from Iran about those arrested.
Serbia / Kosovo – 27 December 2022
Serbian armed forces were on “the highest level” of alert, defence Minister Milos Vucevic said, highlighting the Balkan country’s increasingly strained relations with neighbouring Kosovo over recent shootings and blockades. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Belgrade has refused to recognise it and encouraged Kosovo’s 120,000 ethnic Serbs to defy Pristina’s authority – especially in the north where ethnic Serbs make up the majority. The Serbian army has been put on a heightened state of alert over tensions with Kosovo multiple times in recent years – the last time in November after the government claimed that several drones entered Serbian airspace from Kosovo. On 10 December, Serbs in northern Kosovo set up barricades to protest against the arrest of an ex-policeman suspected of being involved in attacks against ethnic Albanian police officers. The blockades coincided with a rise in reported shootings, the latest on Sunday, according to NATO-led peacekeeping force KFOR.
Afghanistan – 28 December 2022
The UN Security Council has denounced Taliban government policies targeting women and girls in Afghanistan. The Taliban have banned women from attending university and working for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) within the last week. The 15-member Security Council said it was "deeply alarmed" by the increasing restrictions on women's education. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the latest restrictions "must be revoked". A statement from the Council called for the "full, equal, and meaningful participation of women and girls in Afghanistan".
United States (US) / European Union (EU) – 28 December 2022
ExxonMobil has launched a legal challenge against the EU in an attempt to derail the bloc’s windfall tax on the profits of energy producers. In a high-stakes political battle as countries across Europe and the wider western world struggle with soaring energy costs and sky-high inflation, the US oil firm said it believed the EU had overreached its powers with the windfall tax. Agreed in September as part of a package of measures to tackle the surge in oil, gas and electricity prices triggered by Russia’s war in Ukraine, the EU hopes the “solidarity contribution” could raise €25bn (£22bn) in public revenue for governments across the 27-nation bloc, while acting to curtail energy demand and bring down prices. ExxonMobil, however, said the proposals were misleading and could discourage industry investment in the production of affordable energy.
Iran / Ukraine – 28 December 2022
A group of four countries led by Canada has requested that Iran submit to arbitration to settle a dispute over its shooting down of a Ukrainian jet. Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 was hit by two missiles after taking off from Tehran on 8 January 2020. All 176 people on board died. Three days later, Iran admitted mistakenly shooting down the plane. The group, made up of Canada, Sweden, Ukraine and the UK, said it was taking "concrete action" against Iran. The four nations have been seeking reparations on behalf of the families of the victims - many of whom were citizens or residents of those countries.
United Kingdom (UK) – 29 December 2022
The Home Office is under pressure to reunite a family of Eritrean asylum seekers after smugglers forced three children, the youngest aged just five, to cross the Channel on a small boat before their mother could get on board with them.
Russia / Ukraine – 29 December 2022
Cities across Ukraine have been targeted by a wave of Russian missile strikes, in one of the largest bombardments since the war began. At least three people - including a 14-year-old girl - were taken to hospital after explosions hit the capital Kyiv, Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko said. Blasts were also heard in the cities of Kharkiv, Odesa, Lviv and Zhytomyr. Ukraine's military said 69 missiles were launched, with air defences intercepting 54 of them. Earlier, presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said more than 120 missiles had been launched at civilian infrastructure. The air raid lasted for close to five hours and the regional leader of the southern province of Odesa, Maksym Marchenko, spoke of a "massive missile attack on Ukraine".
Myanmar – 30 December 2022
A Myanmar military court has sentenced Aung San Suu Kyi to a further seven years in prison, taking her overall jail time to 33 years. The country's former democratically-elected leader has been under house arrest since a military ousted her government in a coup in February 2021. Since then she's faced 18 months of trials on 19 charges - which rights groups say are a sham. The UN Security Council called for her release last week.
Pakistan – 30 December 2022
A court in Pakistan has caused outrage after it freed a convicted rapist when he agreed to marry his victim. Dawlat Khan, 25, had been sentenced to life imprisonment in May by the district court of Buner, in north-western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, for the rape of a young deaf woman.