RADAR SWEEP Geopolitics Newsletter – July 17-24, 2022 RUSSIA AGREES TO ALLOW UKRAINE TO EXPORT CEREALS On June 22, Russia
Geopolitics Bulletin – July 17-24, 2022
RUSSIA AGREES TO ALLOW UKRAINE TO EXPORT CEREALS
On June 22, Russia and Ukraine reached an agreement allowing Ukraine to export fertilizers, grain and other exports from the Black Sea ports of Odessa, Yuzhne and Chornomorsk. Ukrainian ships will be allowed to leave mined ports, following routes laid out by the Ukrainian Navy, and Russia has agreed not to attack ships or facilities directly involved in such shipments. The Ukrainians will land the goods in Istanbul and the ships will be inspected by a joint command center made up of Ukrainian, Russian, Turkish and UN representatives to ensure that they will not bring weapons back to Ukraine. Russia will also export grain and fertilizers from its ports. The agreement, brokered by Turkey and the United Nations, will last for 120 days, but the UN hopes for continued renewals after it expires.
While all parties worked for months for an export deal, it was long considered impossible. Ukraine feared that clearing mines of Black Sea ports to export grain would allow Russia to attack, while Russia feared that grain ships would bring advanced weapons back to Ukraine. Russia also sees the blockade and the resulting global food crisis as an easy way to scapegoat Western sanctions for the suffering of others, despite the fact that Western sanctions do not affect Russian food exports. The deal was made possible by independent UN-Turkey monitoring of the returning ships, as well as assurances that private Western companies would provide Russian exports.
Although this agreement will not significantly reduce world wheat prices in the short term, it is likely to help hungry countries in the medium term if it holds. Ukraine will likely be able to export the 20 million tonnes of stored grain, thereby increasing national storage capacity for current crops. Combined with fertilizer exports, this should boost global food supply directly in the medium and indirectly in the long term, as more countries will be able to plant crops with exported fertilizers. However, the deal could easily fall apart if Russia attacks Ukrainian ships or port facilities, a real possibility.
Chinese and Indian armies held talks over disputed border region – July 17
Chinese and Indian army commanders have met to discuss the line of actual control in the disputed region of eastern Ladakh along the two countries’ common border. Both sides have sought to reduce tensions and disengage along various sticking points in the region following deadly clashes in 2020. A breakthrough is unlikely in the short term, but continued talks could lead to gradual de-escalation. Read more.
Sri Lankan parliament elected new president following mass protests – July 20
Sri Lanka’s parliament has elected former prime minister and caretaker 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 coming months. As a member of the old political elite, he is unpopular with protesters, who seek a radical change in the political establishment. Read more.
Atlantic Council concluded its visit to Taiwan – July 21
The Atlantic Council concluded a week-long visit to Taiwan to discuss regional political concerns. The U.S. delegation, led by former U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, focused on countering Chinese pressure, developing Taiwanese cooperation with the West, and securing Taiwan’s semi- drivers. Developing closer ties is essential for Taiwanese and Western security, but it will likely irritate China further. Read more.
Vietnam hosts the Vietnam-Korea Cooperation Forum – June 22
Hanoi hosted the Vietnam-Korea Cooperation Forum this weekend. The conference, which hosted more than 5,000 companies, aimed 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 progress. Read more.
Foreign Affairs Council to discuss the war in Ukraine – July 18
The EU Foreign Affairs Council met to discuss ways to tackle global food insecurity following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The meeting comes at a time when Moscow continues to block Ukrainian Black Sea ports. Read more.
The EU-Azerbaijan Cooperation Council will meet in Brussels – 19 July
The EU has been looking for alternative sources of oil and gas in an effort to reduce its dependence on Russian energy. The development of the EU-Azerbaijan energy partnership is taking place simultaneously alongside EU mediation in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Read more.
US Undersecretary to visit Namibia for energy talks – July 21
The US Under Secretary of State for Civil Security, Democracy and Human Rights has arrived in Namibia to discuss the country’s recent discovery of oil deposits off its coast. The undersecretary’s visit came after President Biden banned Russian oil imports. Read more.
Russia, Iran and Turkey held a trilateral meeting – July 19
Russian President Vladimir Putin met his Turkish and Iranian counterparts in Iran this week. He pushed to buy Iranian combat drones to replenish Russia’s dwindling supply and boost its military’s capabilities in Ukraine to counter new advanced Western weapons systems. Read more.
Finance, economy and technology
Global Inflation – Togolese Opposition Rally – July 17
The Togolese opposition coalition protested against rising inflation rates. While the Central Bank of West African States, the bank that sets Togo’s monetary policy, will likely raise interest rates, the Togolese government is unlikely to make any significant policy changes. Read more.
Infrastructure Development – Ghana has started repairs on the Ofankor-Nsawam road – 20 July
Ghana has started repairs on the Ofankor-Nsawam road, a crucial route for Ghana’s exports to neighboring landlocked countries such as Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. The US$42 million rehabilitation project poses risks to Ghana’s long-term monetary situation. Read more.
South American economy – MERCOSUR convened in Paraguay – July 21
MERCOSUR, the main economic bloc in South America made up of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, met to discuss a draft 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 the rules for negotiating with China highlights both internal divisions and China’s growing influence and ties with the region. Read more.
US President Biden has tested positive for COVID-19 – July 21
US President Joseph Biden tested positive for COVID-19 this week. Initial concern over his potential condition given his age was quickly allayed when doctors announced he had mild symptoms and was recovering. Read more. [EXTERNAL]
China COVID – Macao eased some COVID-19 lockdown measures – July 22
Macau has eased some COVID-19 restrictions after a long period of lockdown, imposed under the Chinese government’s Zero COVID policy. The lockdown has hurt Macau’s economy in the short term, but the casino industry will most likely rebound. Read more.
Sustainability – UK – Farnborough International Airshow – July 18
The Farnborough International Airshow in Britain 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
The newly elected members of the Colombian Congress will take office and have shown their support for President Gabriel Petro. Petro has expressed a desire to replace the board of state oil company Ectopetrol with appointed environmentalists and end fossil fuel production in the country. Expect the move to alienate the Colombian Conservative Party and weaken Petro’s coalition. Read more.
Climate Change – The UNFCCC Latin America and Caribbean Climate Week ended on July 22
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Latin America and Caribbean Climate Week 2022 has come to an end. States drew attention to key issues such as deforestation, climate change and environmental degradation. Expect Brazil’s position on climate action at COP27 in Egypt to be highly dependent on the upcoming elections. Read more.
Transnational cooperation – Closing of the African Protected Areas Congress – July 23
The first African Congress on Protected Areas ended 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 in the long term given the lack of funding and the desire for economic growth. Read more.
THE WEEK AHEAD
INDO-PACIFIC – Draupadi Murmu will be sworn in at 15e President of India – July 25
Murmu will be sworn in after former President Kovind’s term ends on Sunday. here.
ECONOMY – Switzerland to release oil reserves to ease supply constraints – July 25
Switzerland is releasing oil reserves to ease the ongoing European energy crisis. Here.
TECHNOLOGY – India to start auctioning its 5G network – 26 July
India will start auctioning off sections of its 5G for companies to transmit over the network. here.
SECURITY – Shanghai Cooperation Organization to meet – July 27
Foreign Ministers of Shanghai Cooperation Organization countries will meet in Uzbekistan. here.
Contributions by: Westcott Yeaw, Alex Avaneszadeh, Simran Sharma, Marcos Wilson, Connor Elliott, Htet Thadar Aung, Kyle Rose, Ali Slimi and Andrew Alipui