Indo-Pacific Geopolitics Bulletin 09/04/2022 | foreign brief

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RADAR SWEEP Geopolitics Newsletter 28 August – 4 September 2022 Funeral of Mikhail Gorbachev in Moscow – 3 September The funeral

Geopolitics Bulletin August 28-September 4, 2022

Mikhail Gorbachev’s funeral took place in Moscow September 3

The funeral of Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Prime Minister of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) took place on Saturday. Gorbachev died on August 31 at the age of 91. Breaking with precedent, Russia denied Gorbachev a state funeral, opting instead for a public funeral with full military honors held in the Hall of Columns, the site of funerals for former Soviet prime ministers. In another snub for the former leader, current Russian President Vladimir Putin did not attend the funeral, citing a busy work schedule.

Prime Minister Gorbachev was a divisive figure in Russia at the time of his death. As the last ruler of the USSR, his liberalization policies of “glasnost” and “perestroika” were blamed by many as responsible for its eventual collapse. Others saw Gorbachev as a visionary reformer and peacekeeper who unsuccessfully attempted to reform a broken system and successfully oversaw the peaceful disintegration of the USSR and the end of the Cold War. Now, however, his tenure has taken on new importance with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. President Putin is particularly critical of Gorbachev, calling the collapse of the USSR “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century. He believes Ukraine should never have become an independent country and launched the war in a bid to bring part of the former Soviet Union empire back under Moscow’s control.

While Gorbachev’s funeral was a public event, it lacked much of the grand public spectacle of national mourning typically seen with the deaths of prominent Russian leaders. This is further proof that Putin’s Russia is trying to forget Gorbachev’s reformist legacy and undo much of his work.

Modern Russia is increasingly authoritarian, with President Putin suppressing dissent and blaming the West for Russia’s domestic problems. In the short to medium term, Russia will almost certainly continue its bitter war in Ukraine. The war has brought a return of Soviet-era political and economic isolation from the West, which will likely see the return of Russian supply and long-term advanced production difficulties if sanctions Western ones continue.

Mikhail Gorbachev’s funeral takes place in Moscow – Photo: Evgenia Novozhenina/NYT

Indo-Pacific Geopolitics

China-Laos-Thailand Railway Meeting Held – August 30

Thai Transport Minister Saksayam Chidcob has visited Laos for consultations on the construction of the China-Laos-Thailand (CLT) railway. The proposed railway would be an extension of an existing route between Laos and China, taking advantage of several free trade zones. Read more

Sri Conclusion of discussions on Lanka’s aid package with the IMF – August 31

Negotiations between the new Sri Lankan administration, led by President Ranil Wickremesinghe, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have ended. The $3 billion loan program will call for the deconstruction or partial privatization of state-owned enterprises as well as an end to general subsidies. Ending former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s patronage system could lead to a political backlash. President Wickremesinghe will likely face the challenge of economic necessity and political realities. Read more

South Korea announced its decision on the semiconductor alliance – August 31

South Korea has said it will join “Chip 4”, the US-led global semiconductor alliance. South Korea has been reluctant to join for fear of angering China. President Yoon Suk-yeol plans to transform the country into a semiconductor superpower and will start investing in small business innovations, mergers and acquisitions of chip design firms. Read more

Modi has commissioned the first Indian-built aircraft carrier September 2

The first Indian-built aircraft carrier was commissioned this week. Although it may take another year for the aircraft carrier to be released, the ship undeniably strengthens India’s position in the Indo-Pacific and as a member of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue. Read more

US climate envoy John Kerry visited Vietnam – September 2

The US President’s special climate envoy, John Kerry, has embarked on a five-day tour of Vietnam and Indonesia to meet with officials and business leaders in each country. Kerry’s visit will strengthen U.S.-Vietnam-Indonesia relations and encourage green investments in the region. Read more

national security

Russia hosted the Vostok 2022 military exercises August 30

China has taken part in Russia’s multinational military exercises which run until September 5. For the first time in joint Sino-Russian military operations, all three branches of the People’s Liberation Army are participating. Read more

Russia closes Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline August 31

Russia shut down the Nord Stream 1 pipeline for three days of unscheduled maintenance, and the pipeline remains closed. The shutdown is likely an attempt to pressure European nations, heavily dependent on Russian energy, to erode support for Ukraine before winter. Read more

Finance, economy and technology

End of the meeting of Arab League economic ministers – September 1

The Economic and Social Council of the Arab League met on September 1 in Cairo to discuss issues of economic development of member states. The war in Ukraine and the resulting grain shortage were key topics, as they hurt Arab economies. Read more

India resumed imports of sunflower oil from Ukraine – September 1

India last week resumed necessary imports of sunflower oil from Ukraine after an agreement was reached allowing Ukrainian agricultural exports from the Black Sea to resume. Indian sunflower oil prices are expected to fall after surging due to the Russian blockade. Read more

Company

UN launched flood relief campaign in Pakistan – 30 August

The UN has launched a ‘flash appeal’ campaign to raise funds for Pakistan after it was devastated by massive floods and landslides. Given the suddenness of the disaster, death rates are expected to rise as humanitarian aid struggles to meet needs. Read more

Operation Dudula anti-immigration marches began in South Africa on September 2

The South African xenophobic group Operation Dudula has launched anti-immigration marches targeting immigrants from other African countries, such as Nigeria. The group is expected to win support from opposition parties that are taking advantage of xenophobic sentiments for political gains and expanding its influence in domestic politics. Read more

The week ahead

Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong Delegation to Visit Indonesia – September 4

The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the city’s largest democratic party, will meet with Indonesian leaders to discuss human trafficking issues. Read more [EXTERNAL]

The winner of the British Conservative Party leadership race will be declared – September 5

The winner of the British Conservative Party leadership race will be declared this week. Former Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is expected to win the election and succeed Boris Johnson as the next Prime Minister. Read more [EXTERNAL]

Russian President Putin will attend the Eastern Economic Forum – September 5

Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok. The forum aims to strengthen Russia’s global investment and economic ties, an issue of renewed importance following Russia’s isolation from the West due to its invasion of Ukraine. Read more [EXTERNAL]

EU-Georgia Association Council meets in Brussels – 6 September

The EU-Georgia Association Council will meet in Brussels to discuss Georgia’s application for EU membership, the various reforms needed for EU membership and regional security issues. Read more [EXTERNAL]

Contributions from: Westcott Yeaw, Alex Avaneszadeh, Simran Sharma, Marcos Wilson, Connor Elliott, Htet Thadar Aung, Kyle Rose, Ali Slimi and Andrew Alipui

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