Ukraine, Russia: Testing the boundaries.
Also: the US, Israel, Palestine, Colombia, China and Mauritania.
UKRAINE. RUSSIA. Testing the boundaries.
The Kremlin seeks to raise the price of supporting Ukraine.
Russia conducted a test launch of nuclear-capable missiles from land, sea and air, Moscow said on Wednesday. The same day, Russia's parliament unanimously passed legislation to de-ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
INTELLIGENCE. Both moves were symbolic – nuclear tests are now done by computer and Russia has had plenty of missile practice in Ukraine – but they delivered a message to Kyiv’s backers in the West that Moscow is willing to violate previous taboos. Moscow has also sent a message that resistance to its war aims is futile. While Russia has incurred enormous costs in recent assaults, it now appears closer to seizing the cities of Avdiivka and Kupiansk.
FOR BUSINESS. Ukraine needs more weapons and funds to protect its position ahead of the coming winter and any possible ceasefire deal. Key is the support of the US and Germany. Washington is economically strong but politically divided on the issue. Berlin is more politically united (for now), but the economy is likely in recession. A third meeting of international security advisers is due to be held in Malta on 28 October and will provide something of a deadline.
Written by former diplomats and industry specialists, Geopolitical Dispatch gives you the global intelligence for business and investing you won’t find anywhere else.
UNITED STATES. Last man standing.
A hard-right congressman becomes Speaker.
Conservative Louisiana representative Mike Johnson was elected speaker on Wednesday, ending a three-week leadership vacuum but setting up the House for further division ahead of a full agenda and 17 November funding expiry.
INTELLIGENCE. With a narrow Republican majority, it is hard to see how one of Congress's most hardline members will bridge legislative divides, let alone before a potential government shutdown. If compromise is to be reached, it will likely be at the expense of foreign policy and, within that, support for Ukraine. Israel, on the other hand, appears likely to get funding under Johnson. His first act as speaker was to call up a resolution in support of the Jewish state.
FOR BUSINESS. Joe Biden’s domestic program will also be placed under further doubt with Johnson, who has voted to end immigration funding, limit debt, and ban abortion. And while a focus on culture war issues will more likely harm Republicans in 2024, any economic damage caused by an intractable Congress will be more likely blamed on the White House. A strong third-quarter GDP number is likely today, but the bond market is pricing a recession.
With the brevity of a media digest, but the depth of an intelligence assessment, Daily Assessment goes beyond the news to outline the implications.
ISRAEL. PALESTINE. What we talk about when we talk about Gaza.
A series of interventions confuse and alarm.
Turkey's president said on Wednesday Hamas was a liberation group, not a terrorist organisation, and cancelled a visit to Israel. France's president on Tuesday called for a global coalition to fight Hamas in the style of the one against ISIS.
INTELLIGENCE. It is likely Erdogan’s comments were as much about what Macron said as they were about Israel’s bombing of Gaza. France and Turkey have frequently come to blows under the leaders, who seem to take opposite sides on most issues. In any case, an anti-Islamic State type coalition seems unlikely. While most in the West agree Hamas are terrorists, few will want boots on the ground, particularly at risk of igniting a broader regional conflict.
FOR BUSINESS. Erdogan’s comments weren’t unusual for someone who needs to show a sense of equilibrium and Islamic leadership, but Turkey’s stock market nonetheless fell 7% on Wednesday. At risk are a range of potential energy projects with Israel, but once the dust settles and a solution on Gaza is reached (which Turkey will want to be part of) there is no reason why such schemes can’t resurface. If anyone can play both sides of the fence it’s Erdogan.
COLOMBIA. CHINA. It’s a mutual transaction.
Beijing upgrades ties with a historic Washington ally.
Colombia and China elevated bilateral relations to a “strategic partnership” on Wednesday. In a letter to a bilateral advocacy group, Xi Jinping on Wednesday said China was willing to cooperate with the US on global challenges.
INTELLIGENCE. China’s upgrade places Colombia at the level of eight other South American countries. Only Venezuela is higher (an “all-weather partnership”), with tiny Guyana lower. China's relations with Paraguay are yet to become official, but South America's remaining Taiwan ally said in July it “would love” to do more trade with Beijing. China's charm offensive continues following last week’s visit from Chile’s president and a debt deal with Argentina.
FOR BUSINESS. China will welcome the extra trade and investment that goes alongside diplomatic upgrades, but the real prize is stabler relations with the US. Needling Washington in its backyard is a reminder not to push too hard, though it is also a way to capture some of the value of re-shored US imports should Xi be unable to negotiate a ceasefire in the trade war (in a similar vein, many of the factories now exporting to the US from Mexico are Chinese).
Emailed each weekday at 5am Eastern (9am GMT), Daily Assessment gives you the strategic framing and situational awareness to stay ahead in a changing world.
MAURITANIA. For Ould lang syne.
Old scores are being settled at a precipitous time.
Mauritanian prosecutors requested a 20-year sentence for former president Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz on Tuesday. On Monday, the head of US Africa Command met with President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani for counter-terrorism talks.
INTELLIGENCE. Mohamed Ould Ghazouani replaced Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz in 2019, Mauritania’s first peaceful transition since independence. Yet the prosecution of Abdel Aziz, a former army leader, could upset the balance between elites. Ghazouani is also an ex-general but has managed an otherwise successful democratic transition. Mauritania’s stability is essential to the West, particularly in the wake of coups elsewhere in the Sahel.
FOR BUSINESS. Mauritania is also essential to stem the flow of migrants to Spain’s Canary Islands. Alongside neighbouring Senegal (whose president is also prosecuting a rival) Mauritania is a key transit point to the territory, which this weekend saw 1,600 arrivals, including a boat carrying 320 – a record for the route. And like other Sahelian countries, it is resource-rich and being courted by China and Russia. An LNG export plant will be completed this year.