A weekly round-up of geopolitical flashpoint and energy news we're keeping our eyes on, and trends impacting global markets, which will later be accessible for Premium members and above...
The start of this week saw no less than four top level Russian officials warn of impending "global catastrophe" if the West keeps ramping up heavier arms to Ukraine, now as the decision of Germany to sign off on sending its Leopard II tanks looms.
State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the lower house of Russia’s parliament, asserted in fresh remarks that NATO providing more weapons to Ukraine risks "global tragedy that would destroy" Western countries. "Supplies of offensive weapons to the Kyiv regime would lead to a global catastrophe," Volodin said. "If Washington and NATO supply weapons that would be used for striking peaceful cities and making attempts to seize our territory as they threaten to do, it would trigger a retaliation with more powerful weapons."
And one can read further ultra dire warnings from Moscow's point of view... specifically from Lavrov, Peskov, and Medvedev... all statements issued on Monday. The red line is being laid out quite brightly.
As for whether these escalatory scenarios will come to pass, with Russia and the West continuing to slide toward direct military confrontation, the question of whether or not Germany resists the growing pressure from allies for it to lead the way on sending its Leopard 2 main battle tanks looms. Can Berlin resist? Will Kremlin warnings be heeded by Berlin? And for how long? Despite a growing political rift both within the Scholz government among NATO allies more broadly, it's not looking good. Germany has already bowed to pressure early in the conflict, given it walked away from its historic neutrality. The outcome to the tank question is likely to be decided by month's end.
To gain a sense of the gloomy, apocalyptic outlook from Moscow on a looming war with NATO and the future course of the Ukraine conflict, see the above weekend Russian state TV segment with a panel of officials moderated by editor-in-chief of RT, Margarita Simonyan. Very serious talk indeed.
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Below are global developments we are closely following this week...
Poland ramping up pressure on Berlin to send German tanks to Ukraine: DW
Warns Germany of "international isolation"... could send without approval?: DW
Broader NATO pressure (and division) mounts over tank issue: AW
State Duma official says "global catastrophe" coming due to ramped up Western arms: RTRS
German Intelligence: Ukraine losing hundreds of soldiers daily: AW
Russia touts gains around Bakhmut, smashes Ukrainian lines with artillery: TASS
US media cites anon officials to claim spate of mail bomb attacks at embassies in Europe the work of Russian intelligence: NYT
The long expected Russian offensive in Ukraine has begun: MofA
Former PM Boris Johnson makes yet another visit to Kiev: RTRS
NATO Baltic members Estonia & Lithuania boot Russian ambassadors, downgrade relations: RTRS
Very dark Russian state TV segment predicts worst-case spiral: Video
Norway holding Wagner deserter, will not deport to Russia: DW
- Pentagon extends airborne troop deployment in southeast Romania: AW
US National Guard training Taiwan troops in expanded program: Nikkei
GOP House Speaker McCarthy planning Taiwan visit: PN
Will China view it differently than Pelosi's visit, given he's in 'opposition'? SCMP
Germany eyes 'China lite' future that is less dependent: Nikkei
China will join Russia and South Africa for February naval drills: SCMP
Beijing issues another veiled warning over Taiwan: VOA
Yellen in Africa talks China threat: FT
China’s biggest oil trading firm goes on a buying spree: OP
Pressure on US occupation in Syria ramping up with drone attacks: Hill
Lebanese pound crashes to new low of 50,000 against the dollar: NA
Hardline Israeli govt risks triggering another Gaza flare-up: NA
Soaring inflation in Egypt... on the brink of another uprising? MEE
Israel-Saudi normalization efforts off to rocky start: JPost
130,000 Israelis protest govt's anti-democratic reforms: Haaretz
Pentagon can't account for $220BN of gear given to contractors: Reason
Abraham Accords not so popular on 'Arab street': RS
Saudi goods allowed in Syria after 11 years of trade ban: MEE
Erdogan tells Sweden not to expect Nato bid support: BBC
South Africa likely to use China and Russia as "bargaining chips" in its dealings with US: SCMP
Massive blackout in Pakistan impacts some 200 million people: BBC
UK's National Grid to pay people to use less power as cold snap bites: RTRS
Musk agrees with JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon that it will take 50 years to transition to green energy: FOX
Italy to wean itself off Russian gas within two years: OP
US energy chief says Biden would veto House Republican bill on oil reserve: RTRS
Oil market braces for fresh turmoil as EU prepares to cut off Russian diesel: FT