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Open newsletter – february 28, 2022

RUSSIA – UKRAINE (impact) 

Al Jazeera

India and Pakistan have both emphasised the importance of de-escalation in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion, while carefully avoiding ascribing responsibility for the violence, with the nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours attempting to walk differing diplomatic high-wires, analysts say. On Sunday, Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi spoke via telephone with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, reiterating Pakistan’s call for a cessation of hostilities.

Even as Western allies unleash new economic pressures on Russia with businesses announcing market pullouts, and an intensification of cyberattacks against Russian government entities, experts warn that these measures may not be enough to curb President Vladimir Putin’s escalating war on Ukraine. “New sanctions are designed to bog Russia down in the long-term,” says Dr Nikolas Gvosdev, Russia expert and editor of world affairs journal Orbis, “but not to impose enough pain for Putin to pull out of Ukraine.”. Tatiana Serafin: Will escalating sanctions shift fortress Russia? It’s not a given

FIFA has ordered Russia to play matches without its flag and anthem at neutral venues, warning the country could be excluded from competitions if the situation in Ukraine does not improve. Sunday’s announcements which FIFA called “immediate first measures” were, however, swiftly criticised as insufficient by European nations. FIFA bans Russian flag, anthem at matches over Ukraine invasion

Formiche

I russi tengono alla loro immagine. Potrebbero accettare a fatica quella di un Paese isolato, avviato al collasso economico, senza veri alleati. Vladimir Putin ha una sola persona da accusare per il lunedì più nero della sua vita: se stesso. Stefano Stefanini: Fermare Putin. Istruzioni per l’uso

Non solo energia. Il menù degli effetti bellici si arricchisce di una serie di elementi che vanno anche nella direzione opposta. La Germania ha molto da perdere, per via di rotte ferroviarie che subiranno una deviazione, per il cosiddetto fenomeno dei colli di bottiglia dei camion, per lo spazio aereo chiuso: in sostanza la guerra e i provvedimenti ad essa connessi minacciano le rotte di rifornimento tedesche a causa di consegne ritardate. Sotto osservazione Volkswagen e Via della Seta da un lato, e il comparto della Difesa dall’altro. Francesco De Palo: Cavi, treni e F35. Tutti gli effetti delle sanzioni sull’economia tedesca

Global Times

Chinese traders and logistics service providers have been ramping up efforts to cope with the rapidly evolving situation in Europe, as the Russia-Ukraine conflict raised concerns over potential impact on certain aspects of the China-Europe freight train and shipping routes by sea and air. Yin Yeping and Liu Yang: Russia-Ukraine conflict starts to affect China-Europe trade

The US and its European allies’ sanctions to exclude Russia from SWIFT hit the Chinese A-share markets with all three major indices opening lower on Monday morning, while the move also shored up the growth of some digital currency shares on the Chinese market. Chinese stocks open lower after West moved to exclude Russia from SWIFT

While Taiwan regional leader Tsai Ing-wen expressed her support for Ukraine on Twitter with pictures of some buildings in the island lit up with the Ukrainian flag’s colors, some netizens mocked the Tsai authority for simply following the West in showing “verbal support” for Ukraine, saying this is ironic when the island is facing electricity shortage. Yellow and blue lights lit up the Taipei 101 and several buildings in Kaohsiung on Saturday night, according to Taiwan media. Tsai tweeted the pictures of the light shows later, saying that “Our ‘country’ and people #StandWithUkraine against Russian ‘aggression’.”. Tsai mocked for copying West to show ‘verbal support’ for Ukraine with light shows in cities on Taiwan island

Project-Syndicate

The horrific Russian attack on Ukraine should be a wake-up call for the elites of NATO’s Central European members and the rest of the alliance. Without excusing Russia’s aggression, we must admit that decades of political division and institutional decay contributed to the relative weakness of the Ukrainian state—weaknesses that Russian President Vladimir Putin is now ruthlessly exploiting. While helping the victim and punishing the attacker, other countries in the region should also heed the tough lessons of Ukraine’s tragedy. Maciej Kisilowski, Anna Wojciuk: Ukraine’s lessons for NATO’s eastern front

