The World This Week

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The World This Week
NATO Summit, G-7 Summit, Instability in Israel, and NATO's New Strategic Concept

  GP Team

The World This Week #172, Vol. 4, No. 21

3 July 2022

Padmashree Anandhan, Rishma Banerjee, Lakshmi Menon and Emmanuel Selva Royan

NATO Madrid Summit 2022: Leaders discuss emerging challenges to secure the Euro-Atlantic

What happened?

On 29 June, leaders of the NATO member countries issued the Madrid Summit Declaration and released the NATO 2022 strategic concept during the NATO summit held in Spain. The summit focused on improving deterrence, investing more in defence, Russia's growing aggression, and increasing support for Ukraine. Other regional threats were also discussed, such as dealing with the People's Republic of China and asymmetric risks arising from cyber, space, and technology domains.  

During the two-day summit, the leaders revealed the NATO 2022 Strategic concept as a guidebook to streamline NATO's actions towards the emerging security challenges in the region. The NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said: "We will agree a new Strategic Concept, the blueprint for NATO into the future."

On the same day, US president Joe Biden said: "…Putin was looking for the "Finlandization" of Europe. He's going to get the "NATO-ization" of Europe. And that's exactly what he didn't want, but exactly what needs to be done to guarantee security for Europe."

On 29 June, responding to NATO's new strategic concept, State Duma's international affairs committee chairman, Leonid Slutsky said: "NATO's strategic concept is a blind alley. The Madrid summit's decisions jeopardize security on the continent and elsewhere." On 30 June, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, on the NATO summit stated: "They expect unconditional obedience from all states to their will, which reflects their egoistic interests - primarily, the US' interests."

What is the background?

First, NATO's challenges and objectives. The summit exposed the intensity of the challenges for NATO from growing Russian aggression, a shift in the Euro-Atlantic peace, emerging security threats in the domain of human security, climate, cyber, space, new technologies, and lastly, the need to stand for Ukraine. Keeping all the challenges in the front, NATO's key objective lies in adhering to Washington Treaty, Article 5, and collective defence as its core strategy. To deal with the security threats, it proposes to expand its member base globally and diversify its defence systems. When it comes to resolving, it prioritizes open communication over direct conflict. Therefore, while NATO projects itself as a military alliance, on the other, it also showcases itself as an effective platform to resolve matters.

Second, the focus on China and Asia-Pacific. The discussions, which revolve around addressing the Russian threat and expanding NATO's capabilities, diverted its attention to the People's Republic of China as a security challenge to the region. Due to this, the summit involved leaders from Australia, Japan, and the Republic of Korea for the first time to analyze the challenge it poses in terms of security, logistics, and economy. Its interest in Taiwan will be another area to look out for in the upcoming NATO strategies.

Third, deepening engagements within NATO and the search for a new outlook. The strategic concept adopted by NATO might be a key development to streamline its approach to its challenges. However, the trilateral meeting held by Stoltenberg was most significant to NATO. The settling of the national security issue with Turkey and persuading it to support Sweden and Finland in joining NATO is another key achievement of NATO. The Nordic and Baltic countries which feared Russian attacks and intrusion can now be assured of their security with NATO's support. Although the ratification process of each member country would take time, Finland and Sweden stepping out from their non-alignment principle give NATO an upper hand to expand its defence horizon and protect the Euro-Atlantic. 

What does this mean?

First, NATO as a uniting bloc against security challenges of the Euro-Atlantic. The world leaders through the summit have jointly vowed to boost NATO and its allies military, missile systems along with nuclear, and cyber capabilities. This means creating a united military posture to against Russia, to deal the security threat posed by China and largely to address the question of democracy and rise of authoritarian governments. With regards to Russia, NATO plans to follow its deterrence strategy until there is a direct provocation by Russia.

Second, the likely focus on NATO's enlargement. In the enlargement process, NATO showcases its open-door policy; with Sweden and Finland joining the alliance soon, it will add significant value to territorial and military expansion. However, much strategy does not seem to be drafted regarding securing the Balkan front or the Arctic. 

G7 Summit: Ukraine dominates the agenda, undermining the development focus

What happened?

