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  • China held a joint navy drill with Singapore in the South China Sea. The drill was conducted at a time when the US, along with allies Australia, Japan and India (members of the Quad), continues efforts to curb Beijing’s expanding influence in the region. In February, powerful U.S. warship fleets have sailed near Chinese-claimed Taiwan and through disputed territory in the South China Sea, to Beijing’s anger.

The South China Sea encompasses an area of around 3.5 million square kilometers (1.4 million square miles) between Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. Several countries have overlapping territorial claims in the region, with Beijing asserting sovereignty over roughly 90% of the sea.​​​​​​​




  • A joint military exercise involving Turkish and Pakistani Special Forces commenced in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, which borders Afghanistan. The exercise is the latest manifestation of an emergent strategic alliance of these two countries, with significant implications for south Asia (and the Middle East). Both are seeking an alternative alignment to their former ties with the West, which in a time of growing global polarization is leading both Islamabad and Ankara toward greater closeness with China.

Pakistan is looking for connectivity with Afghanistan, Central Asia and ultimately to Russia, with Balochistan playing a pivotal role through its geographical location and abundance of natural resources. Balochistan is a geo-strategic location as well as a hub of natural resources which if fully utilised could be a catalyst for the entire region. Since Pakistan’s inception, Balochistan had been made a target for the country’s adversaries due to its attributes, and consequently had been destabilized by internal and external elements.


  • Pakistan and India have agreed to immediately cease military hostilities in disputed Kashmir by restoring a 2003 truce to deescalate tensions between the nuclear-armed South Asian rivals. Bilateral tensions have escalated dangerously since August 2019, when India unilaterally revoked the semi-autonomous status of its administered Kashmir and split the region into two union territories.
  • India and China had completed a pullback from a disputed part of their Himalayan border after months of heightened tensions. The statement said it was a “significant step forward” that provided a good starting point for the resolution of other disputes in the western sector of the contested border.

India and China share a 3,500-kilometre (2,200-mile) border, with disputes at other points in Ladakh, including at Aksai Chin, a strategic corridor linking Tibet to western China next to the Galwan valley, and at Naku La pass further east, which connects Sikkim state with Tibet.


  • The Iranian and Russian militaries have kicked off a joint naval drill in the Indian Ocean aimed at boosting security of maritime trade in the region. This is the second such joint Russia-Iran exercise since 2019, when the two nations plus China held a four-day exercise. Tehran has been seeking to step up military cooperation with Beijing and Moscow amid regional tensions with the United States.


  • The G7 Foreign Ministers and the High Representative of the European Union condemns coup in Myanmar and President Biden has vowed to rally the United States’ partners to persuade Asian allies to support sanctions or moves to isolate Myanmar´s regime. China and Russia block UN Security Council condemnation and rejected eventual sanctions.

The situation in Myanmar is presenting China a serious geopolitical headache. The current imbroglio places a question mark over billions of dollars in deals and is deepening anti-Chinese sentiment in a strategic country along its border.

India is taking a cautious approach regarding Myanmar. Myanmar and India share a 1,600 km border, giving India a gateway to greater integration with Southeast Asia. The neighbors share a 725 km boundary in the Bay of Bengal, where India aims to boost maritime security cooperation with Myanmar and other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. There are a number of Indian infrastructure projects in Myanmar, as an effort to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative.




  • The United States faced greater competition in the Middle East from both China and Russia, adding another layer of geopolitical tension to the already volatile region, according to the head of the US military’s Central Command. Beijing and Moscow had taken advantage of factors (an ongoing regional crisis; financial infrastructure needs; perception of declining US engagement; and opportunities created by Covid-19) to raise their influence in the region over the past year.
  • Israel is in talks with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates to establish a four-nation defence alliance. The report comes amid the news that Washington and Tel Aviv are set to summon a strategic group to work on Iran’s nuclear agreement. Previously, some partners, including French President Emmanuel Macron, have advocated for negotiating an expanded deal with Tehran to include Saudi Arabia and Israel, as well as stronger limits on Iran, but the Islamic Republic has rejected the suggestion.

China is happy about the Abraham Accords and the GCC crisis coming to an end. Though China was not involved in either development, China benefits from Israel having normalized ties with Arab countries in the Gulf. An Israel integrated into its own region provides yet another important access point to the Mediterranean, especially if and when connecting infrastructure comes into effect. The European Union is China’s largest trading partner, making the Mediterranean Sea a major endpoint in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).


