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Biden rallies NATO allies in Poland, Another strong quake hits near Turkey-Syria border, Gas consumption in the EU drops by almost 20%
European Circle in week 08, 2023
curated by Nina von Schweinitz


Putin suspends nuclear-arms treaty: In his state of the nation address, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow would step back from the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty, the last remaining major nuclear-arms-control treaty between the US and Russia, and vowed to continue the military campaign in Ukraine. While Russia is not withdrawing from the pact completely, it appears to be formalising its current position. For months, US officials have been frustrated over Russia’s lack of co-operation with the agreement. In a statement published on its website, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said the decision to suspend participation in the treaty is reversible.,,

  • UN Secretary General António Guterres: „A world without nuclear arms control is a much more dangerous and unstable one with potentially catastrophic consequences.“
  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: „More nuclear weapons and less arms control make the world more dangerous.“
  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken: „We’ll, of course, make sure that in any event we are postured appropriately for the security of our own country and that of our allies.“

Biden rallies NATO allies in Poland: Fresh from his visit to Ukraine, US President Joe Biden proclaimed unwavering support for Kyiv and commitments to bolster the alliance’s eastern flank against Russia. Under its Article 5, members of NATO pledge to defend any other member that comes under attack. Biden said US commitment both to the alliance and Article 5 was rock solid: „Every member of Nato knows it and Russia knows it as well – an attack against one is an attack against all.“ He added: „When President Putin ordered his tanks to roll into Ukraine, he thought we would roll over. He was wrong.“ Biden also confirmed that Washington will this week announce additional sanctions against individuals and companies that are trying to evade sanctions and backfill Russia’s war machine.,

  • EU approves another 500 million euros for weapons for Ukraine.
  • EU looking into joint procurement to give Ukraine ammunition.

Leaked document shows how Russia plans to take over Belarus: Russia plans to take over ally and neighbour Belarus by 2030, according to a leaked document from President Vladimir Putin’s executive office, obtained by a group of European journalists from outlets across the continent. The internal strategy document lays out how Russia plans to get rid of what remains of Belarus‘ independence over a years-long plan. This would involve gradually creating stronger pro-Russia sentiment, expanding Russia’s military presence there, and making it easier for citizens to get Russian passports.

Poland curbs border traffic as Belarus expels three Polish diplomats: Poland announced more curbs to road traffic with Belarus on Monday, hours after saying Minsk was expelling three Polish diplomats, as relations between the two nations deteriorate. Poland decided to close the key border crossing in Bobrowniki, more than 200 kilometres northeast of Warsaw, on 10 February after Belarus delivered an eight-year sentence to Andrzej Poczobut, an opposition journalist of Polish origin.,

Meloni in Ukraine: Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on Tuesday, and pledged to continue to provide military, financial and humanitarian support. She also said she backed Ukraine’s entry into the EU and that she would ensure that any peace agreement with Russia would be brokered on Ukraine’s terms. Last week, former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, a longtime friend of Russian President Putin, blamed Zelensky for the invasion of Ukraine, playing into Putin’s false pretext of invading Ukraine to stop a genocide against ethnic Russians.

  • ‘Berlusconi’s house has never been bombed’: Zelenskyy slams ex-Italian PM.

UN Security Council debates Nord Stream pipeline incidents: The Security Council on Tuesday heatedly debated Russia’s request for a UN-led inquiry into the September explosions along the Nord Stream natural gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea. US Ambassador John Kelley said accusations that the US was involved in acts of sabotage were completely false, adding Russia is “abusing its position as a Council member” for using this platform to air internet conspiracy theories.

  • Netherlands warns of Russian attempts to sabotage its energy infrastructure.

