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Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Valery Zaluzhny attends a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in July 2023.


Troubling accusations in Ukraine

Did Ukraine plunge Europe into the dark last year? That’s the charge from unnamed Ukrainian officials, who claim Col. Roman Chervinsky, of Ukraine’s special operations forces, coordinated a sabotage operation that caused three explosions at the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines on Sept. 26, 2022. The pipelines run from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea, and Nord Stream 1 (Nord Stream 2 wasn't in use yet) provided about 35% of the gas European Union states imported from Russia prior to the war.

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Who blew up the Nord Stream pipelines?
Who Blew Up the Nord Stream Pipelines? | GZERO World

Who blew up the Nord Stream pipelines?

The controversial Nordstream pipeline that connects Russia to Germany made headlines last September when segments of it mysteriously exploded, deep under water.

Who was responsible?

"My guess is the Russians," says German diplomat Christoph Heusgen tells Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

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US President Joe Biden and Russia's President Vladimir Putin

Saul Loeb/Pool via REUTERS

To Russia, with love: Why has diplomacy failed?

By all reasonable measures, there’s little love between Russia and the US this Valentine’s Day. The recent flurry of diplomacy between Russia and the West has been a failure with a series of recent high-profile meetings only leading to further stagnation and reports that Putin is moving closer towards military intervention.

Over the weekend: A call on Saturday between Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin — the American leader warned of “severe costs” if Russia invades — appeared to fall flat. This followed Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s chat with UK Foreign Sec. Liz Truss, which he characterized as a conversation between “the mute with the deaf.” Meanwhile, France’s Emmanuel Macron, who has tried to position himself as Europe’s chief interlocutor, made little progress in a weekend call with the Kremlin, and an earlier meeting of the Normandy Four – Ukraine, Russia, Germany, and France – failed to even agree on language for a joint statement.

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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz travels to the USA for his inaugural visit.


Will the real Olaf please stand up?

On Monday, President Joe Biden will meet with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the White House. While Angela Merkel’s successor has only been at the helm since December, the meeting still seems long overdue.

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What We’re Watching: West dents Russian gas leverage, Honduran president sworn in, Portuguese vote

Nord Stream 2 used as a bargaining chip with Russia. The US now says that if Russia invades Ukraine, it’ll block the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is set to transfer even more natural gas from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea. This is a big deal, considering that Germany – thirsty for more Russian gas – has long been pushing for the pipeline to start operating despite ongoing objections from Washington. The $11 billion energy project, which would double Russian gas exports to Germany, is seen as (a big) part of the reason why Berlin is reluctant to push back hard against the Kremlin over its troop buildup at the Ukrainian border. Still, German officials admit Nord Stream 2 could face sanctions if the Russians invade, suggesting that the Americans’ threat was likely coordinated with Berlin in advance. This comes amid ongoing diplomatic attempts to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis, with US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz set to meet at the White House on February 7.

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Annie Gugliotta & Jess Frampton

What We’re Watching: China's problems, UAE vs Houthis, Nord Stream 2 split

China's mounting problems. Xi Jinping is not off to a good start in 2022. First, Chinese economic growth slowed down to 4 percent in the last quarter of 2021, almost a percentage point less than the previous period. While annual GDP was up 8.1 percent year-on-year, beating government expectations, the trend is worrying for the world’s second-largest economy. Second, annual population growth fell in 2021 to its lowest rate since 1949, when the ruling Communist Party took over. Although Xi probably saw this one coming, he's running out of ideas to encourage Chinese families to have more children — which the government needs in order to sustain growth and support the elderly over the long term. Third, and most immediate: the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics canceled ticket sales for domestic spectators — foreigners were not invited — as the more transmissible omicron variant has driven up COVID infections in China to the highest level since March 2020. It's only the latest sign that Xi's controversial zero-COVID policy is setting itself up for failure against omicron without mRNA vaccines. What'll it take for China to reverse course?

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Biden and Merkel: Good vibes, big disagreements

When it comes to the US, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has seen a lot over the past 16 years. She's weathered the hubris of the George W. Bush presidency, worked closely with the Obama administration to manage a slate of global catastrophes (Great Recession, Ebola outbreak) and navigated the chilling of US-German relations under Donald Trump. This Thursday, she will meet with President Joe Biden at the White House.

Both Biden and Merkel have been around the block — many times — and it's clear that they enjoy a close working relationship and mutual respect for one another. But mending the bilateral relationship in the post-Trump era is not as simple as many hoped. Disagreements on a host of thorny issues persist, and they will be front and center when Biden and Merkel awkwardly elbow-bump this week.

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Biden and G7 take on China
Ian Bremmer: Biden & G7 Take On China | Quick Take | GZERO Media

Biden and G7 take on China

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody happy Monday. Ian Bremmer here. I've got a Quick Take for you. Thought we would talk a little bit about President Biden's first trip outside the United States as president and the G7, which frankly went better than expected. I'm the guy that talks about the GZERO world and the absence of global leadership. But the desire of a lot of American allies to have a more regularized relationship with the United States that feels like a partnership and alliance is pretty high. And President Biden's willingness to play that role, irrespective of the constraints and divisions that he has back at home, it's also pretty high. And those two things aligned.

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