Ukraine – A report released by the Ukrainian defence intelligence service last week shows that Russia currently has 94,000 troops, 1,200 tanks, 330 warplanes and an expanding naval fleet along the border of the two countries. Tensions increased further on 26th November, when the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, claimed his security services had uncovered a Russian-backed plot to stage a coup.
Mr. Zelensky said Ukrainian intelligence was in possession of “certain audio recordings” in which “representatives of Ukraine” discussed with “representatives of Russia,” a coup plot set to take place on 1st or 2nd December. In response to the claim, Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said “Russia never does such things.”
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned Russia on 26th November that there would be unspecified “consequences” if Russian President, Vladimir Putin, did order a wider invasion of Ukraine. U.S. President, Joe Biden, confirmed the U.S. would be sending American military advisors and arms, such as anti-tank weapons, to Ukraine.
Mr. Zelensky said that Ukraine was ready to face any new Russian military action. “There is a threat today that there will be war tomorrow. We are entirely prepared for an escalation.” How the West will respond is uncertain, as many observers feel that if NATO increases their presence in the region, this could provoke the Kremlin, rather than deter them into invading Ukraine.
Guadeloupe & Martinique – Demonstrations have turned violent on the French Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique, following coronavirus restrictions, including mandatory vaccinations for healthcare workers, being implemented by the French government in Paris.
The recent protests have seen demonstrators set fire to tyres and blocking roads. Police have come under gunfire and last week there was widespread looting and violence. The authorities have taken control of several petrol stations due to concerns about the supply of fuel on the islands. Martinique imposed a curfew from 7pm to 5am local time until calm is restored in order to facilitate the intervention of the security forces. France has sent over 200 reinforcements to the region, including 50 specialist police officers.
The islands are a popular winter destination with tourists, but given the current situation and the lack of a solution, enhanced security precautions should be adopted for anyone travelling to the region.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – The DRC has seen an increase in the kidnapping of foreign nationals. The latest events took place in Djugu, in Ituri province, where two Chinese nationals were killed and an unknown number of other people have been kidnapped. The attack is thought to have been carried out by the CODECO militia group.
This incident follows an attack earlier in November, where one policeman was killed and five Chinese nationals were kidnapped near a mine close to the village of Mukera in South Kivu province. The governor of South Kivu, Theo Kasi, suspended the operations of six small Chinese companies, ordering all local and foreign staff to leave the sites. Protests erupted in some areas after companies did not close immediately, local media reported. Beijing has ordered all its citizens to leave the region immediately.
Elsewhere in the troubled country, the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN) recently said that suspected rebels with links to the M23 movement killed a guard in Virunga National Park. M23 is one of more than 120 armed groups which roam the Eastern DRC and it remains one of the world’s most dangerous places.
Ethiopia – Conflict now seems unavoidable in the East African country. UK Minister for Africa, Vicky Ford said in a statement on November 24, “I am urging all British Nationals, whatever their circumstance, to leave immediately while commercial flights are readily available and Addis Ababa Bole International Airport remains open.” UN employees have also been strongly advised to leave Ethiopia as soon as possible.
The urgency to evacuate from Ethiopia was triggered by the Tigray rebel forces’ rapid surge toward the capital over recent days. The rebel troops have reportedly approached the Debre Sina pass, which lies 190 kilometres north of Addis Ababa.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for an immediate end to the fighting in Ethiopia. It follows recent reports that Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, has joined the front line where government forces are battling with the Tigray rebel fighters. The year-long conflict has led to a humanitarian crisis, with hundreds of thousands facing famine-like conditions in the north of Ethiopia. Thousands of people have been killed and millions forced from their homes.
Michael Bisley, Security Analyst
The TRIP Group