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Indo-Pacific Geopolitics Newsletter 09/04/2022

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Indo-Pacific Geopolitics Newsletter 09/04/2022

Mikhail Gorbachev funeral

RADAR SWEEP

Geopolitics Newsletter August 28- September 4 2022

Mikhail Gorbachev’s Funeral Held in Moscow Sept. 3

The funeral for Mikhail Gorbachev, the last premier of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was held on Saturday. Gorbachev died on August 31 at the age of 91. Breaking with precedent, Russia denied Gorbachev a state funeral, instead opting for a public funeral with military honors held in the Hall of Columns, the site of past Soviet premiers’ funerals. In another snub for the former leader, current Russian President Vladimir Putin did not attend the funeral, citing a busy work schedule.

Premier Gorbachev was a divisive figure in Russia at the time of his death. As the last leader of the USSR, his liberalizing policies of “glasnost” and “perestroika” were blamed by many for its ultimate collapse. Others saw Gorbachev as a visionary reformist and peacekeeper who unsuccessfully tried to reform a broken system and successfully oversaw the peaceful disintegration of the USSR and the end of the Cold War. Now, however, his tenure has taken on new importance with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. President Putin is particularly critical of Gorbachev, calling the collapse of the USSR the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th Century. He believes that Ukraine should never have become an independent country, and launched the war in an effort to restore some of the Soviet Union’s former empire to Moscow’s control.

While Gorbachev’s funeral was a public event, it lacked much of the large public spectacle of national mourning usually seen with the death of prominent Russian leaders. This is further evidence that Putin’s Russia is trying to forget Gorbachev’s reformist legacy and undo much of his work.

Modern Russia is increasingly authoritarian, with President Putin suppressing dissent and blaming the West for Russia’s domestic problems. Short- to medium-term, Russia will almost certainly continue their grinding war in Ukraine. The war has brought a return of Soviet-era political and economic isolation from the West, which likely see the return of Russian supply and advanced production difficulties long-term should Western sanctions continue.

Mikhail Gorbachev funeral
A funeral for Mikhail Gorbachev is held in Moscow – Photo: Evgenia Novozhenina/ NYT

Indo-Pacific Geopolitics

Meeting on China-Laos-Thailand railway held – Aug. 30

Thai Transport Minister Saksayam Chidcob traveled to Laos for consultations on the construction of the China-Laos-Thailand (CLT) railway. The proposed railway would be an extension of an existing route between Laos and China, taking advantage of multiple free trade zones. Read more

Sri Lanka aid package discussions with IMF concluded – Aug. 31

Negotiations between Sri Lanka’s new administration, led by President Ranil Wickremesinghe, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have concluded. The $3 billion loan package will call for the deconstruction or partial privatization of state-owned enterprises as well as ending blanket subsidies. Ending the patronage system of former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa may result in political backlash. President Wickremesinghe will likely face the challenge of economic necessity and political realities. Read more

South Korea announced semiconductor alliance decision – Aug. 31

South Korea declared it will join “Chip 4”—the US-led global semiconductor alliance. South Korea hesitated to join for fear of angering China. President Yoon Suk-yeol plans on transforming the country into a semiconductor superpower and will begin investing in small-business innovations, mergers and acquisitions of chip design firms. Read more

Modi commissioned the first Indian-built aircraft carrier Sep. 2

The first Indian-built aircraft carrier was commissioned this week. While it may be another year for the carrier to be released, the vessel undeniably strengthens India’s position in the Indo-Pacific and as a member of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue. Read more

US Climate Envoy John Kerry visited Vietnam – Sep. 2

US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry began a five-day tour of Vietnam and Indonesia to meet with each country’s officials and business leaders. Kerry’s visit will strengthen the relationship between the US, Vietnam and Indonesia as well as encouraging green investment into the region. Read more

National Security

Russia hosted Vostok 2022 military exercises Aug. 30

China took part in Russia’s multinational military exercises that runs through September 5. For the first time in joint Sino-Russian military operations, all three branches of the People’s Liberation Army are participating. Read more

Russia shut down Nord Stream 1 pipeline Aug. 31

Russia shut down the Nord Stream 1 pipeline for three days of unscheduled maintenance, and the pipeline remains closed. This closure is likely an attempt to squeeze European nations, heavily reliant on Russian energy, to erode support for Ukraine before winter. Read more

Finance, Economics and Technology

Arab League economic ministers meeting concluded – Sep. 1

The Arab League’s Economic and Social Council met on September 1 in Cairo to discuss the economic development issues of member states. The war in Ukraine, and subsequent grain shortage, were key topics, as they have hurt Arab economies. Read more

See Also

India resumed sunflower oil imports from Ukraine – Sep. 1

India resumed needed imports of sunflower oil from Ukraine last week after an agreement was reached allowing the resumption of Ukrainian Black Sea agricultural exports. Indian sunflower oil prices are expected to drop after skyrocketing due to the Russian blockade. Read more

Society

UN launched a flood relief campaign for Pakistan – Aug. 30

The UN launched a “flash appeal” campaign to raise funds for Pakistan after it was devastated by massive flooding and landslides. Given the suddenness of the disaster, fatality rates are expected to rise as humanitarian aid struggles to meet needs. Read more

Operation Dudula’s anti-immigration marches began in South Africa – Sep. 2

South African xenophobic group Operation Dudula began anti-immigration marches targeting immigrants from other African nations, such as Nigeria. The group is expected to gain support from opposition parties that take advantage of xenophobic sentiments for political gains and expand its influence in domestic politics. Read more

The Week Ahead

The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong delegation will visit Indonesia – Sep. 4

The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the city’s largest democratic party, will meet with Indonesian leadership to discuss concerns of human trafficking. Read more [EXTERNAL]

Winner of UK Conservative Party leadership race to be declared – Sep. 5

The winner of the UK Conservative Party leadership race will be declared this week. The former Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, is widely expected to win the election and succeed Boris Johnson as the next Prime Minister. Read more [EXTERNAL]

Russian President Putin to attend Eastern Economic Forum – Sep. 5

Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok. The forum is geared to strengthening Russia’s global investment and economic ties, an issue of renewed importance following Russia’s isolation from the West due to their invasion of Ukraine. Read more [EXTERNAL]

EU-Georgia Association Council meets in Brussels – Sep. 6

The EU-Georgia Association Council will meet in Brussels to discuss Georgia’s EU membership application, various reforms necessary to join the EU, and regional security issues. Read more [EXTERNAL]

 

Contributions by: Wescott Yeaw, Alex Avaneszadeh, Simran Sharma, Marcos Wilson, Connor Elliott, Htet Thadar Aung, Kyle Rose, Ali Slimi, Jeremy Ma and Andrew Alipui

 

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