Global SITREP for Monday, 10 July 2023 – Forward Observer

Global SITREP for Monday, 10 July 2023

Good morning, and welcome to the Global Situation Report for Monday, 10 July 2023.

  1. FIRST UP: North Korea says it will shoot down U.S. surveillance aircraft that violate its airspace 
  • The statement released by the state-backed KCNA news agency called U.S. flights near North Korean airspace “provocations.”
  • Pyongyang has complained about manned and unmanned surveillance flights along its borders and that the U.S. is operating a nuclear missile submarine out of South Korean ports. Pyongyang claims this is creating tensions and nuclear blackmail on the peninsula.

Why It Matters: North Korea is the unstable uncle of the Northeast Asian family. While the U.S. actions are not very provocative, given that nuclear submarines routinely make port calls at various naval bases around the world, Pyongyang tends to overreact to small changes in force structure in the region. As a pseudo-client state of China, North Korea could serve as an easily-triggered proxy force for Beijing in any future conflict with the U.S. Beyond this scenario, North Korea poses little threat to the region and routinely conducts missile tests as a tool in its negotiations with the U.S. on aid and sanctions relief. – M.M.

  1. TURKEY RELEASES UKRAINIAN AZOV PRISONERS: Difficulty in renewing Black Sea Grain Deal to increase
  • Ukraine’s top Azov Battalion commanders were detained by Russia as prisoners but released to Turkey’s care on the condition they remain in Turkey for the duration of the conflict.
  • The Turkish government refused to comment on why the prisoners were released to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Why It Matters: Turkey and the United Nations brokered the Black Sea Grain agreement, which allowed for Ukrainian agricultural exports to have safe passage through the Black Sea and onto markets in developing nations. The agreement is due for renewal this month, and Russia has signaled it will not extend the deal. Ankara’s release of the prisoners against Russia’s terms may damage its reputation with Moscow as an honest broker and become the death knell for the grain agreement. – M.M.


  1. CLIMATE: U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says China and the U.S. need to work together to fight the existential threat of climate change
  • Yellen was in Beijing over the weekend for talks with Chinese finance ministry officials.
  • In a prepared statement, Yellen urged “continued U.S.-China cooperation on climate finance” to help developing nations join the fight against climate change.

Why It Matters: Yellen’s visit to China was part of the administration’s diplomatic round-robin to help reduce tensions between the U.S. and China. Yellen received a mediocre reception from low-level finance ministry officials – signaling China’s disinterest in Yellen and the U.S. agenda. – M.M.

  1. INDO-PAC: China courts Japan, South Korea
  • China’s top diplomat Wang Yi called for Japan and South Korea to “regroup and restart” friendlier relations with China and to avoid deepening ties with the United States.
  • “Asia is our common home, and the three countries are close neighbors that cannot be moved away. China, Japan, and South Korea should maintain strategic focus, grasp the trend of the times, draw on historical wisdom, and firmly maintain the correct direction of trilateral cooperation,” Wang said. [READ MORE]

Why It Matters: China is sending a message to South Korea and Japan that it is not too late to join the winning team in Asia and move away from the U.S. sphere of influence. Despite Wang’s message, it is unlikely that either Japan or South Korea will switch alliances, although Seoul will likely maintain a higher level of trade cooperation with Beijing. – M.M.

  1. ADDITION?: McCaul calls for “incremental” steps for Ukrainian accession to NATO
  • Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX-) said that the Biden administration and NATO countries should support “incremental” steps towards Ukraine’s accession into the NATO alliance.
  • “I think, first, they have to win the counteroffensive, secondly, have a cease-fire, and then negotiate a peace settlement. We cannot admit Ukraine into NATO immediately. That would put us at war with Russia under Article 5 of the United Nations,” McCaul said.
  • McCaul also called for the Biden administration to send cluster munitions to Ukraine and expedite the delivery of F-16s as a delivery vehicle for British Storm Shadow missiles to target Iranian drones based in Crimea.

Why It Matters: McCaul is a major supporter of aid to Ukraine and the idea that Kiev can function as a proxy in a U.S. fight to destroy Russia. That plan is clearly not working at the moment, but McCaul is keeping it on life-support by advocating for advanced weapons to Kiev. The lack of a NATO offer to Kiev at the upcoming Vilnius summit may end up driving a negotiated settlement to the conflict – in essence, creating a carrot-and-stick approach to Kiev, and its supporters, to end the conflict peacefully. – M.M.

DON’T MISS my next Early Warning report, focusing on developments in the global balance of power. It’s released to DailySA subscribers each Friday.

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.M.

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