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Global Topics

Ten conflicts to watch in 2022 (Chatham House)

Richard Atwood, International Crisis Group’s executive vice president discusses today’s and tomorrow’s most dangerous wars and crises.

  • With Russia massing troops on Ukraine’s border, the Taliban seizing power in Afghanistan and Ethiopia’s civil war intensifying, what does the past year tell us about the state of international peace and security?
  • How do rising tensions among major powers impact multilateral efforts to make peace?
  • What change has new US president Joe Biden brought?
  • What about the impact of the pandemic, particularly as new variants emerge, and the worsening climate crisis?

Ten conflicts to watch in 2022 (chathamhouse.org)

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Geopolitics & Worlds

Space Force expands on-orbit ‘neighborhood watch’ mission with two new tracking satellites (Courtney Albon, Defense News)

The U.S. Space Force just launched two new space domain awareness satellites, expanding the capability of its Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program and boosting the accuracy of the service’s on-orbit tracking constellation.

The Northrop Grumman-built satellites launched Jan. 21 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, flying on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

Space Force expands on-orbit ‘neighborhood watch’ mission with two new tracking satellites (defensenews.com)

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Geopolitics & Worlds

Baltic states tout US-approved weapon shipments to Ukraine (Sebastian Sprenger, Defense News)

The Baltic states have received approval from Washington to send American-made weaponry to Ukraine to help the country fend off a potential Russian invasion, according to a Jan. 21 joint statement by the defense ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

The announcement is the latest effort by select NATO allies to shore up Ukraine’s defenses, as Russian troops continue massing along the border between the two nations. Alliance governments fear Moscow is planning an invasion, which Russian officials have denied.

Baltic states tout US-approved weapon shipments to Ukraine (defensenews.com)

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Geopolitics & Worlds

THAAD, in first operational use, destroys midrange ballistic missile in Houthi attack (Jen Judson and Joe Gould, Defense News)

A multibillion-dollar missile defense system owned by the United Arab Emirates and developed by the U.S. military intercepted a ballistic missile on Monday during a deadly attack by Houthi militants in Abu Dhabi, marking the system’s first known use in a military operation, Defense News has learned.

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System, made by Lockheed Martin, took out the midrange ballistic missile used to attack an Emirati oil facility near Al-Dhafra Air Base, according to two sources granted anonymity because they are not authorized to speak about the UAE’s activities. The Emirati base hosts U.S. and French forces.

THAAD, in first operational use, destroys midrange ballistic missile in Houthi attack (defensenews.com)

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Geopolitics & Worlds

Biden must act now to better arm Ukraine. Here’s what that should look like (Bradley Bowman, John Hardie and Jack Sullivan, Defense News)

As Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to add troops on Ukraine’s borders in preparation for a potential large-scale military operation, the Biden administration is reportedly weighing whether to provide additional defensive weapons to Ukraine. This should not be a difficult decision for the White House. The administration should be moving heaven and earth to urgently provide Ukraine — a beleaguered democracy pleading for American help — with the weapons and other support it needs to deter a Russian offensive by increasing the costs of aggression for the Kremlin.

Hoping to prevent a Russian offensive, U.S. President Joe Biden has tried offering Moscow a diplomatic offramp while warning that a renewed Russian invasion would trigger harsh Western sanctions, a strengthened force posture on NATO’s eastern flank and a dramatic increase in U.S. defense assistance to Ukraine. That assistance could include support for a potential Ukrainian insurgency against Russian occupation forces.

Biden must act now to better arm Ukraine. Here’s what that should look like. (defensenews.com)

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Geopolitics & Worlds

Defense industry frets as funding talks crawl (Joe Gould, Defense News)

Despite repeated warnings from uniformed Pentagon leaders and lawmakers of both parties that a full-year continuing resolution will hurt national security, some defense industry advocates are still worried about an impasse.

On Thursday, both chambers of Congress left town on recess until the week of Jan. 31, after making scant progress on a deal for an omnibus federal spending package. Amid partisan divisions over funding levels and policy provisions, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-N.Y., warned that a full-year CR would create a national security crisis ― in an effort to pressure Republicans.

Defense industry frets as funding talks crawl (defensenews.com)

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Geopolitics & Worlds

US hits Chinese defense companies with sanctions (The Associated Press, Defense News)

China on Friday criticized Washington for imposing sanctions on Chinese companies the U.S. says exported missile technology, and accused the United States of hypocrisy for selling nuclear-capable cruise missiles.

The United States announced penalties on three companies it said were engaged in unspecified “missile technology proliferation activities.” It said they were barred from U.S. markets and from obtaining technology that can be used to make weapons.

US hits Chinese defense companies with sanctions (defensenews.com)

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Geopolitics & Worlds

With blade issues resolved, Navy seeking four Ship to Shore Connectors a year (Megan Eckstein, Defense News)

The U.S. Navy’s program office for amphibious connectors is confident it can get its Ship to Shore Connector production line up to the desired four-a-year delivery rate in 2022 — despite past technical problems that led to production line slowdowns.

Capt. Scot Searles, the amphibious assault and connectors program manager, said last week the Navy and contractor Textron resolved a previous challenge with micro cracks in the SSC composite blades through both changes to the blades and the software that controls them.

With blade issues resolved, Navy seeking four Ship to Shore Connectors a year (defensenews.com)

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Geopolitics & Worlds

North Korean hypersonic threat is an alarming wake-up call for how we innovate (Ross Niebergall, Defense News)

Since September 2021, North Korea has conducted three hypersonic missile tests that are destabilizing the dynamics of the region. While it was announced that the developments did not pose an immediate threat to U.S. territory or its allies, the potential for North Korea to wield such powerful weapons casts a chilling effect throughout the world.

According to reports, the missiles’ range has nearly doubled since the initial test. North Korean state media reported that the most recent test missile hit a target 900 miles away. If true, this effectively puts most of Japan within range. At this pace of development, North Korea’s hypersonic missiles will be able to target U.S. forces not only in Japan, but Guam and Alaska within a few years.

North Korean hypersonic threat is an alarming wake-up call for how we innovate (defensenews.com)

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Geopolitics & Worlds

Russian-Led Mission in Kazakhstan Unveils New Peacekeeping Model (Part Two) (Vladimir Socor, The Jamestown Foundation)

Russia’s peacekeeping intervention with four minor allies in Kazakhstan (January 6 through January 19—see Part One in EDM, January 19, 2022) brings to six the number of Russian operations labeled as “peacekeeping” in Russia’s claimed sphere of influence from 1992 to date.

Compared with the previous cases (Tajikistan, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transnistria, Karabakh), however, the operation in Kazakhstan amounts to a “first” in many ways.

Russian-Led Mission in Kazakhstan Unveils New Peacekeeping Model (Part Two) – Jamestown

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Geopolitics & Worlds

The Two Faces of Kazakhstan’s Civil Unrest (Margarita Assenova, The Jamestown Foundation)

Kazakhstan faced the worst civil unrest since its independence, when popular protests turned violent and nearly caused state collapse in early January. Long perceived as the most stable and economically advanced state in Central Asia, the oil-rich country that attracted billions of foreign investments over the past three decades was forced to resort to Moscow’s help, through the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), to save the embattled regime.

The Two Faces of Kazakhstan’s Civil Unrest – Jamestown

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Geopolitics & Worlds

Kremlin Refocuses Its Propaganda in Preparation for War (Kseniya Kirillova, The Jamestown Foundation)

While Russia continues to build up its military forces on the Ukrainian border (see EDM, December 13, 2021 and January 20, 2022), the Kremlin has also stepped up the war against its southwestern neighbor in the information domain. This has been observed not only in a recent increase in aggressive rhetoric, which has periodically grown and ebbed for at least the last eight years, but also in a marked shift in the focus of Russia’s propaganda.

Kremlin Refocuses Its Propaganda in Preparation for War – Jamestown

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Geopolitics & Worlds

Water Crises and the Looming Ecological Catastrophe in Occupied Crimea and Devastated Donbas (Alla Hurska, The Jamestown Foundation)

The critical, chronic and worsening water shortages gripping the Crimean Peninsula derive from a combination of long-term and complex (both anthropogenic and natural) factors that can be traced back to at least the 16th and 17th centuries. Despite the changing technological capabilities and shifting political ideologies of the successive regimes that have wielded control over the area, local water-related problems have persisted. For now, there is little indication to suggest that Russia (which occupies Crimea since early 2014) has found a long-term and economically acceptable solution to this exacerbating crisis.

While access to fresh water may not be quite as limited in Donbas—partially and temporarily occupied by Russia-backed forces—this region also faces some dire challenges. Specifically, the local ecological conditions, which directly affect the health of regional water resources, have been deteriorating over the past eight years. In many ways this has been the result of mismanagement and the ongoing fighting that persists dangerously close to heavy industrial plants and water system infrastructure. If this situation continues (even absent any intensification in current, mostly low-level military engagements), a massive ecological catastrophe may prove inevitable.

While Russia could attempt to solve the water problem in Crimea by force, for now such a scenario does not appear realistic. Most likely, Moscow will preserve its current course, combining several approaches to dealing with the local water shortages. That status quo, however, will almost ensure that Crimea’s civilian population and, above all, the agriculture sector will continue to suffer.

Water Crises and the Looming Ecological Catastrophe in Occupied Crimea and Devastated Donbas – Jamestown

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Geopolitics & Worlds

Russian Hybrid Threats Report: Troops arrive in Belarus as propaganda narratives heat up (Atlantic Council)

As the crisis in Europe over Ukraine heats up, the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) is keeping a close eye on Russia’s movements across the military, cyber, and information domains. With more than five years of experience monitoring the situation in Ukraine, as well as Russia’s use of propaganda and disinformation to undermine the US, NATO, and the European Union, DFRLab’s global team presents the first installment of the Russian Hybrid Threats Report.

Russian Hybrid Threats Report: Troops arrive in Belarus as propaganda narratives heat up – Atlantic Council

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Geopolitics & Worlds

The race is on for a digital dollar (Atlantic Council)

Ready for UncleSamCoin? It’s official: The Federal Reserve’s new report on central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) has opened the door for the first time to the United States issuing its own digital currency. That marks an evolution from Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s previous skepticism about a US digital currency, and it comes at a moment in which nearly ninety countries are at least exploring the idea of issuing a CBDC. Experts from our GeoEconomics Center, which helped shape this debate with its Central Bank Digital Currency Tracker and all the research on global trends that goes into it, break down the next moves for the Fed.

FAST THINKING: The race is on for a digital dollar – Atlantic Council

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Geopolitics & Worlds

What if Russia invades Ukraine (again)? Consider these options for sanctions escalation (Brian O’Toole and Daniel Fried, Atlantic Council)

Just weeks into 2022—amid Western refusal to give into Kremlin demands for a sphere of domination in Central and Eastern Europe—intensified Russian attacks on Ukraine appear more likely than ever. Possibly coming at any time, according to the US government, these could include combinations of aggressive cyber or physical sabotage, assassinations, air and rocket assaults on Ukrainian military or civilian infrastructure, limited military incursions, or a full-scale land invasion.

What if Russia invades Ukraine (again)? Consider these options for sanctions escalation. – Atlantic Council

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Geopolitics & Worlds

Papua New Guinea’s growth conundrum (Stephen Howes, East Asia Forum)

National elections will be held in Papua New Guinea (PNG) in the middle of 2022. Elections are held every five years and are very popular events. Though voting is voluntary, voter turnout is just below that of Australia, where voting is compulsory. An extraordinary number of political candidates compete for office. The average number of candidates per seat grew from 8 in 1977 to 30 in 2017.

