Good morning, and welcome to the Global Situation Report for Wednesday, 28 June 2023.
- FIRST UP: Taiwan says it will attack any Chinese military plane or ship that crosses its territorial boundary
- The warning came after several Chinese warplanes crossed the median line in the Taiwan Strait and flew close to the airspace of Taipei.
- The median line has been an unofficial border tacitly respected by Taipei and Beijing in recent decades.
Why It Matters: Taiwan had previously said it would not initiate military action against China; however, following multiple incursions across the median line, Taipei said they will defend the integrity of Taiwan’s borders. This could escalate into either a provocation by China or a casus belli for Beijing to kick off its reunification plans for Taiwan. – M.M.
- MORE REFUGEES: The United Nations refugee agency said it estimates 1 million refugees will likely leave Sudan due to the ongoing civil war.
- The U.N. said 2.5 million Sudanese were driven from their homes by fighting since April of this year.
- Most refugees are fleeing on foot into neighboring countries like Chad and eventually to Europe.
Why It Matters: Another million or so refugees to Europe will likely exacerbate the security situation there. European government services are already overwhelmed by refugees fleeing war and unrest in the Middle East, South Asia, and Ukraine. – M.M.
- NEW ZEALAND GOES WOBBLY: New Zealand Prime Minister Chippy Hipkins signed a range of cooperation agreements to boost economic ties with Beijing this week.
- The agreements cover trade, agriculture, forestry, education, and science and innovation.
- According to a Wellington press release, Hipkins and Chinese Premier Li Qiang also discussed the Indo-Pacific region, tensions in the South China Sea, and Taiwan Strait. No details on those talks were provided.
Why It Matters: New Zealand and Australia have both split off from the main U.S.-led effort to isolate China and disrupt its ongoing military build-up. New Zealand’s new Prime Minister Hipkins has been hesitant to de-risk or de-couple from China, despite concerns over a potential conflict between China and the U.S. over Taiwan. – M.M.
- IRANIAN MILITANTS ON ROAD TO DAMASCUS: Iranian-backed militants are reportedly building new military sites on a road network from Damascus, Syria, to the Golan Heights.
- The effort seeks to secure transportation routes from Syria through Lebanon and to Israel’s northern border.
- The Iraqi Imam Hussein Brigades and Lebanese Hezbollah reportedly seized land at various sites along the road network to build underground facilities.
Why It Matters: Iran is using its proxy militant groups to build a presence surrounding Israel. It is highly likely that Iran will employ proxy forces to attack Israel from these military outposts should Jerusalem decide to strike Iranian nuclear and missile production facilities in Iran. – M.M.
- WAGNER TO BELARUS: Belarus government officials confirm they are building several camps to accommodate approximately 25,000 Wagner Group fighters.
- Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin reportedly flew from Rostov-on-Don to Minsk and is currently in Belarus.
- Russian officials said they were working on a plan to have Wagner paramilitaries turn in their heavy weapons before leaving their current locations in Luhansk.
Why It Matters: If Prigozhin reconstitutes the Wagner Group in Belarus, with its current strength of 25,000 fighters, they will pose a significant threat to Kiev. Ukraine would likely be forced to honor that threat by pulling combat brigades from the Donbas front and its ongoing counteroffensive to secure the capital. Western intelligence agencies claim that Putin is marginalizing Prigozhin in an effort to make him persona-non-grata without creating a martyr for other factions within the Kremlin; however, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko publicly stated that he would welcome Wagner forces in a training role for Belarus military units. Lukashenko’s comments create a potential opening for Wagner to remain a player in the fight against Ukraine. – 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. – Max.