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North Korean soldiers on a vehicle carrying rockets during a military parade in Pyongyang.

REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

What We’re Watching: Russia buys North Korean arms, EU tilts at windfalls, Indonesians take to the streets

Russia scrambles for weapons

Newly declassified US intelligence claims that Russia is buying millions of artillery shells and rockets from North Korea. If true, this is yet more evidence that a Russian military leadership expecting a quick victory in Ukraine following its Feb. 24 invasion has badly miscalculated both Russia’s capabilities and the intensity and effectiveness of Ukrainian military resistance. The weaponry North Korea is providing is not the high-tech, precision-guided munitions that US and European export controls are designed to prevent Russia from producing. These are basic weapons that Russia appears unable to produce in needed quantities. US intelligence also suggests that a significant number of drones Russia has been forced to purchase from Iran have proven defective. These revelations underscore two important problems for Russia. First, Western sanctions are badly disrupting Russian supply lines, making it impossible for the Russian arms industry to produce the weapons that Russia would need to win the war in Ukraine. Second, while China remains happy to buy Russian oil, it has so far proven unwilling to defy US warnings not to violate weapons and parts sanctions against Moscow.

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Paige Fusco

With electric bills soaring, should the EU cap natural gas prices?

Energy prices in the EU have skyrocketed since Russia invaded Ukraine. This week, the cost of electricity across the bloc reached 10 times the decade-long average — mainly due to surging gas prices as a result of Moscow cutting natural gas supplies as payback for sanctions.

As consumers feel the pinch, EU leaders are now under intense pressure to do something to tame runaway energy costs. One way is putting a cap on gas prices for electricity.

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Trump speaks during a campaign rally when he was US president in Jacksonville, Florida.

REUTERS/Tom Brenner

What We’re Watching: GOP mulls Trump 2.0, UK leadership race heats up, energy crisis could get worse

Republican voters divided on Trump 2024

US Democrats seem to have soured on President Joe Biden, but are Republicans ready to turn their backs on former President Donald Trump? The short answer is: it’s complicated. A fresh New York Times poll shows about half of GOP voters don't want Trump to run a third time in 2024, but the other half do. The main takeaway is that Trump's once-formidable hold over the Republican Party has waned somewhat since (tumultuously) leaving office in January 2021, yet he still wields considerable influence with the base. Since hardcore Trump fans are more likely to turn out for primaries, he has been busy endorsing candidates for November’s midterm elections, so far with mixed results. The big test for Trump's stature within the GOP will be whether his picks can win in the general — especially the battle for control of the Senate, which Republicans are eager to flip (and only need one seat to do so). Meanwhile, there's growing chatter that Trump may announce his reelection bid before the midterms, which he hopes will freeze a potentially crowded GOP field in which Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is now gaining on him.

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Global Inflation Shock | Quick Take | GZERO Media

Global inflation shock

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Going to talk about inflation. Why inflation? Well, because I posted something on Twitter that sort of exploded over the course of the last couple of days, which means people are clearly interested. And I'll tell you what the tweet was, I'll show you a little post here. It said, "US: left government, high inflation. UK: right government, high inflation. Germany: centrist government, high inflation. Italy: everyone in government, high inflation. Wild guess, it's not the government." Now of course, it is government in part, but it's not the government, which is the point. In other words, no matter who you decide to elect, if it was Trump, or Biden, or Merkel, or Scholz, or Johnson, or Starmer, or Bolsonaro, or Lula, you are getting high inflation, you're getting high inflation globally. I'll talk about why that is.

Now, a lot of people went nuts and said, "How can you call the US government left?" And certainly, from a global perspective, the entire US political spectrum is kind of on the right. And from the European perspective, you wouldn't call Biden a leftist, you'd call him a centrist. You might even call him center-right? Of course, Fox News on Primetime calls Biden and the Democrats a bunch of socialists. And if I said that the US was a left government, I mean a right government, then everybody in the US explodes, so it just shows how divided and screwed up everybody generally is anyway. But leaving that all aside, the point is the point. And it's an important point, which is that we are so divided in the United States and globally that when something that really upsets us happens that we haven't seen in over a generation, which is persistent levels of very high inflation, we get really angry, and we want to blame the government and blame the government hard.

