Russia-Ukraine: Two years of war
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What We’re Watching: Argentina’s super minister, China-Zambia debt deal, Ukrainian grain trader dead

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

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.

China gives Zambia debt relief, paving way for others

Zambia's creditors, led by China, will give the cash-strapped African country enough debt relief to unlock a $1.3 billion IMF loan it desperately needs to get back into the black. It's the first time that Beijing has coordinated with other governments to restructure the debt of a low-income country instead of collecting on its own. This is good news not only for Zambia but also for other nations that owe a lot to China such as Sri Lanka, which has already defaulted, and Pakistan, which could be next. Zambia, the first country to default after COVID struck, is often cited as a glaring example of China's so-called debt trap diplomacy. But President Hichilema Hakainde, elected in late 2021, has successfully leveraged the country's vast copper reserves to reassure both the IMF and China (the latter wary of the bad optics of squeezing African countries. The deal also puts pressure on private creditors to give more breathing room to heavily indebted nations grappling with high inflation and a strong US dollar. But there's a catch: private investors will have to agree to at least as much debt relief as public creditors.

The latest from Ukraine

Russia’s war in Ukraine escalated on multiple fronts over the weekend, particularly with heavy shelling in the southern city of Mykolaiv that killed businessman Oleksiy Vadatursky. The death of Vadatursky, head of one of Ukraine’s top grain exporting companies, comes just as grain shipments are set to finally resume on Monday from its Black Sea ports. Meanwhile, Ukraine claimed it killed dozens of Russian soldiers near Kherson, crucial for the Kremlin’s supply lines lines in the Donbas region. But Kyiv had to play defense as well, as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ordered the mandatory evacuation of civilians in the eastern Donetsk province, indicating that fighting is likely to get even more intense there. Finally, Russia was forced to cancel Navy Day in Crimea after its Black Sea Fleet was attacked by a drone from inside the Russian-occupied peninsula hours after President Vladimir Putin announced a new security doctrine with global maritime ambitious and declaring America as Russia’s greatest enemy.


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