RADAR SWEEP Geopolitics Newsletter – July 17-24 2022 RUSSIA AGREES TO ALLOW UKRAINE TO EXPORT GRAIN On June 22, Russia
Geopolitics Newsletter – July 17-24 2022
RUSSIA AGREES TO ALLOW UKRAINE TO EXPORT GRAIN
On June 22, Russia and Ukraine agreed to a deal allowing Ukraine to export fertilizer, grain and other exports from the Black Sea ports of Odessa, Yuzhne and Chornomorsk. Ukrainian ships will be allowed to leave the mined ports, following paths set by the Ukrainian Navy, and Russia has agreed not to attack the ships or facilities directly involved in these shipments. The Ukrainians will disembark the goods in Istanbul, and the ships will be inspected by a joint command center of Ukrainian, Russian, Turkish and UN representatives to ensure they will not carry arms back to Ukraine. Russia will also export grain and fertilizer from its ports. The deal, brokered by Turkey and the United Nations, will last 120 days, but the UN hopes for rolling renewals after its expiration.
While all parties have worked for an export deal for months, it was long viewed as impossible. Ukraine feared demining Black Sea ports to export grain would allow Russia to attack, while Russia feared the grain ships would carry advanced arms back to Ukraine. Russia also sees the blockade and resultant global food crisis as an easy way to scapegoat Western sanctions for others’ suffering, despite the fact that Western sanctions do not affect Russian food exports. The deal was made possible due to independent UN-Turkey oversight of returning ships, as well as assurances that private Western companies would insure Russian exports.
While this deal will not drastically lower global wheat prices in the short-term, it is likely to help starving countries in the medium-term if it holds. Ukraine will likely be able to export all 20 million tons of stockpiled grain, increasing domestic storage capacity for current crops. Combined with fertilizer exports, this should boost the global food supply directly in the medium and indirectly in the long-term, as more countries will be able to plant crops with exported fertilizer. However, the deal could easily collapse if Russia attacks Ukrainian ships or port facilities, a real possibility.
Chinese and Indian armies held talks on the disputed border region – July 17
Chinese and Indian Army commanders met to discuss the Line of Actual Control in the disputed Eastern Ladakh region along both countries’ shared border. Both sides sought to lower tensions and disengage along various friction points in the region following deadly clashes in 2020. A breakthrough is unlikely in the short term, but continued talks may lead to gradual de-escalation. Read more.
Sri Lankan Parliament elected a new president following mass protests – July 20
Sri Lanka’s Parliament elected Former Prime Minister and acting president Ranil Wickremesinghe as the new president after former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa resigned amid mass protests. President Wickremesinghe will likely focus on restoring unity and ending mass protests through economic reforms. However, he faces an uphill battle in the months ahead. As a member of the old political elite, he is unpopular with protestors, who seek wholesale change in the political establishment. Read more.
Atlantic Council Concluded Taiwan Visit – July 21
The Atlantic Council concluded a week-long visit to Taiwan to discuss regional political concerns. The American delegation, led by former US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, focused on countering Chinese pressure, developing Taiwanese cooperation with the West, and the security of Taiwan’s semiconductor industry. Developing closer ties is critical for Taiwanese and Western security, but will likely further anger China. Read more.
Vietnam Hosts Vietnam-Korea Cooperation Forum – June 22
Hanoi hosted the Vietnam-Korea Cooperation Forum this weekend. The conference, hosting over 5,000 companies, sought to promote Vietnamese culture, image and business to international investors. Growth and investment will likely focus on developing industries in both countries to promote sustained economic growth and future advancement. Read more.
Foreign Affairs Council to discuss Ukraine war – July 18
The EU Foreign Affairs Council met to discuss ways to address global food insecurity as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The meeting comes at a time when Moscow continues to block Ukrainian black sea ports. Read more.
EU-Azerbaijan Cooperation Council to convene in Brussels – July 19
The EU has been seeking alternative oil and gas sources in an attempt to reduce its dependence on Russian energy. The development of the EU-Azerbaijan energy partnership is simultaneously occurring alongside EU mediation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Read more.
