GEOPOLITICAL INSIGHTS: Good Morning from the GEO´ Newsroom in Gibraltar. Geopolitical Insights for Friday 21st July 2023 focussing this morning on Putin´s exit from Grain Deal risks alienating limited “partners”, Ukraine effectively deploys cluster bombs, What are Pyongyang´s plans for AWOL US serviceman, Outcry & Unrest in Sweden over Quran insults and Dont fire your food taster – why Prigozhin will never be safe.
PUTIN: GRAIN DEAL VETO
For Russian President Vladimir Putin it may well be a case of “act in haste repent at leisure” by vetoing the Black Sea Grain Initiative as he now runs the risk of alienating what little geopolitical friends he still has following his orders to illegally invade and occupy Sovereign neighbour Ukraine.
We need to sit back and regard how many political cold shoulders he receives. His tenuous relationship with Xi has certainly cooled since the solidarity pledge by China at the start of the conflict although the party line from China according to Russian state news agency TASS is the slightly ambiguous mantra that its position on the war in Ukraine remains “unchanging” and “clear”. Its other political ally of course is its Drone supplier Iran – but Iran will be friends with anyone who ideologically detests the US. This is a fluid news story – follow updates via @GEO_IntelDesk on Twitter
BLASPHEMY SPARKS OUTRAGE
We have been monitoring the situation in Sweden since protests last month in Stockholm after an Iraqi asylum seeker set fire to a copy of the sacred Quran. The same Iraqi national threatened to carry out a second symbolic desecration of the Holy tome this time sparking angry crowds marching on and storming the Swedish Embassy in Baghdad yesterday (200723)
Within hours of the occupation the Iraqi Prime Minister cut all diplomatic ties with the Scandinavian country and expelling their incumbent Ambassador summarily.
This is a fluid news story – follow updates via @GEO_IntelDesk on Twitter
UKRAINE DEPLOYS CLUSTER BOMBS
Ukraine has started to deploy its stock of US supplied Cluster munitions and early reports are they are being used “effectively” and bolstering Ukraine´s counter-offensive. Also in support of Ukraine the EU is compiling plans for a 20-billion-euro ($22bn) fund to provide Ukraine with weapons, ammunition and military aid.
Meanwhile Ukraine President Zelenskiy has sacked both his Ambassador to the UK and the IMO (International Maritime Organisation) on the back of derogatory comments made about the UK. This is a fluid news story – follow updates via @GEO_IntelDesk on Twitter
WHERE IS TRAVIS KING?
The bizarre disappearance of US 23-year-old US soldier Travis King who is believed to have intentionally crossed into North Korea this week. The US Military has designated the US Serviceman as AWOL (Absent without leave) however US officials believe he is now in North Korean custody.
It is clear that any back channels that the US had in place to communicate with Pyongyang are firmly closed with the US Department of State confirming that the Pentagon had reached out to the North Korean military about the case but “those communications have not yet been answered”.
While Political overtures are being played out by the US, North Korea’s defence minister has issued a stark warning to the US and warning that the deployment of nuclear assets by the US Military in South Korea could be sufficient of a threat for Pyongyang to launch a Nuclear attack. This is a fluid news story – follow updates via @GEO_IntelDesk on Twitter
PRIGOZHIN “DONT FIRE YOUR FOOD TASTER”
GEÓ has been investigating Prigozhin and his Wagner Group and its close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin for some years since they first emerged on the World stage operating as a PMC with a Russia proxy mandate operating in Africa – providing security for Russian mining companies with Russia being accused of using the group as a tool to gain control over natural resources in Africa, as well as to influence politics and conflicts in foreign nations including Libya, Sudan, Mali and Madagascar.
Its true that Prigozhin relationship with Putin started with his food processing business and escalated to him being a staunch ally and part of Putin´s hallowed Inner-sanctum membership of which is a guaranteed seat at the Oligarchs table and all that entails. However Prigozhin´s “betrayal” and that is how Putin sees it, will NOT go unpunished – NEVER, EVER is Putin going to absolve the one time hot dog vendor. Putin is known for being a firm believer in the adage “revenge is a dish served cold” Look at Glushkov, Berezovsky, the Skripals and ´former KGB/FSB Colonel Alexandr Litvinienko to name a few…!
I am inclined to agree with CIA Chief William Burns who told the participants of the Aspen Security Forum “What we are seeing is a very complicated dance,” going on to quip that “If I were he I’d be careful what I ate. I’d keep my eye on my menu”
Definitely a case for Not If – But when! This is a fluid news story – follow updates via @GEO_IntelDesk on Twitter
On that note I wish you all a great weekend! Back here on the Insights Desk on Monday morning. – Yours Aye! Iain Fraser