Good morning, and welcome to the Global Situation Report for Thursday, 10 August 2023.
- FIRST UP: Shoigu: Poland, Ukraine to build joint military unit
- Russian Ministry of Defense Sergei Shoigu told reporters that Poland and Ukraine are planning to build a joint military unit based in western Ukraine.
- According to Shoigu, the Polish say the unit is for the defense of western Ukraine, which borders Poland but is, in fact, intended for the eventual occupation of the territory.
Why It Matters: Some analysts have speculated that a negotiated settlement will lead to Russia officially annexing eastern parts of Ukraine while the rest of the country becomes a rump state, possibly under Polish control. Shoigu’s remarks may be part of an influence campaign to sow distrust or otherwise dissuade the Ukrainians from the move. Poland has historically claimed the region going as far back as the 1600s. – M.S.
- ENERGY SECURITY: China bolsters coal power plants
- China approved more than 50 gigawatts of new coal power production in the first half of 2023.
- Reduced hydropower generation caused Beijing to build more coal-fired power plants and to increase the country’s 2022 coal output by 9% to 4.5 billion tons – more than half of the world’s annual coal production.
Why It Matters: China’s focus on energy security has slowed its clean energy transition. If the country’s hydropower generation continues to decline, expect Beijing to double down on its reliance on coal. Despite Western countries’ desire to pivot away from coal, it will still be widely used in China and developing countries. – H.B.
- “STONE AGE”: Israel threatens Hezbollah in Lebanon
- Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant threatened to “return Lebanon to the Stone Age” in pointed remarks intended for leaders of Hezbollah.
- “Do not make a mistake. We do not want a war. But we are prepared to protect our civilians, our soldiers, and our sovereignty,” Gallant warned.
Why It Matters: The Israelis issued a series of threats earlier this year that indicated conflict could be imminent. These comments are the latest in the back-and-forth between the two sides, both of which are preparing for the next armed conflict. – M.S.
- ECUADOR: Right-wing presidential candidate assassinated
- Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio was assassinated at a campaign rally yesterday in the capital city of Quito. Police shot the gunman and arrested six others.
- Villaveciencio’s political party said that armed men also attacked the party’s offices in Quito in a separate incident.
- Organized crime, such as cartels or the mafia, are suspected in the killing, as Villavicencio had repeatedly promised to destroy the crime rings.
Why It Matters: Ecuador is one of a few remaining Latin countries with an ostensibly right-wing president. Villavicencio was considered to have been an ideological replacement for outgoing President Guillermo Lasso, who will not finish his first term due to calling for snap elections. Luisa González of the Citizens Revolution Movement, the democratic socialist party formed by former leftist President Rafael Correa, is heavily favored to win the presidential election. – M.S.
- DEFIANT: Philippines to send more supplies, bolster disputed island
- Philippine military officials said that they would send additional supply ships to the Second Thomas Shoal, despite the threat of Chinese military activity. A Chinese vessel disrupted a re-supply mission to the shoal earlier this week.
- “We have plans to deploy more ships, even our aircraft, to be able to guard our exclusive economic zone… we really have to establish our presence in the area, it’s all about numbers,” Philippine Chief of Staff General Romeo Brawner said.
Why It Matters: The Philippine Navy is dwarfed by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), in size, reach, and ship capabilities. Despite this, the Philippines aren’t in a position to cede water or ground to the PLAN. U.S. President Biden is headed to Vietnam “shortly,” to discuss a new level of security partnership – a good sign that China’s bullying of its neighbors is starting to have a deleterious diplomatic effect. Expect increased U.S. engagement as a result. – M.S.
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.