On March 23, the historic process of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) enlargement passed a critical milestone as Finnish President Sauli Niinistö signed into law legislation on accession to the Alliance approved by parliament.
Finland’s President Niinistö signs NATO legislation 23 March 2023. Photo: Matti Porre/The Office of the President of the Republic of Finland
In response, the Kremlin merely expressed regret about this development and reiterated the absence of any threat from Russia to its North European neighbors (Rossiiskaya gazeta, March 16).
After its first steps on the African continent in Libya in 2017, the Wagner Group has been deployed in Sudan, Mozambique, Madagascar, the Central African Republic, and at the end of 2021 in Mali. This rapid expansion over the years contributes to the instability and insecurity in these regions.
Russian and Central African Republic flags are waived by demonstrators gathered in Bangui on March 5, 2022 during a rally in support of Russia. Photo: Carol VALADE / AFP
The paramilitary Russian group known for its cruelty and human rights violations focuses primarily on protecting the ruling governing elites and developing a predatory approach to exploit local resources.
One important part of the Wagner group’s playbook – as Raphael Parens has labelled their strategy – relies on Russian media influence and disinformation campaigns amongst local populations.Read More
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Moscow, which started yesterday and is expected to go for three days, is certain to be rich in pomp and ceremony. Yet, its content remains rather uncertain.
Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin in Moscow March 2023. Photo: kremlin.ru
Russian President Vladimir Putin, in most cordial terms, invited his Chinese counterpart during their video conversation on December 30. But Xi, according to the transcript, did not acknowledge the invitation at the time (Kremlin.ru, December 30).
The date of the visit was announced only last week, and the rush was likely caused by Beijing’s desire to give a new impetus to its “peace plan” for the Russo-Ukrainian war, announced by the Chinese Foreign Ministry on February 24 without much effect (Nezavisimaya gazeta, March 14).
Taiwan is where Russia’s war in Ukraine and China’s economic underperformance overlap and produce a dangerous resonance.
Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping. Photo: The Russian Presidential Press and Information Office
The war may be far away from Taipei, but it brings material problems, like delays in deliveries of U.S. armaments, and disturbing changes in the regional security environment. The end of China’s fast-paced economic growth has resulted in political shifts as attempts to regain familiar dynamism, so prominent in the discourse of the recent 14th National People’s Congress, alternate with resorts to aggressive nationalism.
Taiwan, like Ukraine, faces real challenges from a mighty neighbor and doubts about its security. One hopes that the lessons learned from the unfolding disaster in Europe are not lost on Beijing.Read More
Against the backdrop of the grisly Russia-Ukraine war, the security situation in East Asia may appear conducive to the continuation of the long peace that the region has enjoyed for decades.
However, the devastating European war has cast a long shadow eastwards.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida shakes hands with Xi Jinping at their meeting in Bangkok in November 2022. Photo: FMPRC
While Russia’s military presence in Asia is deeply curtailed as most of its conventional capabilities are redeployed to the Donbas front in Ukraine, the behavior of maverick North Korea has become more reckless and China’s policy has become less predictable and more assertive.
As a result, Japan has adopted a more proactive approach to its international security environment predicated on enhancing its military capabilities and deepening security cooperation with key allies and partners, starting with, but not limited to, the U.S.Read More
In classic Beijing style, the document unpacks China’s official position in 12 points. These points repeat previous Chinese positions on the conflict, and in this sense do not offer anything new in terms of Beijing’s rhetoric and supposed neutrality. They do, however, offer several useful insights into China’s own perception about its role in the international arena as well as its positioning with respect to global dynamics of power.Read More
In October 2022, lithium prices reached an all-time high.
Lithium is an essential component for electric vehicle batteries, and with the current high ambitions in electrification of transport, demand for the mineral has been rapidly increasing, hitting a record price of $74,475 per tonne in October 2022.
Artisanal chrome mining in Lalapanzi, Midlands Province. Photo: Ernest Muvunzi, Fotokulture Films
In Zimbabwe, where some of the world’s largest deposits of lithium are found, the surging prices have led small-scale and artisanal miners to turn to mine lithium ores.Read More
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