Indo-Pacific Geopolitics Newsletter 02/26/2023

RADAR SWEEP Geopolitics Newsletter February 20 – 26 2023 First Anniversary of the Russia-Ukraine War – February 24 This past


Geopolitics Newsletter February 20 – 26 2023

First Anniversary of the Russia-Ukraine War – February 24

This past week marked the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The occasion was marked with speeches from various parties directly and indirectly. Earlier in the week, US President Joe Biden visited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv before returning to a summit of Western-allied leadership in Poland, where he denounced Russia and reaffirmed Western unity and support for Ukraine until the end of the conflict. Russian President Vladimir Putin also gave a speech to the Russian Duma, blaming the US and NATO for the war, celebrating Russia’s strength, ignoring wartime setbacks and committing to continuing the war.

As the war enters its second year, it now seems likely to be a long-lasting, grinding war of attrition. As the Western allies have recently promised Ukraine new offensive weaponry in the coming months, such as tanks [EXTERNAL], to aid in the recapture of occupied territory, Russia hopes striking first will prevent a successful Ukrainian attack later this year. However, while Russia previously mobilized 300,000 troops and continued offensive actions, they have failed to gain significant territory in recent weeks. This is likely due to issues ranging from insufficient training and supplies for fresh conscripts to a lack of mobile heavy weaponry. To make up for such deficiencies, the Kremlin has bought weapons from Iran and North Korea and may be seeking military aid from China [EXTERNAL].

It is currently unclear if Beijing will provide Moscow with desired military aid. The US has clearly stated this is a red line, and has threatened serious consequences for China should they cross it. Furthermore, directly aiding the Russian war effort would jeopardize already rocky Sino-European relations, which are important to both the EU and Chinese economies. However, Beijing may fear that without help, their Russian ally may be further weakened by a successful Ukrainian offensive powered by new Western weaponry in the medium term. Short-term, however, the front lines will likely remain more or less the same, as Russia lacks the ability to capture large swathes of territory. Read more.

Russia-Ukraine War anniversary

US President Biden meets with Ukrainian President Zelensky ahead of the anniversary of the Russia-Ukraine War – Photo: Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP

Indo-Pacific Geopolitics

Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan concludes Greece visit – Feb. 23

During her visit to Greece, Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan built on the recent signing of a strategic cooperation agreement to boost bilateral shipping ties. Developing relations with Greece will be important to China’s efforts at tapping into the European market and gaining more political capital in the region. Read more

The inaugural 2023 meeting of the G20 Summit concludes – Feb. 25

At the 2023 meeting of the G20 Summit, the G7 formulated a global minimum corporate tax rate and a price cap on Russian oil. The G20 also began preparations to offer Ukraine financial support amid its ongoing war with Russia. Read more

Argentinian FM Santiago Andres Cafiero to open country’s first embassy in Bangladesh – Feb. 26

During his visit to the country, Cafiero reopened Argentina’s embassy and met with his Bangladeshi counterpart to discuss trade ties. Argentina is keen to expand its foreign trade as it seeks to shrink the country’s trade deficit in order to combat inflation and capital flight. Read more

National Security

EU introduces new sanctions against Iran – Feb. 24

The European Union announced new sanctions against seven Iranian entities on Friday. Part of the EU’s larger sanction package against Russia, these measures are aimed at Iranian organizations aiding in the supply of drones to Moscow. While the US and Britain are likely to enact similar sanctions, the moves are also expected to bring Iran and Russia closer geopolitically. Read more

Russia-China-South Africa military drills begin active phase – Feb. 25

Trilateral military drills between Russia, China, and South Africa began Saturday off the eastern coast of South Africa. Despite Western objections, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, neither partaking in sanctions nor joining in UN resolutions. With the ruling African National Congress’s deep historical ties to Moscow, it is likely that cooperation between the two nations will continue. Read more


Tunisian court convicts prominent labor leader – Feb. 23

A prominent Tunisian union leader, Anis Kaabi, has been convicted of using his political leverage to undermine President Kais Saied. Worsening economic conditions have led Tunisians to the streets while President Saied continues to pressure detractors including labor leaders with criminal convictions.

Anti-Ukraine war protest begins in Germany – Feb. 26

A protest against the export of NATO weapons to Ukraine by pacifist groups took place Sunday at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany. Russian influence may be involved, with the protest representing an attempt to fan social discord in Europe over the issue of military aid. Fears about the growing risk of escalation have led many in the West to question continued support for the Ukrainian war effort.

Finance, Economics and Technology

South African finance minister presents national budget – Feb. 22

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana outlined plans to address South Africa’s budget deficit during a budget presentation. Despite increased revenue from the mining sector, power outages and labor strikes, as well as global inflation, Godongwana told parliament? that South Africa will be pushed towards a more austere fiscal policy to mitigate government spending. Read more 

Angolan National Assembly votes on oil concession laws – Feb. 23

The proposed bill brings the exclusive economic zone of Cabina under Luanda’s direct control and has the potential to attract foreign investment and other fiscal opportunities as President Joao Lourenco will be able to change laws on the current tax regime in the area. Read more

The Week Ahead

CPTPP negotiations to continue in Vietnam – Feb. 27

Negotiation surrounding the UK’s joining of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership will continue in Vietnam this week. The CPTPP is a free trade agreement between numerous Pacific countries, which the UK eagerly seeks to join to increase market access in the region. Read more [EXTERNAL]

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to visit Kazakhstan – Feb. 28

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit Kazakhstan as part of a larger central tour of Central Asia. Washington is seeking to increase influence in the region, strategically located between other peer competitors Russia and China. Read more [EXTERNAL]

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to visit Beijing – Feb. 28

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko will visit his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing. The leaders are expected to discuss increasing bilateral ties and possible peace options to end the war in Ukraine. President Lukashenko may see this trip as an opportunity to decrease Moscow’s influence over Minsk by getting closer to Beijing. Read more [EXTERNAL]

Contributions by: Wescott Yeaw, Simran Sharma, Kyle Rose, William Van Burkleo and Andrew Alipui