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Russian spies in the UK, Shots fired at EU observers on Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan, Competition from China on the European market
European Circle in week 33, 2023
curated by Nina von Schweinitz


UK arrests three suspected Russian spies: Three Bulgarian nationals suspected of spying for Russia while living in Britain have been arrested and charged following a major national security investigation, the BBC reported. The defendants were held in February and have been remanded in custody since. It is alleged they were working for the Russian security services. The also possessed fake passports, identity cards and other documents for the UK, Bulgaria, France, Italy, Spain, Croatia, Slovenia, Greece, and the Czech Republic.

UK intercepted two Russian bomber aircraft north of Scotland: Britain said its Typhoon fighter jets intercepted two Russian maritime patrol bomber aircraft in international airspace north of Scotland on Monday, within NATO’s northern air policing area. The Danish air force has intercepted two Russian bombers that were identified over Denmark and flying towards the area that the Netherlands monitors for the NATO military alliance, the Dutch Royal Airforce said.,

  • Romania sends navy divers, helicopter after suspected mine explodes at Black Sea resort area.
  • Sweden announces further support package for Ukrainian military.
  • Ammunition shortage in Ukraine – and the EU: help could come from Greece.

Latvia sends army to guard border with Belarus: The move followed 96 attempts by illegal immigrants to cross in 24 hours. Belarusian authorities were increasingly involved in organising the flow of illegal immigrants, the Border Guard said. Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, which share a border with Belarus, have worried increasingly about border crossings since hundreds of Russian Wagner mercenaries arrived Belarus last month at the invitation of President Alexander Lukashenko.

  • Poland arrests two Russians on allegations of spreading propaganda for the Wagner group.

Poland holds biggest military parade in decades: Poland held a massive parade in its capital Warsaw on Tuesday to showcase its military might, as the country seeks to strengthen its defence capabilities in the wake of the war in neighbouring Ukraine. The parade included some of the latest technology Poland has in its arsenal. Poland has emerged as one of Europe’s leading military powers in recent years after pouring billions into new equipment following Russia’s decision to annex the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in 2014.,

Shots fired at EU observers on Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan: The EU Mission in Armenia (EUMA) confirmed that there had been gunfire in the area of one of its patrols along the border with Azerbaijan. The Armenian Defence Ministry said the shooting took place as EU observers patrolled the village of Verin Shorzha, about 6 kilometres from the border. It also said there were no casualties. Azerbaijan said the claims amounted to disinformation and that Baku had been told in advance of the patrols. Meanwhile, Russia has urged Azerbaijan to lift its blockade of the only road link between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. The UN Security Council will address the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh this Wednesday.

At least eleven migrants dead after boat accident off Tunisia: 23 boat occupants were rescued, seven are missing, Reuters reported on Monday. On Saturday, a boat carrying Tunisian refugees capsized in Gabès, just a few metres from the beach, killing a young man and a baby. Five people remain missing after this accident. In view of rising numbers of migrants and their life-threatening Mediterranean crossings, the EU and Tunisia had concluded a migration agreement in July.,

  • Tunisia and Libya agree to share responsibility for migrants stranded on border.
  • EU denies reports it has rejected UK deal to return people who cross Channel.
  • Housing asylum seekers on ships: Which European countries use floating accommodation for refugees?
  • How is the UK stopping Channel crossings and what are the legal routes to the UK?
  • French coastguards mobilise six boats and a helicopter after Channel deaths.
  • Seal off the bloc’s external borders, ramp up deportations and deter migrants: How EU states try to curtail migration.

Right-wing parties could gain in European election: Right-wing parties could win around a quarter of all seats in the EU Parliament, according to a recent survey. According to a calculation that assumes 705 parliamentary seats, the right-wing populists would gain 166 seats – one seat more than the Christian Democrats, who currently make up the largest group in the Parliament.

Competition from China on the European market is increasing: Chinese manufacturers are increasingly giving German manufacturers a run for their money in their home EU market, especially in the field of advanced industrial goods where Germany is a leader. According to a study, German products accounted for around 14% of EU imports at the turn of the millennium. Last year, the figure was 12.5%. In the same period, the share of Chinese goods rose from 2.6% to almost 9%.

EU Commission spends millions on photographers and make-up artists: In the current legislative period, from the end of 2019 until the end of April 2023, the total expenditure for photographers and make-up artists amounted to just over 2.75 million euros. The Commission stressed that photographic services ensured transparency. The photo coverage of the Commissioners‘ activities contributes to informing citizens about the work of the Commission and ensuring transparency, wrote EU Budget Commissioner Johannes Hahn.

