Good morning, and welcome to the Global Situation Report for Wednesday, 19 July 2023.
- FIRST UP: The Group of 20 meeting of finance chiefs concludes without a consensus on the war in Ukraine.
- The meeting of chief finance ministers ended acrimoniously after differences in who was responsible for the war in Ukraine.
- China, Russia, and their allies blocked language for a common communique condemning Russia for “immense human suffering” and exacerbating existing fragilities in the global economy.”
Why It Matters: The shine is coming off of the West’s version of the war in Ukraine. An increasing number of countries are concerned over the West’s bullying on sanctions compliance and the economic disruption caused by the West’s weaponization of global financial institutions. Ukraine has not helped its case by flushing any semblance of democracy in the country while its ruling elite purchase multi-million euro mansions and pad their personal bank accounts. Expect further fractures in the geopolitical landscape as Kiev founders in its current counteroffensive. – M.M.
- RUSSIA COUNTERATTACKS: Russian forces retook the Movchanove railway center near Kharkiv yesterday amid heavy fighting in the northeast region.
- Russian forces are counterattacking northeast of Ukraine’s main counteroffensive forces. Reports from the region indicate heavy fighting is ongoing.
- Ukrainian officials denied heavy fighting was taking place in the northeast region.
Why It Matters: Ukraine has bogged down in its counteroffensive in the south, mainly due to tactical leadership errors and the misapplication of forces. Although Western officials say Ukraine has yet to commit 50% of its forces to combat, the other 50% that is committed has suffered extensive losses. Russia is likely attempting to pressure Ukraine’s eastern flank and force Kiev to reinforce its positions there with reserves from its counter-offensive. – M.M.
- NORTH KOREA FIRES MORE MISSILES INTO SEA: North Korea fired two ballistic missiles into the East Sea in response to a U.S. nuclear ballistic missile submarine making a port call in Busan, South Korea.
- The USS Kentucky, an Ohio class nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), made port in the southeastern city of Busan yesterday.
- The U.S. and South Korea are holding talks this week on plans to counter North Korea’s nuclear capabilities.
Why It Matters: The U.S. and its allies in the region are forced to honor North Korea’s threats and nuclear capabilities. Pyongyang has used missile launches in the past to gain concessions from Washington; however, the current danger is that North Korea would act as an unstable nuclear proxy in a future conflict between China and the U.S. in the region. While Pyongyang has a limited ability to strike the U.S. homeland, it could easily hit major U.S. military facilities in the Pacific. – M.M.
- ISRAEL STRIKES IRAN TARGETS IN DAMASCUS: Israel launched a missile strike on Iranian-backed militia targets near Damascus this morning.
- The strike reportedly killed two members of an Iranian-backed militia and one Syrian soldier.
- The Syrian military reportedly fired air defense weapons at the missiles but failed to stop the attack.
Why It Matters: Israel and Iran are likely belligerents in a future war in the Middle East. Iran’s nuclear weapons program will be the target of an Israeli military action to deny Tehran possession of a working nuclear weapon. Since Iran has strong ties with both Russia and China, the conflict could have implications beyond the Middle East. – M.M.
- PANAMA EX-PRESIDENT HEADS TO SLAMMER: Panama’s ex-president Ricardo Martinelli was sentenced to ten years in prison on money laundering charges, upending Martinelli’s newest presidential bid.
- Martinelli said, “We all know they want to convict me out of political interest,” adding, “I have no ties to illicit funds.”
- Martinelli’s son also faces charges in a pay-to-play bribery scandal.
Why It Matters: The case against Martinelli mimics both sides of the current political environment in the U.S., where former President Donald Trump has been targeted with indictments by the current ruling party in Washington. President Joe Biden has been implicated in a multi-hundred million dollar pay-to-play bribery scandal run by his son Hunter Biden. Martinelli’s case, which the U.S. State Department accelerated, could be a template for drama ahead of the 2024 U.S. elections. – 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.