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Europe matches US travel restrictions; Ukrainian president asks for US support

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

With the EU having achieved 70% vaccination of the adult population, why are new travel restrictions being proposed?

Well, it's with the US, because the US has restrictions against Europeans. And with the EU now having more vaccinations than the United States has, this is sort of a signal to the US that perhaps we should look at this again.

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“Crimea river”: Russia & Ukraine’s water conflict

Russia and Ukraine have been at odds over lots of things in recent years, but the latest spat is over something particularly fluid and intractable: water.

While much of the attention on Ukraine's conflict with Russia tends to focus on eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists control two Ukrainian provinces amid an ongoing civil war that's already killed 14,000 people, there's also Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014 and continues to govern directly.

Since that time, Crimea has been running out of drinking water, and Moscow isn't happy about it.

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Belarus human rights abuses stacking up; Beirut blast one year later

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at the deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus, Delta variant woes, and Lebanon one year after the Beirut blast.

An Olympian refuses to return home to Belarus and an anti-Lukashenko activist has been found dead in Ukraine. What's going on?

Yeah. That anti-Lukashenko activist was found hanged in a park in Kiev. Once again, not exactly likely a suicide. These anti-Lukashenko activists have a way of turning up injured or dead. It's a horrible regime. Their friends are limited largely to the Russians. That's about it. The economic pressure is growing from Europe, from the United States, very coordinated. But the problem is a very hard to do much to Lukashenko when he has not only support of his military, but also the support of most of the workers in the country who aren't prepared to strike because they want to ensure they still have jobs. I expect this is going to continue, but human rights abuses are stacking up. It is nice to see that the Americans and the Europeans are coordinating policy as well as they have been.

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What We’re Watching: Draghi’s gamble, new hotspot for US-bound migrants, Russia-Ukraine water wars

"Super Mario" takes his chances: Less than five months after becoming Italy's consensus prime minister, Mario Draghi's coalition government is on shaky ground over Draghi's proposed judicial reforms. "Super Mario" — as he's known for saving the Eurozone as European Central Bank chief during the financial crisis — wants to dramatically speed up Italy's famously slow courts. But his push to reduce judicial backlogs is opposed both by the populist 5-Star Movement, the coalition government's biggest party, and by prosecutors because many cases could be scrapped before reaching a verdict. Draghi, upset that this resistance is stalling his other initiatives to cut Italian red tape, has decided to roll the dice anyway: he'll put his plan to overhaul the courts to a no-confidence vote in parliament. If Draghi wins, he gets the reforms passed without debate; if he loses, the PM technically has to resign, but he'll keep his job because he has enough votes even if the 5-Star Movement bows out of the coalition.

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NATO’s role as a deterrent is still critically important to the US

In his New York Times op-ed, Stephen Wertheim says that Americans should "want no part" in NATO. It's a provocative argument, but misses the mark, according to Ian Bremmer, who breaks out the Red Pen with Eurasia Group analyst Charles Dunst to argue that now is not the time for the US to back out of NATO.

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Hackers shut down US pipeline

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here. Happy Monday to you. A Quick Take. I wanted to talk about this unprecedented hack that has shut down a major pipeline in the United States. The Colonial Pipeline carries well over 2 million barrels a day. It's about half of the East Coast supply of gas and jet fuel. In other words, really not something you want to have suspended. And when I think about the impact of cyberattacks in the world, I mean, we've been warning that this is going to be a bigger challenge going forward, we're now really starting to see the implications of it.

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What We’re Watching: US vaccine patent U-turn, right wins big in Madrid, Biden weighs in on Russia-Ukraine

US reverses course on vaccine patents: In a surprise move, the Biden administration will now support waiving international property rights for COVID vaccines at the World Trade Organization. Until now the US had firmly opposed waiving those patents, despite demands from developing countries led by India and South Africa to do so. Biden's about face comes just a week after he moved to free up 60 million of American-bought AstraZeneca jabs — still not approved by US regulators — for nations in need. It's not clear how fast an IP waiver would really help other countries, as the major impediments to ramping up vaccine manufacturing have more to do with logistics and supply chains than with patent protections alone. But if patent waivers do accelerate production over time, then that could accelerate a global return to normal — potentially winning the US a ton of goodwill.

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Russia will withdraw forces from Ukraine but Putin reveals nothing

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective on Europe In 60 Seconds:

What are the Russians up to against Ukraine?

We simply don't know, except the fact that they're concentrating a huge amount of military forces. And you don't do that for nothing or for fun. They are there for a purpose, to have pressure or to undertake limited to larger operations. We simply don't know. And when Putin delivered his State of the Union speech the other day, he didn't say a thing about this. They are now talking about withdrawing the forces. But let's wait and see. They have talked about withdrawing forces from Syria for a long time, but we haven't seen that as of yet.

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