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Cyber Security, Digital Transition, Technology Geopolitics & Worlds In-Defense In-Security Pensiero Strategico

Open newsletter – february 20, 2022

from: Al Jazeera, East Asia Forum, RFE RL, Reuters

AZERBAIJAN

Journalists hounded and harassed to the point where many have fled the country. Independent or opposition media shuttered or blocked online. Nearly all news media reaching the public controlled by the government. For years, media experts and others have been warning about Azerbaijan’s dire media landscape. And now they say it could get even worse. RFE RL: A New Draconian Media Law In Azerbaijan Gives The Government The Power To Decide What’s News

ETHIOPIA – GRAND ETHIOPIAN RENAISSANCE DAM

Ethiopia began producing electricity for the first time from its Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) – a massive hydropower plant on the River Nile that neighbours Sudan and Egypt say will cause severe water shortages downstream. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed officially inaugurated electricity production on Sunday from the mega-dam, a milestone in the controversial multibillion-dollar project. Al Jazeera: Ethiopia starts electricity production at Blue Nile mega-dam

IRAN

Iranian lawmakers have urged President Ebrahim Raisi to obtain guarantees from the United States and three European countries that they won’t exit the nuclear deal being renegotiated in Vienna, Iranian state media reported on February 20. RFE RL: Iran Lawmakers Want Guarantees That U.S., European Countries Won’t Exit Nuclear Deal

An overwhelming majority of Iranian legislators have set to define strict conditions for a return to the country’s 2015 nuclear deal as an agreement with world powers in Vienna appears close. In a statement read out on Sunday, 250 legislators in the 290-member parliament – in control of conservatives and hardliners since 2020 – called on President Ebrahim Raisi to adhere to their conditions in restoring the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Al Jazeera, Maziar Motamedi: Iran’s parliament sets conditions for return to nuclear deal

NIGER

The Nigerian military has killed and wounded children in an airstrike in neighbouring Niger, a local governor in Niger, state television and an aid agency said on Sunday, although Nigeria’s armed forces said they were still investigating. Reuters: Nigerian forces kill children in airstrike over border in Niger, official says

PANDEMIC – G20

Among the G20 goals being pursued by the Indonesian chair this year is ‘ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines’. This has become a pressing task, though one that’s part of a bigger picture. Developing country vulnerability means global vulnerability. The Delta variant, first detected in India in April 2021 before becoming a world crisis, illustrates the danger of having large pockets of unvaccinated people. East Asia Forum,  Ken Heydon: Rich countries still need to step up on global COVID vaccine access

PAPUA NEW GUINEA

In Papua New Guinea (PNG), as in many countries, the dominant narrative in 2021 was COVID-19. The outbreak of the pandemic posed a threat to PNG, as the country’s health services had been in decline for years and were struggling to cope with drug-resistant tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and other chronic health issues. At the end of January 2021, PNG had officially recorded only 867 COVID-19 cases and 9 deaths. Low levels of testing and poor awareness of the pandemic mean these figures were likely understated. East Asia Forum, Ronald May: A challenging year for Papua New Guinea

RUSSIA – UKRAINE – SECURITY

Repeated Western predictions of a Russian invasion of Ukraine are provocative and may have adverse consequences, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Sunday. Reuters: Kremlin says “daily” Western predictions of Ukraine invasion are provocative

Elderly men and women, some well past retirement age, are getting ready to fight on either side of the separatist conflict in Ukraine as tensions ratchet higher by the day. Reuters, : In Ukraine conflict, even the elderly are getting ready to fight

French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin agreed in a call on Sunday on the need to find a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis, Macron’s office said on Sunday. Reuters: Macron and Putin agree to take action to preserve peace —Elysee

Russia will extend military drills in Belarus that were due to end on Sunday, the Belarusian defence ministry announced, in a step U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said made him more worried about an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine. Reuters, , , : Russia and Belarus extend military drills; West worries invasion is imminent

Russia and Belarus are extending joint military exercises that were due to end on February 20, the Belarus defense minister said, in a move that further intensifies pressure on Ukraine as the West warns of an imminent Russian incursion. RFE RL: Russia, Belarus Extend Joint Military Exercises, Minsk Says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called on February 20 for a “regime of silence” and “intensifying” of peace efforts, as France’s president conducted urgent telephone diplomacy with the Ukrainian and Russian leaders amid fears of an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine. RFE RL: Ukraine’s President Urges Cease-Fire, Urgent Peace Talks After Speaking With Macron

The United States and Britain would seek to cut off Russian companies’ access to U.S. dollars and British pounds if Russia attacks Ukraine, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned on February 20. RFE RL: West Could Cut Off Russian Companies’ Access To U.S. Dollar, British PM Says (rferl.org)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned on February 20 that current developments look like Russia is “on the brink” of invading Ukraine and an extension of joint Russia-Belarus military exercises nearby increases concerns. RFE RL: Blinken Says Russia Looks ‘On Brink’ Of Ukraine Invasion, Says Biden Ready To Meet ‘At Any Time’

In 2014, Izolatsiya, the only contemporary arts centre in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk, was seized by Moscow-backed militants and was transformed into a secret detention centre. The memoirs of Ukrainian journalist Stanislav Aseyev, who spent close to three years at the facility, have recently been published in English and make for harrowing reading. He describes torture, rape and various degrading mistreatment that Ukrainians were subjected to. “I would have signed any confession they put before me. All I wanted was to be shot – such was the depth of my despair,” Aseyev wrote. Al Jazeera, Oleksandra Matviychuk: For the Kremlin, war crimes are not mistakes but tactics

TURKMENISTAN

Turkmenistan will be having a snap presidential election on March 12 and the winner looks to be dynastic rule. RFE RL, Muhammad Tahir, Bruce Pannier: Majlis Podcast: Establishment Of Dynastic Rule In Turkmenistan Set For March 12