Archive for March, 2022

India Is Snapping Up Cheap Russian Oil, and China Could Be Next

India has dramatically increased its purchases of Russian oil. As of March, approximately 6 million barrels of oil have been prepared to be shipped from Russia to India. This shipment is about half of the total volume shipped last year, making this purchase extremely large. India has refused to follow western nation’s footsteps in condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. China has also refused to take a stance in the matter and is expected to purchase cheap Russian oil as well. Russia is currently discounting oil by 25-30 dollars a barrel for China and India.

This is a big deal, since Russia is forming friendships with its neighboring countries. As the west continues to push against Russia and alienate it, Russia has no other choice but to turn to its neighbors. Indian and Chinese civilians will see benefits of cheap oil in the coming months, while western nations suffer from inflated prices. On top of this, Russia announced it will sell oil in rubles, rather than dollars, to India and China, undermining the petro-dollar.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the coming months as the war in Ukraine plays out.

India Is Snapping Up Cheap Russian Oil, and China Could Be Next

 

Nathan

Live Updates: Biden Says He Stands by His Putin Comments

Earlier this week US President Joe Biden said that Vladimir Putin should not be in office. This comes as Ukraine is starting to attempt to take back territory from Russian invasions. Today, Biden clarified that this was his personal moral opinion and that this does not affect strategy. Essentially, he is saying that the United States is not attempting to overthrow Putin or remove him from office. I think Biden did the right thing to clarify that this was not a policy perspective because of the backlash it caused. I believe the United States should try to ensure that Biden and other top officials don’t say anything that Putin would be able to construe as a threat or form of aggression. Hopefully this would avoid any misinterpretation of US military tactics relating to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2022/03/28/world/ukraine-russia-war

-Altan

Constitutional Talks in Geneva Fall Through

Since 2019, a committee was formed in order to create a new constitution or reform the old constitution. Recently however, talks have stalled as members of Assad’s government supposedly slow down talks. The talks have yet to actually form a direction for Syria, with Assad’s government playing for time in the discussions.

Assad ultimately has the de facto power in Syria, and can decide whether or not to agree with a constitution. Ultimately, Assad will not agree on a constitution that grants him less powers, this is just a realist fact. This is even more so a possibility as relations towards Syria cools abroad. Assad flew to the UAE last week, which opened the first embassy in 2018 within the country since the civil war.

Russian involvement was key in the success of Assad’s government during the Civil War. If Moscow were to continue providing support, Syria could find itself in an awkward place.

 

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/3/25/syria-constitutional-talks-fail-again-in-geneva

Could The War In Ukraine Trigger A Global Food Crisis?

Ukraine and Russia account for roughly 30% of the world’s exports of wheat grain. This has far-reaching and potentially devasting effects. The nations that are most likely to suffer the effects of global curbing of wheat products are nations on the periphery. The nations most likely to suffer are the sub-Saharan African nation. Nations such as the United States are likely to be able to afford the uptick in wheat cost and offset the diminished yield in the upcoming harvest. This has security problems because it causes a humanitarian issue. Additionally, citizens that are affected by the burgeoning food crisis will likely immigrate to other nations, and that presents its own set of problems. Nations would then have to divert resources to deal with refugees instead of other issues that might be affecting it’s security concerns.

Jacob

https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-war-global-food-crisis/31773161.html

Russian Military Drills on Disputed Japanese-Claimed Islands

On March 26, 3,000 Russian troops took part in military drills on Japanese-claimed islands that have been under Soviet (now Russian) occupation since the end of WWII in 1945. The status of these islands prevented a formal peace treaty from being signed, and in the wake of Japan’s support for Ukraine, Russia withdrew from the peace process and cooperative economic agreements regarding the island chain’s development. Today, the Japanese government had launched a formal diplomatic protest against the military drills that were held. Given the unravelling nature of Russia’s foreign relations, from violating the airspace of Finland and Sweden to China’s state-run companies exercising caution in expanding Russian assets (see link for Sinopec pulling out of a $500 million deal to build a chemical plant in Siberia), the invasion of Ukraine has left Russia in a state of lashing out against those they are able to. What’s worrying is that the pretext of military drills were just used for the buildup of forces against Ukraine before the invasion’s start. While I don’t believe Russia would do something so rash as to occupy the islands with a large defensive force, the islands still need to be closely kept an eye. The Biden Administration must be wary of any further Russian moves in the Pacific, given their need to maintain a good relationship with China to circumvent Western sanctions and the fact that, formally at least, Japan and Russia are still at war. For now, all the US can do is support Japan’s diplomatic protest, but it may not hurt to encourage the Kishida cabinet to further invest in defense and continue to help in expanding their systems for countering missile attacks.

https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/russia-conducts-military-drills-isles-disputed-with-japan-media-2022-03-26/

https://www.nippon.com/en/news/yjj2022032800814/?cx_recs_click=true

https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/exclusive-chinas-sinopec-pauses-russia-projects-beijing-wary-sanctions-sources-2022-03-25/

Ryan Llufrio

UK police warn younger children involved in far-right terrorism

As far-right extremism is on the rise in Europe, the age for radicalization is getting lower. The UK police have warned that more and more young teenagers are becoming radicalized online. And while this has so far been more limited to the dissemination of far-right material online, there have been a couple of arrests related to teens actively planning an attack. This trend could likely be related to Covid 19, as more people spend more time online searching for any diversion from the lockdowns. This is worrying as we could see an increase in far-right terrorist attacks, when the lockdown completely ends. 

