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President Volodymyr Zelensky is greeted by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak as he arrives Britain.

Ukraine Presidential Press Office handout via EYEPRESS via Reuters Connect

What We’re Watching: Zelensky and the jets, Pakistan targets TTP militants

Zelensky to British lawmakers: “Give us wings”

President Volodymyr Zelensky embarked on a whirlwind tour on Wednesday, leaving Ukraine for just the second time since Russia’s war began almost a year ago. Making a surprise stop in the UK, Zelensky met with PM Rishi Sunak and King Charles III and charmed British lawmakers at an address in the House of Commons. While the build-up to the trip was shrouded in secrecy, Zelensky was upfront about why he was there, imploring parliament to send Ukraine fighter jets: “We have freedom. Give us wings to protect it,” he said. Some analysts have suggested that Zelensky is moving too fast and isn’t reading the room properly: After all, it was just a few weeks ago that western countries finally agreed to send him battle tanks, and that came only after months of handwringing and negotiations. Sunak, for his part, said he is still considering the request but confirmed that the UK will help train Ukrainian pilots to use NATO-standard jets. Zelensky then headed to Paris, where he made a similar plea to President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, followed by a stop in Brussels where he addressed the European Parliament. Crucially, the US has not committed to sending fighter jets, and given that Washington and Brussels have been in lockstep on supporting Ukraine, this might determine how the Europeans respond for now. Indeed, Poland, one of Ukraine's strongest allies, said it would only move on the request "within the entire formation of NATO."

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Tributes are left at the site where an apartment block was heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike in Dnipro, Ukraine.

REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

What We're Watching: Russia lashes out, Khan ups election ante, China's population shrinks

Russia strikes civilians, braces for long war in Ukraine

At least 40 people died in Saturday's Russian missile strike on an apartment building in Dnipro, Ukraine's fourth-largest city, authorities said Monday. It was one of Russia's deadliest attacks against Ukrainian civilians since the invasion began, as Moscow doubles down on the strategy of targeting civilians to turn the tide of the war in its favor. Meanwhile, the Washington, DC-based Institute for the Study of War on Sunday claimed that the Kremlin is preparing for a drawn-out conflict and a fresh mobilization to push back against Ukraine's military gains in recent months. What does that mean for Kyiv? That the US and its NATO allies will need to stay the course on providing weapons to keep the Russians at bay. Clearly on message, the UK on Friday announced that it would for the first time send Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine. This might open up a can of worms within NATO: Poland wants to supply the Ukrainians with German-made Leopard tanks but has yet to get the green light from Berlin, while the US, Germany, and France have so far only agreed to give Ukraine light armored vehicles. If they all go a step further and send in the heavy equipment, Vladimir Putin will know that Ukraine's friends remain committed to its defense and are less worried about Russia escalating.

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Pakistan's new army chief Gen. Asim Munir meets with President Arif Alvi in Islamabad.

Press Information Department/Handout via REUTERS

Operation Cleanup: Pakistan’s new general has an old assignment

After months of drama and debate, Pakistan finally has a new army chief, ostensibly the most powerful man in the land. While Gen. Asim Munir inherits a country in the midst of political chaos and economic disaster, he is also confronted by a crisis of confidence in Pakistan’s most powerful and organized institution.

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Imran Khan supporters chant slogans as they condemn the assassination attempt on the former PM in Wazirabad, Pakistan.

REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

After Imran Khan attack, Pakistan’s fatal political threesome escalates

Pakistan is still reeling after the assassination attempt on ex-PM Imran Khan, the born-again Muslim populist who has been campaigning for snap elections and a return to power since being ousted from office last April. After he survived gunshot wounds on his legs Thursday, a three-way political battle between Khan, the civilian government, and its military backers is now spilling onto the streets.

The flurry of accusations, questions, and investigations in the wake of the shooting doesn’t bode well for political and social stability in the world’s fifth most populous country and the only nuclear-armed Islamic republic.

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A supporter of Pakistan's former PM Imran Khan in Karachi gestures following the shooting incident on his long march in Wazirabad.


