📣🌐👀 Global Eyes, Sunday Review
After you spend a half hour reading this, you will be well-informed.
🇺🇦 🌾 Ukraine
Kharkiv, the Russian army’s second fiasco. Ukrainian forces conducted a successful counter-offensive around the country’s second largest city. Russian forces are being defeated militarily, day after day, and driven back to the border.
Ukraine has begun an offensive around occupied Izium. The head of the Kharkiv Regional Military Administration, Oleg Synegubov, said,
Our armed forces are pushing back the enemy and the inhabitants are beginning to return to their homes. It’s still too dangerous [to come home]! Retreating, the enemy mined absolutely everything—courtyards, forest belts, roadsides, even cribs and more. Careful demining work is underway. Please refrain from returning until official announcements. (In Ukrainian.)
Russia has been using Izium as a staging area its offensive in the eastern Donbas trying to drive south from the city as other Russian forces push north from Donetsk to encircle Ukrainian soldiers defending the front lines. But this now looks out of reach.
The Ukrainian destruction of a Russian motorized rifle brigade that tried to cross a pontoon bridge over the Siverskyi Donets River has shocked prominent Russian military bloggers, who have begun commenting on the incompetence of the Russian military to their hundreds of thousands of followers. They’re also concerned that the incessant propaganda is making it hard for them to understand what’s happening.
Other pro-Russian Telegram channels are noting the slow pace of Russian offensive operations in northern Kharkiv Oblast, blaming it in part on ineffective aerial reconnaissance and the negative effects of bad morale within the Russian military. Some Telegram channels reported receiving criticism for “misrepresenting” the performance of the Russian military.
“If this situation is not changed,” writes one military blogger, “it will all end in social disintegration or civil war … Our society does not know even a third of what is happening at the front. It’s time to carefully but continuously bring people out of the virtual coma of ‘eternal victories.’” (In Russian.)
“Didn’t the commander of the crossing at Belogorovka have information that in the third month of the war, it was impossible to travel in large columns, and even more so to accumulate them in a narrow area in front of a water barrier?” writes another. “How much of an idiot do you have to be to not understand this? Although this may not be idiocy, but direct sabotage. Honestly, wrecking and sabotage this situation is much easier to explain.” (In Russian.)
Ukraine’s head of military intelligence says the war with Russia is going so well that it will reach a turning point by mid-August and be over by the end of the year. Major General Kyrylo Budanov also said a coup to remove Vladimir Putin is already under way in Russia and the Russian leader is seriously ill with cancer:
🧵 “We’re reaching a bit of a tipping point in the Ukraine War,” agrees Mike Marten, a former British army officer who is now a War Studies scholar at King’s College London:
Over the last week or so, we have seen Russian forces begin to culminate in the east and the south of Ukraine. That is: they’ve moved from the offensive to the defensive (conversely, the Ukrainians have moved from the defensive to the offensive). Two areas where this is very obvious: Kherson and Kharkiv. …
… now we have seen a Russian culmination, we will also see increased Ukrainian boldness on the battlefield—encircling pockets, hitting command posts, etc. And this is where it gets interesting. …
It has been more than a month since Russian troops withdrew from their positions around Kyiv, yet bodies and mass graves are still turning up on a weekly if not daily basis. The scale of atrocities committed by Russian forces during their monthlong occupation is staggering.
On the road out of the Russian-controlled region of Kherson in southern Ukraine, bridges are rigged with explosives. Russian soldiers at a maze of checkpoints strip men naked to look for identifying tattoos and loot the meager possessions carried by people scrambling to flee. And on several occasions this past week, according to witnesses who managed to escape, Russian forces fired on the vast convoys of cars.
Videos and eyewitness accounts attest to an emerging Russian offensive tactic in Ukraine: the deliberate targeting of agricultural equipment, farms and grain supplies through shelling and looting. The attacks have been precise enough to constitute “very deliberate attempts by Russia to curtail Ukraine’s agricultural production.” (Members of the Cosmopolitan Book Club will be very familiar with the historic precedents—Claire.)
