Friday News Roundup — July 15, 2022

Hello and welcome to this week’s edition of the Friday news roundup on July 15. The House and Senate were both in session this week — the former will be in session through the end of the month, while the latter is scheduled to be in session through the first week of August. Horsetrading on appropriations continues in the house with House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) hoping to pass all 12 of the 2023 appropriations bills before the August recess. (Our own Ethan Brown discusses some of this in a defense context.) In the Senate, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has been the fulcrum for ongoing negotiations over the Democrats’ Build Back Better package. This week, Manchin expressed his opposition to measures which would raise taxes and others focused on climate, leaving a narrow path forward for Senate Democratic leadership for anything other than a more narrowly-focused version of the bill centered around healthcare. President Biden is in the middle of a trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia, which have stirred some controversy at home given the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and human rights in the Kingdom. The focus of Biden’s outreach is Saudi energy production, which the White House hopes will be able to help with surging prices.

Across the pond, the Tory internal election to choose a new leader and Prime Minister is continuing, although no final pick has been made yet. At the time of writing, Tom Tugendhat, Rishi Sunak, Lizz Truss, Penny Modaunt and Kemi Badenoch remain in the running. Mordaunt has emerged as a new, surprise frontrunner in the race. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine still appears to be situated in an operational pause that our Wesley Culp discussed last week. In Russia, the trial of American WNBA basketball player Brittney Griner continues following her guilty plea last week, a decision which she reportedly made personally to “take full responsibility for her actions as a mitigating factor in her eventual sentencing.” Efforts by the Biden administration to secure her release have failed to make a breakthrough while the Russian government has expressed reluctance to discuss her release before a verdict is reached (which will almost certainly be a guilty verdict, as almost all criminal cases in Russian courts go). On Thursday, a variety of witnesses related to her basketball team in Yekaterinburg testified to her character, quality as a player, and to highlight how she had never failed a drug test in Russia.

This week Mike Rogers Center for Intelligence & Global Affairs Director, Joshua C. Huminski, reviewed Jamie Susskind’s “The Digital Republic” for the Diplomatic Courier. In “The Digital Republic” Susskind argues that the challenges regulating big tech are not specific policies or legislation, but the philosophy of market individualism that underpins the overall approach to the issue. He suggests that a new philosophy of “digital republicanism” would better serve efforts to rein in big tech’s reach and establish a better grounding for future governance.

In this week’s roundup, Dan Mahaffee asks whether leadership is responding to the challenge of strategic competition. Ethan Brown examines the ongoing appropriations debate in Congress over the future of the LCS, Wesley Culp analyzes the Uzbekistani government’s handling of the aftermath of unrest in Karakalpakstan, and CSPC interns Alan Liu and Yazmine-Gizelle Ali respectively discuss the joint FBI and MI5 warning on China and pioneering work on medical emergency hubs in Africa.

Fix it Up, or Build it New

Dan Mahaffee

2020 USS Bonhomme Richard Fire (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Austin Haist)

If we are recognizing that we are in a strategic competition, when are we going to act like it? In these pages, we have repeatedly asked that question. No one wants to be the columnist that writes the same thing, week-in-and-out, but if there is the collective recognition that we face this long-term contest, when will we muster the political will to act? If the world sees the United States as weak and increasingly in decline, the three examples cited this week certainly do not help.

In fact, the first is being trumpeted by some as a success. Vice President Kamala Harris — delivering virtual remarks to the Pacific Islands Forum in Suva, Fiji — announced a U.S. strategic commitment to these islands. Strategically located throughout the Pacific, the attention these islands are receiving via ongoing diplomatic engagement and economic largesse from Beijing — as well as the prospect of future Chinese naval bases — is raising alarm from Tokyo to Canberra to Washington. Announcements that we are re-opening an embassy in the Solomon Islands and opening ones in Kiribati and Tonga are certainly welcome after decades of inattention. Yet, as the Vice President hoped the focus would be on the request to Congress to triple funding to the Pacific Islands Forum, what is the tripled amount? — $60 million, over ten years. Yes, this “great” commitment is merely the equivalent of what a baseball team would pay a back-of-the-rotation pitcher with a good-to-middling ERA. (Also, given the strategic importance, could the Vice President have made this announcement in-person?) At the same time, China offers its own package, with millions in aid, free trade pacts, and proposals for cooperation in policing, security, data, and communications.