Two years on from Taliban takeover in Afghanistan: The Taliban have settled in as rulers of Afghanistan, two years after they seized power as US and NATO forces withdrew from the country following two decades of war. Even though the Taliban are officially isolated on the global stage, they appear to have enough interactions and engagement for ties with countries to inch toward normalisation. Cooperation with the Taliban on narcotics, refugees and counter-terrorism is of interest globally, including to the West.

Niger coup leaders threaten to charge ousted president with treason: The leaders of Niger’s military junta said they will prosecute the country’s deposed president, Mohamed Bazoum, for treason. It’s a charge that’s punishable by death. It comes after weeks of failed diplomatic efforts, and it could further destabilise a region and a country where the United States has had more than 1,000 troops. The US on Monday voiced outrage over the threats by Niger’s military rulers, saying the move would worsen tensions.,

  • Junta-installed prime minister Zeine visited neighbouring Chad, which is also under military rule.

Poland to hold referendum on EU’s immigration plan
George Soros‘ foundation plans to limit funding to Europe: EU itself invests a lot of money in social areas such as human rights, freedom and diversity
Ursula von der Leyen criticised after vacation in Greece with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis
Possible attacks: Were these three Kremlin critics poisoned in Europe?


“I am here today to let Slovenia and the Slovenian people know that Europe stands by your side.“

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen visited Slovenia last week and promised EU help to the country which was ravaged by recent floods.


Concerns about a terrorist attack in Denmark after Koran burnings: Danish authorities are taking a new threat from the al-Qaeda terrorist network very seriously, according to Denmark’s Justice Minister Peter Hummelgaard. Danish intelligence had previously confirmed that there was such a threat against Denmark and Sweden because of Koran burnings in both countries.

Latvia’s prime minister announces resignation: Krisjanis Karins said on Monday that he would step down later this week after the two other members of his three-party governing coalition refused a cabinet reshuffle. Karins had planned to stay on as prime minister after announcing a new round of coalition talks, but the two partners said that it was against the Latvian Constitution to do so, the Baltic News Service said.

German foreign minister scraps Pacific trip after a problem with her plane: Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock set off from Berlin Sunday on what was supposed to be a nearly weeklong trip, and was scheduled to arrive in Canberra on Monday night. But a mechanical problem with her aging German air force Airbus A340’s landing flaps meant that it had to turn back to Abu Dhabi after a refueling stop there. The aircraft took off again for Australia on Monday night after a test flight was conducted without problems. But the technical problem resurfaced shortly after takeoff and the plane had to return to the Emirati capital again.

Details of NI police in hands of dissident republicans: Information mistakenly released in a major data breach is in the hands of dissident republicans, Northern Ireland’s police chief has said. The data includes the surname and first initial of 10,000 Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) employees.

Fire in south of France rages though campsite and 500 hectares of land: A fire in the south of France burned through 500 hectares (1,240 acres) of land and destroyed a campsite, with 2,000 people evacuated before the blaze was brought under control on Tuesday. The French environment minister said the climate crisis was exacerbating conditions of drought that fed the fire. No one was injured in the fire, authorities said.

Italy defends air ticket cap after Ryanair outrage: The Italian government had approved a measure to cap the price of tickets between the mainland and Sardinia and Sicily during peak periods at 200% of the average annual price. Ryanair Chief Executive Eddie Wilson strongly denounced the move. He said interfering in how airlines set prices for fares was unlawful and would have unintended consequences. But Enterprise Minister Adolfo Urso reiterated that the govermnent had intervened in line with European rules. He added that on the islands there was no real competition.

Finland: Former PM Alexander Stubb to run for president
Storm Hans: Railway bridge collapses in southern Norway
Italy: Mount Etna eruption leads to flight cancellations at Sicily’s Catania airport
Austria: Social Ministry announces legal action against low interest rates
Montenegro: President nominates pro-Western party leader as PM-designate


According to a study, 54% of EU citizens are often or very often distrustful of information they encounter on the internet. Many EU citizens hope for more regulation.


Two US tourists spend night in Eiffel tower: Two American tourists were found sleeping inside the Eiffel Tower after getting stuck while drunk, according to prosecutors. Security guards roused the men in the early morning as they were making their rounds before the French landmark’s opening at 9 a.m. local time. After paying for an entry ticket around 10:40 p.m. local time Sunday, the pair hopped security barriers while climbing down the stairs from the tower’s top, a police source said. A specialist firefighter unit for rescuing people from heights were sent to recover the men.,