On 28 June, the G7 leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US concluded their three-day summit in Germany's Bavarian Alps. Germany, the host, also invited the leaders from India, Indonesia, South Africa, Senegal, and Argentina. Representation from the EU, UN, WTO and IMF also took part in the summit. The agenda included: global economy, sustainable planet, energy security, climate, economy, food security, health, counter-terrorism, and gender equality. 

On 28 June, the leaders announced the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII). The communique released by the G7 said: "Through our Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, we aim to mobilize USD 600 billion over the next five years to narrow the global investment gap. We will step up our cooperation globally, including through working towards new Just Energy Transition Partnerships with Indonesia, India, Senegal and Vietnam, building on our existing partnership with South Africa."

What is the background?

First, the focus on Ukraine. The G7 was to discuss developmental projects, but the Ukraine war dominated it. The summit coincided with Russia's bombing of Kyiv. The support from G7 amounts to USD 2.8 billion in humanitarian assistance and USD 29.5 billion in financial aid.  

Second, the China focus. The economic initiative of the Build Back Better World (B3W) was announced by the US at the G7 summit in June 2021. It was designed to provide an alternative to China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) for the G7-backed infrastructure development of low- and middle-income countries. 

Third, the climate and energy crisis. The G7 Ministers of Climate, Energy and the Environment met on 26–27 May 2022 in Berlin. Given the climate crisis, and the continued failure to adhere to the Paris Agreement and limit the global temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, the G7 was looking to take concrete steps on managing the climate crisis. Russia's war on Ukraine has worsened the energy security globally. Ahead of the summit, Germany’s chancellor Olaf Scholz said moving away from fossil fuels was of great importance given Russia’s fossil-fuel-funded war.

What does it mean?

First, the growing divide between Russia, China and the West. The summit reaffirmed their strong stance against Russia. Second, nod to the global south. Just Energy Transition Partnerships in already under progress in South Africa and will be extended to Indonesia, India, Senegal, Vietnam. This signals the G7's new focus on the Global South as an important economic partner. It also is a step to increase the group's sphere of influence across a region beyond the member countries. Third, concerns about China. The communique attempts to challenge China by the members referring to the human rights violations in Tibet and Xinjiang while also rejecting the country's claims in the South China Sea. 

Israel: Parliament dissolves and prepares for the fifth election in four years

What happened?

On 30 June, Knesset, Israel's Parliament (the Knesset) voted in favor of its dissolution, a legislative step that would send the country to re-elections in November 2022. After days of bickering between the coalition and opposition, the dissolution was passed with 92 lawmakers voting in favor of the motion and none opposing. 

Naftali Bennett, the shortest-serving Israeli prime minister handed over the office to the caretaker prime minister Yair Lapid who is also the country's foreign minister and the architect of the coalition government that was headed by Bennett and Lapid. This is in accordance with the power-sharing deal that was made following last year's inconclusive elections.

The new elections will be held on 01 November.

What is the background?

First, one year of Israel's coalition government. Its formation was a historic move as it saw Israel's longtime leader Benjamin Netanyahu being ousted after being in power for 12 years. The improbable and unusual coalition of the ideologically diverse parties seemed to have the common objective of keeping Netanyahu away from power. The coalition government and the opposition, headed by Netanyahu, had been sparring in the Knesset over the dissolution bill since Bennett announced the lack of tenacity of the eight-party alliance

Second, the Arab party coalition. The coalition government was the first ever Israeli government to comprise of an Arab party – the Islamist Ra'am faction. The latter's leader Mansour Abbas agreed to join the coalition in order to address the discrimination faced by Arabs and to secure greater government funding for the Arab minority of Israel (which is approximately 20 percent of Israel's population). Meanwhile, Netanyahu and his allies called the Arab faction "terrorist sympathizers"

Third, Bennett's retirement. Naftali Bennett of the Yamina party announced he would notn run in the upcoming elections. His party faced infighting and splintering after the coalition government was formed in 2021. Members of the Yamina party protested against what they called Bennett's unnecessary compromises to the liberal allies of the coalition

Fourth, renewal of the West Bank law. The last straw was the failure to renew the so-called West Bank law that would ensure that the occupied West Bank's Jewish settlers would live under Israeli law. The emergency law preserves the settlers' special status in the occupied West Bank. The outgoing Prime minister Bennett, also the former leader of a settler lobby group, expressed that if the measure were to expire on 30 June it would cause "constitutional chaos" and security risks. Dissolution of the Knesset prior to its expiration would mean that the law would be automatically renewed until the formation of a new government.

