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What We’re Watching: G7 warns Russia, Israeli PM in UAE, Blinken in Southeast Asia, Nicaragua ditches Taiwan, Poland may stiff EU

Russia’s big plans for Ukraine. G7 foreign ministers warned Sunday of “massive consequences” if Russia invades Ukraine. It was the first joint statement by the group of rich democracies since recent satellite images revealed a significant buildup of Russian troops and military equipment on the border with Ukraine. Indeed, according to reports, the force that Moscow is massing near Ukraine is larger than the one it used to annex Crimea in 2014. This comes after the Pentagon said that Russia could have 175,000 troops on the border by the end of January in order to invade the former Soviet republic. In an attempt to lower the temperature last week, President Biden and Vladimir Putin held a long video call, but the Russian president was not deterred by Biden’s threat of more economic sanctions if Russia escalates further. Putin says he wants NATO not to expand membership any further into the former Soviet Union, and to stop military cooperation with Ukraine. Moscow will reportedly send a proposal for a security arrangement this week. But Putin, who has already indicated his willingness to threaten European energy markets, also knows all too well that while Washington talks a tough game, it is not willing to send in troops to defend Ukraine.

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What We're Watching: G7 warns Russia about invading Ukraine

Russia’s big plans for Ukraine. G7 foreign ministers warned Sunday of “massive consequences” if Russia invades Ukraine. It was the first joint statement by the group of rich democracies since recent satellite images revealed a significant buildup of Russian troops and military equipment on the border with Ukraine. Indeed, according to reports, the force that Moscow is massing near Ukraine is larger than the one it used to annex Crimea in 2014. This comes after the Pentagon said that Russia could have 175,000 troops on the border by the end of January in order to invade the former Soviet republic. In an attempt to lower the temperature last week, President Biden and Vladimir Putin held a long video call, but the Russian president was not deterred by Biden’s threat of more economic sanctions if Russia escalates further. Putin says he wants NATO not to expand membership any further into the former Soviet Union, and to stop military cooperation with Ukraine. Moscow will reportedly send a proposal for a security arrangement this week. But Putin, who has already indicated his willingness to threaten European energy markets, also knows all too well that while Washington talks a tough game, it is not willing to send in troops to defend Ukraine.

What you need to know about this weekend’s G-20 meeting

On 30-31 October, the world's top leaders will gather in Rome for this year's G-20 Summit. After the pandemic forced them to meet last year by videoconference, the heads of state will once again be attending in person, allowing for the type of parallel, one-on-one meetings that have proven more productive in the past. Still, many critics of the G-20 have come to see the forum as a talk shop, a place where a lot is said but nothing really happens. Will this year be any different, given the long list of challenges the world faces, from COVID to climate change? We talked with Eurasia Group expert Charles Dunst to set the stage and find out where things are going.

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Evaluating the Biden administration

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi everybody, Ian Bremmer here and a happy week to everybody. A little Quick Take, thought I would talk a little bit since we're closing in on the first year of the Biden administration. How do I assess it? And as you all know, I don't pull punches on this stuff. I say where I think they're doing a good job, where I think they're doing a bad job.

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The US-EU honeymoon is over

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi everybody. Happy Monday. Ian Bremmer here with your Quick Take. Plenty going on between the United States and its allies. You have seen the fallout from the US announcement of this new defense pact with the Australians and the United Kingdom called AUKUS. That's great, always like USMCA, we take the acronyms, and we try to find a way to make it comprehensible. And of course, the Chinese are not enormously happy about this, because it is a military plan to put more American material in their backyard. And the day after the Chinese announced formerly that they wanted to apply to the CPTPP, which is the major trade deal that the Americans initially were the architect of and then under Obama said, "No, we can't get it done." And then Trump pulled out. That's unfortunate and long-standing and not surprising. And China won't be able to get in, in all likelihood, because it's a heavy lift, even though Vietnam did make it, but state capitalism and TPP doesn't really work very well together.

But the more interesting and salient point for the headlines is that the French government was absolutely incensed. So, what's going on here? Why are the allies having such difficulty?

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US most unequal, least vaccinated in G7

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi everybody, Ian Bremmer here. Welcome to your week, happy to be back in the offices, of course, in New York City. And by the way, and what do I have at my desk here? A fan sent me a Moose the dog cookie, which how does one eat that? You can't eat that because it's Moose, you just keep it! But that's pretty awesome, a Norfolk Terrier in a cookie right there, very talented. Thank you so much.

And let's get started. So what I was thinking about as I saw over this weekend, today. Not only is the United States today the most economically-unequal of the G7 advanced industrial democracies, and the most politically divided, but we're also now in terms of first jabs of the COVID vaccine, we are the least vaccinated of the G7, which is annoying because we were the most vaccinated of the G7 months ago. And of course, all of this speaks to the fact that the United States is enormously wealthy, enormously powerful, there are so many great things about this country, but the politics are deeply, deeply screwed up. And the problems we have are self-inflicted.

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Why CIA director Bill Burns met with the Taliban

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on the CIA director's secret meeting with the leader of the Taliban, the G7 emergency meeting on Afghanistan, and the future of vaccine mandates following the FDA's approval of Pfizer's COVID vaccine.

CIA director Bill Burns held a secret meeting with the leader of the Taliban. How will it impact the ongoing evacuations?

Well, at the very least, you have to think that America's top priority, ensuring that all Americans get out of Afghanistan, given that the US controls nothing on the ground but Kabul Airport, will be facilitated. I would think that that was the reason for him to be there, absolute top priority. That has been successful. If it was a failure, we would've heard something about it by now, and the situation on the ground would be quite different. That is very different though than what happens after August 31st, and whether or not all of the Afghan nationals working with the Americans and in physical danger are going to be let out. So far, I haven't heard that from the Taliban. Certainly that will be a big piece of the negotiations. But better that he's there than not.

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Takeaways from President Biden’s first G7 summit

If the US is really back, as President Biden keeps saying, what is it back to do? That was one of the biggest questions at the G7 summit in the United Kingdom last weekend, the first stop on the first trip abroad of Biden's presidency. The G7 tackled the world's biggest problem by pledging to donate 1 billion doses of the vaccine to COVAX, with 500 million of those coming from the United States. Taxes, climate change, China, and Russia were on the agenda, too. Biden's trip went better than Trump's last big outing, to be sure. Ian Bremmer recaps this year's historic G7 meeting.

Watch the GZERO World episode: Has Biden convinced the G7 "America is back"?

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