  • Qatar is stepping up its diplomatic moves in the region, playing its cards in Iran, Lebanon and Syria with the hope of regaining influence after its presence declined in recent years due to overlapping factors. Qatar’s hope of regaining its presence is mainly related to the presence of a new American administration that seems intent on increasing its pressure on the regime of President Bashar Assad and filling the vacuum left by the former administration of Donald Trump, which Russia exploited to control the political process through the Astana talks. Qatar’s intervention in Lebanon is encouraged by Turkey, which will seek to benefit from Qatari investments to consolidate its presence in Lebanon’s Sunni regions at the expense of Saudi Arabia’s traditional role there.
  • US forces are developing the Al-Harir base in northern Iraq despite a decision by the Iraqi parliament to expel foreign troops from the country. The military base has recently become the center of US operations management in neighboring areas of northern Syria.




  • The threats of sanctions by the United States against the German-Russian Baltic Sea gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 are working. After considerable pressure from the government in Washington, at least 18 European companies have now ended their participation in the controversial project or have promised to withdraw. The United States is attacking the project as they fear that their partners in Europe are too dependent on Russia and Russian gas.

It seems that the position of the new American administration remains identical to that of Donald Trump in terms of sanctions against EU-Russia energy projects. Thus, it could be assumed that a number of sanctions against entities involved in the Nord Stream 2 project would be uphold. This is not only due to strictly political but also economic attitudes. Washington is eager to export LNG to European markets, but the Nord Stream 2 project limits the demand for further supplies of this energy source to Europe.

The EU countries are divided when it comes to the matter of constructing new Russian gas pipelines. As a result of the imprisonment of Alexei Navalny upon his return to Russia in January 2021 and the repression of the opposition in many Russian cities, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling to halt the Nord Stream 2 project. However, this decision was not unequivocally supported by Germany, which continues to back the construction of the gas pipeline. Washington’s position is contrary to that of Berlin, which seeks to finish the project regardless of the position of the US.

Nord Stream 2 is a Russian energy project intended for Western Europe. It is of strategic importance to Moscow because it strengthens the dominant position of Russia as the leading exporter of natural gas to the European markets. The pipeline is located in such a way that it bypasses the transit countries in Central and Eastern Europe (Poland or Ukraine), i.e., the territories where the main gas pipelines, supplying the rest of the continent, have been located so far.




  • Russia recently sent an additional 300 military advisors to support the President of the Central Africa Republic as part of a deepening relationship. For Russia, the CAR primarily provides it with an opportunity to present itself as an important international actor in Africa. For Russia, the CAR may simply provide a relatively low-cost opportunity to reposition itself globally by gaining influence in a country whose politics centres on concessionary politics and opportunistic power grabs.
  • EU joins the US in calling withdrawal of Eritrean troops from Ethiopia. Shows that there is a transatlantic consensus regarding Tigray’s armed conflict, which started on November 04/2020.



 By Bernardo Foster/

 International Relations Analyst






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200px-Flag_of_the_United_States.svg UNITED STATES:

Black Sea (EURASIA):

  • The U.S. Navy has sent a third warship into the Black Sea as it steps up its presence in the strategic region. It is the largest U.S. Navy presence in the Black Sea in three years. The Black Sea has taken on greater strategic importance for the United States and NATO after Russia illegally annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

Arctic (EURASIA):

  • US Navy is eyeing a tougher posture in the Arctic to push back against Moscow, and top Pentagon officials said that the U.S. could launch “freedom of navigation” operations near Russia’s Arctic coastline. Such operations would resemble Navy exercises in the South China Sea, an area in which American ships regularly contest growing Chinese territorial claims.


  • The US added Chinese National Overseas Oil Corporation to a US economic blacklist. It said CNOOC has “repeatedly harassed and threatened offshore oil and gas exploration and extraction in the South China Sea, with the goal of driving up the political risk for interested foreign partners, including Vietnam.”

Philippines (ASIA PACIFIC):

  • The United States will defend the Philippines against attacks in the South China Sea, according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who stressed the importance of the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty.

Saudi Arabia (MIDDLE EAST):

  • The US military is exploring new bases in Saudi Arabia amid rising tensions with Iran. They already had tested unloading and shipping cargo overland from Saudi Arabia’s port at Yanbu, a crucial terminal for oil pipelines in the kingdom.


  • The US forces are setting up a new military base in Al- Yaarubiya area in the east of Al-Hasakah province, Syria, near the border with Iraq. In the last few months, the US military has brought thousands of trucks carrying weapons, military equipment and logistics to al-Hasakah to plunder Syria’s oil and other natural resources.