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister James Marape speaks at the UN General Assembly 76th session General Debate in New York City, US, 24 September 2021 (PHOTO: Peter Foley/Pool via REUTERS)

In the 2017 elections, 111 men but no women were elected. It is possible but unlikely that special measures will be put in place before the 2022 elections to ensure that that result is not repeated this year. If not, the only remaining hope is that at least a few of the growing number of women who stand at elections are successful at the hustings.

Papua New Guinea’s growth conundrum | East Asia Forum

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Geopolitics & Worlds

China’s challenges amid COVID-19 and great power competition (Wang Yong, East Asia Forum)

The COVID-19 pandemic and major power competition tested China in 2021. A review of the trends of 2021 reveals the opportunities and challenges ahead.People walk past the Chinese national flag as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues in Beijing, China, 13 January 2022 (Photo: Reuters/Thomas Peter).

COVID-19 continues to have a big impact on China’s economy. China controlled the pandemic, which helped its rapid economic recovery as it outperformed other major economies in 2020. But in 2021, new waves of infection sent shock waves from economically underdeveloped regions — including Inner Mongolia and Gansu — to the country’s economic centres like Beijing, Shanghai and Zhejiang. China adheres to a zero-COVID-19 policy of eliminating the virus and public opinion opposes the so-called ‘living with the virus’ model followed by Western countries.

China’s challenges amid COVID-19 and great power competition | East Asia Forum

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Geopolitics & Worlds

Zambia’s success will be Africa’s success (H.E. Hakainde Hichilema, Brookings)

The year 2021 has been a landmark year for Zambia. Two important events occurred. The passing of the first president of independent Zambia, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, was mourned in June. Then, in the election in August 2021, the people of Zambia voted decisively for change.

Zambia’s success will be Africa’s success (brookings.edu)

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Geopolitics & Worlds

The digital transformation of agriculture in Indonesia (Lesly Goh, Brookings)

Food security is an important goal for Indonesia, and since the introduction of the Food Law of 2012, the country has made good progress in staple food production. However, a World Bank report pointed out that overall food security performance—i.e., the availability, affordability, and (nutritional) quality of food—is mixed. To date, food security policies have aimed at improving availability; going forward, the policy focus should shift to enhancing affordability and nutritional quality. The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted weaknesses of the agri-food system in the country, but it also brings an unprecedented opportunity to transform the system.

The digital transformation of agriculture in Indonesia (brookings.edu)

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Geopolitics & Worlds

Federal investments ignore crucial upgrades to school facilities—and students pay the price (Logan Booker and Nicolas Zerbino, Brookings)

Throughout the first year of his presidency, Joe Biden has regularly highlighted the need for investing in school infrastructure. From speeches referencing the lack of safe drinking water and ventilation to the pollution produced by school buses, the subject has been consistently present in the administration’s remarks. The American Society of Civil Engineers echoed these concerns in its release of the nation’s infrastructure report card earlier this year, grading public school facilities with a D+.

Federal investments ignore crucial upgrades to school facilities—and students pay the price (brookings.edu)

Categorie
Global Topics

4 paradoxes of global education on International Day of Education (Brad Olsen, Brookings)

On the 4th annual International Day of Education, I find myself awash in some of the thorny paradoxes that mark educational development at the global level.

Until halfway through the 20th century, education was mostly a local affair. Although some reformers traveled abroad to find innovative instructional practices (including Horace Mann, Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, and the Qing dynasty), in most cases countries managed their own education programs and—within countries—schooling was often decentralized. It wasn’t until after World War II, when several western governments erected partnerships to ensure peace and economic stability, that multilateral institutions emerged and began articulating shared human values and administering them through educational efforts. Since then, a global architecture has ascended: one that supports countries to adopt education practices that achieve literacy, career preparedness, democratic goals such as gender equity and human rights, and—more recently—critical and creative thinking, digital competence, and environmental stewardship.

4 paradoxes of global education on International Day of Education (brookings.edu)

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Geopolitics & Worlds

Resistance to Erdoğan’s encroachment at Turkey’s top university, one year on (Kemal Kirişci, Mine Eder, and Mert Arslanalp, Brookings)

The start of 2021 was shocking as mobs attacked the U.S. Capitol, the bastion of American democracy, in an attempt to stop the certification of the presidential election. Simultaneously and far from the United States, a less conspicuous onslaught on another bastion of liberal democratic values unfolded when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan arbitrarily appointed a hand-picked rector to run Istanbul’s Boğaziçi University.

Resistance to Erdoğan’s encroachment at Turkey’s top university, one year on (brookings.edu)

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Geopolitics & Worlds

Steps the states should take to achieve the infrastructure bill’s broadband goals (Blair Levin, Brookings)

The recently signed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) makes the largest federal investment into broadband expansion in the nation’s history. To accomplish the act’s broadband goals, Congress made states the key decisionmakers, with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) providing oversight.

Steps the states should take to achieve the infrastructure bill’s broadband goals (brookings.edu)

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Geopolitics & Worlds

Did the FAA cry wolf on 5G? (Tom Wheeler, Brookings)

In the sixth century B.C., Greek storyteller Aesop told the tale of a boy tasked with watching his village’s sheep herd who sought attention by crying out a false warning that a wolf was threatening the flock. Some have asked whether the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) cried wolf about the use of new 5G wireless spectrum threatening aircraft safety. Supporting that query is confusion about why the FAA dumped this issue on the Biden administration just as the new 5G airwaves were about to be put into service.

Did the FAA cry wolf on 5G? (brookings.edu)

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Global Topics

Davos 2022. Building Future Preparedness (World Economic Forum)

Despite warnings that a global pandemic was a real possibility, few countries were ready for COVID-19. The world has also been disastrously late in responding to evidence of damaging climate change.

As we face an uncertain future, what lessons about risk, resilience and preparedness must be learned?

Speakers: Adam Tooze, Jeremy Farrar, Christian Mumenthaler, Odile Françoise Renaud-Basso, Mohammed Al-Jadaan

The Davos Agenda | World Economic Forum (weforum.org)

 

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Global Topics

Davos 2022. Global Economic Outlook (World Economic Forum)

From the impact of a new COVID variant to continued inflation, governments will continue to face economic challenges in 2022. What immediate and long-term actions will be required to stabilize the global economy and ensure a sustainable and equitable recovery?

The Davos Agenda | World Economic Forum (weforum.org)

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Global Topics

Davos 2022. Special Address by Yemi Osinbajo, Vice-President of Nigeria (World Economic Forum)

Speakers: Yemi Osinbajo, Børge Brende

The Davos Agenda | World Economic Forum (weforum.org)

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Global Topics

Davos 2022. Special Address by Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of Australia (World Economic Forum)

Speakers: Scott Morrison, Børge Brende

The Davos Agenda | World Economic Forum (weforum.org)

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Global Topics

Davos 2022. Restoring Trust in Global Trade and Supply Chains (World Economic Forum)

The pandemic has triggered a shift from a mindset of “just in time” to “just in case”. What domestic and international changes are needed to ensure the resilience of global supply chains and to rebuild support for trade as an engine of development and prosperity?

The Davos Agenda | World Economic Forum (weforum.org)

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Global Topics

Davos 2022. Live from Space: The Next Frontier for Knowledge and Action (World Economic Forum)

From commercial space flights to the growing number of satellite constellations, the space sector is seeing renewed attention.

Join astronaut Matthias Maurer live from the International Space Station, along with prominent experts and industry leaders, to explore how space research can improve life on our planet.

Speakers: Rebecca Blumenstein, Al Gore, Sarah Al Amiri, Chris Kemp, Josef Aschbacher, Matthias Maurer

The Davos Agenda | World Economic Forum (weforum.org)

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Global Topics

Davos 2022. ESG Metrics for a Sustainable Future (World Economic Forum)

We are transitioning to a new type of capitalism, melding the creation of prosperity, serving society and caring for the planet. How are early movers using the International Business Council and World Economic Forum Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics to achieve a sustainable future?

Speakers: Gillian R. Tett, Julie Sweet, Brian T. Moynihan, Alain Bejjani, Frans van Houten

The Davos Agenda | World Economic Forum (weforum.org)

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Global Topics

Davos 2022. Special Address by Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission (World Economic Forum)

Speakers: Ursula von der Leyen, Klaus Schwab

The Davos Agenda | World Economic Forum (weforum.org)

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Global Topics

Davos 2022. Special Address by Joko Widodo, President of Indonesia (World Economic Forum)

Speakers: Joko Widodo, Klaus Schwab

The Davos Agenda | World Economic Forum (weforum.org)

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Geopolitics & Worlds

Secretary Antony J. Blinken at a Press Availability (US Department of State)

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Good afternoon.  Foreign Minister Lavrov and I finished our meeting a short while ago, and I first want to begin by thanking Switzerland for hosting us, for its traditional hospitality, which is very much appreciated.

I came to Geneva following up on last week’s discussions at the U.S.-Russia Strategic Stability Dialogue, the NATO-Russia Council, and the OSCE on the crisis in Ukraine and broader European security issues.  Our objective was to determine whether Russia is prepared to take the diplomatic path and other necessary steps to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine and, ultimately, to resolve our differences through diplomacy and through dialogue.

The discussion today with Minister Lavrov was frank and substantive.  I conveyed the position of the United States and our European allies and partners that we stand firmly with Ukraine in support of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.  We’ve been clear:  If any Russian military forces move across Ukraine’s border, that’s a renewed invasion.  It will be met with swift, severe, and a united response from the United States and our partners and allies.

We also know from experience that Russia has an extensive playbook of aggression short of military action, including cyber attacks, paramilitary tactics, and other means of advancing their interests aggressively without overtly using military action.  Those types of Russian aggression will also be met with a decisive, calibrated, and again, united response.

That’s the clear message coming out of my meetings on Wednesday in Ukraine with President Zelenskyy, Foreign Minister Kuleba; yesterday in Germany with my counterparts from Germany, the UK, France, and the European Union; and with German Chancellor Scholz.  We’re united in our commitment to finding a way forward through diplomacy and dialogue, but equally in our resolve to impose massive consequences should Russia choose the path of confrontation and conflict.

I expressed again to Minister Lavrov that on the security concerns that Russia has raised in recent weeks, the United States and our European allies and partners are prepared to pursue possible means of addressing them in a spirit of reciprocity, which means, simply put, that Russia must also address our concerns.  There are several steps that we can take – all of us, Russia included – to increase transparency, to reduce risks, to advance arms control, to build trust.

I conveyed directly to Minister Lavrov our specific concerns for Russia’s actions that challenge or undermine peace and security not only in Ukraine but throughout Europe and, indeed, in the world.  I also laid out several ideas to reduce tensions and increase security which we’ve developed in consultation with our partners and allies and where we believe we can find common ground, again, based on the principle of reciprocity.

This was not a negotiation but a candid exchange of concerns and ideas.  I made clear to Minister Lavrov that there are certain issues and fundamental principles that the United States and our partners and allies are committed to defend.  That includes those that would impede the sovereign right of the Ukrainian people to write their own future.  There is no trade space there – none.

Foreign Minister Lavrov and I also talked about the way forward.  Let me say as well that he heard from us and from me that what is for us an inviolable rule: nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine, nothing about NATO without NATO, nothing about Europe without Europe.  Based on our discussion, I believe we can carry forward this work of developing understanding agreements together that ensure our mutual security, but that’s contingent on Russia stopping its aggression toward Ukraine.

So that’s the choice that Russia faces now.  It can choose the path of diplomacy that can lead to peace and security or the path that will lead only to conflict, severe consequences, and international condemnation.  The United States and our allies and partners in Europe stand ready to meet Russia on either path, and we will continue to stand with Ukraine.