The next example comes from the investigation and follow-on to the fire that consumed the USS Bonhomme Richard while it was docked and undergoing refurbishment in San Diego. In 2020, a sailor-turned-arsonist set fire to the ship. Navy investigations have focused on readiness and the condition of the ship, but ahead of hearings to censure those in command during the incident, accounts of the incident suggest confusion amongst a top-heavy chain of command, with various admirals struggling over authorities, while lower-level leaders failed to communicate. Rather than holding to the creed that “every Marine is a rifleman; every Sailor is a firefighter”, a window to contain the fire and save the ship was lost. The Bonhomme Richard — a $1.2 billion irreplaceable mini-aircraft carrier that can also deploy Marine landing groups — was lost not because of arson, but because of failures in Navy command.

The third example is closer to home, as the path for the Bipartisan Innovation Act, USICA, COMPETES, or whatever flavor of it you prefer, appears blocked. With time on the calendar running out and no signs of agreement coming from the expansive conference committee — as well as Mitch McConnell tying its path to the Democratic leadership’s reconciliation plans — all that may result from what was once heralded as bipartisan agreement on fostering and marshaling U.S. innovation will be some investments in U.S. domestic semiconductor production. While still extremely important, this pales in comparison to the expansion of the National Science Foundation, other investments in R&D, and other proposals to address Chinese influence in technological and economic circles.

Now thus far, this column may simply have read as a “news you may have missed” but these all serve as lessons and wake up calls. In the proximate case, as a call to build better, more substantive aid and engagement packages for the Pacific, fix our ailing Navy, and pray that our lawmakers can see past their current dysfunction for the national good. Beyond that though, it reflects the broader lack of imagination, strategic vision, and ability to just “think big.”

Agree or disagree with Stephen Walt on his foreign policy stances, he did come up with a useful construct in his critique that the Biden administration’s foreign policy suffered due to their being “mechanics” rather than “architects.” While Walt focuses on the administration, they are not the only ones “like a set of skilled mechanics …But the domestic and international institutions they are trained to operate are no longer fit for their purpose, and they end up like experienced Ford or Chevy mechanics trying to service a Tesla.”

Facing an ever rapider digital and bio-technological revolution; the challenges of a maturing digital economy and a space one in its genesis; a return to war in Europe and the risk of one in the Indo-Pacific; and a broader global competition for influence, might, and money — we need leadership that builds new architectures more than ever. One example to highlight, again and again, is the new concept being developed by the leadership of the Marine Corps, making a bold bet based on what they see as a vision of the future of the threat and the role of the Corps. At this point, the bar is so low that they could be lauded simply for making a strategic bet — but they understand that adaptation is the key to success.

For those of us in charge of institutions, new architectures are the way to adapt.

The leadership to build new architectures, as history understandably tells us, takes vision, effort, and a willingness to communicate the magnitude of the challenge to the American people.

Holding on to a sinking ship: White House OMB and Congress at odds over platform retirement

Ethan Brown

USNS Grapple tows a LCS -probably leaking- back to Little Creek, VA far too early in its service life (Mike Morones/Staff via Navy Times)

The National Defense Authorization Act, one of the most traditionally bipartisan acts of congressional housekeeping, has one particular issue that inevitably slows the process entirely: platform retirement. A well-cited historical example, the A-10 has been one of those major sticking points between congressional personalities (whose ears are often being whispered in by special interest groups, defense contractors and the like), where the vaunted “Hawgs” long-overdue retirement has been a point of serious contention. Throughout the era of counter-terror and low-intensity conflict, where overhead close air support was the preponderance of air power requirements, retiring a platform of such prowess and performance records was considered heresy, F-35 be damned.

But of course, that era of our national security is largely a thing of the past, and more pressing concerns with our national defense inventory have fallen under close scrutiny by the Biden administration, the Pentagon leadership, and congressional treasure-keepers. That very same haranguing about platform retirements is currently upending the passage of the NDAA for 2023, where the Office of Management and Budget is at odds with amendments that the House and Senate Armed Services Committees…all 650 of them.