By Timothy Snyder: Nine theses on Putin’s Fascism for 9 May.
How can Putin carry out obviously fascist policies, such as a genocidal war of destruction in Ukraine, while claiming the mantle of anti-fascism? As we saw again today in his Victory Day speech, Putin identifies Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in the Second World War. The past becomes a way for the aggressor to claim victimhood, as well as the right to commit any crime. How does that work?
The coup in the Kremlin: How Putin and the security services captured the Russian state (Paywalled.)
The modern FSB traces its beginnings to the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, when the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission, also known as the Cheka, hunted down enemies of the new Soviet state under the fierce leadership of Felix Dzerzhinsky. Its subsequent iterations, the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD) and the Ministry of State Security (MGB), evolved under Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s rule and were led most notoriously by Genrikh Yagoda in the 1930s and Lavrenty Beria in the 1940s and 1950s. The KGB became the Soviet Union’s primary security agency in 1954 under Nikita Khrushchev, Stalin’s successor. Over the following decade, Khrushchev expanded the Communist Party’s oversight of the Soviet state’s institutions of control, limiting their influence. But after Khrushchev’s ouster in 1964, Yuri Andropov, the longtime head of the KGB, reclaimed the organization’s lost authority, bringing the security service to the height of its power in the 1970s.
… within Russia, the events leading up to and following the invasion also marked the completion of a political shift that has been years in the making. They exposed the waning power of the siloviki who dominated the early Putin era—and their replacement by a faceless security-and-control bureaucracy.
👉🏻 Related, in the magazine: The NKVD’s wartime record foreshadowed Russian atrocities in Ukraine.
Imagine it’s 1944 in Europe, and some Allied leader says the following: “We will have a peace to build tomorrow, let us never forget that ... We will have to do this with Jews and Germans around the table. The end of the discussion and the negotiation will be set by Jews and Germans. But it will not be done in denial, nor in exclusion of each other, nor even in humiliation.” (See below for the context: Macron recently said this of Russia.)
With hundreds of thousands of Russians on the European continent, it is time for European governments to start thinking of these exile populations far more strategically. Rather than remaining on the defensive, trying to deflect the disinformation and cyberwarfare campaigns that Moscow aims at the West, they should draw on this crucial resource to wage a new kind of information war on the Kremlin.
When reality bites. Russia’s war in Ukraine is not over, but it is not too soon to start thinking about what comes next:
In a 2014 article for the Financial Times, Simon Kuper writes: “History in the west often serves as entertainment, something to enjoy from a comfortable distance, rather like a horror movie. That is the spirit of much western remembrance of 1914 this year. In the Balkans, though, history is fresher, more vicious, always about to jump out and bite the present.” As far as I am concerned, “eastern Europe” could be added to this sentence. Eastern Europeans of my generation have first-hand experience of big history—the liberation brought about by the collapse of the Soviet Union. We know that history can happen, for better or for worse. It cannot be ignored by hiding your head in the sand.
How Putin drove Finland into NATO’s arms. For many Finns, Russia’s assault on Ukraine recalled the 1939 Soviet invasion of their homeland. Fear of another attack was enough to dismantle Helsinki’s seven-decade strategy of heavily armed nonalignment. (Paywalled.)
🧵 “Since many people know nothing about Finland, jump on clickbait headlines and retweet without checking facts, here’s a short overview of the things Russia has threatened Finland with so far and what their consequences are/would be ... ”
The president of Finland Sauli Niinistö had a phone call with Vladimir Putin:
President Niinistö told President Putin how fundamentally the Russian demands in late 2021 aiming at preventing countries from joining NATO and Russia’s massive invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 have altered the security environment of Finland. President Niinistö announced that Finland decides to seek NATO membership in the next few days.
