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Analysis News

Russian Aggression in Georgia and Ukraine: Powerful and Worrying Parallels

Introduction

Ever since Ukraine was attacked on 24 February, the Georgian people have expressed their full support for the besieged country through protests, volunteering, donations, etc. Ukrainian flags can be seen hung on every balcony, window and door in the downtown area, the suburbs, and so on. Every evening, thousands gather in the city center to display solidarity with Ukraine.

Parallels between the invasion of Ukraine and Georgia (2008)

For many Georgians, including myself, this invasion of Ukraine is eerily similar to that of the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008. The parallels are indismisible. During the 2008 war, Russia recognised two Georgian breakaway regions – Abkhazia and South Ossetia – and stationed its troops there. Since then, Tbilisi has pushed even more strongly for closer integration with the West, via closer ties to the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), even if membership in neither body seemed immediately likely. Similarly, in Ukraine in 2022, Russia recognized the independence of two breakaway regions, Luhansk and Donetsk. In order to “defend” the two proclaimed independent states, Russia then conducted a “special military operation,” which lead to the current situation.

Georgia’s reaction

Despite these parallels and the broad public backing for Ukraine, the Georgian government has tiptoed around the crisis, fearing the consequences of provoking its powerful northern neighbor, Russia. The day after Russia invaded, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili said his government would refuse to join any Western sanctions on Moscow, dismissing them as unproductive. Despite citizens’ anger, Gharibashvili has remained cautious. This is partly due to the real economic crisis that could occur if Georgia imposes sanctions, as well as the Georgian Dream Party’s proclivity to support Russian actions. But despite the government’s hesitance, its divisions with the Kremlin are increasingly on display. On 28 February, the National Bank of Georgia said it would act “in accordance with the international resolutions and standards and cannot and will not help evading implementing these sanctions”. On 3 March, Georgia, along with Moldova, followed Ukraine’s lead in filing a formal application for EU membership.

While building more contacts with Russia, Georgia has been feeling increasingly frustrated with the lack of real prospects of joining the EU or NATO. Since 2014, when Georgia signed an Association Agreement with the EU, it started adjusting its laws and economic policies to meet Europe’s criteria for accession. In an attempt to build support among NATO powers for its bid to join the alliance, Georgia kept its troops in Afghanistan until the very last weeks before the U.S. withdrawal. But these investments were not enough to overcome resistance among European and U.S. officials and politicians who see the downsides of Georgian membership in either organization as outweighing any benefits. Many existing members argue that Georgian membership would anger the Kremlin and deepen its conflict with the West, reducing rather than increasing security for all.

Conclusion

Georgians can feel the agony that a Russian invasion brings, having fought our own war with Russia almost fourteen years ago. But many in the country’s leadership believe saber-rattling and diplomatic protests could put Georgia high on President Vladimir Putin’s radar, leading to problems in the long-term. Hours before Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine, a senior Georgian official told civil society representatives that the leadership often has to choose between a “bad option and a worse option. Unfortunately, this is our reality”.Russia can easily, cheaply and effectively harm Georgian stability by leveraging its influence in the breakaway regions whose pursuit of self-rule Moscow champions and where its troops are already stationed. Its border guards patrol the South Ossetian line of separation with Georgia, including within a few hundred meters of a major highway linking Tbilisi to Georgia’s Black Sea coast and in close proximity to the Baku-Tbilisi-Supsa pipeline that delivers oil from Azerbaijan to Europe and elsewhere. The line of separation in this area seems to be creeping steadily forward into the Georgian government-held areas – and there may be little Georgians can do about it.

These aggressive tactics make the Tbilisi leadership wary. A small shift of the line that brings more territory under the control of the breakaway regions could displace thousands of people. Even more worrying to Georgian officials is the possibility that Moscow could exploit any small incident along the line to resume a military invasion and take even more Georgian territory. Georgia, like several other former Soviet states, can ill afford, militarily or economically, to pick a fight with Russia. Despite the show of Western resolve over Ukraine, as far as sanctions and military equipment are concerned, Georgia, smaller, less significant and farther away, fears being left alone to face Russia.

