As talks resume, tensions escalate, and energy prices continue to soar, top Chinese and US officials are set to meet in Rome.
As always, we keep a close eye.
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UKRAINE - WHAT'S THE LATEST?
Over the weekend, Russian missile strikes hit a Ukrainian base. According to POLITICO, at least 35 people were killed and more than 130 were injured.
Worth noting: The reason this made headlines everywhere was because the base was just ten miles away from the Polish border. Poland is a NATO member.
Remember: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization - NATO - is a defence pact between many European countries, the US and Canada. It was established in 1949 to counter Soviet aggression. Ukraine has for years wanted to join NATO. The alliance considers an attack on one member state an attack on all, and President Biden has repeatedly said "every inch" of NATO territory will be defended against Russian aggression.
What else is going on?
- American officials have claimed Russia asked China for weapons and aid. China responded, saying the claims were disinformation. In any case, the US has warned China they would face "harsh consequences" if they were to assist Russia. Worth noting: According to BBC News, this comes as Chinese and US officials are preparing "to meet in Rome".
"It appears to be a tactical move, to put pressure on China; presumably to either confirm or deny it. The bigger aim could be to try to make Xi Jinping weigh up the pros and cons to his current position of what was last week called a "rock solid" relationship with Moscow." - BBC analysis
- A US journalist called Brent Renaud was shot and killed by Russian forces in the Ukrainian city of Irpin over the weekend. As CNN noted, he "is the first foreign journalist known to be killed in the war". Renaud was a "filmmaker, producer and journalist".
- Talks and negotiations between Ukrainian and Russian representatives are expected to resume today, via video link.
- A woman who went viral following a Russian attack on a maternity hospital last week has died, according to The Associated Press.
IF YOU WATCH ONE THING
Ukraine's President Zelensky participated in a very interesting interview with VICE News.
In it, he talks about the world seeing the reality of what Russia are doing, and his views on NATO's position.
THE ENERGY ANGLE
As we reported last week, President Biden imposed bans on importing Russian energy in a move to severely punish Russia's economy for the invasion of Ukraine.
To avoid oil price hikes, the US administration sent representatives to Venezuela, and talks of a possible Biden visit to Saudi Arabia circulated in the media. However, it appears Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) is keen to meet at the negotiating table.
Here is a fascinating analysis piece all about the geopolitics at play in this. It is well worth a read.
"The standoff involves far more than oil. In Riyadh, Prince Mohammed feels snubbed by Biden’s refusal to engage with him ever since he took office. The murder of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi by the crown prince’s security aides, the war on Yemen, the jailing of rights activists and the boycott of Qatar have made him a pariah to the administration." - Analysis in The Guardian
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia made headlines separately over the weekend - after reports emerged 81 men were executed in one day. NBC News described it as "the largest known mass execution carried out in the kingdom in its modern history".
ON TODAY'S AGENDA
- The annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey takes place today. However, over the weekend Buckingham Palace announced the Queen would not be attending. As many UK media outlets reported, the decision is understood to have been made because of concerns about the Queen's comfort travelling to the event.
- Ireland's Taoiseach Micheál Martin will travel to Washington DC today "for a series of engagements". On Thursday, Martin will meet President Biden in the White House to mark St Patrick's Day.
- France is set to lift "most of its restrictions" today. The move comes weeks ahead of a presidential election, and as case numbers begin to increase. France 24 reported some are considering it "a premature move dictated by political imperatives ahead of the country’s presidential election".
- Former US President Barack Obama has tested positive for coronavirus.
- BBC News: Oscar-winning actor William Hurt dies
- The Guardian: Russia-Ukraine war latest news: peace talks to resume, deaths as residential building in Kyiv hit by shell - live
- The Financial Times:
- Al Jazeera:
- The Irish Times: US issues warning to Russia as missiles kill dozens at Ukrainian base near Polish border
In Tokyo, a number of strict rules for students are set to be lifted in April.
What are the rules? A majority of students are forced to have black hair, and wear certain shades of underwear.
As The Guardian noted, a few years ago a Japanese student sued her school when she was told to either dye her naturally brown hair black, "or face exclusion".
The Irish golfer got an amazing hole-in-one over the weekend. Well worth a watch!
Why? Because after a matter of weeks, Brady made a u-turn on his decision to retire from American football. He is now back to play another season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As Sky News noted, Brady is "considered the greatest quarterback in NFL history".
A Twitter poll has gone viral over the weekend - are there more doors or wheels in the world?
Nearly a quarter of a million people have voted, and you can here.
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