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A truck is towed from in front of Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

REUTERS/Patrick Doyle

What We’re Watching: Canada freezes protesters’ assets, Spanish right in turmoil

Canadian protesters see accounts frozen. Authorities have started blocking accounts of people linked to Canada’s trucker convoy and protests in accordance with the Emergencies Act invoked last week by PM Justin Trudeau. Royal Canadian Mounted Police froze more than 200 financial products, including bank and corporate accounts, linked to vaccine mandate protesters who have brought chaos to Ottawa and US border crossings in recent weeks. Opposition leaders and a Canadian civil rights group question the legality of the move, which Trudeau says is necessary for restoring order. American truckers and President Joe Biden, meanwhile, will be watching closely as a similar convoy gets underway in the US this week. Plans are reportedly in place to set up perimeter fencing around the US Capitol building ahead of Biden’s State of the Union address on March 1 for fear of similar protests plaguing the nation’s capital.

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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Volodymyr Selenskyj, President of Ukraine, give a press conference

Kay Nietfeld/DPA

What We're Watching: Scholz in Moscow, Trudeau invokes Emergencies Act, a crucial Russian vote

Is there a dog for Olaf Scholz in Moscow? The German chancellor will sit down with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Tuesday as fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine continue to mount. On Monday, Scholz met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, and they both downplayed the possibility of Ukraine joining NATO. Such expansion of the alliance is a red line for Putin, who has massed more than 100,000 troops along Ukraine’s border and demanded assurances from Washington that NATO will stop expanding eastward. Scholz has said Berlin will back strong sanctions against Moscow in the event of an invasion, but Germany is also heavily dependent on Russian gas, a vulnerability that Putin will doubtless look to exploit. We’re watching to see how Putin handles the new German leader. At his first head of state meeting with Scholz’s predecessor, Angela Merkel, Putin famously brought his black lab Konni despite knowing the German Chancellor was afraid of dogs. What awaits Scholz?

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A Ukrainian soldier tests a US-supplied M141 Bunker Defeat Munition weapon in Lviv.

REUTERS/Roman Baluk

What We’re Watching: Foreigners advised to leave Ukraine, Egypt-Sudan blockade, Canadian truckers vs auto makers

Ukraine alert level rises. Americans and Brits are being urged to leave Ukraine. On Friday, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan advised American citizens “to depart [Ukraine] immediately” within the “next 24 to 48 hours” and characterized the threat as “immediate.” A Russian military move against Ukraine, he said, could begin "before the Olympics have ended." Sullivan also noted that a significant amount of territory in Ukraine could be occupied by Russian troops. The British foreign office similarly told Brits living in the region to leave while commercial flights are still available.

Lithuania, meanwhile, says it will send Kyiv a cache of Stinger surface-to-air missiles in the next few days to bolster Ukrainian defenses against a possible Russian invasion. Battlefield bonafides aside, the symbolism is rich: these same weapons helped bury the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Meanwhile, diplomatic efforts to prevent war continue, if choppily. The UK defense minister will meet his Russian counterpart in Moscow on Friday, though the Kremlin doesn’t seem to take London very seriously. Russia’s top diplomat shot down threats of British sanctions as “empty slogans” and said his talks on Thursday with UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss were a meeting of “the mute with the deaf.” With Russia massing troops on Ukraine’s border and running massive war games in neighboring Belarus, stakes are high. The next big diplomatic moves? German Chancellor Olaf Scholz meets Monday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky before heading to Moscow to see Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.

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Macron & Putin Discuss Ukraine & De-Escalation | World In :60 | GZERO Media

Signs of Russian climbdown following Macron-Putin meeting

How did the Macron-Putin meeting go? What is going on with the Canadian truckers' protest? Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week on World In :60.

How did the Macron-Putin meeting go?

What was five hours long and it was like a football field away from each other. And of course, Macron is focused on his election coming up. So with all of that, you'd think it would be problematic, but actually engagement between Macron and Biden the day before was pretty strong. And it does look like the ball’s moved a little bit diplomatically. Most importantly, some of the news coming out of the Kremlin overnight that indeed the Russians are planning on taking those troops out of Belarus after the military exercises are over. Now I mean, of course, if they say they are planning on taking them back out of Belarus and putting them into Ukraine, that would be a technicality, but pretty bad. But no, actually that does seem like a bit of a climbdown. Still, Putin is not friendly. He is blustering all over the place and certainly, he wants to be respected. He doesn't feel like he is right now. But on balance we're in a slightly better place because of the Macron meeting than we were the day before.

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Truckers and their supporters protest coronavirus disease vaccine mandates, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

REUTERS/Patrick Doyle

What We’re Watching: Truckers take Ottawa, Iran nuclear deal 'final stage,' Israeli spying scandal, Turkey-Greece disco row

Ottawa “out of control.” Is Washington next? Hundreds of Canadian truckers angry about vaccine mandates have paralyzed the country’s capital for more than a week, blocking roads, blaring horns, and demanding an end to pandemic restrictions. City officials have now declared a state of emergency, with the mayor admitting the situation is “out of control.” While the provincial government in Alberta has pledged to lift all restrictions in response to local sympathy protests, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has refused to meet with the truckers. Meanwhile, his Conservative opponents are split on whether to support the truckers. Recent polls show that only about 30% of Canadians sympathize with the protests, but the cause has attracted global attention and lots of cash: a GoFundMe campaign raised some $8 million before being shut down. Meanwhile, US truckers are planning to descend on Washington, DC, with a similar convoy next month. Given the shortage of truckers and rising consumer prices, will protesting truckers be seen as freedom fighters or be blamed for shortages of vegetables?

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