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Russia and the global order

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Lots of Russia news, as is so often the case over the last year. A little bit less frankly about Ukraine and more about Russia's position vis-a-vis the US and the global order, and I fear/suspect that that is increasingly going to be what we're going to be talking about going forward. One big piece of news, of course, this American journalist for the Wall Street Journal arrested on charges of espionage, Evan Gershkovich, it's going to be a secret trial. The Russians, having picked him up, said that they caught him red-handed. There is no presumption of innocence when you're grabbed on espionage in Russia.

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The Wall Street Journal reporter, Evan Gershkovich.


US reporter charged with espionage in Russia: Will foreign reporters now flee?

Evan Gershkovich, an American reporter working in Moscow for the Wall Street Journal, was arrested last week. One day after co-authoring a bombshell report on how Western sanctions were finally taking a toll on the Russian economy, Gershkovich was pulled last Wednesday from a restaurant in Yekaterinburg, near the Ural Mountains, by Russian authorities. He was charged with espionage and could face up to 20 years in jail.

This marks the first time since 1986 that a US journalist has been accused of spying in Russia. The Journal, along with dozens of other media outlets, the Biden administration, and the Committee to Protect Journalists are demanding Gershkovich’s immediate release. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has spoken with his Russian counterpart on the matter. But things look bleak for the 31-year-old, whose parents fled the former Soviet Union, before settling in New Jersey.

GZERO sat down with New York-based Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, to get her take on what comes next, how Western media firms might react to this event, the risks journalists face in Russia, and what this means for future coverage of the war in Ukraine. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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Reporter for U.S. newspaper The Wall Street Journal Evan Gershkovich, detained on suspicion of espionage, leaves a court building in Moscow, Russia March 30, 2023.

REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina

What We’re Watching: Moscow’s muscle flex, Bolsonaro’s return, Lasso losing his grip

Russia nabs US journalist

A Wall Street Journal reporter apprehended by Russia’s notorious Federal Security Bureau in the city of Yekaterinburg Thursday has appeared in court in the Russian capital on espionage charges, which the Journal has dismissed as bogus.

Evan Gershkovich, who works out of the Moscow bureau for the New-York based outlet and earlier this week penned a bombshell feature on how sanctions are hurting the Russian economy, was on a reporting trip when he was seen being escorted into an FSB van in scenes reminiscent of the Soviet era. Indeed, he’s the first US journalist to have been arrested by Russian authorities since Ronald Reagan was in the White House. The Committee to Protect Journalists has demanded his immediate and unconditional release.

The Kremlin claims that the 31-year-old reporter was “collecting state secrets” on behalf of the US government. But many analysts say this is likely an attempt by President Vladimir Putin to flex his muscles and gain some leverage amid reports that Russia is stalling in Ukraine, with one US general claiming that ongoing fighting in Bakhmut is a “slaughter-fest” for Moscow.

Putin may be looking to secure some sort of trade deal with the US, like he did last fall when Washington agreed to swap WNBA star Brittney Griner, held in a Russian prison, for Viktor Bout, a Russian citizen and notorious arms dealer held in US custody since 2008. But Griner was held for the lesser offense of possessing a small amount of weed oil. Espionage is a whole other ballgame.

We’ll also be watching to see whether US media outlets now respond by pulling reporters out of Russia. After all, the US State Department has urged all US citizens to leave the country fearing a situation just like this.

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The US Couldn’t Have Won in Afghanistan | The Red Pen | GZERO Media

The US couldn’t have won in Afghanistan - but Biden’s mistakes lost US credibility

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Bradley Bowman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies argue that maintaining US military, financial, and political support in Afghanistan could have staved off a Taliban takeover. Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Charles Dunst take out the Red Pen to break down why staying in Afghanistan is not a reasonable option.

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Ian Bremmer: Russian Cyber Attacks, Electoral College & Dr. Jill Biden | Quick Take | GZERO Media

Quick Take: Russian cyber attacks, the Electoral College & Dr. Jill Biden

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hey everybody, Ian Bremmer here. Yet another week of your Quick Take. What the hell is going on?

Well, first, I mean, the news that we really didn't want to hear, these massive cyber attacks, almost certainly from Russia against the Department of Treasury, Department of Commerce and other places. So what do we make of this? Well first of all, this is not about timing to hit right before Biden becomes president. These attacks have been going on for months, we only just found out about them so they've been engaged. We could have found out after the election, before. The Russians were, in this case, they didn't know if Trump was going to win or not. They did it anyway. I think what's more relevant is that there are just an enormous number of vulnerabilities that the United States has in all of its critical infrastructure.

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China Expelling Journalists | US-China Tensions Rise in Pandemic | Amb. Cui Tiankai | GZERO World

China Expelling Journalists | US-China Tensions Rise in Pandemic

China's ambassador to the U.S., Cui Tiankai, discusses his nation's decision to expel reporters from major publications like The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, saying it was in retaliation for similar treatment of Chinese journalists in America. Ian Bremmer then asks him if the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated already strained China/US relations.

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