The Global South media on the war in Ukraine (19.05 – 26.05)
- Perspectives on conflict resolution
The Hindu, an Indian English-language daily newspaper, published on May 26, the editorial article “After Bakhmut: On the latest phase in the Ukraine war”, in which it was postulated that the fall of Bakhmut has only increased determination of Russia and Ukraine to continue hostilities notwithstanding the high cost war. According to the article, both sides of the war are not going to agree on the peace negotiations in the near future.
“In December last year, while speaking at the U.S. Congress, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy compared the battle for Bakhmut to the Battle of Saratoga, in which the American revolutionaries clinched a decisive victory against the British in October 1777. “… the fight for Bakhmut will change the trajectory of our war for independence and our freedom,” he said. Five months later, Bakhmut is not in Ukraine’s hands. After 10 months of fighting, Russia’s Ministry of Defence announced last week the city’s capture in the eastern Donetsk region, its first major territorial gain since January when it took neighbouring Soledar”.
“For Vladimir Putin’s Russia, which invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, it was a much-needed victory after a series of setbacks late last year when Russian troops were beaten back by the Ukrainians from the Kharkiv Oblast in the northeast and Kherson city in the south. The Russians are already in control of the whole of Luhansk and getting Bakhmut would potentially allow them to target other major urban centres in Donetsk such as Kramatorsk and Sloviansk.
For Ukraine, which was preparing for a major counteroffensive, the loss of Bakhmut is a setback, but not the end of the road. Russia, whose initial thrust into Ukraine failed to meet its objectives, seems to be learning from its battlefield mistakes as its invasion has turned into a war of attrition. According to a recent report by the London-based Royal United Services Institute, Russia’s battlefield tactics, coordination, supplies, electronic warfare and air defence have improved.
In Bakhmut, Russia suffered huge losses but the fighting was done by Wagner, a private military corporation, which provided much of the regular Russian troops, including the 300,000 freshly mobilised soldiers, time to build fortifications along the over 1,000-km frontline and undergo training.
On the other side, Ukraine was supposed to launch its counteroffensive at the beginning of Spring, and the delay points to its battlefield problems, which were partially revealed by leaked U.S. intelligence documents earlier this year. But Ukrainian troops now have some of the most advanced weapons, thanks to the West. In recent months, Ukraine has also carried out attacks inside Russia, using drones and medium-range fire or saboteurs, bringing the war home for Mr. Putin”.
“Now, with advanced weaponry, Ukraine is betting on its counteroffensive and ability to create disruptions inside Russia. To recover from its setbacks in Soledar and Bakhmut, Ukraine will have to regain territories quickly, while Russia tries to capitalise on the momentum created by taking Bakhmut. As both sides are determined to continue the war, there is no hope for peace or talks on the horizon.” https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/after-bakhmut-the-hindu-editorial-on-the-latest-phase-in-the-ukraine-war/article66893232.ece
An-Nahar, a leading Arabic-language daily newspaper printed in Lebanon, published on May 19, the article “Jeddah summit: Welcoming the return of Syria and emphasizing the need to end the conflicts”, devoted to the intentions of the member states of the Arab League to take part in establishing peace in Ukraine.
“After assuming the presidency of the summit, Prince Muhammad bin Salman welcomed the attending Arab leaders and the Ukrainian president, as well as the presence of Assad, and said: “We need to turn the page on the past to end the painful years of conflicts that the region has been living through, we should not tolerate any more the conflicts that have made the peoples of the region suffer and undermined the development”.
“He also stressed the importance of resolving the crisis in Ukraine peacefully, underlying that the Kingdom is ready to continue mediating efforts between Russia and Ukraine.”
“Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the Secretary-General of the Arab League, said that “the international scene is going through the most dangerous period in the contemporary world.” He added, “It is necessary to adhere to Arab interests in order to face the pressures of international polarization.”
“Volodymyr Zelensky, who attended the summit, in his speech assured the Arab leaders that Ukraine “will never submit to Russian ambitions,” urging the summit delegations to support the Ukrainian plan for peace. Zelensky accused Arab leaders of “turning a blind eye” to Russia’s actions in his country, calling for a unified efforts to “save people” from Russian prisons.
Zelensky accused Arab leaders of “turning a blind eye” to Russia’s actions in his country, calling for a unified position to “save people” from Russian prisons https://www.annaharar.com/arabic/push-notification/19052023112738969
- Economic problems caused by the war in Ukraine
The Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Philippine’s most widely circulated broadsheet, reported on May 24 that Black Sea grain deal risks being shut down because the Ukrainian port of Pivdennyi has been blockaded by Russia, which is unable to export ammonia via a pipeline to Pivdennyi, as it was agreed under the pact.
