Council on Foreign Relations – Daily news brief Sept. 29, 2022

Top of the Agenda

Putin Announces Plan to Annex Four Ukrainian Regions

Russian President Vladimir Putin will sign a decree to annex (FT) the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia tomorrow, a Kremlin spokesperson said. This major escalation in the war in Ukraine comes after Moscow orchestrated votes, widely denounced as a sham, for the regions to join Russia. The regions compose some 15 percent of Ukrainian territory.
Russia’s annexation will be the largest forceful takeover of European territory since World War II, according to the Financial Times. The United States and European Union plan to impose new sanctions over the annexation, Reuters reported. Yesterday, military leaders from over forty countries met in Brussels (NYT) to plan long-term military support for Ukraine. 

“The sad reality is that annexing four regions is unlikely to be the end of Russia’s mission in Ukraine, but just one phase in Putin’s much longer project. Both Ukraine and its backers must be prepared for a protracted war,” the RAND Corporation’s Dara Massicot writes for Foreign Affairs. 
“The goal is to extend [Russia’s] nuclear umbrella over those territories thus dramatically hiking the risk for Ukraine and its Western friends should Kyiv contemplate liberating those territories,” the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Alexander Gabuev tweets. 
United States

Hurricane Ian Causes Blackouts, Flooding in Florida At least two million people were left without power (NYT) and officials warned of life-threatening flooding after the hurricane hit Florida yesterday.
Pacific Rim

Biden to Announce Investments in Pacific IslandsU.S. President Joe Biden plans to announce (WaPo) more than $810 million in investments in the region when he meets with Pacific Island leaders at the White House today. 

U.S./North Korea/South Korea: On a tour of the Korean Peninsula’s demilitarized zone, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris said Washington and Seoul share the goal (Kyodo) of “complete denuclearization” of the peninsula.
South and Central Asia

India’s Supreme Court Grants Unmarried Women Right to Abortion. A previous law banned unmarried women (The Hindu) from terminating pregnancies. They can now do so up to the twenty-fourth week of gestation. 

Myanmar: A military-controlled court sentenced (Bloomberg) the country’s former civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, to three more years in prison. Suu Kyi’s economic advisor, an Australian man, also received a three-year sentence. It is unclear if he will be jailed or deported.
Middle East and North Africa

Lebanese Parliament Fails to Elect New PresidentA majority of legislators cast blank ballots (AFP) in today’s vote to choose a successor for President Michel Aoun, whose term ends next month. 

Iran/Iraq: Iranian strikes on exiled Iranian Kurdish parties in northern Iraq killed thirteen people (WaPo) and wounded fifty-eight, an Iraqi official said. 
Sub-Saharan Africa

Hague Trial Begins for Alleged Architect of Rwandan Genocide Félicien Kabuga is being tried in absentia (NYT) after refusing to appear in court. He is accused of financially and logistically backing Rwanda’s 1994 genocide. Prosecutors say a popular radio station founded by Kabuga incited hatred against the Tutsi ethnic group. 

DRC: Residents in fourteen villages in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were not informed (Bloomberg) of plans for a new oil and gas project that could affect their livelihoods, Greenpeace Africa said in a new report.  CFR’s Michelle Gavin discusses the DRC’s decision to auction off oil and gas blocks in its rain forest.

UK’s Truss to Stick With Planned Tax Cuts Despite Market MayhemThe prime minister of the United Kingdom (UK), Liz Truss, said she will press forward (FT) with plans to deliver a major tax cut even after the Bank of England intervened in the government bond market to mitigate instability in the pensions sector.

Barbados Expected to Receive New IMF Loan to Fight Climate ChangeInternational Monetary Fund (IMF) staff agreed to extend (Reuters) $183 million to Barbados through the new Resilience and Sustainability Trust for middle-income and island countries. The funding still needs to be approved by the IMF’s executive board. This webinar explains why climate change is a justice issue.

Colombia: President Gustavo Petro said ten armed groups agreed to cease-fires (Reuters) as part of his new plan for peace talks.  For Foreign Affairs, Ivan Briscoe discusses Petro’s plans for peace.
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