Geopolitical Monitor

Relations redefined between US & Russia as NATO mission comes to an end
Geopolitics

Relations redefined between US & Russia as NATO mission comes to an end

 Russia Russia -Nato’s mission has always been the strategic and crucial point to define relations between Russia and US. As Russia made its decision to end the mission to NATO, they seek to undermine transatlantic unity and deter the US from further escalating additional research and activities.

In the month of October, Russia announced it was ending its diplomatic mission to the Western defense alliance in Brussels and closing the NATO information office in Moscow. This decision came from their office right after their top eight officials were accused of being spies.

Although, this accusation will not have any direct implication to the operations at the civil, political, and military level but it surely gives flames to the risk of straining relations within the bloc itself by driving issues between Europe and the US.

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Earlier, NATO has been active in the gulf nation of Afghanistan. NATO officials and the US agreed that the Taliban have so far failed to live up to commitments to reduce violence in Afghanistan and thus interference is a must.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani tweeted that he had spoken on the phone with US President Biden and that the country “respects the US decision and we will work with our US partners to ensure a smooth transition”.

After the series of conversations and movements, President Biden asserted that they will not stay involved in Afghanistan militarily, though their diplomatic and humanitarian unit will continue to work in the region.

He also pledged to continue providing assistance to Afghan defence and security forces including 300,000 personnel, who he says continue to fight valiantly on behalf of their country and defend the Afghan people, at great cost.

Geopolitics of Chaos, the Sahel: one of the most unstable regions in the world
Geopolitics

Geopolitics of Chaos, the Sahel: one of the most unstable regions in the world

 SahelSahel -For years, a cross-border conflict has occurred in the Sahel area involving government forces, armed insurgency groups, terrorist cells, and international actors. However, the armed insurgency in states such as Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger increasingly threatens the survival of weak central governments supported by traditional powers, such as France, whose role in the region is now declining compared to new emerging forces. Therefore, the Sahel is preparing to become a battlefield made up of actors of various kinds who take advantage of the political and institutional chaos to realize their short-term interests at the expense of the political stabilization of the region.

The situation is such that when factions advance and conquer ground, the defeated armed groups enlist in existing forces or private actors. This concatenation continues to produce instability and violence, exposing the inability of the armed forces and the central government to establish order and protect the population.

Violence and instability have persisted for about ten years. State authorities cannot guarantee border control; corruption and crime are rampant in every area of ​​society. Among the triggers underlying the situation of general instability is the separatist rebellion that broke out in the north of Mali in 2013. The protagonists are the Tuareg, a desert tribe that has claimed an independent state – the state of Azawad – in the north of the country. The group is militarily prepared thanks to the aid received from Gaddafi and the alliances made with the jihadist cells of Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM). The French forces soon repressed the insurrection, which intervened in support of the Malian central government. However, this did not stabilize the country but instead marked the beginning of a domino effect that swept across the region, triggering inter-ethnic conflict religious conflicts.

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Non-state actors in the Sahel – armed groups, private agencies, jihadist cells – benefit from the illegal trafficking of weapons and people in a climate of solid political instability. In this context, the Salafi jihadist ideology lends itself well to mobilizing local communities which, in the absence of a state capable of guaranteeing the monopoly of violence, join armed groups based on historical-cultural, ideological, or convenience economic reasons. Thus, like Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM), the leading group linked to al-Qaeda, stands as a defender of the Fulani, an ethnic group heavily targeted by central governments. At the same time, the Islamic State protects the ethnicity of the Dogon. In addition, third states intervene militarily in the Sahel to defend their commercial interests: access to natural resources and arms sales. Finally, the solid territorial fragmentation allows local groups – nomadic groups, jihadist cells, private actors – to take control of some areas and replace the state. That pushes powers such as France to intervene in defense of central governments and oppose armed insurgency groups.

Furthermore, the northern region of Mali is one of the major transit countries on the migratory routes that depart from sub-Saharan Africa and arrive in Europe. Thus, the French intervention in the Sahel also has security and political implications: counteracting migratory flows and obtaining political credibility at the international level by acting as a defender of the world from Salafist jihadism.

Paris intervened in Mali in January 2013 with the Serval operation. The goal was to support government forces in the fight against terrorist groups and to secure the country. However, considering the heightening of tensions in the following months, In August 2014, the Barkhane operation was launched, which was not limited to Mali only, also extending to Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad. It was the most significant military deployment that France had abroad. The goal of the new operation was to support the armies of the countries as mentioned earlier, strengthen the coordination of international military resources and carry out actions in favor of the population, such as access to services. To this end, at the beginning of 2020, a new European force was set up to complete Operation Barkhane, Task Force Takuba, which brings together special forces from various European countries to stabilize the area.

