Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 27 April 2023

Tensions rising in Nagorno-Karabakh

GS Paper - 2 (International Relations)

Azerbaijan said it had established a checkpoint at the start of the Lachin corridor, the only land route linking Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh, a step that was followed by claims of border shootings by both Azeri and Armenian forces.

What is Nagorno-Karabakh?

  1. Nagorno-Karabakh, known as Artsakh by Armenians, is a landlocked mountainous area in the South Caucasus. It was claimed by both Azerbaijan and Armenia after the fall of the Russian Empire in 1917 and has remained a point of tension ever since.
  2. The territory is internationally recognised as part of oil-rich Azerbaijan, but its inhabitants are predominantly ethnic Armenians and have their own government which has enjoyed close links to the government in neighbouring Armenia but has not been officially recognised by it or other U.N. member states.
  3. Armenians, who are Christians, claim a long historical dominance in the area, dating back to several centuries before Christ.
  4. Azerbaijan, whose inhabitants are mostly Muslim, links its historical identity to the territory too.
  5. It accuses the Armenians of driving out Azeris who lived nearby in the 1990s. It wants to gain full control over the enclave, suggesting ethnic Armenians take Azeri passports or leave.

What is the history?

  1. Over the centuries, the enclave has come under the sway of PersiansTurksRussiansOttomans and Soviets.
  2. After the Russian revolution of 1917Armenia and Azerbaijan fought over the region. When the Bolsheviks took over Azerbaijan, Armenia agreed to Bolshevik control, ushering in the Sovietisation of the whole of the Caucasus.
  3. Karabakh, with its borders redrawn to include as many Armenians as possible, remained as part of the Azeri Soviet Republic but with autonomy. Its name was the “Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast”.

What is happening now in Nagorno-Karabakh?

  1. On 23 April 2023, Azerbaijani troops set up a new checkpoint, near the Armenian border at the beginning of the Lachin corridor, in what Armenia has said is an explicit violation of the November 2020 truce.
  2. Azerbaijan said the move, which threatens to cut Karabakh off entirely, was aimed at ending Armenian arms supplies to what it calls a separatist administration.
  3. The United States said it was deeply concerned by the move and called for free and open movement along the corridor.
  4. The Kremlin said there was no alternative to the 2020 ceasefire agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan and that it was working on talks between Baku and Yerevan.
  5. The crisis on the Lachin corridor has strained ties between Russia and Armenia. Armenia has repeatedly called for Moscow to enforce the November 2020 ceasefire and open the Lachin corridor, while Moscow has said Armenia is refusing peace talks with Azerbaijan.


EU approve carbon market scheme

GS Paper - 3 (Environment)

The 27 member states in the EU approved a revamp to the bloc’s so-called carbon market, which is set to make it more costly to pollute for businesses in Europe, sharpening the main tool the EU has to discourage carbon dioxide emissions in the industrial sector. The changes to the EU’s Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), more commonly called the bloc’s carbon market. The approval was announced amid a meeting of the bloc’s environment ministers in Brussels.

What is the carbon market?

  1. Since 2005, European factories and power plants have had to purchase permits to cover their CO2 emissions, with the prices becoming more prohibitive as their usage increases against norms for their sectors.
  2. The idea is to create financial incentives for keeping emissions in check, and penalties for failing to — and to generate funds for climate-related projects.
  3. It applies to power-generation industriesenergy-intensive industries and the aviation sector.
  4. Eventually it will be expanded to cover greenhouse gases other than CO2, such as methane and nitrogen oxides.
  5. The law’s existence has coincided with emissions from those sectors falling by 43% in the EU but what share of that might be correlation and what share might be coincidence is harder to ascertain, amid various partially-related breakthroughs helping to limit emissions. The changes will set more stringent targets and tougher penalties as time passes.
  6. The new rules increase the overall ambition of emissions reductions by 2030 in the sectors covered by the EU ETS to 62% compared to 2005 levels, the EU said.
  7. The free permits granted to companies for lower levels of emissions will be gradually phased out, by 2034 for heavy industries and by 2026 for the aviation sector, for instance.
  8. There had been some resistance to the changes within the bloc, which are roughly two years in the making.
  9. Some EU policies and laws — international sanctions are one example of current relevance amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — require unanimous approval from member states, but for most a qualified majority vote suffices.


Guided bombs are part of Russian tactics

GS Paper - 3 (Defence Technology)

Russia is increasingly attacking Ukraine with guided bombs, according to information by the Ukrainian Air Force. The Russian air force previously only sporadically used such weapons, but in recent years, up to 20 guided bomb hits daily were registered along the entire front line.

What are guided bombs?

  1. Unlike simple bombs, guided bombs have small wings and tail surfaces that allow them to be put into gliding flight.
  2. On the one hand that allows for precise targeting, on the other hand, the bombs can hit targets at a great distance from where they are dropped.
  3. Ukrainian military experts believe Russia currently has two types of guided bombs. They have had the modernsatellite-guided UPAB-1500B for a few years now, however, due to its extremely high production costs, such bombs are used sparingly, experts told DW.
  4. For the most part in Ukraine, the Russian army uses bombs that are originally unguided and weigh 500 (1,100lb)1,000 or 1,500 kilograms — and date back to Soviet times.
  5. The high-explosive FAB-type bombs are equipped with wings and a satellite control system, an upgrade to a high-precision weapon.
  6. These guided bombs are far inferior to modern systems, but Russia can still use them to attack Ukraine for a long time.

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