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China’s inroads in SE Asia with vaccine diplomacy | Source: The Statesman

China has announced additional Covid aid to Southeast Asian countries. to boost influence within the region, and moving ahead from its “Mask Diplomacy”, to “Vaccine Diplomacy”, where Beijing is harnessing its pharmaceutical and economic prowess in the area of vaccine distribution and is increasing its influence around the globe, especially in the Southeast Asian region, considered the “backyard” of China, where it has harvested significant political leverage.

Source: The Statesman


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Africa

China to strengthen cooperation with Zimbabwe | Source: Bulawayo

CHINA and Zimbabwe will continue to work together to advance bilateral cooperation despite criticism from Western detractors, with fake news to attack Chinese investments in Zimbabwe and soil the image of China and Chinese companies. China-Zimbabwe relations had grown from strength to strength, culminating in the two countries elevating their bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic and long-term partnership of cooperation in 2018. Recently, the Chinese government has helped Zimbabwe, with more than 11 million doses of vaccines from China.

Source: Bulawayo


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China providing vaccines to almost 40 African states | SOURCE: IRISH NEWS

China has pledged roughly half a billion doses of its vaccines to more than 45 countries, according to an Associated Press tally.

China has pledged roughly half a billion doses of its vaccines to more than 45 countries. The move is an apparent intensification of what has been described as “vaccine diplomacy”.

SOURCE: IRISH NEWS


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Russia Accuses EU of Stopping Access to Sputnik Vaccine | SOURCE: NOVINITE

The European Union is blocking Russia-made vaccines against Covid-19, the head of Russia’s external intelligence service said. Russia has repeatedly accused the West of political manoeuvring against the vaccine. However, Russian leaders also said early on in the pandemic that the country would not approve widely used Western vaccines made by companies such as Moderna and BioNTech.

SOURCE: NOVINITE


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Top diplomats of Russia, Sierra Leone to discuss bilateral ties, fight against terrorism | SOURCE: TASS

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will hold talks with his counterpart from Sierra Leone to discuss fight against terrorism in the Sahel-Sahara region, West Africa, the Horn of Africa and the Central African Republic, as well as efforts to prevent the spread of dangerous infectious diseases, including the novel coronavirus.

SOURCE: TASS


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Geoeconomics

EURASIA

RUSSIA:

  • Russia is turning to Chinese firms to help accelerate the production of its Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine. Over the last couple of weeks, Russia made three deals with Chinese firms in connection with 260 million doses.

SOURCE: DW


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Expert Analysis

Russia’s COVID-19 Aid To India Proves Its Reliability

29 APRIL 2021

Russia

Russia’s decision to dispatch emergency COVID-19 aid to India proves how reliable it is in comparison to the South Asian state’s newfound American ally, the latter of which dillydallied while New Delhi urgently pleaded for assistance to help its suffering people survive the latest viral wave that came crashing into the country.

The whole world is watching the latest COVID-19 outbreak in India with serious concern after the country suddenly emerged as the latest epicenter. New Delhi urgently pleaded for assistance from its allies to help its suffering people survive the latest viral wave that came crashing into the South Asian state, but its newfound American ally dillydallied while its historical Russian one rushed to its aid without any preconditions. This contrast of commitment speaks volumes about which of the two sincerely cherishes its ties with the world’s second most populous country, which should hopefully result in a reconsideration of India’s recent strategic priorities.

Up until this year, India was stridently siding with the US on practically all relevant matters apart from its continued commitment to go through with its planned purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defense systems. The South Asian state is a proud member of the US-led Quad and arguably envisions becoming its Asian leader in pursuit of its allies’ shared goal of containing China. The Electoral College’s certification of Joe Biden as the next US President threw a wrench in India’s long-term plans since its strategists anticipated that Trump would come out on top instead. The new reality is such that India doesn’t feel as prioritized by the US as before, hence why it sought to recalibrate its multi-alignment policy in response to this perception.

