CFR: Daily News Brief, March 28, 2023

Image Daily News Brief March 28, 2023
Top of the Agenda

British, German Tanks Reach Kyiv as Ukraine Prepares for Spring Offensive

The first deliveries of British Challenger tanks and German Leopard 2 tanks reached the Ukrainian capital (FT), German and Ukrainian officials confirmed. Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces completed training (The Guardian) in the United Kingdom on how to use the Challenger tanks. Poland sent tanks to Ukraine late last month, and Spain is expected to do so by the end of the week.
Ukraine’s spring counteroffensive against invading Russian forces will depend (BBC) on continued weapons support from the West, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said. He will give a virtual address today (AFP) to kick off U.S. President Joe Biden’s second annual Summit for Democracy. 

“The Ukrainian military’s skill at integrating advanced weapons and new technologies has continually surprised not only its adversary, but also Ukraine’s own partners and allies in the West. Yet new technology and weapons, no matter how sophisticated, are unlikely to prove decisive,” the Center for Security and Emerging Technology’s Margarita Konaev and Owen J. Daniels write for Foreign Affairs. 
“For Ukraine to succeed against Russia’s deeper resources and entrenched defenses it will need a combination of skill and luck, finding and quickly exploiting weak points, say strategists. While Kyiv’s forces are more motivated and, in some cases, better armed than Moscow’s troops, Russia has had months to prepare for a Ukrainian attack and shown greater willingness to expend lives and materiel,” the Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Michaels and Ian Lovett write.
Middle East and North Africa

Netanyahu Pauses Judicial Reform to Seek Compromise

After weeks of nationwide protests, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he will delay advancing his judicial overhaul (Times of Israel) to allow for dialogue on its details. On The President’s Inbox podcast, CFR’s Martin S. Indyk explains the power dynamics within Netanyahu’s new government.

China/Saudi Arabia: Riyadh announced a pair of oil deals with Beijing that are expected to increase Saudi Arabia’s oil contracts with China (FT) by up to 690,000 barrels per day. 
Pacific Rim

Chinese Bailouts to Developing Countries Boomed as Pandemic Began

China issued $104 billion worth of rescue loans (FT) to developing countries between 2019 and 2021, almost as much as it granted for the same types of loans over the previous two decades, according to a study by AidData, Harvard University, the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, and the World Bank. Researchers found that the loans had an average interest rate of 5 percent, more than twice the average rate of rescue loans from the International Monetary Fund. This Backgrounder looks at China’s lending to developing countries under its Belt and Road Initiative.

Philippines: President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the country is ending all engagement (CNN Philippines) with the International Criminal Court after the court refused to suspend a probe into alleged abuses committed during the previous government’s war on drugs. For the Asia Unbound blog, CFR’s Joshua Kurlantzick examines Marcos Jr.’s pledge to differentiate himself from his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte.
South and Central Asia

Indian Opposition Parties Unite Against Lawmaker’s Expulsion From Parliament

Rahul Gandhi of the opposition Indian National Congress is expected to file an appeal today (Bloomberg) against his expulsion from Parliament on defamation charges. Yesterday, lawmakers interrupted Parliament to demand his reinstatement.

India/Russia: Russia’s oil exports to India increased more than twentyfold (AFP) last year as European buyers spurned Russia over its war in Ukraine, a top Russian official said.
Sub-Saharan Africa

Newly Freed Rwandan Dissident Paul Rusesabagina Arrives in Qatar

On Friday, Rwandan authorities commuted (NYT) Rusesabagina’s twenty-five-year prison sentence on terrorism charges following months of negotiations brokered by U.S. officials. His efforts to shelter people during the Rwandan genocide inspired the movie Hotel Rwanda

Kenya: A man was killed (AFP) during anti-government protests that decried the cost of living and accused President William Ruto of stealing last year’s election. The man is the second person to die in the protests, which started last Monday.
EuropeScotland to Inaugurate First Muslim, Ethnic Minority LeaderThe ruling Scottish National Party has elected health minister Humza Yousaf (AP), who is of Punjabi ancestry, to lead the party and the country after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon unexpectedly stepped down last month.

Fire Kills at Least Thirty-Nine at Mexican Migrant Center Near U.S. Border

Around seventy people are thought to have been inside the facility (BBC) in Ciudad Juárez when the fire broke out. The cause of the blaze is unclear.

Mexico: The country will not ban TikTok (Reuters), President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said. Lawmakers in the United States have called to ban the Chinese-owned app over security concerns, as some countries have done to varying extents.
United StatesSix Dead in Nashville School ShootingA shooter killed three children and three adults (NPR) at a Christian private school in Nashville, Tennessee, before being killed by police, authorities said. 
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