Global SITREP for Wednesday, 26 July 2023 – Forward Observer

Global SITREP for Wednesday, 26 July 2023

Good morning, and welcome to the Global Situation Report for Wednesday, 26July 2023.

  1. FIRST UP: Several Russian diplomats were ordered to leave Moldova after getting caught spying and stirring up rebellion.
  • Embassy personnel will be cut to 25 from more than 80, bringing Russia’s embassy in line with Moldova’s diplomatic mission in Moscow.
  • Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu said, “For many years, we have been the object of hostile Russian actions and policies. Many of them were made through the embassy.” 

Why It Matters: There have been conflicting reports from Moldova about coup plotting, spy networks, and other intrigue. Who is doing what to whom is an open question. Regardless, there is something irregular going on in Moldova, and pro-Western President Maia Sandu believes the Russians are responsible. Moldova is likely feeling the pressure from competing Ukrainian and Russian interests, which are attempting to establish a beachhead in the country adjacent to their war. – M.M.

  1. IT’S THE FREEDOM, STUPID: Catalan separatist parties hold the line on an independence referendum.
  • Catalan separatist parties Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) and Junts are now kingmakers after Spanish national elections resulted in a stalemate between right and left coalitions in parliament.
  • ERC and Junts demand current Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez promise an independence referendum for the Catalan region in exchange for their support in a ruling coalition.

Why It Matters: Madrid is vehemently opposed to Catalan independence. Several leaders of the Catalan movement were arrested and imprisoned after holding an illegal independence referendum in 2017. The head of the movement escaped capture by Spanish authorities and remains a fugitive hiding out in Europe. Expect Sanchez to try every means available to gain the 14 seats needed to form a government before acquiescing to ERC and Junts’ demands. – M.M.


  1. AUSSIES AND KIWIS NOT ON BOARD WITH CHINESE POLICE IN SOLOMON ISLANDS: On Wednesday, Australia and New Zealand announced their opposition to a policing agreement between China and the Solomon Islands that they said would undermine the Pacific’s agreed regional security norms.
  • Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said Chinese police would be valuable assets in providing security and community policing to Solomon Islands citizens.
  • Both Australia and New Zealand have demanded Sogavare release the details of the policing agreement, which will put Chinese security forces in a dominant role in the Solomon Islands.

Why It Matters: China and the Solomon Islands have a mutual security agreement that has numerous secret caveats dealing with a Chinese military presence in the islands. Sogavare signed the agreement despite Solomon Islanders’ widespread opposition and accusations of Chinese bribery and vote buying in the government. Under increasing attacks by Chinese-backed local political leaders, the Solomon Islands’ political opposition could end up working with Australia and New Zealand to mount a more robust opposition to the Chinese presence. The main issue is whether Australia and New Zealand, which count China as their major trading partner, have the will to buck Beijing on the issue. – M.M.

  1. BOLIVIA TO ORDER IRANIAN DRONES: On Tuesday, Bolivia’s defense minister said that the country is interested in obtaining Iranian drone technology to combat smuggling and drug trafficking.
  • Bolivia’s Defense Minister Edmundo Novillo signed a security agreement with his Iranian counterpart during a visit to Tehran last week.
  • When pressed by Argentina over the agreement, Novillo said it was merely an “act’ to identify common points of interest.

Why It Matters: Bolivia announced earlier this month that it had the world’s largest lithium reserves. Shortly thereafter, they signed agreements with both Chinese and Russian mining companies to run extraction operations. With the increasingly close military relationship with Iran, it appears the China-Russia-Iran alliance is moving quickly to consolidate gains in the South American Andean nation –  a move that should concern Washington. – M.M.

  1. UKE NUKE PLANT MINED: An International Atomic Energy Agency team reported they observed landmines in a restricted area of the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine.
  • An IAEA official said such explosives emplaced at a nuclear power facility are inconsistent with IAEA safety standards and nuclear security guidance.
  • The origin of the landmines is unknown, but Russian military personnel at the plant have cordoned off the area and restricted travel in the vicinity of the mines.

Why It Matters: No one can say whether Russian or Ukrainian forces planted the landmines in the open areas around the nuclear facility, but it is apparent that Russia is not in a hurry to demine the area. Ukraine is now full of landmines, and it is unlikely antipersonnel and even anti-tank landmines could trigger a nuclear incident at the plant. The existence and reporting of the landmines is more of a political propaganda issue than a safety issue. – 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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