The end result was that it reached near-simultaneous deals with neighboring adversaries China and Pakistan in February regarding a synchronized disengagement with the former and a ceasefire with the latter. This was followed up by hosting Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov earlier in the month for talks to confirm the strength of their strategic partnership and organize the annual Russia-India Summit between their leaders sometime later this year. Perhaps out of jealous reaction to these developments driven by its hegemonic habits, the US Navy violated India’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) during a so-called “freedom of navigation” operation (FONOP) and sent the message to New Delhi that it can only ever hope to be Washington’s junior partner.

Coupled with growing disappointment in India over both sides’ failure to reach a long-discussed trade deal, the US’ latest dillydallying over its belated decision to dispatch COVID-19 aid to its partner might be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back and gets New Delhi to more meaningfully recalibrate its multi-alignment policy. What’s meant by this is that India now realizes that the US doesn’t even care about its people’s lives since it wouldn’t even take the easy soft power opportunity to be among the first to send relevant assistance to the country. It can’t be known for sure why this was, but it certainly seems to be the case that this was yet another American punishment in response to India’s increasingly independent policies as of late.

By contrast, the only credible gripes that Indians have about Russia is that the latter is more confidently practicing its regional “balancing” act which should at least in theory be complementary with India’s own (which it calls multi-alignment). Unlike the US, the manifestation of Russia’s newfound approach doesn’t endanger any Indian lives nor infringes on the country’s territorial integrity. It also doesn’t consist of unilateral sanctions threats in violation of international law like the US’ ones about the S-400s. Russia is also very eager to clinch a comprehensive trade deal with India, which could even be broadened to include the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAU). The US, on the other hand, is playing political games with its trade talks.

There’s no doubt that so-called “vaccine diplomacy” is nowadays part of International Relations whether states officially recognize it or not, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing if it’s proactively practiced and not undertaken with any strings attached. To explain, Russia’s vaccine exports are intended to serve as an opening to comprehensively expand bilateral ties with each of its partners, while the US seemingly withholds such aid for political reasons until its partners either make unilateral concessions or the situation becomes much too scandalous that it can no longer continue such a policy without intense international scrutiny. With the Indian example in mind, Russia’s “vaccine diplomacy” is much more moral than the US’.

This objective observation should give Indian strategists cause to think about whether the current direction of their multi-alignment policy is in line with their country’s long-term national interests or not. Remaining so focused on the American vector of this vision despite being slapped around by the US so shamefully this past month, not to mention in such a dangerous way with respect to Indian lives literally being on the line, arguably isn’t advancing their intended goals since they’ve received nothing other than limited military support in exchange for submitting to America over these past few years. It would therefore be much better if India seriously considers the wisdom of cooperating more closely with Russia in support of the Eurasian Century.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: India, Russia, US, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Vaccine Diplomacy, Balancing, Quad.


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SOUTH ASIA

INDIA:

  • President Joe Biden met growing calls in India to provide aid regarding Covid-19. The U.S. action was seen as coming too late for an administration that has sought to elevate the Quad security (partnership that also includes Japan and Australia). With the U.S. dragging its feet in offering India help to combat the world’s worst virus crisis, China is moving to drive a wedge between the democratic security partners.

SOURCE: BNN BLOOMBERG


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EUROPE

RUSSIA-TURKEY:

  • Russia is using vaccines and tourists to pressure Turkey over drone sales to Ukraine. Ukraine recently purchased Turkish-made armed drones which proved effective against Russian hardware in other conflicts. The purchase was a sign of the growing military partnership between the two countries.

SOURCE: AHVAL NEWS


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Why Does Ukraine Want War?

8 APRIL 2021

Why Does Ukraine Want War?

Ukraine wants war with Russia due to a combination of domestic and international factors, but such a scenario would be disastrous for the Eastern European country and only serve the interests of some members of the political elite and their foreign patrons.

