In early January 2023, U.S. President Joe Biden visited the border town of El Paso in southern Texas, one of the most vivid symbols of the decades-long breakdown in America’s immigration system.
Russia’s gas giant Gazprom has set a new historical record for the daily export of Russian gas to China. Yet its price is lower than that for the EU, with the supply volume being incomparable, too. Moscow is setting eyes on increasing gas flows to China via a new pipeline – yet Turkmenistan and China have just agreed to launch a new link to boost gas supplies.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak reviewed the performance of the country’s top energy sector in 2022. Moscow has prided itself on its oil and gas revenues that rose by a third from 2021. The thing is the 2022 figures do not include bad results that surfaced in late 2022 and tendencies notched up in January 2023. As Russian oil and gas prices are being affected, federal budget revenues are likely to shrink.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that its troops had taken control of the town, Soledar but made no mention of the Kremlin-affiliated Wagner private military company, marking a years-long clash between these two. When on January 13 Russian forces claimed that Soledar had fallen to its fighters, pointedly saying that the Wagner mercenary group was not involved. After the statement from Yevgeny Prigozhin, the owner of the private military company, the Russian defense ministry had issued a rare sign of recognition for Wagner Group. Yet Prigozhin has not won the quarrel with the defense ministry.
The government has appointed a new member of the executive board of Naftogaz and some new managers to a couple of companies linked to Ukraine’s oil and gas company. A series of personnel reshuffles has taken place in Ukraine’s energy company following a change in CEO back in November when the government appointed Oleksiy Chernyshov, former Minister for communities and territories development, as the new Chairman of the Board of Naftogaz to replace former CEO Yuri Vitrenko.
Tensions in the Taiwan Strait soared last year when former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei in August 2022. The continued events drove the White House to reassert China as a direct and imminent threat on its National Security Strategy (NSS) in October of the same year. And later during the year, tensions between the superpowers remained high in the wake of the Bali summit in November.
Ukraine is now clamping down on Orthodox Church linked to Moscow. Kyiv refused the Russian-controlled church’s lease on the part of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra. The independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine held a Christmas service at the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra. This could be another step towards curbing the influence of churches affiliated to Moscow.
Additional Russian troops arrive in Belarus while signs are that Lukashenko’s regime could enter the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Officials in Kyiv have warned for months that neighboring Belarus could join Russian forces and serve again as a launching pad for a new attack.
French engineering group Gaztransport & Technigaz (GTT) said it was stopping its activities in Russia after analyzing the latest European sanction packages that include a ban on engineering services with Russian firms.
As reported, Russian energy company Lukoil could sell its businesses in Romania and Moldova amid a new package of sanctions the EU introduced back in early December 2022.
For two months now, all eyes have been on Ukraine, where a new offensive campaign is widely expected. It seems that it should occur in late December and early January at the latest. Most intriguingly, where will it happen? Russian forces have rushed to secure a section of the front line between Dnieper and Donbas. Nonetheless, the Ukrainians have not made any active movements there since the southern city of Kherson was occupied. Ukraine’s Donbas has become the epicenter of a full-scale invasion. Where will Ukraine launch a new offensive? Ukraine seems to follow two crucial goals, reclaiming as much of the country’s territory as possible and thwarting Russian military plans. The question remains what should prevail.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s speech to Ukraine’s parliament seemed hugely optimistic. The president is confident about Ukraine’s victory, depicting his country as a critical link to a united Europe. In his speech, the Ukrainian leader focused mostly on the future.
Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) has been in a whirlwind of activities as its officers have been involved in fighting Russian operatives, seizing assets belonging to sanctioned oligarchs, and protecting Ukraine’s most important officials and state facilities. The SBU, which has seen a wave of harsh criticism following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, is now far more efficient.
The incumbent government in Georgia has not backed Ukraine in its defensive fight against Russia. Its officials grounded volunteers headed to Ukraine to fight against Russia and refused to join international sanctions against Moscow. In addition, Ukraine has been at odds with Georgia over Mikheil Saakashvili, currently behind bars. The health of Georgia’s jailed former President Mikheil Saakashvili continues to rapidly decline. The authorities in Kyiv alongside Western nations urged Tbilisi to suspend his sentence and allow him to leave the country for treatment abroad.