A News Year

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The New Year will begin with two pressing crises that could upend the international order: the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, and the coronavirus pandemic in China.

As the Economist noted, Ukraine has a fighting chance against Russia in 2023. Ukraine’s recent counteroffensive shocked Russia and the world, the Washington Post reported. The Russian army is tired and running low on supplies. Russian President Vladimir Putin recently even referred to the conflict as a “war” rather than using his “special operation” euphemism, added CNN.

Putin has expressed an openness to negotiating an end to the fighting and Ukraine hopes to see a peace conference by the end of February. Still, Putin is unlikely to cave to Ukrainian demands to return all territory that Russia has annexed since the 2014 invasion of Crimea. That means practically that the war and its associated chaos will continue.

Russia’s key ally, China, is dealing with its own troubles. Widespread protests against harsh lockdowns and other measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus prompted Chinese officials to lift their public health restrictions, the BBC wrote. Now the virus has spread quickly through the country and hospitals are overwhelmed. At least one million people are expected to perish.

China’s failure to deal well with Covid-19 has seriously undermined the legitimacy of President Xi Jinping at the same moment that he has cemented his authority in the central government, Reuters added in an analysis. Political ramifications aside, a slowdown in the Chinese economy will have worrisome ripple effects worldwide, added Al Jazeera. Bloomberg warned 2023 would see the world have one of its worst-performing years economically since 1993. Accordingly, oil producers in the Middle East might be reluctant to raise prices.

A poor global economy could unfortunately worsen humanitarian crises that have become all too common in recent years. Migrant crises and displacement due to war, famine, natural disasters as well as economic hardships are going to be fixtures in the news in 2023, argued the International Rescue Committee.

How the rest of the world reacts to these megatrends will help decide the course of history. But other regions face major internal challenges, too.

In Latin America, left-wing politicians who recently won office are battling their conservative foes to chart their countries’ destinies, Americas Quarterly wrote. Important elections are scheduled in Africa, with Nigeria’s vote in February paramount among them, Foreign Policy argued. And India is on track to become the most populous nation in the world. Tensions in the Middle East remain high, too. Saudi Arabia recently warned that “all bets were off” if its enemy, Iran, obtained a nuclear weapon, for example.

Expect the crises of 2022 to remain unstable in the New Year. Luckily, that doesn’t preclude them from trending in positive directions.

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