Indo-Pacific Geopolitics Newsletter 03/20/2023

RADAR SWEEP Geopolitics Newsletter March 13 – 20 2023 RUSSIAN JET COLLIDES WITH US DRONE OVER BLACK SEA – Mar.


Geopolitics Newsletter March 13 – 20 2023


A Russian fighter jet collided with a US MQ-9 Reaper drone over the Black Sea, resulting in the drone crashing into the water. The American drone was flying in international airspace on a routine mission according to officials, likely collecting intelligence on Russian military operations in Ukraine and the Black Sea when it was intercepted by two Russian fighter jets.  Following several close passes by the jets, one released jet fuel in its sensors and clipped the propellor, causing the drone to lose altitude and crash into the Black Sea.

The crash sparked an international incident between Russia and the US, increasing fears the two powers may come into more direct conflict following an encounter such as this. However, the US government released a statement saying interception and monitoring of its surveillance drones in international airspace by Russian aircraft is common but denounced Russia’s downing of the craft. In response to denials from Moscow of any wrongdoing, the Department of Defense released video footage [EXTERNAL] showing the Russian actions that caused the crash. US Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin also called Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu to discuss the matter and express American displeasure.

The US has since announced that it will continue drone flights over the Black Sea. While this will likely irk Moscow, it is highly unlikely to cause further problems between the two powers. Neither wants to risk direct conflict, and further provocation from Russia could prompt the US to supply Ukraine with more lethal and long-range weaponry, such as the MQ-9 Reaper drone, needed for their anticipated spring offensive. However, this drone downing may provide Russia with key information on US drone capabilities, particularly in the area of intelligence collection, as Russia aims to recover drone parts in the Black Sea. Read more here [EXTERNAL]

Russian jet drone

Russian fighters buzz the MQ-9 over the Black Sea – Photo: AP News

Indo-Pacific Geopolitics

German Chancellor Olaf Sholz began a state visit to Japan – Mar. 18

German Chancellor Olaf Sholz visited Japan to discuss energy security and economic cooperation. Both countries have been driven closer by the Russia-Ukraine war as they seek to increase trade to diversify away from China, Russia’s key ally. Read more

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol visits Japan – Mar. 16

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol visited Japan last week, the first visit by a South Korean leader to the island nation in 12 years. He met with his counterpart Japanese PM Fumio Kishida to discuss increased defense cooperation in response to China’s growing ambitions in the region. Read more

India hosted the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s first energy ministers meeting – Mar. 14

India hosted the first SCO energy ministers meeting in Delhi to discuss global energy supply and markets. There has been a global energy crisis following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February, and the SCO aims to increase regional cooperation to ease supply issues. Read more


Russia-Ukraine grain export deal was extended – Mar. 18

The UN-backed deal between Russia and Ukraine, allowing Ukraine grain exports through the Black Sea despite the Russian blockade, was set to expire last week. Both sides agreed to an extension, averting a potential global food crisis. However, it is unclear whether it is extended for 60 or 120 days. Read more

US secretary of state visited Ethiopia – Mar. 14

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Ethiopia for talks between the country’s leadership and the leadership of the Tigrayan rebels. Secretary Blinken aimed to advance the ongoing peace process that has, for now, halted the violence in the two-year Tigray War, as part of a larger goal of increasing US presence in Africa. Read more

Politics and Society

Kazakhstan held snap parliamentary elections – Mar. 19

Kazakhstan held snap parliamentary elections for its lower house of parliament after President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev dissolved the chamber in January. The incumbent Amanat party is expected to remain in power but lose its large majority of seats following efforts to liberalize the country and combat corruption. Read more

Former Pakistani PM Imran Khan appeared in court – Mar. 18

Former Pakistani PM and leader of the Pakistani Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party Imran Khan appeared in court on corruption charges from selling gifts received in office. Increased violence by PTI supporters against the charges is expected to cause deeper political and economic instability. Read more

The board of the Russian Central Bank met to discuss interest rates – Mar. 17

The board of the Russian Central Bank met last week to discuss potential changes to the interest rate. Russia is unlikely to change the interest rate from 7.5% for fear of setting off inflation, and its economy remains relatively stable after the Chinese yuan recently began accounting for a large portion of foreign currency reserves. Read more

The Week Ahead

Presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin to meet in Moscow – Mar. 20

Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow to discuss growing bilateral ties between the two nations. President Xi will likely push for an end to the hostilities in Ukraine, while Putin is expected to ask for Chinese weapons for his military to improve their effectiveness on the battlefield. Read more [EXTERNAL]

IMF board to consider Sri Lanka bailout package – Mar. 20

The IMF board of directors will meet to consider approving Sri Lanka for a State Level Agreement for finance. The country has been embroiled in economic turmoil and has enacted numerous IMF-mandated reforms to secure international financing to ease the crisis. Read more [EXTERNAL]

Donald Trump expects to be arrested – Mar. 21

Former US President Donald Trump expects to be arrested on unknown charges following a grand jury investigation in New York. He has called for protests from supporters should he be arrested. Read more [EXTERNAL]

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