The French operations in the Sahel, worth over 1 billion euros a year, caused the deaths of hundreds of French soldiers and civilians from 2013 to last year. According to a January 2021 survey carried by Ifop, only 49% of French respondents approved the French intervention in Mali. President Macron is considering a regional withdrawal to avoid falling into the same trap as the United States in Afghanistan: finance ” an endless war ” with more losses than gains. However, the Elysée is aware that its international competitors could take advantage of his retirement to advance their interests in the region. The concern concerns Russia close to Bamako: both countries signed a military cooperation agreement in 2019, and Moscow trained many junta members.

Communal Violence In Bangladesh Could Have Been Triggered Through Staged Lies: HM Asaduzzaman Khan
Geopolitics

Communal Violence In Bangladesh Could Have Been Triggered Through Staged Lies: HM Asaduzzaman Khan

 Bangladesh Bangladesh – The communal violence in Bangladesh has become a heart-wrenching debacle. Bangladeshi Indians are being massacred and burnt by religious violence. The first incident happened on the eve of Durga Puja where several minority Hindus were caught in a religious crossfire, where paramilitary had to be deployed to contain the violence.

Hindus are a minority in Bangladesh making up for a mere 10 percent of the whole population. Between 2013 and 2021, some 421 attacks have happened on Hindus residing in Bangladesh. During the period, 1,678 cases of vandalism and arson attacks on Hindu places of worship, temples, and idols were reported, the report said. 

India has been keeping its hands out of the mess. But even then, The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 16, informing him of the rising attacks on Hindus in the neighboring country. Calling for his intervention with Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina, ISKCON said its temples in Noakhali were systematically attacked in the ongoing communal violence and one devotee was killed.

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Meanwhile, there is an alert in the states against fake news and misuse of social media. According to Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, “The incident in Comilla that triggered the violence was orchestrated by some people to disturb inter-community ties and defame our government.”

Attacks started last week in the district of Rangpur and seemed to have followed the scripted pattern in Comilla, Noakhali, Chittagong, and other areas. The perpetrator seems to be a reported incident of desecration of the Quran during the Durga puja celebrations in Comilla town. It then went viral on social media quickly triggering mob attacks against puja pandals.

The authenticity of the incident has not been ascertained.

China challenges the US even in Space
Geopolitics

China challenges the US even in Space

Xi Jinping wants to make China a superpower even among the stars. The new “leap forward” to compete and, who knows, overtake America has already begun: with pharaonic plans that advance quickly. And then, after the launch into orbit of Beidou, the satellite system that will have to compete with the stars and stripes GPS, and after the missions to the Moon and Mars, Tiangong, “the Celestial Palace,” begins to take shape more and more. Beijing is building the space station by itself, piece by piece.

“Spend three months in space, and while you are there, your work and your lives will be in the hearts of all Chinese.” Thus, the president greeted Major General Liu Boming, Colonel Tang Hong Bo, and the commander of the mission, Niue Hai sheng, decorated pilot of the Air Force: the three “taikonauts” who left Jiu Quan, in the Gobi Desert, on June 17, after 6 thousand hours of training, aboard the Shenzhou 12 spacecraft. “The creation of our Space Station is an important milestone and a significant contribution to the well-being of humanity and the peaceful use of Space.”

The 90 days have passed, the three have returned to Earth as heroes, and a new mission is ready. Today, Saturday, October 16, they left again. In time, as per the tight schedule, to finish the works by next year. A more extended mission than the previous one – six months – and among the three chosen, there will also be a woman, Wang Yawping, the second to go to Space: a return since she had already participated in a mission in 2013.

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The first brick to be fired into orbit on April 29 was Tianhe (Harmony of the Skies), the heart of the new Station. The central module that will come in 2022 is reached by the other two, the capsule-laboratory Windian (In search of Paradise) and Meng Tian (Dreaming of Paradise), where astronauts will research microgravity and materials science. To complete this considerable 50-ton T, Tianzhu and Shenzhou are the two spacecraft to supply the Station with vehicles and men. Then, finally, it will be up to Xanthian (“Celestial Navigator”), a new, mighty telescope.