I believe that Foreign Minister Lavrov now has a better understanding of our position and vice versa.  Today’s discussion was useful in that sense, and that’s precisely why we met.

So I’ll return to Washington this afternoon to consult with President Biden and our entire national security team, as well as members of Congress, and critically, allies and partners in the days ahead.  Based on the discussions today, Foreign Minister Lavrov and I agreed that it’s important for the diplomatic process to continue.  I told him that following the consultations that we’ll have in the coming days with allies and partners, we anticipate that we will be able to share with Russia our concerns and ideas in more detail and in writing next week.  And we agreed to further discussions after that.  We agreed as well that further diplomatic discussions would be the preferable way forward, but again, it is really up to Russia to decide which path it will pursue.

I should mention as well that the foreign minister and I had an opportunity to discuss Iran, an example of how the United States and Russia can work together on security issues of shared concern.  The talks with Iran about a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA have reached a decisive moment.  If a deal is not reached in the next few weeks, Iran’s ongoing nuclear advances will make it impossible to return to the JCPOA.

But right now, there’s still a window, a brief one, to bring those talks to a successful conclusion and address the remaining concerns of all sides.  We didn’t expect any major breakthroughs to happen today, but I believe we are now on a clearer path in terms of understanding each other’s concerns, each other’s positions.  Let’s see what the next the next days bring.

And with that, I’m happy to take your questions.

MR PRICE:  Andrea Mitchell.

QUESTION:  Thank you.  Thank you, Mr. Secretary.  Mr. Lavrov has spoken today about hysterical rhetoric, what he calls hysterical rhetoric from the West about an invasion, he claims, to provoke Ukraine.  And President Biden said that with what has happened so far, that he believes that Putin will move in because he’s got to do something.

So do you think, as of today, that you have a better understanding from Mr. Lavrov, first of all, of what Putin’s intentions are?  Do you have any commitment at all that they will stop the aggression that you say is standing in the way of any positive agreement?

He says that you are going to present written responses, which you’ve just confirmed, but he wants them to be to his original proposals, which you and everyone in the administration has said from the beginning are non-starters, proposals to limit NATO expansion.  So will your written answers have any different response to him about NATO expansion, which you just said is nothing, is not negotiable?  So where do you see a space for any kind of engagement to defuse this crisis?

And as you – since you brought up Iran, do you think there is the possibility, after talking to Mr. Lavrov, that you and Russia – the U.S. and Russia – and the other allies can get Iran – agree to come into compliance?  And will the U.S. then agree to lift sanctions perhaps simultaneously?  Thank you very much.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thanks very much, Andrea.  First, we’re not proceeding on the basis of emotion.  We’re proceeding on the basis of fact and history.  The facts are that Russia has amassed very significant forces on Ukraine’s border and continues to do so – 100,000 troops most recently, including forces deployed to Belarus that would give Russia the capacity, if President Putin so chooses, to attack Ukraine from the south, from the east, from the north.  And we’ve seen plans to undertake a variety of destabilizing actions, some of them short of the overuse of force, to destabilize Ukraine, to topple the government, a variety of things.

So, as I said, this is not on the basis of emotion.  It’s on the basis of fact and also history.  Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, seizing Crimea, provoking an ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine, the Donbas, changing Ukraine’s borders by force.  That’s what we’re looking at.  We’ve heard Russian officials say that they have no intention of invading Ukraine.  In fact, Minister Lavrov repeated that to me today.  But again, we’re looking at what is visible to all, and it is deeds and actions, not words that make the difference.  I suggested to Minister Lavrov, as we have repeatedly, that if Russia wants to begin to convince the world that it has no aggressive intent toward Ukraine, a very good place to start would be by de-escalating, by bringing back, removing its forces from Ukraine’s borders, as well as engaging in diplomacy and dialogue, which is what we did today and what we plan to continue doing in the days and weeks ahead.

We’ve said all along that we intended not only to respond to the concerns that Russia has raised, but to share our own concerns, which are many, about the actions that Russia takes that we see as a threat to security in Europe, and indeed, beyond.  And so it was important in the course of the conversations that we’ve had today, Andrea, both last week at the Strategic Stability Dialogue between the United States and Russia, at the NATO-Russia Council, at the OSCE, to make sure that we fully understood each other’s positions, each other’s concerns.

After that and after consulting very intensely with allies and partners, President Biden wanted me to have this opportunity, having digested what we’ve heard over the last week and maybe – and presumably the Russians having had an opportunity to discuss what they had heard initially from us with President Putin – to really see where we are directly with Foreign Minister Lavrov, to determine whether there is a path forward for dialogue and for diplomacy, and then to look at how we would pursue that.  And again, what was agreed today, which was that we will share with Russia a response to the concerns it’s raised, our own concerns, and put some ideas on the table for consideration.  And then we plan to meet again after Russia’s had an opportunity to look at that paper and we’ll see where we go from there.

But let me also be clear about this:  To the extent that Russia’s engaged for now in diplomacy, but at the same time continues to take escalatory actions, continues to build its forces on Ukraine’s borders, continues to plan for aggressive action against Ukraine, we and all of our allies and partners are equally committed to make sure we are doing everything possible to make clear to Russia that there will be, as I said, a swift, severe, and united response to any form of aggression by Russia directed toward Ukraine.

Finally, let me say this:  Based on the conversation today, Andrea, look, I believe that there are areas where, on a reciprocal basis, we can address some of each other’s concerns.  And they go to things like greater transparency in our military activities, various risk-reduction measures, pursuing arms control, and other ways to build trust that I think would address some of the concerns that Russia has expressed as well as the many concerns that we have.

But it’s very important to be equally clear about things that we will not do, and one of those is we will not go back on the fundamental principles that we have and that we are committed to defend.  And one of those is NATO’s open door and others include, as I’ve talked about in recent days and recent weeks, our commitment to the principle that one nation can’t simply violate and change the border of another country by force, that it can’t propose to dictate to another country its choices, its policies, with whom it will associate, and that it can’t exert a sphere of influence that would subjugate its neighbors to its will.  We’re not going to put any of those principles in question, and I think Russia understands that very well.

So again, based on the conversations we’ve had over – the extensive conversations over the past week and today here in Geneva, I think there are grounds for and a means to address some of the mutual concerns that we have about security.  We’ll see if that bears out.  And meanwhile, we will continue to prepare resolutely to both paths that we’ve laid out for Russia: the path of diplomacy and dialogue or the path of renewed aggression, confrontation, and consequences.

MR PRICE:  Michael Crowley.

QUESTION:  And your —

MR PRICE:  I’m sorry, Andrea.  We have very limited time.  Michael Crowley.

QUESTION:  And your – the question about Iran, Mr. —

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Oh, I’m sorry, I – (inaudible) to address that.  So on Iran, I have to say that Russia shares our sense of urgency, the need to see if we can come back into mutual compliance in the weeks ahead.  And we hope that Russia will use the influence that it has and relationship that it has with Iran to impress upon Iran that sense of urgency, and equally, that if we’re unable to do that because Iran refuses to undertake the obligations that are necessary, that we will pursue a different path in dealing with the danger posed by Iran’s renewed nuclear program, a program that had been put in a box by the agreement that we had reached in the past, the JCPOA, and that unfortunately has now escaped from that box as a result of us pulling out of the agreement and Iran restarting its dangerous program.

MR PRICE:  Michael.

QUESTION:  Thank you, Secretary Blinken.  After four fairly inconclusive meetings between U.S. diplomats and Russian ones, does this process need to move to the presidential level for a breakthrough?  Does President Biden need to be speaking to President Putin for progress really to be made here?

And a second question if I may:  In Berlin, you outlined the stakes of this crisis, including the security – the sanctity of borders and the governing principles of international peace and security.  Yet President Biden several weeks ago said that the use of American military force is off the table in this situation.  While I’m sure that makes intuitive sense to many Americans for all kinds of reasons, I wonder if you could just explicitly lay out the reasoning why that has been taken off the table.  And do you believe the President’s statement would still apply even if Russia were to invade Ukraine?  Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  First, on the second part of the question, we have made clear and done a number of things in support and defense of Ukraine that will continue.  First and foremost, we have worked in very close coordination with allies and partners to develop and make clear to Russia the consequences from renewed aggression against Ukraine.  And that is an important component of deterring and dissuading Russia from engaging in that course.

At the same time, we have proceeded with providing Ukraine with significant defensive military assistance – in fact, in this year alone, more than at any time since 2014.  That continues.  Allies and partners are doing the same.  And finally, we’ve worked very closely with allies and partners to begin to plan for the reinforcement of NATO itself on its eastern flank in the event of further Russian aggression against Ukraine.  All of these things to make clear to Russia the costs and consequences of its potential actions.

We think that’s the best and most effective way to convince Russia not to engage in further aggression against Ukraine.  Ukraine is a very valued partner of the United States and other countries in Europe as well, but our Article 5 commitment extends to NATO Allies, something that we are deeply committed to.  Ukraine is not a member of NATO and it’s not covered by the Article 5 commitment, but a determination to do everything we can to defend it and to prevent or deter aggression directed toward it.  And as I said, we will continue all of those efforts in the coming days and coming weeks even as we test whether the path to a diplomatic resolution is possible.

And I’m sorry, the first part of the question?

QUESTION:  Dialogue between the presidents to move the process more quickly than it has been (inaudible).

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Oh, yes, thank you.  What we’ve agreed today is that we will share in writing next week our ideas, our response to concerns that Russia has raised, concerns that we have that we will share, again, in writing with Russia.  We intend based on the conversation today, based on that paper, as well as the paper we received from Russia, to have follow-on conversations after that – initially, at least, at least at the level of foreign ministers.  And if it proves useful and productive for the two presidents to meet, to talk, to engage to try to carry things forward, I think we’re fully prepared to do that.  President Biden has met here in Geneva with President Putin.  He’s spoken to him on the phone or via videoconference on a number of occasions.  And if we conclude and the Russians conclude that the best way to resolve things is through a further conversation between them, we’re certainly prepared to do that.

MR PRICE:  Ben Hall.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, thank you.  I was wondering if – as you keep coming back for more dialogue, more talks with the Russians, they continue to act.  They continue to mass troops; they continue to destabilize Ukraine.  Economically, it’s facing a number of hardships.  Would you acknowledge the harm they have already done just through their aggressive actions, and in turn, why would you not consider sanctions at this point?  There’s bipartisan support for them in the U.S.; Ukraine have called for them.  Why not?

And then a second question:  You said time and time again that the pretexts Russia gives for their aggression are false, there’s no basis in fact.  I’m curious if Secretary – Foreign Minister Lavrov sits opposite you, looks you in the eye, and tell you effectively – tells you lies to your face.  And if so, why humor with them with a response?  Why humor them with written responses next week, if that’s the case?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thanks, Ben.  First, again, we’re not waiting to take action to counter Russia.  As I said a moment ago, we’ve committed more security assistance to Ukraine in the past year – I think something like $650 million – than at any previous time, going back to 2014 when Russia invaded Ukraine.  We’re continuing to provide that assistance.  We have additional deliveries that are scheduled in the coming weeks.

As I noted as well, we’ve been engaged in extensive diplomacy around the world, rallying allies and partners together in the face of Russian aggression against Ukraine.  Yesterday, we announced actions against agents of Russian influence who are operating in Ukraine and who are seeking to destabilize the country.  And again, as I’ve said, we’ve made it clear to Russia that they would face swift, severe costs to their economy if they move forward with further invasion of Ukraine, as well as the reinforcement of NATO along its eastern flank.

