1. Russia and Ukraine agree to further extend the Black Sea grain deal by four months
Russia and Ukraine have agreed to extend the Black sea grain deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkiye by another 120 days. The agreement which was originally signed on 22 July 2022 was set to expire on 19 November 2022. The deal allows grain exports from the designated Ukrainian Black Sea port through a safe corridor in the Black Sea.
The agreement was reached between Russia, Ukraine, Turkiye and the United Nations at Istanbul, Turkiye.
The deal faced its first major crisis when Russia announced that it was suspending the agreement on 29 October 2022 after Ukraine attacked the Russian Black Sea Fleet near Sevastopol. However later Russia agreed to continue the deal.
The deal will continue with the existing provisions. Ships will carry grain from three Ukrainian ports of Chornomorsk, Odesa and Yuzhny .They will travel through the humanitarian corridor set up in the Black Sea and stop in Istanbul for inspection before continuing to the final destination.
The grain deal is vital for many African countries as they face crop failure due to weather extremes and internal conflicts. The nations that will benefit from the deal include Egypt , Djibouti, Somalia and Sudan Senegal, Rwanda, Congo, Libya, Tanzania and Namibia.
2. Russia suspends UN backed Black sea grain deal with Ukraine
Russia on 29 October 2022 announced that it was suspending participation in the United Nations and Turkiye brokered black sea grain deal. The Russian move has been condemned by the United States President Joe Biden saying it will increase starvation in the world.
More than 9 million tonnes of corn, wheat, sunflower products, barley, rapeseed and soya have been exported under the deal, signed on 22July 2022.
Why Russian pulled out of the deal
According to the Russian Defence ministry, Ukraine attacked the Russian Black Sea Fleet near Sevastopol on the Russian-annexed Crimean peninsula with 16 drones early on 29 October 2022, and that British navy "specialists" had helped coordinate the "terrorist" attack. It also accused British navy personnel of blowing up the Nord Stream gas pipelines last month.
It said that Russia is no longer able to guarantee the safety of the civilian ship under the agreement.
Black Sea grain deal
- President Vladimir Putin ordered Russia's invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022 in an offensive he said was aimed at “demilitarising” and "denazifying" Ukraine. The Russian Naval fleet later blockaded the Black sea port of Ukraine which was a major grain shipment port for Ukraine.
- The blockade halted the shipment of grains from one of the biggest exporters of grains in the world where 5 million tonnes of grains used to be shipped per month.
- This precipitated a sharp increase in food prices across the world, sparking fear of famine in parts of Africa.
- Ukraine, Russia, Turkiye and the United Nation signed an agreement on 22 July 2022 in Istanbul ,Turkiye to unblock Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports.
- When the agreement was signed, the U.N. World Food Programme said some 47 million people had moved into "acute hunger" as the war halted Ukrainian shipments.
- The agreement which is set to expire on 19 November 2022 established a safe corridor for the Ukrainian grain ships and Russia guaranteed the safety of the civilian ship.
3. Russia accuses Ukraine of building ‘Dirty Bomb’
Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu in a phone call to his counterpart from the United States, Britain, France and Turkey has accused Ukraine of nearly completing building a ‘dirty bomb’. However Ukraine, France, the United States and the United Kingdom has rejected the Russian accusations.
The Russian claims that “two organisations in Ukraine have specific instructions to create a so-called ‘dirty bomb’.
Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022 and it has been almost 9 months of the conflict.
What is a dirty bomb?
It is a bomb which contains radioactive material such as uranium along with a conventional explosives. The explosives when detonated scatters the radioactive material in the air contaminating a wide area. The radioactive material used to make dirty bomb is not a highly enriched uranium which is used to make of nuclear weapon but it could be radioactive materials from hospitals, nuclear power stations or research laboratories.
It is cheaper and easier to make than nuclear weapons.
Impact of Dirty Bomb
The Dirty bomb itself does not cause massive casualty but due to radioactive fallout, it can cause serious illness such as cancer in the area. It can cause massive panic in the targeted area. A wide area around the blast zone would also have to be evacuated for decontamination, or abandoned completely.
According to the BBC “the Federation of American Scientists has calculated that if a bomb containing 9g (0.3oz) of cobalt-60 and 5kg of TNT were to be exploded at the tip of Manhattan, in New York, it would make the whole area of the city uninhabitable for decades.”
For this reason, dirty bombs are known as weapons of mass disruption.
Instances of the use of Dirty Bomb
According to BBC there has been to three known instances of use of dirty bombs, but they were defused before it could explode
In 1996, rebels from Chechnya planted a bomb containing dynamite and caesium-137 in Moscow's Izmailovo Park. The caesium had been extracted from cancer-treatment equipment.
In 1998, Chechnya's intelligence service found and defused a dirty bomb that had been placed near a railway line in Chechnya.
In 2002, Jose Padilla, a US citizen who had contacts with al-Qaeda, was arrested in Chicago on suspicion of planning a dirty-bomb attack.
4. IAEA chief Rafael Gross calls for protecting Zaporizhzhia nuclear power in a meeting with President Putin in Russia
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Gross met the Russian President Vladimir Putin in St Petersburg, amid concern over the safety of the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine.
Rafael Gross met Putin after his meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv last week.
