Ukraine – Diplomatic Moves as Fighting Rages

by our Eastern European Affairs correspondent

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 3rd March 2023

The leaders of People’s China and Belarus have expressed their “extreme interest” in a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Ukraine at a summit meeting this week. French President Emmanuel Macron says he’s going to China to call on Beijing to “help us pressure Russia” to end the war and the Russian foreign minister says his country will not allow the West to blow up any more gas pipelines.

Meanwhile, Russia has halted oil supplies to Poland via the Druzhba pipeline a day after Poland delivered its first Leopard tanks to Ukraine. The Polish energy company says it was prepared for such a situation and that deliveries to its refinery can be made entirely by sea. “Only 10 per cent of the raw material came from Russia, and we will replace it with oil from other directions,” Daniel Obajtek, the CEO of the Polish refiner, said.

Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko told Chinese president Xi Jinping that his country “fully supports” Beijing’s peace initiative during talks covering economic and trade co-operation in Beijing this week. Lukashenko said Belarus firmly supports the one-China principle, supports China’s cause of peaceful reunification and opposes any acts that interfere in China’s internal affairs, adding that both sides should firmly support each other on issues concerning their core interests.

Lukashenko said Belarus fully agrees with and supports China’s position and its proposals for the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis, which is of great significance for defusing the crisis. Both sides vowed to uphold jointly the international system with the UN at its core, and to oppose hegemony and power politics in all situations, including unilateral sanctions against other countries.

At the same time Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in India for the G20 ministerial council meeting, said the Russian Federation’s energy industry will rely in future on dependable partners such as China and India. He said his country was “shocked” over the lack of punishment for those who instigated the Nord Stream attack and called for a “fair and swift investigation” into the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines that many believe was carried out at the behest of the USA.

Back on the front the tide of battle now seems to be turning in favour of the Russians again. The strategic city of Bakhmut in Ukrainian-occupied Donbas is almost completely cut off by the Russians. In what looks like preparations for the abandonment of their positions, the Ukrainians are blowing-up all the bridges in the city to slow down the Russian advance.

Bakhmut is a strategically important transport hub for the supply of the Ukrainian forces in the Donbas. Russian control of the city would be a key step towards the complete liberation of the Donetsk People’s Republic.

The Russians are now also poised to re-take the key railway hub of Kupiansk, a city in the Kharkhov region that it was forced to evacuate last September. The Ukrainians have responded with a number of largely ineffectual drone attacks on military targets in Russia and Belarus, whilst Russian special forces continue a manhunt for a Ukrainian sabotage squad that crossed the border this week and fired at a civilian car in the Bryansk region killing two men and wounding a 10-year-old boy.