Reuters

The European Union has broken a “taboo” by agreeing for the first time to jointly finance weapons deliveries to a third country to help Ukraine fend off the Russian invasion, EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell has said. Factbox: EU breaks “taboo” to jointly finance Ukraine weapons deliveries

At least 400,000 Ukrainian refugees have entered EU territory so far, and the bloc needs to prepare for millions of arrivals, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said on Monday. EU says 400,000 refugees from Ukraine so far, millions expected

Switzerland has banned five oligarchs close to Russian President Vladimir Putin from entering the country, Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter told a news conference after neutral Switzerland adopted EU sanctions on Russia. Swiss ban entry for five oligarchs close to Putin – government

Hungary will not send troops or weapons to Ukraine and will not allow lethal weapons to transit its territory in order to keep the country safe, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Monday during a visit to Kosovo. Hungary will not allow lethal weapons for Ukraine to transit its territory

European Union leaders may discuss the possibility of Ukrainian membership at an informal summit in March, a senior EU official said on Monday, adding the issue was important for Ukraine in discussions with Russia on ending the conflict. : EU eyes Ukrainian membership, could be bargaining chip in Russia talks

Ceasefire talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials began on the Belarusian border on Monday as Russia faced deepening economic isolation four days after invading Ukraine. Ukraine ceasefire talks begin

India plans to send four senior ministers to Ukraine’s border nations, a government source said on Monday, to help in the rescue of thousands of its citizens who remain trapped more than four days after Russia’s invasion of the country. and : Indian government ministers to go to Ukraine’s borders to help evacuate stranded citizens

As Russia’s economy gets hammered by sanctions, China has emerged as the key player with the potential to lessen its partner’s economic pain. But amid Moscow’s deepening international isolation, there are growing signs that Beijing’s willingness to throw its strategic partner an economic lifeline may only go so far. John Power: As Russia’s isolation grows, China hints at limits of friendship

The Vatican is ready to “facilitate dialogue” between Russia and Ukraine to end the war, its top diplomat said on Monday. Vatican says ready to ‘facilitate dialogue’ between Russia and Ukraine

Singapore will impose “appropriate sanctions and restrictions” on Russia, its foreign minister said on Monday, including banking and financial measures and export controls on items that could be used as weapons against the people of Ukraine. Singapore to impose sanctions on Russia, including bank transactions

Meta Platforms (FB.O) said a hacking group used Facebook to target a handful of public figures in Ukraine, including prominent military officials, politicians and a journalist, amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of the country.  : Facebook-owner Meta says Ukraine’s military, politicians targeted in hacking campaign

Russia has employed hundreds of powerful and precise ballistic missiles in the first days of its Ukraine attack, but analysts and U.S. officials say many Ukrainian defences remain intact – effects that countries around the world are watching closely. : Analysis: Russia’s missiles see mixed results in Ukraine war as world watches

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Sunday declined to condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, while departing from his government’s official stance at the United Nations to say Brazil would remain neutral.  : Bolsonaro won’t condemn Putin, says Brazil will remain neutral over invasion

Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google confirmed on Sunday it has temporarily disabled for Ukraine some Google Maps tools which provide live information about traffic conditions and how busy different places are. : Google temporarily disables Google Maps live traffic data in Ukraine

European nations and Canada moved on Sunday to shut their airspace to Russian aircraft, an unprecedented step aimed at pressuring President Vladimir Putin to end his invasion of Ukraine, the biggest attack on a European state since World War Two. Aeroflot said it would cancel all flights to European destinations after E.U. foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the European Union had decided to close its airspace to Russian traffic. and : Europe and Canada move to close skies to Russian planes

Russia’s political and economic isolation deepened on Monday as its forces met stiff resistance in Ukraine’s capital and other cities in the biggest assault on a European state since World War Two. President Vladimir Putin put Russia’s nuclear deterrent on high alert on Sunday in the face of a barrage of Western-led reprisals for his war on Ukraine, which said it had repelled Russian ground forces’ attempts to capture urban centres.  : Russia’s isolation deepens as Ukraine resists invasion

Security Affairs

A Ukrainian researcher leaked 60,694 messages internal chat messages belonging to the Conti ransomware operation after the announcement of the group of its support to Russia. Pierluigi Paganini: Researcher leaked Conti’s internal chat messages