Rafael Gross called for setting up a protection zone around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear power plant and asserted that they cannot lose any more time. He emphasised that Russia and Ukraine must do everything to help in ensuring that a nuclear accident does not occur during the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.
Concern over the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant
The 6000 MW Zaporizhzhia nuclear power complex is the largest European nuclear power complex which has been occupied by the invading Russian forces since early March 2022.
The area has been heavily fortified by the Russian military and the Ukrainian forces are also launching a counter attack. This has led to the fear that the nuclear complex could be hit in an attack which could lead to a nuclear catastrophe in the area.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
The IAEA was set up in 1957 as an agency of the United Nations.
The IAEA was set up to work with the member countries and multiple partners worldwide to promote safe, secure and peaceful nuclear technologies.
The International Atomic Energy Agency is the world's central intergovernmental forum for scientific and technical co-operation in the nuclear field.
Member Countries: 175
The IAEA headquarters is at Vienna, Austria and it has two regional offices located in Toronto, Canada and Tokyo, Japan,
Director General: Rafael Gross
5. G7 countries pledge to phase out imports of Russian oil
The Group of Seven (G7) countries have pledged to ban or phase out Russian oil imports over the Ukraine dispute.
The announcement came as the G7 held its third meeting this year via video conference, which was also attended by Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The meeting was called to discuss support for Ukraine, and additional measures against Moscow, including on energy.
G7 leaders have personally criticised President Vladimir Putin for his actions in Ukraine.
The leaders celebrated the end of World War II in Europe following the surrender of German forces to the Allied Powers on 9 May 1945.
Russia has been accused of violating international rules-based order, in particular the United Nations Charter.
All participants were called upon to join the G7's support for the Ukrainian people and refugees and help rebuild Ukraine.
The G7 or the Group of Seven is a group of the seven most advanced economies.
The seven countries are Canada, the USA, UK, France, Germany, Japan and Italy.
It was formed in 1975.
G7 countries meet annually to discuss issues of common interest like global economic governance, international security and energy policy.
All the G7 countries and India are a part of G20.
The G7 does not have a fixed headquarters.
The UK currently chairs the G7 and has invited India along with Australia, the Republic of Korea and South Africa as guest countries for the G7 summit.
6. Global sanctions on Russia may help spur Indian exports: EEPC
According to Engineering Exports Promotion Council (EEPC) India The Russo-Ukraine war has posed risks to economies and trade globally, but sanctions imposed by several developed countries on Russia could bring opportunities for Indian engineering exporters in the global market.
The Russia-Ukraine conflict is currently the most sensitive issue plaguing the global economy, while the sudden rise in COVID cases in China is also a major concern on the global supply chain.
Inflationary pressures in the US and real estate volatility in China will have an impact on business growth.
Rising steel prices and some financial issues are also expected to act as a hindrance to exports in the coming months.
india’s engineering exports
India's engineering exports registered 19.7% growth in March 2022 by climbing up to $11.13 billion from $ 9.29 billion in March 2021.
Exports during April-March stood at $112.10 billion, registering 46.12% growth over the previous year.
In financial year 22, the share of engineering in total merchandise exports was 26.7%.
Out of 34 engineering product panels, 32 showed positive growth during 2021-22 as compared to 2020-21.
India’s engineering exports surpassed the target of $107.34 billion for Financial year 2021-22 set by the Government of India.
Among the top 25 major markets for Indian engineering goods, exports to the US jumped 61 per cent to $2.02 billion in March from $1.26 billion in the same month last year.
Engineering exports to UAE surged 78.9% in March, 2022 to US$ 553 million.
The top 25 countries such as the US, UAE, China, Germany, Italy and Singapore account for about 75% of the total engineering exports from the country.
Italy, UAE and Belgium were the top three importers of Indian Iron and Steel during 2021-22.
The US was the largest importer of Indian 'industrial machinery' during 2021-22 in the global imports of India's product group.
South Africa, Mexico and Nigeria were the top three importers of automobiles from India during 2021-22.
7. Prime Minister Modi and President Biden hold Virtual Summit
The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a virtual summit meeting on 11 April 2022, with American President Joe Biden ahead of the 2+2 dialogue between India and the United States of America.
The situation in Ukraine and Russia was the main agenda of their discussion. Amongst the QUAD group of countries only India has not condemned and imposed any sanction on Russia. The other QUAD members like the US, Australia and Japan have imposed sanctions on Russia for its attack on Ukraine.
The United States wants India to condemn Russia for its attack on Ukraine, not to buy any oil from Russian companies, and put pressure on Russian President Putin to stop the war against Ukraine.
India has very close ties with Russia with around 60 to 70 % of its defence equipment are of Russian origin. Russia has also supported India in the past on crucial issues like Kashmir and against Pakistan.
India has so far abstained on every anti-Russian resolution in the United Nations and has remained neutral on the issue.
President Biden welcomed India’s humanitarian support for the people of Ukraine and called the Russian invasion a “horrific assault”. He said that the US and India are going to continue “close consultation on how to manage the destabilising effects of this Russian war”.
Prime Minister Modi highlighted India’s humanitarian aid to Ukraine and condemned the killing of civilians allegedly by the Russian troops in the Ukrainian city of Bucha.