The whole world is watching with bated breath to see whether Ukraine and Russia will go to war over Donbass like many fear might be about to happen due to recent events. I asked earlier this week whether “Vaccines Are The Real Driving Force Behind The Latest Donbass Destabilization”, pointing out the grand strategic interest that the US has in provoking a crisis that would put unprecedented political pressure on the EU to not buy Russia’s Sputnik V like the bloc’s top members are reportedly considering at the moment, but there’s more to it than just that at the comparatively lower strategic levels.

Ukraine wants war with Russia due to a combination of domestic and international factors, including its ruling elite’s desire to distract from a slew of domestic crises. These include its efforts to stamp out the increasingly popular opposition through a series of witch hunts, attract emergency Western financial aid to facilitate their struggling economy’s recovery, and perhaps become important enough to the West that they can finally receive much-needed vaccines for their population that they’ve hitherto been denied for inexplicable reasons. Moreover, the powerful influence of ultra-nationalist (fascist) militias can’t be discounted either.

On the foreign front, the US certainly never tries of causing trouble for Russia however and wherever it can. In the present context, any “continuation war” in Donbass could in theory impose unexpected financial costs on the country, among other potential consequences like serving as a pretext for more sanctions against it. Broadly speaking, the US might also hope that it can manipulate the optics of the conflict that it’s arguably trying to provoke in order to pressure Germany to pull out of its agreement to finish the Nord Stream II pipeline, however far-fetched that outcome might be in reality.

The Ukrainian political elite and their foreign patrons would be the only possible beneficiaries of such a conflict should one be successfully sparked by the US but even they, however, might experience blowback in the event that the Ukrainian Armed Forces and their allied ultra-nationalist (fascist) militias are decisively beaten on the battlefield. Facing that probable scenario, Kiev might urgently request NATO support, though it’s unclear whether any would be forthcoming, and if so, to what extent and whether they’d have a mandate to directly fight Russian-friendly rebels and perhaps even Russia itself should it intervene to protect its border and citizens.

What’s thus far certain at this point is that Ukraine wants war. This is evidenced not only by the previous arguments above, but also by its chief negotiator on Donbass demanding that the venue of the Minsk talks be switched from Belarus to somewhere else like Poland despite the latter indisputably being a partisan player in this larger conflict. This signifies that Kiev isn’t interested in continuing to pursue a peaceful resolution to its off-and-on civil war, which was actually obvious to all objective observers for quite a while already since it was none other than the Ukrainian government itself which refused to fully implement the Minsk Accords.

The Russian-friendly rebels and the neighboring eponymous state that politically (and according to some questionable reports, militarily) supports them have long been calling on Kiev to grant Donbass the special status that the Ukrainian government previously agreed to as a result of the Minsk Accords. The US has consistently pushed its Ukrainian client not to implement the promised political reforms in order to retain the country’s status as a Hybrid War ulcer on Russia’s border that could continue progressively eating away at its legitimate security interests and eventually be externally exacerbated at a strategic moment like the present.

The current timing of Ukraine’s latest US-backed anti-Donbass provocations is linked to the reportedly impending success of Russia’s “vaccine diplomacy” with the EU, Nord Stream II’s near completion, Ukraine’s series of domestic crises, but also Biden’s rise to power. The President and his family reportedly have a history of corrupt dealings with Ukraine, which gives them vested interests to militarily support it beyond whatever any other US leader might have promised in such a situation. This in turn ratchets up the danger to Russia since Biden might do the unthinkable by deploying US combat troops to Eastern Ukraine in the worst-case scenario.

As can be seen, Ukraine wants war for its own self-interested reasons, but it wouldn’t have any realistic chance of provoking such had it not been for the US’ – and specifically, the Biden family’s – support for this. No one else, least of all Russia, wants another conflict to explode in Eastern Ukraine, but Moscow will defend its legitimate security interests related to its international border and the security of its citizens in Donbass should the situation go south really soon. Kiev is thus at risk of opening up a can of worms as a result of its feverish march towards war, and while the US and Russia might not clash, Ukraine might still collapse in the end.


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