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Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy awards a Ukrainian service member at a position near a frontline, in Donetsk region, Ukraine March 22, 2023.

Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS

What We’re Watching: Zelensky’s Bakhmut message, Rishi’s post-Brexit win, Trudeau’s take on Haiti, Ethiopia’s peace progress

Russia and Ukraine score points where they can

Volodymyr Zelensky visited frontline troops in war-ravaged Bakhmut, located in Ukraine’s eastern province of Donetsk, on Wednesday as Russian drones struck across the country. While planning for the trip was surely well underway before Vladimir Putin’s surprise stop in Russian-occupied Mariupol last weekend, the contrast underlined Zelenksy’s signal of defiance.

By appearing in Bakhmut very near the fighting, Zelensky reminded the world that, six months after Putin mobilized 300,000 new Russian soldiers for a deeper advance into Ukraine, even the small city of Bakhmut remains beyond their grasp.

In other war news, Russia has warned it will respond harshly to shipments from the UK to Ukraine of anti-tank munitions made from depleted uranium. Moscow claims this step adds an escalatory nuclear element to the conflict. In response, the UK insists the Russian position is propaganda, that the use of depleted uranium is common in anti-tank weapons, and that it contains nothing that can be used to make nuclear or radiological weapons. Finally, Russia has announced a plan to raise an additional $8 billion in revenue by changing the way oil profits are taxed.

All these stories underscore the reality that, while little has changed on the battlefield, Russians and Ukrainians are still looking for every small advantage they can gain in what looks increasingly like a war of attrition.

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U.S. President Joe Biden speaks with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as they meet during the Ninth Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 9, 2022.

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

US green subsidies pushback to dominate Biden's Canada trip

As Ottawa prepares for a two-day visit by President Joe Biden starting Thursday, Canadians have been speculating about whether he will do something to stop the northward flow of border crossings by undocumented migrants at Roxham Road, Quebec.

That problem is grabbing headlines, but it is nothing next to the border challenges the Americans face, and the Canadians likely have more important requests for Biden. Behind the scenes, the government is focused on getting Americans to help mitigate the impact of the Inflation Reduction Act, the largest climate spending package in US history, which could lead to the loss of capital and jobs from Canada.

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Hell in Haiti

The Caribbean state of Haiti has been in a persistent state of pandemonium for decades. Yet, what’s happening now on the island nation of 11 million reflects a profound new wave of instability that’s threatening to spill over into neighboring countries.

Thousands of Haitians have recently taken to the streets calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry, while large swaths of the capital, Port-au-Prince, are being ruled by rival gangs vying for power. Forget democracy or autocracy – lawlessness is rampant in Haiti.

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People march during a protest against the government and rising fuel prices, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.


What We’re Watching: UN mulls Haiti intervention, petrol workers join Iran protests, Biden tightens tech exports to China

Haiti pleads for help

Haiti’s spiraling social unrest has prompted Prime Minister Ariel Henry to appeal to the international community for “specialized armed forces” to help quell demonstrations and gang violence wreaking havoc across Port-au-Prince, the capital. Henry’s request comes a month after planned cuts to fuel subsidies amid an economic crisis unleashed a torrent of unrest across the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. (Protesters are demanding the resignation of Henry, who has been implicated in the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and has failed to hold fresh parliamentary elections.) Making matters worse, gangs recently stormed a key fuel terminal in the capital, preventing the distribution of millions of gallons of gas, and have also looted food aid centers. As a result, hospitals and schools have been forced to close. The US, for its part, has not shut down the request, but it seems unlikely that President Joe Biden will support sending boots on the ground. Still, the deteriorating situation in the Caribbean country is not something he can afford to ignore given the uptick in Haitian migrants arriving at the US southern border over the past year. Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General António Guterres supports sending a rapid action force, but some experts warn that this would further inflame the situation. Indeed, Haitians have little love for the UN, whose “peacekeeping” forces (2004-2017) reportedly raped hundreds of Haitian women and girls and unleashed a cholera outbreak that killed thousands.

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Jimmy "Barbecue" Cherizier, leader of the G9 coalition of gangs in Haiti, during a news conference in Port-au-Prince.

REUTERS/Ralph Tedy Erol

Hard Numbers: Haitian gang war, China’s economic slump, Draghi’s mayoral appeal, beer-sunflower oil swap

1.5 million: Some 1.5 million people are now trapped by a recent uptick in gang violence inside Cité Soleil, the largest slum in Haiti's capital of Port-au-Prince. There's an ongoing battle between the local G-Pèp gang and the G-9, a federation of nine gangs led by the notorious "Mr. Barbecue," often referred to as the most powerful man in gang-run Haiti.

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The Graphic Truth: National leaders killed since 1972

Japan is mourning Shinzo Abe’s assassination. A private funeral is scheduled for Tuesday, followed by bigger ceremonies in Tokyo and Abe’s hometown in Yamaguchi Prefecture, where he was first elected to Japan’s House of Representatives in 1993. But the country has only begun to come to grips with the violent murder of its beloved former leader. While political assassinations often lead to greater instability — as in the case of Haiti’s late President Jovenel Moïse — Japan went to the polls on Sunday and delivered a resounding victory for Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party in the upper house. We look at countries where current and former heads of state have been killed in the past 50 years.

This article comes to you from the Signal newsletter team of GZERO Media, a subsidiary of Eurasia Group that offers balanced, nonpartisan reporting, and analysis of foreign affairs. Subscribe to Signal today.

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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