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People gather at a tram stop in front of a board displaying a portrait of a fallen Russian soldier in St. Petersburg. A slogan reads: "Glory to heroes of Russia!"

REUTERS/Anton Vaganov

What We’re Watching: Russian scramble, DeSantis’s migrant flights, Bolsonaro in the night sky

Putin calls up reservists

In his biggest “admission” to date that the war in Ukraine is not going to plan, Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of Russian reservists. The move is estimated to affect some 300,000 reservists out of the 25 million Russians who fit the criteria of having had some military experience. However, in a rare taped address to the nation, Putin stopped short of actually declaring “war” in Ukraine, instead using his fiery speech to insist that Russia's goals have not changed and to warn NATO that he'll use any weapons at his disposal to achieve Russia’s objectives — a thinly veiled threat that nukes are on the table.

Meanwhile, Tuesday saw two (seemingly contradictory) developments that suggest Ukraine’s aggressive and successful military counteroffensive now has Russian policymakers scrambling for responses. First, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told a PBS interviewer that, based on comments made by Putin at last week’s Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit, he believes the Russian president wants to end the war in Ukraine as soon as possible. (Note: Erdoğan’s comments on potential terms of a peace deal may have been badly translated or taken out of context.)

Second, officials from the Russian-backed separatist provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk announced they would hold referendums on the question of joining Russia, beginning on Friday (!) and running through Tuesday. Putin announced his support for the votes, which would pave the way for the annexation of Ukrainian territory the Russian military still controls. Occupation authorities in the southern region of Kherson and in Russian-held parts of Zaporizhzhia quickly said they would do the same. Moscow insists that attacks on any territories annexed by Russia will be treated as attacks on Russia itself, with all the unstated and scary-sounding implications of that distinction. Ukrainian and Western officials have dismissed the votes as illegal and farcical.

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Luisa Vieira

Should NATO watch its southern flank?

As NATO leaders gather this week in Madrid for their first summit since the war in Ukraine began, they will talk mainly about the immediate bogeyman, Russia, and the long-term strategic rival, China. Meanwhile, host Spain is seizing the opportunity to get the alliance to pay at least some attention to Africa and parts of the Middle East, where Russia and jihadists are stirring up trouble that could impact Mediterranean countries.

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Paige Fusco

Biden’s Caribbean surprises

All elected leaders face two problems: crises that weren't on the agenda will strike from unexpected directions, and all possible responses are less than ideal.

Hey, Joe Biden, Cuba's on line one, and Haiti's holding on line two.

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Why Election Reform Laws Are Deadlocked On Capitol Hill | US Politics In :60 | GZERO Media

Why election reform laws are deadlocked on Capitol Hill

Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

With the For the People Act not passed in the Senate, what's the outlook on Democrats' election reform?

Well, the thing about election laws is that they're really all about power, how to get it, how to maintain it once you have it. And the Republicans and the Democrats are unlikely to agree on even the basics of what's wrong with our election system today, and they were definitely unlikely to agree on how to reform those things. So there's really no consensus on Capitol Hill on what's broken about the current election law. You've got Republicans at the state level who are pushing, rolling back some of the more generous rules that were laid out during coronavirus. You also have some that are trying to combat President Trump's allegations of widespread fraud during the 2020 election cycle. Democrats, on the other hand, are doing everything they can to make it easier to vote, to expand access to the vote. And that's part of what was in the federal legislation that Republicans voted down.

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COVID Lockdowns in Colombia Forcing Refugees to Return to Venezuela | GZERO Media

COVID lockdowns in Colombia forcing refugees to return to Venezuela

GZERO World takes viewers to Colombia as Venezuelan refugees risk everything once again—this time to cross back into their home country. As pandemic lockdowns and economic downturn threaten jobs and livelihood in Colombia, many are left with no choice but to return to Venezuela and an uncertain future.

Kendry Fernando tells his story as he walks hundreds of miles with his family, looking for work, and considering a return home to repressive conditions in Maduro's Venezuela.

World in 60 Seconds - November 27, 2018

Brexit, Russia & Ukraine, Taiwan and Mexico

Theresa May is unlikely to get her Brexit deal through Parliament. Will it sink her Premiership as well? It's World in 60 Seconds with Ian Bremmer! And go deeper on topics like cybersecurity and artificial intelligence at Microsoft Today in Technology.

GZERO World S1E33: The Autocrat’s Playbook

The Autocrat's Playbook

How does a democracy die? In stops and starts – says our guest this week – and usually, from within. Steve Levitsky is a professor of politics at Harvard and the co-author of the recent bestseller How Democracies Die. Drawing from history and present day (think: Venezuela), Levitsky makes a compelling case for precisely how an autocrat could bring down the pillars of democracy. And Ian presses him on perhaps the most worrying implication of all: is the United States next?

+World Cup + Turkey Elections + Migrants in the Mediterranean.

Let’s get to it.

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