President Niinistö noted that he had told President Putin already in their first meeting in 2012 that every independent nation maximizes its security. This is what is happening now, too. By joining NATO Finland strengthens its own security and assumes its responsibility. It is not away from anyone else. Also in the future, Finland wants to take care of the practical questions arising from being a neighbor of Russia in a correct and professional manner.
🤔❓Pop Quiz: Which theory of international relations has President Niinistö expressed?
B. Structural realism
Please justify your answer. This counts toward your final grade.
“Russia will be forced to take retaliatory steps, both military-technical and others, in order to stop the threats to its national security arising in this regard,” the Russian Foreign Ministry warned Finland.
When the Cold War ended, most European countries shifted their focus to expeditionary operations, reduced their defense spending, and developed smaller but highly professional and specialized military forces. Finland chose a different path—not least because of its 800-mile border with Russia. Helsinki maintained a strong national defense posture, the cornerstones of which are conscription and a large, well-trained reserve.
Suggesting that is basically an insult. It’s a matter of pride to many Finns to be able to stand up to Russia. As a NATO ally, Finland will take its commitments very seriously—Finns are a rule-abiding nation almost to the point of obsessiveness, as our EU partners can tell you. Therefore, Finland will be more than ready to contribute its share to collective defense.
As prime minister of Estonia, Kaja Kallas has emerged as the EU’s most robust voice for an uncompromising response to Russia’s invasion:
“If Russia is not punished for what they are doing, then there will be a pause of one, two years, and then everything will continue: the atrocities, the human suffering, everything.” She adds that it will not just be Ukraine at risk of an emboldened Putin. “I mean other countries around Russia. Moldova … The imperialistic dream has never died.” Few doubt that Estonia could be a prime target in such a situation.
Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats have come out in favor of joining NATO, paving the way for an application.
Erdoğan says Turkey is “not positive” about Sweden and Finland joining NATO:
“We don’t want to commit a mistake,” he added. “Scandinavian countries are like guesthouses for terrorist organizations. To go even further, they have seats in their parliaments, too.” Sweden has a large Kurdish diaspora, and prominent Swedish citizens of Kurdish origin currently include six members of parliament. The Turkish authorities have not provided any evidence for claims that the parliamentarians have links with the PKK or similar groups outside Sweden.
(Almost certainly Erdoğan is correct that the PKK—and probably the Gülen movement—receive some kind of support from Swedish and Finnish citizens or residents. He’ll probably demand some kind of concession, be it a readmission to the F35 program, or a crackdown on PKK funding—Claire.)
(Update: No sooner had I written that when the item below came clattering over the transom—Claire.)
Turkey’s foreign minister said on Sunday that Sweden and Finland must stop supporting terrorist groups in their countries, provide clear security guarantees and lift export bans on Turkey as they seek membership in NATO.
Zelensky says Macron suggested he make concessions on Ukraine’s sovereignty to help Putin save face.
🧵 Is Macron freelancing, or was this agreed with Germany?Brussels? Washington?
Whatever happened, it failed. Zelensky felt pressured by Macron and went public—probably to make sure that Macron understands that this won’t fly. But this episode tells us a lot about the emerging conflict between those who want the war to end quickly and those who think it must end with Ukraine not losing much territory.
The war has shaken the foundations of the established power distribution in Europe and will reorder it for decades to come, shifting Europe’s core from the West to the center of the Continent:
A rebuilt and successful Ukraine, with its population of some 44 million and wealth of natural resources and fertile agricultural land would shift the center of Europe’s gravity—regardless of whether or not it joins the EU. A free and successful Ukraine would all but ensure a rapid implosion of the Lukashenka dictatorship in Belarus and, aligned with Poland, Romania, Finland, and the Baltic States would give the Baltic-Black Sea intermarium unprecedented economic and political influence. With the combined population of some 120 million for the intermarium, this new configuration would fundamentally shift the overall power balance in Europe. Last but not least, it would compel Russia to come to terms with the reality of its post-imperial status. It would force it to address the fundamental question of what the “normal” Russian nation-state should look like.