Tiangong will be smaller than the ISS, the International Space Station, by about one-sixth: more similar to the former Soviet Mir. It will navigate in the low orbit of the Earth, between 340 and 450 kilometers. And in the intentions of the government, it will also be open to non-Chinese astronauts—cost: top secret. After the rover on Mars to explore the surface of the Red Planet and after the probe that last year brought back the first samples from the Moon after 44 years, the mission is only the final stage of the Dragon’s plans to aim more and more at the conquest of Space. The Asian giant’s ambitions can be traced back to the 1950s and precisely in ’57: the year in which the Soviets launched Sputnik. Mao did not want to be outdone and, with the help of the Soviets thirteen years later, launched the first Chinese satellite: Dongfanghong-1. But it was only in the early 1990s that an actual space program was set up. In 2003 it will be the turn of the first Chinese in Space, Yang Liwei.

In recent years, expenditure on research and development has been enormous: 22.6 million dollars in 2000, which increased, just four years later, to 433.4. In 2018 it reached 5.8 billion. Xi was the leading architect of this expansion. “China must become a space power,” he often repeats. For example, to bring the CNSA to compete with NASA. Excluded from the International Space Station (where Russians, Americans, Canadians, Europeans, and Japanese collaborate), China builds its “Heavenly Palace” piece by piece. The ISS will cease its activities in 2024: at that point, the Chinese should be the only ones to inhabit the Earth’s orbit.

US to exert pressure on Beijing to act responsibly
Geopolitics

US to exert pressure on Beijing to act responsibly

 Beijing Beijing -The past few months have seen a series of proactive US engagements with its allies in the Indo-Pacific region. This was headlined by the announcement of an enhanced Australia-UK-US (AUKUS) trilateral security partnership.

Moreover, there was a first-ever in-person Quad Leaders’ summit wherein India, Japan, Australia and the US participated.

This notable sequence of events is designed to signify the “lead the world by power and our example” mantra that has been introduced by President Joe Biden. These moves, more importantly, represent the initial stages of a comprehensive approach that the Biden administration has adopted to facilitate a responsible competition with China – highlighted in Biden’s speech at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly.

From a policy standpoint, this notion of a “responsible competition” is a follow-up to the fresh approach articulated previously by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

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“The US and its relationship with China will be way more competitive than it should be, adversarial when it must be and collaborative when it can be. The common denominator is the urge to engage China from a position of strength.”

The US also attempts to promulgate an “integrated deterrence,” with diplomacy at its forefront. This approach is made to utilize both non-military and military tools to advance power projection and forward presence, as well as building stronger defence cooperation and enhanced cooperation with partners and allies.

In this network of deterrence, AUKUS is an example of alliance-based defence partnerships, adding to the United States’ current security and military arrangements in the region, while the Quad signifies a new framework of US regional engagement, with attention towards meeting the region’s practical needs. This comes instead of an immense fixation on security competition and cooperation with China.

The goal is to assemble a coalition to strengthen its long-term competitiveness with reference to China and exert higher pressure on Beijing to act in accordance with a rules-based international order.

Latest report warns G20 nations to cut their greenhouse emissions and restore balance in nature
Geopolitics

Latest report warns G20 nations to cut their greenhouse emissions and restore balance in nature

 Europe Europe -Climate Transparency Report published today states that G20 nations need to urgently ramp up climate commitments if the world is to meet the 1.5C pathway of the Paris Agreement.

The research found that despite net-zero commitments and updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) targets from G20 nations, the world looks set to warm by 2.4C by the end of the century. There is part of G20 nation who are active contributor of green gas emissions and accounts for almost 75 percent of the emissions. The research warns that Argentina, China, India and Indonesia for being the top-most contributor and critical need from their side to take environmental friendly steps.

The research found that, as of August 2021, 14 G20 members had announced net-zero targets by mid-century, covering 61 percent of global GHG emissions. If these actions will be completely then the targets will be helpful to combat the existing emission gap still it will not be enough.

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In the report it is suggested that if all G20 members strengthened their 2030 NDCs, then this gap could be narrowed down by 64 percent. Some of the world’s largest businesses, such as Unilever, Netflix and Volvo, have written to the G20 calling on nations to strengthen climate targets and deliver on climate finance commitments in the build-up to COP26.

The letter by these corporates, urged for action to end the coal power development. It also needs to look at all the financing plans to phase out coal-fired power generation by 2030 for developed nations. G20 nations need to strengthen their policies and implement the key steps to combat carbon emission.

Simon Virley, who is the KPMG’s head of energy and natural resources asserted that the UK has made great strides on decarbonisation, particularly in the power sector, over the past decade and we are now halfway to net-zero.  We also have a strong political consensus and a world-leading framework for tracking progress put in place by the Climate Change Act.