Sources

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Analysis News

Sanctions imposed on Russia: a big change to daily life

Introduction

This year, on the 24th of February, the world witnessed the Russian invasion of Ukraine. After rising tensions, the Russian Government decided to start the ‘special military operation’ which has since claimed thousands of lives. As a result of this conflict, many countries were quick to impose strict economic sanctions on Russia, which have already had their effect on the Russian economy. But what are the consequences of such sanctions on daily life in Russia?

What sanctions have been imposed?

Many countries, among them the US, UK, New Zealand, and the EU member countries, immediately imposed different sanctions to try and stop Russia from further military actions. The more or less immediate reaction of the US government was to ban the export of certain technologies to Russia, which would “make it harder… to modernize [Russia’s] oil refineries.” (Al Jazeera) However, one of the most significant actions the US took was banning Russian oil, which is one of Russia’s biggest exports. Among many others, the EU froze the European assets of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. Russia’s ally country, Belarus, also suffered some consequences as the EU banned imports of products from tobacco, mineral fuels, cement, steel, iron, etc. Many different companies such as IKEA, Spotify, and Apple have also decided to leave Russia. Among them are also Visa and Mastercard who have suspended operations in Russia. This has already had its effects on the Russian economy because people are unable to complete transactions.

Impacts on daily life in Russia

When the war started and the sanctions were imposed, the Russian rouble “plummeted…, leading many retailers to raise their prices.” People living in Moscow believe that while food may not disappear, prices will probably rise exponentially. “On 20 February I ordered groceries for 5,500 roubles [about $57; £44] and now the same basket costs 8,000,” says an EU citizen living in Moscow. While certain retailers are simply limiting the amount of products people can buy, others have “agreed to limit price rises on some staples to 5%”. Moreover, there has been a more than 10% increase in the prices of smartphones and televisions, but many of them quickly sold out before the companies left the Russian market.

International impacts

Perhaps one of the most significant sanctions was one imposed by the US when it banned imports of oil and gas from Russia. The UK has also followed in the US’s steps and has started to “phase out oil imports”. The European Union said it would “move to end its reliance on Russian gas”. 

Why is this important? Along with Iran and Qatar, Russia is home to the largest reserves of natural gas. Half of the world’s natural gas reserves in 2020 were accounted for by the three aforementioned countries. In 2021, 45% of the EU’s gas imports and 40% of its entire gas consumption came from Russia. Despite the EU and other countries announcing plans for ending their reliance on Russian oil and gas, it seems as though these sanctions will have certain long-lasting consequences. As soon as the US stopped such imports from Russia, oil and gas prices started to rise and the same is expected in other countries that have imposed similar bans.

Conclusion

Sanctions imposed on Russia have so far affected its citizens much more than the people with the power to stop the war in Ukraine. However, their long-lasting effects on the conflict remain to be seen. It is true though, that bans on Russian oil and gas from some of the major countries in the world will have great consequences for the world’s economy as people are realizing their economic dependence on Russia and governments who support Ukraine will try to distance themselves from such policies and trade in the future. Daily life in Russia, although already hard, is expected to get harder, as products disappear and soon enough, jobs might also vanish. In this case, Russia will have a very hard time getting its economy back on track and the lives of its citizens back to normal.

Sources

Al Jazeera Staff. “Infographic: How Much of Your Country’s Gas Comes from Russia?” Www.aljazeera.com, 17 Mar. 2022, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/3/17/infographic-how-much-of-your-countrys-gas-comes-from-russia-interactive. Accessed 19 Mar. 2022.

—. “List of Sanctions against Russia after Ukraine’s Invasion.” Www.aljazeera.com, 3 Mar. 2022, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/2/25/list-of-sanctions-on-russia-after-invasion.

