InvestEU and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development partner to finance green projects in EU countries, with over $1.192 billion in funding available. 

European Bank for reconstruction and development logo in front of their main office for Ljubljana – 15 Sep 2021 (Shutterstock)

By Harper Meacham  

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and European Commission are working together to help European Union (EU) countries reach their full green potential through the InvestEU program. 

The program is providing over €1.1 billion (about $1.192 billion) in financing to support sustainable projects in the municipal, transport and energy sectors in Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.  

The financing will address environmental challenges, contribute to the EBRD’s Green Cities program, and support green investments in a range of industrial and infrastructure projects.  

The InvestEU Investment Committee has approved guarantees of up to €150 million (about $162.7 million) for the first EBRD operations as part of the InvestEU guarantee agreement worth up to €450 million (about $487.9 million) between the European Commission and the EBRD.  

This will help financial institutions in these countries provide loans to finance investments in sustainable transport, energy efficiency, renewable energy and residential buildings, and support green investments in private companies facing higher costs of newer technologies, higher perceived risks and a lack of available financing. 

The InvestEU program aims to leverage substantial private and public funds to support a sustainable recovery, mobilize private investments for the EU’s policy priorities. 

They also work to back investment projects of implementing partners using the EU budget guarantee of €26.2 billion ($28.4 billion).  

The entire budgetary guarantee will back the investment projects of the implementing partners, increase their risk-bearing capacity, and mobilize at least €372 billion ($403.4 billion) in additional investment. 

Ukraine-Russia conflict sparks global food insecurity, African nations relying on Ukrainian grain imports in crisis.

Wheatfield in Ukraine (Ryzhkov Oleksandr/ Shutterstock)

By Kevin Zupkas

Ukraine has historically been considered Europe’s ‘breadbasket,’ as the grain-rich steppes in Ukraine and Russia account for roughly 23% of the world’s supply of wheat, 64% of its sunflower oil, 19% of its barley, and 18% of its corn. Because of this, many nations in Africa and the Middle East that either lack fertile soil or sophisticated agricultural infrastructure have heavily relied on Ukraine and Russia for their supply of grain.

According to the UN Comtrade database, countries such as Benin and Somalia imported 100% of their grain supply from either Ukraine or Russia, while that figure ranged between 82% and 64% in countries such as Egypt, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Senegal.

So, you get the picture: Ukraine and Russia are major world suppliers of grain––so much so, that many countries particularly in Africa have relied solely on Ukrainian and Russian grain exports as their primary source of food.

It shouldn’t be hard to imagine then how chaos and instability would ensue from food insecurity when you put these two global grain suppliers in a brutal war against each other.

With roughly 71% of Ukraine’s land being used for agricultural use, and roughly 95% of Ukraine’s wheat exports exiting through the Black Sea; occupation and blockade would prove to be catastrophic. About 30% of that farmland is now either occupied or unsafe for further use.

This would devastate not only the Ukrainian economy but especially the African nations which almost entirely rely on Ukrainian grain imports as their primary source of food.

This was and continues to potentially be a global catastrophe. Luckily this was an issue that was recognized by all sides of the conflict, and humanitarian efforts brokered a deal that would allow grain shipments to continue unrestricted began shortly after the war’s outbreak.

An agreement known as the Black Sea Grain Initiative was ratified by the two sides and brokered by Turkey and the United Nations on July 22, 2022. This would help mitigate the mass chaos that would occur in dependent nations, however, shipment rates were still nowhere near the necessary prewar scale to provide the developing world with enough grain. It was under constant threat of being broken by the Russians if the conflict were to ever escalate.

Now, about a year on, grain prices have stabilized after spiking from 50% to 60% at the start of the war. Other countries and regions such as the U.S., Canada and the European Union were able to ramp up grain production to compensate for lost Ukrainian grain. And just this last month on Mar. 18, Russia agreed to extend the deal by another 60 days (although Turkey and Ukraine claimed that it would be extended by 120).

Despite this, the only way to fully ensure food security in the future is to find a way to end this war as soon as possible or to begin the war against climate change so that perhaps one-day developing nations will have the required soil and equipment to produce their own source of food.

Neglected environmental consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  

Thick black smoke covers the sky during the war between Ukraine and Russia. Disaster in Ukraine. – 24 Mar 2023 (Shutterstock)

By Tetiana Kozachanska  

The environmental aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine has largely been overlooked in discussions of the ongoing conflict.  