“The Black Sea grain deal was agreed to help tackle a global food crisis aggravated by Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The pact also covers ammonia, which Russia transported to Pivdennyi via pipeline for export before the war. Russia had threatened not to renew the Black Sea deal unless a list of demands related to its own food and fertilizer exports was met. Restarting the ammonia pipeline is one of those demands, which the United Nations has been trying to broker. Russia used to pump up to 2.5 million tons of ammonia annually for export via the pipeline from Togliati. Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia on Tuesday said that amount of ammonia could “produce 7 million tons of fertilizers.”
“A Ukrainian government source told Reuters on Friday Kyiv would consider allowing Russian ammonia to transit its territory for export if the Black Sea grain deal was expanded to include more Ukrainian ports and a wider range of commodities. Uralchem, Russia’s biggest potash and ammonium nitrate producer, expects the opening of an ammonia export terminal near the Black Sea to make the pipeline across Ukraine much less important, the company’s CEO said.
While Russian exports of food and fertilizer are not subject to Western sanctions, Moscow says restrictions on payments, logistics and insurance have amounted to a barrier to shipments.”
“According to U.N. data, more than 30 million tons of food products have been exported so far under the Black Sea deal.” https://business.inquirer.net/402390/ukraine-says-russia-prevents-black-sea-grain-deal-port-operating
Dawn, the largest English newspaper in Pakistan, published on May 22 the article “The fault in our policymakers”, devoted to the problems, which are being faced by three major oil-importing countries of the Global South, – Egypt, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
”The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 sent inflationary shock-waves to nearly all oil-importing countries, including the US. The US responded by adopting a tight monetary policy regime manifesting in several rounds of interest rate hikes that weakened a basket of currencies against the dollar. With weaker local currencies and a rising oil import bill, emerging markets faced a double jeopardy of swollen current account deficits (CAD) and burgeoning debt servicing and repayment obligations. The ruling elite in many of these countries assuaged their constituencies by shifting the blame to supply-chain disruptions caused by the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The events that took place in Egypt, Pakistan and Sri Lanka later reflected that follies committed by policymakers brought each of these three countries on the brink of default”.
“March 2022 was a watershed month in many ways: Sri Lanka had already started experiencing the initial choking of a default. It had to repay loans worth $7 billion while its forex reserves, which stood at $3.1bn by the close of 2021, had fallen to $1.9bn at the end of March. Egypt’s foreign exchange reserves were nosediving, which was a harbinger of macroeconomic difficulties. Instead of respecting the changing dynamics of the global economy, including the need to adopt strong fiscal discipline in the face of rising budget deficits, Pakistan’s premier began to throw money at the prospect of winning over constituents that would otherwise stand by the side of an opposition rallying for his ouster. His ouster ultimately took place in April 2022, which sent the volatile economy under an intense wave of political instability and put the country at great risk of economic default. What was common in all three cases was that the exchange rates had been kept artificially overvalued. As Pakistan’s noted economist Shahid Javed Burki remarks, finance ministers “equate price of the dollar with manhood”.
The muscular management of the dollar in Pakistan not only resulted in an overvalued exchange rate but also created a schism between the interbank and open-market rates that created distortions and led to the formation of a black market for the dollar. In Egypt, the pound was devalued by 36 per cent in a year, yet financial experts suggested in November 2022 that it was still overvalued by 10pc. Policymakers were also reluctant to raise interest rates despite run-away inflation. Monetary policy committees and central banks seemed keen to trade off the objective of controlling inflation for lower interest payments which had expanded to consume more than 40pc of government revenues in all three countries. The interest rate in Srilanka was at 7.5pc until the first week of April 2022, when it was raised on the directions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Surprisingly, all that while when it was leapfrogging to default, the interest rate at 7.5pc was much below inflation which was clocking over 20pc. The Srilankan case was also peculiar because its economy depended asymmetrically on a sector that was a natural victim of Covid-19. The tourism sector, which provides livelihood to around 11pc of the Sri Lankan population, was closed during the pandemic, pushing five million people below the poverty line.”