  • US plan to build new military base in Jordan, in line with the expansion of military cooperation between this country and the United States.

Iraq-Afghanistan (MIDDLE EAST):

  • The US has decreased its number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to 2,500, accomplishing a key goal of President Donald Trump. Under a plan instituted by Trump the Pentagon is seeking to completely withdraw US troops from Afghanistan by May, but it is unclear if incoming President Joe Biden will continue to implement the policy.


  • The Biden administration said it will work closely with Israel on regional security issues and to build on the country’s regional normalisation agreements.


  • United States designated Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels as a foreign terrorist organization.

Libya (AFRICA):

  • The United States urged Turkey, Russia and the United Arab Emirates to immediately halt their military intervention in Libya.


  • The U.S. designated Cuba as a “state sponsoring terrorism” once again more than five years after removing the country from the list. China firmly opposes the United States decision.

200px-Flag_of_the_People's_Republic_of_China.svg CHINA:


  • China sent warplanes into the South China Sea breaching Taiwan’s airspace. In recent months, China has ramped up its naval presence in the region and criticized any military operations in the area by the US as “collusion” with Taiwan.
  • Firmly opposed to the U.S. decision to hold a so-called “political-military dialogue” with Taiwan authorities. The U.S. State Department announced it planned to hold a conference with Taiwan authorities to discuss regional developments, Taiwan-U.S. military cooperation, and arms sales.
  • China also intensified its rhetoric directed towards Taiwan and said its independence would result in war.


  • China stressed that Hong Kong police’s recent arrests of activists suspected of subversion are China’s internal affairs which the EU side has no right to interfere in.


  • China clashed with India again on their contested Himalayan border, highlighting the fraught state of relations between the giant nuclear-armed neighbours.

Afghanistan (SOUTH ASIA):

  • China, who is seeking to become more involved in intra-Afghan peace talks, has cautioned that an unorganized US departure could open the way for militants to re-establish Afghanistan as a regional hotbed of Islamic terror. China is concerned that Afghanistan, which shares a land border with China’s restive Xinjiang province, could in particular become a breeding ground for Uighur Muslim militants.

Myanmar (SOUTH ASIA):

  • China is planning to expand infrastructure links with the key oil and gas port of Kyaukpyu in Myanmar (Burma) as part of efforts to develop its Belt and Road (BRI) investments in the country, which recently suffered a military coup, declaring one year-state of emergency.

Pakistan (SOUTH ASIA):

  • China is embroiled with Pakistan in their most serious disagreement relating to the Belt and Road Initiative, causing the annual bilateral summit of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to be delayed.


  • China called during a UN Security Council session for the cancelling of western unilateral coercive measures against Syria immediately.

Congo-Botswana (AFRICA):

  • China signed a memorandum of understanding with Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Botswana on jointly building the Belt and Road. China will continue to actively participate in Africa’s infrastructure construction in such areas as transportation, energy and communications.


Nagorno-Karabakh (EURASIA):

  • Russia is rebuilding its leadership in the Caucasus, leaving little room for Turkey, which helped Azerbaijan prevail on the battlefield.


  • Russia is looking -with Iranian counterpart- a political solution to the crisis in Syria implementing UN Resolution 2254 through a Syrian-Syrian dialogue without any external interference.

Ukraine (EUROPE):

  • Russia intends to deploy newest heavy artillery to Ukrainian border. Russia explains the build-up of its artillery power on the south-western borders by the allegedly increasing NATO’s presence in the region.

Baltic Sea (EUROPE):

  • Russia reinforces its Baltic Fleet stationed in Kaliningrad. Russia claims that it has strengthened its forces in the region due to increased NATO presence in the Baltic States

TurkStream pipeline (EUROPE):

  • Russia has begun delivering natural gas to Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina through the TurkStream pipeline, reaching a total of six European countries receiving Russian gas supplies via the TurkStream pipeline.

Nord stream 2 (EUROPE):

  • Russia is planning to file a lawsuit over the hindrances other countries have been posing to the gas pipeline project Nord Stream 2. Believes that the US has not changed its stance essentially and that pressure on the project would go on.

Venezuela (SOUTH AMERICA):

  • Russia announced that will cooperate closely with the new National Assembly of Venezuela elected on December 6, 2020. The European Union, the U.S., and Canada have so far refused to recognize it.


East-south China sea (ASIA PACIFIC):

  • Japan seeks US vow of support in East China Sea, as dispute with China heats up. Chinese ships in the disputed area have become an urgent issue for Tokyo, which also sent a diplomatic note to the UN over China’s activities in the South China Sea.

