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US President Joe Biden announces actions to lower gas prices

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

What We're Watching: Biden moves on oil, US-Russia info wars, Costa Rica's vote

Major oil drama

President Joe Biden on Thursday ordered the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve to release 1 million oil barrels per day for the next six months in order to bring down soaring gasoline prices over the war in Ukraine. Technically, more American oil on the global market would help lower prices, but Biden's move was met by a collective shrug by the OPEC+ group of oil-exporting countries, which announced they can’t do much to stop rising prices and signed off on a modest increase in production. Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, announced that Moscow will indeed demand payment in rubles for Russian oil from now on. Those who don’t comply could face being cut off. France and Germany said no way, but there's a loophole: oil buyers can still deal with Gazprombank, a Russian bank that hasn't been sanctioned yet (and is conveniently run by the state-owned energy giant Gazprom). What does this all mean? Oil prices will keep rising, but they won’t skyrocket just yet.

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Images of Queen Elizabeth II are displayed on the lights in London's Piccadilly Circus to mark her Platinum Jubilee in London, 6 February 2022.

Maciek Musialek/NurPhoto

Hard Numbers: UK royal jubilee, North Korea ups weapons game, Moroccan tragedy, Costa Rican runoff

70: On Sunday, Queen Elizabeth II marked her 70th year as the British monarch, making a surprise announcement about wanting Prince Charles' wife Camilla to be named "Queen Consort" when the time comes. The UK is planning a series of Platinum Jubilee festivities this year, culminating over a long weekend in early June.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during their meeting on the sidelines of the 11th BRICS Summit, in Brasilia, Brazil November 13, 2019.

Sputnik/Ramil Sitdikov/Kremlin via REUTERS

Putin meets Xi, US takes out ISIS leader, Costa Rica votes

Putin-Xi Olympic meeting. “It's probably the most important geopolitical summit we've had in years,” says Ian Bremmer. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet on Friday in Beijing, where Putin will also attend the Winter Olympics inauguration. The two have a lot to discuss in their first in-person meeting in two years, including tensions over Ukraine, trade, and lunar exploration. Putin will likely assure Xi that Russian oil and gas will continue flowing to China. Xi, meanwhile, is expected to support Russia’s demand that NATO halt its eastward expansion. China’s leader sees the Ukraine crisis as a welcome distraction from COVID and Xinjiang. On the other hand, Xi doesn’t want a war that will hurt the economy, so he would prefer that Putin find a diplomatic resolution.

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