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Weekly News Digest for March 25, 2022

Compiled by Kelly Dobso, Trinity Gates, Dinah Gorayeb, Austin Myhre, and Charlotte Smith


North America


President Biden Announces US-EU Natural Gas Deal to Reduce Dependence on Russia

On Friday, United States President Joe Biden announced a deal with the European Union to increase supplies of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in an effort to decrease European dependence on Russian gas. Through the deal, Europe will receive an additional 15 billion cubic meters of LNG supplies by the end of 2022, however, details of where the gas will come from have not been finalized. In addition, European countries will improve the infrastructure of LNG facilities to take in up to 50 billion cubic meters of American gas until 2030.

The energy deal aims to decrease Europe’s energy dependence on Russia amid the escalating Russia-Ukraine conflict. Currently, Russia exports around 150 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe each year, accounting for 40 percent of Europe’s energy demands. Analysts claim that the energy deal is a step in the right direction, however, it is nowhere near enough to reduce energy dependence on Russia.


Asia and the Pacific


Chinese Airliner Carrying 132 Passengers Crashes

On Monday, a China Eastern airliner carrying 132 passengers crashed in southern China. After losing contact with air traffic control, the Boeing 737-800 nosedived over 20,000 feet, steadied briefly, and then continued its freefall. Although the plane was decimated and no bodies have been recovered, Chinese officials are hesitant to declare all of the passengers dead. Their search is currently delayed by heavy rain and resulting landslides. As of today, investigators have yet to determine the cause of the crash. However, they were able to recover a cockpit voice recorder and one of the two black boxes onboard. Both will be analyzed in the coming days.


Europe


NATO and G-20 Leaders Meet to Discuss Further Response to Russian Actions in Ukraine

Thursday, March 24 marked one month since Russia invaded Ukraine, which has caused a humanitarian crisis as millions of refugees fled their country to escape the attacks. Many European countries as well as the United States have imposed sanctions on Russia to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin from ordering troops further into Ukraine. Additionally, according to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Russian forces actively commit war crimes by intentionally targeting civilians in Ukraine, resulting in almost 5,000 civilian casualties.

To further punish President Putin for the war in Ukraine, United States President Joe Biden alongside other leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and European allies announced new sanctions targeting political figures, oligarchs, and defense companies in Russia and $1 billion in humanitarian aid for Ukraine. To assist in humanitarian efforts, President Biden pledged that the U.S. would take in 100,000 Ukrainian refugees. He also suggested that Russia be removed from the G-7 amid concerns that President Putin may use chemical or nuclear weapons in Ukraine. Furthermore, President Biden argued that if the G-20 decides to not remove Russia or if it is not possible to do so, Ukraine should be permitted to observe the G-20 summit scheduled to take place this fall. Despite President Biden’s assertions that President Putin may use unconventional weapons in Ukraine, NATO has not been clear on what actions it would take. On this matter, President Biden stated “the nature of the response would depend on the nature of the use.” French President Emmanuel Macron emphasized that ambiguity and discretion are “more effective” strategies than directly outlining what Russian action would warrant a NATO response.

Although NATO leaders decided to deploy more battle groups to reinforce NATO’s eastern flank, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of transparent responses to Ukraine’s appeals for support, saying “the worst thing during the war is not having clear answers to requests for help.” At the same time, President Zelensky has not renewed Ukraine’s NATO membership appeal nor the request for a no-fly zone over the country.


Middle East


Thousands Protest Against President Saied in Tunisia

On Monday, thousands of Tunisians gathered in the streets of Tunis in the latest protest against President Kais Saied. In July 2021, Saied suspended parliament, sacked the prime minister, increased his legislative and executive powers, and suspended parts of the constitution. Saied’s opponents described his actions as a “coup” to monopolize power. Protesters are calling for early presidential and legislative elections amid the deepening political crisis and blows to democracy.

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