Another strong quake hits near Turkey-Syria border: The quake, centred in Turkey’s Hatay province, came two weeks after the same region was devastated by a series of earthquakes and aftershocks that killed more than 46,000 people and reduced towns and city blocks to rubble. Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said at a news conference that at least 213 people were wounded. Authorities said six people were killed. In Syria, authorities had recorded at least 120 injuries.,

Dozens of lawyers file complaints against Erdogan: Sixty-one lawyers across Turkey have filed criminal complaints against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the ministers in his Cabinet as well as governors, mayors and contractors in the country’s south, which was devastated by several powerful earthquakes this month. The subjects of the complaints are accused of murder, causing the death or injury of more than one person due to negligence, misconduct in office, blocking of communications, fraud in public tenders and obstruction of evidence, among other charges.

  • EU authority warns of infectious diseases as a result of earthquakes.
  • Germany doubles earthquake aid to 108 million euros.

Iran sentences German-Iranian dissident to death: A court in Iran has sentenced German-Iranian dissident Jamshid Sharmahd to death on the charge of „corruption on Earth“, the judiciary has said. Sharmahd, who lived in the US, is believed to have been kidnapped by Iranian agents in Dubai in 2020 and then forcibly taken to Iran via Oman. Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock condemned the sentence as unacceptable: „We call on Iran to remedy these shortcomings in the appeals process, correct the verdict accordingly and refrain from the death penalty,“ a statment said.

  • Vienna protests as Iran sentences Austrian to 7.5 years for spying.
  • Iranian currency crashes after new EU sanctions.

Israel expels EU lawmaker on official visit to Palestine: EU leaders expressed surprise and regret Tuesday after the Israeli government barred a member of the European Parliament from entering the country on an official visit and deported her to Spain. Ana Miranda, a Galician MEP in the Greens group, landed at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv Monday evening along with eight other lawmakers from two European Parliament delegations, one for Israel and one for Palestine. On the orders of the Israeli interior ministry, Miranda was put on a flight to Madrid.

  • Israel parliament gives initial approval to judicial reform bill amid protests.

Gas consumption in the EU drops by almost 20%: Gas consumption across the European Union plunged by almost 20% between August and January, reflecting a widespread resolve among households and companies to take matters into their own hands and cushion the impact from skyrocketing bills. The figures, released on Tuesday by Eurostat, mean the EU has comfortably overshot its own target to reduce gas consumption by 15%, which was supposed to be met by the end of March.

International Monetary Fund praises Ukraine’s economic resilience as ‚astonishing‘ while country pushes for $15-billion loan
Bird flu: EU Commission harmonises rules on animal vaccination
Network expansion: EU allows Vodafone’s fibre plans
LGBTI people in Europe face an increasingly toxic and violent environment, new reports warns


„I do not think, as some people do, that we must aim for a total defeat of Russia, attacking Russia on its own soil.“

French President Emmanuel Macron has said he does not want to see Russia crushed by a defeat in Ukraine. Speaking to French media, Macron urged Western nations to increase military support for Kyiv and said he was prepared for a protracted war.


EU climate diplomacy deal on hold as nuclear dispute deepens: European Union countries failed to adopt conclusions on climate diplomacy that had been planned for Monday, owing to a deepening spat over the role of nuclear energy in the green transition, EU officials said. The upset is the latest development in a dispute between France and other countries who want more EU policies to promote nuclear energy’s contribution to cutting CO2 emissions, and those like Germany and Spain who warn this risks distracting from efforts to massively expand renewable energy.

EU establishes emergency reserves to prepare for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats: The EU Commission is building strategic reserves of response capacities through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and the Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority. Croatia, France, and Poland have joined Finland in hosting the rescEU stockpiles worth in total €545.6 million. The reserves will include antidotes, antibiotics, vaccines, sedatives, and prophylactic treatments and specific CBRN response equipment, such as detectors and decontamination supplies and personal protective equipment.

