MAIN TAKEAWAY OF THE MONTH
As Russia’s offensive in Ukraine continues, efforts to unblock grain shipments in Ukrainian ports have resulted in an UN-backed agreement signed by Kyiv and Moscow. The first such shipment took place on August 1st when a ship carrying Ukrainian grains left Odesa for Lebanon. Meanwhile, international efforts to support Ukraine’s war efforts continue, with the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and the European Union pledging additional support, either in the form of security or military assistance or as an aid in the investigation of war crimes. In July, the Russian-EU energy standoff prompted Gazprom to reduce gas supply through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. Meanwhile, EU energy ministers have approved a plan to reduce natural gas consumption until March 2023. The diplomatic dispute between Bulgaria and Russia has heightened tensions in the Balkans, following Sofia’s decision to expel 70 Russian diplomats. Unrest has also risen between Serbia and Kosovo following a contested new decision from Pristina regarding vehicle license plates, which has sparked outrage among the country’s Serb minority. The escalation of tensions has resulted in protests and reports of gunfire. This will be monitored also in August, considering recent news.