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Ukraine Corruption Scandals Won't Affect War Efforts | World In :60 | GZERO Media

Ukraine anti-corruption moves won't hurt war effort

Will resignations and a political shake-up in Ukraine negatively affect its war efforts?

No, not at all. This is anti-corruption efforts, getting rid of a bunch of people that are seen as problematic in terms of skimming money within the government. Russia's been more corrupt than Ukraine historically, but actually, it's quite close. There's a lot of work to be done, and as people start thinking about Ukraine attracting major funds from the Europeans, the Americans, others, multilaterals to rebuild the country, they really need to make sure that the money is going where it needs to, and that means running the economy well. So this is the effort that's being tried here, but it doesn't really matter with the war effort at all.

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Sri Lankan Commando Regiment members in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

What We’re Watching: Sri Lanka’s shrinking military, mass shootings in America, McCarthy’s Taiwan visit, a common currency pipedream

Sri Lanka’s military downsize

In its latest bid to cut the economic fat, Sri Lanka's government announced that it will downsize its army, aiming to reduce the number of military personnel from 200,783 to 135,000 by next year and to 100,000 by 2030. Sri Lankan defense officials say the army is restructuring in order to boost its tech capabilities, primarily in cyberspace. But analysts highlight that this is part of President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s pledge to slash the bloated public sector, a precondition to unlocking a $2.9 billion bailout package from the International Monetary Fund. Crucially, military salaries make up around 37% of public wage costs. Cash-strapped Sri Lanka defaulted on its external debt for the first time in May 2022, after years of economic mismanagement led to acute fuel and food shortages – and forced Colombo to borrow heavily from India and China. With the bulk of Sri Lanka’s defense spending going to salaries rather than investment in equipment, this plan presents an opportunity for the country to correct its balance sheet. But some critics worry that Colombo, facing an internal terror threat, could be moving too hard too fast.

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Argentina's Leo Messi lifts the World Cup trophy alongside teammates in Qatar.

REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

What We’re Watching: Argentine soccer ecstasy, Chinese COVID cover-up, Brits on strike

World Cup victory brings Argentina much-needed good vibes

In arguably the best final in the tournament's history, Argentina won its third soccer World Cup in Qatar on Sunday, beating France on penalties after drawing 3-3. The nail-biter saw Les Bleus come back twice from behind against LaAlbiceleste, with GOAT Leo Messi finally lifting the trophy as captain. In a country where soccer is religion, Argentine fans erupted in joy — eager to have something to celebrate and take their minds off the deep economic crisis that has pushed their economy to the brink of collapse, with an annual inflation rate of 100% and poverty rate above 40%. For once, except for a brief controversy involving former President Mauricio Macri, Argentine politicians stopped bickering and united behind the national team. Still, and unlike French President Emmanuel Macron, who went nuts cheering in the stands, Argentina's President Alberto Fernández stayed away so as not to jinx it for Messi & Co. and watched from home instead. But don’t count on a World Cup bump that'll give Fernández a shot at reelection in 2023: His approval rating is now below 20%, and once the party is over, Argentines will return to complaining about the economy.

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Voters heading to the polls.


The big votes of 2023

In 2022, voters in South Korea, France, Kenya, Brazil, the United States and other countries produced some dramatic and consequential election results.

Here are four major elections to watch in 2023.

Nigeria (Feb 25)

Nearly 100 million voters in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, will head to the polls in February to choose a new president, and because this country is Africa’s political heavyweight and largest economy, outsiders will be watching closely. The incumbent, Muhammadu Buhari, is term limited. In his place, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos, the country’s most populous state, has won the internal fight to lead the incumbent All Progressives Congress Party.

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Argentina's Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner holds a party rally


What We’re Watching: Argentina VP’s guilty verdict, NY goes after Trump, a Sudanese agreement, sex ban in Indonesia

Argentine VP guilty of corruption

In a verdict sure to deepen divides in an already highly polarized country, an Argentine court on Tuesday found Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner guilty of a billion-dollar graft scheme from during her 2007-2015 presidency. She has been sentenced to six years and banned from holding public office. It’s the first time a sitting Argentine Veep has been convicted of a crime. Kirchner – a formidable populist who is as despised by the right as she is loved by the left – has denounced the verdict as part of a political witch hunt by the media and the courts. The case has already prompted numerous street clashes between Kirchner’s supporters and opponents — at one of them, a man tried to kill her (the gun jammed). The big intrigue now? Kirchner has legal immunity since she is currently vice president, and she’s already pledged to appeal the verdict all the way to the Supreme Court. But a final decision from there is unlikely to come down before next year’s general elections, when she may just run either for Senate or, gasp, for president. Whatever the outcome, Kirchner’s fate will throw more gas on the raging fire of Argentine politics over the next year.

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Argentina fan celebrates after the World Cup match against Mexico.

REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

World Cup heats up Argentina’s presidential race

When Argentina faces Poland in their do-or-die last group stage match on Wednesday, one thing will be missing at the stadium in Qatar: Argentine politicians.

In the soccer-crazy South American nation, políticos rarely watch the Albiceleste, in person to avoid getting blamed for a loss. Former President Mauricio Macri didn’t get the memo, as he attended — in his new FIFA gig — Argentina’s shocking loss to Saudi Arabia last week. Almost on cue, fans responded by launching an online petition for Macri and his bad juju to stay as far away as possible from GOAT Leo Messi and his crew.

But the brouhaha over Macri is part of a bigger story: The former president has hinted he might want to get his old job back in next year’s election.

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Salem Al-Dawsari celebrates scoring Saudi Arabia's second goal against Argentina.

REUTERS/Marko Djurica

Saudi shocker is a victory for all Arabs — and a PR coup for MBS

Saudi Arabia's stunning victory over Argentina on Tuesday was one of the greatest upsets in World Cup history. The lowly Saudis defeated the mighty Argentines, overcoming odds so great that if you'd bet $100 on the Saudis, you'd have walked out with more than $2,200 in beer money. (Oops, you can't actually buy any beer at Qatar 2022.)

More importantly, it made the kingdom proud — and sent long-awaited ripples of soccer joy throughout the Arab world. Why?

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Annie Gugliotta

World Cup politics go way beyond Qatar

The 2022 World Cup now underway in Qatar is the most political edition of the tournament in decades. But it's also playing out politically far away from the host country in parts of the globe where fans often pay more attention to the sport than to their elected officials.

For instance, in Brazil, supporters of left-wing President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva want to reclaim the yellow jersey from the fans of outgoing far-right President Jair Bolsonaro. Brazilian progressives say Bolsonaro’s supporters co-opted the color of their five-time winning national side during the recent presidential election campaign.

Let’s find more examples from a few Eurasia Group soccer nuts, ahem, experts.

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