British PM Johnson signals visa flexibility with India to win trade deal | EURACTIV.com


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson indicated he was ready to offer more visas to India in return for this year clinching a free-trade deal that could boost annual bilateral trade by billions of pounds.

Speaking on the plane on Thursday (21 April) on his way to the world’s second-most populous country, Johnson signalled he was ready to be more accommodating on an issue that could have stalled the talks.

Source: British PM Johnson signals visa flexibility with India to win trade deal – EURACTIV.com

Biden’s election year challenge: Blame GOP for nation’s woes | AP News


President Joe Biden has an election-year message for frustrated voters: At least he’s trying.

For those who think he isn’t doing enough to help Ukraine fend off the Russian invasion, Biden announced $800 million in new military support on Thursday. To ease the pain of high gas prices, he’s tapped the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and reopened onshore sales of oil and natural gas leases on public land. And to address historic inflation, Biden has tried to smooth out supply chain-crimping bottlenecks at the nation’s ports.

Source: Biden’s election year challenge: Blame GOP for nation’s woes | AP News

The U.S. Is Making Survival Harder for Women in Afghanistan


A month ago, when all eyes were on the war in Ukraine, the Taliban quietly reneged on their promise to put school-age girls back in classrooms. This followed a six-month period in which women faced crippling restrictions on their employment, freedom of movement, dress, access to healthcare and participation in sports, plus gender-based violence, torture and arrest if they protested. But the international community’s initial response—to pull humanitarian aid, for instance—threatens to make matters even worse.

Since the U.S. withdrawal in August 2021, U.S. government agencies and representatives, like the wider international donor community, have been struggling to determine how best to support women’s human rights in Afghanistan against the Taliban’s repression. Dilemmas abound. For instance, should the U.S. insist on improved conditions for women in return for lifting sanctions, even if the sanctions themselves are hurting women? And should the U.S. support contenders against Taliban rule even if renewed civil war puts women at risk?

Source: The U.S. Is Making Survival Harder for Women in Afghanistan

Space Force top priority for monitoring heavens: Seeing better the data it has | Breaking Defense


Improving integration and use of sensor data already available to create a full picture of what is happening in the heavens is one of the biggest challenges faced today by the Space Force’s newly named 18th Space Defense Squadron, according to its commander, Lt. Col. Matt Lintker.

“Right now, if I had to prioritize, I prioritize to be doing better with the data I have,” he told C4ISRNet’s annual conference today — noting that this includes data from commercial partners monitoring space traffic as well as data from the radar and telescopes part of the military’s Space Surveillance Network (SSN).

Source: Space Force top priority for monitoring heavens: Seeing better the data it has – Breaking Defense

US, EU LNG plan, take Russia out of energy loop | New Europe


Following a meeting in Brussels between US President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on March 25, the United States and the EU Commission announced measures to reduce Europe’s dependency on Russian energy, planning to immediately establish a joint Task Force on Energy Security to set out the parameters of this cooperation and execute its implementation.

The US vowed to ensure additional liquified natural gas (LNG) volumes for the EU market of at least 15 billion cubic meters in 2022 with expected increases going forward. The EU Commission said it will work with EU Member States toward ensuring stable demand for additional US. LNG until at least 2030 of approximately 50 billion cubic meters per year, on the understanding that the price formula of LNG supplies to the EU should reflect long-term market fundamentals, and stability of the cooperation of the demand and supply side, and that this growth be consistent with our shared net zero goals.

Source: US, EU LNG plan, take Russia out of energy loop | New Europe

Sanctions expand as Russia approaches major default | New Europe


No American President ever travels to Europe without a bag full of so-called “deliverables” and US President Joe Biden duly arrived in Brussels last month for NATO, EU and G-7 Summits with a long list of new sanctions and related economic measures.  These new US sanctions, however, are unlikely to have a major impact on Russia’s economy because they were for the most part an expansion and deepening of similar sanctions announced in the first weeks after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began.

For the Biden trip, the US announced on March 24 that it was “designating” (asset freezes and transaction/travel bans) what it called “key enablers” of the invasion. This included dozens of Russian defense companies, 328 members of the Russian State Duma, and the head of Russia’s largest financial institution. The full list here:  U.S. Treasury Sanctions Russia’s Defense-Industrial Base, the Russian Duma and Its Members, and Sberbank CEO | U.S. Department of the Treasury

Source: Sanctions expand as Russia approaches major default | New Europe

The Pandora Papers: Exposing Iran’s clandestine financial system | New Europe


As the international community continues to coordinate a response to the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine, longstanding debates surrounding sanction efficacy and compliance have been thrust back into the public spotlight.

There is no better example than Iran to encapsulate the complex, dichotomous reality of international sanction regimes. Long tarnished for its support for regional terrorism and patronage of repressive governments around the world, the Iranian regime under Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has the dubious honour of being one of the most sanctioned regimes on the planet.

Source: The Pandora Papers: Exposing Iran’s clandestine financial system | New Europe

Moscow is moving Wagner mercenaries from Syria and Africa to Ukraine | New Europe


Media reports from around the world have indicated that more than 1,000 mercenaries from Russia’s infamous private military company Wagner have been transferred from Africa and Syria to Ukraine after the Russian military was defeated and suffered devastating losses in the initial phase of its invasion of Ukraine.

Since the beginning of their invasion of Ukraine, it is estimated that the Russian army has lost 20,000 troops and 3,500 pieces of heavy equipment in Ukraine. The fierce resistance put up by the Ukrainians inflicted huge losses on Moscow’s previously much-vaunted military. These were so severe that Russia has been forced to hastily cobble together resources to continue its brutal invasion.

Source: Moscow is moving Wagner mercenaries from Syria and Africa to Ukraine | New Europe

Ukraine’s “Greatest Generation” | New Europe


Nearly two months after Russia’s invasion, Ukraine’s armed forces won the Battle of Kyiv and are in the process of carrying out counter-offensive and cleanup operations in the suburbs outside of the nation’s capital.

Such military prowess was not conceived of either before or when the war began. Moscow assumed the war would be short and the Ukrainian military would be easily routed, with the takeover of Kyiv coming a mere three days after the Russian Federation’s forces had crossed the border. This was to be immediately followed by the establishment of a pro-Kremlin puppet government.

Source: Ukraine’s “Greatest Generation” | New Europe

China looks to learn from Russian failures in Ukraine | AP News


With its ground troops forced to pull back in Ukraine and regroup, and its Black Sea flagship sunk, Russia’s military failings are mounting. No country is paying closer attention than China to how a smaller and outgunned force has badly bloodied what was thought to be one of the world’s most powerful armies.

China, like Russia, has been ambitiously reforming its Soviet-style military and experts say leader Xi Jinping will be carefully parsing the weaknesses exposed by the invasion of Ukraine as they might apply to his own People’s Liberation Army and his designs on the self-governed island of Taiwan.

Source: China looks to learn from Russian failures in Ukraine | AP News