Scientists and activists around the world have called for the reduction of CO2 emissions to fight climate change. However, the catastrophic environmental consequences caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine have been neglected in this discourse.  

For the past year, the efforts of the international community have been directed to support Ukrainian resistance and to save human lives, although, not much could have been done to support the Ukrainian ecosystem and save the local biosphere.  

In an interview with The New York Times, Doug Weir, the Research and Policy Director at the Conflict and Environment Observatory, highlighted how the environment is frequently impacted by war without receiving sufficient attention or acknowledgment. 

“The environment is the silent victim of conflicts,” said Weir.  

While newspapers often focus on Russia’s crimes against humanity in their headlines, environmental issues often fail to garner public attention and remain largely invisible to the general public.   

As of December 2022, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine reported more than 2200 cases of ecocidethe deliberate destruction of the natural environment.   

These include “the blowing up of fuel and lubricant warehouses, oil product storages with the corresponding consequences for the environment … airstrikes on enterprises that use dangerous chemicals in production … the damage and destruction of treatment facilities, and the spilling of sewage into reservoirs, as well as damage to the ground cover, burning of forests––especially in the territories of the nature reserve fund.”   

The Ministry emphasized that there are no borders from pollution caused by shelling, implying mainly the shared atmosphere and rivers that cross national boundaries.   

A plan to restore the environment after the war’s end is already in development.  

Climate activists from Friday For Future Ukraine attended the Group of Seven (G7) summit–– an organization of the world’s seven largest “advanced” economies, which dominate global trade and the international financial system such as Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the United States––in Germany in June 2022.   

They demanded an immediate full embargo on Russian fossil fuels, as well as a coal phase-out by 2030, according to their social media. They share the message of dirty money from fossil fuels paying for the genocide of a peaceful nation and organize strikes around Europe to pressure decision-makers.  

Right now, Ukraine is paying an unjust price for the forced war not only by sacrificing human lives but also by its nature.  

Who will pay the price for restoring the fertile land of the country famous for its agriculture––and what is this price? 

Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant: A Looming Threat in Ukraine’s War with Russia.

Photo of Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant (Shutterstock)

By Paul Mitsopoulos

What are nuclear power plants?

About 10% of the world’s energy is generated by nuclear power from 440 reactors. The U.S. is the leading producer of nuclear energy today.

Nuclear power plants have been widely regarded to be a much cleaner source of energy, producing much lower carbon emissions than fossil fuel plants. They reduce the dependence on oil to produce electrical energy.

This process is done through nuclear fission, specifically nuclear reaction, which splits atoms, releasing heat and radiation necessary to produce energy. This process is zero emission and carries a smaller land footprint, meaning that it takes up less space to create similar energy to other low/no emission methods.

However, this type of energy production does not come without its cons.

Nuclear fuels, specifically uranium, are non-renewable. They are a finite material that must be mined. In addition, these facilities are expensive to maintain and require a lot of responsibility.

Nuclear power plants create radioactive waste that must be disposed of properly. And, of course, the elephant in the room: they are not called “nuclear” for no reason. Nuclear power plants have the capability of becoming weaponized.

They have headlined articles and have become infamous for the destruction caused by nuclear meltdowns. Some of the most recent events may sound familiar: Chernobyl (1986) and Fukushima (2011). Now there is a new powerplant making the headlines; Zaporizhzhia in Ukraine.

So, it begs the question, does humanity have the maturity to utilize this powerful technology?


Ukraine ranks seventh in countries generating nuclear power. Zaporizhzhia is Europe’s largest nuclear facility and the largest of Ukraine’s four nuclear power plants that provide the country with half of its electricity.

Ukraine’s plants are all operated by a state company called Energoatom, and there are a total of 12 reactors, with six of them in Zaporizhzhia. These plants have been heavily reinforced in concrete containment buildings, heavy protection measures meant to reduce any chances of nuclear tragedies.

Nuclear safety has been a strong emphasis for most countries in the world since the cold war. Although now, Russia’s invasion has made this increasingly more difficult.

Putin, who has openly made nuclear threats in his speeches, has brought instability and risk to Zaporizhzhia since the Russian forces captured it. Missile impacts and attacks launched near the nuclear plant have made operations extremely difficult.

An understaffed and weary Ukrainian team has been struggling. Being responsible for preventing a nuclear meltdown and knowing their lives could be at risk at any second is emotionally tolling for these individuals.

