🌍 NATO prepares to send tanks to Ukraine
Plus: the Beirut blast investigation turns ugly
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Today’s edition is a 4.5 min read:
- 🇺🇦 NATO plans to send tanks to Ukraine.
- 🇱🇧 Lebanon’s Beirut blast saga continues.
- ➕ Plus: 2022 was a deadly year for journalists, how the papers are covering China’s cold snap, and some resources to help you prepare for the Oscars.
– VC & EP
🗺️ AROUND THE WORLD
- 🇲🇳 Mongolia: Mongolia’s state-owned coal company will sell coal through an open market rather than through contracts. This change comes after large-scale protests last month against corruption in the coal industry.
- 🇬🇧 United Kingdom: A $1.2B electricity link between England and France will charge ahead as planned after a British court ruled against a UK government plan to stop it.
- 🇮🇳 India: Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed his Egyptian counterpart President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to New Delhi for three days of talks. Sisi will be the chief guest for India’s Republic Day.
- 🇲🇽 Mexico: Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday (24 January) that Mexico’s army can make arrests without informing civilian police. Critics say the military’s growing law enforcement role endangers civil-military separation.
- 🇷🇼 Rwanda: Rwanda fired at a DRC fighter jet after the plane allegedly entered its airspace. The DRC has been leading a years-long fight against the M23 militia, which it says Rwanda supports.
🇺🇦 UKRAINE | DEFENCE
Germany and other NATO allies will send tanks to Ukraine
Briefly: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz agreed on Wednesday (25 January) to send more than a dozen Leopard 2 A6 tanks to Ukraine. The announcement comes after a weeks-long pressure campaign from the US and other NATO allies.
With the diplomatic logjam now broken, other advanced armour will also be headed to Ukraine: the UK will send 14 Challengers, the US will provide up to 30 of its Abrams, and Poland may send a fleet of German-made Leopards. No word yet if France will send its Partridges or Pear Trees (jk, they’re also sending tanks).
The armour shipment is big news for Ukraine. As fighting has moved from Kyiv’s suburbs to open fields in the country’s east, small-arms urban combat has been replaced by massive artillery exchanges and trench warfare. Officials believe an infusion of high-tech battle tanks will allow Ukrainian forces to break through front lines.
Unfortunately for Ukraine, these systems are far more complex than the mostly Soviet-era equipment in its current arsenal. Western officials say it will take until at least March before the tanks are delivered and before Ukrainian soldiers complete their training on how to use them.
Intrigue’s take: Germany’s decision to resist unilateral action and deliver weapons with NATO as a bloc means Ukraine will likely receive more tanks in the coming months. Still, NATO will almost certainly fall short of the 300 tanks Ukraine says it needs. As the war nears its one-year anniversary, NATO will have to send more weapons more quickly if it wants Ukraine to achieve anything better than a long-term stalemate.
Also worth noting:
- Finland, the Netherlands, and Spain each said they would explore ways to send tanks to Ukraine.
- The US announced it would increase artillery production by 500% over the next two years to assist Ukraine.
📰 GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES
How different newspapers covered: the extreme cold snap currently spreading across China.
Links: Xinhua, The New York Times, Sky News .
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🇱🇧 LEBANON | BEIRUT BLAST
Dysfunction sets in as Beirut blast investigation resumes
Briefly: Former Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab had been charged with homicide in relation to the deadly explosion in Beirut’s port in 2020. The lead investigator, Judge Tarek Bitar, also charged Lebanon’s chief prosecutor Ghassan Oweidat for his involvement in the blast, which killed 218 people.
Battle of the judges: Unfortunately, no good deed goes unpunished. On Wednesday (25 January), Oweidat pulled an Uno ‘reverse’ card and counter-charged Bitar for “rebelling against the judiciary”, which will likely bring the whole affair to a standstill once again after three years of inaction.
Intrigue’s take: Lebanon has been through a lot since the 2020 explosion, and these most recent shenanigans won’t be well-received. But public anger won’t be enough to break Lebanon’s intractable (and complex) political deadlock. As Aya Majzoub of Amnesty International explains: “The Lebanese authorities have shamelessly and systematically obstructed the pursuit of justice.” They’re likely to continue to do so in the future.
Also worth noting:
- Last week, the Lebanese pound hit a new low against the dollar, with the largest bill in circulation (LBP 100,000) now worth ~$2.
- Lebanon has been without a president since October 2022. Nearly a dozen rounds of voting have so far failed to present a head of state.
📊 CHART OF THE DAY
Journalism is a dangerous job…
Last year was a particularly deadly year for journalists and media workers around the world. According to new data released by the Committee to Protect Journalists, 67 people were killed in 2022, a 49% increase from 2021.
Ukraine was the single deadliest country for reporters, with the war claiming the lives of 15 press workers. But even nominally-peaceful regions can be dangerous for those working to uncover uncomfortable truths: nearly half of all the recorded casualties in 2022 occurred in Latin America and the Caribbean.
👀 EXTRA INTRIGUE
Whilst we skimmed through the nominations list for the upcoming Oscars, we also compiled some of the more interesting pieces we’ve seen on the fanfare:
🗳️ POLL TIME!
Who’s gonna take home the Oscar for Best Picture?
Yesterday’s poll: Has the West’s ‘War on Terror’ been a success?
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 👎 Not at all, failures across the board (67%)
🟨🟨🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🎖️Yes, terrorist attacks on Western soil are much rarer (33%)
Your two cents:
- 👎 J.R: “The US in particular spent billions of dollars repositioning the entire government to have an anti-terror policy, all while neglecting the very real challenges posed by Russia and China in favor of small, non-governmental groups who, in no universe, could ever overthrow the US.”
- 🎖️ A.T: “The war on terror aimed to prevent future big spectaculars (ie 9/11) and to disrupt the external operation capabilities of large “organisations” like AQ. It did so.”