Russia stole the secrets of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, “The Sun” reveals
Geopolitics

Russia stole the secrets of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, “The Sun” reveals

 Russia Russia – We already knew that coronavirus vaccines represent a geopolitical war, but new revelations in the British press add a new chapter to the saga of modern espionage among States. “Russia has stolen the secrets of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Vaccine.So, the tabloid Sun denounces today after having access to some communications within British intelligence. Apparently, according to the Sun and its sources, Moscow would have managed to steal the English vaccine recipe last year.

That would have been the decisive move, not only with hacking but above all, through a secret agent who would have physically stolen the vital documents to produce their vaccine, the Sputnik, at home.  The Russian vaccine is based on the same technology of Oxford-AstraZeneca, namely the adenovirus, common in monkeys but modified to fight COVID-19 in humans.

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In the race to create the vaccine, it is difficult to determine which country first found the winning recipe against COVID-19. No comment for Moscow so far, while London Government should speak in the afternoon. Bob Seely, a conservative parliamentarian among the most resolute in opposition to “hostile forces like Russia and China,” said: “We must take action as soon as possible to stop these dynamics, whether it is the theft of information on vaccines or blackmail on energy.”

Last year, the UK repeatedly reported attacks on British Healthcare servers by “hostile forces hackers” often identified in Russia, China, and even Iran and North Korea. Yesterday, the Sun had also spoken of an alleged Russian spy present at the Conservative party conference in Manchester last week, who was prowling around the events center and who would have been blocked by the police.

In recent years, relations between the United Kingdom and Russia have deteriorated more and more. Last June, it risked the accident of the Crimea with the passage of the British destroyer Hms Defender in the Black Sea and the shots fired by the Russians. Three weeks ago, however, London officially accused a third Russian, Denis Sergeev, aka Sergey Fedotov, of being part of the Moscow military intelligence cell “Gru” responsible for the poisoning in Salisbury of the double agent spy Sergej Skripal and his daughter Julia. And the death of a passerby, Dawn Sturges.

Why Poland Will Need More Time To Go Off Coal
Geopolitics

Why Poland Will Need More Time To Go Off Coal

 Poland Poland – Going off Coal is proving to be a difficult bet for many nations, especially those who were heavily dependent on it for energy production. The European Green deal isn’t making life easy for many. Under the deal, countries related have a responsibility of cutting emissions by 50 percent by 2030. For this, many of them like China and India would have to go off using coal and shift to renewable sources of energy like air and solar energy.

Carbon neutralization is also a part of the deal to be achieved by 2050. The majority of use of coal in the EU is for power production. But the good news is that off the 13 major producers, only 3 are left, of which Germany completely stopped use of coal last year.

Since 1990, now, only Poland and Czechia are left. Poland produced 54.4 million tonnes of hard coal (96 % of the total EU production) and Czechia produced 2.1 million tonnes (4 %).

Now what is creating a problem, environmentalists would wonder. Speaking to a major media agency, Judith Kirton-Darling, deputy general secretary at Industrial, has duly noted that there is a wide gap between policy ambitions at European Level and policy tools at the national level.

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As each country is responsible for formalizing its own coal phase-out strategy, the EU can’t do much but put external pressure. Poland and Czechia have expressed their own major problems. For Poland for example, phasing out might stretched till 2050 due to issues of time and money both being scarce on their hand. Poland might have to take 17 more years over and above this deadline. Its energy mix is complicated, in comparison to Denmark, France, and the Netherlands that have all started working towards reaching the target of 2050. Poland has a 70percent non-renewable, 10percent natural gas, and 3 percent oil mix to tackle.

If Poland needed to move to other resources, the quickest solution would seem to natural gas from Russia. But the energy security concerns are real and therefore Polish wouldn’t want to depend on an extension of their existing contract with the Russian Gazprom. In fact, Poland is striking an alliance with its Danish partner in a gas infrastructure project where it sources natural gas through the pipeline that runs along the Baltic seabed and will bring Norwegian gas to the Danish and Polish markets, and will help Poland diversify natural gas supplies.

Further, there are also evident fears of tackling huge unemployment numbers after the shutdown of coal mines in the Polish government, reason enough for them to delay the transition from coal to clean energy.  Trade unions are also there to tackle. The Polish government has a lot to tackle- the impact that shutting the mine and the political, economic, and social character of the region. All this refuses to comply with the decision, risking not only complicating relations with its neighbour but also defying the orders of the European Court of Justice.

