The Hill: Russia suggests it is ready to resume gas sales to Europe through Yamal-Europe pipeline

Russia is ready to reinstate gas shipments to Europe through the Yamal-Europe pipeline, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak told state media in an interview published on Sunday.

“The European market remains relevant, because a gas deficit remains, and we have all capabilities to restore supplies. For example, the Yamal-Europe pipeline, shut down over political motives, remains unused,” Novak told TASS, a state-owned news agency.

TeleSUR: Russia-Ukraine Conflict Puts Europe’s Societies to the Test

In 2022, the prolonged conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the series of problems brought about by the northern expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the energy crisis have all caused severe headaches across Europe.

Adding fuel to the fire were the West’s series of sanctions against Russia and the weapons deliveries to Ukraine. The economic, geopolitical and social consequences of all these developments have been profound – something the continent has not seen for decades. Calls for peace and stability are growing louder by the day.

RT: One of UK’s ‘most powerful warships’ longer in repair than at sea – The Times

The £3.2 billion ($3.8 billion) warship has spent only 267 days at sea since entering active duty in December 2019, the newspaper reported, citing Ministry of Defense figures. Christmas Eve marked the 268th day it has spent undergoing repairs.

TeleSUR: French Family Doctors Go on Strike Until January 2

On Monday, French family doctors began a strike that will last until January 2 to demand an increase in their fees and better working conditions.

Jacobin: France’s Kurds Are in Revolt Because of Years of Unpunished Racist Attacks

Scenes of burning cars in Parisian streets have been used to paint France’s Kurds as a riotous minority. Yet their angry protests are fueled by a string of racist killings — and French authorities’ refusal to reveal the full facts of the cases.

Al Jazeera: Turkey summons French ambassador after Paris shooting

TeleSUR: Italy in Midst of Warmest Holiday Season in 50 Years

Italy is expected to have its warmest holiday season in at least 50 years, according to meteorologists, more anomalous weather in a year filled with unusual weather patterns.

A warm weather current from North Africa is hovering above much of Italy, pushing temperatures to record highs. All throughout central and southern Italy, temperatures are expected to surpass 50-year highs. Daily high temperatures will remain hotter than normal through the end of the new year.

MEMO: Greece moves to postpone major arms purchase

Greece has moved to postpone a major arms purchase from Israel, local media reported on Saturday.

Defense Ministry officials fear that the purchase of Spike NLOS missiles, a particularly desired system for the navy’s fast attack boats and the ground forces' AH-64 attack helicopters, risk being postponed indefinitely, private broadcaster CNN Greece reported.

RT: Serbia to greatly expand its Special Forces

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has ordered to raise the number of troops within the nation’s Special Forces from 1,500 to 5,000, Defense Minister Milos Vucevic said on Monday. The force is expected to be formed by the end of 2023, he added.

RT: Finland denied compensation over canceled Russian nuclear project – official

The International Dispute Review Board (DRB) has refused to file financial claims against Rosatom, the head of the Russian state-owned nuclear major, Alexey Likhachyov, has said. Finland had earlier this year terminated a contract with the Russian company to build the Hanhikivi-1 nuclear facility in the country.

God fucking damn it! The consequences of my own actions are here AGAIN?!

East Asia and Oceania

RT: China to ease strict Covid-19 policies

The national coronavirus response level will be downgraded from the top ‘A’ level to ‘B’, the health commission has said

Al Jazeera: China to end COVID quarantine for incoming passengers

China will stop requiring inbound travellers to go into quarantine starting from January 8, the National Health Commission says in a major step towards opening its borders, which have been largely shut since early 2020.

China’s management of COVID-19 will also be downgraded to the less strict Category B from the current top-level Category A, the health authority said in a statement on Monday. It said the reason for this decision was that the virus has become less virulent and COVID-19 would gradually evolve into a common respiratory infection.

SCMP: Coronavirus and natural disasters not enough to derail China’s anti-poverty efforts, Beijing says

The National Rural Revitalization Administration says thanks to government support, there has been no major return to poverty in the countryside.

