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Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting in Veliky Novgorod.

Sputnik/Gavriil Grigorov/Pool via REUTERS

Russia’s sound and fury

It’s been a dramatic week for Russia and Ukraine.

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GZERO Media

6 months of Russia's war in Ukraine

Wednesday marks 31 years since Ukraine declared independence from the former Soviet Union. But it’s also the grim six-month anniversary of Russia bringing total war back to Europe with its invasion of Ukraine. The EU and US responded by vowing to apply maximum pressure on the Kremlin to get the Russian military to back down.

So far, the results have been mixed. What have both sides gained – and lost – since war erupted?

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Ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan travels on a vehicle to lead a protest march in Islamabad, Pakistan.
REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

What We're Watching: Khan charged, Petro the peacemaker, Finland's partying PM, Russia-Ukraine latest

Former Pakistani PM charged under terror act

A Pakistani judge charged Monday former ousted PM Imran Khan with violating the anti-terror act for threatening judicial officers in a speech. Khan has been granted bail, but he could face several years in prison if he's convicted of the terror charge. Since he was removed in a no-confidence vote in April, the former PM has been touring the country, leading huge rallies trying to pressure the government into calling a snap election. Khan is plotting his comeback boosted by his resurgent popularity, which helped his party win a recent election in Punjab, the country's most populous province. The turmoil comes at the worst possible time for Pakistan, embroiled in a severe economic crisis: poor Pakistanis are suffering the most from double-digit inflation, and the country is on the brink of default on its sovereign debt. Khan's supporters have warned they'll march on Islamabad if he's arrested, so keep an eye out for Thursday, when the former PM is scheduled to appear before the judge. Meanwhile, he's been banned from speaking in public and his speeches removed from YouTube.

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Paige Fusco

Zelensky ups the ante

During a speech on Wednesday, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky made a striking statement: “This Russian war … began with Crimea and must end with Crimea — with its liberation.” He added a bold prediction: “I know we will return to the Ukrainian Crimea.”

In the process, Zelensky has defined victory not just as the erasure of Russia’s territorial gains since the invasion began on February 24; he’s said victory demands the eviction of Russian troops and civilians from the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia has controlled since 2014. And he says victory will be achieved.

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Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his cabinet ministers pose for a photo in Tokyo, Japan.

REUTERS/Issei Kato

What We're Watching: Japanese PM's cabinet reshuffle, Zelensky's bold speech, India's green bill

Moonies out of the Japanese government

Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday removed all cabinet ministers linked to the controversial Unification Church from South Korea, whose members are known as Moonies (after founder Sun Myung Moon). The ruling Liberal Democratic Party came under intense scrutiny over its ties to the church following the shocking assassination last month of former PM Shinzo Abe, whose assassin blamed the church for his family’s financial ruin. Abe was not a member but praised the conservative values of the Moonies, who campaigned on behalf of his brother — the biggest name to get a pink slip from Kishida. The PM — with no ties to the church — has had a wild ride in the polls lately. His approval rating initially skyrocketed out of sympathy for the slain leader, sweeping the LDP to a big victory in the upper house elections just days later. But now his popularity has tanked to the lowest level since he took office due to a backlash against the church, long suspected of pulling the LDP's strings. The cabinet reshuffle may help boost Kishida’s numbers a bit, but he’s not out of the woods: COVID infections keep rising, and a slim majority of Japanese citizens oppose the government-funded state funeral for Abe planned for Sept. 27.

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Sergio Massa attends an event after the 2021 midterm elections in Buenos Aires.

REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

What We’re Watching: Argentina’s super minister, China-Zambia debt deal, Ukrainian grain trader dead

Can a "super minister" save Argentina?

Argentina's embattled President Alberto Fernández has appointed Sergio Massa, the influential leader of the lower house of parliament, to head a new "super ministry" that Fernández hopes will help steer the country out of a deep economic crisis. Massa, Argentina's third economic minister in less than a month, will oversee economic, manufacturing, and agricultural policy. He has his work cut out for him owing to soaring inflation, farmers demanding tax relief, and a recent run on the peso. Massa also needs to convince the IMF that Argentina will comply with the terms of its $44 billion debt restructuring deal. There's a political angle too: he's (arguably) the strongest candidate the left-wing Peronista coalition has to run for president next year if the unpopular Fernández drops his bid for a second term. Massa is one of very few politicians who can navigate the ongoing rift between the president and his powerful VP, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. If the new "super minister" does a good job, he'll be in pole position for a 2023 presidential run; if he fails, the ruling Peronistas will face long odds to stay in power.

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Zelensky and Boris Johnson Hit the Beach | Puppet Regime | GZERO Media

Zelensky and Boris Johnson hit the beach

Volodymyr Zelensky just wanted to thank Boris Johnson for all his help, but it turns out you really can't take the (lame duck) British PM anywhere these days.

Watch more PUPPET REGIME!

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A church is pictured during sunset as a heatwave hits Europe in Oisy-le-Verger, France.

REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

What We're Watching: European scorcher, Zelensky's purge, Khan's comeback, Tory race

Europe feels the heat

European leaders are worried about storing enough energy to keep houses warm next winter, but many on the continent currently wish their houses were cooler amid this summer’s drastic heatwave. For the first time, temperatures are expected to exceed 40 C (104 F) in England this week, and the government is urging Brits to work from home. Meanwhile, firefighters are battling wildfires amid extreme temperatures in France, Greece, Portugal, and Spain. More than 1,000 people have died on the Iberian Peninsula, with temperatures having topped 47 C in Portugal last week, and the death toll is expected to rise across Europe. In France, experts are predicting a “heat apocalypse,” and environmental scientists warning that these summer heatwaves will soon become the norm, not the exception. In a bid to make progress in fighting climate change, leaders from 40 countries, including UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, met in Berlin on Monday for the 12th Petersberg Climate Change conference. The main focus of discussions was rebuilding trust between developed and developing countries ahead of this November’s COP27 climate summit in Egypt.

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