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Russia's President Vladimir Putin attends a ceremony to present state awards for outstanding achievements on Russia Day in Moscow.

Sputnik/Mikhail Metzel via Reuters

What We’re Watching: Putin’s progress, Italy’s right turn, a not-so-great Iraqi resignation

Putin’s progress

It’s been a positive few days for Russia’s president and his war on Ukraine. Russian forces appear close to capturing the strategically important city of Severodonetsk, bringing them a step closer to control of the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. If they can accomplish that, Putin may well move to annex the entire area. Ukrainian officials have called urgently for faster delivery of heavy weapons to counter superior Russian firepower, but plunging stock markets in Europe and the US will strengthen the arguments in the West from those who oppose continued large-scale financial and military help for Ukraine. A new report from the independent Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air finds that higher global oil prices and a loophole that allows Europe to receive boycotted Russian oil via India have kept Russia’s oil revenue relatively high. Meanwhile, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to insist he will block the admission of Finland and Sweden into NATO. Though concessions might change his mind, there’s no guarantee he’ll back down. Russia’s military gains are incremental, and they will come at a great cost to Russia’s economic future. But for now, momentum is with the Kremlin.

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The Yet-Unseen Consequences of Russia's War in Ukraine | Global Stage | GZERO Media

The yet-unseen consequences of Russia's war in Ukraine

World leaders attending the 2022 World Economic Forum in Davos know there's a crisis going on — but Ian Bremmer thinks they are still unaware of the first- and second-order consequences of Russia's war in Ukraine.

First, "people are mostly thinking about this as a war inside Ukraine. It's not a war in Ukraine. It's actually a war between Russia and NATO," the president of GZERO Media said Global Stage livestream conversation hosted by GZERO in partnership with Microsoft.

What's more, he explained, NATO is doing everything it can to degrade Russia's capabilities and welcoming Finland and Sweden, so very soon "NATO and Russia are going to be in some level of not just cold war, but have some aspects of [a] hot war."

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Ari Winkleman

Ukraine and the global food crisis: how bad will it get?

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday served up a stark message to his audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos: we need your help so we can feed you.

With Russia’s war on Ukraine contributing to global shortages of wheat, cooking oils, and fertilizers, Zelensky called for European and UN help to establish export corridors for Ukrainian agriculture products that are currently trapped in Ukraine because of Russian naval blockades.

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Sri Lankan protesters demanding the president's resignation clash with police in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Tharaka Basnayak via Reuters.

What We're Watching: Sri Lanka's political turmoil, Putin's low-key Victory Day speech, drug cartel riots in Colombia

One Rajapaksa resigns in Sri Lanka

Following months of protests over government mismanagement and the country’s economic collapse, Sri Lanka’s embattled Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has announced his resignation. Violent clashes broke out in the capital city, Colombo, on Monday between anti-government protesters and supporters of the Rajapaksa regime, which is headed by the PM’s brother, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. At least 150 people were taken to hospital after authorities used heavy-handed tactics to try to disperse the demonstrators. This political shake-up comes amid unrest over soaring fuel and food prices and constant blackouts. Sri Lanka’s foreign currency reserves have entirely dried up, prompting Colombo to print more money, which further pushed prices up and the currency value down. The Rajapaksa brothers had overseen the country’s warming ties with China in recent years, which has seen Sri Lanka become embroiled in a relentless debt trap set out by Beijing. Until now, Mahinda Rajapaksa had refused to step down. We're watching to see if protesters go home, or if they continue demanding the ouster of his brother.

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The Graphic Truth: Americans sour on economy

According to several indicators, the US economy is doing fine. Joblessness, for instance, is way down, with fewer Americans collecting unemployment benefits than at any time since the 1970s. Still, inflation has caused the cost of food and fuel in the US to soar to a 40-year high. Polling shows that Americans’ sense of financial security and economic stability is waning – a massive problem for President Joe Biden ahead of the midterm elections. Biden says American companies should help tackle inflation by lowering costs, not wages. But Fed Chair Jerome Powell signaled plans to take action this week, raising expectations of an interest rate hike in May. We take a look at US consumer confidence, which reflects general sentiment about the state of the economy, since 2000.

Russia-Ukraine War Update: Will Oil & Coal Be Cut Off From Russia? | World In :60 | GZERO Media

Russian war crimes push West to escalate sanctions and Ukraine support

With evidence of Russian war crimes in Ukraine mounting, how will the West respond? Is Imran Khan done in Pakistan? Is Elon Musk joining the Twitter board good or bad news for free speech? Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week on World In :60.

With evidence of Russian war crimes in Ukraine mounting, how will the West respond?

With further escalation. We're a month and a half into this war and every week, the most consistent thing we're seeing is further economic sanctions from the West, further diplomatic isolation from the West with all these Russian diplomats being thrown out of countries, and of course, further military support for Ukraine. I think that continues to accelerate and step up from the Europeans. We are moving towards oil and coal being cut off from Russia, though not gas, which is still the critical issue and the big money spinner but that's where we're heading right now. And of course, that also means that negotiations are very far from what we're talking about.

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Russia-Ukraine War: How We Got Here | Quick Take | GZERO Media

Russia-Ukraine war: How we got here

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here and happy Monday to you all. Plenty going on. Of course, still very much focused first and foremost, on the war in Ukraine, the Russians continuing to fight, shifting the battle ground primarily to the southeast around Donbas but of course, engaging in bombing and artillery all over the country and negotiations frankly nowhere close to resolution.

But I wanted to talk a little bit about how we got here, why this happened. And it goes without saying, but still needs to be said that of course, the direct responsibility for this invasion is on President Putin 100%. There was no justification, you could not remotely claim that Ukraine's government needed to be denazified. There was no act of genocide being committed against Russians on the ground in the occupied territories. This was all fake and Putin is responsible for the atrocities on the ground for the damage to the Ukrainian economy, for the incredible loss of life we see happening across the country, including to his own forces. He's responsible for all of that.

But how did we get here? Why did it happen? And if you want to have that conversation, you can't just talk about Russia, you have to talk about the West. And I think it's worth spending a little time on that.

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Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Marks the End of Globalization for Russia | World In :60 | GZERO Media

End of globalization for Russia

Who poisoned Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich? Does Russia's invasion of Ukraine mark the end of globalization? Will Shanghai's lockdown begin to shift China away from its zero-COVID policy? Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week on World In :60.

First, who poisoned Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich?

Yeah, it's quite a story involved in the Russia-Ukrainian negotiations, and apparently claimed that he was poisoned. And it's interesting, he is, of course, a very well-known Russian oligarch. He's made his billions of dollars, purely because of the support and alignment with President Putin. And he has been fairly public in his concern with opposition to the war. Indeed, one of the reasons why some of the sanctions have been more limited against him than they would've been is because Zelensky, the Ukrainian President, reached out to the Biden administration and said, "This guy's actually being useful to us, and so it would be, you don't want to hit him too hard." And clearly, the Kremlin is angry about that. And so, I have no intelligence at all about who would've been responsible for his poisoning, but if it happened, the list from the Kremlin would be as long as my arm.

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