What does this mean?

First, the dissolution marks a formal end Israel's political experiment in 2021 wherein eight diverse parties from across Israel's spectrum converged to find a solution to the prolonged gridlock that Israel faced since 2018. Second, Netanyahu and his allies had been attempting to form a Netanyahu-led government within the currently dissolved Knesset. The upcoming elections and the opposition's inclination towards dissolving the Knesset signals Netanyahu's failure in forming such a government. Third, polls conducted by Israeli media project Netanyahu and allies as gaining seats. However, whether they would be able to secure the least required number of seats to form a majority in the Knesset (at least 61 seats out of Knesset's 120 seats) remains unclear. In the event of a failure by Netanyahu's faction or any other in securing a majority, Israel could once again go into elections. Last, the opposition leader Netanyahu's ongoing corruption trial plays an important role in the political crisis Israel has been facing in the last four years. 

TWTW Exclusive, 03 July 2022
NATO 2022 Strategic Concept: Four takeaways

Emmanuel Selva Royan

On 29 June, the members of the NATO convened in Madrid to endorse a new Strategic Concept to prepare the alliance for the future. The Strategic Concept reiterated that their primary objective is to assure "collective defense, against all threats from all directions".  

It outlines the three major responsibilities of the Alliance: deterrence and defense; crisis management and prevention; and cooperative security. The Strategic Concept highlights how crucial it is to invest in technological advancement and include issues like climate change, human security, and the Women, Peace, and Security agenda into their core tasks. The concept outlines a distinct hierarchy of dangers, with Russia as the first. The People's Republic of China, which appears in a NATO strategic concept as a "threat," is the concept's third most significant danger after terrorism and regional instability. 

Key Takeaways

First, Russia as a significant threat to regional security. The new concept states that Russia poses the biggest threat to the Allies and to the peace and stability of the Euro-Atlantic region. In light of this, improving joint deterrence and collective defense is the main task at hand. A suitable combination of nuclear, conventional, and missile defense capabilities, along with space and cyber capabilities, forms the foundation of NATO's deterrence and defense posture.

Second, NATO's desire to enlarge. The document states that they will broaden the outreach to nations in the larger neighborhood and worldwide and have an open mind to engage with any nation or organization. The document also mentions that the alliance would deepen ties with allies who support their values and the maintenance of international law. It further acknowledges that the developments in the Indo-Pacific "directly affect Euro-Atlantic security" and the need to strengthen collaboration with "new and existing partners," in this region; suggesting that additional countries may be invited to join NATO.

Third, hostility towards China. NATO finds Russia and China's growing relationship threatening the alliance's ideas and values. It claims that China wishes to take control of global logistics and its economy to challenge the current international order. Furthermore, it accused China of using various political, economic, and military instruments to expand its influence worldwide and project power with opaque intentions and plans. However, in order to protect the security interests of the Alliance, NATO remains open to constructive dialogue with China, and to develop reciprocal transparency.

Fourth, focus on human security and the Women, Peace, and Security agenda. NATO's focus on Women, Peace and Security is not new. However, the acknowledgment of human security is more recent and represents a move toward a focus on the effects of conflict on people. NATO still maintains its attention on implementing UNSCR resolution 1325 on the role of women in peace and security by placing these concerns across the core tasks. The work on implementation is still in progress, and part of that effort entails taking the lessons learned from years of operations in Afghanistan and applying them to NATO headquarters. Significant human security responsibilities are part of several roles that NATO forces will be preparing for. When opposed to more conventional Protection of Civilians (POC) tasks, issues that are extremely relevant to human security, such as culture property protection (CPP) will be prioritized.

Also, in the news...