Russian MP says fascism has returned in Germany. “If Scholz is against the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine, then it turns out that they are starting to revive fascism again, which strongly influences the politicians of the Bundestag,” said Viktor Vodolatsky.
Pyongyang, North Korea, is now under lockdown. The North spent more than two years essentially self-contained, sealing its borders and issuing its forces shoot-to-kill orders. Now the government admits that Covid19 has successfully invaded.
Mr Kim called for an all-out battle to tackle the spread of the virus during an emergency meeting on Saturday. It comes after officials announced the first confirmed cases on Thursday—although experts believe the virus has likely been circulating for some time.
There are fears a major outbreak could have dire consequences in North Korea. Its population of 25 million is vulnerable due to the lack of a vaccination programme and poor healthcare system. And on Saturday, state media reported that there had been half a million cases of unexplained fever in recent weeks. The country has limited testing capabilities so most Covid cases are not confirmed.
North Korea has confirmed 15 more deaths and hundreds of thousands of additional patients with fevers as it mobilizes more than a million health and other workers to try to suppress the country’s first Covid19 outbreak, state media reported Sunday.
(Hold on, here. They have more than a million health care workers in North Korea? The total population is, what, 25 million? So one in 25 North Koreans is a health care worker?—Claire)
State Emergency Measures Taken for Promptly Curbing Spread of Epidemic
Pyongyang, May 15 (KCNA)—Swift state emergency measures have been taken to firmly ensure the good chance of winning the epidemic prevention campaign and promptly curb the spread of the epidemic, true to the idea and spirit of the 8th Political Bureau Meeting of the 8th Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea and the consultative meeting of the Political Bureau.
According to the emergency measures taken by the Party and the government, all provinces, cities and counties of the country have been totally locked down and working units, production units and residential units closed from each other since the morning of May 12 and strict and intensive examination of all the people is being conducted.
Over 1,349,000 people have been involved in hygienic information service, examination and treatment so far while finding out all fevered persons and others with abnormal symptoms to quarantine and treat them.
(Okay, that makes more sense. They’ve press-ganged 1,349,000 people into “hygienic information service”—Claire.)
As regards the fact that those, careless in taking drugs due to the lack of knowledge and understanding of stealth Omicron variant virus infection disease and its correct treatment method, assumes a large proportion of the dead since the outbreak of the present anti-epidemic crisis, various undertakings are being conducted urgently to remedy it.
Stage of Chorus Overflowing with Feelings of Reverence
Many artistes from various countries cherish the moments of performing before the great Comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il as the most glorious and happiest memory in their life. For the current festival, they exerted themselves to the best of their abilities for rendering the immortal revolutionary hymns Song of General Kim Il Sung, Song of General Kim Jong Il and Ode to General Kim Jong Un. The China Oriental Performing Arts Group, the Yurlov Russian State Academic Choir, the Academic Song and Dance Ensemble of the National Guard of the Russian Federation, the Mongolian Military Song and Dance Academic Ensemble, and the State Morin Khuur Ensemble of Mongolia reflected in their choruses the noble ideological feelings of the world people who pray for the immortality of Comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il with boundless reverence for them with lofty and solemn emotions full of burning passion. Their choruses portray deep fascination for the peerlessly great men with solemn and spirited, yet bright and joyous emotions, moving the audiences to tears in emotional recollection of the unforgettable moments of the past spring festivals.
Agriculture ministers from the G7 condemned India’s decision.
