Good morning, and welcome to the Global Situation Report for Monday, 31 July 2023.
- FIRST UP: Ukraine reported heavy fighting against Russian forces in its Northeast, concurrent with its counteroffensive in the South.
- Russian forces appear to have launched large-scale attacks in the Kharkiv and Sumy areas of Ukraine’s Northeast.
- Ukrainian defense officials said they were holding their defensive lines, and Russian forces had not made significant gains.
Why It Matters: Ukraine is facing stiff resistance in its counteroffensive in the south. Wagner’s relocation to Belarus forced Kiev to move some combat units to the north. With Russian forces attacking in the northeast, Kiev will likely have to reinforce those lines, drawing more combat power away from its slow-going counteroffensive. Ukraine likely does not have sufficient manpower available to fight on all three fronts, placing Kiev on the horns of a dilemma and setting up a potential pocket should any of the three axes collapse. – M.M.
- RUSSIA’S MEDVEDEV: Nukes on the menu if Ukraine succeeds in its counteroffensive.
- Medvedev said Sunday, “Imagine if the.. offensive, which is backed by NATO, was a success and they tore off a part of our land then we would be forced to use a nuclear weapon according to the rules of a decree from the president of Russia..
- Russia’s Defense Minister said on Monday that Ukraine’s counteroffensive was failing and that Ukraine has lost 28,000 troops and over 2000 armored vehicles and artillery pieces in the past two weeks.
Why It Matters: Medvedev is likely responding to Western propaganda that continues to proselytize the idea that Ukraine would be able to force Russia out of the occupied territory and take back Crimea without sparking a nuclear response. Medvedev is essentially speaking as a surrogate regarding the Kremlin’s escalation ladder in the conflict. – M.M.
- FRANCE SEEKS GREATER ECONOMIC TIES WITH CHINA: Following a meeting over the weekend with China’s Vice Premier He Lifeng, France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Paris was seeking to open their markets wider to China.
- Le Maire lobbied for greater Chinese investment in France’s electric vehicle industry.
- Le Maire proclaimed, “We want to have a stronger economic relationship between Europe and China, between France and China, which means to get access for all European goods.”
Why It Matters: The level of Western economic interdependence with China is unhealthy and a national security issue – conveniently overlooked on behalf of oligarchs who have become incredibly wealthy by capitalizing on China’s cheap manufacturing capacity. Economic interdependence minimizes Western nations’ ability to restrain China’s expansionist foreign policies through non-military means, resulting in a higher probability of future military conflict. France follows both Germany and the U.S. in attempting to return to the pre-COVID globalist model with China, despite the dangers such a model poses. – M.M.
- U.S. COAST GUARD TO BOARD AND SEARCH VESSELS IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA WATERS: Papua New Guinea (PNG) has authorized U.S. Coast Guard ships to board and search foreign vessels in PNG waters without a PNG government representative present.
- The new authorities come after the U.S. and PNG governments recently signed a mutual defense agreement.
- PNG has been the target of bullying and provocations by China’s naval militia.
Why It Matters: In the past, China has been able to do what it wants in PNG’s economic exclusive zone and even in its territorial waters because PNG lacks the enforcement mechanisms to stop illegal fishing and resource exploitation. The U.S. Coast Guard is increasing its defensive role to assist smaller Pacific Island nations in stopping China from illegal activities in their waters. This situation could result in a direct confrontation with Chinese naval forces since the Chinese naval militia and fishing fleet are often backed up by the Chinese Coast Guard and naval warships. – M.M.
- NIGER: DON’T DO IT, FRANCE!: Niger’s new military junta that toppled former Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum warned France against conducting a military operation to free Bazoum.
- Bazoum is under house arrest in the presidential palace.
- The coup follows similar military-driven regime changes in neighboring Mali and Burkina-Faso.
Why It Matters: Niger, up until recently, was a pro-Western democracy fighting an Islamic insurgency with U.S. and European military assistance. Before the coup, the Niger military and several civilian government officials had complained that Western nations were meddling in Niger’s internal affairs. The coup has sparked concerns that Russia may gain greater influence in Niger as it did in Mali and Burkina-Faso after Western military forces were asked to leave those countries. It is unlikely that the U.S. or European nations will mount an effort to free Bazoum since it could exacerbate the situation ahead of diplomatic efforts to restore the democratic government. – M.M.
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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.