The facility, which is near the front lines of battle, is constantly at risk, with both sides trading the blame with each other.  The plant has recently lost power for the sixth time after a Russian missile attack on critical infrastructure. The plant has been forced to run on emergency power generators multiple times to maintain the plant’s safety and cooling systems that are integral in preventing a nuclear meltdown.

Even more alarming is that the Russian troops have been draining the plants’ water source that is needed to maintain safe temperatures.

Russian and Ukrainian authorities have been at a standstill with neither side able to negotiate a way to properly deescalate this dire situation. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director, Rafael Grossi, has stated his disbelief in the complacency toward resolving this matter.

It is alarming to think of the disaster that Zaporizhzhia could have on the environment. The war that Russia has created poses a looming threat to not only the national identity of Ukrainians but possibly their homes for years to come.

With all the good that nuclear facilities can produce, it is evident that it has been tainted by all the disregard for life that war can bring. If we are to expect to find a way to create a that is sustainable environment, humanity must collectively come together to prevent potential tragedies like Zaporzhzhia.

It is easy to forget about the devastation caused by war on the environment and the threats that it poses in its entirety. If we are to expect to find a way to create an environment that is sustainable, humanity must collectively come together to prevent potential tragedies like Zaporzhzhia.

Georgia and Germany’s EU candidacy alliance faces uncertainty.

Georgia and EU flags – date unknown (Shutterstock)

By Tara Trinley

Germany Minister of Foreign Affairs, Annalena Baerbock, landed in Georgia capital Tbilisi late on Mar. 23. The visit comes amidst uncertainty over Georgia’s commitment to pursuing a path to EU candidacy.

Last summer, Georgia applied for European Union (EU) status along with Ukraine and Moldova.

Ukraine and Moldova were granted candidate status, while Georgia was promised the same only after meeting 12 conditions aimed at anti-corruption and democracy building.

However, just a few weeks ago, the Georgian Dream party passed a controversial “foreign agent” bill, sparking mass protests across the country and severely damaging Georgia’s image as an emerging non-Soviet, European nation.

The bill was retracted, but it caste serious doubts over Georgia’s commitment to joining the EU.

Now, Baerbock has spoken with Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili in an attempt to keep Georgia on a European path.

“I want to make it clear that Germany is fully committed to Georgia’s prospect of EU membership,” Baerbock said.

Baerbock further stated that Germany sees the actions of the Dream Party as contrary to what “the overwhelming majority of Georgians want.”

In their conversation, Baerbock and Zourabichvili discussed a Germany-Georgian alliance for EU Candidacy. Zourabichvili agreed that most younger Georgian’s would be enthusiastic about a freer, more transparent government, but was concerned that a second rejection from EU Candidacy would discourage the base of pro-European support.

Baerbock understood these concerns, but she defended Georgia’s process to acquire status.

Georgia needs to continue reforms in order to get the candidate status,” Baerbock said.

Baerbock continued to say, however, that Georgia would not reform alone but with the support of Germany and other like-minded nations. The minister remarked, “That is why I am here and this is what my government supports.”

Georgia becoming a European nation is not guaranteed.

Today, Russia occupies 20% of Georgian internationally recognized territory. Russian President Vladimir Putin views Georgia as an important anchoring point for Russian influence in the South Caucasus.

How Russia’s war and climate change are causing a humanitarian crisis in Central Asia

Old rotting ship in the ship graveyard in the Uzbek desert near Moynak or Muynak due to climate change – Aral Sea, Uzbekistan, Central Asia – date unknown (Ann Ritter/ Shutterstock)

By Jack Evans

Climate change in Central Asia has caused a domino effect of disastrous developments in the region.

While climate change affects all people and all regions, the temperature in Central Asia has been increasing at an accelerated rate compared to other regions of the world. This has led to droughts, food insecurity and human migration as areas of Central Asia became more inhospitable.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated these dire issues.

Central Asia’s economy has been strained due to its loss of agricultural lands and the influx of Russians who have fled to escape conscription. Additionally, the sanctions placed upon Russia by the West-led coalition have accelerated the humanitarian crisis even more as countries like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan are reliant upon trade with Russia, making it even more difficult to deal with the ramifications of climate change in the region.

These harmful effects are not limited to the Central Asian region.