The Anonymous collective announced that the internal network of Belarusian railways has been compromised, the group claims to have blocked all services and will deactivate them until Russian troops will leave the territory of Belarus. Pierluigi Paganini: Anonymous breached the internal network of Belarusian railways

Ukraine is recruiting a volunteer IT army composed of white hat hackers to launch attacks on a list of Russian entities. Pierluigi Paganini: Ukraine is creating a volunteer IT Army to hit tens of Russian targets

This post provides a timeline of the events related to the Russia invasion of Ukraine from the cyber security perspective. Pierluigi Paganini: Feb 7- Feb 27 Ukraine – Russia the silent cyber conflict

The Hill

Facebook took down dozens of fake accounts and pages spreading misinformation about the Russian-led military invasion in Ukraine, company executives said Sunday, while also taking measures to combat hacking efforts in the region. The misinformation campaign was spread by what Meta executives called a “small network” of 48 pages, accounts and groups operating in Russia and Ukraine. Rebecca Klar: Facebook cracks down on disinformation, hacked accounts in Ukraine

The Interpreter

Russia is a huge producer and exporter of fossil fuels, especially oil and gas. By waging war on Ukraine and all this brings with it for geopolitics, its energy trade will change. It will be a short-term boost to other energy exporters, but the bigger effect will be a fundamental re-think on energy security which will accelerate decarbonisation. Frank Jotzo: Russia’s war will hasten the drive for clean energy security

However this ends, it will not end well for Ukraine. And likely not for Russia either. Ukraine’s experience throughout this crisis has been a sad lesson in the realities of realpolitik. Geographically stuck right next door to a powerful, menacing neighbour intent on bringing it to heel, but lacking the protection offered by a formal security alliance, Ukraine was always going to be on its own in confronting Russia’s aggression. Ian Hill: Putin’s hubris foreshadows tragedy – for Ukrainians and Russians alike

The Strategist

In the lead-up to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine last week, much of the information the public received was from open-source intelligence. Commercial satellite imagery, mainstream media coverage and social media video footage all combined to provide a detailed picture of the Russian military build-up. Most major cities are covered by CCTV, which has helped police solve crimes but also enabled repression by authoritarian regimes. In Russia, dashcam footage abounds. In Ukraine, we can already tune in to live CCTV footage from major cities and witness the Russian military crossing Ukrainian borders and making its way through Crimea. Adam Cullen: How digital media could help end the conflict in Ukraine

Last Friday, the United Nations Security Council voted on a draft resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and calling on it to stop the attack and withdraw its troops. Sponsored jointly by the US and Albania, the resolution received the affirmative vote of 11 of the council’s 15 members. But it was defeated by the solitary negative vote of Russia (by chance the council president for February) as a veto-wielding permanent member. The three countries to abstain were China, India and the United Arab Emirates. Ramesh Thakur: India’s stake in the Ukraine conflict

While the battle for Kyiv rages, the economic war between Russia and the nations of the West has barely begun. The US, the EU and their allies are concentrating their economic attacks on Russia’s financial system while exempting the energy sector. David Uren: How will Russia retaliate as Western sanctions take hold?

The world aims to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin and his cronies with economic sanctions. Follow the logic of sanctions to reach for a powerful weapon to threaten autocrats and kleptocrats. Kick them where it really hurts: hit them in the wallet. Don’t just make it hard for them to do business and enjoy their loot. Seize back the ill-gotten profits they’ve looted. Graeme Dobell: Kick kleptocrats in the wallet

US Department of State

Today the United States joins the UN Human Rights Council at the Council’s 49th regular session.  The U.S. return to that body fulfills a pledge made by President Biden and reflects the centrality of human rights to our nation’s foreign policy. The timing of this session could not be more appropriate. Since the opening moments of Russia’s premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attack on Ukraine, reports of human rights abuses have been widespread.  Let there be no confusion:  Russia attacked Ukraine because Ukraine dared to pursue a democratic path.  Russia’s invasion has damaged and destroyed schools, hospitals, radio stations, and homes, killing and injuring civilians, including children. 49th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

In coordination with our allies and partners, the United States is taking further measures today against the Russian financial system in response to Russia’s continuing premeditated war against Ukraine.  Unwavering in our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, we will continue to act with our allies and partners in imposing costs on Russia if it continues its war of choice. Additional Measures Against the Russian Financial System