Regional round-ups

East and Southeast Asia This Week

China: Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends and celebrates 20th anniversary of signing SCO charter 
On 29 June, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended the roundtable meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to celebrate the 20th anniversary of signing the SCO charter and the 15th anniversary of signing the "Treaty on Long-Term Good Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation" of the SCO member countries. Wang Yi reconfirmed China's commitment to work with the SCO in carrying forward the "Shanghai Spirit" and the desire to build a closer community with a shared future. He further called on the countries to strengthen solidarity and coordination within the organization while collectively addressing the risks and challenges and promoting mutually beneficial cooperation.

China: US responds to complaints on the Taiwan Strait
On 28 June, the US military responded to China's complaints that the passage of a US Navy aircraft through the Taiwan Strait last week jeopardized peace and stability and claimed that it showed the US's commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The P-8A anti-submarine plane was flying over a sensitive canal, and China alleged to have sent planes to monitor and warn the plane. The US Indo-Pacific Command said: "The United States will continue to fly, sail, and operate anywhere international law allows including within the Taiwan Strait. The aircraft's transit of the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the United States' commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific."

Hong Kong: Xi presides over John Lee's swearing-in as city's new leader
On 01 July, On Friday, the city of Hong Kong celebrated the 25th anniversary of its return to Chinese rule after having been placed under considerably stricter Communist Party control in recent years. Chinese President Xi Jinping presided over the ceremony at which John Lee, the new chief executive, was sworn in. The city's mini-constitution, the Basic Law, was upheld by Lee, a former security official who oversaw the crackdown on dissent following 2019 pro-democracy protests. Lee also swore allegiance to Hong Kong and promised to be accountable to the central government in Beijing. 

The US/Japan/South Korea: Leaders of the US, Japan, and South Korea to meet at the NATO summit to discuss on trilateral cooperation
On 30 June, the Strait Times reported that the leaders of the US, Japan, and South Korea have concurred that strengthening trilateral cooperation is essential for resolving challenges in the region, notably the growing threat presented by North Korea's expanding nuclear and missile capability. They also emphasized the necessity of increasing security and to reinforce American power as an extended deterrent for its two allies. US President Joe Biden met with the leaders of Japan's Fumio Kishida and South Korea's Yoon Suk-yeol outside of the NATO summit in Madrid. It was the first trilateral summit in five years and the first time the three nations had come together to work on mending fences. 

New Zealand: PM expresses concern on Chinese ambitions in the Pacific
On 02 July, Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern has once again voiced concern about China's ambitions in the Pacific, reiterating her statement that Beijing "has become increasingly assertive in our region." She said: "In recent times, there has been growing interest in the Pacific…The foreign policy position of some of the significant members of our region has changed. The order that has brought the region prosperity over the past 80 years is contested." 

Philippines: Taiwan rejects complaint regarding drills in the South China Sea 
On 29 June, Taiwan rejected a complaint from the Philippines on live-fire near an island under its control that is located deep in the South China Sea, claiming that it had the right to conduct the drills and that it always gave advance notice of them. In a tweet posted late on Tuesday, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs voiced "strong objection" to Taiwan's planned illegal live-fire drills surrounding the island, also known as Itu Aba. The island is referred to as Taiping in Taiwan and Ligaw Island in the Philippines.

South Asia This Week

India: Chinese automaker abandons project worth Rs 7,895 crores
On 02 July, the Times of India reported that Chinese automaker Great Wall Motor (GWM) will no longer be a player in the Indian automotive industry. Over 11 of GWM's employees had received pink slips at its India headquarters, three months of severance compensation, and one year of variable pay. Increasing political tensions between India and China, the delay in approval of GWM's plant in Pune due to government roadblocks, increased scrutiny over Chinese investments, amendment to the FDI rules, and the company's rejection of India's proposal to sell completely built-up units (CBU) are other factors that led to the company pulling out of the seven-crore project in India. 

Nepal and Bangladesh: World Bank extends aid
On 01 July, World Bank approved USD 1 billion in financial assistance to Bangladesh and Nepal for reducing transport and trade costs to ease the regional trade. The grant will be made through the Accelerating Transport and Trade Connectivity in Eastern South Asia (ACCESS). The program will help boost the economy of both countries. The paper-based procedure will be converted to digitized automated solutions in both countries. World Bank's Vice-President said: "Regional trade offers enormous untapped potential for the countries of South Asia. Today, regional trade accounts for only five percent of South Asia's total trade, while in East Asia it accounts for 50 percent. South Asia can boost economic growth significantly and create opportunities for millions of people by increasing regional trade and connectivity."

