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S3 Episode 6: Economic weapons & fallout of the new Cold War

Listen: In 1985, after four decades of standoff between the world's biggest superpowers, US President Ronald Reagan had a private conversation with the Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev. Reagan asked him, "What would you do if the United States were suddenly attacked by someone from outer space? Would you help us?"

"No doubt about it," Gorbachev responded.

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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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Russian Hackers' Arrests Timing Likely Just Coincidence, Says Ukraine Analyst | GZERO World

Russian hackers' arrests timing likely just coincidence, says Ukraine analyst

Russia recently arrested 14 hackers from REvil, a ransomware gang involved in last year's cyberattack against the Colonial Pipeline in the US.

Some think it was a gesture by Vladimir Putin to deescalate tensions with the US over Ukraine. But analyst Alina Polyakova tells Ian Bremmer she doesn't buy it.

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Podcast: Ukraine crisis: the signals pointing to Russian invasion

Listen: Tensions in Ukraine are high as Russia builds up its military capacity along the border. Cyber attacks on Kyiv have also increased. Can the US and NATO do anything to deescalate the situation, or will Putin decide to invade?

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What would a Russian invasion of Ukraine actually look like?

No one knows whether Russian President Vladimir Putin plans on invading Ukraine. But the president of the United States sure seems to think this is a real possibility, saying Wednesday that Putin will likely "move in" in the near term. Biden, prone to political gaffes, was then forced to awkwardly walk back comments that Russia would face milder consequences from the West in the event of a "minor incursion."

The timing of this blunder is... not great. It comes just as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken prepares to meet his Russian counterpart on Friday in hopes of lowering the temperature after recent diplomatic efforts in Geneva were deemed a failure by Moscow.

Indeed, with the Kremlin having amassed at least 100,000 troops surrounding Ukraine on three sides, the growing threat is impossible to ignore. So what would a Russian military offensive into Ukraine actually look like, and how might the West respond?

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What We're Watching: US and Russia in Geneva, mass testing in Tianjin, a big loss for Venezuela's Maduro

US and Russia in Geneva. Senior US and Russian diplomats opened talks in Geneva on Monday, kicking off a round of discussions between Kremlin and Western officials across Europe over the next few days. Vladimir Putin wants Joe Biden and NATO leaders to redraw the security map of Europe by promising that Ukraine, Georgia, and other Russian neighbors will never join NATO and that the security alliance will not place missile system in Ukraine. That would, in effect, redivide Europe into Western and Russian spheres of influence. The Biden administration and NATO officials have said they will not allow Russia to veto NATO membership for countries that want to join. European leaders have warned the US to honor these promises, and Ukraine’s government is watching and waiting as an estimated 100,000 Russian troops remain poised near the Ukrainian border. Russia says it will pursue its aims by military means if necessary. NATO says it's ready to respond. The US says any Russian incursion into Ukraine will draw harsh sanctions against Russian and more supplies of Western weapons for Ukraine. Putin began this game of chicken, and we’ll be watching in coming weeks to see how far he wants to push it.

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Annie Gugliotta & Jess Frampton

Can talks between Russia and the West prevent war in Ukraine?

Amid mounting fears of a war between Russia and Ukraine, US and Russian representatives will meet in Geneva on Monday to discuss security issues, including NATO expansion and the recent Russian troop buildup on the border with Ukraine. Russia and NATO representatives will also meet in Brussels on Wednesday about the same tensions, with further talks in Vienna on Thursday hosted by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. We asked Jason Bush, senior analyst at Eurasia Group, what has prompted the flurry of meetings, and what can be expected from them.

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What We're Watching: Israel's fourth shot, Nordic NATO jitters, EU nuclear debate heats up

Fourth time’s the charm in Israel. As the COVID omicron variant sweeps the globe, Israel has become the first country to roll out a fourth vaccine shot for health care workers, immunocompromised residents, and people over the age of 60. (The eligibility criteria will likely be broadened in the weeks ahead.) Pushing back against those who say that more research is required to gauge the effectiveness of a fourth shot, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that omicron is “a new ballgame altogether.” This comes as Israel's health ministry said recently that the country could soon reach herd immunity due to a combination of vaccination rates (64 percent of the population is fully vaccinated) and mounting infections (Bennett warned Sunday that daily infections could soon reach 50,000, up from the current daily caseload of 6,500). Israeli health officials say that although omicron’s spread is inevitable, the aim is to keep deaths and hospitalizations as low as possible by keeping inoculation rates sky-high. Will other countries follow suit?

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