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EU/NATO Summits Intensify Support for Ukraine | Europe In :60 | GZERO Media

EU/NATO summits intensify support for Ukraine

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Doha on European support for Ukraine.

Is European support for Ukraine holding up?

I mean, the answer is, very distinctly, is yes. There was a remarkable, you can call it the summit of summits, in Brussels on Thursday, where we had, first the NATO summit with President Biden as well, we had the G7 summit and we had the EU summit with President Biden as well. There's never been, to my knowledge, any summit of summits of that particular sort. And that took place on the day, one month after President Putin started his aggression against Ukraine. Sanctions are being intensified. Weapons deliveries to Ukraine are intensified. The thing that worries the Europeans somewhat is, of course, energy dependence and energy prices. And you've seen a lot of people coming to--quite high up--at the moment Doha in Qatar, in order to secure supplies of natural gas and other energies in order to get Europe off its dependence, or the dependence of some of the country's, on natural gas from Russia.

That will happen as well. So support, certainly holding up.

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Mariupol residents evacuate from the embattled city to Russia.

Mikhail Tereshchenko/TASS via Reuters Connect

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Connecting Russia’s bloody dots in Ukraine

For now, the very worst Ukraine war-related horrors the outside world is hearing about are coming from Mariupol, a port city of 430,000 on the Sea of Azov that has the misfortune to lie between the Russian-controlled territories of the Donbas in Ukraine’s east and Crimea on its southern Black Sea coast. The Russian military is determined to connect the two regions at the expense of all trapped in their path. For now, Mariupol is the one major Ukrainian city where Russian soldiers have entered in large numbers and where deadly firefights empty city streets.

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U.S. President Joe Biden holds a bilateral meeting with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 31, 2022.

REUTERS/Leah Millis

Qatar going global?

On Monday, US President Joe Biden designated Qatar as a major non-NATO ally after hosting its emir at the White House. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani was the first Gulf leader to meet with Biden in person since he became president.

Biden and Tamim discussed how Qatar might supply more of its plentiful natural gas to Europe in case Russia’s President Vladimir Putin decides to turn off the tap in response to possible US/EU sanctions over the Ukraine crisis. That’s a long shot, given that 90 percent of Qatari gas exports are now tied up in long-term contracts — although Doha has ways to to fill a short-term supply gap if needed.

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Erik Romanenko/TASS

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Ukraine troops, talks, and TV. As Russia moved medical units to support its troops at the Ukrainian border — which the Pentagon assessed as a Cold War throwback — US President Joe Biden now says he’ll send a small contingent of American troops to Eastern Europe. Meanwhile, US lawmakers are working on a bipartisan “mother of all sanctions” bill that aims to preempt a Russian invasion. The UK, for its part, upped its game with more troop and air deployments of its own, as well as possible action against Russian oligarchs with London-based assets and connections to Vladimir Putin. On Monday, US diplomats will face off against the Russians at the UN Security Council, although Russia and its ally China will veto any measure they don’t like. As for bilateral diplomacy, the US formally rejected Russia’s demand that Ukraine be barred from NATO, but another round of talks with Moscow is likely. (By the way, don’t miss SNL’s take on Russian misinformation in the Ukraine crisis.)

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Qatar 2022 logo during the UEFA qualifiers draw in Zurich, Switzerland.

REUTERS

Qatar learns international spotlight can be uncomfortable

These are exciting times for Qatar. The tiny but fabulously wealthy Gulf state has been providing the US and other Western powers with invaluable assistance in dealing with a newly ascendant Taliban in Afghanistan. It is preparing to hold its first elections next month, and next year it will host the FIFA World Cup, international soccer's biggest stage and the second most-watched global sporting event after the Olympics.

Qatar has been very successful in raising its international profile in recent years, but it is now finding that this success brings challenges of its own. We talked with Eurasia Group Middle East analyst Sofia Meranto to find more about what's happening in the country.

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A Taliban fighter holding an M16 assault rifle stands outside the Interior Ministry in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 16.

REUTERS/Stringer

Who'll keep the peace in Afghanistan?

Just hours before the August 31 deadline, US forces have fully withdrawn from Afghanistan after almost 20 years. But the country, now controlled by the same militant group that the American military ousted two decades ago, is nowhere near stable.

Last week's deadly suicide bombings outside Kabul's airport by ISIS-K — the local affiliate of the Islamic State and ideological enemy of the Taliban — have sown fresh doubts about the Taliban's capacity to maintain even basic security once the US is gone.

Major outside players are at odds about how to deal with the Taliban. But they all share a common interest: doing whatever's necessary to prevent further terrorist attacks and a refugee crisis. Let's take a look at a few of them.

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Harris' Southeast Asia tour overshadowed by... Afghanistan: It's been a bad week and a half for the Biden administration, which has gotten terrible PR over its disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan. But Vice President Kamala Harris is trying to flip the script a bit on a current, week-long tour of Southeast Asia. The main aim of the Veep's visit to Singapore and Vietnam is to shore up relations with Asian partners as a bulwark against an increasingly aggressive China, and to emphasize the Biden administration's "pivot" to the Indo-Pacific region more broadly. That's particularly true in Vietnam, which is extremely concerned about China's behavior in the disputed South China Sea. But when Harris held a press conference with Singapore's PM Lee Hsien Loong Monday, hoping to highlight new cooperation on climate change, cyber security, and COVID tracking, she was instead peppered with questions about violence at Kabul's airport and the administration's so-far botched evacuation plans for Americans there.

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UK Lockdown, New COVID Strain & Vaccines | Iran Pushes Biden on Uranium | World In :60 | GZERO Media

Why the UK is on lockdown; Iran pushes Biden on uranium levels

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics on this week's World In (More Than) 60 Seconds:

Why is the UK going on lockdown again?

I know. And it looks like six weeks to, this is the highest level of lockdown they do. And it's this new strain of coronavirus, which it's not more lethal, but it is much more infectious. And thank God all of the vaccines work equally well against it. But nonetheless, the vaccines are still very early stages in rolling out and coronavirus is a very robust stages of rolling out. So, you were getting greater levels of hospitalization right now in the UK than in their spring peak. The case levels were exploding and so they just shut it down. Germany is extending their lockdown and here in New York City, I just heard yesterday, we've got the first confirmed cases of the new strain. This is, it's not a game changer because the vaccines are the game changer and the vaccines are rolling out and as they do, we're going to feel very, very differently, but it does mean that explosive caseload and more hospitalizations, and indeed more people dying in the coming weeks is something we're going to have to gird ourselves for. But I still think, when you looked at our top risk piece this year, we didn't make coronavirus, the number one risk and it's because of the vaccines. Also, in the nature of this disease that really does focus so much of the mortality is in a very small percentage of the population, the most elderly and the most sick. And so, in just a few weeks, four, six weeks, when we get to 10% of the population in the US that's been vaccinated, suddenly you're going to have probably some 90% of the mortality taken out of the disease. You still have concerns about long COVID, you still have people that can be sick for a long time. But just think psychologically about how much we've all been carrying about just been worrying, the worry we've had of the people that we are close to who are in their high seventies or older, or already have medical conditions and we know that if they are to get this disease, they could very easily die. That is something we're not going to have to worry about in just a few more weeks. I think that's the game changer for 2021, frankly. That's a really good news story, so something that's worth mentioning.

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