US Undersecretary to visit Namibia for energy discussions – July 21
US Undersecretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human rights arrived in Namibia to discuss the country’s recent discovery of oil deposits off its coast. The undersecretary’s visit occurred after President Biden’s banning of Russian oil imports. Read more.
Russia, Iran and Turkey held trilateral meeting – July 19
Russian President Vladimir Putin met with his Turkish and Iranian counterparts in Iran this week. He pushed to buy Iranian combat drones to rebuild Russia’s shrinking supply and increase his army’s capabilities in Ukraine to counter new advanced Western weapons systems. Read more.
Finance, Economics and Technology
Global Inflation – Togo opposition held rally – July 17
Togo’s opposition coalition protested against rising inflation rates. While the Central Bank of West African States, the bank which sets monetary policy for Togo, will likely raise interest rates, it is unlikely to see any meaningful policy changes from the Togolese government. Read more.
Infrastructure Development – Ghana began Repairs on Ofankor-Nsawam Road – July 20
Ghana began repairs on the Ofankor-Nsawam Road, a road crucial for exports from Ghana to nearby landlocked countries such as Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. The $42 million USD rehabilitation project poses risks to Ghana’s long-term monetary standing. Read More.
South American Economics – MERCOSUR Convened in Paraguay – July 21
MERCOSUR, South America’s main economic bloc made up of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, convened to discuss a planned free trade agreement between Uruguay and China. The bloc’s high common external tariff has divided members and slowed external agreements to expand the bloc’s economic reach. Uruguay’s breach of rules to negotiating with China highlights both internal divisions and China’s growing influence and ties with the region. Read more.
US President Biden tested positive for COVID-19 – July 21
US President Joseph Biden tested positive for COVID-19 this week. Initial worry over his potential condition given his age was quickly assuaged as doctors announced he experienced mild symptoms and was recovering. Read more. [EXTERNAL]
China COVID – Macau eased some COVID-19 lockdown measures – July 22
Macau eased some COVID-19 restrictions after an extended period of lockdown, enforced as part of the Chinese government’s Zero COVID policy. The lockdown has hurt Macau’s economy short term, but the casino industry will most likely bounce back. Read more.
Sustainability – UK- Farnborough International Airshow – July 18
Britain’s Farnborough International Airshow showcased the most advanced aircraft in commercial and military aviation with sustainability as a major theme. Read more
Colombian Oil – New Colombian Legislature Takes Office – July 20
Newly elected members of the Colombian Congress will take office and have displayed support for President Gabriel Petro. Petro has expressed a desire to replace state-owned oil company Ectopetrol’s board with environmentalist appointees and eventually end fossil fuel production in the country. Expect the move to alienate Colombia’s Conservative Party and weaken Petro’s coalition. Read more.
Climate Change – UNFCCC Latin America and the Caribbean Climate Week concluded – July 22
The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)’s 2022 Latin America and the Caribbean Climate Week concluded. States called attention to key issues such as deforestation, climate change and environmental degradation. Expect Brazil’s stance on climate action at COP27 in Egypt to depend heavily on upcoming elections. Read more.
Transnational Cooperation – African Protected Areas Congress concludes – July 23
The first African Protected Areas Congress concluded on Saturday. Over 2,000 delegates from across the continent attended, with discussions focusing on increasing biodiversity and conservation efforts alongside growing development. This will likely be difficult long-term given the dearth of funding and the desire for economic growth. Read more.
THE WEEK AHEAD
INDO-PACIFIC – Droupadi Murmu to be sworn in as 15th President of India – July 25
Murmu will be sworn in after former president Kovind’s term ended on Sunday. Here.
ECONOMICS – Switzerland to release oil reserves to ease supply constraints – July 25
Switzerland is releasing oil reserves to mitigate the ongoing European Energy Crisis. Here.
TECHNOLOGY – India to begin auctioning off its 5G network – July 26
India will begin auctioning off sections of its 5G for companies to transmit across the network. Here.
SECURITY – Shanghai Cooperation Organization to meet – July 27
Foreign Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization countries will meet in Uzbekistan. Here.
Contributions by: Wescott Yeaw, Alex Avaneszadeh, Simran Sharma, Marcos Wilson, Connor Elliott, Htet Thadar Aung, Kyle Rose, Ali Slimi and Andrew Alipui