Even so, experts say a pressing issue for Beijing is the declining incomes of migrant workers disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 pandemic

Reuters: Russia’s Putin and China’s Xi to confer this week - TASS quotes Kremlin

Reuters: Nepal’s new govt seeks to balance ties with India, China, economy in focus

Nepal’s new government, led by the former Maoist rebel chief, will try to balance ties with its immediate neighbours China and India as it seeks economic growth in one of the world’s poorest countries, officials of the ruling coalition told Reuters.

Common Dreams: Indigenous Campaigners Want to Make West Papua ‘Earth’s First Green State’

As Benny Wenda, exiled leader of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), told a conference at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) on 9 December: “The forest is our friend, our supermarket, our medical cabin. You cannot separate West Papua from our environment. We have always been at peace with nature.”

Unfortunately, the Indonesian government, which has maintained a bloody and brutal occupation of West Papua for almost 60 years, and the global corporations they invite to “develop” its lands, does not abide by such values.

TeleSUR: Floods in the Philippines Leave 6 Dead and 19 Missing

On Monday, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) confirmed that at least 6 citizens have died, 3 people are injured, and 19 people remain missing due to severe flooding hitting regions of the southern and eastern Philippines.

Some 44,700 people are displaced from their homes by the floods, which affect more than 100,000 inhabitants of numerous towns, especially on the island of Mindanao.

Central Asia and the Middle East

TeleSUR: Leaders of Commonwealth of Independent States to Meet Putin

On Monday, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin will meet with eight leaders of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), in the city of Saint Petersburg.

The meeting is expeted to be attended by Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinián and the presidents Alexandr Lukashenko (Belarus), Ilham Aliyev (Azerbaijan), Kasim-Yomart Tokaev (Kazakhstan), Emomali Rachmon (Tajikistan), Serdar Berdimuhamedov (Turkmenistan), and Shavkat Mirziyóyev (Uzbekistan).

RT: Trade between Russia and CIS states to hit $100 billion – Putin

The Russian president highlighted successful cooperation between members of the post-Soviet organization

Common Dreams: Azerbaijan Police Detain Dozens of Protesters on Day of Activist’s Trial

On December 23, an appeals court in Baku, Azerbaijan ruled to keep political activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev behind bars. Hajiyev was arrested on December 9 on what local and international human rights organizations consider bogus charges and sentenced to 50 days in detention.

Al Jazeera: Six major developments that shaped 2022 for Palestinians

The United Nations declared the year the deadliest for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank since 2006, evidence of increased use of force by Israel, amid a further shift to the far right in the country.


Africa News: Three die in military helicopter crash at army base in Niger

Africa News: Key figures in DR Congo say government outsources security in the east

A Nobel Prize winner and two of DR Congo’s presidential hopefuls have accused President Felix Tshisekedi’s regime of pursuing a “policy of outsourcing” the vast country’s security.

The accusation was made in a joint declaration released on Monday and signed by Nobel Peace Prize winner Denis Mukwege and presidential hopefuls Martin Fayulu and Augustin Matata Ponyo. 

It also said that the DRC is threatened with “fragmentation” and “balkanization,” and it added that the situation is “the result of a glaring lack of leadership and governance on the part of an irresponsible and repressive regime.” 

North America

TeleSUR: Powerful Winter Storm Across the US Leaves 35 Dead

The death toll in the United States from a powerful winter storm climbed to 35 on Sunday, according to a tally by NBC News.

The deaths were reported in more than ten states, including New York, Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri and Oklahoma. Four people died in a three-vehicle crash in Ohio on Saturday, a day after a massive pileup on the Ohio Turnpike, causing many more injuries.

The Ukraine Proxy Conflict

Common Dreams: ‘Every War Ends in a Diplomatic Way’: Ukrainian Foreign Minister Floats February Peace Summit

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Monday that his government is aiming to hold a “peace summit” in February with the goal of ending Russia’s assault, which is now in its 10th month.

“Every war ends in a diplomatic way,” Kuleba said in an interview with the Associated Press. “Every war ends as a result of the actions taken on the battlefield and at the negotiating table.”

