Your Friday Briefing

The EU has agreed to open membership talks with Ukraine, bypassing objections from Hungary. This doesn’t mean that Ukraine will join any time soon - if Ukraine even exists at all in the coming years - just that the formal process towards that “eventuality” is beginning. This comes after a statement from Zelensky that Putin would have a “satisfied smile” if this didn’t go through.

In addition, the EU has agreed on the 12th sanctions package, involving a ban on Russian non-industrial diamond imports and from third countries, starting next year, as well as an attempt to tighten the oil price cap and the ability of Russia to obtain dual-use goods from EU companies.

80% of Kazakhstan’s infrastructure is ageing and in an advanced state of deterioration, with only a small percentage being upgraded, which is causing more and more technical problems - including a recent incident two days ago where a gas pipeline was damaged by cold, leaving many homes without gas heating.

China has mediated a ceasefire in northern Myanmar between the junta and an alliance of rebels, which has caused hundreds of thousands of refugees to flee. The rebel alliance still maintains its commitment to defeating the junta.

Guyana and Venezuela have agreed to avoid any escalation of conflict amid a recent heightening of tensions over the Esequbio area.