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Putin greets Orbán during their meeting at the Kremlin in 2018.

Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool via REUTERS

What We’re Watching: Hungary hearts Russian gas, Israeli government in trouble, Ukrainian exodus

Hungry for Russian gas, Budapest will pay in rubles

Fresh off his decisive election victory last weekend, Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán broke with the rest of the EU on a key point of pressure against Moscow on Wednesday, saying he’s ready to pay for Russian natural gas in rubles if the Kremlin asks him to. Russian President Vladimir Putin recently threatened to cut off gas entirely to the EU — which relies on Russia for 40 percent of its supplies — unless member states pay for the stuff using Russian currency. Although the Brussels says no way, it’s ultimately up to each individual country to decide what it wants to do. Orbán, among the most Russia-friendly leaders in the EU, also runs a country that depends entirely on Kremlin-exported gas. Still, while Budapest may be going rogue against the rest of the EU on this, it wouldn’t make much of a financial difference for Moscow: Hungary accounts for just 3% of Russia’s gas exports to the continent. Meanwhile, stricter US sanctions — which include Russia’s largest bank since Wednesday — are pushing the country closer to a technical default on its sovereign debt.

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Authoritarians Like Putin No Longer Care What You Think | GZERO World with Ian Bremmer

Authoritarians gone wild

Political scientist Yascha Mounk says we're in a new era of naked power politics.

That means Vladimir Putin doesn’t care what you think anymore about his blind ambition. And he really doesn’t have to because authoritarians like him are on the rise.

On GZERO World, Ian Bremmer talks to Mounk, who explains why confidence in democracy is declining in the West at the same time authoritarian leaders like Putin and Xi Jinping have become more honest about their demands and lack of respect for democracy.

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A soldier takes a photograph of his comrade as he poses beside a destroyed Russian tank and armored vehicles in Bucha, Ukraine.

REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

What We’re Watching: Russian war crimes, Orbán 4.0, Sri Lankan turmoil

EU sanctions loom over alleged Russian war crimes

After Russian forces withdrew from the outskirts of Ukraine's capital, President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government on Sunday accused them of committing war crimes by massacring civilians in the Kyiv suburbs of Bucha, Irpin, and Hostomel. Authorities are gathering evidence of the alleged atrocities to build a case against Russian officials at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, and former ICC chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte wants to issue an international arrest warrant for Putin. To convict, Ukrainians would need to show a pattern of deliberate targeting of civilians. Still, the carnage has convinced the EU to act: it is preparing a wave of fresh sanctions against the Kremlin. It's unclear what the new measures will be, but pressure is mounting on the bloc to finally target Russian oil and natural gas, which many EU states depend on for energy. Late Sunday, Zelensky appeared at the Grammys in a pre-taped message. "Our musicians wear body armor instead of tuxedos," he said, asking viewers to support Ukraine any way they can. Meanwhile, Russia-Ukraine peace talks may resume on Monday in Turkey, and Moscow is saying it’s not yet ready for face-to-face talks between Putin and Zelensky.

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Ukraine War Will Affect EU-China Summit Substantially | Europe In :60 | GZERO Media

EU-China summit affected by Ukraine war

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from outside Helsinki, Finland.

How will the Ukraine war affect the EU-China summit?

Well, obviously quite substantially, because with China not taking a clear position against what is an outright, a very clear cut case of aggression it affects not only the atmospherics of the relationship with China but also the substance. There will be a greater reluctance to go into cooperation with China on different subjects where otherwise there might have been possibilities. So that effect it will have.

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Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban

Beata Zawrzel via Reuters

Viktor Orban’s moment of truth

On Sunday, Hungary’s nearly eight million voters will elect 199 members of the country’s National Assembly, which is now dominated by the Fidesz Party and polarizing Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Europeans will watch closely to see if the EU’s longest-serving head of government and no. 1 gadfly can win a fourth consecutive term. Vladimir Putin will watch to see if his most-trusted ally inside the EU can survive his toughest challenge to date.

Orban’s biggest worry is that six opposition parties, which agree on little beyond a common desire to push Orban out of power, have settled on a single candidate to replace him: Peter Marki-Zay, a 49-year-old mayor from a small city in the southeast.

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Putin, Russia & the Allure of Autocracy | GZERO Media

Putin, Russia & the allure of autocracy

“Emperor” Putin has no clothes — and he doesn’t care Global attention is now on Ukrainians fighting for democracy.

But over the past 15 years, the global trend has actually gone in the opposite direction — toward more autocracy. For John Hopkins University professor Yascha Mounk, it's all about confidence — lack of it in democracy in the West and more trust in autocracy in places like China or Russia.

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Macron shakes hands with Putin, at the French president's summer retreat.

REUTERS/Gerard Julien

Putin invades the year’s big elections

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is shifting politics inside every major country in the world. Here are four countries holding big elections this year — with details on how Vladimir Putin’s war is making a difference in Hungary, France, Brazil, and the United States.

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Jan. 6 Anniversary| Trump Endorses Viktor Orbán | Novak Djokovic | World In :60 | GZERO Media

One year since Jan. 6 insurrection; why Trump endorsed Viktor Orbán

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week on the anniversary of the January 6 Capitol insurrection, Trump's endorsement of Viktor Orbán, and Novak Djokovic's avoidance of vaccination rules.

A year later, what should we call the Jan. 6? A coup attempt? A riot? An insurrection? Domestic terrorism?

I think I'd go with an insurrection, since it was the former president, sitting president of the United States who had not been re-elected, claimed he was re-elected, and called on his supporters to march on the Capitol building, and didn't stop them when they occupied it illegally. The whole “Hang Mike Pence” thing does imply insurrection. Doesn't imply domestic terrorism. Very few of them were trying to engage in political violence, though I think certainly, a few were. And a riot by itself doesn't really hit it.

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