Northern Ireland post-Brexit talks nearly done, EU says: The European Union’s Brexit chief said on Tuesday that the finishing line was in sight for talks on easing post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland ahead of a second successive day of discussions with his British counterparts. After weeks of intense London-Brussels talks, momentum has been building towards a deal to revise the Northern Ireland Protocol – the arrangements agreed to avoid a hard border with EU member Ireland when Britain exited the EU in 2020.

  • Sunak ‘relaxed’ about DUP and Tory backlash over Northern Ireland deal.

Dozens of UK companies will stick with 4-day workweek: Results from a new pilot program at dozens of employers in the United Kingdom showed major benefits to workers‘ health and productivity when their hours were reduced — and a vast majority of firms plan to stick with the condensed schedule. Advocates say the results help validate the idea that it’s possible for companies to shorten the workweek to 32 hours with no reduction in pay while maintaining previous levels of work output.

Romanian doctors face investigation over reuse of implants from corpses: Several doctors suspected of taking hundreds of medical implants from corpses and reusing them in live patients are facing criminal investigation in Romania, prosecutors have said. One of the five medics, who was working at a hospital in the eastern city of Iași, has been taken into custody pending the investigation on charges of abuse of power and bribe-taking, a statement said.

Spanish rail boss resigns after botched train order: The president of Spain’s state rail operator Renfe, Isaias Taboas, resigned on Monday, February 20, following an outcry over an order of commuter trains that were too wide to fit through some tunnels. The misstep caused an uproar in Spain since it was first revealed in the media earlier this month.

Humza Yousaf emerges as frontrunner to replace Nicola Sturgeon: Scottish Health Minister Humza Yousaf said on Saturday he would run in the leadership contest to replace Nicola Sturgeon as Scottish National Party (SNP) leader and first minister. Yousaf said that he backed Sturgeon’s stances on same-sex marriage, abortion clinic buffer zones, banning conversion practices and on gender recognition changes, stating he would absolutely challenge the UK government’s block on Holyrood’s gender recognition bill.,

Denmark charges ex-defence minister with leaking state secrets: Denmark’s former defence minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen said on Tuesday he had been formally charged with leaking highly classified state secrets by the public prosecutor. Frederiksen, who served as defence minister from 2016 to 2019, was charged under a rarely used section of the penal code that carries a maximum sentence of 12 years in prison, the prosecutor said, without giving the defendant’s name.

Armenia: EU launches a civilian mission to contribute to stability in border areas: Through its deployment on the Armenian side of the Armenia-Azerbaijan border, the mission aims to contribute to stability in the border areas of Armenia, build confidence and human security in conflict affected areas, and ensure an environment conducive to the normalisation efforts between Armenia and Azerbaijan supported by the EU.

Pro-Russia protesters take to streets in Moldova to denounce new government: Several thousand protesters rallied in Moldova’s capital Sunday to demand that the country’s new pro-Western government fully cover citizens‘ winter heating bills amid a cost-of-living crisis and skyrocketing inflation. The protest was organised by a recently formed group called Movement for the People and supported by members of Moldova’s Russia-friendly Shor Party, which holds six seats in the former Soviet republic’s 101-seat legislature.

Bulgaria bans gender reassignment
Italy faces new drought alert as Venice canals run dry
Finnland: Human rights activist causes diplomatic tension between Finland, Nigeria
French army officially ends operations in Burkina Faso


The Ukraine war cost the global economy more than 1.6 trillion dollars last year. This is the result of a study by the Cologne Institute of the German Economy (IW).


Rishi Sunak joins criticism of changes to Roald Dahl’s books: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak joined the row over the rewriting of Dahl’s children’s books to remove language deemed offensive, a move which has been branded „absurd censorship“ by author Sir Salman Rushdie. Sunak’s spokesperson said: „When it comes to our rich and varied literary heritage, the PM agrees with the BFG that you shouldn’t ‚gobblefunk‘ around with words.“ Some of the edits reportedly include removing the word „fat“ from every book, with Augustus Gloop in Charlie and The Chocolate Factory instead being described as „enormous“.