Council on Foreign Relations: Daily news brief Sept. 12, 2022

Top of the Agenda

Ukrainian Forces Make Sweeping Gains in Country’s Northeast

Ukraine’s military has recaptured (FT) 3,000 square kilometers (1,158 square miles) of Russia-held territories in the Kharkiv region this month following a weekend blitz. The new counteroffensive struck the military’s strongest blow to Russian forces since repelling them from Kyiv in March. Russia’s defense ministry acknowledged the losses (BBC) of several cities in the region. Kyiv warned of Russian retaliation, and Russian air strikes hit Ukraine’s second-largest thermal power plant last night.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the advances demonstrated the effect of Western military support in the war. Separately, the Russia-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was shut down (AP) yesterday to avoid the risk of a nuclear disaster.

“Moscow should not underestimate how quickly bad news, panic and rumors can cascade along the front—especially given the force exhaustion that comes from months of fighting, a lack of reserves and rest,” the RAND Corporation’s Dara Massicot tells the Financial Times. 

“Even though the fighting may still take many turns, the events of the past few days should force Ukraine’s allies to stop and think. A new reality has been created: The Ukrainians could win this war,” The Atlantic’s Anne Applebaum writes. For Foreign Affairs, CFR’s Lauren Kahn discusses how technological advancements are helping Kyiv succeed.
Pacific Rim

Lithuania Expected to Open Diplomatic Mission in Taiwan This WeekThe move comes after (SCMP) Taiwan’s opening of its own representative office in Lithuania last year, which prompted China to cut off trade with Lithuania.  

Japan: In an easing of pandemic-related travel restrictions, Japan is set to remove its daily cap on arrivals to the country by the end of October and could allow foreign tourists to travel without a guide, Kyodo reported.
South and Central Asia

U.S. Pledges $60 Million in Aid for Sri LankaDuring a two-day visit to Sri Lanka, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) chief Samantha Power announced the new funding and urged Colombo (AP) to fight corruption. 

Afghanistan: Secondary schools for girls in Paktia Province closed (TOLOnews) days after local officials and tribal elders reopened them last week without permission from the Taliban. The closures prompted dozens of girls to protest. 
Middle East and North Africa

Human Rights Watch: Egypt Is Hindering Environmental Groups Ahead of Climate SummitThe Egyptian government has “severely curtailed” environmental groups’ ability to conduct independent research and advocacy ahead of November’s UN climate conference, which the country is hosting, Human Rights Watch said. This In Brief lays out the concerns over Egypt hosting this year’s UN climate conference

Iraq/Turkey: Four Turkish soldiers were killed (Al Jazeera) during ongoing clashes with Kurdish fighters in Iraq’s north, Turkey’s military said.
Sub-Saharan AfricaEthiopia’s Tigrayan Rebels Say They’re Ready for Peace TalksThe fighters’ previous resistance to talks had prevented (AFP) a proposed African Union–led peace process. 

Africa/China: China’s recent waivers of twenty-three interest-free loans to African countries amount to only 1.1 percent (Reuters) or less of Chinese lending to the continent, Boston University researchers found.

Sweden’s Preliminary Election Results Show Nationalist Party Gaining GroundPartial results from yesterday’s parliamentary elections showed the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats becoming the largest party (FT) in the country’s right-wing opposition, which holds a narrow lead over the left.

U.S. Secretary of State Visits Mexico for Economic TalksThe high-level dialogue is expected to cover (State Dept.) economic cooperation, migration, and efforts to address the fentanyl trade. This Backgrounder unpacks Mexico’s battle against drug cartels

Antigua and Barbuda: Shortly after King Charles III replaced Queen Elizabeth II as the former British colony’s head of state, Antigua and Barbuda’s prime minister said he planned to hold a referendum (ITV) on becoming a republic within three years. This In Brief looks at what comes next for the British monarchy.
United States
Railroad Workers Near Strike DeadlineNegotiators met over the weekend (Bloomberg) as tens of thousands of railroad workers threatened to strike if a contract deal is not reached by Friday.
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