Ukraine

Many countries have pledged weapons and military equipment – and big bucks – to help Ukraine better arm itself against the Russian army. Just this week, the US announced an additional $550 million in military aid to Kyiv in the near term, including more ammunition for the much-coveted High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS). Making commitments is one thing, but delivering on those pledges is another. Indeed, some countries – like France and Italy – have been criticized for not providing more military aid to Ukraine, yet both those states have delivered on 100% of their commitments. While it is by far the largest single contributor to Ukraine's war chest, the US has yet to follow through on over half of its military aid commitments. We look at 10 countries that have pledged the most military aid to Ukraine and at how much they have delivered.

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

REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

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

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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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni walk during their meeting in Entebbe.

REUTERS/Isaac Kasamani

Russia’s brutal military offensive may be taking place in Europe, but the battle to shore up support for its cause is now playing out in … Africa.

Russia’s top diplomat, Sergey Lavrov, is currently on a tour to reassure African allies of Moscow’s commitment to alleviating the global food crisis.

But Lavrov is not to be outdone by French President Emmanuel Macron, who is also on a three-nation tour in Central and West Africa. Washington, meanwhile, has sent an envoy to Ethiopia and Egypt.

Russia, the EU, and US have long tried to court developing countries in bids to expand their respective spheres of influence. But as war rages on in Europe, why the intense focus on Africa now?

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European Commission holds a news conference in Brussels.

REUTERS/Yves Herman

EU’s deepening gas woes

Europe’s gas crisis went from bad to worse on Monday after Russia announced that it would slash deliveries to Germany via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to 20% capacity beginning this week. The Kremlin’s dramatic move is further testing the European Union’s cohesiveness just days after Brussels called on members to voluntarily cut natural gas consumption by 15% until at least April 2023. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, wants its 27 member states to cut back in order to boost stockpiles ahead of winter as Russia continues to use its natural gas exports as a political weapon. But the sense of European unity that defined the early stage of the war – when the bloc rallied together to enforce crushing sanctions on Moscow – is now waning. Countries like Spain and Portugal that rely less on Russian natural gas than the Germans and Italians, say the plan doesn’t account for EU countries’ disparate needs (a diplomatic way of asking why the heck they should suffer because Berlin has failed to diversify its energy portfolio). Though Brussels prefers for the plan to remain voluntary, it has threatened to make reductions in gas consumption mandatory across the bloc. The plan could go to a vote as soon as Tuesday and requires 15 of 27 states to back it. For now, the bickering continues.

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A demonstrator holds up a mock mouse head during a protest against inflation in Panama City.

REUTERS/Erick Marciscano

Protests paralyze Panama

In yet another example of how inflation caused by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine is stoking social upheaval around the globe, the Central American country has been paralyzed for weeks by protests over the high cost of food and gasoline. The demonstrations began in late June, fueled by footage of lawmakers partying with $340 bottles of whisky, and they have continued despite the government’s move to lower gasoline prices over the weekend. Now, with highways partly shut by protesters, food, and fuel shortages are worsening, and the government is rationing electricity to parts of the country because fuel trucks can’t get through. For decades, Panama has been relatively stable, owing to revenue from the Panama Canal and the fact that its currency is pegged to the US dollar. But as the Panamanian salsero Rubén Blades once noted, life is full of surprises: the pandemic crushed GDP by nearly 20% in 2020, and the recovery has been slow, with the jobless rate remaining above 12%. Meanwhile, inequality ranks among the highest in the region, and activists say corruption is rampant, even though the country returned to democracy in 1990 after Uncle Sam’s heavy metal ouster of dictator Manuel Noriega.

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Annie Gugliotta

Draghi throws in the towel

Italy's embattled Prime Minister Mario Draghi finally stepped down on Thursday for a second time in a week, hours after winning a vote of confidence in the upper house of parliament on Wednesday evening. This time, President Sergio Mattarella didn't reject his resignation but asked him to continue as caretaker PM, presumably until a fresh election is held.

The vote of confidence was partly hijacked by mass abstentions from three of the top parties in his coalition: the populist 5-Star Movement, the far-right Lega, and the center-right Forza Italia. The no-shows broke Draghi’s hopes of keeping together a strong majority, and in the end he kept his promise to stay on as PM only if he held the coalition together. That was impossible since both Lega and Forza Italia wanted to ditch 5-Star, which they blame for the government’s collapse after rejecting Draghi's energy crisis relief plan.

The PM's departure puts an end to 18 months of a fragile unity coalition government, and ushers in a period of deep uncertainty for Italy and Europe at a critical time. Inflation and energy costs are both surging, and Draghi didn't have time to pass the reforms necessary to unlock EU pandemic relief funds. Also, the next government might be led by the Euroskeptic far-right party Brothers of Italy, out of the coalition and whose leader Georgia Meloni celebrated the exit of "Super Mario".

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