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Security Brief: EUCOM Week of March 7, 2022

Updated: Apr 3

Week of Monday, March 7, 2022 | Issue 63

Federica Calissano, Benjamin Brooks, Pètra van de Gevel, EUCOM Team

Feminist March in Istanbul[1]


Date: March 8, 2022

Location: North Macedonia

Parties involved: Ukrainian embassy in North Macedonia; Russian government; Ukrainian government; North Macedonia; Kosovo; Turkey; The head of North Macedonia’s National Committee for Prevention of Violent Extremism and Terrorism, Zlatko Apostolovski; Ukraine’s armed resistance; Balkan volunteer fighters; Middle Eastern volunteer fighters; Islamist groups; Islamic State (IS); Citizens of North Macedonia; Citizens of Kosovo; Citizens of Turkey; Russian forces; Russian separatist forces; Russian President Vladimir Putin

The event: The Ukrainian embassy in North Macedonia asked for volunteers over social media to join Ukraine’s armed resistance against Russia. Apostolovski said that citizens from North Macedonia who join the Ukrainian resistance will be treated by criminal law as it prohibits participation in foreign military formations. Reports have stated that citizens from other Balkan countries, such as Kosovo and Turkey, are already present in Ukraine to join Ukrainian forces. However, Balkan volunteers risk facing criminal charges if they join the Ukrainian resistance, as local laws prevent volunteers from joining radical Islamist groups, such as IS, in the Middle East.[2] Russia will also accept volunteers, as President Putin stated it will accept 16,000 Middle Eastern volunteer fighters to fight alongside Russian separatist forces in the conflict with Ukraine.[3]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The open call of the Ukrainian embassy in North Macedonia will likely prompt citizens of North Macedonia to join Ukraine’s armed resistance. These citizens will very likely face criminal charges, such as trial and imprisonment, once they return to North Macedonia. Despite the risk of criminal charges, the number of Balkan volunteer fighters willing to join the Ukrainian resistance will very likely grow. This will likely be due to citizens from Kosovo and Turkey who are already present in Ukraine calling for support and assistance.

  • Putin’s decision to accept Middle Eastern volunteer fighters to fight in the conflict with Ukraine will very likely prompt more Middle Eastern volunteer fighters to join Russian separatist forces. The decision very likely aims to minimize the risk of losing Russian forces in combat. If Middle Eastern volunteer fighters that support Russia come in conflict with Balkan volunteer fighters that support Ukraine, the Russia-Ukraine conflict will almost certainly become a guerilla conflict.

Date: March 8, 2022

Location: Istanbul, Turkey

Parties involved: Turkish police; Turkish women; Turkish government; The Turkish Minister for Family and Social Services, Derya Yanik; Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan; Feminists; EU member States; Women’s rights activists; Council of Europe

The event: During International Women’s Day, a protest was held by Turkish women and feminists in Istanbul against domestic violence and campaigning for women’s rights. The Turkish police responded with tear gas to stop the protest and the police set up barricades to stop the march from occurring. This was the first women’s march since President Erdoğan’s government exited the Istanbul Convention in 2021. The Convention, also known as the Council of Europe’s Convention on Combating Violence Against Women, had been signed by all EU member States. There have been calls to return to the Convention but they have been dismissed by the Turkish government.[4] The Council of Europe condemned Turkey’s exit from the treaty.[5]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Many protesters were likely exposed to tear gas, likely leading to eye irritation and respiratory issues. In response to the Turkish police’s use of force, future protesters will likely be more prepared to deal with tear gas by wearing face protection. There is a roughly even chance future protesters will use violent means, such as projectiles, if they believe they will be met with violence from the Turkish police.

  • Many protesters’ distrust in the Turkish police will likely increase after the response to the protest, making it unlikely they will call the police when experiencing domestic violence. This will very likely result in a decrease of domestic violence-related arrests, likely increasing the number of domestic violence instances in Turkey as perpetrators will likely believe they will not be punished.

Date: March 9, 2022

Location: Mariupol, Ukraine

Parties involved: Russia; Russian Air Force; Ukraine; Residents of Mariupol; Hospitals and medical facilities; The World Health Organization (WHO); North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO); Germany; Poland

The event: A Russian airstrike hit a children and maternity hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, killing at least three people, including a child. Western and Ukrainian officials have said the destruction of hospitals is considered a war crime. Other patients and hospital staff have been buried in the explosion’s rubble. The WHO says this is the 18th attack on a medical facility in Ukraine from Russian forces since the Russian invasion began.[6] Germany has provided Ukraine with anti-aircraft missiles as Ukraine is struggling to match the Russian Air Force.[7]

Analysis & Implications:

  • It is very unlikely that Mariupol residents who are ill or injured as a result of the airstrike will receive adequate care as they will no longer have access to the hospital. Mariupol residents will likely avoid going near other medical facilities in Mariupol, very likely fearing that these facilities will be targeted. Newborns or children are very unlikely to receive specialized care as a result of the destruction of the maternity ward, likely resulting in health complications.

  • NATO countries such as Poland and Germany will likely increase medical support to Ukraine to lessen the impact of losing hospitals. NATO countries will likely impose tougher economic sanctions against Russia, such as banning new investment in Russia, in an attempt to counter Russia from further targeting hospitals. If Russia continues to attack hospitals and non-combatant buildings, such as schools, NATO countries will likely increase their military aid to provide Ukraine with more anti-aircraft weapons in an effort to prevent Russian airstrikes.


________________________________________________________________________ The Counterterrorism Group (CTG)

[1]20. 8 March Feminist Night March İstanbul 2022” by Cemredemircioglu licensed under Creative Commons

[2] Balkan Fighters Risk Criminal Charges for Joining Ukraine’s Defence, Balkan Insight, March 2022, https://balkaninsight.com/2022/03/09/balkan-fighters-risk-criminal-charges-for-joining-ukraines-defence/

[3] Putin says Russia to use Middle East volunteer fighters, Reuters, March 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/putin-says-volunteers-welcome-help-fight-against-ukrainian-forces-2022-03-11/

[4] Turkish Women Defy Tear Police Obstruction to March for Rights, Balkan Insight, March 2022, https://balkaninsight.com/2022/03/09/turkish-women-defy-tear-police-obstruction-to-march-for-rights/

[5] Council of Europe leaders react to Turkey’s announced withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, Council of Europe, March 2021, https://www.coe.int/en/web/portal/-/council-of-europe-leaders-react-to-turkey-s-announced-withdrawal-from-the-istanbul-conventi-1

[6] Russians keep pressure on Mariupol after hospital attack, Associated Press, March 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-boris-johnson-business-europe-united-nations-bf2bcfb3a499d688e3075f2d4cf54989?utm_source=Twitter&utm_campaign=SocialFlow&utm_medium=AP

[7] Germany Sends More Anti-Aircraft Missiles to Ukraine, Wall Street Journal, March 2022, https://www.wsj.com/livecoverage/russia-ukraine-latest-news-2022-03-03/card/germany-sends-more-anti-aircraft-missiles-to-ukraine-Vf774oFbG1rdk0mgi3NY


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