2 October 2022
This week saw a major escalation in the conflict. On 30 September the Russian President Vladimir Putin signed decrees to formally annex four more areas of Ukraine – Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk. The annexations were described by the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as “the largest attempted annexation of European territory by force since the second world war”. A hastily organised series of referenda were held in these four partially-occupied areas of Ukraine over the last week—widely denounced by Ukraine and its allies as a sham (see Update 29)—in order to claim a mandate for the territorial claims.
In response Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy announced in a video address in Kyiv that his country was formally applying for fast-track membership of NATO. Zelenskiy accused Russia of brazenly rewriting history and redrawing borders “using murder, blackmail, mistreatment and lies”, adding that Ukraine would not hold any peace talks with Russia as long as Putin was president. But there was no indication that Ukraine’s request would advance its membership aspiration, which requires the unanimous support of the alliance’s members. Stoltenberg reiterated the alliance’s unchanging position that it is open to new members but shied away from directly endorsing Ukraine’s bid. “Every democracy in Europe has the right to apply for NATO membership and NATO allies respect that right, and we have stated again and again that NATO’s door remains open”, Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels.
Read more in the attached pdf on: the stalled diplomacy; Western military and financial assistance to Ukraine; the humanitarian consequences of the armed conflict; continuing concerns about the safety of nuclear power stations; sanctions against Russia; energy security in Europe; developments within Russia and NATO.