We engage in diplomacy and dialogue; that’s my job.  But at the same time, we are embarked on a path of defense and deterrence.  These things are not mutually inconsistent – in fact, they reinforce each other.  So even as we’re talking, if the Russians are continuing to escalate and to build up, we are continuing to strengthen everything we’re doing in terms of the assistance we’re providing to Ukraine for its defense, in terms of the work we’re doing at NATO to prepare as necessary to further reinforce the Alliance, and continuing to define and refine massive consequences for Russia with our allies and partners when it comes to financial, economic and other sanctions.

So we’re doing both at the same time.  Now, when it comes to the conversations we have, I think the charitable interpretation would be that sometimes we and Russia have different interpretations of history.  And I have to say today we certainly heard things that we strongly disagree with in terms of in terms of that history, but by and large, the conversation was not polemical.  It was direct, businesslike, and I think in that sense, useful.  And it’s important to test whether we can, again, resolve these differences through diplomacy and dialogue.  That’s clearly the preferable way to do it, it’s clearly the responsible way to do it, but it’s also up to Russia.

MR PRICE:  We’ll take a final question from Laurent Burkhalter.

QUESTION:  Thank you, Mr. Secretary.  Laurent Burkhalter, Swiss Television RTS.  I wanted to talk about the measures that can be taken to de-escalate the situation – you’ve mentioned them – from both sides.  If you could specify them again and tell us an idea of the timeline, how soon it must happen, which comes first.  And bigger picture, what do you think the Kremlin wants through this current situation?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, that last question is probably best addressed to President Putin because, in a sense, only he really knows.  And I’ll come back to that in a minute.  But again, as I was saying earlier, I think that as we’ve looked at what Russia has put forward, as we’ve listened to what they’ve said, as we’ve consulted intensely among allies and partners, as we’ve looked at our own deep security concerns about actions that Russia takes – not only with regard to Ukraine, but in other places and by other means in Europe and beyond – I think it is fair to say that there are areas where we believe we can pursue dialogue and diplomacy to see if we can find ways to address mutual security concerns on a reciprocal basis that would enhance security for everyone – for us, for our European allies and partners, and for Russia.

And again, as I suggested earlier, transparency, confidence-building measures, military exercises, arms control agreements – these are all things that we’ve actually done in the past and that, if addressed seriously, can I believe reduce tensions and address some of the some of the concerns.  But again, that remains to be seen whether we can do that in a meaningful way.  And there again it depends, I think, on what Russia actually wants.  That is the right question.

And here’s what is striking to me, and I shared this with Foreign Minister Lavrov today.  I asked him, from Russia’s perspective, to really try to explain to me, to us how it is they see the actions they’ve taken as advancing their stated security interests and their broader strategic interests.  Because as I said to Minister Lavrov, so many of the things that you’ve done in recent years have precipitated virtually everything you say you want to prevent.

Before Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, seizing Crimea, going into the Donbas, Russia’s favorability ratings in Ukraine were 70 percent.  Now they’re 25 or 30 percent.  Before 2014, before they went and seized Crimea and went into the Donbas, support in Ukraine for joining NATO was 25 or 30 percent.  Now it’s 60 percent.  Before 2014, we had been continuing on the path of continuing to reduce while at the same time strengthening our forces in Europe since the end of the Cold War.  Well, what happened after 2014 is NATO felt the obligation, because of Russian aggression, to reinforce its eastern flank.  And since 2014, our efforts over many years to convince allies and partners to increase defense spending, well, that succeeded, but I have to say, as much because of Russia and the actions it’s taken as because of anything we’ve done.

So based on Russia’s stated strategic interests and concerns, how has that – how have their actions advanced those concerns?  On the contrary, it’s gone in the opposite direction from what Russia purports to want.  And now, if Russia renews its aggression against Ukraine, the outcome will be to simply reinforce the very things, the very trends that Russia expresses concern about.  So I hope that that’s something that Mr. Lavrov reflects on and that President Putin might reflect on as they think about the days and weeks ahead.  Thank you.

MR PRICE:  Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

Categorie
Geopolitics & Worlds

Podcast: What’s Happening in Kazakhstan? (Alexander Gabuev, Assel Tutumlu, Temur Umarov, Carnegie Moscow Center)

What and who was behind the recent unrest in Kazakhstan? What was the role of Russia? What will become of former president Nursultan Nazarbayev’s family, and what are the implications for other former Soviet countries? Podcast host Alexander Gabuev is joined by Assel Tutumlu, an assistant professor at the Near East University, and Temur Umarov, a fellow at Carnegie Moscow Center.

Podcast: What’s Happening in Kazakhstan? – Carnegie Moscow Center – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Categorie
Geopolitics & Worlds

What a Week of Talks Between Russia and the West Revealed (Dmitri Trenin, Carnegie Moscow Center)

Moscow’s demands of the United States and NATO are in fact the strategic goals of Russian policy in Europe. If Russia cannot achieve them by diplomatic means, it will resort to other methods.

What a Week of Talks Between Russia and the West Revealed – Carnegie Moscow Center – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Categorie
Geopolitics & Worlds

Former Post-USSR (Alexander Iskandaryan, Valdai Discussion Club)

The post-Soviet space exists as long as there are disputes about it. But it is spreading and turning into a former post-Soviet space right before our eyes; before the eyes of those who still remember which countries were part of the USSR and which were not, writes Valdai Club expert Alexander Iskandaryan.

Former Post-USSR — Valdai Club

Categorie
Global Topics

Towards the New World Order Through Crisis: Forecast for 2022 (Andrey Sushentsov, Valdai Discussion Club)

Increasing predictability of international processes, albeit on a negative basis of possible crises, might return an awareness of the value of peace and the responsibility for maintaining to world politics, writes Valdai Club Programme Director Andrey Sushentsov.

Towards the New World Order Through Crisis: Forecast for 2022 — Valdai Club

Categorie
Geopolitics & Worlds

Kazakhstan Protests Involve Russians, Adding to Moscow’s Worries About Stability (Paul Goble, The Jamestown Foundation)

Moscow was alarmed by the protests in Kazakhstan earlier this month primarily because they represented an attack of the population against the regime, something President Vladimir Putin has always sought to block lest it inspire people in the Russian Federation. But his concerns on that point were intensified by two other factors as well: First, some of the demonstrations took place in northern Kazakhstan and apparently involved not only ethnic Kazakhs but also ethnic Russians, a sign that the protests in the Central Asian country could become a model for protests in Russia; and second, they occurred at a time when the Kremlin is already anxious about the spread of Islamist radicalism northward from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan into Central Asia and possibly into Russia as well. In response, Putin orchestrated the heavily reported introduction of forces of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and, simultaneously, the less-well-covered increase in Russian military forces to the south of Kazakhstan, along the Afghan border (see EDM, January 181919, 2022).

Kazakhstan Protests Involve Russians, Adding to Moscow’s Worries About Stability – Jamestown

Categorie
Geopolitics & Worlds

Social Unrest in Kazakhstan Turns Violent, Ends Nazarbayev Era (Serik Rymbetov, The Jamestown Foundation)

The inaugural week of the new year ushered in a period of unprecedented instability for Kazakhstan, Central Asia’s largest economy. The country has long been considered an island of stability in a chronically unstable region where, for instance, neighboring Kyrgyzstan went through three revolutions since 2005. The turbulence in Kazakhstan began on January 2, when peaceful protests broke out in Zhanaozen, the cradle of the 2011 protest wave that ended in bloodshed on Independence Day (December 16); within days, the latest turmoil spread to other cities of western Kazakhstan. Popular anger was sparked by an overnight doubling of the price of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), from 60 to 120 tenge ($0.14 to $0.28) per liter, in line with the government’s plan to fully liberalize the LPG market that went into effect on the first day of 2022. Unlike other regions of the country, western Kazakhstan is a major market for LPG, which is widely used for both domestic heating and private transportation (Tengrinews.kz, Kapital.kz, Informburo.kz, RIA Novosti, January 2–4, 2022).

Social Unrest in Kazakhstan Turns Violent, Ends Nazarbayev Era – Jamestown

Categorie
Geopolitics & Worlds

Russian Troops Deploy to Belarus With Fanfare (Pavel Felgenhauer, The Jamestown Foundation)

Tensions have been flying high between Moscow and the West for months, with little prospect currently of imminent de-escalation. Stress is also mounting between Russia and Ukraine, as Russian military activities in the surrounding region increase. In Washington, the White House and President Joseph Biden argue that a Russian invasion of Ukraine could be pending. The Kremlin has, in turn, repeatedly claimed it has no intentions of deploying troops into Ukraine. Instead, Moscow accuses North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries of trying to “occupy Ukraine” by sending in modern weapons, military advisors, and instructors as well as “seeking pretexts and ways to send NATO troops,” according to Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the State Duma. Volodin declared this in an official address opening the spring session of Russia’s parliament (Militarynews.ru, January 18, 2022). Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov contends that Russia is only repositioning troops to the Ukrainian border in order to counter the North Atlantic Alliance “moving its military infrastructure up to Russian borders” and to offset NATO reconnaissance aircraft and drones overflying Ukraine. Peskov insisted that Russia’s actions are entirely legitimate (Militarynews.ru, January 16, 2022).

Russian Troops Deploy to Belarus With Fanfare – Jamestown

Categorie
Geopolitics & Worlds

Pakistan’s ‘Praetorian’ state is a troubling model for a Taliban-led Afghanistan (Ben Acheson, Atlantic Council)

Humanitarian catastrophe. Frozen assets. International recognition of the Taliban. These issues dominate the current discussion about Afghanistan’s future—with a warranted sense of urgency, given that twenty-three million Afghans face starvation this winter. But too singular a focus on these more immediate events risks obscuring talk about Afghanistan’s longer-term trajectory, as well as how to prevent the current crisis from becoming an annual event.

Pakistan’s ‘Praetorian’ state is a troubling model for a Taliban-led Afghanistan – Atlantic Council

Categorie
Geopolitics & Worlds

By intervening in Kazakhstan, Russia strengthens its hand in China’s energy market (Paddy Ryan, Atlantic Council)

As a popular uprising ousted Nursultan Nazarbayev, a thirty-year strongman ruler-turned eminence gris, Kazakhstan stood on the precipice of revolution. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s decision to solicit the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO)’s help to quell the unrest—a seeming contradiction of Kazakhstan’s long-established “multi-vector” approach for balancing great powers—seems to have resuscitated his rule. Despite Russian troops’ choreographed exit after decisively quashing the revolution, the episode has undoubtedly brought Kazakhstan further into Russia’s orbit. In energy, the primary loser may be China.

By intervening in Kazakhstan, Russia strengthens its hand in China’s energy market – Atlantic Council

Categorie
Geopolitics & Worlds

How Europe can reclaim its voice in the Russia crisis (Ana Palacio, El Pais, Atlantic Council)

“There will be no peace in Europe if the States are reconstituted on the basis of national sovereignty.” This warning by Jean Monnet—the crux of his seminal reflection from Algiers, Algeria in the summer of 1943—sums up the crisis Europe is currently experiencing nearly eighty years later.

Europe today, as in the aforementioned period, does not have a decisive voice in the great geopolitical issues that will define its future.

How Europe can reclaim its voice in the Russia crisis – Atlantic Council

Categorie
Geopolitics & Worlds

Will Russia make a military move against Ukraine? Follow these clues (Atlantic Council)

For weeks, the eyes of the world have been on a Russian troop buildup near Ukraine, as Western officials struggle to decipher Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intent: beef up his attack on Ukrainian sovereignty, or bluff his way to key concessions?