Pakistan: COAS meets with Qatar's Emir during an official visit to Doha
On 30 June, The Express Tribune reported that Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa met with Emir of the State of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani. COAS Bajwa who was on an official visit to Doha also met with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs Dr Khalid Bin Mohammed Al Attiyah. During the meetings, matters of mutual interest, defence and security cooperation and regional environment were discussed.

Pakistan: High-ranking Chinese politician promises to improve diplomatic cooperation with Islamabad
On 29 June, Yang Jiechi, member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and director of the Central Committee on Foreign Affairs arrived in Pakistan along with a high-level delegation. During the two-day visit, Jiechi held separate meetings with Prime Minister Shehbaz, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa. During the meetings, he promised to help reinvigorate ties between Pakistan and China and a further improvement in diplomatic cooperation with Pakistan at all levels.

Afghanistan: Taliban and the US discuss unfreezing of Afghan assets
On 30 June, the Taliban and the United States concluded a two-day meeting in Doha. Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West led their respective delegations. US Treasury Representative also attended the meeting. During the meeting, the two sides focused on the unfreezing of the Afghan assets. A Taliban government spokesperson claimed that the officials stressed that engagement with the Taliban government "should be cooperative and positive instead of pressure tactics to achieve progress," while renewing their commitment to not allowing anyone to use Afghan territory to harm neighbouring and other countries.

Sri Lanka: Members of the minority Tamil party seek India's aid to conduct elections
On 30 June, members of a party representing Tamil minorities in Sri Lanka urged Indian authorities to step in and exert pressure on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to hold the long-overdue elections. "The president has lost his mandate. So, this is the best time to hold the postponed provincial council election to test the public opinion," a leader of the Tamil Progressive Front said. Provincial elections remained upheld since 2018 in nine provinces. The election commission would be unable to raise funds to hold elections due to the current situation. The spokesperson, therefore, prompted the Indian and international body's cooperation to conduct elections.

Sri Lanka: CCPI hits an all-time high of 54.6 per cent
Official data suggest that the inflation rates in Sri Lanka have touched an all-time high rising up to 54.6 per cent. This marks a ninth consecutive hike in the inflation rates. It was noted that the Colombo Consumer Price Index (CCPI) crossed the 50 per cent mark for the first time. The statistics were released a few hours after the International Monetary Fund advised the government of Sri Lanka to curb inflation and deal with prevalent corruption in order to save its struggling economy from being destroyed by a currency crisis. The CCPI stands at 54.6 per cent after the recent hikes.

Sri Lanka: Amendment proposed to trim President's powers, receives criticism from members of the civil society
On 30 June, the Telegraph reported that the government of Sri Lanka proposed to amend the constitution in order to curtail the presidential powers. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has been under constant pressure to resign since he is blamed by critics for the financial crisis. The proposed amendment would create a constitutional council and nine self-sustaining commissions to enhance government. However, members of Sri Lanka civil society have criticized the 22nd Amendment to the constitution. It was argued that the proposed amendment does not impose any checks and balances on the existing power structure nor limits the president's unrestricted powers. The legislation outlines a broad arena of issues that must be taken into account and addressed with regard to the appointment of the President. It also encompasses the duties and responsibilities of the Prime Minister, creation of new commissions and the manner in which the Cabinet will be held collectively responsible.

Central Asia, Middle East and Africa This Week

Turkmenistan: Sixth Caspian Sea summit discusses geopolitical developments in the region
On 29 June, the presidents of Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan met in Ashgabat for the sixth Caspian Sea Summit to discuss regional cooperation and international issues. At the end of the summit, the leaders signed a communique which reiterated their agreement to keep any foreign militaries from the Caspian and the importance of cooperation in the military sphere between the Caspian nations.

