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Europe can show solidarity with Ukraine despite depending on Russian gas

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

Can Europe have solidarity with Ukraine while also being dependent on Russian gas?

Yes, it can. There is no question that the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine is of fundamental interest for European security. And you see that both Europeans and America are expressing concerns over what they see as possible moves on the Russian side. And clear signals are being sent in the direction of Moscow irrespective of anything that has to do with gas.

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Record US inflation levels worsen Americans' view of the economy

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at rising US inflation, the migrant crisis at the Poland-Belarus border, and the draft deal of the COP26 climate agreement.

US inflation hits its highest level in three decades. How will the Biden administration be impacted?

Well, it's not well. I mean, the economy is doing very well right now. We're getting all of these record levels in the markets. And companies have extraordinary profits, and growth is going gangbusters. So it's not stagflation. But I mean, the inflation levels on top of the fact that it's Christmas season coming up, and people are exhausted from dealing with COVID, is making people feel much worse about the economy otherwise would. I don't think we've ever seen this kind of a gap between economic reality and expectations and Biden's ability to do a lot on inflation is very limited at this point. I mean, he's pushing OPEC to produce more energy, which is a problem with the COP summit, but at the end of the day, I mean, this has a lot more to do with the massive explosion of post-COVID supply and demand growth, and all coming online at the same time. Plus labor shortages. It's not something that's easy for them to deal with. So I think it's going to be a challenge for them for months, but elections aren't for a year so the timing is not so horrible.

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The EU’s big Eastern problems

Let's take a trip along the eastern fringes of the EU today, where two big problems are brewing at a time when Brussels seems particularly unable to respond effectively.

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G-20 summit to focus on COVID-19 as Eastern Europe faces a new surge

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

What is happening with COVID in Europe?

Well, primarily the east of Europe is a worrying situation. Russia has substantially more than a thousand deaths every day. And Bulgaria, Romania, difficulty for the Baltic states at the moment are surging infection rates. Vaccination rates must improve. It's primarily a problem, of course, in Russia, where people don't have trust in the vaccine and trust in the records.

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The world’s worst COVID outbreak (for now)

Right now, only one region of the world is reporting an increase in new daily COVID cases. Here's a hint: it's one of the places where vaccines are, for the most part, easiest to get.

It's Europe. According to the World Health Organization, the region last week notched a 7 percent uptick in new daily infections, the third week in a row that infections rose there.

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The Graphic Truth: No trust, no jab in EU

After a very rocky start, the EU stepped up its COVID vaccination game in the spring, and by the end of summer had vaccinated more people per capita than the US. Close to 80 percent of EU residents are now fully vaccinated, yet inoculation levels have either plateaued or remain low where people don't trust the government, the vaccine — or both. This is leading to a third wave of the pandemic mainly in Eastern Europe, and as a result Europe is the only continent where COVID cases are now rising. We compare how much people in the EU trust their government with their willingness to get vaccinated.

What We’re Watching: The perfect city, cities vs nations, the post-pandemic planning problem

The construction of China's "perfect city" In April 2017, China's President Xi Jinping personally chose the site for the Xiongan New Area, about 60 miles south of Beijing. What's the Xiongan New Area? It's not only an attempt to relieve the crushing congestion of China's capital city, it's a bold bid to create a "city of the future." Of the 1,000 "smart city" projects around the world, half are in China, and Xiongan is the most ambitious in scale. Its architects say it will serve the needs of citizens with high-tech smart infrastructure and higher environmental standards than exist elsewhere in heavily polluted China. But it will also serve as a laboratory for cutting-edge surveillance of the city's residents. By following its progress and measuring its successes and failures, we'll learn much about how "smart cities" can create a higher quality of life for us all—but also how governments can use new tools to compromise personal privacy in the name of social order. The Xiongan project, with full political and financial backing of the Chinese government, is due for completion in 2035.

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