Combat operations in the Donbas trenches remain deadlocked, but their diminishing intensity does not signify an impasse in the course of the Russo-Ukrainian war, which continues to evolve on the ground.
Trenchline in Bakhmut, Eastern Ukraine. Photo: Viktor Borinets / Wikimedia Commons
One notable change has been the cessation of Russian long-distance missile and drone strikes on Ukrainian energy infrastructure and other civilian targets since the attack by 17 Iranian-made drones (of which 14 were intercepted) on Odesa on April 3 (EurAsia Daily, April 4).Read More
Decision-making in the Kremlin had been so erratic — even before the re-invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022 — that the proposition of President Vladimir Putin inhabiting a bubble of servile courtiers and carefully doctored information appeared perfectly plausible.
Putin in his office in the Kremlin in 2020. Photo: kremlin.ru via Wikimedia Commons
Early April 2023 has brought even more evidence supporting this assumption of detachment from reality typical for mature autocratic regimes but aggravated by an unhealthy ambition for determining the course of global affairs.
As Myanmar’s armed resistance against the February 2021 coup enters its second year, calls for ethnic armed organizations (EAOs), sometimes known as ethnic revolutionary organizations, to unite and bolster ties with the resistance movement grow louder.
Photo: PublicDomainPictures.net / CC0 Public Domain
This sentiment resonates not only among international observers but has also been expressed by the opposition National Unity Government (NUG), which is coordinating the resistance to the military junta that seized power in 2021. EAO alliances, such as the K3C coalition, which includes key players like the Kachin Independent Organization, Karenni National Progressive Party, and Chin National Front, are already forming.
Meanwhile, the military regime is working to maintain the status quo by upholding ceasefires and engaging with some EAOs, while continuing to fight others.Read More
On March 31, President Vladimir Putin signed a new decree on Russia’s “Foreign Policy Concept,” an odd document that attempts to combine the Kremlin’s distorted worldview with an inflated perception of Russia’s role in the world, with the goal of beguiling the states of the Global South.
Photo: Presidential Executive Office of Russia
The decree presents Russia as a particular “state-civilization” with a “unique mission in maintaining [the] global balance of forces” for the “majority of humankind,” who allegedly are interested in seeing Russia’s contribution to global security strengthened.
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