The long-expected Ukrainian counter-offensive has begun, apparently prompting Russia to blow up the Kakhovka dam on the Dnipro River. The destruction of the dam has caused a huge environmental and human disaster on both the Russian- and Ukrainian-controlled territory.
Upcoming on Visegrad Insight:
- Anaïs Marin examines the Minsk government’s crackdown on civil society.
- Maria Simeonova analyses the breakthrough in Bulgaria’s new powersharing government.
- Polish President Duda will meet his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Paris later today to seek common ground on NATO’s offer to Ukraine at the Vilnius summit. Poland had floated the idea of special security guarantees for Ukraine several months ago, but the proposal was met with a cold reception by the U.S. and Germany, which instead are pushing for a stronger commitment to supply Ukraine with arms. Some smaller CEE countries are urging NATO to offer Ukraine membership at the summit.
- An EU court ruling is expected on 15 June on the legality of some foreign currency loans extended by Polish banks before the start of the financial crisis in 2008. If, as expected, the court will declare some of the loan agreements to be abusive towards consumers, many banks may be forced into costly write-offs. Polish regulators insist the banking sector is well capitalised to withstand the impact.
- The EU interior ministers approved a new compromise deal on handling asylum requests at the EU’s external borders, despite opposition from Poland and Hungary. Warsaw decried the vote, saying it should have been held at the EU Council, where it could wield veto power.
- “Bucharest 9” leaders called for the strengthening of NATO’s eastern flank. At a summit in Bratislava on 7 June, B9 countries discussed the July NATO summit in Vilnius and stated that the territorial integrity of Ukraine is the only way to secure peace and rule-based order in Europe.
- The European Parliament and the Council agreed on a proposal to give law enforcement agencies easier access to financial data as part of efforts to combat organised crime and corruption.
- Saudi telecoms group Tawal is expanding in parts of CEE, including the infrastructure of the 5G network.
- The Financial Times quoted confidential sources as saying the EU is preparing a ban on Huawei equipment for 5G networks.
- The latest Eurobarometer showed increased interest among EU citizens in next year’s European Parliament election, with 67 per cent declaring they will vote. The survey also showed growing support for strengthening European defence against Russia. A huge majority of Europeans, 62 per cent, favour neutrality if the United States goes to war with China over Taiwan.
- Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan appointed ex-Goldman Sachs banker Afize Gaye Erkan as the country’s first female head of the central bank. The move follows other technocratic appointments to the economic portfolios in an apparent attempt to win back investor confidence.
- Greek MEP Eva Kaili, a suspect in the Qatargate scandal, told French, Italian and Spanish media that she was wrongly jailed and had no role in the case. Kaili was freed from house arrest in May after spending four months in prison.
- Finland expelled nine Russian diplomats for intelligence activities.
Ukrainian counteroffensive making ground, but the main attack still to come