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Indian PM Narendra Modi.

Reuters

Bombastic Modi no more?

Would the Narendra Modi of 2019 – the year his clampdown on Kashmir drew ire from human rights activists worldwide – have backed down on Prophet Mohammad-related gaffes made by members of his party? Pre-pandemic, would the bombastic Indian prime minister have missed a chance to forcefully weigh in on Sri Lankan domestic affairs amid a dire political crisis?

It wasn’t so long ago when former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa alleged in 2015, just days after voters removed him from office, that India’s spy agency, the Research & Analysis Wing, had helped oust him from power. Now, the tone of Rajapaksa’s family toward India couldn’t be more different. Namal, Rajapaksa’s son, recently thanked Modi and “the people of India” for sending aid to his country at a time when Sri Lanka is battling its worst economic crisis since independence in 1948.

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Sri Lankan army patrol on a main road in Colombo following clashes between anti-government protesters and supporters of the Rajapaksa family.

REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

Sri Lanka on the brink

For weeks, Sri Lanka has been in the grips of a deepening economic and political crisis, teetering on the brink of anarchy and chaos as a largely bankrupt state at risk of becoming a failed one. Massive protests driven by soaring fuel and food prices have forced the resignation of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and upped the pressure on the international community to help alleviate the suffering of Sri Lankans. China and India, which have both vied for influence in the small island nation, are looking on nervously. We spoke to Eurasia Group’s Peter Mumford to get a sense of what might happen next and what the geopolitical stakes are.

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Marcos Jr. Wins in Philippines: No Huge Changes in Governance Expected | World In :60 | GZERO Media

Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s win, corruption and kleptocracy in the Philippines

With Marcos Jr. about to win the presidency, how will his leadership change the Philippines? Sri Lanka's prime minister resigned. Will its president be next? Is Sinn Féin's victory a sign that a united Ireland is closer? Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week on World In :60.

With Marcos Jr. about to win the presidency, how will his leadership change the Philippines?

Well, it was a big win, almost 30 points over his opponent, and the first time we've seen an absolute majority in Philippines history for the presidency. Not huge changes expected in governance. Let's keep in mind that the vice president is actually the daughter of President Duterte, who's just leaving power. The president and the vice presidents here are actually... Those elections are held separately, and so you can have different parties that actually win, and frequently do, which is sort of an unusual twist to the Philippines. Pro-foreign direct investment, generally pro-markets, a little bit more of a US and Western tilt as opposed to Duterte, whose military really was skeptical of China, but he personally was more engaged with Beijing. The big question is what's the cabinet going to look like, how independent, how technocratic, or is there going to be a lot of corruption, a lot of kleptocracy? Keeping in mind that Bongbong, the new president, is the son of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, who were drummed out for an extraordinary abuse of power in the Philippines before. So what everyone's going to be watching.

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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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Sri Lankan workers protest in front of the president's office at Colombo.

Tharaka Basnayaka via Reuters Connect

What We’re Watching: Sri Lanka on strike, trouble in Transnistria, Salvadorans back Bukele

Sri Lankans strike to get president out

Virtually all business activity in Sri Lanka ground to a halt on Thursday, as workers went on a nationwide strike to demand the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. For weeks, Sri Lankans have been protesting amid the country’s growing economic and political crisis. Sri Lanka is on the brink of bankruptcy, having already defaulted on its sovereign debt and depleted its foreign currency reserves used for food and fuel purchases. Officials have been trying to get some relief from China and the International Monetary Fund, but Beijing will only refinance, and the IMF requires deep economic reforms. Meanwhile, trade unions say they'll strike permanently if Rajapaksa doesn't step down by May 6. The president is willing to appoint a new interim government and even drop his brother Mahinda as PM, but Mahinda himself has refused to resign. The opposition, which is close to getting a no-confidence vote to remove both Rajapaksas, hopes to appease Sri Lankans who have lost faith in their political leadership.

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A torn flag of Ukraine hung on a wire in front of a destroyed apartment building in Mariupol.

REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

What We’re Watching: All eyes on Mariupol, IMF to the rescue, Shanghai mulls easing lockdown

Mariupol's last men standing

As President Volodymyr Zelensky predicted, Ukraine’s remaining fighters in Mariupol ignored Moscow’s deadline to surrender on Sunday. Zelensky has warned that he'll call off peace talks if Russia carries out threats to kill these defenders. After a seven-week siege, Russia is close to capturing the strategic southeastern port city. This would help form a land bridge from mainland Russia to Crimea and boost Russia’s efforts to gain control of eastern Ukraine. The Kremlin recently decided to concentrate on the Donbas in the second phase of its invasion. But Russia continued to also strike the capital, Kyiv, over the weekend and hit Lviv in western Ukraine with missiles on Monday. Is this a response to Friday’s sinking of the Moskva, the flagship of Russia's Black Sea fleet? The EU, meanwhile, is preparing its next round of sanctions, and Zelensky’s economic adviser estimates that Ukraine will need at least $1 trillion for its economy to recover from the war with Russia. Where will it get the money? Keep reading ...

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Zelensky addresses the UN Security Council in a video message

Anthony Behar/Sipa USA via Reuters Connect

What We’re Watching: Zelensky at the UN, French race tightens, Sri Lankan crisis worsens

Zelensky wants justice over Russian war crimes

In his first address to the UN Security Council, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday said Russians accused of war crimes in Ukraine must be brought to justice, noting that the atrocities in Bucha and elsewhere are the worst Europe has seen since World War II. Prior to Zelensky’s speech, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance is working with the UN-backed International Criminal Court to investigate the alleged war crimes. The International Court of Justice has already ordered Russia to cease and desist but has no authority to enforce its ruling. But some argue that pursuing indictments during ongoing conflicts can frustrate efforts toward peace agreements, thereby raising the risk of further atrocities. Meanwhile, the mounting allegations are putting more pressure on Western powers to slap harsher sanctions on Moscow — perhaps even targeting Russian oil and coal by the EU.

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A soldier takes a photograph of his comrade as he poses beside a destroyed Russian tank and armored vehicles in Bucha, Ukraine.

REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

What We’re Watching: Russian war crimes, Orbán 4.0, Sri Lankan turmoil

EU sanctions loom over alleged Russian war crimes

After Russian forces withdrew from the outskirts of Ukraine's capital, President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government on Sunday accused them of committing war crimes by massacring civilians in the Kyiv suburbs of Bucha, Irpin, and Hostomel. Authorities are gathering evidence of the alleged atrocities to build a case against Russian officials at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, and former ICC chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte wants to issue an international arrest warrant for Putin. To convict, Ukrainians would need to show a pattern of deliberate targeting of civilians. Still, the carnage has convinced the EU to act: it is preparing a wave of fresh sanctions against the Kremlin. It's unclear what the new measures will be, but pressure is mounting on the bloc to finally target Russian oil and natural gas, which many EU states depend on for energy. Late Sunday, Zelensky appeared at the Grammys in a pre-taped message. "Our musicians wear body armor instead of tuxedos," he said, asking viewers to support Ukraine any way they can. Meanwhile, Russia-Ukraine peace talks may resume on Monday in Turkey, and Moscow is saying it’s not yet ready for face-to-face talks between Putin and Zelensky.

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