—. “US Bans Russian Oil: What Is next for Oil and Gas Prices?” Aljazeera.com, Al Jazeera, 9 Mar. 2022, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/3/9/us-bans-russian-oil-what-does-this-mean-for-oil-prices.

Badshah, Nadeem. “Visa and Mastercard Will Both Suspend Operations in Russia.” The Guardian, 5 Mar. 2022, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/05/visa-and-mastercard-will-both-suspend-operations-in-russia. Accessed 19 Mar. 2022.

Hanbury, Mary, et al. “Here Are the Major US and European Companies Pulling out of Russia Following the Invasion of Ukraine.” Business Insider, 10 Mar. 2022, http://www.businessinsider.com/list-all-the-companies-pulling-out-of-russia-ukraine-war-2022-3#28-tiktok-28. Accessed 19 Mar. 2022.

Shamina, Olga, and Jessy Kaner. “Russia Sanctions: How the Measures Have Changed Daily Life.” BBC News, 13 Mar. 2022, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-60647543.

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Analysis

Georgia’s Ambitions for a Regional Transit Hub

Introduction

Since the dawn of time, Georgia has remained at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. It lies in the Caucasus and is the only country in the region that has access to the sea. The government of Georgia has realized the full potential of turning Georgia into a transit powerhouse. 

Over the past few years, Georgia has been heavily investing in improving it’s connectivity with its neighbors, including Russia, by building higher capacity highways and repaving pothole-ridden roads. By 2032, it is expected that Georgia’s main economic artery, the E60, will be motorized. This corridor will allow for more traffic on the E60, or S1, the only artery that links west to east Georgia. 

A picture of the E60 currently in Zestafoni. 

Present Situation

Currently, the E60 is full of heavy duty trucks while being an open access two-lane road. The road is prone to damage and often closed due to the weather. This weakens Georgia’s main economic artery as it limits the ability to exchange capital and goods. Therefore, it also raises the costs of companies to ship across the country or to other countries. This results in many shortcomings such as limiting Georgian exports and hampering the prospects for many companies here.

In turn, this makes Georgia reliant on foreign imports, which means that Georgia consistently runs a current account deficit. To be honest, Georgia has been running a trade deficit since gaining independence. Therefore, the Georgian Lari must be strong in order to make imports cheaper, otherwise there will be imported inflation triggered by rising import prices. 

Plans of the Georgian Government

With this in mind, the Government of Georgia has decided to convert the E60 into a motorway which will allow for faster transits between Azerbaijan and Turkey, as well as improving the Georgian military road S3. 

Current roadmap of Georgia 

This will reduce the cost of transportation of goods and capital, therefore, reducing the likelihood of imported inflation, along with increased competitiveness of Georgian firms as costs will be reduced. Other smaller upgrades on the S12 and S2 are underway which will further reduce the costs of transportation in Georgia which will help Georgian firms and make Georgia a transit powerhouse in the Caucasus.

Conclusion

A comparison of Georgia to its neighbors. 

Regardless, there is much work to be done as shown above. This can be touted as a success in increasing the potential output of Georgia, but it is hard to say this will help increase it to its full potential as Georgia still needs a lot of work in many areas of infrastructure which the Government, in its new 10 year plan, has laid out. With further improvements in these fields, it is safe to assume Georgia will increase its potential output and keep growing at a rapid pace. 

Sources

https://tradingeconomics.com/georgia/current-account

https://agenda.ge/en/news/2021/2082

https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/sites/c9c594ac-en/index.html?itemId=/content/component/c9c594a%20c-en

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News

Human Rights Group Shut Down By the Russian Supreme Court

Introduction

Memorial Human Rights Center — the oldest human rights center in Russia — is to be liquidated by the orders of the Russian Supreme Court. The decision was made after the Court revoked the legal status of its sister organization, Memorial, which started off as an initiative group that served the preservation of the memory of Soviet repression. In 2015, the group was marked as a foreign agent in the government register, and the most recent court ruling concluded the lawsuit in which prosecutors warranted the group violated its regulations.

