Good morning, and welcome to the Global Situation Report for Friday, 23 June 2023.
- FIRST UP: Cornyn introduces U.S.-Mexico military cooperation bill
- U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced the Partnership for Advancing Regional Training and Narcotics Response Strategies (PARTNERS) Act, which would establish a U.S. training program for Mexican troops to fight cartels. [READ MORE]
Why It Matters: While I’m sure the Mexican military would benefit from U.S. training, Mexico’s problems extend far beyond their domestic military capabilities. Even if this bill passes, the U.S. will run into two major hurdles. First, cartels own government officials across large swathes of Mexican states. Without a plan to address government corruption and collusion, increased military capabilities will have a limited impact. And second, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) and key Morena Party officials have pushed back on the idea of any U.S. involvement in Mexico’s cartel wars – mainly because they see the U.S. playing a major role in causing those problems. AMLO disbanded a key counter-narcotics joint task force, for instance, because he saw the U.S. exercising influence over Mexican law enforcement. It’s unclear if AMLO or his likely Morena Party successor would even go along with it.
- RESOURCES: Russian navy using dolphins, say Brits
- British defense officials claimed today that the Russian navy is likely using bottlenose dolphins as a layer of defense around the Crimean port of Sevastopol.
- Dolphins are tasked with detecting NATO divers and identifying mines, according to the British Ministry of Defense. [READ MORE]
Why It Matters: British defense officials say that Russia has bolstered defenses around seaports in Crimea, indicating the Russians expect Ukrainian attempts to destroy military and seaport infrastructure at the seat of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. This still likely represents a red line for Russia, with growing Ukrainian attacks risking potentially catastrophic Russian reprisals.
- GREAT GAME: West seen meddling in Central Asia, says Patrushev
- Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev accused Western governments of trying to “establish control” over Central Asian countries and “[escalate] the domestic political situation,” especially in neighboring Kazakhstan. [READ MORE]
- Russian and Chinese officials have warned repeatedly for the past year that Western intelligence is attempting to launch color revolutions in Central Asia.
Why It Matters: It’s true that Central Asia is coming under increased interest from the West. European officials attended the second annual European Union-Central Asian summit earlier this month, while U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan earlier this year – ostensibly on the grounds of economic cooperation. It’s likely that frequent visits are an attempt to push those countries into the Western sphere of influence, away from Russia and China.
- GRAN JUEGO: U.S. wraps up Ecuador defense cooperation summit
- U.S. defense officials will conclude the U.S.-Ecuador Defense Bilateral Working Group today.
- The first ever meeting is intended to “[establish] a formal strategic, policy-level dialogue to examine regional defense and security issues, shape future security cooperation goals and efforts, and advance U.S.-Ecuador defense relations.” [READ MORE]
Why It Matters: Ecuador is one of the few remaining Latin American countries growing closer to the United States. President Guillermo Lasso visited the U.S. late last year and was at least scheduled to meet with CIA Director William Burns, where Chinese in-roads into South America was a likely topic of discussion.
- RIFT: French newspaper aims at Brazil’s Lula
- French newspaper Libéracion took aim at Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, calling him a “false friend of Westerners”.
- “The Brazilian president is not the precious ally we imagined,” the newspaper writes.
Why It Matters: The left wing newspaper had high hopes for Lula as he replaced former President Jair Bolsonaro, but many French disappointed in Lula’s refusal to condemn Russia over the Ukraine war. The newspaper also criticized Lula for jet-setting to summits all over the world while neglecting the tough domestic and economic situation at home. Lula has also taken an abrupt shift towards China. U.S. officials likely share these sentiments – once relieved by Bolsonaro’s re-election loss, but troubled by Lula’s support for anti-Western agendas. Elections have consequences.
THAT’S A WRAP: This does it for today’s edition. Thank you for reading. If you know folks who would also like to receive this email, would you please forward it to them? We appreciate you spreading the word. – M.S.