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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and French President Emmanuel Macron. February 8, 2022.

Ukrainian Presidential Press Service

Macron in Kyiv, Philippine vote, Haiti assassination probe

Macron does the rounds. French President Emmanuel Macron is on a diplomatic tour to find a solution to the Ukraine crisis. On Monday, he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The two chatted for five hours, with Macron reporting he had “secured an assurance there would be no deterioration or escalation.” But Russia later said Macron’s version was “not right,” and pushed back against reports that Putin had agreed to withdraw troops from Belarus. Was Putin lashing out because Macron left the Kremlin to fly to Kyiv where he reaffirmed Europe's commitment to Ukraine? Either way, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who’s set to meet with Putin in Moscow on Feb. 15, will be taking note. Tellingly, Macron appeared less sanguine in Kyiv, saying the stalemate could continue for months.

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What We're Watching: Turmoil in Kazakhstan, Macron targets anti-vaxxers, Haiti presidential murder probe

Kazakh political turmoil.Dozens” of anti-government protesters have been killed by security forces in Kazakhstan, which has declared a state of emergency over the worst political crisis in a decade. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev sacked the entire government in response to widespread street protests, which started days ago over a planned fuel price hike. Since then, the demonstrations have morphed into wider outrage against an entrenched regime, in power since the Central Asian republic broke away from the USSR in 1991. Things are escalating rapidly in Almaty, the business capital, where demonstrators have reportedly set the presidential palace on fire. Tokayev — who took over in 2019 as the handpicked successor of former strongman Nursultan Nazarbayev — now says he may assume wider powers to end the crisis and asked Russia to send in “peacekeepers” under the umbrella of the CSTO, a Moscow-led grouping of former Soviet Republics. Vladimir Putin, always wary of popular uprisings in the Kremlin’s sphere of influence, is one of the two world leaders closely watching developments in Kazakhstan along with Xi Jinping, given that China is thirsty for Kazakh oil, gas, and minerals.

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Anti Polexit banner is seen during 'We're staying in EU' demonstration at the Main Square in Krakow, Poland on October 10, 2021.

Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto

What We're Watching: EU-Poland judicial fight, Turkey joins Haiti prez murder probe, Pfizer’s COVID pill deal

EU vs Poland (yes, again). The EU's top court on Tuesday ruled that Poland's recent judicial reforms, which give the government leeway to appoint sympathetic justices, violate EU rule-of-law norms. Warsaw claims that its own constitutional court has already decided that Polish law supersedes EU law, so the stalemate continues. The EU and Poland have been fighting over this issue for years, but Brussels has recently begun showing its frustration with Poland — and Hungary too — over these issues. While the "illiberal" governments of both countries are popular, the EU also knows that most Hungarians and Poles want to stay in the 27-member union, and Brussels' ability to delay badly-needed EU pandemic relief money is a strong point of leverage. Defying Brussels is already starting to get expensive for Warsaw — in a separate judicial dispute, the EU is fining Poland 1 million euros ($1.1 million) per day until it abides by the bloc's rule-of-law norms.

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Jess Frampton

Why is Haiti such a disaster?

No country in the Western Hemisphere is more closely associated with disaster and misery than the Caribbean nation of Haiti. Its latest upheaval centers on news that the country's top prosecutor wants Haiti's prime minister to answer questions about the murder of the president in July. Haiti is again locked in a power struggle among competing factions within its ruling elite.

Why is Haiti still so poor and disaster-prone?

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People watch a TV broadcasting file footage of a news report on North Korea firing what appeared to be a pair of ballistic missiles off its east coast, in Seoul, South Korea, September 15, 2021.

REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

What We’re Watching: Korea vs Korea, Taliban vs Taliban, Haitian PM vs top prosecutor

North and South Korea trade barbs and missile tests: Just hours after North Korea fired two ballistic missiles into the sea on Wednesday, the South responded by conducting its own first successful test of a submarine-launched ballistic projectile, with South Korea's President Moon Jae-in boasting that it would deter the North's "provocations." Then Kim Yo Jong, the fiery sister of North Korea's Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, responded to the South's response by threatening to cut all bilateral ties. Although bombastic statements by the Kims are nothing new, things are heating up. With US-led denuclearization talks stalled, Pyongyang carried out its first weapons test in six months a few days ago. Kim may be upping the ante deliberately right now, betting that after the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan, Joe Biden is keen to avoid another foreign policy embarrassment on his watch. Maybe this time Joe will pick up the phone?

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Ben Rhodes: The US Should Build a Coalition To Help Haiti’s Political Turmoil | GZERO World

Ben Rhodes: the US should build a coalition to help Haiti’s political turmoil

Haiti is not only grappling with political unrest following the president's assassination — the Caribbean nation also needs COVID vaccines, and is eager to curb gang violence. What should the US do? Former National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes wants America to lead a coalition of nations from the Western Hemisphere that'll "address some of the basic needs" in crisis-plagued Haiti. Watch his interview with Ian Bremmer on the upcoming episode of GZERO World. Check local listings for US public television.

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