Why is this significant?

On the 28th of December 2021, the court stated that Memorial “creates a false image of the USSR as a terrorist state, [which] whitewashes and rehabilitates Nazi criminals”. The closure of this internationally acclaimed organization marks a point in Russia’s history, as recently, more and more NGOs and media outlets have been closed as a result of the “foreign agent” legislation, apart from the Memorial Human Rights Center. The efforts of independent media to spark a conversation about the crimes under Soviet leaders have been effectively shut down many times showing the sensitivity of the current government to criticisms of the country’s past. 

The decision to close the organization was called “political” by Genri Reznik, a lawyer who represented Memorial in court, among many others. He defended the organization by stating the following: “The Memorial Society promotes the health of the nation. To eliminate this from the history of the country now means to contribute to the idea of ‘the state is always right’.”

Public Outcry

Because of Memorial’s popularity among the Russian public, the group was hoping that large public support might negate the court’s decision. Memorial gathered more than 127,000 signatures in its support, followed up by testimonies from people who uncovered the stories of their relatives as a result of Memorial’s work of obtaining the necessary records. 

People such as the former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev and the Novaya Gazeta editor, Dmitry Muratov have also spoken about this issue. “The long-term activity of Memorial has always been aimed at restoring historical justice, preserving the memory of hundreds of thousands of victims during the years of repression, preventing such things now and in the future,” they said in a joint statement.

Police arrested several protesters, out of around 100, who stood outside the court and chanted “shame” when the decision to shut down the group was made.

Conclusion

As such events increase day by day, public outcry becomes more and more significant on a global scale. Memorial, in particular, stated they would appeal the ruling before the European Court of Human Rights. It seems as though the closure of groups such as this one, results in a bigger acknowledgment of Russia’s past than it would have without the court’s extreme verdict. Capturing the attention of international media, the case was commented on by many, including Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywinski, the director of the Auschwitz Museum, saying “A power that is afraid of memory, will never be able to achieve democratic maturity”.

Sources

  1. Al Jazeera. “Russian Court Orders Closure of Leading Rights Group Memorial.” Www.aljazeera.com, 29 Dec. 2021, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/12/28/russia-supreme-court-orders-closure-of-leading-rights-group. Accessed 3 Jan. 2022.
  2. International Memorial. “Memorial – Memorial History. A Timeline.” Memo.ru, http://www.memo.ru/en-us/memorial/memorial-history-timeline/. Accessed 3 Jan. 2022.
  3. Rainsford, Sarah. “Russian Court Orders Oldest Civil Rights Group Memorial to Shut.” BBC News, 28 Dec. 2021, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-59808624. Accessed 5 Jan. 2022.
  4. Roth, Andrew. “Russian Court Orders Closure of Another Human Rights Group.” The Guardian, 29 Dec. 2021, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/dec/29/russian-court-orders-closure-of-another-human-rights-group. Accessed 5 Jan. 2022.
  5. —. “Russian Court Orders Closure of Country’s Oldest Human Rights Group.” The Guardian, 28 Dec. 2021, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/dec/28/russian-court-memorial-human-rights-group-closure. Accessed 3 Jan. 2022.
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News

The G20 Summit in Rome, Italy

Who attended?

