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SnapshotsMar 5, 2021 | 18:43 GMT
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken discusses his recent call with Russia’s foreign minister on Feb. 4, 2021. U.S. President Joe Biden stands behind him.
Gauging Russia’s Response to Potential New U.S. and U.K. Sanctions
For Russia, potential new U.S. and U.K. sanctions targeting its economic interests would be seen as a significant escalation and compel a range of responses, calibrated according to the perceived aggressiveness of London and Washington’s actions. On March 4, Bloomberg reported that U.S. and U.K. officials are considering additional sanctions against Russia over the poisoning and subsequent jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Although officials have refused to comment publicly, the options on the table reportedly include sanctioning Russian business elites and imposing restrictions on trading Russia’s sovereign debt. Between these two options, the latter would likely be a last resort, while the former is more likely in the near term.
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SnapshotsFeb 25, 2021 | 19:14 GMT
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan addresses his supporters gathered on Republic Square in downtown Yerevan, Armenia, on Feb. 25, 2021. Pashinyan called on the army to fulfill its duty and obey the people after the military called for him to resign.
In Armenia, Anger Over Nagorno-Karabakh Comes to a Head
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan is facing the most significant challenge to his beleaguered rule, although the outcome of the current standoff and any subsequent impact is likely to remain contained to the country. On Feb. 25, Pashinyan warned of an “attempted military coup” after military leaders called on him to resign following months of protests over his widely criticized handling of last year’s war with Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory. Pashinyan was responding to a letter published earlier in the day signed by Chief of the General Staff Onik Gasparyan and three dozen other military leaders, which stated Pashinyan was “no longer able to make adequate decisions at this current fateful and critical moment” and called on him to resign. Pashinyan also announced that he had dismissed Gasparyan, although that formally requires the approval of the country’s largely ceremonial president, Armen Sargsyan, who reportedly has not endorsed the
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AssessmentsFeb 24, 2021 | 22:33 GMT
A picture taken in London on Dec. 18, 2020, shows the logos of Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft displayed on a mobile phone and laptop screen.
With Democrats in Power, the U.S. Push Against Big Tech Grows
As momentum builds in the United States for landmark antitrust legislation and lawsuits on Big Tech companies, potential changes to U.S. mergers law and limits on growth avenues for large tech firms like Google could impact U.S. dominance in the global tech space, increasing competition with Chinese and European firms. On Feb. 4, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, the new chair of the Senate’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, introduced a new bill aimed at updating the United States’ antitrust laws. The so-called Competition and Antitrust Law Enforcement Reform Act (CALERA) proposes giving more resources to antitrust investigators, as well as rewriting the way that mergers and acquisitions (M&As) are reviewed over antitrust concerns. Although it has not yet been presented to U.S. President Joe Biden, the draft bill does give hints about how the new Democratic-led government could treat antitrust law reforms and tackle Big Tech.
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SnapshotsFeb 23, 2021 | 21:23 GMT
Norwegian army soldiers use snowmobiles for mobility during a military exercise on March 6, 2013, in Skjold, Norway.
Increased Arctic Activity Sets the Stage for U.S.-Russia Competition
The U.S. military is increasing collaboration with Nordic states in response to expanding Russian military and economic activities in the Arctic, pointing to a future of heightened competition with the potential for both strategic and tactical miscommunication or miscalculation. On Feb. 22, four U.S. B-1 bombers arrived for their first-ever deployment to Norway in a move widely seen as a signal to Russia. Five days earlier, the United States agreed with Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden to continue its participation in the biennial Arctic Challenge Exercise, one of Europe’s largest tactical air exercises and widely seen as practice to counter potential Russian belligerence, next scheduled for June 2021. The U.S. Army is also preparing to unveil its Arctic strategy in the coming weeks, as the changing climate turns the previously inaccessible region into an increasingly busy zone of military and economic activity -- particularly along the Russian frontier.
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SnapshotsFeb 2, 2021 | 17:23 GMT
A member of the airport police stands guard as a forklift unloads a container full of Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine from a plane in Ezeiza, Argentina, on Jan. 16, 2021.