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Chair Jerome Powell faces reporters after the Fed's meeting in Washington, DC.

REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz

What We’re Watching: Fed ups rates, zero-COVID shenanigans in China, Pakistan’s energy crunch, Russian Davos

Central banks unite vs. inflation

On Wednesday, the US Federal Reserve raised interest rates by 75 basis points — the biggest hike since 1994 — as it scrambled to contain runaway inflation. What's more, new projections show that the Fed plans to hike rates by an additional 1.75 percentage points until the end of the year — the most aggressive pace since Paul Volcker engineered a recession with double-digit interest rates to tame sky-high inflation in the early 1980s. Just hours before the Fed concluded its meeting, the European Central Bank unveiled a new bond-buying tool to protect the Eurozone's weakest economies from higher borrowing costs, as the ECB gets ready to fight inflation by jacking up interest rates next month for the first time in 11 years. In recent days, rising premiums on Italian and Spanish bonds compared to German ones had rung alarm bells throughout the Eurozone, with painful memories of its debt crisis in the early 2010s. The twin announcements sent shockwaves through global financial markets, with investors already panicking that a recession might be unavoidable to ease out-of-control prices due to a combination of the war in Ukraine, pandemic-related supply chain snarls, and massive stimulus spending on both sides of the Atlantic.

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Ian Explains: The Iran Nuclear Deal | GZERO World

The Iran nuclear deal

The Iran nuclear deal was enacted in 2015 to stop Tehran from getting the bomb in exchange for economic sanctions relief. At the time it was a big win — especially for the Obama administration.

But not everyone was a fan. Critics say the deal only slowed down the nuclear program, didn’t address Iran's support for Hezbollah, and hardly reset US-Iran ties.

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EU/NATO Summits Intensify Support for Ukraine | Europe In :60 | GZERO Media

EU/NATO summits intensify support for Ukraine

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Doha on European support for Ukraine.

Is European support for Ukraine holding up?

I mean, the answer is, very distinctly, is yes. There was a remarkable, you can call it the summit of summits, in Brussels on Thursday, where we had, first the NATO summit with President Biden as well, we had the G7 summit and we had the EU summit with President Biden as well. There's never been, to my knowledge, any summit of summits of that particular sort. And that took place on the day, one month after President Putin started his aggression against Ukraine. Sanctions are being intensified. Weapons deliveries to Ukraine are intensified. The thing that worries the Europeans somewhat is, of course, energy dependence and energy prices. And you've seen a lot of people coming to--quite high up--at the moment Doha in Qatar, in order to secure supplies of natural gas and other energies in order to get Europe off its dependence, or the dependence of some of the country's, on natural gas from Russia.

That will happen as well. So support, certainly holding up.

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How Can Small Businesses Thrive After COVID? | GZERO Media

How can small businesses thrive after COVID?

Two years ago, life as we knew it came to a halt. COVID-induced lockdowns and quarantines hit businesses hard, shuttering stores and restaurants on main streets around the globe.

Now, COVID restrictions have been lifted throughout much of the West. While many businesses that survived (or launched amid) the pandemic are equipped with the creative, innovative spirit that helped them weather 2020-2021, challenges remain.

GZERO Media, in partnership with Visa, hosted a livestream discussion with business experts to examine the consequences and possibilities emerging from COVID, and how micro, small, and medium-sized businesses can thrive. Participants included GZERO President Ian Bremmer, Visa’s Global SVP Merchant Sales & Acquiring Jeni Mundy, US Chamber of Commerce’s Tom Sullivan, Kiva CEO Chris Tsakalakis, and SMEunited’s Veronique Willems. JJ Ramberg, the co-founder of Goodpods and former host of MSNBC’s Your Business, moderated.

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