Russia’s Ukraine invasion is helping kill global economic growth, the World Bank warned Tuesday. “The war in Ukraine, lockdowns in China, supply-chain disruptions, and the risk of stagflation are hammering growth,” World Bank President David Malpass said in a statement marking the release of a new “Global Economic Prospects” report.
How bad will it get? In January, global growth this year was expected to be about 4.1 percent—compared to 5.7 in 2021. Three months after Putin’s invasion, the World Bank says, growth has been revised down to just 2.9 percent. And “It is expected to hover around that pace over 2023-24, as the war in Ukraine disrupts activity, investment, and trade in the near term, pent-up demand fades, and fiscal and monetary policy accommodation is withdrawn.”
Some of this may sound familiar to folks who lived through the 1970s energy crisis, with “persistent supply-side disturbances fueling inflation, preceded by a protracted period of highly accommodative monetary policy in major advanced economies,” the bank warns. “However, the ongoing episode also differs from the 1970s in multiple dimensions: the dollar is strong, a sharp contrast with its severe weakness in the 1970s; the percentage increases in commodity prices are smaller; and the balance sheets of major financial institutions are generally strong.” Read on, here.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s defiant president insists his country won’t give up any territory to Russia, even as Moscow’s forces close in on seizing almost all of the eastern Luhansk Oblast. “We have already lost too many people to simply cede our territory…We have to achieve a full deoccupation of our entire territory,” President Volodymir Zelenskyy said Tuesday at a conference organized by Financial Times.
Send more weapons, Zelenskyy says. “We are inferior in terms of equipment and therefore we are not capable of advancing,” he told the FT crowd. And Western sanctions on Russia? They’ve “not really influenced the Russian position,” Zelenskyy said.
Russia wants the world to blame Ukraine for Moscow’s Black Sea naval blockade. It’s a way to deflect blame for Putin disrupting global grain supplies with his invasion, since a quarter of the world’s wheat comes from Ukraine and Russia—and a vast majority of it typically goes to market via Ukrainian ports along the Black and Azov Seas. Meantime, “The blockade of Ukraine’s ports has pushed crops across roads and rail to Ukraine’s western borders or down the Danube to be loaded onto ships in Romania,” the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday from Kyiv.
BTW: The naval blockade and the associated global food crisis was one of the topics discussed Sunday evening by Michael Kofman of CNA Corp. and Rob Lee, along with Dmetri Alperovitch on the latter’s “Global Politics Decanted” podcast.
The latest: Russia wants Ukraine to de-mine two Azov Sea ports (Berdyansk and Mariupol) so Moscow’s navy can escort cargo ships to customers elsewhere, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Kremlin spokesman Dmetri Peskov said Tuesday. And Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov plans to visit Turkey on Wednesday to discuss naval activity in the Bosphorus Strait, which Ankara oversees.
For the record: “The Sea of Azov is shallower than the Black Sea,” Reuters reports, “and its ports are only accessible to smaller vessels. Ukraine’s main port of Odessa remains blocked.”
One more thing: Russia’s Foreign Ministry just warned the U.S. against cyber attacks, promising “firm and resolute…retaliatory measures,” if the warning goes unheeded.
From Defense One
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Welcome to this Tuesday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Jennifer Hlad. If you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. On this day in 1494, Spain and Portugal carved up the “new world” with their Treaty of Tordesillas.
Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin is traveling West today in a trip that could see him eventually circle the globe—beginning with a stop at Colorado’s Peterson Space Force Base for talks with officials at Northern Command, before flying to Singapore and Thailand, then on to Belgium for a meeting of NATO defense leaders.
The Japanese, South Korean, and U.S. militaries flew dozens of jets in a show of force on Tuesday as U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman visited Seoul for talks with regional officials ahead of what’s believed to be North Korea’s next nuclear test.
Involved: “Four U.S. F-16 fighter jets…with 16 South Korean planes—including F-35A stealth fighters,” in one drill; and “four Japanese F-15 fighters and two American F-16s” in a separate exercise, the Associated Press reports from Seoul.
ICYMI: The U.S. and South Korea matched North Korean ballistic missile launches this weekend by sending eight of the projectiles (not seven, as we wrote Monday) into eastern peninsular waters, for a total of 16 between the three nations between Sunday and Monday. That Pyongyang launch was among its highest totals in a single day for North Korea, and it marked the nation’s 18th weapons test this calendar year.
The North’s eight launches Sunday also “came after the U.S. aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan concluded a three-day naval drill with South Korea in the Philippine Sea on Saturday, apparently their first joint drill involving a carrier since November 2017,” according to AP.
The U.S. military says it killed five al-Shabaab fighters during a weekend airstrike in southern Somalia. The strike was, to our knowledge, first reported by Harun Maruf from Voice of America on Friday; and it was ordered “after [Shabaab] attacked partner forces in a remote location near Beer Xaani,” according to U.S. Africa Command.
This appears to have been the first U.S. airstrike in Somalia since February, “and the first since Biden announced sending U.S. troops back on May 16,” Maruf tweeted. As with nearly all of AFRICOM’s airstrikes over the past several years, no civilians are believed to have been injured or killed in the U.S. action. Tiny bit more, here.
Elsewhere in Somalia, Shabaab fighters were shaking people down at checkpoints in the Lower Shabelle region, and at least six of them were reportedly captured by Somali commandos on Monday.
Related reading: “‘Widen gaze from Ukraine’ to avert famine in Somalia, U.N. agency warns,” via Reuters, reporting Tuesday.
Unknown attackers killed nearly two-dozen people during church services Sunday in southwestern Nigeria. Unknown gunmen burst through the doors at 11:30 a.m. local, and set off dynamite, according to the BBC. “As worshipers rushed for the other two exits in the chaos, they were met by more armed men, followed by more shots and loud bangs…There was blood on the altar, blood on the floor, bodies on the pews.”
“Authorities have said nothing about the identity or motive of the attackers,” Reuters reports. Fox has more, here.
China is “secretly” building its own naval facility in Cambodia, and the two countries are trying really hard to conceal the operation, the Washington Post reported Monday.
Location: “On the northern portion of Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base on the Gulf of Thailand,” the Post’s Ellen Nakashima and Cate Cadell write. If confirmed, it would give China its second overseas naval base—after facilities in Djibouti, which opened to Beijing’s navy in 2017.
Why it matters: “Having a facility capable of hosting large naval vessels to the west of the South China Sea would be an important element of China’s ambition to expand its influence in the region and would strengthen its presence near key Southeast Asian sea lanes,” analysts told the Post. Continue reading, here.
Lastly: Today on the Hill, the National Guard chief as well as Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine reserve service chiefs are discussing their annual budget request before lawmakers with the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. That one started at 10 a.m. ET. Catch it live here.