Russia Delays Vaccine Shipments, Stalling Latin America’s Inoculation Efforts
A delay in shipments of Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine will likely push back inoculation timelines in Latin America, testing the future electability of politicians who were hoping to quickly roll out the vaccine. On Jan. 27, Russia announced that shipments of its Sputnik V vaccine to a number of countries will be delayed by two to three weeks. Argentina, Bolivia, Venezuela, Mexico and Paraguay will all be impacted, having already purchased significant quantities of the vaccine. Argentina, meanwhile, will receive shipments on an altered schedule. The delay is due to the facilities in Moscow expanding their production capacity in the hopes to meet growing global demand. Argentina was the first country to buy a significant amount of doses of Russia’s Sputnik V, but the vaccine’s popularity in the region spread due to its affordability and availability.
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AssessmentsJan 27, 2021 | 18:49 GMT
A campaign poster for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) reads "Freedom instead of socialism" in Krewelin, Brandenburg, ahead of state elections on Sept. 1, 2019.
Fears of Right-Wing Extremism Put Germany’s AfD Party in the Hot Seat
The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party may soon be designated as a “suspected case” of extremism, which would do short-term harm to the AfD’s electoral chances, while amplifying broader disputes on regulating speech that the party could then exploit to sustain long-term relevance. According to press reports, Germany’s domestic intelligence service, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), is preparing to announce whether it will treat the whole AfD as a threat to the country due to the growing influence of right-wing extremism (RWE) within the party. Doing so would allow the BfV to covertly surveil the AfD and its members, after a two-year investigation and a series of escalating measures. The BfV reportedly has identified numerous instances in which AfD politicians have used inflammatory, hateful language -- often against immigrants and racial, ethnic or religious minorities -- to promote RWE narratives that the BfV considers
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SnapshotsJan 25, 2021 | 22:05 GMT
First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon delivers a speech to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh on Sept. 1, 2020.
Understanding Scotland’s Call for a ‘Legal’ Independence Referendum
Scotland’s governing Scottish National Party (SNP) is calling for an independence referendum, but has been vague about the terms and the timing of such a vote. While independence is improbable in 2021, the issue of Scottish secession will continue to generate questions about the United Kingdom’s long-term territorial integrity. Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said on Jan. 24 that she would seek a “legal referendum” on Scottish independence if her SNP wins the legislative election on May 6. Current opinion polls suggest that the SNP should win the election by a comfortable margin. 
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SnapshotsJan 22, 2021 | 22:03 GMT
A photo taken on Oct. 21, 2020, shows the logos (left to right) of Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok on a computer screen.
Australia’s Proposed Media Code Turns Up the Heat on Google and Facebook
Australia’s pursuit of a media code that would force Facebook and Google to pay for sharing content from local media companies risks pushing the U.S. tech giants to pull some of their services from the country. During a Jan. 22 Australian Senate hearing, Google’s Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand Mel Silva said that if the country’s News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code is implemented in its current form, Google would have no choice but to remove Google Search from Australia. Later in the day, Facebook representatives echoed these remarks, threatening to pull Facebook News from Australia. In response to Google’s ultimatum, Prime Minister Morrison said that his country does not respond to threats.
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SnapshotsJan 13, 2021 | 21:35 GMT
Farmers depart on their tractors to New Delhi to participate in ongoing protests against the Indian government's new agricultural reforms in Amritsar, India, on Jan. 12, 2021.
In India, Court-Ordered Mediation Won’t Appease Angry Farmers
The suspension of India’s controversial new farming laws to hear protesters’ grievances will delay, but not derail, the implementation of the much-needed agricultural reforms.  On Jan. 12, India’s Supreme Court indefinitely suspended the implementation of three key agricultural reforms and ordered the formation of a four-man committee to mediate the government’s disagreements with the farmers engaged in ongoing protests. Per the court order, the reforms will remain suspended until the committee is able to find a new way forward. In the meantime, however, farmers’ demands will remain unresolved, which will likely lead to continued protests and demonstrations against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and one of the key pillars of his broader reform push.
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SITUATION REPORTJan 4, 2021 | 22:05 GMT
Belarus: President Allegedly Approved Foreign Assassinations in 2012
Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko allegedly authorized political killings abroad in 2012, according to an audio recording obtained and published by EUobserver on Jan. 4. The attacks never took place, but the recording purports to reveal the then-chairman of Belarus' intelligence service, Vadim Zaitsev, briefing members of a special task force about killing three opposition leaders living in exile in Germany and a journalist living in Russia.
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