The simplest outline of the contention is this: the defense budget will balloon this year, despite earlier doomsday prognostications (thanks to the Ukraine crisis), and it is presently projected to reach $840(ish) Billion, roughly $40 billion more than was earlier bandied about this year for the sake of inflation and a 10% increase over last years spending. Within that final line, the White House seeks to retire multiple flagging operational programs (more on those shortly) and divest those funds into emergent technology and modernization efforts. However, bipartisan groups within both houses of Congress have made an effort to block, or amend away (somewhere in those 650 revisions) those efforts to start cutting fat from the Defense inventory.

Among those systems on the OMB cutting board includes the controversial Littoral Combat Ship and its hemorrhaging management and repair costs, whose further issues are a veritable can of worms to include fleet-wide defects in combining gears (part of the drive system), unachievable seaworthiness, and failed modernization upgrades. The entire Freedom-class LCS fleet was built with a 25 year service life, yet the oldest in the class is barely a decade old and has already cost the Navy more to modernize and retain than the service can justify for its mission application. The White House also threw water on a congressional proposal to create a critical munition reserve pilot program which would identify sub-tier suppliers for storing and handling various munitions support functions. This resulted from the congressional submission failing to account for the necessary authorities granted to the Pentagon to establish a revolving fund; in short, Congress recognizes the need to secure a munitions stockpile and ensure readiness for American warfighters, but failed to draft in whole the necessary authorities for the Pentagon to do what Congress is charging it to do in the process.

The main sticking point seems to be the Navy trying to retire those ships of the line whose financial obligations will outweigh the investment made to produce a combat-capable vessel. What beggars belief is that the Navy has clearly outlined how and why continuing those ships, once a novel idea, but shoddy craftsmanship and defense contractor shortfalls along with too many operational obligations have made the LCS and its Whidbey-class island docking vessels untenable for the inventory.

Among those in Congress who have stymied the efforts to improve spending on Navy programs includes Virginia Democrat Rep. Elaine Luria, who is also a Navy veteran and outspoken proponent of Navy funding increases. Virginia is of course a major hub for Navy shipbuilding and maintenance, so the decision to retain a fleet of vessels unworthy of its combat obligations is curious at best. Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME) and House Seapower subcommittees ranking Republican Rob Wittman (VA) are among those bipartisan actors who are pushing the Navy to keep its fleet of “lemons” afloat a while longer through subcommittee and house floor debate actions. The term pork-barrel spending is of course, a rather dirty insult to lobby at anyone elected to office; but again, the efforts in Congress to sink with the LCS, whose flaws undermine its multi-roleism, is curious. The argument made by these congresspersons has been the fear over under-equipping the Navy by way of total fleet numbers should a conflict with China manifest in the near term, but will more unworthy vessels rather than fewer, superior craft be a suitable counter-offensive force in the Strait of Taiwan?

The urge to skyrocket defense spending at a time when all of the villains of the world seem to be coalescing around the United States and her allies is certainly compelling. But more money thrown haphazardly is never the solution to the national security problems facing DoD readiness. The motivations of lawmakers to hold onto programs and systems that will only cost more money to maintain than the investment is worth, or will fail when crisis demands the application of force. To its credit, the White House and key members in Congress seem to recognize this reality — quality most often beats quantity in warfare. This reality is clearly understood in the statement from the OMB: “The President’s budget request for [fiscal 2023] was developed in a thoughtful and deliberate way to match resources to strategy and strategy to policy. Any funding increase should be oriented to ensure the right balance of forces essential to advancing modernization while sustaining readiness.” The White House, and House Armed Service Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) have been fighting tooth and nail to control spending, spend smartly, and not simply boost the budget for the sake of boosting the budget. Hanging onto the LCS while their sinking isn’t the route for maintaining and equipping a competent Navy.

Uzbekistan’s Government Struggles to Return to Old Status Quo after July Unrest

Wesley Culp

Uzbekistani President Shavkat Mirziyoyev (Photo credit: Russian Presidential Press and Information Office)

In the aftermath of deadly unrest and protests in early July against the government of Uzbekistan in the country’s easternmost autonomous region of Karakalpakstan, Tashkent has struggled to put the whole affair to bed. While much of the government deliberations over its response to the unrest happened below the surface and out of view, it is clear that the unrest has been significantly disruptive in Tashkent.

