Yesterday evening, the UN Security Council held an emergency session to discuss the situation in Eastern Ukraine. NATO accused the Russians of entering into Eastern Ukraine with troops and military equipment in the past weeks. According to the Russians, these are hollow words and propaganda from NATO.
There have been reports for a while on soldiers in Eastern Ukraine. The United States are accusing Russia of undermining the ceasefire in Easter Ukraine. During the Security Council's emergency session, apart from accusations, concerns were also voiced that the conflict in Eastern Ukraine will flare up again. And while the West seems convinced that Russia is behind the military manoeuvres, Russia dismisses the accusations as Western propaganda.
Yesterday, Russia announced to expand its bomber flights. The flights will be carried out along the Russian border and the Arctic Sea, but the Caribbean, Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico were also named as areas where bombers could show up.
In an interview with Swedish television, one of Putin's security advisers said that in case of a possible war between Russia and Europe, the Baltic states will be wiped out. Threatening the Baltic states isn't new, by the way.
And although tensions between Russia and the West are rising further through this affair, and the Russian economy is expected to suffer serious damage from the European and American sanctions, there are some conceivable motives for Putin to take this step.
Motives for interference
First of all, the pro-Russian parties lost during the Ukrainian elections last month. These parties represent less than 10% of the population in parliament. The majority of the Ukrainian parliament is oriented towards the West. So it is in Putin's interested to get this new government off-balance.
A second reason is more practical in nature. The separatists do have part of the country under control, but they have no control over important infrastructure, such as the airport near Donetsk or the Mariupol harbour. An offensive to gain control of such areas, would strengthen the separatist cause. Putin can also attempt to get more control over the separatists, through military intervention.
A fourth motive is that Russia annexed Crimea, but there is no connection over land between Crimea and Russia. So the island has to be supplied to through air or sea transport. A connection over land could be attractive for Russia.
Whether the rising tensions between the power blocs will lead to additional Western sanctions against Russia, is still unclear. At the Asian summit, prime minister Medvedev reportedly said that relations with the West will improve if the sanctions are lifted. On Monday, a meeting is planned between EU Foreign ministers, with this issue on the agenda.
The captain of football club Shakhtar Donetsk imported 20 tonnes of mandarins to the city in Eastern Ukraine. The captain felt for the people in the town, and decided to organize this action. Darijo Srna is paying for it out of his own pocket. He imported the mandarins from his native country, Croatia. The fruit will go to children in the besieged city.
Pear prices Saint Petersburg go up
Due to the rouble's weak position, pear prices in Saint Petersburg have gone up sharply. Over the past two weeks, pears became 15% more expensive. Serbian pears cost the Russians between 1.31 and 1.55 Euro. Moroccan pears are showing a similar picture.
Availability compensation extended
The Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs announces that the compensation plan, in response to the Russian boycott, has been extended. The closing date was moved from November 30 to December 31, 2014.
Consequences for greenhouse growers
14.6% of Dutch greenhouse growers report suffering a lot or quite a lot from the Russian boycott that was imposed this summer. The greenhouse vegetable growers are being hit the hardest by this boycott. This is shown in the GlastuinbouwScanner 2014, carried out annually by AgriDirect. Of the Dutch greenhouse vegetable growers, 33.1% reports suffering a lot or quite a lot from the Russian boycott. 6.0% of Dutch greenhouse producers have not been affected yet, but it is expected they will feel the consequences soon.