Wednesday. 2/3/2022

The Monocle Minute

Breaking news / Ukraine

Latest headlines

• Fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces has intensified in several key cities, with Russian paratroopers landing in the eastern city of Kharkiv. Russia’s defence ministry claims that it has captured Kherson in the south, a claim that the city’s mayor denied.

• More than 800,000 Ukrainians have now fled to neighbouring countries, according to the UN’s refugee agency. More than half have gone to Poland, where some report waiting days in freezing temperatures to cross the border.

• A Russian delegation will arrive in Belarus this evening for a second round of peace talks with Ukraine, the Kremlin has said. Ukraine’s foreign minister said that “ending the war is the highest priority for Ukraine” during a call with his Chinese counterpart, as Beijing threw its weight behind a ceasefire.

• Oil prices have risen to more than $110 (€99) a barrel as major energy companies boycott Russian crude. Energy markets have largely been spared from Western sanctions but many of the biggest buyers are choosing to cut themselves off from Russian fuel.

• Spain has become the latest country to announce that it will help to arm Ukraine in the fight against Russian forces. Prime minister Pedro Sánchez announced the move today despite opposition from within his left-wing coalition.

Image: Shutterstock

Opinion / Lada Roslycky

Call to arms

Imagine that last week you were walking your dog, playing the piano or sharing a glass of shiraz with a good friend; now your charming city is being bombed by an aggressive state led by an authoritarian warmonger. Their Tu-22 aircraft, which are capable of dropping radioactive bombs, are buzzing overhead, targeting both civilian and critical infrastructure, some using the occupied airspace over the Chernobyl nuclear plant as cover. Yesterday, a 64km-long convoy of Russian armed forces was rolling its way towards Ukraine’s capital. If only the nation’s defenders were adequately equipped, they could stop the invasion.

Ukraine’s population has been mobilised to join the territorial defence forces; they require guns, Kevlar jackets and helmets. The laundry list of needs for the armed forces is longer: grenade launchers such as the US’s M141; anti-tank weapons such as the NLAW, FGM-148 Javelin or Panzerfaust; anti-aircraft missiles or systems such as Stingers, Groms or anti-drone systems. Ukraine needs Patriot air-defence systems, though Slamraam surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) would suffice, as well as short- and medium-range SAMs from Raytheon in particular. Beyond that, an Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS) produced by Northrop Grumman Defense Mission Systems. The latest modification of the F-15, T-X trainer aircraft (T-7 Red Hawk) and AH-6 light attack helicopters would certainly help clean up Ukraine’s airspace too. And with communication systems under threat, we need to have an increased supply of L3Harris’s secure military communications systems. Immediate deliveries of 16 Mark VI rocket boats would help to secure and liberate the regions around the Black and Azov seas.

When aggressive armed forces come into your home country, they need to be neutralised before they eliminate you, destroy your cultural heritage, use chemical pollutants or, heaven forbid, use the nuclear bombs that the Kremlin has already put on standby. Everyone here is fearing that chemical and biological weapons are next. International law did not stop Vladimir Putin from operating in Syria; there is no reason to believe that the Kremlin will stop now.

Lada Roslycky is the Ukraine-based founder of Black Trident Defence & Security Consulting Group and a regular contributor to Monocle 24.

Image: Getty Images

Diplomacy / Switzerland

Picking sides

Swiss neutrality – and the mediating role in conflicts that accompanies that stance – has long been a cherished good, which is why it took massive international pressure for the country’s federal government to agree to join EU sanctions on Russia this week. Switzerland’s intervention could have a significant effect on the Russian economy: 80 per cent of Russia’s raw materials are traded in Switzerland and wealthy Russians’ assets have been frozen. “Playing into the hands of an aggressor is not neutral,” Swiss president Ignazio Cassis (pictured) said, explaining the decision. He stressed that the sanctions would not affect Switzerland’s neutrality but it’s still a significant moment. “It marks a transitional phase,” says Monocle’s security correspondent Benno Zogg. “Switzerland may still appeal to its core neutrality but otherwise its policy stance has changed quite a bit.” The move has been praised by the EU and members of Nato. Time will tell whether Switzerland becomes firmer in its interventions in times of conflict – or if this really was a one-off.