200px-Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom.svgUNITED KINDOM:

East-south China sea (ASIA PACIFIC):

  • The UK is planning joining the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) created to counter China. It may be discussed during Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s planned visit to India.



Israel/Palestine (MIDDLE EAST):

  • Foreign ministers of Germany and France discussed with Egypt and Jordan ways to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

200px-Flag_of_Turkey.svg TURKEY:

Gulf of Aden (ASIA-AFRICA):

  • Turkey submitted a motion extending Turkish forces’ deployment in the Gulf of Aden, Somalia and the Arabian Sea. The Gulf of Aden — near Yemen and close to the world’s fourth-biggest oil transit chokepoint, the Bab el-Mandab strait — is a strategic energy route for Middle Eastern crude oil.

Eastern Mediterranean (EUROPE):

  • Turkey has offered to resume talks with Greece over the eastern Mediterranean and other issues this month. Greece rejected talks planned for last year after Turkey deployed a seismic exploration vessel to disputed waters.

200px-Flag_of_Iran.svg IRAN:

Nuclear Deal (GLOBAL):

  • Iran urged new US President Joe Biden to return to the 2015 nuclear deal and to lift the sanctions on the Middle Eastern country. Some media assured that US administration will launch an initiative through European mediators to open a direct dialogue with Tehran.

Caucasus (EURASIA):

  • Iran is having active diplomatic relations with three neighboring countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia) of the Caucasus region and it has gained a better opportunity to play a more influential role in the region following the departure of former US President Donald Trump from office. According to analyst, Iran pursues the foreign policy of resolving disputes of the Caucasus region without the presence of any ultra-regional powers.

Arabian Gulf (MIDDLE EAST):

  • Iran announced the opening of a new missile base along the Arabian Gulf.

200px-Flag_of_Saudi_Arabia.svgSAUDI ARABIA:


  • Saudi Arabia opened its borders with Qatar for the first time in three years, a leap toward easing a dispute that split the energy-producing region and complicated US efforts to isolate Iran.




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Will China continue with its BRI projects in Belarus?

Will China continue with its BRI projects in Belarus?


The political crisis in Belarus -erupted following the August 9 presidential election, which showed the president Alexander Lukashenko winning a landslide re-election victory- that led to mass demonstrations by protesters alleging that the official election results were fraudulent, made several newspapers analysts asked themselves if the unrest will affect the Belt and Road projects already ongoing in Belarus powered by China.

Some of them predict that the actual crisis in Belarus will not pose threats on projects under the Belt and Road Initiative in that country. Instead, others affirm these projects could be derailed as the crisis continued.

It is not the intention of this analysis to try to guess what might happen to the BRI projects in Belarus in relation to the evolution of the crisis that hits the country, but to argue that China will try to continue BRI investments in Belarus, regardless of how the crisis evolves. The strategic importance of Belarus for China and the money that has already been disbursed by the Chinese government and Chinese companies related to BRI projects in that country allowed such averment.

Belarus is located near the port cities of the Baltic Sea and on the crossroads of major land transit routes between Europe and Asia, it served as a potential gateway to the European Union’s market, the ultimate prize in Beijing’s BRI plans, for Chinese goods traveling across Eurasia.

Eight rail container routes on the China-Western Europe trade pass through Belarus, enabling cargo to move much faster between China and Germany via Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus and Poland.

In addition, Belarus became indispensable to the BRI after the crisis in Ukraine, the country that was previously the focus of Chinese efforts to connect the BRI with Europe. (*)

Regarding money disbursements, since the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013, Chinese investors have poured US $ 1.6 billion into Belarus, mainly in transport, logistics and energy, key sectors for the BRI.

China’s largest investment in Belarus is the Great Stone Industrial Park, China’s largest overseas development project. It has already attracted more than $ 1 billion in investment from at least 56 foreign companies.

Furthermore, last year Chinese financial institutions opened a US $ 15 billion line of credit to Development Bank of the Republic of Belarus.

These facts allow argue that China will try to continue their BRI projects in Belarus, regardless of how the crisis evolves.

The question we analysts should ask ourselves is what China will do if the crisis in Belarus leads to a “color revolution” and the installation of a pro-Western government as predicted by various analysts.

(*) Belarus itself was certainly not China’s first choice for BRI. Initially, China thought of Ukraine. However, 2014 Euromaidan Revolution, Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the conflict in Eastern Ukraine forced Beijing to throw those plans away and find in Belarus a new route to Europe for its Belt and Road Initiative.



By Bernardo Simón Foster

International Relations Analyst/

Master in International Relations