Tajikistan: President Putin meets with President Rahmon 
On 28 June, President Vladimir Putin met with President Emomali Rahmon during his one-day visit to Tajikistan. A spokesperson for Rahmon stated that no documents would be signed during the visit, only bilateral ties, cultural and economic relations, and regional and global issues would be discussed. This was President Putin's first public visit since the start of the Ukraine crisis in February 2022.

Iran: Indirect talks with the US on reviving JCPOA hits an impasse
On 29 June, the US State Department criticized Iran for raising unrelated issues and being confused about reviving the 2015 Nuclear Deal. The indirect talks between Iran and the US have ended without much progress at resolving the stalemate. The statement by the US State Department said: "Indirect discussions in Doha have concluded, and while we are very grateful to the EU for its efforts, we are disappointed that Iran has, yet again, failed to respond positively to the EU's initiative and therefore that no progress was made." On 30 June, Iran's Ambassador to the United Nations Majid Takht Ravanchi addressed the Security Council and expressed the country's willingness to engage in new indirect talks with the US to reach an agreement on the JCPOA. Majid said: "The ball is in US's court, and if the US acts realistically and shows its serious intention to implement its obligations, the agreement is not out of reach."

Tunisia: President publishes proposed constitution to increase presidential powers
On 30 June, president Kais Saied published the proposed new constitution that will be voted on in a referendum on 25 July. The draft constitution proposes that the government be answerable to the president and not the parliament; however, the parliament can withdraw support to the government with a two-thirds majority. The president will also have the power to present draft laws, be the sole power to propose treaties, draft state budgets, decide appointment or removal of ministers and judges. The president can also extend the two-term tenure if the president felt an unavoidable threat to the country. Various other measures increasing the president's powers are also listed in the draft.

Mali: Military government announces election timetable for return to civilian rule
On 29 June, the government spokesperson announced that presidential elections would be conducted in February 2024. Prior to the elections, a referendum on a revised constitution will be held in March 2023; local and legislative elections would be held in October and November 2023 respectively. The spokesperson said the above decision indicates a return to constitutional order. The announcement comes ahead of the meeting of the ECOWAS leaders wherein the regional organizations are expected to discuss whether sanctions on Mali should continue. 

Libya: Leaders fail to reach a consensus on the electoral process 
On 30 June, the two-day talks between Libya's rival talks concluded without any solution to conduct elections. From the two sides, parliamentary speaker Aguila Saleh and president of the High Council of State Khaled Al-Mishri met in Geneva for the UN-brokered talks regarding a draft framework for parliamentary and presidential elections. On 01 July, protesters demanding an end to the political deadlock stormed the parliament in Tobruk and burnt a part of the building. Several protests were also held in different cities across the country. 

Sudan-Ethiopia: AU calls for restraint amid diplomatic tensions
On 29 June, the Africa Union called on Sudan and Ethiopia to refrain from military action amid border clashes between the two countries. The AU statement came after Sudan reportedly fired artillery on the Al Fashaqa region along its border with Ethiopia and captured the Jabal Kala al-Laban area. Prior to this, on 26 June, Sudan's foreign ministry said it would recall its ambassador to Ethiopia and also summon Addis Ababa's ambassador over the alleged killing of seven Sudanese soldiers by the latter's military. Ethiopia denied these allegations.

Europe and The Americas This Week

Russia: Withdrawal from Snake Island 
On 30 June, Russia announced its retreat from its strategic outpost near the Danube Delta. The Ukrainian military published images of the Snake Island with their flag. The reason for the Russian retreat is likely the result of the repeated Ukrainian attacks, specially the ones using Western supplied weaponry. The region has been the key battleground between the two forces. One of the other reasons would be the recent deliveries of NATO arms deliveries that made the cost of fighting in the region too costly for Russia to hold it. 

Norway: Russia threatens retaliation over blocked Arctic access
On 30 June, the Russian side responded and threatened retaliation after Norway stopped/blocked a shipment of essential goods that were headed to the miners on the Svalbard archipelago. The blocked shipment was headed for Barentsburg where 400 people working for Arktikugol, the Russian coal mining company. The sanctions were placed due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to the Norwegian leadership, but violates the provisions of the Svalbard treaty of 1920.