“Policymakers in Egypt and Pakistan also made mistakes, but their economies weren’t as heavily dependent on a single sector badly impacted by Covid. Both of these countries had active IMF fund facilities, which enabled them to lay their hands on ready financial assistance. Pakistan received a tranche of $1.17bn in September, while it took Egypt a little longer, seven months from April to November of 2022, to receive IMF balance of payments support. The IMF programme ensured that it pulled them back from a point tantalisingly close to default. Since the same couldn’t happen in the case of Sri Lanka, those calling the shots there ended up being on the wrong side of history”.
- Impact of the war on the Global South relations with Russia, China and the West
Clarín, the most circulated newspaper in Argentina, published on May 24, the article “The war in Ukraine: Russia gets closer to Cuba, in a relationship of mutual benefit” (La guerra en Ucrania: Rusia se acerca más a Cuba, en una relación de mutua conveniencia”), in which it is stated that the economic relations between Russia and Cuba have become much closer since the the war in Ukraine broke out. The intensified economic partnership with Russia gives hope to Cuba to overcome severe economic crisis.
“After its 2022 invasion of Ukraine started, Russia urged for new trading partners and political allies.
Because of that it has been drawing ever closer to Cuba, a welcome step in an investment-hungry island amid its worst economic crisis since the implosion of the Soviet bloc in 1991.”
“In 2023, the number visits of senior Russian officials to the Caribbean island have dramatically increased. They began in March with the trips of Nikolai Patrushev, the Secretary of the Russian Security Council, and Igor Sechin, the executive director of the Rosneft oil company. Havana also laid out the red carpet, among others, for Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, President’s Economic Adviser Maxim Oreshkin, Kremlin’s commissioner for entrepreneurs’ rights Boris Titov and Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko.
“Last week, Chernyshenko outlined a “road map” to speed up cooperation with Cuba, which is facing the worst economic crisis in three decades, with severe shortages of food, medicine and fuel, while representatives of fifty Russian companies explored business and investment opportunities on the Caribbean island. At the end of that visit, both countries signed a dozen agreements to relaunch relations in the construction, digitization, banking, sugar production, transport and tourism sectors, another sign of the willingness of both governments to “strengthen” their “strategic association” in 2023, announced in November during the meeting in Moscow between presidents Miguel Díaz-Canel and Vladimir Putin. Chernyshenko also referred to the need for Cuba to implement “some changes” in its legislation to favor business with his country. “they announced in Havana the resumption in July of regular flights from Moscow to the Varadero resort, suspended after the Russian invasion of Ukraine -on February 24, 2022-, which should increase the flow of Russian tourists to Cuba, who since March they can carry out banking operations on the island with the Russian payment system MIR”.
“More isolated than ever in international forums and faced with increased economic sanctions from the West after its invasion of Ukraine, “Russia needs trading partners and political allies, and Latin America offers the possibility of both. “Díaz-Canel, whose government has maintained a neutral position in the face of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with repeated calls to find a negotiated solution to the conflict, confirmed to Chernyshenko “Cuba’s unconditional support” for Russia “in its confrontation with the West.” https://www.clarin.com/mundo/guerra-ucrania-rusia-acerca-cuba-relacion-mutua-conveniencia_0_5Hwg1pINux.html
(Translated from Spanish by IISWU)
L’Expression, an Algerian national daily newspaper, published on May 23, the article “Convergence of views” (“Convergence de vues”), devoted to the remarks of President of the Republic Abdelmadjid Tebboune during his state visit to Portugal. Abdelmadjid Tebboune stated, that Algeria supports the efforts aimed to peace between Russia and Ukraine, and insists on converging them with the resolution of the conflicts in the Global South.
“The President of the Republic, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, underlined, today from Lisbon (Portugal), the total convergence of views between Algeria and Portugal on all regional and international issues.
In a joint statement to the press with his Portuguese counterpart, President Tebboune stated that he had “fruitful, frank and sincere talks with Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, which reflect the depth of relations between the two countries and show a total convergence of views on all regional and international issues, in particular the situation in Libya, Mali, the Sahel, Western Sahara and the Palestinian territories, and what is happening between Ukraine and Russia, two friendly countries”.
The President of the Republic reminded, in this regard, that “Algeria, like Portugal, aspires to peace between Russia and Ukraine and to the settlement of the Western Sahara issue in accordance with the resolutions of the United Nations and the Security Council”. We reaffirmed our absolute support for the Palestinian cause”, stressed President Tebboune adding that “Algeria’s position is clear in this regard, it pleads for the solution of two States and the establishment of the State of Palestine on the borders of June 1967, with El-Quds-east as its capital”.
(Translated from French by IISWU)