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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

The G20's Futility On Ukraine Is Even Worse Than It Seems

It's not just about the current diplomatic impasse between Russia and the West, it's about the future — and that means China.

photo of Blinken reaching out to shake hands with Lavrov

Blinken and Lavrov on Thursday in New Delhi in photo released by Russian state agency TASS

Sergei Bobylev/TASS via ZUMA
Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

Ten minutes: that was how long the Blinken-Lavrov meeting lasted. U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov were both in New Delhi for the Foreign Ministers meeting of the G20, the group of the world's leading economies.

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It was their first meeting since the war in Ukraine began a year ago — and it was brief, to say the least.

The Russian spokeswoman even made it clear that there were "no meetings or negotiations" during this brief gathering, which was initiated by the U.S.

This non-dialogue is similar to what happened at the G20 meeting, more generally. This is among the only forums where Western, Russian and Chinese officials meet.

It was at the G20 Summit in Bali in November that U.S President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping renewed their dialogue. Russian President Vladimir Putin did not attend.

Thursday in Delhi, the climate was even icier.


And it was all to the dismay of the Indian presidency of the G20, which was counting on its non-aligned attitude regarding the war in Ukraine to help create some diplomatic movement.

In Delhi, agreeing on a joint statement on the war seemed out of the question: the Russians and the Chinese went their separate ways, preventing any consensus, however weak.

Chinese contradictions

This only confirms that this is not yet the time for diplomacy, despite recent announcements hinting at the opposite, in particular the famous Chinese plan that has set off rivers of ink flowing.

China is in a fully contractionary position. It tries to appear as a responsible great power that seeks to ease tensions. It publishes its 12-point plan, and calls for a ceasefire with Moscow's ally, the Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko.

But at the same time, Beijing blocks every statement of any significance at the G20, and sticks permanently to the anti-American discourse shared with the Kremlin.

This is all the more contradictory as it often presents itself as the spokesperson, or even the natural leader of the "Global South," the name given to countries that refuse to align themselves with either camp in Ukraine.

Photo of \u200bLavrov and India's Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar

Lavrov and India's Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar

Russian Foreign Ministry Press S/TASS via ZUMA

U.S. intel transparency


And there is also now the suspicion of impending Chinese arms supplies to Russia, a major issue right now. The U.S. revealed that Beijing was considering supplying Russia with "lethal" equipment — as opposed to computer or logistical equipment. Beijing denied this, but the accusations continued this week with a statement from CIA Director William Burns.

Washington wants to dissuade the Chinese from crossing the rubicon.

One wonders why the Americans are being so transparent in their intelligence, much as they had rightly announced in advance the plans for a Russian invasion of Ukraine. Like last year, this could be an attempt at deterrence, accompanied by the implicit threat of sanctions.

There is a decisive moment in this tug of war, because if China starts to deliver war material (we are talking about drones at first), it could tip the balance of power. Washington wants to dissuade the Chinese from crossing the rubicon: the failure of the G20 meeting is from this point of view a bad omen.


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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

What Are Iran's Real Intentions? Watch What The Houthis Do Next

Three commercial ships traveling through the Red Sea were attacked by missiles launched by Iran-backed Yemeni Houthi rebels, while the U.S. Navy shot down three drones. Tensions that are linked to the ongoing war in Gaza conflict and that may serve as an indication as to Iran's wider intentions.

photo of Raisi of iran speaking in parliament

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi at the Iranian parliament in Tehran.

Icana News Agency via ZUMA
Pierre Haski

-Analysis

PARIS — It’s a parallel war that has so far claimed fewer victims and attracted less public attention than the one in Gaza. Yet it increasingly poses a serious threat of escalating at any time.

This conflict playing out in the international waters of the Red Sea, a strategic maritime route, features the U.S. Navy pitted against Yemen's Houthi rebels. But the stakes go beyond the Yemeni militants — with the latter being supported by Iran, which has a hand in virtually every hotspot in the region.

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Since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, the Houthis have been making headlines, despite Yemen’s distance from the Gaza front. Starting with missiles launched directed toward southern Israel, which were intercepted by U.S. forces. Then came attacks on ships belonging, or suspected of belonging, to Israeli interests.

On Sunday, no fewer than three commercial ships were targeted by ballistic missiles in the Red Sea. The missiles caused minor damage and no casualties. Meanwhile, three drones were intercepted and destroyed by the U.S. Navy, currently deployed in full force in the region.

The Houthis claimed responsibility for these attacks, stating their intention to block Israeli ships' passage for as long as there was war in Gaza. The ships targeted on Sunday were registered in Panama, but at least one of them was Israeli. In the days before, several other ships were attacked and an Israeli cargo ship carrying cars was seized, and is still being held in the Yemeni port of Hodeida.

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