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No progress after US/NATO-Russia talks, Boris Johnson in trouble

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Kiev, Ukraine

First question, how is the crisis in this part of Europe developing?

Not good. There's been a week of intense diplomacy with talks in Geneva, and Brussels, and Vienna that produced virtually nothing. The Russian, sort of key demands are outrageously unrealistic. They know that is the case. The US is trying to engage them on somewhat different issues. We'll see if there's any prospect there, but it doesn't look too good. I think the likelihood is that we gradually will move into the phase of what the Russians call military technical measures, whatever that is.

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The Graphic Truth: Boris on the ropes

Boris Johnson is a political animal. He's also famous for being impervious to scandal, often emerging from a new controversy stronger than before. But recently the British PM has been caught in so many political scandals that most Brits — and his own Conservative Party — have now turned their back on him, perhaps for good. We take a look at Johnson's approval ratings over the past year, highlighting a few of the dramas that have eroded his popularity.

What We’re Watching: Putin-Xi heart each other, Boris survives Tory revolt, Fed may raise US interest rates

No new friends — Putin and Xi. The leaders of Russia and China held a conspicuously chummy video conference on Wednesday at a time when both are getting an earful from “the West.” Putin told his “dear friend” Xi that he will absolutely attend the Beijing Winter Olympics next February despite a US-led diplomatic boycott over China’s human rights abuses, and that China is right to be worried about Western military maneuvering in the Pacific. Xi, meanwhile, told his “old friend” Putin that China supports Russia’s demands for security guarantees from NATO. Both men reportedly discussed developing alternative financial structures in order to evade Western sanctions — the US and EU have threatened to shut Russia out of SWIFT if the Kremlin invades Ukraine (again). Russia-China relations have always been tricky — they have clashed over borders in the past and Moscow is perennially worried about being dwarfed economically by its more populous neighbor. But as the US gears up for a push against authoritarian countries, the two most influential important ones are closing ranks.

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Omicron variant unlikely to lead to lockdowns by governments

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at the omicron variant, the Honduras presidential election, and the pros and cons of getting stuck in a UK pub for three days in a snowstorm.

As the omicron variant emerges, is a return to lockdown next?

The answer is, only in a few play places, because people are exhausted from lockdowns. They're angry with their governments from doing it. Governments are going to be very reluctant to have the economic hit as a consequence, especially when they know they can't pay out the relief money that they've been paying over the last couple of years, and they're not yet sure about just how much of a danger omicron is. I think all sorts of travel restrictions, but unless and until you see that the spread starts leading to significant lethality, hospitalizations, and once again, the potential for ICUs to be overwhelmed, I do not expect many significant lockdowns that are countrywide at this point. Not least in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the populations are very young and as a consequence, you can have a lot of spread and they're not paying attention to it, frankly.

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Understanding the UK’s gas shortage

As the UK prepares to host COP26, Britons have cut back on fossil fuels... out of necessity. For weeks, they've been lining up at gas stations, sometimes fighting at the pump not because there's not enough fuel but rather due to a shortage of truck drivers to deliver it. Yet another unintended consequence of Brexit, which has caused many EU truckers to leave the UK and makes it harder for Great Britain to get fuel from mainland Europe.

Watch this episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer: Surviving a warming planet


Aid to Sudan suspended over military coup; China's bid to join CPTPP

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at Sudan's military coup, China's efforts to join the CPTPP, and the UK's Brexit-induced disruptions.

The coup has taken over in Sudan. What's happening there?

Well, there are coups and attempted coups in Sudan all the time. In this case, the military taking out a transitional civilian government, which is problematic for a couple of reasons. One, because they're not going to allow investigations to proceed. And with a lot of the generals taking over, being with corruption charges against them. And secondly, because the money that they desperately need from the IMF international aid and other sources not coming because they've gotten rid of the economic comparative technocrats, including the Prime Minister, an economist himself. There's going to be need to back down and at least compromise at some point because they're desperate to have international support, but first, they want to ensure that they're all staying in power. And that is unfortunate for the people of Sudan. And if it mattered to the United States and Europe, they'd be making headlines, but it really doesn't. It's like Egypt and Ethiopia and the Emirates are the key players here and you're not going to see many headlines.

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Antony Blinken mending fences with France following AUKUS rift

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

How is US Secretary of State Antony Blinken doing with his talks in Paris?

Well, seems to be fairly okay. He had a lengthy discussion with the Foreign Minister Le Drian and he was even received by the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron. There's a lot of fence-mending to be done, but a start has been done. And that's good.

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After Merkel, who leads Europe?

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

Who's going to be the leading voice politician in Europe after Angela Merkel leaves?

Well, that remains to be seen. First, we need to wait for the outcome of the German election, and then it's going to take quite some time to form a government in Germany to see who's going to be chancellor. And then of course we have elections coming up in France in the spring. Macron is likely to win, but you never know. So by next summer, we'll know more about that. And then there are other personalities there. There's Mario Draghi, prime minister of Italy, who has a strong personality. Mark Rutte of the Netherlands, as long as he's there. So it's going to take quite some time for this to be sorted out.

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