Russia Might Withhold Natural Gas To Pressurize EU Over Nord Stream-2 Project
Geopolitics

Russia Might Withhold Natural Gas To Pressurize EU Over Nord Stream-2 Project

 Russia Russia – As Europe has been fighting an open war against fossil fuel emissions, Russia has taken its bridling to manic proportions, by curbing access to natural gas into regions of Europe, as they prepare for another environmentally challenging winter.

Russia supports more than 40 percent of the European Union’s natural gas imports. EU has suffered under the reeling prices of fossil fuels. But Kremlin now sees this as an opportunity to extend a helping hand of energy. In return, it might want to pressurize the main European players like Germany and Brussels to quickly approve the Nord Stream-2 pipeline.

Germany has been supporting like the US Ukraine’s cry for the support over curbing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project that threatens their sovereignty. Off late, the Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom decided not to fill its European storage facilities. This automatically contributed to high prices, according to Trevor Sikorski, head of global gas at Energy Aspects, a research firm based in London.

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In a televised interaction between Putin and his energy minister, his assertion automatically affected gas prices in the market. He said, “Let’s think about a possible increase of the supply on the market, but we must be careful in doing so.” The insecurity could be a real one for European Union after all.

As of now, the European Commission is looking into the claim that Russia is manipulating the flow of gas to push up prices. But they have reached no conclusion. Germany’s outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose government has backed Nord Stream 2 and called it a business deal, not a geopolitical strategy, dismissed charges that Russia is partly to blame for the rise in European gas prices.

The United States had been opposing the Nord Stream-2 project not for environmental reasons but for the simple reason that EU would become dependent on Russia natural gas. As Russia has rumoured to hold back its supply of natural gas, it has been maintaining the sanctity of its contractual obligations.

Political analysts believe Kremlin has resisted delivering significantly more even as demand increasingly outpaced supply. That has exacerbated an energy crisis fueled by a variety of factors, including the increase in demand as the world comes out of the pandemic, a cold end to last winter that left storage tanks low, higher demand from China and low wind speeds in Europe that reduced renewable energy production.

Common European defense, many countries prefer NATO
Geopolitics

Common European defense, many countries prefer NATO

 BelgiumBelgium – The EU is proving to be fragile in its relationship with NATO. The European components of the Alliance have appeared irrelevant in strategic choices. A situation that requires a step forward by the Union. In the awareness that the relationship with the USA and the Atlantic pact cannot be broken. And therefore, to give life to a different but “complementary” commitment.

Europe is therefore looking for the first step towards a “common defense.” Perhaps an initial emergency battalion that is expanded and made faster than the existing one. As the President of the Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen announced in Strasbourg in recent weeks.

And at times, the European components of the Alliance have appeared irrelevant in strategic choices. A situation that requires a step forward by the Union. In the awareness that the relationship with the USA and the Atlantic pact cannot be broken. And therefore, to give life to a different but “complementary” commitment. Europe is therefore looking for the first step towards a “common defense.” Perhaps an initial emergency battalion that is expanded and made faster than the existing one. As the President of the Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen announced in Strasbourg in recent weeks.

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The Commission will develop a project over the next six months. Yesterday, however, during the Brdo European Council, member states again focused on the need to open an innovative path in this field. Precisely because the choices recently made by Washington – starting with the so-called Aukus agreement – have made it clear that the Old Continent and the Mediterranean are no longer central as they once were. Indeed, American strategic interest is rapidly shifting east towards the Indo-Pacific.

And European partners have too often appeared to be marginalized. “However, if Europe does not have a common foreign policy – warned Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi – it is complicated for it to have a common defense.” Indeed, this is the idea of ​​Rome: any choice cannot and will not weaken NATO. If anything, the problem arises because “there is a feeling of having lost geopolitical centrality within NATO.” Therefore, the tightest knot concerns how to achieve greater autonomy in the military field.

All 27 member States urged High Representative Josep Borrell to accelerate on this front. Ahead of the Defense Summit scheduled for February 2022. NATO is the most robust military organization in the world. The European Union will never be a military alliance – said Ursula Von der Leyen – but there are scenarios where we do not see NATO, and there may be a need for the EU to act.

It is about improving our capabilities as the EU for interoperability, strengthening industrial bases, and adapting our capacity to new threats. And this is the issue of safety”. But the basic concept remains: “complementarity” with the Atlantic Pact. Because «we consider NATO – echoes the president of the European council, Charles Michel – the cornerstone of our security. But, at the same time, it is important to understand how we can act more autonomously, in line with our alliances”.

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