Connecting the Dots: Red Lines, Rocket Attacks, New Talks

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• Rising tensions with the US didn’t stop Chinese President Xi Jinping or Russian President Vladimir Putin from participating in this week’s US-led virtual climate summit -- meant to showpiece US leadership and galvanize global commitments -- even as both leaders took pains to publicly oppose US and Western unilateralism (related). In his state of the nation address Wednesday, Putin warned the West that crossing Moscow's red lines would bring an "asymmetrical, swift and harsh" response. Animosity between Russia and the West has intensified in recent weeks, with troops massing on the Ukrainian border, new US sanctions imposed and tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions. • And just a week after the US and China agreed to cooperate on tackling climate change, Xi launched a thinly veiled verbal attack on the US and its allies on Tuesday, for “bossing others around.” Speaking to global leaders at the Boao Forum on Asia, the Chinese leader called for a new multipolar world order. Even as Beijing and Washington align more closely on climate issues, and US firms vie for more Chinese business, the Joe Biden administration has made clear it won’t go soft on China, whether over human rights abuses in Xinjiang, repressive measures in Hong Kong or moves to intimidate Taiwan (EC Apr.16'21). • The latest Vienna talks on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal wrapped up Tuesday amid growing signs of progress, with the US outlining examples of sanctions relief but saying "many differences" remained (related). Increasing rocket attacks in the Middle East are a reminder of the real danger that talks, due to resume next week, could be derailed (related). Israel has dramatically expanded air strikes on suspected Iranian targets in Syria, according to Reuters. The two countries traded missile attacks Thursday, with reports of a Syrian missile exploding near Israel’s secretive Dimona nuclear reactor. • There were positive signs in Libya this week, with new UN-backed Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibeh hosting his Egyptian counterpart Mustafa Madbouly, after Dbeibeh last month visited the United Arab Emirates. The meetings could indicate that Egypt and the UAE, which backed the eastern-based rebel leader Khalifa Haftar in Libya's civil war, are prepared to dial down their intervention. Setbacks include the battlefield death of Chad’s strongman ruler Idriss Deby on Monday, creating a power vacuum along Libya’s southern border. The UAE-armed Chadian rebels were based in Libya and employed by Haftar until recently, according to the New York Times.

Security Risk , Nuclear, Low-Carbon Policy
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