These past few days, the political leaders of the G20 member countries met in Rome to discuss a handful of issues. Some of the politicians who were present are: 

  • Alberto Fernandez (Argentina)
  • Scott Morrison (Australia)
  • Jair Bolsonaro (Brazil)
  • Justin Trudeau (Canada)
  • Xi Jinping (China)
  • Emmanuel Macron (France)
  • Angela Merkel (Germany)
  • Mario Draghi (Italy)
  • Narendra Modi (India)
  • Joko Widodo (Indonesia)
  • Manuel Lopez Obrador (Mexico)
  • Moon Jae-in (South Korea)
  • Vladimir Putin (Russia)
  • Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (Saudi Arabia)
  • Cyril Ramaphosa (South Africa)
  • Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Turkey)
  • Boris Johnson (United Kingdom)
  • Joe Biden (United States)

Joining these political leaders was the President of the European Commission of the European Union, Ursula von der Leyen, and President of the Council of the European Union, Charles Michel. Antonio Guterres, general director of OMS, specifically discussed financial issues relating to the health of the world population.

What was discussed?

So, first and foremost I want to say my thoughts on the possible solutions that will be discussed in the hopes of resolving some of the world’s current Economics problems.

  1. The European Union will invest in the eco-transaction for social enterprises, which are present in nations like Germany and Netherlands, but not in Turkey or in the United States at the moment. Mario Draghi was noted as saying that the Turkish president did not consider the political circular economy. Therefore, there will be no equality in the sense of financial economics in the future, and as a result there will be more discrepancies in terms of environmental sensibility. 
  2. The markets will be more open to Artificial Intelligence. This is especially important as AI is now considered fundamental for new inventions and innovations. 
  3. The United States will invest more on the prototype of financial democracy. In general, it has been noticed that Biden’s government is more concerned with solving population problems than Trump’s government. 
  4. China will be the first world power nation. Compared with all other international markets, China is one of the best markets for social capital that Chinese companies can invest with and also for AI (Artificial Intelligence).

Conclusion

In general, I believe there will be considerable investments in innovation, but I also think there will be areas that will see more progress than others.

I believe the central areas will be capital growth, new health solutions and eco transactions, with a greater focus on the rights of employees. Meanwhile , I think that the semi-peripheral areas will be capital growth, new health solutions but also more consideration of people’s rights on goods and services and on working issues of industries. In my opinion, the periferica areas will be debts and stagflation. It is also possible that there will be problems about having credits as paying back debts may become difficult to do. However, also inflation and financial stagnation are likely to lead to many problems, meaning that no investments will be made into sustainable finance. 

Let’s hope there will be a graduating consideration of nations that are in critical situations, like Perù, Mexico, Spain, and many African countries.

Sources

  1. https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/
  2. di Taranto, Giuseppe. “The History of Economics.” (2012)
Categories
Analysis

Why did Netflix fail to conquer Russian online-cinema business?

Introduction

I will start with a phrase that may sound rather ridiculous to US citizens. Yes, in Russia only a very tiny fraction of people have a subscription to Netflix. In fact, many Russian people do not have a single subscription to an online-cinema. Due to some cultural backgrounds and ad technology in some distant parts of the country some people do not watch films online at all, and 93% of those who watch, use illegal resources. They are already a part of Russian culture; pretty talented people translate foreign films using jokes, irony and satire and make films only better! This is why many people hesitate to switch to official resources; they are adore foreign films that are modified a bit with Russian creativity.

But pirate websites is not the only problem Netflix faced when entering the Russian market. Low incomes, cultural backgrounds and heavy opposition joined forces.

Problems Netflix Faces

Firstly, on average, a standard Russian has an income of about 490 dollars a month. A subscription to an online video service costs anywhere from 3 to 10 dollars, an amount that is not negligible in this case when one has to consider all the other expenses people have to cover. With inflation hitting 6% a year, and salaries not growing by the same percentage, Russians are unwilling to spend money on content, which could be accessed for free through another source.

Secondly, not all Russian people adore the films that are suggested by Netflix: there is a very significant cultural difference between Russians and Americans. The times of the Soviet Union left a very large stain on Russian mentality. People do not want to see that some people lead a happy life somewhere in another part of Earth while they don’t. They want to see movies that reflect the problems they face. That is why genres such as arthouse are very popular in Russia. Netflix does not offer such films. Also, many Russian people, due to Soviet prejudices, are pretty intolerant, and they dislike the idea of seeing people of sexual minorities on their screens.