When the nation of Uzbekistan emerged from the ruins of the Soviet Union, its territory included the autonomous region of Karakalpakstan, which held the status of an Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic within the wider Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic before the collapse. The Karakalpaks are a relatively small ethnic group who speak a language more closely related to Kazakh than Uzbek. After the local government of Karakalpakstan declared itself fully sovereign on the eve of the breakup, it was coaxed back into Uzbekistan by Tashkent’s promise that a referendum on independence would be held 20 years later, and that the region’s right to secede would be constitutionally enshrined.

However, amendments to the Uzbekistani national constitution officially presented in June 2022 threatened to upend this relationship between Uzbekistan and Karakalpakstan. Under the proposed arrangement, Karakalpakstan was slated to lose its right to secede, while others were designed to further cement the primacy of national law over Karakalpakstan. In response, historically-large protests exploded in the region starting on July 1 centered around the regional capital of Nukus. Protest leaders insisted the protests were peaceful. However, Uzbekistani government security forces immediately responded with a violent crackdown, in which at least 18 protesters were killed, according to official estimates. The region’s local authorities loyal to Tashkent claimed that the protesters were actually “provocateurs” who had sought to destabilize Uzbekistan and seize power in the region, without offering proof of such claims. Due to a near-total information blackout imposed by the Uzbekistani government soon after protests emerged, it is difficult to ascertain exactly how events played out in Nukus and Karakalpakstan, although videos and images of the effects of police violence spread on social media nonetheless. Police had almost entirely quelled the region’s unrest by the end of July 3, after a state of emergency had been imposed in the region.

As the immediate risks brought on by the unrest in Karakalpakstan began to subside, outside observers have noted that Tashkent started to go into damage-control mode and to assess how the unpredictable chain of events in the region began to spiral out of control. Despite the violent response to the protest by local authorities, the national government of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev appears to have conceded its attempt to reign in Karakalpakstan’s limited autonomy. According to July 2 messaging from the president’s office, President Mirziyoyev officially withdrew the proposed amendments to the Uzbekistani constitution which threated to alter Karakalpakstan’s status, while keeping the rest, including some which would allow Mirziyoyev to stand for election beyond his current constitutional limits.

The Uzbekistani government has undergone some reshuffling in the aftermath of the unrest, with President Mirziyoyev firing his chief of staff, who was reportedly closely linked with efforts to amend the constitution. Zainilobiddin Nizomiddinov, the former presidential chief of staff (a position that carries significant power in Uzbekistan’s political system) was reportedly rebuked by Mirziyoyev for his lack of attention to pushback on certain constitutional amendment measures. On his visit to the region during the unrest, the President Mirziyoyev tried to push some blame for the unrest onto local authorities by publicly accusing them of leaving Tashkent in the dark over the complaints of Karakalpaks. In the meantime, Uzbekistan has been on an external public relations push to convey its version of events in Karakalpakstan. This push has reportedly found some traction on Capitol Hill, with members of the congressional Uzbekistan Caucus reportedly expressing gratitude at Uzbekistani Ambassador to the U.S. Javlon Vakhabov’s briefing on the protests in Karakalpakstan. Members of the Caucus also encouraged Tashkent to conduct a transparent investigation of the protests and the government’s response, and expressed their hope that similar unrest would not take place in the future.

Uzbekistan’s public relations drive in the wake of early July’s unrest in Karakalpakstan is likely informed by Tashkent’s experience in the aftermath of the 2005 Andijan massacre. After enduring protests against the politically-motivated trial of 23 local businessmen expanded into large-scale, mass challenges to the government, Uzbekistani security forces brutally crushed the protests, killing 187 by official counts (independent observers claim the death toll could have actually been hundreds deaths higher). The government of President Islam Karimov officially blamed the unrest on Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists, claims which they did not substantiate. After a notable failure get through to Uzbekistan’s government, the U.S. and EU halted military assistance and applied sanctions on Uzbekistan, which Tashkent responded to by revoking U.S. use of an Uzbekistani airbase. While cooperation between Uzbekistan and Western countries incrementally returned in subsequent years, Tashkent’s usual strategy of balancing its relationship with major world powers off of each other was disrupted.

