Indo-Pacific Geopolitics Newsletter 07/17/2023

RADAR SWEEP Geopolitics Newsletter July 10 – 17, 2023 NATO Summit takes place in Lithuania – July 11-13 The 2023


Geopolitics Newsletter July 10 – 17, 2023

NATO Summit takes place in Lithuania – July 11-13

The 2023 Vilnius summit was the fourth one to be held since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began. The two-day conference included leaders from NATO states, Ukraine, and those from Indo-Pacific partners like Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand.

Despite Ukraine’s hopes, NATO leaders did not grant the country a clear path to future membership. Though Ukraine received security pledges from various countries, Kyiv expressed disappointment behind the scenes at the vagueness of such gestures. On the other hand, Zelenskyy openly expressed his frustrations with the statement that NATO leaders released during the summit, describing the situation as “unprecedented and absurd” in a tweet on Tuesday.

By Wednesday, officials attempted to tone down tensions. Representatives highlighted the package that NATO leaders agreed upon for Ukraine, which involves a multiyear program to help forces transition to Western standards, the formation of a new NATO-Ukraine Council, and the decision to drop the need for a Membership Action Plan (MAP) to join NATO. In another effort to emphasize Western governments’ support of Ukraine, G7 leaders released a statement on long-term security commitments for the country, which involves individual governments making bilateral deals to provide security assistance, training, and other types of support.

The efforts eased hostilities: Ukrainian officials seemed satisfied with the measures despite the lack of clarity about Ukraine’s membership path, and Zelenskyy expressed appreciation for the decision to drop the MAP requirement.

NATO leaders summit

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, U.S. President Joe Biden, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg attend a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine council during a NATO leaders’ summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, July 12. Reuters/Yves Herman

Indo-Pacific Geopolitics

Hong Kong implemented District Councils law — July 10

The law, which redefines the councils’ role and structure, is meant to help Hong Kong fully implement the principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong”, according to a statement released by the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council. Pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong see the move as stifling the remains of democratic opposition, along with national security laws which resulted in many arrests in 2020. Read more.

U.S.-ASEAN foreign ministers meeting began in Jakarta — July 13

During the annual meeting, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with ASEAN counterparts for several discussions focused on China’s increased activity in the South China Sea. Blinken hopes to boost U.S.-ASEAN cooperation to decrease China’s influence in the region. Read more.

29th EU Japan Summit began — July 13

EU representatives, European Council President Charles Michel, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to discuss the prospects of deepening cyber, economic, and military coordination. Read more.

Diplomacy, Security, and Defense

Australian PM met German chancellor — July 10

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese traveled to Berlin to meet with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, ahead of the NATO summit in Lithuania which both leaders also attended. Discussions focused on the war in Ukraine, defense cooperation, and energy issues. Read more.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol visited Poland — July 11

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol visited Poland to meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda. Discussions focused on a range of issues, including nuclear energy, infrastructure, and defense. The two leaders signed an accord for Poland to purchase additional South Korean weapons. Read more.

The Central Asian Security and Cooperation Forum began — July 13

The Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies hosted the Central Asian Security and Cooperation Forum, a two-day event to study challenges facing Asia’s global security. The dialogue, bringing together scholars from 25 different countries including China and Russia, involved discussions about new technologies, artificial intelligence, human capital, and the new continental interconnectedness of Eurasia and the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route. Read more.

Society and National Politics

Deadline for UK ministers to hand over redacted COVID-19 documents — July 10

A British court ordered ministers to turn in an unredacted cache of documents related to the COVID-19 inquiry. The ruling comes after former government officials lost a legal challenge that could have blocked some of the documents, such as Boris Johnson’s WhatsApp messages, from being released. Read more.

Egypt hosted summit in Cairo on Sudan crisis — July 13

The three-month battle for control of Sudan has only seen brief lulls from fighting because of small and unsustainable ceasefires brokered by Saudi Arabia and the United States. The summit brought together Sudan’s neighboring states to work towards establishing mechanisms for lasting peace between the UAE’s main foreign ally, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), and the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF). Read more.

Bastille Day anti-government protests took place in France — July 15

Anti-government protests continued during Bastille Day. Protests first began in response to the killing of Nahel Merzouk, a 17-year-old of Algerian descent who was killed by a police officer during a traffic stop outside of Paris. The event stirred up deep-rooted frustrations and allegations of systemic racism among France’s security forces. Read more.

Environment and Finance

European Parliament votes on pollution directive — July 12

The European Parliament voted on a directive concerning industrial pollution and air quality. The proposal is intended to strengthen existing rules regarding the right to be compensated if unlawful pollution causes health issues. Read more.

Eurogroup meets in Brussels to discuss 2024 fiscal policy — July 13

The Eurogroup, an association of finance ministers from EU member states, discussed their economic and budgetary situation, as well as fiscal policy guidance for the upcoming year. Read more.


Algerian President to visit China — July 17-21

The Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune will visit China on a five-day state visit, during which he is expected to also meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The two countries have grown closer since concluding a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2014. Read more [EXTERNAL]

Ukraine grain deal set to expire — July 17

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that he expected the deal to be extended once more, but Russian President Vladimir Putin has hinted at reducing the timeframe or scope of the deal. Allowing the deal to lapse could have grave consequences for global grain prices, particularly in developing countries. Read more [EXTERNAL]

EU-CELAC summit to convene — July 17-18

Leaders from the EU and countries from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) will meet in Brussels for the third EU-CELAC Summit. They will likely focus on enhancing economic cooperation and trade, as well as efforts to combat climate change. Read more [EXTERNAL]

Thai Parliament to attempt to elect a PM a second time — July 19

Thailand’s parliament will try for a second time to elect a prime minister. Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat was unsuccessful in his bid to become his country’s democratically elected leader, mainly due to the military-controlled senate, which also must approve his position. If unsuccessful again, a third round of voting may take place in the same week. Read more [EXTERNAL]

World Conference on Gender Equality to begin — July 21-23

The World Conference on Gender Equality will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark. The conference will bring together researchers, scientists and scholars from governmental and non-governmental organizations. Read more [EXTERNAL]

Cambodia general election to begin — July 23

Cambodians head to the poll to elect the country’s national assembly. Hun Sen from the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, who has been in power for 38 years, is expected to win another landslide victory, as the main opposition group has been barred from running. Read more [EXTERNAL]


Contributions by: Madeline McQuillan and David Song-Pehamberger