Putin and Xi Meet

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at Russian President Vladimir Putin’s meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, two failed no-confidence votes in France, and more money for the International Criminal Court.

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at Russian President Vladimir Putin’s meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, two failed no-confidence votes in France, and more money for the International Criminal Court.

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Chinese leader Xi Jinping was in Moscow Monday to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The two called each other “dear friend.” Putin signaled openness to Xi’s 12-point plan to solve the war in Ukraine, “We’re always open for a negotiation process.”

Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned that Xi’s proposal—which calls for the respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity but does not condemn the invasion or call for Russian withdrawal from occupied territories—could be a “stalling tactic.”

“The world should not be fooled by any tactical move by Russia, supported by China or any other country, to freeze the war on its own terms,” he said, adding, “Calling for a cease-fire that does not include the removal of Russian forces from Ukrainian territory would effectively be supporting the ratification of Russian conquest.”

In Moscow, Putin thanked Xi for “observing principles of justice,” while Xi said, “Under your strong leadership, Russia has made great strides in its prosperous development. I am confident that the Russian people will continue to give you their firm support.”

Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in India. Kishida announced new plans for an Indo-Pacific partnership, which is meant to counter China’s influence. India and Japan, together with the United States and Australia, constitute the Quad. Kishida also invited Modi to participate in the G-7 summit in Japan in May. He told the press that he will also invite South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, another step toward improving Japanese-South Korean ties.

What We’re Following Today 

French government faces down two no-confidence votes. Two no-confidence votes on Monday failed to take down French President Emmanuel Macron’s government, helmed by Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne. This means that the government can now push through Macron’s deeply unpopular pension reform plan using special constitutional powers.

The first no-confidence vote was brought by a coalition of small parties, and failed narrowly—falling only 9 votes short of a majority; the second, brought by the far-right, failed more dramatically.

The opposition can now appeal to France’s constitutional council to block the law. The council would have a month to consider objections to the plan. Protests have been ongoing for weeks, and continued after the two no-confidence votes failed. At least 70 people were detained during protests on Monday evening.

More money for the ICC. A conference in London raised $4.9 million for for the International Criminal Court’s investigations into alleged war crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine. Justice ministers from over 40 countries convened at a conference on war crimes mere days after the ICC issued a warrant for the arrest of Russian President Vladimir Putin and a top government official for allegedly kidnapping Ukrainian children.

“Let’s make sure that we back up our words with deeds, that we back up our moral support with practical means to effectively investigate these awful crimes,” said British Justice Minister Dominic Raab. The conference was focused on the ICC, but, in a video message, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also tried to raise support for a new tribunal to supplement the ICC and hold Russian leaders accountable.

Keep an Eye On

Colombia suspends cease-fire with drug cartel. Colombian President Gustavo Petro suspended his country’s cease-fire with the Gulf Clan, the country’s main drug cartel. The cease-fire was agreed in December, but Petro accused the cartel of “sowing anxiety and terror.” Petro said the cartel had broken the ceasefire by inciting protests and shooting at police officers. Henry Sanabria, head of Colombia’s police force, said officers would be sent to parts of the country where the Gulf Clan is most active.

Former Taiwan president to visit China. Ma Ying-jeou, former president of Taiwan, is going to visit China this month. This will be the first time a current or former leader of Taiwan has visited since 1949. Ma and his party, which is in the opposition, presented this as an opportunity to promote cross-strait exchanges at an otherwise tense time.

However, the trip is also likely to exacerbate tensions between Ma’s party and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party. The trip was scheduled from March 27 to April 7, but local media reported that Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council had not yet received reports about the planned trip, which is a requirement for former presidents.

If China Arms Russia, the U.S. Should Kill China’s Aircraft Industry by Richard Aboulafia

Even More Than Tanks and Planes, Ukraine Needs IFVs by Franz-Stefan Gady

A Coup Would Put Pakistan Squarely in China’s Bloc by Azeem Ibrahim

Millions of fish found dead in Australia. Millions of dead fish have washed ashore in southeastern Australia. Scientists believe this is because of depleted oxygen, a result of floods and hot weather. Police have set up emergency operation centers to coordinate a massive cleanup.

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