Uzbekistan’s unrest — and its response — shares some similarities with unrest in neighboring Central Asian states, while differing in other important respects. Similar to the response of the Kazakhstani government to large protests which broke out in January 2022, and to the Tajikistani government’s response to unrest in its remote Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region which boiled over in May, Tashkent was quick to blame its unrest on foreign-supported provacateurs. However, unlike Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, Uzbekistan is not a member of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization, which Kazakhstan called upon to quell its unrest. In keeping with its “multi-vector” foreign policy, Uzbekistan’s government is not able to rely on the metaphorical Russian cavalry to ride over the hill to rescue it if Karakalpakstan’s unrest had expanded beyond its control (although it is questionable if Tashkent would invite Russian intervention at all following the disruption of Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine).

While Uzbekistan’s Karakalpakstan unrest appears to have been successfully suppressed by Tashkent for now, the fallout from the events of early July is not yet entirely clear. Tashkent will seek to improve its image on the world stage while President Mirziyoyev maneuvers Uzbekistan’s political system to suit his objectives without triggering other tripwires.

FBI and MI5 Issues Joint Warning on Chinese Subversive Economics

Alan Liu

FBI Headquarters in Washington, DC (Wikimedia commons)

On July 6, FBI Director Christopher Wray and MI5 Director-General Ken McCallum issued a joint warning to business leaders about the risks of doing business with Chinese companies. Their statements signal that the rising PRC challenge remains one of the top priorities for the United States: while a violent conventional war wages on Ukraine, economic and technological competitions between China and the West are also intensifying. Among the concerns addressed, his speech, delivered in London, covered cyber espionage, technology theft, the integrity of critical industries, and the need for cooperation between federal agencies and companies to counter PRC activities and interference. While the rare joint appearance conveyed strategic focus on curtailing PRC aggression and helped bolster confidence, it lacked a concrete plan. On the issue of cyber espionage, Wray emphasized that “The Chinese Government sees cyber as the pathway to cheat and steal on a massive scale.” For years, the PRC has been engaging in cyber espionage and theft in order to speed up economic and technological development at the expense of western competitiveness. With the help of non-state actors and organizations, PRC has since refined and strengthened its effort to steal information from critical industries, including but not limited to AI, pharmaceuticals, and telecommunications. Both Wray and McCallum acknowledged that the frequency of incidents have risen dramatically over the past few years and that more work needs to be done.

Aside from covert theft, Wray and McCallum also pointed out that the PRC is attempting to gain an advantage through partnerships with western companies, wherein the PRC and their proxies would be positioned to extract sensitive information and trade secrets for competitive advantage. For example, if companies want to do business in China, they must partner with domestic companies and technology transfers may be required. Compliance with Chinese law enforcement and intelligence agencies is non-negotiable. Moreover, the PRC has been aggressively pursuing foreign investment as a means to tap into critical expertise and technology. In 2021, completed Chinese FDI in Europe increased to $11.3 billion from $8.3 billion in 2020, with mergers and acquisitions accounting for nearly 70% of total investments. While current Chinese FDI volume is still far lower than the all-time-high in 2016, experts point out that the concern lies in the few acquisitions that could undermine western competitiveness. In response, the United States has broadened the parameters of CFIUS, which screens foreign investments in critical sectors. Congress is also working on a more comprehensive China bill that could introduce outbound investment screening and additional measures to protect U.S. competitiveness and sovereignty. However, there is a chance that PRC entities could bypass these measures through shell companies and other methods of circumvention.

The joint address ended with a call for cooperation between the private sector and their respective governments. In particular, Wray and the FBI pledged to help business leaders in assessing and mitigating cyber threats. He also implored businesses to focus on a long-term strategy, one that will not succumb to the temptations of short-term financial benefits offered by the PRC. Nonetheless, Wray and McCallum stressed that they do not want businesses to give up dealing with China completely, only that businesses should evaluate risks accordingly. The joint conference provided no new findings on the subversive behavior of the PRC, but it serves as a necessary statement about U.S. conviction and that of its allies in meeting China’s challenge to the world order. It would be remiss, however, to neglect the actual implementation of an action plan, which has not been announced.

The speeches seemed to suggest that companies, rather than governments, should take responsibility. McCallum said “By volume, most of what is at risk from Chinese Communist Party aggression is not, so to speak, my stuff. It’s yours.” While Wray articulated the governments’ plan to intervene in the event of a cyber intrusion, it should be noted that the U.S. government has been historically sensitive about its cyber capabilities, and has discouraged its agencies from working closely and with enough transparency to help businesses. Although Wray suggested a need for a different approach going forward, he did not share specifics, and it will likely take some time for the FBI to change its approach. Accordingly, it remains to be seen whether the United States and its allies are fully prepared to respond to the looming threat of Chinese economic aggression.

