U.S. and Russia Clash at G-20 Meeting

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at the G-20 meeting in India, Greece’s train crash, and warnings of Chinese disinformation.

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Divisions Over Ukraine at G-20

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at the G-20 meeting in India, Greece’s train crash, and warnings of Chinese disinformation.

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.

Divisions Over Ukraine at G-20

Foreign ministers from G-20 countries are gathering this week in India, where Russia’s war in Ukraine is dividing the group. 

It follows the G-20 finance ministers’ meeting, where disagreements over condemnation of Russia’s invasion meant the ministers failed to issue a joint statement and instead put out a summary document. 

Representatives of 40 countries—from the G-20 and 20 non-G-20 member countries invited by India—were expected to attend. That did not include Japan’s foreign minister, Yoshimasa Hayashi, who did not attend; Japan was represented by State Minister for Foreign Affairs Kenji Yamada. However, Hayashi is expected in India later in the week, on Friday, for a meeting of representatives of the Quad countries (Australia, India, Japan, and the United States).

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he had no plans to meet individually with his Chinese or Russian counterparts, Wang Yi and Sergei Lavrov. 

“If Russia…were genuinely prepared to engage in meaningful diplomacy necessary to end the aggression, of course we’d be the first to work to engage, but there’s zero evidence of that,” he told reporters on arriving in New Delhi. 

Russia was previously also part of the G-8, but the group returned to being the G-7 after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. 

What We’re Following Today 

China’s spending on pro-Russia disinformation. James Rubin, coordinator for the U.S. State Department’s Global Engagement Center, said that China spends billions globally to spread disinformation, including pro-Russian disinformation, and that the United States has been slow to respond. “We as a nation and the west have been slow to respond and it is a fair judgment that we are facing a very, very large challenge,” he told reporters while on a European tour. “In the communication space, the alignment between China and Russia is near complete.” Rubin also said cuts to the BBC’s World Service were unhelpful in the fight against disinformation.

Dozens killed in Greek train crash. At least 43 people are dead as the result of a collision between a passenger train and a freight train in Greece. The first four passenger train carriages were derailed, and the first two caught fire and were reportedly almost totally destroyed. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said it was due to “tragic human error.”

The country’s transport minister has resigned, and the local stationmaster was charged with manslaughter. The stationmaster denied having done anything wrong and suggested possible technical errors were to blame. Transport Minister Kostas Karamanlis said, “When something so tragic happens, it is impossible to continue and pretend it didn’t happen.” The prime minister vowed that the state would side with the people. It is as yet unclear why the two trains were running on the same track. It was one of the worst-ever train disasters in Greek history.

Keep an Eye On

Israeli police and anti-Netanyahu protesters clash. Israeli police and protesters clashed on Wednesday. Police fired water cannons and stun grenades at protesters blocking a Tel Aviv highway, while other police fought with protesters outside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s home. Still other police evacuated his wife, Sara Netanyahu, from a salon where protesters were demonstrating. “The country is burning and Sara is getting a haircut,” protesters chanted. Protests against the government’s plan to weaken the judiciary have been going on for weeks.

Also on Wednesday, referring to recent attacks on Palestinians by Israeli settlers following the shooting of two Israelis in the West Bank, Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said, “I think the village of Huwara needs to be wiped out. I think the State of Israel should do it.” Smotrich later claimed the media had manipulated his comments. Secretary of State spokesperson Ned Price said Smotrich’s comments were “irresponsible, repugnant and disgusting,” and condemned them as an “incitement to violence.”

Nigeria’s president-elect calls for unity. After claims of election irregularities by the opposition parties, Bola Tinubu has been declared Nigeria’s president-elect. The 70-year-old is a political veteran and one of the wealthiest politicians in the country. In a televised acceptance speech, Tinubu said, “I take this opportunity to appeal to my fellow contestants to let us team up together. It is the only nation we have. It is one country and we must build it together.”

The opposition Labour Party, meanwhile, said it was preparing paperwork to challenge the victory in court. Voter turnout was, at 27 percent, one of the lowest showings since the end of military rule in 1999. It is suspected that this is the result of technical issues on voting day, rather than voter apathy. In the end, though Tinubu won more votes than any of the opposition candidates, according to official results, he won over less than 10 percent of registered voters.

Putin’s Russian Critics Are Growing Ever Louder by Anchal Vohra

How Ukraine Learned to Fight by Jack Detsch

The U.N. Has Turned Turtle on the Ukraine War by J. Alex Tarquinio

Time and space. Europe—specifically, the European Space Agency—is pushing for a lunar time zone. At present, moon missions use the time of whatever country is operating the spacecraft. European space officials argue, however, that a lunar time zone would make things easier for everyone in the world (and, presumably, those visiting the moon). 

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