Europe, Middle East, News Watch, Side Feature

News Headlines: 22/06/2022

• Lithuania Bans Transit of Goods to Kaliningrad
• Putin Predicts the end of America’s Unipolar Moment
• Poll Shows AKP Losing in Parliamentary Elections

Lithuania Bans Transit of Goods to Kaliningrad

Lithuania announced that it was banning the transport of sanctioned goods through its territory to Kaliningrad, which the governor of the Russian enclave estimates will impact 50% of all goods that are transported to the territory by rail. The Russian Foreign Ministry said if these restrictions aren’t lifted, Moscow will retaliate. Goods are shipped from Russia to Kaliningrad by rail through Belarus and Lithuania. Nothing transits through Poland, leaving shipments via the Baltic Sea the only way Russia will be able to transport sanctioned items to the enclave. In February, Lithuania banned Russian airlines from using its airspace to fly to Kaliningrad, cutting off the shortest flight path from Russia to the enclave. Lithuania defended its decision, arguing it is only a ban on sanctions goods and not a blockade. Laurynas Kasciunas, the chairman of the Lithuanian Parliament’s national security and defense committee, said Vilnius is not “particularly worried about Russian threats.” He said a military response “is highly unlikely because Lithuania is a member of NATO. If this were not the case, they probably would consider it.”

Putin Predicts the end of America’s Unipolar Moment

Russian president Vladimir Putin used his address at the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg, to sharply denounce the West’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “A year and half ago, speaking at the Davos forum, I once again emphasized that the era of the unipolar world order is over — I want to start with this, it is an inescapable fact. It [the unipolar world order] is over, despite all of the attempts to save it, to preserve it by any means possible. Change is the natural course of history…” Putin reiterated his position that the Kremlin was “forced” to initiate the invasion of Ukraine—referred to in Russia as a “special military operation”—by the West’s refusal to address Russia’s legitimate security concerns. “The West has fundamentally refused to fulfil its earlier obligations,” he said. “It is simply impossible to reach any new agreements with them. In the current situation, in the face of growing threats and risks for us, Russia’s decision to conduct the special military operation was forced. Unquestionably difficult, but forced and necessary.” Whilst Putin has accurately predicted the end of America’s unipolar moment, but it won’t be Russia who will be replacing the US as it lacks any values or ideology to replace the global liberal order and Capitalism.

Poll Shows AKP Losing in Parliamentary Elections

A poll conducted by KONDA Research and Consultancy surveyed Turkish voters on their party preferences for the June 18 general election and found that the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP)-led alliance enjoyed a sizeable lead over the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)-led alliance. The AKP has been in power for two decades winning successive elections. But the poor performance of the economy has caused a dent in the AKP’s record and for the first time, in decades, the AKP’s victory looks precarious. If these polling numbers are sustained, the AKP will have to increasingly suppress the opposition to beat them at the polls. The AKP is already using the courts to suppress popular candidates in the CHP who might challenge President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the presidency. For example, CHP Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu is under investigation for “insulting public officials” in a case that could bar him from politics. The AKP has also lowered the electoral threshold so the AKP-allied Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) can remain competitive as it loses popularity.