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Image released by the Ministry of Defence of Britain shows file video of UK's Challenger 2 tanks.

Reuters

What We’re Watching: Tank talks for Ukraine, South Africa’s military moves

Much ado about tanks for Ukraine

For months, Ukraine has been asking its NATO friends for modern tanks. Not Soviet-era relics from Poland, not light armored vehicles from the US and France, but heavy mechanized tanks to fight mighty Russia. But so far, only the UK has agreed to supply Kyiv with Challenger 2 tanks, which are 20 years old but the model most used by the British army. Why? The US, the big boss of NATO, has been slow-walking the Ukrainians on their demand for tanks because the Biden administration fears it might push Russia to escalate. Washington is also citing logistical and maintenance costs as part of the reason for not doing so. Germany, meanwhile, won’t send Leopard tanks — or allow other countries to send German-made tanks — until the US makes the first move by sending M1 Abrams tanks. While the Germans and the Americans try to iron out their differences, NATO defense ministers will likely press the issue on Friday when they meet US Defense Sec. Lloyd Austin in Germany. Russia, for its part, has already warned the West that giving Ukraine tanks would be a very bad idea.

Meanwhile, check out our GZERO field piece on how the tankless Ukrainians are making do with Mad Max-style killer dune buggies.

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Kevin Rudd: Xi Thinks Putin Is a “Dummy” | Asia Society | GZERO Media

Kevin Rudd: Xi thinks Putin is a "dummy"

Australia's former PM believes that the once-blossoming bromance between Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin has turned toxic. Why? You guessed it: Russia's war in Ukraine.

China's leader thinks Putin is a "dummy" for launching a "halfcocked" invasion that neither the Russian military could pull off nor the Russian economy afford, Rudd — also president and CEO of the Asia Society — says during a conversation with Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer at the Asia Society's HQ in New York.

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Luisa Vieira

China-Russia relationship status: It’s complicated

The presidents of China and Russia will meet in person this week for the first time since early February, shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine. Back then, Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin announced in Beijing a bilateral friendship "without limits." Seven months later, the relationship has strengthened but also seen trouble — and this is likely to continue.

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Water is dropped near a fireman as the Fairview Fire burns near Hemet, California.

REUTERS/David Swanson

What We're Watching: California scorcher, Gulf states threaten Netflix, potential Putin-Xi meeting ​

California’s dystopian heatwave

Californians are bracing for mass power outages as the state of 40 million people suffers a record-breaking heatwave with temperatures in the triple digits. With residents cranking up air conditioners, state authorities say energy use statewide is hitting record levels. (The power grid is under added pressure because of the extreme heat, which makes power transmission less efficient.) Meanwhile, California’s independent grid operator called for energy rationing between 4 and 9 pm, advising residents to turn up their thermostats and avoid using energy-intensive equipment like dishwashers and washing machines. Indeed, the heatwave and energy crunch indicate that extreme weather events linked to climate change are pummeling countries in the developing and developed world alike. (With a GDP of $3.4 trillion in 2021, California’s economy is the largest in the US, surpassing countries like India and France.) As several wildfires broke out in Southern California in recent days, Governor Gavin Newsom warned that “we’re heading into the worst part of this heat wave.”

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