Keystone XL halt is no threat to US-Canada ties under Biden; Brazil's vaccine shortage
Ian Bremmer discusses the World In (more than) 60 Seconds:
Biden's first scheduled call with a world leader will be with Canada's Justin Trudeau. What's going on with the Keystone Pipeline?
Well, Biden said that that's it. Executive order, one of the first is that he will stop any construction or development of the Keystone Pipeline. This is of course an oil pipeline that would allow further oil sands oil to come to the United States. The infrastructure is significantly overstretched, it's led to backlogs, inefficiency, accidents, all the rest, but it also facilitates more energy development and keeps prices comparatively down if you get it done. So, there are lots of reasons why the energy sector in Canada wants it. Having said all of that, Trudeau, even though he's been a supporter of Keystone XL, let's keep in mind that he did not win support in Alberta, which is where the big energy patch in Canada is located. This is a real problem for the government of Alberta, Canada is a very decentralized federal government, even more so than the United States. The premier of Alberta is immensely unhappy with Biden right now, they've taken a $1.5 billion equity stake in the project. I expect there will actually be litigation against the United States by the government of Alberta. But Trudeau is quite happy with Biden, his relationship was Trump was always walking on eggshells. The USMCA in negotiations ultimately successful but were very challenging for the Canadians, so too with the way Trump engaged in relations on China. All of this, the fact that Trump left the nuclear agreement with Iran, the Paris Climate Accords, WHO, all of that is stuff that Trudeau strongly opposed. He's going to be much more comfortable with this relationship. He's delighted that the first call from Biden is to him. And it certainly creates a level of normalcy in the US-Canada relationship that is very much appreciated by our neighbors to the North.
Biden has promised 100 million COVID vaccine doses in 100 days. Meanwhile, Brazil is experiencing a shortage. What is happening?
Well, the president of Brazil has not taken coronavirus seriously at all. At least in the United States even though Trump was downplaying coronavirus, Operation Warp Speed was really significant, a major effort to build up and invest and acquire vaccines, the administration did a very significant job around that. In Brazil, the entire Bolsonaro administration basically abdicated on coronavirus. So, they've got well over 200 million people, they've got 6 million vaccines they've acquired so far. That's really been the result primarily of the governor of Sao Paulo not the Bolsonaro administration. This is an enormous problem for Brazil, it's an enormous embarrassment for Bolsonaro. You see calls impeachment that are rising yet again, his approval ratings are now in the low 30s. If they start slipping towards the 20s, he could start peeling off a lot of congressional support and impeachment could become a real issue. Certainly, elections coming up in Brazil, presidential elections in a year are going to be very, very challenging. And I watch that space pretty closely, brazil is going to suffer on the back of this more than a lot of other countries.
A video of Navalny posted after his arrest is going viral. He calls for supporters to "take to the streets" on January 23rd. What is going on?
Well, Alexei Navalny is the most well-known and popular of opposition figures in Russia. The biggest mass demonstrations against Kremlin we've seen in years was the last time Navalny called for mass protests, was mostly Moscow, but you got cities across the country, urban intellectuals, primarily younger people, elites. But Navalny is still quite popular, he still has a significant social media following. Nothing close to a majority, this is not a threat to President Putin, it's nothing close to what you've seen experienced in Belarus for example in the past six months. But nonetheless, it is a significant aggravant for Putin, and that's why Navalny has been detained. I suspect that with the show trials that will go on, he'll probably be given a more significant sentence. I think given he's upped the ante by calling for these demonstrations and by releasing a bunch of videos that are embarrassing to Putin personally, and all of that, the Kremlin has the power. Even though Navalny has a strong international support base, the willingness of Americans or Europeans to significantly and meaningfully increase sanctions against Moscow in a way that would matter to Putin, just isn't there. There just really isn't a stick to hit the Russians that would matter enough. Navalny doesn't matter enough, human rights in Russia don't matter enough to move the needle, especially given the level of economic, trade, and energy dependence that many of the Europeans have with Russia, the East Europeans have with Russia. The ideological orientation of Hungary in the EU, for example, towards Russia, they've just announced that they're getting the Sputnik V vaccine for their people, even though only 11% of Hungarians say that they would take a Russian or Chinese vaccine, over 50% would take Pfizer or Moderna, but they're not that one, and the fact that the United States is focused mostly domestically. So, all of that makes it a lot harder to move the needle on Putin when it comes to Navalny. And very sad for Navalny as a consequence, an incredibly courageous man who has faced, is facing, and will face an extraordinary amount of personal peril.