And thirdly, Netflix has to battle with three very serious opponents: Kinopoisk, OKKO and IVI. For many years, Kinopoisk was just a website about films, where people could discuss their opinions  and put marks —  it was like IMDB – but then it partnered with Yandex, one of Russia’s largest non-governmental companies to open a service that could try to fight with Netflix for the audience. Having an abundance of money and a very talented management, Yandex straight away started buying copyrights for Russian distribution of some of the most famous films and series, such as “The God Father”, “How I Met Your Mother”, “John Wick”, etc. It even received exclusive rights to show Warner Brothers’ “Justice League: Snyder’s Cut” from the first days of its release. Tigran Hudoverdyan, Yandex’s deputy CEO, uses the same tactics as he used when he single-handedly concurred Russian Taxi Business – he attracts customers by setting very small rates at first, and then lifting them when the customers are already acquired. Yandex are basically buying rights to distribute an abundance of famous titles from the largest American film companies, and even Netflix. Many films that one can usually find on Netflix can be found on Kinopoisk in Russia instead. The only issue is that Yandex is spending too much money, even considering the fact that is is Russia’s largest IT company. The question is whether Yandex will manage to gain enough from this business to cover all of the expenses.

Competitors of Netflix in Russia

The other two large companies: IVI and OKKO are less dangerous. Even though OKKO is controlled by Russia’s second biggest company, Sberbank, it is, most definitely, not the service they consider the most important due to great revenues from its banking investment and other IT businesses. But, OKKO has a lot of rights to distribute different sportive events such as the matches of English Premier League or the fights from Bellator MMA. IVI does not have such finances as the other two companies but it has a passionate collective. Opened by a former financier, IVI became a project of his life, and he desires to fight until the end with the giants that oppose him. Even though he does not have the money that his rivals have, he invests reasonably into content that would be unique to the service (something that OKKO and Kinopoisk also do, but rely on less). Also, the management of the company has plans to have an IPO on Nasdaq to receive money for the future development of the business. In 2019, the company already had more than 100 millions of dollars of revenue a year, and this number grew by 50% a year. At that time, IVI was the most popular Russian online media service. All of these factors made IVI an interesting company to invest into, but its IPO was shattered by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Conclusion

To conclude, the most important factors of Netflix’s failure to win dominance in Russia were low incomes, the cultural background of Russian people and heavy opposition from local companies. In my own humble opinion, the last factor is the most significant one.

Sources

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Weekly Summaries

30th of August – 5th of September

U.S. Forces Left Afghanistan

The last U.S. forces left Afghanistan last Monday. Their departure ended a 20-year long occupation. The war in Afghanistan cost the U.S. over $2 trillion and left more than 170,000 people dead. Shortly before midnight, the last 5 American cargo jets left the Kabul airport, leaving behind many Afghans, including former members of the security forces. The Taliban and fighters celebrated the U.S. departure and gunfire could be heard across Kabul. A day later, President Biden once again defended the withdrawal, claiming that it was a choice “between leaving or escalating” the situation.

Other News

  • The return of a Napoleonic general, Gen. Charles Etienne Gudin, was supposed to improve relations between France and Russia, two countries that have long had difficult diplomatic relations. However, when the ceremony took place, the Presidents were not to be seen. 
  • The leader of Guinea’s special forces led a coup, announcing on state television that the constitution and government had been dissolved. Whether he will be successful is still uncertain.
  • Less than a year after he started office, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan said that he would not seek re-election
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Weekly Summaries

5th of July – 11th of July

Lebanon’s Crisis worsens

The World Bank announced that the current crisis Lebanon is facing could rank among “the world’s three worst since the mid-1800s,” according to the New York Times. In the past year, Lebanon has had to cope not only with the outbreak of the coronavirus but also with the deadly explosion in Beirut’s port. This has meant that Lebanon’s GDP has decreased by 40% from 2018 ($55 billion) to 2020 ($33 billion). Its currency, the Lebanese pound, has decreased in value by 90% since fall 2019. Furthermore, Lebanon currently hosts one million refugees from Syria. All of these factors make it a very difficult and bad situation, providing little hope for people that things may change for the better soon.