Kuleba suggested the summit could be mediated by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, a vocal advocate of diplomatic talks to end an invasion that has killed thousands of civilians, devastated Ukraine’s infrastructure, and sparked a massive humanitarian crisis.

Yeah dude, you’re totally not saying that because you can see the Russians building up massive forces. Definitely just a spur of the moment appeal to peace. Should have tried doing this back in August.

Responsible Statecraft: Macron ruffles feathers with talk of autonomy, Russian security

French President Emmanuel Macron made yet another appeal last week for reducing European security dependence on the United States.

Returning from a meeting in Jordan, Macron explained his view to a group of journalists: “An alliance isn’t something I should depend on. It’s something that I should choose, something I work with…. We must rethink our strategic autonomy.”


Retrospectives, History, and Theory

Jacobin: Japanese Socialism Was a Powerful Force Until It Lost Its Political Bearings

For most of Japan’s postwar era, the Socialists were the second force in the country’s political system and the main challenger to conservative rule. But when they ditched their left-wing, anti-militarist principles in the 1990s, they collapsed into minor-party status.

Outside the Imperial Core

Responsible Statecraft: Refashioning a new East Asian order

After a four centuries, China has emerged as the economic nucleus of its region and a credible contestant for global preeminence.

Naked Capitalism: US-China Struggle for DR Congo Resources Intensifies

As the US intensifies its efforts to cut China off from advanced semiconductors, it is also making a run at the world’s most important source of minerals used in tech: the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The DRC is sometimes called the “the Saudi Arabia of the electric vehicle age” because it produces roughly 70 percent of the world’s cobalt, which is a key component in the production of lithium-ion batteries that power phones, computers, and electric vehicles. Electric vehicle sales are predicted to grow from 6.5 million in 2021 to 66 million in 2040.

The DRC is also Africa’s largest copper producer with some of the mines estimated to contain grades above 3 percent, significantly higher than the global average of 0.6 – 0.8 percent. It also has 70 percent of the world’s coltan, which is also critical to cell phone and computer manufacturing. All in all, it is estimated that the DRC has $24 trillion worth of untapped mineral resources.

On Dec.13, the US signed deals with the DRC and Zambia (the world’s sixth-largest copper producer and second-largest cobalt producer in Africa) that will see the US support the two countries in developing an electric vehicle value chain. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US Export-Import Bank and the International Development Finance Corporation will explore financing and support mechanisms, and the US Agency for International Development, commerce department and Trade and Development Agency will provide technical assistance.

Aside from a Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates-backed copper-cobalt mine in northern Zambia, details are sparse, but it does mark a major turning point for the DRC.

For more than a decade, Chinese companies have spent billions of dollars buying out U.S. and European miners in the DRC’s Cobalt belt, leading to control of 15 of 19 of the primary cobalt mines in the country.

China sources 60 percent of its cobalt needs from the DRC, and about 80 percent of the world’s cobalt processing occurs in China before being incorporated into lithium-ion batteries.The DRC-China relationship is on the rocks, however, and Chinese mining is starting to encounter an increasing amount of bumps in the road.

In July the DRC halted exports from the world’s second biggest cobalt mine amid an ongoing dispute between the Chinese mining company and the DRC state mining company. (China Molybdenum bought the controlling stake in the project in 2016 from US company Freeport-McMoRan.)

With US encouragement, last year DRC President Felix Tshisekedi began accusing his predecessors of signing lopsided contracts with Chinese mining companies and is now attempting to renegotiate them. In a rare sign of DRC bipartisanship, opposition politician Adolphe Muzito who was prime minister at the time the deals were signed with China, has also come out in support of renegotiating the deals with Beijing.

China defends the deals, saying it has built several projects in the Central African nation despite obstacles, increased tax revenue, created more jobs, and provided investment in infrastructure projects such as roads, hospitals and hydropower stations.

But the spat over the Chinese deals comes at a time of increased Washington pressure on Beijing and when the cobalt supply chain is already under pressure due to increased demand from the battery sector and Covid-19 logistics issues.