Kevin

UK police warn younger children involved in far-right terrorism (msn.com)

Potential health crisis looms in Ukraine amidst Russian invasion

As the war between Russia and Ukraine continues, public health officials warn that the public is at an increased risk of exposure to deadly diseases that are still common within Ukraine. As health facilities continue to be bombed, access to treatments, medication, and medically trained personnel are becoming incredibly difficult to find. The covid-19 pandemic, which has already taken its toll across the globe, is also cause for concern within Ukraine as hospitals and other health facilities are demolished. Ukraine also has a very high rate of infection for HIV compared to other countries, which is commonly spread via unsanitary drug use. As more and more people are displaced, concern is growing that these diseases will be spread into neighboring countries as a consequence of the Russian invasion. The article is careful to note Russia’s stringent anti-drug replacement therapy. Policies enforcing this sentiment were implemented in Crimea shortly after Russia’a annexation of the country in 2014. The lack of clean and safe therapy options lead many drug users in Crimea to turn to unsanitary and illegal drug use. Unfortunately, many resorted to suicide as a means to avoid the intense physical withdrawal symptoms associated with discontinuing drug use. Ukraine also has a strain of tuberculosis that is immune to drugs, which has the potential to spread to surrounding nations as refugees flee their war-torn home. Cancer patients and individuals with long-term health issues are also left with little to no treatment options.

As Russia continues to fight for control of Ukraine, more individuals will continue to flee the country to avoid Kremlin rule. These diseases, which were already a problem before the invasion, now threaten the physical safety of nations who are simply looking to aid and protect Ukrainian refugees. This could very well lead to another spike in covid cases, as well as higher infection rates of diseases that do not have cheap, accessible, or even effective treatment. The drug-resilient strain of tuberculosis, for example, could be the most dangerous. Although there are treatment options for some of these diseases, treatment is not even less available than before. Sadly, there is no simple solution to combat this problem. Medical aid provided by wealthy countries to Ukraine and surrounding nations, including treatment options and sanitary syringes, will most likely be the most effective strategy to prevent the spread of disease and death.

Darcy Spicer

U.S. Makes Contingency Plans in Case Russia Uses Its Most Powerful Weapons

National Security officials have been assigned to a “Tiger” team to wargame out responses to Putin using NBC weaponry against Ukraine or in an expanded war against NATO. Contingencies laid out by this team were central to the recent NATO session regarding the Ukraine War. Right now, the fear is that Putin might turn to these weapons to extract himself out of the military stalemate. Another concern is should NATO count collateral damage from NBC attacks as an attack. NATO is concerned with Putin’s dangerous potential. Any threat regarding NBC weapons should be treated seriously especially when the arsenals are big enough to level the east coast of the US.

-Bryce

U.S. Makes Contingency Plans in Case Russia Uses Its Most Powerful Weapons – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

Delay of Trial for Insurgents

The trial and prosecution of over 2,000 captured Boko Haram and ISWAP insurgents has been delayed to to facility constraints. The detainees, many of whom have been in custody for several years, have been held at a special facility in Niger State, Nigeria, which is the crux of the issue. They are to be tried within the premises of the detention facility, but the facility is lacking in sufficient courtrooms, as well as accommodations for judges and their respective staff. Preparations are being made to accommodate these deficiencies, which includes the Ministry of Finance releasing funds to build structures to hold trials in.

I think that the fact that these insurgents are even being given a trail is a positive (though slight) sign in the development of Nigeria’s defense forces. Previously accused of mass human rights violations, the Nigerian defense forces are hardly know for allowing due process to terrorists, however this is a promising step. It also leaves room to become a target though. There is, essentially, a fighting force of 2,000 Boko Haram/ISWAP insurgents all being held in the same location- for an organization facing dwindling numbers, this might look like a good target.

-Thora Gibbs

https://punchng.com/courtrooms-judges-accommodation-delay-2000-bharam-iswap-fighters-trial/

 

Russia and Ukraine peace talks may start in Turkey on Tuesday

Putin and Zelenskiy are planning to meet this Tuesday in Istanbul to negotiate a possible resolution to the war. Both the Ukrainian and US governments have low expectations for a compromise with Putin. Although the fact that he’s even considering such a meeting is a good sign, he very well could continue ignoring any and all diplomacy attempts. A potential stalemate has formed in much of Ukraine, as neither Ukrainian nor Russian forces are gaining any ground in the last 24 hours. Both sides may be using this period to regroup and resupply. Civilian evacuations have become problematic in certain areas as possible Russian “provocations” may be taking place along evacuation routes. Specifically, in the city of Mariupol, 160,000 civilians are trapped, with Russian forces blocking escape routes. It’s fair to assume they are doing this to complicate Ukrainian military advancements to the city, using the civilians as a type of shield. Nevertheless, I believe the events we are seeing today are early signs of resolve, as Russian forces are held back, and the Kremlin is considering possible outcomes to end the war.

https://www.reuters.com/business/aerospace-defense/ukraine-insists-territorial-integrity-talks-resume-2022-03-28/

-Luke H

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