Now, the country’s food and energy security has been decidedly compromised; hospitals have run out of medicines and most non-essential surgeries have been postponed indefinitely; tourist arrivals have plummeted; the country’s foreign exchange reserves have reached a dangerous low and daily life of citizens is typified by waiting in long queues for cooking gas, fuel and milk powder while most essential items are in short supply. And there are island-wide lengthy power cuts daily, impacting both industry and day to day life. Lankans have not experienced this kind of deprivations on an island-wide scale even in the worst years of its civil war. …
Since the Taliban took over Afghanistan, rising living costs and unemployment have left many people with barely enough money to buy food. However, the Taliban government has no solution for stopping the collapse of the economy. Instead, the Islamist militant group has decided to focus on setting up rules of conduct and dress codes for women based on a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam. New, stricter rules are announced almost every day. For example, since the end of March, women are only allowed to board an airplane in the company of a man. …
… an adviser to former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani believes that the radical wing of the Taliban has prevailed in an internal power struggle. “For them, ideology is more important than the welfare of the citizens. They have no interest in the Taliban’s rule being recognized by the world community.”
Afghanistan’s former ambassador to Ukraine says the world is already “forgetting” about the Afghanistan crisis. “Even the international media is not covering the crisis in Afghanistan,” he said, adding that the Taliban are now free to implement their regressive policies in the country.
If the United States had the same Covid death rate as Australia, 900,000 Americans would still be alive. Why was Australia so much more successful?
🧆🥙 Middle East
Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who ruled the UAE for 18 years, has died.
His younger brother and the UAE’s de facto ruler, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan—MbZ, as he’s known—has been elected president by the Federal Supreme Council:
Sheikh Mohamed’s ascension, which was widely expected, formalizes his position as leader of the desert state of 10 million after years of calling the shots while Sheikh Khalifa was sidelined by poor health. Under his low-key direction, the United Arab Emirates has put a man in space, sent a probe to Mars and opened its first nuclear reactor, while using its oil-funded clout to develop a more assertive foreign policy. Closely allied with Saudi Arabia, it has emerged as a leader of a reshaped Middle East since the retreat of traditional Arab powers and the reduced involvement of the United States, forging ties with Israel and joining a war against Iran-backed militants in Yemen.
Syrians are starving, with three quarters of the population lacking regular access to food. Food prices have exploded by more than fifty percent in the last six months compared to the same period last year owing to a nationwide fuel shortage, one of the worst droughts in many decades, and above all, Russia’s war in Ukraine. (In German.)
Syrian rebels killed 10 soldiers in northern Syria in the deadliest such attack since a truce over two years ago.
Lebanon went to the polls today to elect the parliament who will represent the country for the next four years. The vote is the first since Lebanon’s economic collapse, one of the worst the world has seen in 150 years, and the first since the blast at Beirut’s port.
Lebanese election observers have already documented hundreds of voting offenses across the country.
Despite a devastating economic collapse and multiple other crises gripping Lebanon—the culmination of decades of corruption and mismanagement—the deeply divisive issue of Hizbullah’s weapons has been at the center of the vote for a new 128-member parliament. Disarming the group has dominated political campaigns among almost all of the group’s opponents. Those include Western-backed mainstream political groups and independents who played a role in nationwide protests since the start of the economic meltdown in October 2019. …
Hizbullah was the only group officially allowed to keep its weapons after the 1975-90 civil war because it was fighting Israeli forces occupying parts of south Lebanon. In 2000, Israel withdrew from Lebanon but Hizbullah and others in the small Mediterranean nation insisted its weapons were necessary to defend it against Israel, which has one of the strongest armies in the region.
Iran gives Russia’s invasion two and a half cheers. Iran’s rulers enthusiastically seek to destroy the liberal world order and therefore support Russia’s aggression. But they can’t manage full-throated support.
Israel knows that no matter who shot Al Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh, it can’t win the public opinion battle being waged across the Middle East and beyond, writes Ben Caspit:
Unlike its operational battlefield advantages, Israel is at a distinct disadvantage in the court of public opinion. “People automatically identify with the weaker side,” the security source said. “We are fighting uphill, trying to prove our innocence. Let us not forget one basic fact: The IDF does not deliberately target journalists or civilians. On the contrary. Few armies in the world take such stringent precautions to avoid hitting civilians. We are ready for an investigation right now, in any transparent format. The other side refuses. It bears the burden of proof.”