AFGHANISTAN

Reuters

The Taliban have been carrying out extensive house searches around the Afghan capital, according to residents, a policy the group’s spokesman said was to detect criminal activity but that some Western diplomats said had targeted ordinary citizens. Taliban begin house searches, sparking fear, diplomatic criticism

AUSTRALIA

East Asia Forum

Australian news coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic has been largely focussed on the United States and United Kingdom, not Asia and the Pacific. Ross Tapsell: Australia’s Anglo-focussed COVID-19 news coverage

AUSTRALIA – RUSSIA – MYANMAR

The Interpreter

“Australians always stand up to bullies, and we will be standing up to Russia”, declared Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week, announcing a suite of sanctions against Russia after Vladimir Putin’s decision to recognise the separatist regions in eastern Ukraine, just hours after the United States and United Kingdom did the same. The sanctions target transport, energy, telecommunications, oil, gas and mineral reserves, and some Russian banks. Sanctions and travel bans were also placed on eight Russian individuals. Jessica Collins: Australia was quick to sanction Moscow. Why not Myanmar?

CHINA

East Asia Forum 

As missiles fall on Kyiv, you might be forgiven for forgetting that the last global crisis — the pandemic that continues to infect nearly two million people a day worldwide and is responsible for one death every eight seconds — is still not over. In much of the West, policymakers are deciding to act as if the pandemic has passed. Barriers to people movement and restrictions on daily activities are being unwound. China’s pandemic strategy is unlikely to change any time soon

As more countries loosen their pandemic restrictions, many want to know when China will abandon its zero-case strategy (dongtai qingling) and end its quarantine requirements. The International Monetary Fund claims that sticking to the zero-case strategy is economically damaging to China and the rest of the world. Others suggest that the Chinese people are suffering from ‘too many restrictions’. Bingqin Li: China clings to COVID-19 zero

CHINA – EUROPE

Global Times

About 50 Chinese companies, including telecom giants Huawei and ZTE, will attend the Mobile World Congress 2022 (MWC 2022) that kicks off on Monday in Barcelona, Spain, aiming to showcase cutting-edge technologies and new devices, as Europe is still viewed as a significant market for Chinese technology giants despite rising geopolitical uncertainties. Chinese firms to put on strong show at MWC 2022, indicating focus on European market

CHINA – JAPAN

Global Times

A Japanese think tank survey showed on Saturday that the share of Chinese who have a favorable impression of Japan has tumbled. Chinese observers believe the main factor could be Tokyo’s provocative policies toward China, including those on the infamous Yasukuni Shrine and Diaoyu Islands issues, as well as the Taiwan question, urging Tokyo to reflect and make concrete moves to improve China-Japan ties. Provocative policies toward China main factor of plunge of Chinese impression of Japan: observers

CHINA – TAIWAN

Global Times

Media on the island of Taiwan on Sunday speculated that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been deploying high-altitude balloons to the island this month, with the island’s defense authority claiming that the balloons were more likely for meteorological research purposes. Liu Xuanzun: Taiwan hypes mainland weather balloon presence, ‘reflects suspicious, frightened mindset’

CHINA – USA

Global Times

Monday is set to see the 50th anniversary of the issuance of the Shanghai Communiqué, the first joint communiqué issued by China and the US on February 28, 1972 that opened a new chapter for bilateral relations. Since that day, China-US relations have maintained overall stability despite twists and turns, which also enabled bilateral economic and trade cooperation to expand rapidly over the past 50 years. China-US trade underlines cooperation over conflict

Chinese officials and experts called on the US to respect the one-China principle and bring China-US bilateral relations back to normal, at an event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Shanghai Communiqué in Shanghai on Monday. Chinese officials urge US to respect one-China principle and return ties to normal at event commemorating Shanghai Communiqué

Reuters

China is willing to work with the United States on a G7-led global infrastructure plan and welcomes Washington to join its Belt and Road Initiative, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Monday. The Group of Seven (G7) richest democracies, consisting of United States and its allies, proposed the Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative in June to help developing countries meet infrastructure needs, as they sought to counter China’s growing influence. : China willing to work with U.S. on Build Back Better World initiative