What We're Watching: Pakistan’s former PM shot, Olaf goes to Beijing

Imran Khan survives assassination attempt

Pakistan’s former PM Imran Khan — aka “Kaptaan” for his cricket accolades and lead-from-the-front style of populist politics — survived an assassination attempt on Thursday during his “Long March” to Islamabad. Khan was shot in the leg as his truck-driven stage rolled through the central Pakistani city of Wazirabad, and he was rushed to a hospital in Lahore, where he was eventually declared stable. Eight other members of his entourage were also injured, and one party worker was killed. At least one alleged gunman was challenged and apprehended by a brave bystander. “He was misleading people and I couldn’t take it,” the suspect said in a leaked confession to police. “I tried to kill only him.” Meanwhile, Khan’s party accused PM Shehbaz Sharif's government of plotting the attack and threatened protests nationwide if they weren’t removed from power. As if on cue, widespread protests kicked off against military and government officials. Khan, who was removed from office last April, has been demanding snap elections, but so far he’s been ignored. Despite his party sweeping by-elections, mass rallies, and his summoning of unprecedented support against the military, the political establishment hasn’t blinked. Will this attack force their hand?

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Ousted Pakistani PM Imran Khan gestures as he addresses supporters during a rally in Lahore.

REUTERS/Mohsin Raza

Pakistan's former PM injured in assassination attempt

On Thursday, former PM Imran Khan was shot and injured in the leg during a rally in Wazirabad, a city in eastern Punjab province. The shooter, identified as Naveed Mohammad Bashir, was interrogated by police. He was reportedly following Khan’s convoy and intended to kill him. "Imran Khan was misleading the people, and I couldn’t take it anymore. My objective was to kill him, and just him," he said. Eight other leaders of Khan's party were also injured. As we wrote about recently, political long marches in Pakistan rarely end well — and this time was no different. Soon after Khan kicked off his march to demand a snap election that he thinks will return him to power, the head of Pakistan's shadowy ISI intelligence services warned in a rare press conference that there could be violence. So, what happens now? It really depends on how soon the ousted former PM recovers from his injuries and whether the military — once again — steps in to restore order. There's no love lost between Khan and the army, but it's the men in uniform who — directly or indirectly — call all the shots in Pakistan. Still, as GZERO's own Waj Khan tweets, the army-backed government has two options now: placate Khan by agreeing to hold an early election or shut it all down if the violence gets out of hand.

Supporters of Pakistan's ousted former PM Imran Khan listen to his Long March speech in Lahore.

REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

On the road to confrontation: Imran Khan’s power trip

On Friday, Pakistan's former PM Imran Khan finally kicked off the "Long March" he’s been threatening for months. Khan’s move is a familiar one in this part of the world, which has a rich history of mobilizing to achieve political goals.

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What We're Watching: Imran Khan launches long march from Lahore. Seen here in earlier mass demonstrations.

What We're Watching: Imran Khan's long march

Imran Khan launches his long march in Lahore

Imran Khan, the born-again Muslim populist who accuses the US of ousting him from power in Pakistan last April, is on the march – again. On Friday, he launched the “Long March” he’s been threatening for months. The launchpad? Lahore, Pakistan’s cultural capital. The destination? Islamabad, the federal capital. There’s just 230 miles between the two cities – a four-hour drive – but Khan is pacing his march over the next week, aiming to arrive by next Friday. By staggering the journey, he aims to gather mass and political momentum. As he left Lahore on Friday with a crowd of about 10,000, Khan announced that he expects more than a million people to join him as he crosses through the historic Grand Trunk Road, the political heartland of the 220-million-strong country – the same path taken by many earlier political protest movements. The once-progressive cricket hero thrives on right-wing activist politics and has been here before: In 2014, he led a similar march and ended up laying siege to Islamabad for more than six months, paralyzing the capital but not managing to overthrow the government of then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. This time, Shehbaz Sharif, Nawaz’s younger brother, is the PM, and the government has warned Khan that it will respond with force if he crosses certain parts of Islamabad. While Khan has urged his followers to obey the law, the all-powerful military and intelligence services have warned of violence and even a possible terrorist attack, which could unravel the delicate balance in the world’s fifth-largest country. The next few days will be critical for Pakistan’s political future.

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