Council on Foreign relations – Daily News Brief Dec. 21 2022

Top of the Agenda

Zelenskyy Visits Washington in First Foreign Trip Since Russia’s Invasion

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is scheduled to meet with U.S. President Joe Biden (WaPo) and address Congress today in his first trip outside of Ukraine since Russia invaded in February. During the meeting, Biden is expected to announce a $2 billion military aid package for Ukraine that will reportedly include the Patriot missile system, the most advanced air defense system in the U.S. arsenal.
Zelenskyy’s visit comes as U.S. lawmakers consider a spending package (NYT) that includes $45 billion in emergency and economic aid to Ukraine. If approved, it would bring the total U.S. aid to Ukraine to more than $100 billion. Some lawmakers from the Republican Party, which will soon take control of the House of Representatives, have objected to the new funding. 

“While the Biden administration has vowed to continue supporting Kyiv in its efforts to combat Russian forces inside Ukraine, U.S. officials have resisted supplying any resources that would allow Ukrainians to launch long-range missiles at Russian positions inside Russia—weapons Ukrainians say are critical for allowing them to gain back lost territory and force Russia on the defensive,” Politico’s Erin Banco, Jonathan Lemire, and Paul McLeary write. 
U.S. assistance has been essential to Ukraine’s survival and the major blow the country has dealt to Russia’s military, which badly miscalculated how much resistance Ukraine would mount,” the New York Times’ Michael Crowley writes.
 CFR breaks down U.S. aid to Ukraine in six charts
Pacific Rim\

Australian, Chinese Foreign Ministers Meet for First Time in Three Years

During a visit to Beijing, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong met with her Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, to discuss trade (Nikkei), human rights, and security issues. The meeting marked fifty years of bilateral ties. 

Indonesia: Beginning in June 2023, the country will ban the export of bauxite (Bloomberg), used in aluminum production, in order to develop its domestic processing of mineral resources. 
South and Central Asia

Taliban Announce Suspension of Women’s University Education

Afghanistan’s education ministry said university attendance for women will be suspended (BBC) “until a suitable environment” is provided. The Taliban have banned girls from attending secondary school since last year. 

Pakistan: The government announced plans to shut down markets (Bloomberg) and ask government employees to work from home as part of austerity measures.
Middle East and North Africa

Jordan Hosts Regional Summit on Iraq

The summit yesterday included officials (AFP) from France, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the European Union. Countries pledged to support stability in Iraq (AP), which recently emerged from a yearlong political deadlock. 

Tunisia: Police arrested (AFP) former Prime Minister Ali Larayedh in connection to a probe of officials from the opposition Ennahdha party who have allegedly sent Tunisians to fight for armed groups abroad. Ennahdha rejected the move as politically motivated (Al Jazeera)
Sub-Saharan Africa

Zimbabwe Bans Raw Lithium Exports

Authorities said the measure is aimed at preventing small-scale miners (Reuters) from transporting unprocessed lithium out of the country. Several international mining companies operate in Zimbabwe and will still be allowed to export processed lithium. In Foreign Affairs, Jason Bordoff and Meghan L. O’Sullivan discuss the new geopolitics of green energy

Germany/Nigeria: Germany returned twenty-two looted artifacts (BBC) to Nigeria as part of efforts to acknowledge its own colonial history, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said.

Xi Meets With Former Russian President, Calls for Ukraine Talks

Chinese President Xi Jinping and former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met in Beijing (Bloomberg) today. Chinese state media reported that Xi called for talks to “resolve mutual concerns on security” in Ukraine.

Peru Orders Mexican Ambassador Out 

Peru ordered Mexico’s ambassador to leave the country (CNN) after Mexico City issued asylum to ousted Peruvian President Pedro Castillo Terrones. Castillo was impeached earlier this month after trying to dissolve Congress in what lawmakers called an attempted “self-coup.” This In Brief unpacks Peru’s political crisis

Canada/Haiti: Canada announced sanctions (Miami Herald) on two former ministers in Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s government, citing alleged links to drug trafficking.
United States

DEA Says It Seized Enough Fentanyl in 2022 to Kill Every American

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said it seized more than 379 million potentially fatal doses of illegal fentanyl this year. Illegal fentanyl has become the leading cause of death for Americans ages eighteen to forty-nine, according to the Washington Post.  This Backgrounder looks at the U.S. opioid epidemic.
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