Scotland: Dates for the new referendum on independence day
On 28 June, the first minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, decided to hold the next referendum of independence on 19 October, 2023. She wrote to the prime minister Boris Johnson to obtain formal approval for the vote to take place. However, even if it is not approved by the UK government, Sturgeon declared she would move through with her proposal. In response, the UK government stated that it would look into Sturgeon's proposal but it remained of the opinion that "now is not the time" for another vote. In addition, it has stated that it is obvious that Westminster controls the constituent. 

The EU: Germany agrees to back the 2035 CO2 cars phase-out with a condition 
On 28 June, Germany agreed to support the 2035 fossil fuel cars phase-out under a few changes to the EU package. Germany wants to add CO2-neutral fuel cars to be added to the proposed bill. If the bill is adopted by the EU, it would ban the sales of carbon-emitting fuel cars from 2035 onwards. But Germany wants to add a clause so that carbon-neutral cars can be exempted. Countries such as Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania have requested to delay the implementation of the bill. These nations called for a 90 per cent phase-out of CO2 cars by 2035 and 100 per cent by 2040. Poland similarly supports the lighter ban. This bill is part of a set of laws developed to help the EU to tackle its carbon emissions reduction goal.

The UK: MPs support bill to scrap parts of the Northern Ireland protocol 
On 27 June, a bill to override parts of the Northern Ireland protocol passed the initial approval from the house of commons. This controversial bill will create a new layer of tension between the UK and the EU. The EU has taken legal action against the UK for breaching the post-Brexit deal. Former prime minister Theresa May said that this bill will besmirch the reputation of the country. Almost all of the ruling conservatives and MPs from the Democratic Unionist Party(DUP) voted for the bill leading to a majority of 74 votes. British foreign secretary Liz Truss said that the UK had no option but to choose this way because the EU was not flexible with the deal. The passing of the bill will lead to a resumption of power-sharing in Belfast, which was paused since May's assembly elections due to the NI protocol issue. The move was argued to be legal as it was committed to preserving Northern Ireland's 1998 Belfast/Good Friday peace agreement. This would look bad for the UK as it is seen as breaking an obligation.

United Nations: General Secretary announces ocean emergency at Lisbon Ocean Conference 
On 27 June, the UN General Secretary António Guterres spoke at the opening of the organization's ocean conference that took place in Lisbon. He spoke about how the ocean needs to be saved. He raised concerns over the rising sea level, ocean heating, acidification, and plastic pollution in the largest water bodies. He further went on to say that the oceans are being exploited and that the member nations should concern themselves with the protection of the high seas. The harm done to oceans may have adverse effects on small nations and coastal cities and may even cause flooding. Increased fishing and marine pollution have led to a reduction in the population of marine life forms. He also talked about dumping wastewater and plastic in the ocean and how it degrades marine ecology. He called for global awareness of marine pollution and to raise global health. The draft declaration focuses on ways to achieve SDG 14 and improve the health of the ocean. The final draft of the political declaration is expected to be adopted by the end of the conference.

The US: Basketball player Brittney Griner's trial begins in Moscow
On 01 July, the trial against WNBA player Brittney Griner started. She has been detained in Russia since February when she was allegedly caught at the airport carrying cannabis-derived vape cartridges. Griner has made no comments about her detention, but one of her lawyers said that she was naturally worried about her possible sentence if proven guilty. The US state department has said that Griner has been wrongfully detained and that they will continue to push for her release. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov however, denied the charge and said that the court would decide the trial's outcome. The next hearing for this case has been scheduled for 07 July 2022.

About the authors
Akriti Sharma, Harini Madhusudan and Rashmi Ramesh are PhD Scholars in the School of Conflict and Security Studies at the National Institute of Advanced Studies. Avishka Ashok, Abigail Miriam Fernandes, Apoorva Sudhakar, Padmashree Anandhan and Rishma Banerjee are Research Associates at NIAS. Arshiya Banu and Ayeshani Yadav are research interns at NIAS. Lakshmi Menon is a PhD candidate at the Gulf Studies Center at Qatar University. Emmanuel Selva Royan is a Research Assistant in the School of Conflict and Security Studies at the National Institute of Advanced Studies. 

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