Viewpoint

There is little intrigue about the outcome of Russia's elections to the Duma (the lower house of parliament) on 17-19 September. The pro-Kremlin United Russia party has won every national election in Russia under President Vladimir Putin, dating back to 2003, and this time will be no exception.

Still, in recent months, the Kremlin has dialled up various forms of political repression against opposition figures, those connected to them and independent media.

We asked Eurasia Group Russia analyst Jason Bush what this escalating repression tells us about Putin's hold over public opinion, and what questions it raises about Russia's long-term future.

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El Salvador will become the world's first country to formally adopt the cryptocurrency Bitcoin as legal tender on 7 September. The move is the brainchild of President Nayib Bukele, a young leader who's eager to shake up El Salvador's economic policy, and is wildly popular with approval ratings of 87 percent. Eurasia Group experts Risa Grais-Targow and Paul Triolo explain how it's all supposed to work.

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Walmart aspires to become a regenerative company – helping to renew people and planet through our business. We are committed to working towards zero emissions across our global operations by 2040. So far, more than 36% of our global electricity is powered through renewable sources. And through Project Gigaton, we have partnered with suppliers to avoid over 416 million metric tons of CO2e since 2017. Read more about our commitment to the planet in our 2021 ESG report.

The deaths of 13 US service members in twin suicide attacks outside Kabul's airport during the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan has turned what could have been just a temporary political crisis — the mismanagement of a foreign policy objective — into a much more durable, and increasingly damaging crisis for President Joe Biden.

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In a bid to capitalize on sustained high public support, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called a snap election for 20 September, less than two years since the last national vote. Initial polling suggests that Trudeau's Liberal Party has a good chance of recapturing the majority in parliament it lost in 2019, though much will depend on how the campaign evolves.

Still, one thing is clear: This is Trudeau's election to lose. If he is successful in scooping up enough new seats in parliament, that will give the Liberals four more years to execute an agenda that goes big on recovery spending, climate change, and social and health programs. It could prove a risky gamble, however, if he fails. Mikaela McQuade, director at Eurasia Group, explains what to expect.

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As the Taliban complete their breathtakingly rapid campaign to retake control of Afghanistan and thousands of people swarm Kabul's airport in a desperate bid to flee the country, the world is watching with bated breath to see what happens next. The US is primarily preoccupied at the moment with completing the withdrawal that set off the Taliban offensive and extracting all its citizens safely, while other countries in the region are already looking ahead and worrying that an Afghanistan led by the Taliban could once again become a staging ground for actions by Islamic terrorists.

Pakistan, however, is much less concerned, given its history of close ties with the Taliban. Eurasia Group analyst Akhil Bery explains that Pakistan stands to benefit from the Taliban's recapture of Afghanistan, though it also poses some risks.

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The next elections are more than a year away, but Brazilians are already holding their breath: President Jair Bolsonaro will face off against former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, in a very tight contest between two of the most popular and yet controversial political leaders in Brazil. Polls are giving Lula an edge today, mostly because of Bolsonaro's mismanagement of the pandemic, but a lot will change until October 2022, especially as a recovering economy makes Bolsonaro more competitive.

If Lula wins, coming back to power after spending almost two years in jail for alleged corruption, Brazil will take a dramatic policy shift in many areas, especially on the environmental agenda. But stakes are high not only because of that: with so much in play, Bolsonaro is threatening to contest the election results if he loses. We find out more from Silvio Cascione, Brazil director at Eurasia Group.

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The Biden administration is finally devoting more attention to Southeast Asia. Last week US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin traveled to Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines, marking the first regional visit by a Biden cabinet official. A trip by Vice President Kamala Harris is already in the works as well, and this week Secretary of State Tony Blinken will meet (virtually) with ASEAN counterparts.

The flurry of activity comes after earlier concerns that President Joe Biden was neglecting Southeast Asia, the region where US-China rivalry is the most intense. To understand better what Austin's visit meant, and what comes next, Eurasia Group's lead Southeast Asia analyst Peter Mumford spoke to us from Singapore.

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