WHO and Kenya Pioneer African Regional Medical Emergency Hubs

Yazmine-Gizelle Ali

(Wikimedia Commons)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has picked Kenya as one of three African nations to host a medical health emergency hub designed to respond to health emergencies like pandemics in East Africa. that would be able to handle the countries’ medical emergencies, particularly in Eastern Africa. Senegal and Nigeria are the other two countries envisioned to host emergency regional hubs. According to the WHO, the continent has more than 100 health emergencies every year, more than any other area in the globe. The emergency hub will offer emergency medical personnel, commodities, and equipment to handle multiple situations at once. Kenya will become a regional center for neighboring nations, allowing for faster access to needed pharmaceuticals, for example.

The Kenyan government and the World Health Organization opened the medical health emergency hub in Nairobi on July 9. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, stated during his speech at the groundbreaking ceremony for the facility at the Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral, and Research Hospital that the emergency hub will work in tandem with the Kenya Biovac Institute, the Kenyan government’s first human vaccine manufacturing plant. At the start of the pandemic, only four African nations had vaccine manufacturing capacity: Egypt, Senegal, South Africa, and Tunisia. Currently, 15 African countries are developing vaccine production factories.

Africa, the world’s second biggest continent, consumes a quarter of global vaccinations yet produces just 1%. Many African scientists and activists have campaigned for vaccine fairness. This novel project to establish emergency response hubs and vaccine manufacturing plants could finally disrupt Africa’s generational cycle of reliance and dependence and set in motion a new cycle in which African nations will be endowed with the knowledge of how to develop mRNA vaccines as well as access to modern technology that will serve purposes well beyond COVID-19 vaccines. African countries will be able to develop their own vaccinations for more prevalent illnesses in the region, such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, TB, and others. Allowing the world’s second biggest continent to play a significant role in responding to and mitigating health crises benefits the entire world, not just Africa.

The WHO has sought to improve its ties with African nations due to the established importance of ‘Health for All’ under the leadership of Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Dr Tedros stated “Our vision is not health for some. It’s not health for most. It’s health for all: rich and poor, able and disabled, old and young, urban and rural, citizen and refugee. Everyone, everywhere.”

Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the first African woman to be elected as WHO Regional Director in 2015, has spearheaded WHO’s reform in Africa over the last five years to ensure the organization is more accountable, effective, and results-driven. While she faces significant challenges in meeting these objectives, her initial leadership has been well regarded by African health leaders. “We see the continent expressing in very practical terms its determination to be better prepared for the next pandemic… this is going to be our contribution to helping countries build their capacity to be much better prepared and better able to respond,” commented Dr. Moeti.

News You May Have Missed

Luis Echeverría Alvarez, Former President of Mexico (1970–1976) Dies at Age 100

Sofia Piña Jaubert

Former Mexican President Luis Echeverría may be best known for his role in the “Tlatelolco Massacre” while acting as interior secretary. Mr. Echeverría was accused of orchestrating the crackdown of peaceful student protests that culminated in the tragic 1968 massacre of up to 300 people. With the start of an investigation by Mexico’s opposition party decades later, Mr. Echeverría was placed under house arrest in 2006, but by 2007 the cases against him had been dismissed. A painful part of Mexican history, the Tlatelolco Massacre served to expose the PRI’s (Institutional Revolutionary Party) true colors; a party that had governed Mexico through most of the 20th century. However, the dismissal of his charges sheds a sad light on impunity, and on how decades later, Mexico is still far from achieving accountability.

North Korea Recognizes Russian-backed LNR and DNR Separatist Statelets in Ukraine

On July 13, the government of North Korea officially recognized the independence of the LNR and DNR statelets supported by Russia in Ukraine’s Donbas region. The official recognition was made official through the North Korean embassy in Moscow, where a DNR envoy accepted a certificate of recognition from Pyongyang’s ambassador to Russia. North Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also sent notes of recognition to the two statelets on Wednesday, which Ukraine reacted to by severing relations with Pyongyang. In recognizing the two statelets, North Korea joins the esteemed company of Syria and Russia itself as the only states to recognize the separatist entities.

The views of authors are their own and not that of CSPC.

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