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO

Al Jazeera

At least 20 civilians have been killed in an attack in the northeastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Reuters news agency has reported. The attack occurred in the village of Kikura late Sunday, Odette Zawadi, the president of a local activist organisation, told the news agency. At least 20 civilians killed in attack in eastern Congo: Report

GERMANY – ITALY

Formiche

Sebbene la situazione economica italiana sia profondamente diversa da quella tedesca, il raggiungimento della soglia del 2% del Pil destinato alla Difesa dev’essere comunque perseguito quale obiettivo strategico del nostro Paese, sul modello di quanto deliberato dal governo tedesco. Lo spiega ad Airpress Alberto Pagani, capogruppo del Partito democratico in commissione Difesa della Camera e membro dell’Assemblea parlamentare Nato. Il 2% alla Difesa è un investimento, non una spesa. Il punto di Pagani (Pd)

INDIA

Al Jazeera

Rising crude oil prices and supply disruptions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could further sap an Indian economy already slowed by COVID-19, posing risks to household spending and private investments, economists have said. India, which meets nearly 80 percent of its oil needs through imports, could be hit by a widening trade deficit, weakening rupee and higher inflation after Brent crude prices shot above $105 a barrel last week, the economists said. An already slowed Indian economy faces fresh risks

INDIA – AFGHANISTAN

Observer Research Foundation

The Taliban completed its six months in power in Afghanistan on February 15. Under its regime, there has been little stability over the past six months. While Taliban has used the pretext of the humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan to push for recognition, not a single country—including Pakistan—has officially recognized its rule. Sarral Sharma, Sameer Patil: India’s Strategy towards Post-August 2021 Afghanistan

INDIA – ASEAN – SOUTH KOREA

Observer Research Foundation 

Maritime Asia is at a crossroad. Growing military activity, and rising non-traditional challenges in the littorals threaten the health of the oceans and the people who depend on them. Asia’s leading maritime powers must engage in a development alliance that can help deliver security and sustainable growth. This brief evaluates the prospects for a partnership between India, South Korea, and ASEAN in the areas of ocean governance, maritime connectivity, and marine infrastructure. Abhijit Singh, Anasua Basu Ray Chaudhary, Observer Research Foundation: Marine Governance in Asia: A Case for India-ASEAN-South Korea Cooperation

INDIA – CHINA

Observer Research Foundation

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s budget on February 1 has made all the right noises regarding defence, with ₹ 5.25 lakh crore being allotted to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), a hike of 10%, and an emphasis on self-reliance in defence manufacturing. While challenges of resource availability persist, the MoD still continues to grab the largest share of the central government’s expenditure. Sameer Patil: How India is trying to tackle China’s military challenge

IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL

Al Jazeera

A restored nuclear deal with Iran was “closer than ever,” according to negotiators, when war broke out in Ukraine. The deal with Iran

ITALY – ALGERIA

Formiche 

Missione del ministro Di Maio per rafforzare la cooperazione in campo energetico alla luce del conflitto in Ucraina e riempire le scorte al fine di scongiurare difficoltà in autunno. Con lui Descalzi, amministratore delegato di Eni. Governo ottimista, ecco cosa si muove sugli altri fronti: da Tap e GreenStream fino al Gnl. Rimane aperta la questione rigassificatori. Gabriele Carrer: Inizia dall’Algeria la caccia dell’Italia al gas

RUSSIA – CHINA

Formiche

Nel Box-11 della Relazione annuale sulla politica dell’informazione per la sicurezza redatta dal Dipartimento delle informazioni per la sicurezza per l’anno 2021 – dunque distante dalla guerra in Ucraina e non riferita direttamente a questi recenti sviluppi – si parla della cooperazione tra Russia e Cina. Ferruccio Michelin: L’intelligence italiana tiene d’occhio la cooperazione Russia-Cina

TURKEY

Reuters

Six Turkish opposition parties set out a joint plan on Monday to slash presidential powers and strengthen the role of parliament if they win the next election. : Turkish opposition parties promise to slash presidential powers

USA – TAIWAN

Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden will send a delegation of former senior defense and security officials to Taiwan on Monday, a senior official of his administration said, a sign of support for the island claimed by China after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. and : Biden sends former top defense officials to Taiwan in show of support