Yes, but come on. Don’t do this and then complain you can’t win in the court of public opinion. My God, what a disaster:
Israel’s police chief opened an investigation into the actions of officers who charged the procession and beat the pallbearers at the funeral of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, sparking global outrage. (Heads need to roll over this—Claire.)
The Palestinian Authority is refusing to let Israeli officials conduct forensic examinations on the bullet that killed Abu Akleh. They say Israel can’t be trusted to investigate the killing. Israelis say Palestinians are trying to hide the truth.
Families have become desperate for food and water. Millions of children are malnourished. Livestock, which pastoralist families rely on for food and livelihoods, have died … the UN’s World Food Programme says up to 20 million people in East Africa are at risk of severe hunger. Ethiopia is battling the worst drought in almost half a century and in Somalia 40 percent of the population are at risk of starvation.
Ukraine has also captured much of the world’s attention and resources. As a result, aid budgets are stretched and there is no telling when, or even if, enough assistance will come to East Africa.
How the Biden Administration can help resolve the Western Sahara conflict:
Washington should urge Paris to soften its rigid pro-Moroccan stance on the conflict. The United States provides substantial intelligence support to French counterterrorism efforts in the Sahel. In return, it should insist that France stop using its veto power in the UN Security Council to prevent the UN from monitoring human rights abuses in Western Sahara. Meanwhile, the State Department should appoint a new US special envoy to the Sahel, a post that has been vacant for more than a year, while ensuring that this new envoy has a track record of impartial North Africa expertise.
International actors tend to underestimate how interlinked the Sahel and North Africa are; an envoy could help to streamline and coordinate different forms of US aid at a time of regional upheaval and as states seek to diversify their foreign partnerships. This would help to ensure that US policies in the Sahel do not inadvertently inflame tensions in North Africa, and vice versa. (Paywalled.)
A group of fifty illegal immigrants to the UK have been told they will be sent to Rwanda within two weeks.
Somalia is electing a new president, but terrorists hold all the power. The militants of Al Shabab collect taxes, decide court cases and control the streets. Somalis ask, will a new government even matter?
It’s Africa’s Century. Asia gets the attention, but the real economic revolution is the inevitable growth of an overlooked continent:
…. over the next 30 years, the momentum is well-nigh unstoppable. The mothers of the children to be born in the 2030s and 2040s have, themselves, already been born. Unless the fertility of those girls diverges in truly radical ways from that of their mothers, an African continent of around 2.4 billion to 2.5 billion inhabitants is the most likely scenario for 2050. Nigeria will be in the lead, with a population somewhere between 350 million and 440 million, most likely larger than that of the United States. …
A scenario in which Africans make up a quarter or more of the world’s population is something new under the sun. And the challenges are immense. … to absorb Africa’s exploding youth populations is a challenge comparable in pace and scale to China’s giant wave of urbanization between the 1990s and 2010s. Yet nowhere in Africa has any track record of growth at the Chinese pace. …
When Nigeria has a population of over 300 million its fortunes matter on the global scale. That population is not confined to the countryside but is increasingly urbanized. Even at low levels of per capita income and formal education it is to a considerable degree networked and in contact with the wider world. The potential for conflict, but also innovation and growth is enormous. Cell-phone enabled Somali pirates and payments systems like M-Pesa both demonstrate the ways that Africa might become an innovation hub. In terms of the number of films produced annually, Nigeria’s film industry is exceeded only by the gigantic machinery of Bollywood. More Christians live in Africa than any other continent. By sheer virtue of their size, the way that Egypt and Ethiopia deal with issues of public health and energy development will have global implications. Hobbled as it is by Eskom, its failing electricity utility, South Africa if it is to thrive, must per force become a pioneer of middle-income decarbonization. The Congo Basin peat bog is amongst the largest carbon sinks in the world. It is also home to one of the poorest and most rapidly growing populations on the planet. The list of examples could be extended ad infinitum.