According to the World Bank, half of the top 20 producers of greenhouse gases come from Central Asia. While these countries have made commitments to decrease greenhouse gas production, the World Bank readily acknowledges that many of these countries lack the structural, institutional, and economic progress to implement these changes.

Biden’s visit to Ukraine and Poland: “Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia – never!”

President Biden speaks to a crowd in Warsaw, Poland – 21 Feb 2023 (Jack Evans)

By Kevin Zupkas 

Nearly a year after Russian tanks rolled across the border into Ukraine –– with many military experts having predicted that Kyiv would fall within a few days –– President Biden visited the still Ukrainian-controlled capital in what was a hugely symbolic and solidary event. 

Biden’s journey to Ukraine itself was largely secretive: leaving the White House at 4:15 a.m. Eastern Time on Feb. 19, and even posting a fake day schedule on the White House website

Biden wasn’t seen in public until he arrived in the Ukrainian capital that Monday morning. He took a train from an airport in Poland in what Ukrainian National Rail (Ukrzaliznytsia) CEO Oleksandr Kamyshin dubbed “Rail Force One.”

Many ceremonial proceedings took place during his visit, including a laying of wreaths in the colors of the Ukrainian and United States’ flags in honor of fallen Ukrainian soldiers.

The most memorable developments of the visit, however, occurred at the presidential palace where Biden heavily criticized the failures of Putin’s evil actions and reaffirmed the West’s unrelenting and unyielding support for Ukraine.

“One year later, Kyiv stands and Ukraine stands. Democracy stands, Americans stand with you, and the world stands with you” and that “Kyiv has captured a part of my heart,” he said. 

Biden pledged another military package worth $460 million, mostly consisting of ammunition and hand-held arms such as Javelin anti-tank launchers. He left Ukraine for Poland around 8:00 p.m. local time that day. The following day, Feb. 22, he met with Polish president Andrzej Duda before holding a speech in Warsaw, Poland. 

Biden’s speech coincided with Putin’s decision to suspend its ratification of the START Treaty: a treaty that limits the U.S. and Russia’s nuclear arsenals –– a move that was seen as escalatory. In response, Biden reaffirmed the strength and unity of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) coalition in his speech and emphasized the necessity of security throughout the European continent.

“[Putin] doubts our staying power. He doubts our continued support for Ukraine. He doubts whether NATO can remain unified. But there should be no doubt our support for Ukraine will not waver. NATO will not be divided, and we will not tire,” Biden said. “The Ukrainian people are too brave. America, Europe, a coalition of nations for the Atlantic to the Pacific, we were too unified. Democracy was too strong.”

Biden’s statements reassuring the power and unity of the NATO alliance were well received by the crowd of Polish citizens and Ukrainian refugees. 

Liberty Lexington’s very own Jack Evans, who attended the event, said the audience was overwhelmingly supportive of Biden –– even more so than of their own president, Duda –– who showed strong faith in the Eastern European populace towards US presence and the NATO alliance.

What we have learned from Biden’s Eastern European excursion is not that the U.S. is supportive of Ukraine and its NATO allies, but rather we learned the true scope of the unity among the NATO alliance, and the popularity of U.S. presence in Eastern Europe. 

It is important then, that we continue our unrelenting support for Ukraine and continue cooperation with our NATO allies in order to guarantee peace and democracy throughout the European continent for years to come.

Poland continues to host Ukrainians one year after Russian invasion

Volunteers help refugees arriving to main railway station – Wroclaw Poland 03 Mar 2022 (Shutterstock/Maksym Szyda)

By Jack Evans 

Since Feb. 24, 2022, Poland has seen over 10 million Ukrainians cross through its territorial bounds. Of these, 1.4 million refugees have decided to remain in Poland.

These refugees have been supported by many volunteer organizations. The response has been described by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as “…a whole-of-society effort, from citizens to the highest level of the Polish government,” with many volunteer organizations providing support.

Polish president Andrzej Duda commended the efforts of Polish citizens, drawing parallels with the anti-communist “Solidarity” political movement. However, his speech also highlighted the grim circumstances faced by Ukrainians who have been unable to escape the war, with an emphasis on rape and murder. 

As the war continues, Poland is expected to welcome more Ukrainians due to shared cultural similarities, which may facilitate a smoother transition for displaced Ukrainians.

The Ukrainian war does not stop in Ukraine

Russian tank in Kyiv region of Ukraine – 05 April 2022 (Shutterstock)

By Blake Ramsey

As the Russian War in Ukraine continues, new developments regarding the war have begun to take place in other places in Eastern Europe.  

