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EU Ministers Discuss Sanctions, Armenian Police Arrest Protesters, Naftali Bennett Demands Apology

May 1-8, 2022 | Issue 6 - Behavior/Leadership (B/L)

Zoe Beyer, Sara Buccino, Katie Lohret, Sofia Stanga, Jacqueline Schluger, B/L Team

Demetrios Giannakaris, Senior Editor


Oil Embargo[1]


Date: May 1, 2022

Location: Europe

Parties involved: EU member states; EU energy ministers; Russia; Russian oil companies; Baltic States

The event: European Union energy ministers are meeting to discuss a united response to using Russian oil that does not violate EU sanctions on Russia. Russia has demanded that Europe pay in rubles for Russian oil, which helps Russia avoid the economic restrictions of sanctions. EU member states have stated confusion regarding sanction violations. Talks will include more explicit guidelines for interaction with Russian oil companies and what constitutes violating EU sanctions, and the need for non-Russian gas supplies that could facilitate a future Russian oil shut-off. While EU member states will discuss European dependence on Russian oil, a complete shut-off will not be discussed because it would lead to recession.[2]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Continued reliance on Russian oil will very likely make European countries susceptible to Russian influence, making them likely to plan energy diversification in the near future. These plans are unlikely to be implemented immediately, likely leaving many EU states dependent on Russian energy imports. European dependence on Russian energy imports will very likely advance Russian geopolitical influence, particularly in Baltic countries like Estonia and Latvia.

  • As EU energy diversification policy is unlikely to be implemented immediately it is almost certain energy costs and inflation will continue to remain subject to dependence on Russian imports. Rising energy costs and inflation will almost certainly prompt civilian protests across Europe, in particular in Belgium and Netherlands. Protester concerns are unlikely to be addressed, likely resulting in violent clashes between civilians and law enforcement. Energy diversification and energy dependency will almost certainty be a topic of political discourse in future political discussions and elections.

Date: May 2, 2022

Location: Yerevan, Armenia

Parties involved: Armenian government; Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan; anti-government protesters; Armenian law enforcement; Azerbaijan; Azerbaijaini military; Russian government; Ukraine; European Council; EU

The event: Armenian police used force to capture 180 anti-government demonstrators protesting against Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Yerevan. Protestors reject Pashinyan’s intentions to finalize a more permanent peace agreement with Azerbaijan. In 2020, Azerbaijan regained territory in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is under Armenian control but that Azerbaijan claims. Russia mediated a ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan that caused frustration in Armenia.[3] In March 2022, during peace talks mediated by the European Council of the EU in Brussels, Russia and Armenia accused Azerbaijan of violating the ceasefire. Azerbaijan says they were operating in sovereign territory.[4]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Russia and the European Council are very unlikely to monitor ceasefire violations or mediate peace talks to avoid escalating EU-Russia tensions amidst the Ukraine conflict. Armenia and Azerbaijan are unlikely to continue peace negotiations without a nonpartisan mediator to supervise. Absent an enforced ceasefire, Azerbaijan will likely increase operations in disputed territory to strengthen their claim to the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

  • Armenian nationalists will almost certainly continue protesting through negotiations because complete Azerbaijani control over the Nagorno-Karabakh region would put the local Armenian population under Azerbaijani control. Increased Azerbaijani military operations will almost certainly inspire Armenian protestors to push for resuming military conflict. The Armenian government will very likely continue its use of violent crackdowns on protestors given its commitment to a peace agreement.

Date: May 2, 2022

Location: Israel

Parties involved: Israel; Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet; Russia; Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov; Ukraine; Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelensky

The event: Naftali Bennet demanded a public apology by Sergei Lavrov following a claim by Lavrov on Italian television on Sunday. Interviewers asked Lavrov why Russia needs to "denazify" Ukraine since President Zelenskiy is Jewish, and Lavrov claimed Hitler also had Jewish origins. According to Bennet, this claim aims to minimize the horrors of the Holocaust and is a sign of deteriorating ties between Israel and Russia. This claim follows the analogy President Zelensky made in March between the conflict in Ukraine and the Holocaust. Israel expressed initial support for Ukraine but avoided criticizing Moscow and enforcing sanctions because of Russia’s role in Syria.[5]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Statements utilizing the Holocaust in political rhetoric are almost certainly intended to slander opposing parties via historical comparison with Nazi Germany. The Israeli government and Jewish population will very likely disapprove of this rhetoric, likely resulting in more public support for Ukraine in the conflict. The Israeli government is unlikely to implement sanctions on Russia, considering their role in the Syrian conflict.

  • The Russian government will likely continue to politicize historical human rights violations to criticize Ukrainian allies. These criticisms are likely intended to depict Ukraine and its allies hypocritically, very likely in an attempt to garner political support for the Ukraine conflict. Russia will almost certainly continue to utilize similar propaganda methods in the Ukrainian conflict and other political and military conflicts.

 

The Counterterrorism Group (CTG)


[1]Looming oil embargo” licensed by Richard Hurd under Creative Commons

[2] EU energy ministers hold crisis talks after Russian gas cuts, Reuters, May 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/eu-energy-ministers-hold-crisis-talks-after-russian-gas-cuts-2022-05-02/

[3] Armenia detains 180 protesters calling on Pashinyan to quit, AP, May 2022, https://apnews.com/article/business-europe-azerbaijan-armenia-yerevan-b17508a4b06eab9459e055834511ec0d

[4] Armenia, Azerbaijan gear up for Nagorno-Karabakh peace talks, Al Jazeera, April 2022, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/4/7/armenia-azerbaijan-gear-up-for-nagorno-karabakh-peace-talks

[5] Israel demands apology after Russia says Hitler has Jewish roots, Reuters, May 2022 https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/israel-denounces-lavrovs-hitler-comments-summons-russian-ambassador-2022-05-02/

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