Amid a flurry of diplomatic talks, fiery rhetoric, and movements of heavy materiel, we wanted to separate the signal from the noise. So we reached out to our military fellows at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, who are active-duty officers with the US Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, for a sense of what they’re tracking most closely—and what indicators we should all be monitoring to divine Putin’s intentions.

Will Russia make a military move against Ukraine? Follow these clues. – Atlantic Council

Categorie
Geopolitics & Worlds

Vietnam’s COVID-19 testing scandal goes viral (Thiem Bui, East Asia Forum)

Since early 2020, the Vietnamese Communist Party has been portraying their efforts to fight COVID-19 as a war against an ‘invisible enemy’, mobilising healthcare workers, police and the military on an unprecedented level. But in late December, the Ministry of Public Security arrested the CEO of medical company Viet A, Phan Quoc Viet, and conducted an investigation into Vietnam’s largest COVID-19 related corruption case.

Vietnam’s COVID-19 testing scandal goes viral | East Asia Forum

Categorie
Geopolitics & Worlds

Hun Sen future-proofs Cambodia’s politics (Astrid Noren-Nilsson, East Asia Forum)

As 2021 drew to a close, three events seemed to encapsulate the state of Cambodia’s long-standing political camps: the announcement of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s successor, the splintering of the opposition and the death of Prince Norodom Ranariddh.

Hun Sen future-proofs Cambodia’s politics | East Asia Forum

Categorie
Geopolitics & Worlds

An inquiry into Australia’s COVID-19 responses is what’s needed now (Tom Westland, East Asia Forum)

Everyone has a view on the saga surrounding Novak Djokovic and his Australian visa. The question though is: how did it come to this? How is it that one of the world’s all-time great tennis players and his team of staff couldn’t navigate Australia’s COVID safe rules?

An inquiry into Australia’s COVID-19 responses is what’s needed now (eastasiaforum.org)

Categorie
Geopolitics & Worlds

Harnessing technology and innovation for a better future in Africa: Policy priorities for enabling the ‘Africa we want’ (Landry Signé, Brookings)

The COVID-19 crisis has changed how the world functions, bringing to light many limitations of existing systems and showing the need to reimagine the role of informational technology as a tool for economic growth. Indeed, the pandemic has accelerated the velocity and effectiveness of technology innovation, adoption, policy, and regulation. Although African countries have benefited from the acceleration of technological uptake across sectors, such as health care or economic transformation, the region still grapples with gaps in critical areas, including in human capacity and infrastructure.

Categorie
Geopolitics & Worlds

An overview of Biden’s first regulatory year (Bridget C. E. Dooling, Brookings)

The first few days of the Biden administration were replete with regulatory news. Not only did the new president direct agencies to halt and undo Trump policy changes, he charted his own course with a series of ambitious regulatory goals. Those goals included progress on individual regulations as well as a rethink of how the executive branch analyzes and reviews regulations before they go out the door. One year in, where does the Biden administration stand on regulation?

An overview of Biden’s first regulatory year (brookings.edu)

 

Categorie
Geopolitics & Worlds

The tips of the butterfly: Linking East Asia and Africa (Greg Mills, Marie-Noelle Nwokolo, Brookings)

In the late 1990s, South Africa’s then-Trade and Industry Minister Alec Erwin likened the country’s trade strategy to a “butterfly,” according to which the thorax ran north-south to Europe and North America, while the “wings” oriented west-east were to link Africa with Latin America and Asia.

Erwin’s concept promised much then, as now, for a diversification effort, but so far has delivered less.

Still, there is much to gain from closer regional ties, in at least two respects.

The first of these is underscored by the growth and nature of economic relations. While trade relations between Africa and Asia have burgeoned, they remain lopsided; Africa is primarily a source of raw commodities, Asia an exporter of finished products. This result speaks to the relative development and diversification experience of the two regions over the last 60 years.

Africa’s external relations: Reinventing and pursuing new partnerships (brookings.edu)

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Geopolitics & Worlds

Proxy voting takes on new meaning for Republicans (Emily Larson, Naomi Maehr, and Molly E. Reynolds, Brookings)

As the COVID-19 pandemic starts its third year, countless institutions are facing questions about a broader return to “normal” operations—including Capitol Hill. In the House of Representatives, proxy voting has served as the chamber’s temporary measure to limit interpersonal mingling between members, especially those with greater health risks. Despite its initial rejection by the House GOP, new data on proxy voting indicates that roughly 80% of all House members used the option through mid-December 2021, suggesting that this rule is now welcomed by both parties as a reform of traditional voting procedures and raising questions about its potential in the future.

Proxy voting takes on new meaning for Republicans (brookings.edu)

Categorie
Global Topics

Gone digital: Technology diffusion in the digital era (Flavio Calvino and Chiara Criscuolo, Brookings)

Productivity growth allows economies to increase output without increasing inputs and is a key driver of economic growth and of income per capita. However, productivity growth has been slowing in recent decades, depressing economic growth. This might appear paradoxical given the fast advancement in technological progress and the spread of digital technologies.

Gone digital: Technology diffusion in the digital era (brookings.edu)

Categorie
Geopolitics & Worlds

How Middle Eastern conflicts are playing out on social media (Daniel L. Byman, Brookings)

The Middle East has always been rife with enmity and rivalry, and its regimes have long taken advantage of the region’s many linguistic, religious, and cultural connections to shape the overall political environment. Regimes that do not control the information space risk being destroyed by it.

How Middle Eastern conflicts are playing out on social media (brookings.edu)

Categorie
Geopolitics & Worlds

Japan-Taiwan relations: A look back on 2021 and look ahead to 2022 (Adam P. Liff and Ryan Hass, Brookings)

Throughout 2021, U.S. government officials and scholars expressed deepening concerns that China may use its growing military power to force unification with Taiwan. Against this backdrop, Japan-Taiwan relations and Japan’s role in cross-Strait peace and stability — as a close neighbor whose westernmost territory is less than 70 miles from Taiwan, fellow democracy, and U.S. treaty ally hosting roughly 50,000 U.S. military personnel — attracted unprecedented media and policy attention.

Japan-Taiwan relations: A look back on 2021 and look ahead to 2022 (brookings.edu)

Categorie
Geopolitics & Worlds

The art of the pivot: African women as critical problem solvers in the 21st century (H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Brookings)

While rebuilding a country previously engulfed in civil war for over 14 years, my administration oversaw, then, one of the deadliest health crises of the 21st century. I, Africa’s first democratically elected woman president and Liberia’s first elected president of the post-conflict period, had to pivot quickly in both attitude and action, as a means of responding to the Ebola outbreak of 2014. The outbreak posed a devastating threat to Liberia’s people and to the gains we had made in recovery and development. Rather than falter, we leaned into the complex challenges the outbreak posed, crafting and embarking upon an approach that embraced the strategies called for by community health workers and ordinary people fighting to save their loved ones. During this period, we lost many lives but averted a national crisis and found an inclusive and sustainable path of hope. In most African countries, strengthening the national health structure requires investing in and prioritizing community health workers and systems. Local community health workers are crucial in times of crisis because of their proximity to those most impacted. Utilizing community leadership ensures communities feel empowered and share in the responsibility, creating genuinely inclusive and responsive approaches. Liberia’s early success in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic relied on the same community health workers and leaders from the Ebola crisis. They were central in the dissemination of reliable information, coordination efforts across the country, building partnerships both internally and internationally, and leading their communities.

African women and girls: Leading a continent (brookings.edu)

Categorie
Geopolitics & Worlds

Africa’s pandemic recovery requires investments that build the foundation for the region’s future (Makhtar Diop, Brookings)

Africa’s future never looked brighter than it did during my time serving as the World Bank’s vice president for Africa from 2012 through 2018. The continent was home to the world’s fastest-growing economies—a growth fueled by high commodity prices. Free trade was becoming a reality with the rapid approach and realization of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. Political instability was largely under control. And, even in the midst of an Ebola outbreak, the continent largely succeeded in containing the worst health and economic impacts of that virus.

Today, from my position as the managing director of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), I still see Africa’s potential clearly—a global economic driver, digital innovation hub, and model for green, resilient infrastructure. But I am also concerned about Africa’s future, especially for the young people coming of age in a time of great uncertainty. Conflict is on the rise, and the number of countries falling into instability is increasing. The impacts of climate change are worsening each year. And while COVID-19 has affected everyone, it has not affected everyone equally: This truth is especially salient for Africa, which saw decades worth of economic and social progress erased almost overnight.

Africa’s economic recovery: Financing robust post-pandemic growth (brookings.edu)

Categorie
Geopolitics & Worlds

From COP26 (Glasgow) to COP27 (Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt): What to expect at Africa’s COP (Brookings)

Despite progress towards the shared goal of addressing climate change, COP26 did not sufficiently put the world on track to successfully tackle the problem. The outcomes especially fell short of what Africans had hoped for. On the positive side, the Glasgow Accord kept the “1.5oC warming goal alive,” and countries have been asked to come to COP27, to be held in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, with more ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution (NDCs). A new agreement on global carbon trading was achieved, adding a much-needed tool to the fight against climate change. Negotiators reached other significant agreements in Glasgow, notably 65 countries committed to phasing out coal power, more than 100 countries agreed to slash methane emissions, and 130 countries—representing over 90 percent of the world’s forests—pledged to end deforestation by 2030.

Climate change: Tackling a global challenge (brookings.edu)

Categorie
Geopolitics & Worlds

New FITARA Grades Show Agencies Failing to Transition Off Legacy Networking Services (Mariam Baksh, Nextgov)

Fifteen of 24 agencies graded in the 12th biannual scorecard measuring implementation of the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act received an F on shifting to contracts for modern telecommunications.

The General Services Administration has been pushing agencies to get off a contracting vehicle for telecom services called Networx and others that are set to expire and move toward the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contract.

New FITARA Grades Show Agencies Failing to Transition Off Legacy Networking Services  – Nextgov

Categorie
Geopolitics & Worlds

Think Twice Before Scanning That QR Code, FBI Warns (Shourjya Mookerjee, Nextgov)

Quick response, or QR, codes have taken off since the start of the pandemic, giving governments and businesses a fast, contactless way to pass information to consumers. Their popularity and ease of use have prompted the FBI to warn end users that cybercriminals can tamper with the codes to redirect them to malicious sites.

In an alert, the bureau gave a brief overview of the methods cybercriminals are using. In most cases, the falsified QR code will redirect the user to a malicious website or domain, where the unassuming consumer will input sensitive personal or financial information.

Think Twice Before Scanning That QR Code, FBI Warns – Nextgov

Categorie
Geopolitics & Worlds

Connolly, Issa launch IT modernization caucus (Natalie Alms, Nextgov)

Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) are launching a new, bipartisan IT modernization caucus on Thursday, meant to “bring awareness to governments’ need to embrace technology and analytics to better deliver services to the American public.”

The two have a history of collaborating across party lines on technology and management issues, despite coming from opposite ends of the political spectrum. They were cosponsors of the original legislation establishing the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, when Issa chaired the House Oversight Committee and Connolly served as ranking member of a key subcommittee. In the release about the new caucus, the two highlighted FITARA’s impact, which they say has saved over $20 billion.

Connolly, Issa launch IT modernization caucus – Nextgov

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Geopolitics & Worlds

CISA Releases Finalized IPv6 Guidance for Agencies (Frank Konkel, Nextgov)

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency on Thursday published guidance meant to provide federal agencies with security considerations regarding Trusted Internet Connections 3.0 implementations as they transition to IPv6.

The guidance follows a years-long effort spanning multiple administrations to securely transition agencies to IPv6—the current standard for identifying devices and systems communicating over the web—from the previous standard, IPv4. The guidance reflects feedback provided during a public comment period adjudicated by CISA, in partnership with the General Services Administration, Federal Chief Information Security Officers Council TIC subcommittee and the Office of Management and Budget.