Refugees from Ukraine have fled to parts of Eastern Europe, making the effects of the war more widely felt than just the Ukrainian-Russian region; but over the past month, Russia has showcased a greater willingness to act aggressively in other parts of Eastern Europe.  

Earlier this month, Moldovan President Maia Sandu confirmed that the Moldovan intelligence community confirmed a Russian plot to oust the Moldovan government because of its pro-EU stance. This collaboration with Ukraine, which borders Moldova, was brought to their attention by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Additionally, Russia likely senses the weakness of the Moldovan government, as its Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita resigned after economic troubles during her 18-month term.  

While Gavrilita was pro-European Union (EU) herself, her resignation does little for Russian geopolitics, as the Moldovan president has the power to appoint a prime minister in her stead. Thus, to effectively cripple the pro-EU Moldovan government, Russia would have to oust the president and ruling government, installing a government through an artificially created protest. 

Russia’s plan reportedly involves citizens of Russia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Belarus entering Moldova to attempt to stir action. This not only suggests Russia’s influence in the region but also geopolitical interest for other Eastern European countries.

Another recent development involves Moldova’s participation in the war. After being accused of having the plan to overthrow Moldova’s government, which Russia denies, Russia accused Ukraine of planning to attack Transnistria. Transnistria is a formerly Moldovan region that broke away through Russian separatists, similar to what happened in Ukrainian cities, Donbas and Luhansk.

Ukraine vigorously denies this claim, and Moldova believes them, expecting it to rather be a false-flag attack by Russian forces if it does indeed happen. 

While these developments are new with very little information publicly on them, the recent Russian expansionism outside of the borders of Ukraine suggests that Russia does not plan to stop at Ukraine or to go to a “defensive” war in protecting regions already conquered – rather, Russia wants to continue to expand their reach and geopolitical influence within the region. 

This has three vast implications for the continuing war: One, most significantly, it showcases that Russia plans on continuing its assault on Ukraine. Second, the geopolitics of being pro-EU vs pro-Russia will continue to play a major part in Eastern European countries as Russia seeks to gain further traction in this region. Third, and potentially most harrowing, if Russia does indeed manage to destabilize Moldova’s government, it will cause further fighting in a warring region and more refugees attempting to escape the fighting. 

Turkey and Syria fall victim to earthquake aftershocks Monday, devastating hundreds of more citizens.

Drone photos show the massive devastation caused by the earthquake that struck Syria and Turkey, leaving tens of thousands dead and injured. Aleppo, Syria February 8, 2023 (Mohammad Bash/ Shutterstock)

By Harper Meacham

A magnitude 6.3 aftershock struck Turkey and Syria Monday, killing eight and injuring 300 just weeks after a deadly earthquake hit in the same area. 

Turkey’s southern Hatay providence, along the Syrian border, felt the effects of the temblors that damaged buildings that had survived the quakes earlier this month. More than 48,000 people have died across Turkey and Syria since the magnitude 7.8 earthquake on Feb. 6. 

“The new tremblor has unsettled families and communities who’ve already had their sense of security shaken to the core,” said Jenelle Eli, a spokesperson for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

According to the United States Geological Survey, the Kahramanmaraş region was expected to face severe aftershocks, especially after experiencing the 7.8 magnitude earthquake.

Turkish Enterprise and Business Confederation Reconstruction estimated reconstruction to cost nearly $85 billion addressing the 8,000 budlings that were destroyed. 

The aftershocks trapped many inside buildings, and an aid group with workers in Syria reported many citizens jumping from buildings in a panic.  

Out of fear of losing more lives, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay urged the public to stay far from damaged buildings, especially if there are belongings inside. 

Before the disaster, Turkey was already recovering from a collapsing currency and runaway inflation crisis; some leaders of opposing parties took this opportunity after the earthquake to defame Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in hopes of furthering their campaign in preparation for elections this May. 

The leader of Turkey’s main opposition party, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, said if anyone is to blame for this disaster, it’sErdoğan. 

“In a period like this, I cannot stomach people conducting negative campaigns for political interest,” Erdoğan said in response to Kilicdaroglu. 

Erdoğan will face growing pressure to address Turkey’s inevitable economic blow and the thousands of lives lost due to the massive destruction, especially with elections around the corner.