Image: Lockheed Martin/Flickr

Defence / Global

Racing to arms

It’s been quite a week for the financial markets, with Russian assets taking a hammering following the imposition of severe sanctions on Moscow and European stocks also facing pressure. Commodities such as gold have risen in a reflection of investors’ flight to so-called safe-haven assets. But they’ve also flocked to aerospace and defence stocks that are obvious beneficiaries in an otherwise tragic moment.

Increased arms pledges from the EU and Germany’s decision to raise its defence budget by €100bn for this year alone – marking a sea change in Berlin’s defence policy – has lifted the share prices of BAE Systems, Rheinmetall, Germany’s MTU Aero Engines and Italy’s Leonardo in recent days. Across the Atlantic it’s a similar story: Raytheon, which makes the Stinger missiles that Germany has promised to deliver to Ukraine, saw a boost and so did Lockheed Martin, which manufactures F-35 fighter jets (pictured), as well as partnering with Raytheon on the Patriot missile defence system that’s set to be deployed by Nato in Slovakia.

Image: Getty Images

Tourism / Thailand

Place in the sun

As international tourists begin to return to Southeast Asia, Russians have been flocking to Thailand in their thousands, ahead of other European sunseekers. Thailand has traditionally been a popular winter-holiday destination but tourist operators are waiting to see what effect the invasion of Ukraine and the crashing rouble will have on tourists’ appetite for international travel. Russian visitor numbers to Thailand fell after the annexation of Crimea in 2014 but this time Russians seeking an escape have fewer alternatives. Europe has shut its airspace but Aeroflot flights are still landing in Thailand and the Thai government has refused to condemn Moscow for invading Ukraine. Most Southeast Asian countries have taken a similarly neutral line, despite a Malaysian Airlines flight being shot down by Russia-backed militia in 2014. So far only Singapore has announced sanctions but even these are expected to focus on financial transactions rather than tourist flights packed full of freezing Muscovites.

Image: Ya Gallery Art Center

Arts / Ukraine

Making the most

After announcing last week that Ukraine’s presence at the Venice Biennale in April was unlikely, the pavilion’s curators now tell Monocle that they’re pressing ahead. The defiant trio of curators took the exhibition’s main artwork, a sculptural piece by Pavlo Makov (pictured), to Ukraine’s border with Poland – and now recognise the symbolic power that their presence will have. The Russian pavilion’s curators, by contrast, have resigned from their posts. “The plan is to keep working on the show somewhere else,” says Lizaveta German from Kyiv, one of the three curators. “We have a lot of support from other institutions in Poland and Lithuania, and we have people in Venice who are basically ready to install it. The main question is whether part of the team can cross the border safely. It’s not just about making this visible but also showing that Ukraine is not just a victim. It’s a country that believes in the future.”

Hear more from Lizaveta German on the latest edition of ‘The Daily’ on Monocle 24.

Image: Getty Images

M24 / Konfekt Korner

Kitchen tools and book clubs

As spring approaches we look at how our kitchen tools tell the history of humanity; hear from Ukrainian fashion designer Lilia Litkovskaya, who has since been forced to flee her home; visit an exhibition on Kurdish history; and speak to Afghan-German film-maker Zamarin Wahdat. Plus: the joy of book clubs.

Monocle Films / Global

Monocle Preview: March issue, 2022

Monocle is 15 and our bumper March issue is a special edition packed with the kind of in-depth independent reporting that has made us a fixture of newsstands the world over. Inside we explore the world of deep-sea mining, meet the architects shaping Ghana’s capital, visit America’s new business frontier and much more. Order your copy today through The Monocle Shop.

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