CISA Releases Finalized IPv6 Guidance for Agencies – Nextgov

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Geopolitics & Worlds

Marine Corps, CGI Enter $34 Million Contract To Update Inventory Tracking System (Alexandra Kelley, Nextgov)

IT consulting firm CGI was awarded a new contract with the U.S. Marine Corps to help expand the military branch’s software integration platform to centralize business operations.

Announced on Thursday, the contract with CGI will focus on building out the Marine Corps Platform Integration Center between eight bases. A central role of the MCPIC is supporting inventory tracking through digitally cataloging of vital mission equipment. The associated inventory data is available for end users to query with the help of automated identification and Internet of Things technology, all features CGI will likely develop on.

Marine Corps, CGI Enter $34 Million Contract To Update Inventory Tracking System – Nextgov

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Geopolitics & Worlds

Data is the Fuel of Digital Transformation, Officials Say (Patience Wait, Nextgov)

Harnessing the information hidden within the federal government’s truly vast stores of data is one of the biggest challenges in pursuing digital transformation.

Panelists during the Advanced Technology Academic Research Center’s Digital Transformation Virtual Summit on Jan. 18 shared how they are tackling the issue and some of the outcomes they are hoping to achieve.

Scott Simpson, Digital Transformation Lead for the Department of Homeland Security, for instance, envisions using data to innovate the procurement process. He runs the Procurement Innovation Lab for DHS.

Data is the Fuel of Digital Transformation, Officials Say – Nextgov

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Geopolitics & Worlds

5G is ‘Going Live’ at Tyndall Air Force Base (Brandi Vincent, Nextgov)

Nodes enabling Verizon’s 5G ultra wideband coverage are going live at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, Nextgov confirmed this week, marking a key step in the Defense Department’s robust initiative to test and deliver next-generation communications technologies.

5G is ‘Going Live’ at Tyndall Air Force Base – Nextgov

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Geopolitics & Worlds

China urges US to cancel tariffs, after Biden says he is not ready (Global Times)

China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) on Thursday exhorted the US to cancel the tariffs it had imposed, citing the resultant benefits to consumers and producers across the Pacific amid inflation woes, after US President Joe Biden said that he was not ready for a removal of tariffs imposed by his predecessor.

China urges US to cancel tariffs, after Biden says he is not ready – Global Times

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Geopolitics & Worlds

UK-Australia infrastructure plan to counter China? More empty talks (Global Times)

The UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on Thursday signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne to jointly promote infrastructure investment in Indo-Pacific, according to a statement published by the UK government on Thursday.

Biz Quick Take: UK-Australia infrastructure plan to counter China? More empty talks – Global Times

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Geopolitics & Worlds

Tariffs rupture US economy instead of weakening China (Global Times)

Even as US tariffs on imports from China backfire by inflicting much pain on the US economy, President Joe Biden, after one year in office, still said on Wednesday he was not yet ready to lift the tariffs that his predecessor imposed on Chinese goods.

Biden said US Trade Representative Katherine Tai is “working on that right now” but “the answer is uncertain.”

GT Voice: Tariffs rupture US economy instead of weakening China – Global Times

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Geopolitics & Worlds

US is barking at the wrong tree by sanctioning China (Mei Xinyu, Global Times)

As the world enters 2022, China has repeatedly taken new steps to expand free trade, in contrast, the US chooses to impose trade sanctions, one after another. From Biden signing the so-called Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act into law in December 2021, to US Congress threatening the International Olympic Committee over the use of Xinjiang cotton by apparel suppliers Anta and HYX Group for the Beijing 2022 Winter Games, the US has been keeping itself busy.

US is barking at the wrong tree by sanctioning China – Global Times

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Geopolitics & Worlds

China, Morocco’s joint BRI implementation plan injects new energy into Global South cooperation framework (Global Times)

At the beginning of January, Morocco signed an accord with China facilitating the joint implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), making it the first North African country to do so. More nations in Africa are closely examining the new BRI implementation plan, with a view to developing similar plans of their own. Morocco’s geopolitical position, combined with China’s rising global influence and economic success is injecting new energy into the Global South cooperation framework.

China, Morocco’s joint BRI implementation plan injects new energy into Global South cooperation framework – Global Times

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Geopolitics & Worlds

China, South Korea aim for greater openness under RCEP: ministry (Yin Yeping, Global Times)

Under the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), China and South Korea will make high-level commitments to greater openness, while creating better conditions for the liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment, a spokesperson with the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said on Thursday.

China, South Korea aim for greater openness under RCEP: ministry – Global Times

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Geopolitics & Worlds

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor bearing fruit: foreign ministry (Global Times)

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has made positive progress, bucking the general trend during the pandemic, while effectively promoting Pakistan’s economic development and improving people’s livelihoods, an outcome that has been welcomed by the people in Pakistan, foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a regular press conference on Thursday.

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor bearing fruit: foreign ministry – Global Times

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Geopolitics & Worlds

China, Russia, Iran complete joint drill amid ‘restrictions on sea routes from some major powers’ (Leng Shumei, Global Times)

China, Russia and Iran held a three-day maritime joint exercise in the Gulf of Oman, aiming to deepen pragmatic cooperation among the navies of the three countries, China’s Ministry of National Defense announced on Thursday.

China sent the Type 052D guided missile destroyer Urumqi, the Type 903A replenishment ship Taihu, vessel-borne helicopters and 40 marines to attend the drill held between January 18 and 20, according to the ministry.

China, Russia, Iran complete joint drill amid ‘restrictions on sea routes from some major powers’ – Global Times

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Geopolitics & Worlds

China, Germany pledge to deepen cooperation and refrain from ‘microphone diplomacy’ (Global Times)

China and Germany have pledged to enhance mutual understanding and refrain from “microphone diplomacy” on the basis of mutual respect on Thursday when Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock via video link.

China, Germany pledge to deepen cooperation and refrain from ‘microphone diplomacy’ – Global Times

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Geopolitics & Worlds

CPC’s disciplinary agency renews anti-corruption drive, to fight new challenges of ‘capital-power collusion’ (Yang Sheng, Global Times)

The Communist Party of China’s (CPC) top disciplinary agency pledged to maintain a strong and persistent crackdown on corruption in a communiqué released Thursday, and the document also said the Party will actively handle “the new challenges and new situations” of the anti-corruption campaign, including strengthening investigations and punishment behind the “disorderly expansion of capital” and monopoly of some online platforms, vowing to cut off the collusion between capital and power.

CPC’s disciplinary agency renews anti-corruption drive, to fight new challenges of ‘capital-power collusion’ – Global Times

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Geopolitics & Worlds

Ex-pope Benedict accused of inaction in sexual abuse cases (Al Jazeera)

Former Pope Benedict XVI failed to take action against clerics in four cases of alleged sexual abuse when he was archbishop of Munich and Freising, a report has found.

Munich law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl (WSW) was asked to investigate allegations of sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising between 1945 and 2019 and whether church officials handled those correctly.

Ex-pope Benedict accused of inaction in sexual abuse cases | Religion News | Al Jazeera

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Geopolitics & Worlds

What Germany’s climate movement got right: Breaking rules (Clara S Thompson, Al Jazeera)

In late November 2021, Germany’s new coalition government announced its aim to phase out coal power across the country by 2030, eight years ahead of schedule.

Earlier that month, the government of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, where activists have been protesting against coal mining, announced it would accelerate phasing out coal by 2030, sparing five of six villages marked for demolition for the extension of a huge mine.

What Germany’s climate movement got right: Breaking rules | Climate Crisis | Al Jazeera

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Geopolitics & Worlds

US, Europe present united front before Blinken-Lavrov talks (Al Jazeera)

The United States and its Western allies have insisted they will be united in responding strongly to any Russian incursion into Ukraine before talks between Washington and Moscow’s top diplomats over the crisis.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday said any “new acts of aggression” from Moscow towards its neighbour would be met with a “swift, severe, united response” from the White House and its partners.

US, Europe present united front before Blinken-Lavrov talks | Conflict News | Al Jazeera

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Geopolitics & Worlds

Pentagon releases footage of deadly Kabul drone strike (Al Jazeera)

The Pentagon for the first time publicly released drone footage of a botched strike in Kabul that killed 10 members of a family, including seven children, amid the chaotic US withdrawal from the country.

The footage was initially obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by The New York Times and was subsequently released by US Central Command on Thursday. It appears to underscore how, by the Pentagon’s own account, limited intelligence, a heightened state of alert, and rushed decision-making led to the killing of civilians.

Pentagon releases footage of deadly Kabul drone strike | Taliban News | Al Jazeera

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Geopolitics & Worlds

Rights groups want UN to ban Bangladesh’s RAB from peacekeeping (Al Jazeera)

Human rights organisations documenting abuses committed by the Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) have requested the United Nations to ban the unit’s members from its peace operations.

In a letter to Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix made public on Thursday, 12 human rights groups voiced concern “that individuals who have served with [RAB] are being sent on UN missions, despite consistent and credible evidence of abuses including extrajudicial killings, torture, and enforced disappearances by members of this unit since its creation in 2004″.

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Geopolitics & Worlds

Taking Action to Expose and Disrupt Russia’s Destabilization Campaign in Ukraine (US Department of State)

In advance of a potential further invasion of Ukraine, Russian intelligence services, mainly the Federal Security Service (FSB), a U.S. sanctioned entity, have been recruiting Ukrainian nationals in key positions to gain access to sensitive information.  The FSB leverages these officials in an attempt to create instability in Ukraine.  In close coordination with the Government of Ukraine, the United States is working to identify, expose, and impose costs on these actors in order to foil these influence operations.

The United States today is imposing sanctions on four individuals connected to ongoing Russian intelligence service-directed influence activities designed to destabilize Ukraine.

This action is intended to target, highlight, and undercut Russia’s ongoing destabilization effort in Ukraine.  It is separate and distinct from the broad range of high impact measures the United States and its allies and partners are prepared to impose in order to inflict significant costs on the Russian economy and financial system if it were to further invade Ukraine.

The individuals we are targeting, two of whom are members of Ukraine’s parliament, act at the direction of the FSB and support Russia’s destabilizing and dangerous influence operations, which undermine not just Ukraine but also the fundamental principles of democracy.  The four individuals designated today include Taras Kozak, Oleh Voloshyn, Volodymyr Oliynyk, and Vladimir Sivkovich.  This action is in line with other actions that we have taken to target Russian disinformation campaigns, including 32 election interference designations that we announced in April 2021.

Russia has used hybrid tactics, including disinformation and other influence campaigns, to destabilize Ukraine for years.  In 2020, Kremlin officials launched a comprehensive information operation plan designed in part to degrade the ability of the Ukrainian state to independently function; the individuals designated today played key roles in that campaign.

Russia’s influence campaigns are not only focused on Ukraine.  For over a decade, Russia has employed disinformation outlets and intelligence service affiliates globally to spread false narratives in support of its strategic goals.  Since at least 2016, Russian intelligence services have sought to influence U.S. elections through a number of tactics.  For example, Taras Kozak used the media platforms he owns both to denigrate senior members of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s inner circle and amplify false narratives around the 2020 U.S. elections.

The United States will continue to take steps, including through actions like this one, and in partnership with the Ukrainian government, to identify, expose, and undercut Russia’s destabilization efforts in Ukraine.  The United States also will continue to expose and counter Russia’s global campaign of malign influence, in Ukraine and beyond.

For more information on today’s action, please see the Department of the Treasury’s press release .