On quantitative grounds alone—let alone qualitative—21st century history is going to look completely unlike any previous epoch. Africa and Africans will be at the heart of the story.
A teenage white supremacist opened fire on black people in a supermarket in Buffalo in the United States, killing ten.
US Senator Rand Paul holds up the passage of US$40 billion Ukraine aid bill:
The delay into next week could cause problems for Western nations trying to bolster Ukraine in its fight against Russia. The Biden administration has said that by May 19 it expects to run out available funds to draw on under an authority that allows the president to authorize the transfer of weapons without congressional approval in response to an emergency.
For critics of American power, the best way for the United States to cope is for it to retrench its position in the world, divest itself of overseas obligations that others ought to handle, and serve, at most, as a distant offshore balancer. These critics would grant China and Russia their own regional spheres of interest in East Asia and Europe and focus the United States’ attention on defending its borders and improving the well-being of Americans. But there is a core of unrealism to this “realist” prescription: it doesn’t reflect the true nature of global power and influence that has characterized most of the post–Cold War era and that still governs the world today. (Paywalled.)
Extra points: To which school of thought in international relations does Robert Kagan adhere?
The specter of assassination is haunting Colombia’s electoral campaign. The left has a real chance of taking power for the first time. In the 20th century, five leftist or left-leaning presidential candidates were assassinated by opponents, drug traffickers, or paramilitaries working in complicity with the state:
The assassination risk “is very high,” according to Felipe Botero, a political science professor at the Andes University. “They won't just (try to) kill [Gustavo] Petro the candidate, but it is also highly likely they will try to assassinate him if he wins the presidency.”
China’s policy banks stopped offering new loans to Latin American governments in 2020. Instead, the new Chinese financial approach to the region is focused on private financing initiatives in the energy, mining, and infrastructure sectors. In 2020 and 2021, Chinese state-owned commercial banks, which include the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, provided 12 loans in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. These loans are devoted to projects with a Chinese component such as a Chinese firm working in partnership with a local company.
Argentina’s president relays Latin America’s “concern” over Ukraine war to Macron:
In his position as pro-tempore president of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States bloc, Fernández said the region cannot “continue to put at risk, after the pandemic, food security and energy security,” again underlining concerns over the impact of economic sanctions leveled against Moscow.
Chile’s new leftist president, Gabriel Boric, is plummeting in the polls:
[Boric] rode into office in March on the crest of landslide elections that seemed to confirm Chileans’ hunger for change. His election followed a strong “yes” vote in an October 2020 referendum on whether to replace the military dictatorship-era constitution.
But sky-high expectations and impatience for deep and rapid change from one side of Chile’s political spectrum are only half of Mr. Boric’s problem. On the other side he faces a skeptical conservative population, from business elites to middle-class families, shaken by the prospect of significant economic and social change imposed by the left.
Former deputy Buenos Aires provincial police chief Miguel Etchecolatz, one of the most emblematic human rights violators of Argentina’s brutal 1976-1983 dictatorship, has received a ninth life sentence for crimes against humanity.
Eight of Taiwan’s 14 remaining diplomatic allies are in Latin America and the Caribbean. Can Taiwan keep them?
China is a relatively late-comer to Latin America and the Caribbean. Cuba is China’s rock-solid communist comrade. In 1999, Beijing gained another friend, Venezuela. On the economic front, China has made huge progress: Even for the traditional allies of the United States, such as Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay, China has become their largest trading partner. Apart from tight economic connections, China also forms a united front with Argentina against “Western colonialism,” upholding Buenos Aires’ claim to the Falkland Islands/Malvinas.
