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TOPIC: diplomacy

Geopolitics

Modi Is Wrong: Russia's War Also Creates Real Risks For India

By shrugging aside Russia’s aggression, India has shown indifference to fears that China could follow Russia’s example.

-OpEd-

NEW DELHI — India is wrong to dismiss Russia’s war in Ukraine as Europe’s problem. The illegality and destructiveness of the invasion, and consequential food and energy crises, have global ramifications.

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This explains why 143 out of the 193 member-states of the UN General Assembly voted against recognizing Russia’s illegal annexation of four Ukrainian regions after holding sham referenda there. Ninety-three voted in favor of expelling Russia from the UN Human Rights Council.

India has abstained from every vote in the UN condemning Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. The reason? Moscow is India’s top arms supplier and some 70% of India’s military platforms are of Russian origin.

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Olaf Scholz: Trying To Crack The Code Of Germany's Enigmatic Chancellor

Olaf Scholz took over for Angela Merkel a year ago, but for many he remains a mysterious figure through a series of tumultuous events, including his wavering on the war in Ukraine.

-Analysis-

BERLIN — When I told my wife that I was planning to write an article about “a year of Scholz,” she said, “Who’s that?” To be fair, she misheard me, and over the last 12 months the German Chancellor has mainly been referred to by his first name, Olaf.

Still, it’s a reasonable question. Who is Olaf Scholz, really? Or perhaps we should ask: how many versions of Olaf Scholz are there? A year after taking over from Angela Merkel, we still don’t know.

Chancellors from Germany’s Social Democrat Party (SPD) have always been easy to characterize. First there was Willy Brandt – he suffered from depression and had an intriguing private life. His affected public speaking style is still the gold standard for anyone who wants to get ahead in the center-left party. Then came Helmut Schmidt. He lived off his reputation for handling any crisis, smoked like a chimney and eventually won over the public.

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Macron & Biden’s New Deal, N. Korea Sanctions, Slower Fast Food

👋 ନମସ୍କାର*

Welcome to Friday, where the Kremlin says Vladimir Putin is open to talks on Ukraine if the West accepts Moscow’s demands, North Korea is hit with fresh sanctions in the wake of its recent missile tests, and “Viva Magenta” is Pantone’s Color of the Year. Meanwhile, a Russian political scientist tells independent website Vazhnyye Istorii/Important Stories why he thinks Russia is unlikely to collapse — even if Putin loses.

[*Namaskār - Odia, India]

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Why It's Time To Abolish Aid To Africa

Aid in its current form is expensive and inefficient. And it isn't needed — Africa is now a dynamic and confident continent. Europe needs a change of perspective to understand that it needs Africa as much as Africa needs Europe.

-OpEd-

BERLIN — We have a responsibility to help those in need. That is undeniable. From the earliest days of foreign aid, it was given with the best of intentions — to alleviate poverty in Africa. But since then, it has grown into an entire industry. There are so many organizations, all seeking to do good, but inefficiency and misguided assumptions mean they often fail to achieve what they set out to do.

In my opinion, the aid industry has always shown a hint of disdain towards this emerging, vibrant continent. Yes, it is a complex continent – as they all are. It is marked by poverty and war, but that is not the full picture. That is why we need a new approach. Instead of aid, Germany and the rest of the West should focus on increasing economic cooperation with Africa – as an equal partner.

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Russia
Manoj Joshi

Could India Be The Ukraine-Russia Mediator The World Needs?

New Delhi has the ability and diplomatic space to lead an effort to halt the conflict. But timing is everything.

-Analysis-

NEW DELHI — Let's look at several recent developments: Narendra Modi’s rebuke of Russia at the SCO summit in Samarkand, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar’s visit to Moscow, a Washington Post story saying the U.S. was pushing Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to be open to negotiations with Russia. Taken together, these and other factors have triggered speculation that New Delhi could possibly play the role of peacemaker in the Ukraine war.

Does India have the necessary heft and stamina to take up the task?

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For the record, speaking at a Hindustan Times event on Thursday, Jaishankar has said that it would be “premature” to speak of India acting as a mediator to make peace between Russia and Ukraine. Note that he did not reject the notion.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Johannes Jauhiainen

Tensions In Norway Border Town, A Perfect Kremlin Recipe To Divide The West

In a remote region of Norway, a tense standoff is taking place between a tiny town and its giant neighbor to the east, Russia. The Kremlin is accused of using the area as as a staging ground for its policies to divide the West.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has led to its most tense relations with the West since the Cold War, playing out in the halls of international diplomacy and the global movement of arms and energy supplies. But the showdown is also alive on more local settings, most recently pitting Norway's remote northeastern region of Finnmark against its giant neighbor to the east.

The latest escalation in a series of events occurred last Saturday when Russian Consul General Nikolai Konygin was set to give a speech in the small town of Kirkenes to commemorate the Red Army’s liberation of the town from Nazi Germany and their Norwegian collaborators.

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Konygin, who was accompanied by visitors the Russian border city of Nikel, was met with Norwegian protesters who turned their back on the Consul General during the speech and began waving Ukrainian flags. The scene looked like a miniature battlefield as the Russian entourage remained facing the consul general while waving Russian flags.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Anna Akage

Why Iran Has Decided To Arm Russia, And The Price To Pay

After months of trading barbs with Ukraine's allies in the West, Tehran is now fully engaged alongside Moscow in the conflict, most notably with supplies of so-called Kamikaze drones. Although the fact that Iran still denies its activities is a sign that the partnership is loaded.