 

Categorie
Geopolitics & Worlds

Why Biden’s Jerusalem consulate promise remains unfulfilled (Ali Harb, Al Jazeera)

The United States’s diplomatic presence in Jerusalem predates the establishment of the State of Israel by nearly a century, and an American consulate in the holy city provided services to Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza since 1967.

That is, until former President Donald Trump closed it in 2019.

Why Biden’s Jerusalem consulate promise remains unfulfilled | Jerusalem News | Al Jazeera

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Geopolitics & Worlds

Israel police chief orders probe into NSO spyware claims (Al Jazeera)

Israel’s police chief says he has ordered an extensive investigation into a newspaper’s claims that the police force had used controversial Israeli spyware to hack the phones of protesters, mayors and other citizens under investigation without proper authorisation.

Earlier this week, a Hebrew-language business paper published an investigative report claiming that the police had used the NSO Group’s Pegasus hacking software to surveil leaders of a protest movement against then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as a raft of other alleged misuses of the technology.

Israel police chief orders probe into NSO spyware claims | Police News | Al Jazeera

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Geopolitics & Worlds

Turkey’s central bank hits pause, leaves interest rates unchanged (Umar Farooq, Al Jazeera)

Turkey’s central bank has ended its latest policy-setting meeting by keeping interest rates unchanged, halting a cycle of cuts initiated last September that economists warned was plunging the country into a deep economic crisis and eroding confidence in the bank’s ability to control inflation.

The central bank on Thursday voted to keep its benchmark interest rate steady at 14 percent. The move was widely expected after a series of interest rate cuts late last year championed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lowered borrowing costs by 5 percentage points and triggered a run on the lira that saw the Turkish currency crash.

Turkey’s central bank hits pause, leaves interest rates unchanged | Business and Economy News | Al Jazeera

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Geopolitics & Worlds

Israel inks $3.4 billion submarine deal with Germany (The Associated Press, Defense News)

Israel signed a €3 billion (U.S. $3.4 billion) deal Thursday to buy three cutting-edge submarines from Germany, the Israeli Defense Ministry announced.

The Dakar-class diesel-electric submarines will be produced by German manufacturer ThyssenKrupp and are expected to be delivered within nine years, the ministry said.

Israel inks $3.4 billion submarine deal with Germany (defensenews.com)

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Geopolitics & Worlds

Three steps to help defense innovation break free from its shackles (Jerry McGinn and Eric Lofgren, Defense News)

It seems like every year there is another commission, task force or board that studies the defense acquisition system. Fiscal 2022 continues the pattern with the rather bureaucratic-sounding Commission on Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution reform. This time, however, there is good reason to sit up and take notice. While defense innovation initiatives over the past three administrations have made progress, the Department of Defense cannot gain ground on strategic competitors until the rigid and linear PPBE process is addressed. This commission presents a golden opportunity for the DoD to break out of its industrial-age shackles.

Three steps to help defense innovation break free from its shackles (defensenews.com)

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Geopolitics & Worlds

At Project Convergence, Army’s new battle command system demonstrated expanded capability (Jen Judson, Defense News)

The U.S. Army originally intended for the Integrated Battle Command System, or IBCS, to serve as the brains of its air-and-missile defense system, but has exponentially expanded its mission set.

Now, Northrop Grumman, the system’s manufacturer, says recent experimentation at Project Convergence last fall proved IBCS can do what the service requires.

At Project Convergence, Army’s new battle command system demonstrated expanded capability (defensenews.com)

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Geopolitics & Worlds

Germany holds its ground on denying weapons for Ukraine (Sebastian Sprenger, Defense News)

Officials in Berlin have rejected a renewed request by Ukraine for lethal, defensive equipment in the face of Russia’s massive troop buildup, effectively testing the restrictive arms-export policy enshrined in the government’s coalition agreement.

Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, told German press agency DPA on Wednesday his country is seeking warships to help defend its Black Sea and the Sea of Asov coasts in the event of a Russian invasion. Germany’s ships, he was quoted as saying, “are among the best in the world.”

Germany holds its ground on denying weapons for Ukraine (defensenews.com)

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Geopolitics & Worlds

Military may take months to gauge 5G safety risks to aircraft (Stephen Losey, Defense News)

As the commercial airline and telecommunications industries scramble to limit the potential safety risks to aircraft from a rollout of new 5G networks, it may be months before the U.S. military has a handle on whether, or how big, of a problem this might be for its own planes.

At the center of the controversy is whether the deployment of 5G networks, operating along a frequency known as the C-band, will interfere with radar altimeters used by military, civilian and commercial aircraft and helicopters. These altimeters are used to measure the distance between the aircraft and the ground.

Military may take months to gauge 5G safety risks to aircraft (defensenews.com)

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Geopolitics & Worlds

New bill aims to cut the price of spare parts for DoD (Joe Gould, Defense News)

House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney on Wednesday proposed legislation to force government vendors to publicly disclose data about their costs, a move meant to help the government negotiate better deals for spare parts.

“We are here today to say enough is enough,” Maloney, D-N.Y., said Wednesday at her panel’s hearing on findings by the Pentagon’s inspector general that it overpaid for commercial and military aircraft parts from manufacturer TransDigm Group.

New bill aims to cut the price of spare parts for DoD (defensenews.com)

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Geopolitics & Worlds

Greece boosts Air Force with advanced French jets (Derek Gatopoulos, AP, Defense News)

French-built fighter jets roared Wednesday over the Acropolis as Greece races to modernize its military and flaunts new security alliances aimed at checking neighboring Turkey.

Six advanced Rafale jets, purchased from the French Air Force, flew in low formation over Athens before their official handover to the Greek armed forces at a nearby air base.

Greece boosts Air Force with advanced French jets (defensenews.com)

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Geopolitics & Worlds

Cold front: Antarctica and its military future (Claire Young, The Interpreter)

Book Review: The Future of Antarctica: Scenarios from Classical Geopolitics, by J McGee, D Edmiston and M Haward (Springer, 2022)

For a place that is agreed by treaty to be used only for peaceful purposes, scientific investigation, and conservation as well as use of its living resources, a lot of writing about Antarctica is about things military. The Future of Antarctica is no exception.

Occasionally this book places more emphasis on analytical techniques than this reviewer would like. But an excellent chapter on the history of military activity in the Southern Ocean and on the continent underlines how hard it has been to project power from the region or to deny it to others – something that remains largely true today.

Cold front: Antarctica and its military future (lowyinstitute.org)

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Geopolitics & Worlds

Japan’s low-tech world (John West, The Interpreter)

Japan is a high-tech country, right? It is, after all, the home of bullet trains, robots, computer games and all sorts of gadgets.

But there is another side of the story: low-tech Japan. Most of the world now communicates by email, but our Japanese friends are still hooked on fax machines. While the rest of us use electronic signatures, the ancient tradition of personal red seal stamps (“hanko”) persists in Japan. And cash still dominates consumer purchases, to the great surprise of foreign visitors, especially from China whose large cities are increasingly cashless.

Japan’s low-tech world (lowyinstitute.org)

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Geopolitics & Worlds

Mongolia suffers under China’s zero Covid policy (Antonio Graceffo, The Interpreter)

Food shortages, inflation, hundreds of thousands of people without an income, and thousands of shipping containers stuck on the border, not to mention rising Covid-19 cases, job losses, closed businesses, a crippled export sector, and a decimated tourism industry: this has been the situation in Mongolia for the past two years. In an interview with the author, Deputy Prime Minister Amarsaikhan Sainbuyan described the pandemic as “the biggest crisis of my career” and went on to explain the difficulties that a small, developing democracy experiences when it tries to balance the economy while safeguarding public health.

Mongolia suffers under China’s zero Covid policy | The Interpreter (lowyinstitute.org)

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Geopolitics & Worlds

Nuclear-powered submarines for Australia: what are the options? (Pete Sandeman, The Strategist)

The political and strategic ramifications of the AUKUS pact involving the US, UK and Australia continue to reverberate, but the details of how Australia will acquire nuclear-powered submarines (SSNs) have often been overlooked. There are daunting technical, industrial and financial challenges on the long road to joining that club.

Even the acquisition of conventional submarines isn’t easy and projects completed on time and budget are rare. Nuclear propulsion adds another layer of complexity and cost, and the engineering challenge has been described as more demanding than building the space shuttle. There are good reasons why SSN ownership is limited to a small group of elite nations—the US, Russia, China, the UK, France and India. (With considerable French assistance, Brazil is on track to have its first nuclear boat in the late 2020s.)

Nuclear-powered submarines for Australia: what are the options? | The Strategist (aspistrategist.org.au)

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Geopolitics & Worlds

Iran’s Vienna gambit (Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, Project-Syndicate, The Strategist)

In a qualifying match last November for the 2022 soccer World Cup, Iran trailed Lebanon 0–1 at the end of the scheduled 90 minutes. On social media, sceptical Iranians were getting ready to blame their team’s imminent defeat on Iran’s hardline leaders, who supposedly wanted to lose the match in order to please Iran’s Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah. But in the four minutes of stoppage time, Iran scored two goals to secure victory.

Iran’s Vienna gambit | The Strategist (aspistrategist.org.au)

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Uncategorized

Kennedy brings Washington closer to Canberra (Stephen Loosley, The Strategist)

It was Prime Minister Robert Menzies who told President Lyndon B. Johnson bluntly but accurately what the simple requirement happened to be for an effective US ambassador to Australia. The ambassador had to have the ability, Menzies told LBJ, to pick up the phone and talk directly to the US president. After all, under the US system, ambassadors represent their presidents and serve at their discretion.

Kennedy brings Washington closer to Canberra | The Strategist (aspistrategist.org.au)

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Global Topics

Whatever happened to soft power? (Joseph S. Nye, Project-Syndicate, The Strategist)

As 2021 drew to a close, Russia had massed troops near its border with Ukraine, China had flown military jets near Taiwan, North Korea was still pursuing its nuclear-weapons program, and Taliban fighters were patrolling the streets of Kabul. Seeing all this, friends asked me: ‘Whatever happened to soft power?’

Whatever happened to soft power? | The Strategist (aspistrategist.org.au)

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How the US and Australia can support Taiwan before it’s too late (Adam Taylor, The Strategist)

Remarks by Australia’s prime minister and defence minister and discussions in Washington about the future of US security policy in the Taiwan Strait highlight a growing consensus among like-minded partners about the need to respond to any Taiwan contingency. Unfortunately, these conversations often only explore the contours of a future conflict and too rarely discuss what the US, Australia and others can do to support Taiwan pre-bellum.

How the US and Australia can support Taiwan before it’s too late | The Strategist (aspistrategist.org.au)

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Presidential election could put Italy’s Draghi-led recovery at risk (Paola Subacchi, Project-Syndicate, The Strategist)

As Italy scrambles to control surging Covid-19 infections—including by making vaccination compulsory for anyone over 50—cracks are appearing in the broad ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Mario Draghi. A crucial test will come next Monday, when Italy’s 630 members of parliament, 321 senators and 58 regional representatives elect a new president.

Presidential election could put Italy’s Draghi-led recovery at risk | The Strategist (aspistrategist.org.au)

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Iran, Russia, China To Hold Joint Naval Drill Amid Growing Ties (RFE RL)

Iran, Russia, and China will hold joint naval exercises in the north of the Indian Ocean on January 21, Iranian media have reported, amid speculation that the three countries are teaming up in the face of growing pressure from the United States and its allies over Ukraine and European security guarantees.

A spokesman for Iran’s armed forces told the semiofficial ISNA news agency that the purpose of the drills was to “strengthen security and its foundations in the region.”

