Top of the Agenda
U.S. President Joe Biden said the United States will send more troops and weapons (FT) to Europe as part of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) defense buildup over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Washington will establish a new permanent army headquarters in Poland, send five thousand additional troops to Romania, and up its deployments in the Baltic states. NATO is seeking a response force of three hundred thousand troops, a sevenfold increase (Politico) from the current level. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called the announcements the biggest overhaul of NATO defenses since the end of the Cold War. Meanwhile, Turkey dropped its veto (Al Jazeera) on Finland’s and Sweden’s applications for NATO membership after the countries committed to toughening their approaches to groups Turkey views as threats.
|Analysis“Good to see [the] plan to bolster NATO. Not only will it help the alliance deter or if need be respond to Russian aggression, but [it] should provide Europeans the security & confidence to provide Ukraine the military & economic help it needs as well as turn up sanctions pressure on Russia,” CFR President Richard Haass tweets. “The alliance wants to project that it is moving with alacrity to prevent Moscow’s war from spreading onto NATO turf. But it also must wrangle over the specifics with 30 allies that don’t always see eye-to-eye on how to use limited resources,” Politico’s Lili Bayer and Hans von der Burchard write. This In Brief explains what it would mean for Finland and Sweden to join NATO.|
| Pacific Rim
Philippine Authorities Order Closure of Investigative Site RapplerThe news website’s lawyer pledged to appeal (Rappler) the decision to close the site over its dealings with a foreign investor.
U.S./Japan/South Korea: On the sidelines of the NATO summit, the countries’ leaders will discuss (Kyodo) ways to increase economic pressure on North Korea. This Backgrounder lays out North Korea’s military capabilities.
| South and Central Asia
India’s Rajasthan State Suspends Internet After Man’s MurderThe two men suspected of killing the Hindu man said in a social media video (BBC) that they were avenging an insult to Islam.
India/Russia: India’s biggest cement company is paying for Russian coal in Chinese yuan, Reuters reported. The payment method could help insulate Russia from Western sanctions.
| Middle East and North Africa
U.S., Iran Restart Nuclear Talks in QatarThe indirect talks on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement resumed yesterday, with a European Union envoy conveying messages (AP) between U.S. and Iranian negotiators.
Israel: The country’s legislature voted to allow (WaPo) abortion pills to be accessed through the health-care system and scrapped a requirement for abortions to be approved through a hearing with a social worker and doctors.
| Sub-Saharan Africa
South African Power Cuts Rise to Worst Level Since 2019State power utility Eskom said it would implement (Bloomberg) six thousand megawatts of cuts yesterday and today, which is enough energy to power almost four million homes. The cuts come after worker protests disrupted operations at multiple plants.
DRC/Rwanda: Anti-Rwanda sentiment in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has prompted some Rwandans to restrict their public activities (Reuters). The sentiment stems from the resurgence of the March 23 Movement (M23) rebel group, which the DRC has accused Rwanda of supporting.
Scotland’s First Minister Asks Supreme Court to Rule on New Independence VoteFirst Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that she aims to hold an independence vote (BBC) in October 2023. She asked the Supreme Court to rule on whether the British government must approve the referendum. CFR’s David J. Scheffer and Madeline Babin examine Scotland’s growing independence movement.
Colombian Truth Commission Report Shows U.S. Knowledge of Government-Backed KillingsA long-awaited report showed the United States had evidence (NYT) that the Colombian military provided a target list of union workers to paramilitaries who went on to kill them in 1988. Yet, Washington sent billions of dollars in aid to the Colombian government over two decades. This timeline traces U.S.-Colombia relations.
Ecuador: President Guillermo Lasso survived an impeachment vote (Bloomberg). Eighty lawmakers of 137 voted to impeach him, falling short of the 92-vote requirement.
| United States
Former White House Aide Testifies About January 6 Capitol AttackCassidy Hutchinson, who was an aide to President Donald Trump’s final chief of staff, Mark Meadows, told the January 6 committee (NPR) that Meadows said Trump did not want to do anything to stop the violence on that day.