Weekly update: 6 March – 12 March 2023 The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 6 March to 12 March 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 email@example.com for consideration.
United Kingdom (UK) / Ukraine – 6 March 2023
A British-led £520m international fund to provide fresh weapons for Ukraine and intended to be “low bureaucracy” has been plagued by delays, with only £200m allocated amid warnings that the rest of the funding will not provide arms at “the front until the summer”. Bidders complain that the process, run by the UK’s Ministry of Defence, working with six other European countries, has been frustrating with deadlines missed – and the MoD conceded that awarding contracts “inevitably took time”.
Ukraine / Russia – 6 March 2023
Ukraine has urged the International Criminal Court to investigate footage circulating on social media that appeared to show Russian fighters killing a Ukrainian prisoner of war. In the graphic clip that first circulated on Telegram, a detained combatant is seen standing in a shallow trench and smoking a cigarette. The soldier says “Glory to Ukraine” and is then apparently shot with automatic weapons.
United Kingdom (UK) – 6 March 2023
Government plans to ban migrants from re-entering the UK if they cross the Channel in small boats are unworkable and will leave thousands of people in limbo, refugee groups have said. Under new legislation, Channel migrants would be removed from the UK, banned from future re-entry and barred from applying for British citizenship. Supporters say the PM is "getting a grip" on illegal migration. The proposed measures will apply to anyone arriving on UK shores in a small boat - but there are few details on how they will be implemented, with previous efforts to tighten procedures - such as the Rwanda policy - mired in legal challenges.
China – 7 March 2023
The US and China are heading towards inevitable conflict if Washington does not change its approach, China’s new foreign minister has said in a fiery press conference in which he defended his country’s strengthening relationship with Russia. In his first media appearance as foreign minister, held on Tuesday on the sidelines of the “two sessions” political gathering, Qin Gang outlined China’s foreign policy agenda for the coming years, presenting China and its relationship with Russia as a beacon of strength and stability, and the US and its allies as a source of tension and conflict.
Egypt – 7 March 2023
Three journalists from Egypt’s last remaining independent news outlet have gone on trial in Cairo on charges of misusing social media and offending members of parliament. Rana Mamdouh, Sara Seif Eddin and Beesan Kassab, who work for the Mada Masr news platform, face up to two years in prison and fines of 300,000 EGP (£8,100) if the court convicts them. The trial stems from a complaint issued by the Nation’s Future party over a Mada Masr story published last August that revealed how a government watchdog had discovered examples of “gross financial misconduct” among leading party members.
United Kingdom (UK) – 8 March 2023
Restrictions placed on non-violent climate protesters who have been tried in criminal courts were part of a “deeply concerning” “pincer movement” narrowing their rights to free expression. Three Insulate Britain activists are serving jail terms for contempt of court for breaching rulings made by a judge that they were not to mention the climate crisis, fuel poverty or the history of the peaceful civil rights movement to juries. The three – David Nixon, Amy Pritchard and Giovanna Lewis – were jailed after addressing the juries at separate trials to explain their motivation for taking direct action.
Ukraine – 8 March 2023
European and US intelligence officials have obtained tentative intelligence to suggest a pro-Ukrainian saboteur group may have been behind the bombing of the Nord Stream gas pipelines last year. German investigators believe the attack on the pipelines was carried out by a team of six people, using a yacht that had been hired by a company registered in Poland and owned by two Ukrainian citizens. The information has been shared between European intelligence agencies in an effort to establish more information about those who carried out the undersea bombings in September, an attack that had left western governments perplexed.
Russia / United States (US) – 8 March 2023
The Pentagon has been accused of blocking the sharing of US intelligence with the International Criminal Court about Russian war crimes in Ukraine. The Biden White House and state department have been a proponent of cooperation with the Hague-based ICC, as a means of holding Russian forces accountable for widespread war crimes, but the defence department is firmly opposed on the grounds that the precedent could eventually be turned against US soldiers.
Afghanistan / Iran – 8 March 2023
A prominent group of Afghan and Iranian women are backing a campaign calling for gender apartheid to be recognised as a crime under international law. The campaign, launched on International Women’s Day, reflects a belief that the current laws covering discrimination against women do not capture the systematic nature of the policies imposed in Afghanistan and Iran to downgrade the status of women in society.
Russia / Ukraine – 9 March 2023
At least nine people have been killed and power at Europe's largest nuclear plant has been lost after Russia launched missiles across Ukraine. The attacks hit cities from Kharkiv in the north to Odesa in the south and Zhytomyr in the west. Buildings and infrastructure were hit in Kharkiv and Odesa, with power blackouts in several areas. Attacks on the capital Kyiv are also reported. Ukraine said Russia fired 81 missiles, in what is the biggest strike in weeks. The military claimed it successfully shot down 34 cruise missiles and four of the eight Iranian-made Shahed drones which were fired. The attacks mark the biggest day of Russian missile strikes on Ukraine since the end of January, when 11 people died after dozens of buildings were struck in several regions.
Russia / Ukraine – 10 March 2023
Russian authorities reported that Maxym Butkevych, an officer with Ukraine’s armed forces, confessed to having deliberately targeted and wounded civilians and was sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment. The ruling was made by the so-called Supreme Court of the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR), an area of Ukraine currently occupied by Russia. Butkevych was captured by Russian forces in eastern Ukraine in June 2022. Russian military investigators built the bogus case against Butkeyvich. Russian authorities published a video of him speaking to an apparent investigator clad in fatigues. In the video, Butkevych’s face looks swollen and the flesh around his eyes is dark and puffy. He stares into space as he mechanically states how he supposedly fired a grenade launcher at civilians.
Syria – 10 March 2023
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that support provided to Syria following the recent deadly earthquakes must be directed towards finding a political solution to the civil war, now entering its 12th year. In a statement, he said that “now is the time for us to act in unison, to secure a nationwide ceasefire, advance the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people, and create the conditions necessary for the voluntary return of refugees in safety and dignity, with our strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity, and territorial integrity of Syria, and to regional stability”.