-Analysis-

In Ukraine, they’ve been nicknamed “mopeds” for the sound of their motors as they terrorize from the air. The Shahed-136 kamikaze drones striking Kyiv, Lviv, Dnipro, and Odessa are also the most visible sign that Iran has officially entered the war in Ukraine as an active military partner for Russia.

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These drones, which have a range of more than 1,000 kilometers, are being launched from Crimea and Voronezh in southwestern Russia. They cost far less than missiles, and although they don't have the same destructive power, they can kill humans and disable critical infrastructure at any moment on any street in any Ukrainian city.

U.S. intelligence, which had warned this past summer that Russian President Vladimir Putin was set to buy a large batch of drones, are now reporting that Iran is also planning to sell ground-to-ground ballistic missiles to Moscow. On top of this, there are multiple reports that Iran is sending military advisors to train Russians to use their weapons.

After limiting itself in the first months of the war to rhetorical barbs aimed at Ukraine’s allies in the West, the past two weeks have thus seen a major escalation of Tehran’s role alongside Moscow.

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Geopolitics
Beesan Kassab, Daniel O'Connell, Ehsan Salah, Hazem Tharwat and Najih Dawoud

Patronage Or Politics? What's Driving Qatar And Egypt Grand Rapprochement

For Cairo, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil,” with anger directed at Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, and others critical of Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood ouster. But the vitriol is now gone, with the first ever visit by Egyptian President al-Sisi to Doha.

For the first time since coming to power in 2014, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi traveled to Doha last month on an official visit, a capstone in a steadily building rapprochement between the two countries in the last year.

Not long ago, however, the photo-op capturing the two heads of state smiling at one another in Doha would have seemed impossible. In the wake of the Armed Forces’ ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, Qatar and Egypt traded barbs.

In the lexicon of the intelligence-controlled Egyptian press landscape, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil” working to undermine Egypt’s stability. Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, was banned from Egypt, but, from its social media accounts and television broadcast, it regularly published salacious and insulting details about the Egyptian administration.

But all of that vitriol is now gone.

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Geopolitics
Gregor Schwung

The Xi-Putin Alliance Is Dead, Long Live The Xi-Putin Alliance

The façade of unity between Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin was lifted in Uzbekistan last week. But where exactly does the Chinese head of state stand on the Russian invasion of Ukraine? Beijing is still establishing its place in the world, and it remains in contradiction to the West

-Analysis-

Xi Jinping is not out of practice. The Chinese President's public demeanor on his first foreign trip since January 2020 was as confident as ever. When meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, he promptly removed his mask and stood inches away from the Russian president, smiling affably.

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What looked routine to the outside world was a diplomatic tightrope walk that the Chinese leader felt compelled to perform. It was the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders since February, when they proclaimed a "friendship without borders" at the Winter Olympics in Beijing. Shortly thereafter, Putin launched his campaign against Ukraine – and the world wondered whether Putin had used his Olympic visit to obtain Xi's approval for his invasion.

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In The News
Lila Paulou, Lisa Berdet and Anne-Sophie Goninet

Taiwan Air Space, Azov Battalion Protest, Chorizo Space Gag

👋 ⴰⵣⵓⵍ!*

Welcome to Friday, where China’s military drills in the Taiwan Strait force airlines to cancel flights, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian leader Vladimir Putin meet in Sochi and a French scientist tricks Twitter with a slice of… chorizo. Meanwhile, French daily Les Echos looks at the phenomenon of “revenge travel” and how it may bring on lasting changes for tourism.

[*Azul - Tamazight, North Africa]

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Geopolitics
Lin Zi-li

Pelosi In Taiwan: Bold Diplomacy, Perfect Timing

"She's now the leader of the Western movement recognizing the existence of a democratic Taiwan, aiming to break Beijing's "one-China principle..." A Taiwanese political scientist argues the 19-hour visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will have real lasting impact.

-Analysis-

TAIPEI — As many have noted, Nancy Pelosi’s recent 19-hour trip to Taiwan was the first visit to the island by a U.S. House Speaker since 1997. In the intervening 25 years, some things have changed, and others haven't.

While China is now a major world economic and military power, cross-Strait relations are similarly marked by high levels of hostility and mistrust.China still wants reunification, Taiwan still supports the status quo, and there is no room for compromise.

The question of why Pelosi insisted on visiting Taiwan despite warnings from China begins to show what drives her, and what's at stake.

Her trip was a critique of China's growing ability to shape the international order. During a much earlier visit to Beijing, in 1991, Pelosi, already a member of the U.S. Congress, was temporarily arrested by the Chinese police and expelled from the country after pulling a black banner in Tiananmen Square "dedicated to the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the cause of democracy in China."

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In The News
Cameron Manley and Emma Albright

Zelensky Blasts Schroeder, Lobbies Xi In New Push To Maximize Support

In the past 24 hours, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has focused his diplomatic efforts on Germany and China, two nations that remain key to the balance of power in the war in Ukraine. In different ways the two powerhouse countries have been less than clear where they stand in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

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In what was a clear reference to former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s recent visit to Russia, Zelensky said in his nightly address on Wednesday that “it is simply disgusting when former leaders of powerful states with European values work for Russia, which is fighting against these values.”

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