Indo-Pacific Geopolitics Newsletter 08/6/2023

RADAR SWEEP Geopolitics Newsletter July 31 – August 6, 2023 Wagner PMC to resume military operations in Ukraine after moving


Geopolitics Newsletter July 31 – August 6, 2023

Wagner PMC to resume military operations in Ukraine after moving to Belarus

The Wagner Group, a private military company (PMC) controlled by former Putin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin, is resuming military operations in Ukraine. This comes after a brief military rebellion led by Prigozhin in late June, during which he claimed that Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu was depriving his troops of supplies. Tensions escalated after Prigozhin claimed that Russian military leadership was deliberately shelling his men, resulting in the mercenary chief seizing key Russian command centers in the southern region of Rostov-on-Don and marching thousands of his men toward Moscow. Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko was able to reduce tensions by brokering a deal that saw Wagner operations relocated to Belarus.

Worries have arisen that the Wagner Group moving closer to NATO’s eastern flank will destabilize the military alliance. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki voiced this concern in a meeting with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, who acknowledged the security threat that this poses for Poland, Lithuania, and other NATO allies. Nauseda also insisted that Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia should convene and agree before choosing to close the border with Belarus.

However, tensions have already risen between Poland and Belarus in the last week, when Poland moved over 1,000 troops to its border after claiming that two Belarusian helicopters breached its airspace, an accusation Belarus has denied. Morawiecki believes that the number of Wagner mercenaries may soon surpass 4,000. Not everyone shares the prime minister’s apprehension—some government critics believe that Morawiecki is overstating the threat to present Poland as tough on security issues ahead of the parliamentary elections later this year. Nevertheless, other nations such as the United States are also acknowledging that the Wagner Group is a threat. Read more.

Wagner PMC Bela

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, left, and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki at a news conference on August 3 in northeastern Poland, near both countries’ borders with Belarus. | Photo: Artur Reszko/ EPA

Indo-Pacific Geopolitics

China vice premier concluded Pakistan visit – Aug. 1

Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng met with Pakistan’s president and prime minister and attended celebrations for the 10-year anniversary of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The CPEC has tried to connect China’s Xinjiang Region with the Arabian Sea in Pakistan’s south to encourage trade between the two nations. Read more.

Japan’s foreign minister concluded trips to Southwest Asia, Africa – Aug. 4

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi concluded his overseas tour of Southwest Asia and Africa. Hayashi’s six-nation tour included visits to India, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives indicating Japan’s greater commitment to engaging with the Indo-Pacific region. Hayashi also visited Uganda and Ethiopia to discuss food security, infrastructure, and business partnerships. Read more.

Vietnamese National Assembly chairman began trips to Indonesia and Iran – Aug. 4

In Vuong Dinh Hue’s first visit as chairman of the National Assembly, he focused discussions on the adoption of ASEAN guidelines regarding the food and agriculture sectors and promoting Vietnam’s coordination with other ASEAN countries. Currently, Indonesia is one of Vietnam’s only strategic partners in Southeast Asia. Read more.

Diplomacy, Security, and Defense

US officials concluded talks with the Taliban – Jul. 31

US officials concluded talks with Taliban representatives in Doha, Qatar. This was the first official meeting between the US and Afghanistan since the Taliban returned to power in 2021. The talks do not signify a major shift in Washington’s calculations, with a White House official clarifying that the engagement does not mean that the US recognizes the legitimacy of the Taliban. Read more.

Iceland suspended its embassy operations in Russia – Aug. 1

Iceland became the first nation to suspend its embassy operations in Moscow, and it also asked Russia to scale back diplomatic activities in Reykjavik. The Icelandic ministry cited an “all-time low” degree of political, commercial, and cultural relations between the two countries as the reason for the closure. Read more.

Eighth Parliament of Ghana adjourned following bill votes – Aug. 3

The agenda consisted predominantly of several major bills intended to reform Ghana’s industries, financial institutions, and infrastructure, to fall more in line with Western standards. Read more.

Society and National Politics

Maldives 2023 election candidate registration period ended – Aug. 3

The registration period ended ahead of the Maldives general election, set for September. The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) incumbent President, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, is seeking re-election, facing competition from Mohamed Nazim of the Maldives Party (MNP) and a candidate from the Jumhooree Party. Read more.

Russian court announced verdict for Alexei Navalny – Aug. 4

Russian prosecutors announced verdicts on additional charges against Alexei Navalny, President Putin’s most prominent opponent. Navalny has exposed corruption among Russian elites and has organized anti-Kremlin protests. He has been held in a maximum-security penal colony since January 2021. Read more.

Environment and Finance

China restricted gallium and germanium metal exports – Jul. 31

China imposed restrictions on exports of both rare earth metals. Beijing’s move is seen as a direct reaction to US pressure on the Dutch lithography world market leader ASML to only sell older systems to China. China currently controls 80% of the world’s Gallium and 60% of Germanium, which are two of the most commonly used metals in the production of solar panels and microchips. Read more.

Argentina and IMF reached an agreement – Jul. 31

The International Monetary Fund and Argentina have reached a staff-level agreement to unlock $7.5 billion, with the IMF Executive Board meeting in mid-August for the final vote. The agreement comes as a saving grace for Argentina, which needs to avoid a default, with maturities of $2.6 billion and close to $800 million due respectively. The country has also secured a $1 billion credit from the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF). Read more.

OPEC Plus monitoring committee met – Aug. 3

The OPEC+ Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee met virtually to assess the group’s production cuts on the oil market. This comes as oil prices rose substantially in July–by about 16 percent–marking the biggest increase in crude prices in more than a year. Read more.


Sri Lanka’s foreign minister will conclude visit to Iran – Aug. 7

Foreign Affairs Minister Ali Sabry will conclude his three-day visit to Iran. He engaged in bilateral discussions with his Iranian counterpart, Dr. Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, as well as other senior government officials, to strengthen ties between the two countries. ​​Read more. [EXTERNAL]

Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) summit – Aug. 8-9

Brazil will host the summit. Representatives from member states including Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela as well as the US and France will be in attendance. Discussions will likely focus on potential investments, how to combat deforestation, Indigenous peoples’ protection, and encouragement of sustainable development in the face of climate change. Read more. [EXTERNAL]


Contributions by: Madeline McQuillan and Zachary Marthinussen