Iran, Russia, China To Hold Joint Naval Drill Amid Growing Ties (rferl.org)

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Russia Imprisons Another Jehovah’s Witness For ‘Extremism’ (RFE RL)

A Russian court in Siberia has handed a three-year prison term to a Jehovah’s Witness, in the latest persecution of members of the banned Christian group.

The Severskiy City Court in the Tomsk region on January 19 sentenced Alekei Yershov after convicting him of participating in the activities of an “extremist organization.”

Russia Imprisons Another Jehovah’s Witness For ‘Extremism’ (rferl.org)

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N Korea may resume nuclear, long-range missile tests: State media (Al Jazeera)

A meeting of the powerful politburo of North Korea’s ruling party, presided over by leader Kim Jong Un, has said that it will consider resuming “all temporarily suspended” nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests amid an ongoing effort to boost the country’s military against a “hostile” United States, state media reported.

The country’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper quoted politburo members saying they were looking to “examine the issue on resuming all actions, which had been temporarily suspended”, in an apparent reference to a self-imposed moratorium on the testing of nuclear weapons and ICBMs that began in 2017.

N Korea may resume nuclear, long-range missile tests: State media | Military News | Al Jazeera

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Global Topics

Cyberattack on ICRC exposes data on 515,000 vulnerable people (Al Jazeera)

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says there has been a hacking attack on its data servers that compromised confidential information on more than half a million vulnerable people.

The Geneva-based agency said on Wednesday the breach by unknown intruders this week affected data on more than 515,000 people “including those separated from their families due to conflict, migration and disaster, missing persons and their families, and people in detention”.

Cyberattack on ICRC exposes data on 515,000 vulnerable people | Cybersecurity News | Al Jazeera

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CIA finds most Havana Syndrome cases not work of enemies: Report (Al Jazeera)

The CIA has determined a mysterious sickness affecting hundreds of United States diplomatic workers across the world is not part of a widespread targeted campaign by a foreign power, according to US media reports.

Officials briefed on the spy agency’s preliminary finding said hundreds of cases of the so-called Havana Syndrome – which first appeared in Havana, Cuba in 2016 and is typically defined by headaches, nausea, vertigo and dizziness – could be explained by environmental factors, undiagnosed medical conditions or stress, The New York Times reported on Thursday.

CIA finds most Havana Syndrome cases not work of enemies: Report | News | Al Jazeera

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Biden’s foreign policy dilemmas (Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera)

After a strong start that included rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement and World Health Organization, both of which Trump abandoned, President Joe Biden has been, in a word, disappointing.

Over the past year, Joe Biden has talked like Barack Obama but walked like Donald Trump on foreign policy. But as he lacks the eloquence and bullishness of his predecessors, the president has fallen flat through and through.

Biden’s foreign policy dilemmas | Joe Biden | Al Jazeera

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US Senate sinks Biden’s major push to protect voting rights (Al Jazeera)

US senators have scuppered President Joe Biden’s push to defend voting rights against what Democrats have framed as an all-out assault by conservative states targeting racial minorities.

Faced with a blockade from Republicans in the upper house complaining of overreach by the federal government, the ruling Democrats were unable to push through the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act that were passed last week by the House of Representatives.

US Senate sinks Biden’s major push to protect voting rights | Politics News | Al Jazeera

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Biden ‘not there yet’ on easing tariffs on Chinese goods (Al Jazeera)

United States President Joe Biden on Wednesday said it was too soon to make commitments on lifting US tariffs on Chinese goods, but his chief trade negotiator Katherine Tai was working on the issue.

“I’d like to be able to be in a position where I could say they’re meeting their commitments, or more of their commitments, and be able to lift some of them, but we’re not there yet,” Biden said, referring to China’s commitments under a Phase 1 trade deal signed by his predecessor Donald Trump.

Biden ‘not there yet’ on easing tariffs on Chinese goods | Business and Economy | Al Jazeera

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Pakistani court sentences woman to death for WhatsApp ‘blasphemy’ (Asad Hashim, Al Jazeera)

A Pakistani court has sentenced a Muslim woman to death for committing “blasphemy” by sharing images deemed to be insulting to Islam’s Prophet Muhammad and one of his wives, also considered a holy personage by many Muslims.

The trial court in the northern Pakistani city of Rawalpindi on Wednesday sentenced Aneeqa Ateeq under the country’s strict blasphemy laws, which impose a mandatory death penalty for insulting the Prophet Muhammad.

Pakistani court sentences woman to death for WhatsApp ‘blasphemy’ | Religion News | Al Jazeera

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Rights groups ask Facebook to release India hate speech report (Al Jazeera)

Facebook critics are calling on the world’s largest social media network to release a human rights impact assessment it commissioned in 2020 to investigate hate speech on its platforms in India.

The social media company, now called Meta, faces increasing scrutiny over its handling of abuses on its services, particularly after whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked internal documents showing its struggles monitoring problematic content in countries where it was most likely to cause harm.

Rights groups ask Facebook to release India hate speech report | Social Media News | Al Jazeera

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Facial recognition taken to court in India’s surveillance hotspot (Al Jazeera)

It was lockdown in the Indian city of Hyderabad when activist S Q Masood was stopped on the street by police who asked him to remove his face mask and then took his picture, giving no reason and ignoring his objections.

Worried about how the photographs would be used, Masood sent a legal notice to the city’s police chief. But after receiving no response, he filed suit last month over Telangana state’s use of facial recognition systems – the first such case in India.

Facial recognition taken to court in India’s surveillance hotspot | Privacy News | Al Jazeera

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UN boss cites ‘demonstrable effort’ for Ethiopia peace after call (Al Jazeera)

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres has said there is a “real opportunity” for an end to more than 14 months of fighting between government and Tigrayan forces, following a call with the African Union’s special envoy.

Guterres’s statement on Wednesday gave no details about his conversation with Olusegun Obasanjo, which followed the envoy’s latest visit to  Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, and the capital of Ethiopia’s northernmost region of Tigray, Mekelle.

UN boss cites ‘demonstrable effort’ for Ethiopia peace after call | United Nations News | Al Jazeera

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President Biden mulling re-designating Houthis as ‘terrorist’ group (Al Jazeera)

US President Joe Biden is considering re-designating Yemen’s Houthi group as an “international terrorist organisation” following drone and missile attacks on the United Arab Emirates that were claimed by the group.

The announcement at a news conference on Wednesday came shortly after the UAE ambassador to the US, Yousef Al Otaiba, urged the Biden administration to restore the designation in response to Monday’s attacks on an oil facility in Abu Dhabi.

President Biden mulling re-designating Houthis as ‘terrorist’ group | Houthis News | Al Jazeera

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Tunisian dies after protesting President Saied’s moves (Al Jazeera)

A Tunisian man has died of wounds he sustained during a crackdown by security forces on anti-government protesters during a demonstration last week.

Rhida Bouziane, 57, was critically wounded on Friday and died as a result of “excessive violence inflicted on the demonstrator”, the Citizens Against the Coup campaign said on Facebook.

Tunisian dies after protesting President Saied’s moves | News | Al Jazeera

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Kazakhstan, Fertilizer and Belarus’s Political Crisis (Grigory Ioffe, The Jamestown Foundation)

Since the start of 2022, two unexpected “black swan” events have indirectly altered last year’s calculus regarding the expected evolution of the Belarusian political crisis. First, Belarus joined the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization’s (CSTO) intervention in Kazakhstan on January 5, 2022. Second, Belarusian potassium exports to Western fertilizer producers are coming to a halt under current sanctions. Taken together, these developments make the potential uncoupling of Belarus from Russia an even more distant prospect and likely freeze any impending change at the helm of power in Minsk.

Kazakhstan, Fertilizer and Belarus’s Political Crisis – Jamestown

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Russian-Led Mission in Kazakhstan Unveils New Peacekeeping Model (Part One) (Vladimir Socor, The Jamestown

From January 6 through January 19, Russia and its allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) conducted a successful stabilization mission in Kazakhstan, at the latter country’s urgent request. The organization’s member states (Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan) may, under their treaty, undertake collective peacekeeping operations on CSTO members’ territories.

Collective in name but largely Russian in practice, this was the CSTO’s first real-world mission. Under the “peacekeeping” label, it assisted Kazakhstan’s authorities to quell mass-scale social protests that degenerated into deadly violence and seemed about to turn insurrectionary (in the proper sense of that word). The disorders that started on January 2 had, by January 5, engulfed several provinces and major cities, culminating in the largest city, Almaty.

Russian-Led Mission in Kazakhstan Unveils New Peacekeeping Model (Part One) – Jamestown

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CSTO Props up Presidential Succession in Kazakhstan (Roger McDermott, The Jamestown Foundation)

On January 5, in response to the then-rapidly worsening national crisis in Kazakhstan, which was triggered by increased fuel prices resulting in popular protests sweeping the country, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev formally requested an intervention by the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). The following day, the security situation deteriorated further, especially in Almaty where demonstrations turned into widespread looting and destruction of property, including government buildings. Thus, on January 6, for the first time in its history, the Moscow-led CSTO authorized the deployment of military forces in support of the Tokayev regime. The ensuing temporary “peacekeeping” operation by the CSTO in Kazakhstan, January 6–15, marked a turning point for the Russian-dominated alliance (Krasnaya Zvezda, January 12, 2022).

CSTO Props up Presidential Succession in Kazakhstan – Jamestown

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Is the GCC ready to embrace sustainable finance? (Dominik Treeck, Mustafa Domanic, and Hendrik Wittrock, Atlantic Council)

As representatives from across the financial services sector returned home from the October 31-November 12 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP26), many felt they had witnessed a significant milestone. Finance Day put the industry at the top of a COP agenda for the first time. The message at the conference was clear: the ambition is there, the money is available, and the plumbing is being built at pace to enable the growth of net-zero carbon dioxide investments. This includes all public and private sector investments to achieve the objectives of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Is the GCC ready to embrace sustainable finance? – Atlantic Council

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Don’t believe Putin’s propaganda. Sanctions are hurting Russia (Harley Balzer, Atlantic Council)

The Putin regime has long sought to convince Russians that international sanctions imposed over the invasion of Ukraine are actually beneficial for the country. Russia’s propaganda machine has also succeeded in persuading many Western analysts that sanctions measures have been a failure. However, a range of Russian sources tell a different story and reveal the broad extent of the impact.

Don’t believe Putin’s propaganda. Sanctions are hurting Russia. – Atlantic Council

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Singapore’s measured progress and guarded optimism in 2021 (Chang Yee Kwan, East Asia Forum)

Singapore experienced considerable success returning to normalcy in 2021 following the disruptions of COVID-19. The nationwide vaccination drive beginning on 30 December 2020 and resumption of classroom instruction on 4 January 2021 have provided optimism for a continuing return of socioeconomic activity and economic recovery. Policymakers must still work hard to build public confidence in the government’s handling of the pandemic response by building social trust and addressing economic concerns.

Singapore’s measured progress and guarded optimism in 2021 | East Asia Forum

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Davos 2022. Accelerating and Scaling Up Climate Innovation (World Economic Forum)

Half of the emission reductions needed to reach the 2050 climate goals rely on technologies in early development or prototype stages. Accelerating innovation and investments during this decade is critical to making low-carbon technologies cost-competitive and to building green supply chains.

What steps are needed to drive climate innovation and make zero-emission technologies the most affordable, accessible and attractive choice?

Speakers: Børge Brende, Anna Borg, Yasmine Fouad, Bill Gates, John F. Kerry

The Davos Agenda | World Economic Forum (weforum.org)

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Davos 2022. Latin America Outlook (World Economic Forum)