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Big Democracies That Depend On Russia | GZERO World

Big democracies that depend on Russia

Western leaders love to say that Russia's war in Ukraine is a fight for democracy itself.

But not all of the world's democracies agree.

India, the world's largest democracy, remains neutral and keeps buying Russian arms and oil.

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Lula attends a news conference after meeting with the Rede Sustentabilidade party in Brasilia.

REUTERS/Andressa Anholete

Can Bolsonaro win re-election after all?

With just six months left before Brazil’s presidential election, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva officially launched his campaign Saturday for the country’s top job. A highly celebrated politician, Lula seeks to lead Latin America’s largest democracy at a tumultuous time amid fears over authoritarianism and a rising cost of living.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro attend a news conference following talks in Moscow.

Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS

For Latin America, political risks overshadow economic gain from Ukraine crisis

Countries that rely heavily on imported food and energy face the greatest risk of social and economic crises from the disruption caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Yet even those that are themselves big producers of these essential commodities are suffering fallout from the war. Rising prices for basic goods in many parts of Latin America, for example, are testing governments already struggling to manage elevated public frustration caused by pandemic hardships. We asked Eurasia Group expert Yael Sternberg to explain how this is playing out.

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A tractor applies nitrogen-based fertilizer to a wheat field in Germany.

REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

Fertil(izer) ground for a global crisis

We've written about how the war between sunflower superpowers and major grain exporters Russia and Ukraine is already fueling a global food price crisis.

But there's a related catastrophe in the works for not only farmers but everyone around the world: a war-linked shortage of fertilizer from Russia and its top ally Belarus.

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A man reacts during a rally to support the National Defense Force and to condemn the expansion of the Tigray People Liberation Front fighters into Amhara and Afar regional territories at the Meskel Square in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia August 8, 2021.

REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

What We're Watching: Everyone vs Ethiopian PM, Brazil ditches Huawei, (more) trouble in Sudan, Argentina's midterms, Iraqi powder keg

Opposition forces unite in Ethiopia's civil war. The Tigray People's Liberation Front, which has been locked in a brutal year-long civil war against Ethiopian government forces, has now teamed up with another powerful militant outfit that wants to oust Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. The TPLF, now in alliance with the Oromo Liberation Army — which claims to represent Ethiopia's largest ethnic group — have swept towards the capital Addis Ababa in recent days, prompting the embattled Abiy to call on civilians to take up arms in defense of the city. The Tigray-Oromo alliance, called the United Front of Ethiopian Federalist Forces, has called for Abiy's immediate ouster, either by negotiation or by force, and for the prosecution of government officials for war crimes. The UN says all sides in the conflict have committed abuses. The US, which has threatened to suspend Ethiopia's trade preferences over the government's alleged war crimes, is currently trying to broker a cease-fire. When Abiy came to power after popular protests in 2018, he was hailed for liberalizing what was formerly an extremely repressive government (controlled, as it happens, by the TPLF). Now it's looking like he may have unleashed the very forces that could tear the country apart and drive him from office — or worse.

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What We're Watching: Brazil's 5G pursuit

Is China shut out of Brazil's 5G comp? Earlier this year, Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro set an ambitious deadline to roll out 5G broadband – which provides much faster internet connections – by July 2022. In recent days, telecom firms have been vying to get a piece of the pie as the tender process heats up. Indeed, it's a lucrative prospect for telecom companies in a country where more than three-quarters of the population (or roughly 190 million people) are connected to the World Wide Web. But the process has not been smooth sailing because, well: China. Bolsonaro has been under a lot of pressure from China skeptics within his own government, and Washington, to exclude tech giant Huawei from the bidding wars. Bolsonaro ultimately caved, as Beijing has evidently been locked out of the process for now. Claro, a Mexican-Brazilian venture, and Spain's Telefonica seem to have walked away big winners from the 5G auction after putting up the most cash for spectrum rights. But this is all very awkward because Huawei has been a major tech provider in Brazil for decades, and local cell phone operators also rely on Huawei's tech. What's more, excluding Huawei, by far the most cost-effective supplier of 5G equipment in the country, will increase the project's overall cost, which is now expected to exceed $7 billion. Many remain skeptical that this massive task can be pulled off in just nine months. But whenever it does happen, it will be great news for Brazilians, many of whom live in remote areas with shoddy internet access.

NBA Player Sparks Backlash From China | Bolsonaro’s COVID Negligence | World In :60 | GZERO Media

NBA player sparks backlash from China; Bolsonaro's COVID negligence

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at the NBA's latest rift with China, Brazil's Senate investigation, and COVID booster shots.

China wipes Boston Celtics from NBA broadcast after the "Free Tibet" speech from Enes Kanter. Is NBA boxing itself into a corner?

Nice mixed sports metaphor there. NBA has some challenges because they are of course the most progressive on political and social issues in the United States among sports leagues, but not when it comes to China, their most important international market. And you've seen that with LeBron James telling everyone about we need to learn better from the Communist Party on issues like Hong Kong and how Daryl Morey got hammered for taking his stance in favor of Hong Kong democracy. Well, Enes Kanter's doing the same thing and he's a second-string center. Didn't even play yesterday and still the Chinese said that they were not going to air any Boston Celtics games. Why? Because he criticized the Chinese government and had some "Free Tibet" sneakers. This is a real problem for a lot of corporations out there, but particularly publicly, the NBA. Watch for a bunch of American politicians to make it harder for the NBA going forward, saying how dare you kowtow to the Chinese when you're all about "Black Lives Matter" inside the United States. No fun.

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Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro adjusts his protective face mask during a news conference to announce measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Brasilia, Brazil March 18, 2020.

REUTERS/Adriano Machado

What We’re Watching: Bolsonaro’s COVID crimes, Mali calls al-Qaeda, Facebook gets a facelift

Bolsonaro accused of crimes against humanity: A long-running Senate investigation in Brazil has found that by downplaying the severity of COVID, dithering on vaccines, and promoting quack cures, President Jair Bolsonaro directly caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. An earlier version of the report went so far as to recommend charges of homicide and genocide as well, but that was pulled back in the final copy to a mere charge of "crimes against humanity", according to the New York Times. The 1,200-page report alleges Bolsonaro's policies led directly to the deaths of at least half of the 600,000 Brazilians who have succumbed to the virus. It's a bombshell charge, but it's unlikely to land Bolsonaro in the dock — for that to happen he'd have to be formally accused by the justice minister, an ally whom he appointed, and the lower house of parliament, which his supporters control. Still, as the deeply unpopular Bolsonaro limps towards next year's presidential election, a rap of this kind isn't going to help.

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