Taking China’s huge economy into consideration, the balance has begun tilting to China’s side since the early 2000s. Upset by the abandonment of the 1992 Consensus by Tsai Ing-wen’s administration, China has reignited the cross-strait diplomatic battle since Tsai took office in 2016. Between 2016 and 2021, China has deprived Taiwan of eight diplomatic allies, half of which are in Latin America and the Caribbean—Panama, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. China’s Belt and Road Initiative has been the main vehicle to attract Latin American friends to its side.
By the Cosmopolitan Globalists
The fighting in Eastern Ukraine is likely Russia’s last offensive before exhausting its available manpower, writes Cristina Maza. The Russian military announced a spring recruitment effort last month that will last into June. But even if Russia succeeds in recruiting 130,000 more soldiers as it said it would, it won’t be able to increase its ability to fight on the ground in Ukraine anytime soon. It would take months to train recruits and integrate them into existing units. The article is locked, but this Twitter thread summarizes the main points.
She also writes that the humanitarian disaster sparked by the war is testing the United States’ ability rapidly to fund and deploy International assistance. She looked at the money going to the US Agency for International Development and asked how quickly the agency can deploy assistance.
Stop fantasizing about making Putin see reason and focus on containing Russia, writes Monique Camarra:
The public and analysts look to president Macron and chancellor Scholz for their positions vis-à-vis Russia’s war of aggression. The way they are dealing with Putin couldn’t be more wrong.
On Friday, president Macron was on the phone to Putin. Again. Leaders need to maintain lines of communication, but these calls, and those of chancellor Scholz, haven’t brought Putin or president Zelensky any closer to the negotiating table. They’ve actually done the opposite: they’ve fed Putin’s ego.
How do we know? Macron has been derided in Russia. Russian TV propagandists have coined a new term—“Macronized”—to mean a badgering bore who calls continuously, like a jilted lover.
Widespread optimism about our ability to avoid such an outcome depends greatly on the assumption that both sides are very cautious where nuclear weapons are concerned and have assimilated that caution into their conduct of the war. This is false.
Fifty million people, particularly in Africa and the Middle East, are at risk of starving. The war in Ukraine is supercharging a three-dimensional crisis—food, energy and finance—with devastating impacts on the world’s poorest people.
The G7 called for urgent measures to unblock the stores of grain that Russia is preventing from leaving Ukraine. It also urged China not to help Russia by undermining international sanctions or justifying Moscow’s actions.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said the war had become a “global crisis.”
Russia has deliberately chosen to extend the military war against Ukraine now as a grain or you can say grain war to many states in the world, especially in Africa. We must not be naive. This is not collateral damage. It is a deliberately chosen instrument in a hybrid war that is being waged right now. Russia is preparing the ground for new crises to deliberately weaken international cohesion against Russia’s war.
(If you’ve been reading Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands for the Cosmopolitan Globalist book club, you’ll need no convincing on this score—Claire.)
The latest batsh*t in Tsargrad
BLOODY RITUALS OF "AZOV": UKRAINE WAS TURNED INTO A SATANIC CAPITAL
Since the beginning of May, the network has been actively replicating and discussing a video in which fighters of the Azov regiment conduct frightening rituals at the foot of the great idol of the ancient Slavic pagan deity Perun. Militants in uniform T-shirts with Nazi wolfangels sprinkle the ground to install the idol with their blood and swear allegiance to it.
Your stern scolding from the CCP
The US had been engaged in overseas anti-terrorism for 20 years, but now the country has become the source of white terrorism. The loss of American life in places which witnessed gun violence by the white is symptomatic of the effects of white nationalist terrorism. Gun violence-featured white terrorism has always been accompanied by deeply embedded racial woes …
… The relations between white people and other races are falling into a predicament, like Sisyphus in the Greek myth rolling a rock up to the top of a mountain, only to have the rock roll back to the bottom. Under the current US political system, this predicament is unresolvable.