Other News

  • After the assasination of President Jovenel Moïse of Haiti, four people who were suspected of being involved in the assasination were shot dead and two arrested by the police. Later on in the week, two Americans and 15 Colombians were detained as well. In recent months there had been protests, demanding Moïse to step down as poverty and hunger continued to increase. Increasingly, armed gangs have also been taking control over streets, causing chaos in what is already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
  • The Ever Given container ship, which famously blocked the Suez Canal, is finally on its way to continue its journey.
  • Italy beat England in the UEFA Euro 2020 Final, which took place on Sunday, 2:1 after a dramatic shootout. The game took place in the Wembley Stadium in London.
  • A military plane crashed in the Philippines after missing a runway. Onboard were 96 soldiers and crew members. At least 50 people died, including 3 civilians. Later on in the week, a “regional passenger plane with 28 people on board crashed in eastern Russia,” according to the New York Times, as well.
  • The U.S. handed over its final airbase in Afghanistan, ending its military presence in the country after almost two decades.
  • A mudslide in the Japanese town of Atami has left more than 80 people missing.

Fun Fact

England’s deer populations have spiked as the outbreak of the coronavirus halted hunting activity. On a more serious note, the increasing numbers of deer poses serious challenges to the survival of wild plant species.

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Weekly Summaries

10th of May – 16th of May

Tensions between Israel and Palestine

The worst violence between Israel and Palestinian groups since 2014 has been seen in the past few days. The conflict escalated over the final Ramadan weekend. Since mid-April there have been daily clashes on Jerusalem’s streets. Over Ramadan, the Israeli government had imposed a daily limit of 10,000 people to gather for prayers at the Al Aqsa mosque. Based on these restrictions, tens of thousands of Muslims were turned back from the mosque. However, that is not all since the possible eviction of six Palestinian families from the Sheik Jarrah district has caused tensions to escalate even further. On May 8th, the holiest day of Ramadan, tens of thousands of Muslims gathered at the Al Aqsa mosque. Israeli police therefore blocked many Muslims from entering the compound, based on the restriction. Two days later, on May 10th, Israeli police also used CS gas and stun grenades inside the mosque. In response, Palestinians condemned this action and rockets were also fired by Hamas, which targeted Israeli communities bordering the Gaza Strip, with some rockets even reaching the suburbs of Jerusalem. Since May 10th hundreds of rockets have been fired from Gaza towards Israel and the Israeli Air Force has carried out airstrikes on Gaza. Dozens of civilians have been killed. 

Bombing in Afghanistan

Last weekend, a bombing in the Dasht-e Barchi neighborhood, which targeted female students. The triple bombing caused the deaths of more than 80 people, most of them belonging to the Hazara minority. Recently, Hazaras have grown increasingly angry and frustrated, saying Afghanistan’s government is not taking the necessary steps to protect them from these frequent terror attacks. 

Other News

  • Nine people died in a school shooting in Kazan in central Russia
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Weekly Summaries

12th of April – 18th of April

Explosion at an Iranian nuclear enrichment site

Last weekend, there was an explosion at an Iranian uranium enrichment plant, which caused a power shortage. Since then, Iran’s foreign minister has threatened to take revenge against Israel, whom he blamed for the explosion. The explosion comes just at a point when relations regarding the 2015 nuclear deal were resumed again a few weeks ago.

Other News

  • Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and husband of the Queen of England died. His funeral took place this past Saturday,
  • President Biden has announced that the remaining U.S. troops that are currently still located in Afghanistan will withdraw by the 11th of September, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
  • The U.S. is imposing new sanctions on Russia.