- Since discrepancies emanating from the presidential election in 2020, subsequent protests, and the hijacking of a Ryanair flight in May 2021, Belarus has become an international concern. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, leader of the Belarusian democratic movement and Sakharov Prize winner in 2020, offers remarks and then engages in questions and discussion with on-stage respondents and the Chatham House audience. Chatham House – In conversation with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya
Professor Srikanth Kondapalli, Distinguished Fellow at VIF briefs on the key developments in China in 2021 while speculating the trends to come for the year ahead and the global implications. Srikanth Kondapalli – VIF – China: Review of 2021 and Preview of 2022
IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL
- The European Union’s foreign policy chief says “a pause” is needed in ongoing talks over Iran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers, blaming “external factors” for the delay. The comments by Josep Borrell came on Friday as a plan appeared imminent for the United States to rejoin an accord it unilaterally withdrew from in 2018, and for Iran to again limit its rapidly advancing nuclear programme. Al Jazeera – ‘Pause’ needed in Iran nuclear talks, EU says
QATAR – OMAN
- Dr Andreas Krieg from King’s College London describes Qatar’s unique position in the region and explains how the country balances relations with Iran and its Arab neighbours. Turki al-Bulushi (Bloomberg) explains why neutrality is a core principle of Omani foreign policy, even in relations with its Gulf neighbours. Darya and Tobias also assess the latest developments in the region and the Iran nuclear talks. Darya Dolzikova and Tobias Borck – Chatham House: Episode 4: The View from Qatar and Oman
RUSSIA – UKRAINE (impact, reactions, consequences)
- Russian forces continue to subject Ukrainian cities like Kharkiv and Mariupol to brutal and indiscriminate bombardment, and have already killed thousands of Ukrainian civilians and soldiers. There is a natural and understandable clamour in many Western countries for a no-fly zone to prevent the Russian Air Force from operating over all or part of Ukraine. This would be a major mistake for both military and political reasons. Justin Bronk – RUSI – A Ukraine No-Fly Zone Would be Ineffective, Dangerous and a Gift to Putin
- This is the Balkans on steroids,’ commented James Clapper, the former US Director of National Intelligence, and a retired Air Force lieutenant general, on 5 March on CNN. ‘The images of wanton barbarity will have an impact.’. That impact is already evident in recent US public opinion polling in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Americans have become more supportive of Ukraine and more willing to help Kyiv. But pre-war surveys found profound American unwillingness to get involved in Ukraine’s defence, raising doubts about the sustainability of both US military support of the beleaguered nation and current and any future economic sanctions on Russia. Bruce Stokes – Chatham House – Will American support for Ukraine last?
- Russia’s military operations in Ukraine influenced other countries’ long-standing foreign policy stances, with some reviewing their stances. Switzerland abandoning its 200-year old policy of neutrality and siding with the NATO countries is one. In Japan, nuclear-sharing discussion has sparked a domestic debate. Another European nation, Germany, too initiated process of shedding its doctrine of pacifism behind its foreign policy since World War II. More countries might start seeing their policies in similar light and think of reviewing. This speaks volumes of the gravity of actions by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine. Rajaram Panda – VIF – Russia’s Action in Ukraine: Germany’s Response
- Taking many by surprise, the simmering tensions in the Russo-Ukrainian border reached a boiling point with the Russian military intervention in Ukraine on 24 February 2022. The developing situation has set the world on edge as the conflict will have significant economic and geopolitical repercussions across the globe. Avantika Menon – VIF – Report of VIF Strategic Discussions on the Ukraine Conflict
- The EU and a slew of other like-minded countries are expected to lift Russia’s trade benefits at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, as part of a larger international drive to ramp up economic pressure on Moscow after its invasion of Ukraine. “Nothing should be off the table,” EU trade chief Valdis Dombrovskis told POLITICO earlier this week when speaking about sanctions, and he confirmed that the EU wants to remove Russia’s trade privileges at the WTO. This will “allow us then to impose tariffs to both Russian and Belarusian imports,” he said. Arah Anne Aarup, Barbara Moens – Politico – Removing Russia’s trade privileges — what you need to know
- After two weeks of war, it should be abundantly clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin will stop at nothing to achieve most, if not all, of his war aims. The incessant bombing of civilian targets in Ukraine’s major and lesser cities is a reprise of Russia’s destruction of the Chechen capital of Grozny in the Second Chechen War of 1999-2000. In that operation, the Russians employed thermobaric weapons, cluster bombs and other weapons intended to terrorize as well as decimate the Chechen opposition. Putin was Russia’s prime minister at the time, and it was he who oversaw the war in Chechnya. If there were any remaining doubts about Putin’s current intentions, the bombing of a maternity hospital in Mariupol should put those doubts to rest once and for all. He will fight Ukraine as he fought the Chechens. Dov S. Zakheim – The Hill – What will it take to end Russia’s war in Ukraine? Creative diplomacy
- The crisis in Ukraine and Russia, one of the world’s main sources of grain, fertilisers and energy, presents new challenges in securing food supplies on top of a prolonged pandemic, a United Nations official said Thursday. “We weren’t going well even before the pandemic, the hunger was rising slowly and then the pandemic hit,” said Gabriel Ferrero de Loma-Osorio, head of the Committee on World Food Security, a platform within the UN for the fight against hunger. Al Jazeera – Ukraine-Russia war poses new threat to global food security
- Oil prices have surged following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24. Western sanctions are likely to push up oil prices — resulting in even higher prices at the pump. Al Jazeera – Infographic: How much of your country’s oil comes from Russia?
- Russian President Vladimir Putin has backed allowing volunteers, including from abroad, to help pro-Moscow separatists fighting in Ukraine’s Donbas region, more than two weeks after he sent thousands of Russian troops into the neighbouring country. “As you see, there are people who want to come on a voluntary basis, especially not for money, and help the people who live in the Donbas – well, you have to meet them halfway and help them move into the combat zone,” Putin told a meeting of the National Security Council on Friday. Al Jazeera – Russia-Ukraine war: Putin greenlights letting volunteers fight
- During Russia’s war on Ukraine, video footage has circulated on the internet showing the Turkish combat drone Bayraktar TB2 successfully striking the Russian army. But as so often during heightened conflicts, it is hard to distinguish between factual events and misinformation – some videos of the drone attacks have already been exposed as the latter. Thomas O Falk – Al Jazeera – What do we know about Ukraine’s use of Turkish Bayraktar drones?