Politics, Geopolitics & Conflict
Despite warnings from China that it would retaliate in some way, the U.S. went ahead with a meeting in LA between Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. There were similar threats last year when Pelosi visited Taipei. The usual MO is to launch war games as a show of potential force. After the meeting, Beijing said it would use “resolute measures” in response—a threat Washington seems to be viewing largely as empty saber-rattling.
In Turkey, Erdogan’s very shaky May 14 re-election prospects have potentially been strengthened by a third presidential candidate who could split the opposition vote. Muharrem Ince, a former CHP opposition party figure, was added to the ballot over the weekend. Prior to this, Erdogan’s chances looked slimmer with only one opposition choice to unify around.
Finland is set to become the next member of NATO; it’s official. This is a major provocation for Russia, and Putin will be expected to have a response. Finland’s membership means, for the most part, a doubling of NATO’s border with Russia.
The Moscow Times broke a story citing an unnamed Defense Ministry official and a source in the Special Forces Veterans Fund as saying that Russian copper tycoon Igor Altushkin is bankrolling the Urals Battalion, a volunteer group fighting in Ukraine. Altushkin’s copper company denied any involvement.