Putin Announces Tactical Nuclear Weapons to Be Stationed in Belarus

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at Russia putting nuclear weapons in Belarus, time changes and ensuing confusion in Lebanon, French police clashing with protesters, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s dismissal of his defense minister.

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at Russia putting nuclear weapons in Belarus, time changes and ensuing confusion in Lebanon, French police clashing with protesters, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s dismissal of his defense minister.

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Putin Says He Is Stationing Nuclear Weapons in Belarus

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced this weekend that he will station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.

Putin said he made this decision because the United Kingdom agreed to provide Ukraine with armor-piercing rounds that contain depleted uranium. He did not specify how many would be kept in Belarus. Putin also said he was following the lead of the United States, which has nuclear weapons based in places like Germany and Turkey.

“We are doing what they have been doing for decades, stationing them in certain allied countries, preparing the launch platforms and training their crews. We are going to do the same thing,” he said.

NATO, in turn, criticized Putin for what it described as “dangerous” rhetoric.

“Russia’s reference to NATO’s nuclear sharing is totally misleading. NATO allies act with full respect of their international commitments,” NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu told news outlet Reuters. Ukraine’s foreign ministry asked the international community to “take decisive measures,” and the European Union threatened additional sanctions.

Monday, March 27: Germany visit for King Charles (France trip was canceled).

Tuesday, March 28: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken chairs a virtual event on Ukraine with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Wednesday, March 29: U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager meet.

Thursday, March 30: Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez visits China.

Friday, March 31: Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva visits the UAE.

What We’re Following Today 

Partial clock change confusion in Lebanon. A dispute between religious and political leaders about when daylight savings time should start meant that people in Lebanon awoke Sunday to two different time zones. Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati announced it would be at the end of Ramadan, thus allowing Muslims to break their daily fast earlier. However, Christian authorities wanted it to take place the last Sunday in March. Many businesses followed the latter, as this is what happens most years and some suspect Mikati of trying to boost his own political popularity. National plane carrier Middle East Airlines settled on a compromise, keeping clocks set but moving flight times ahead.

French police clash with protesters. The French police have been accused of using excessive force with protesters, who once again took to the streets to push back against French President Emmanuel Macron’s deeply unpopular planned pension reform. Dunja Mijatovic, human rights commissioner for the Council of Europe, said peaceful protesters had a right to assemble without “police brutality” and called the state of affairs “worrying.”

 Netanyahu fires defense minister. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired his defense minister, Yoav Gallant, a day after Gallant spoke out against the proposed reform to Israel’s judiciary, which he said threatened to undermine Israel’s national security. The firing prompted mass protests in Tel Aviv, and a call from Israeli president Isaac Herzog for an immediate halt to the reform.

Gallant was hardly the first prominent figure to speak out against the reform—former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak warned that Netanyahu was destroying Israeli democracy to Foreign Policy just last week—but Gallant is a member of Netanyahu’s own Likud party and warned that pushing ahead with the reform could lead to protests among reservists and the regular army. “The security of the state of Israel has always been and will always be my life’s mission,” Gallant said after he was fired. Israel’s consul general in New York, Asaf Zamir, resigned in protest Sunday, writing in his resignation letter, “I am very concerned about the legal reform that the government is promoting, which undermines the democratic institutions in Israel and the rule of law in the country.” All Israeli universities announced a strike for Monday over the proposed changes to the judiciary.

Keep an Eye On

Refugees die off Tunisia’s coast on an attempted journey to Italy. At least 29 died trying to make the journey from sub-Saharan Africa to Tunisia when the two boats carrying them sank off Tunisia’s coast. There has been a significant increase in boats carrying migrants headed for Italy in recent weeks. On Sunday, the Tunisian coast guard said it stopped 80 boats bound for Italy over four days, detaining more than 3,000 people.

Hong Kongers hold their first protest in years. For the first time since 2020, when mainland China imposed sharp restrictions on rights, a small rally was held in Hong Kong. Only 100 people were allowed to attend, and they had to wear number tags and have their banners examined ahead of time. Police closely monitored the rally.

It’s Time to Bring Back the Polish-Lithuanian Union by Dalibor Rohac

What America’s Civil War Can Teach Us About Israel’s by Ian S. Lustick

America’s Zero-Sum Economics Doesn’t Add Up by Adam Posen 

Deep sea wiggling. A new species of deep sea worm has been named after a marine scientist from Trinidad and Tobago. The worm can live in extremely hot or extremely cold climates. Its name is the Judiworm, formally Lamellibrachia judigobini, after marine ecologist Judith Gobin at the University of the West Indies, who called the naming “a crowning point in my extensive marine career.”

That’s it for today.

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