The Washington Post – Tyler Pager and Anne Gearan / U.S. will share nuclear submarine technology with Australia as part of new alliance, a direct challenge to China
- President Biden announced Wednesday the United States and Britain will share highly sensitive nuclear submarine technology with Australia, a major departure from past policy and a direct challenge to China in its Pacific neighborhood.
- Biden made the announcement alongside British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who joined the president virtually, as they unveiled a new three-way defense alliance, which will be known as AUKUS.
- None of the three leaders mentioned China in their remarks, but the objective of the new alliance was clear: challenging the country’s growing economic and military influence. The effort comes amid rising tensions with China over a range of issues including military ambitions and human rights.
- The announcement came as a surprise in Australia, where recent reports suggested France, not the United States, would be deepening military ties as it moved ahead with a plan to build $66 billion worth of diesel submarines for Australia. But then news broke late Wednesday in Australia that Morrison had convened top-secret cabinet meetings.
- South China Morning Post – Teddy Ng and Kinling Lo / France warns ‘Aukus’ alliance threatens security partnerships in Indo-Pacific
Politico – David M. Herszenhorn / Von der Leyen finds EU’s soul – and its weakness – in State of Union address
- European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen riffed on the strength of Europe’s soul in her annual State of the Union speech, but there was another theme running through her address on Wednesday: the EU’s weakness on the world stage, and its dissension at home.
- She urged greater military independence from the U.S. and less reliance on Asia for computer chips. She conceded that the fight against climate change will depend on the entire world, especially China.
- In many ways, her speech was an hour-long discourse about how Brussels struggles to achieve its goals and project its values — at times unable even to compel its own member countries to reach decisions or abide by the rules of the club.
- Von der Leyen lamented the inability of the 27 capitals to come together on a single migration and asylum policy — a gap she said the EU’s rivals and human traffickers are now exploiting.
- Euractiv / #SOTEU: Key issues from von der Leyen’s annual speech
The Guardian – Heather Stewart / Boris Johnson lays groundwork for general election with ruthless reshuffle
- Boris Johnson has laid the groundwork for the next general election with a ruthless cabinet reshuffle, designed to clear out failing ministers and hand Michael Gove the key job of making “levelling up” a reality for sceptical voters.
- Johnson kicked off the reshuffle by inviting ministers set to be sacked or sidelined to his House of Commons office, as MPs began a debate called by Labour over the £20-a-week cut to universal credit coming into effect next month.
- Raab managed to wrest the consolation title of deputy prime minister from Johnson after fraught negotiations but the move to justice secretary was widely seen as punishment for his role in the chaotic evacuation from Afghanistan last month.
- No 10 also appeared to signal its determination to continue prosecuting the culture wars, with the surprise appointment of Nadine Dorries as culture secretary. Downing Street sources insisted the former I’m a Celebrity contestant had not been put in place to pursue an “anti-woke” agenda.
- Bloomberg – Therese Raphael / Is Johnson playing cards with his cabinet or running a country?
Financial Times – Max Seddon / Russian elections: persecution, cash handouts and the Putin system
- “Nothing can break the sacred continuity of times and generations,” Putin said. The Kremlin’s messaging ahead of Sunday’s elections for the Duma, the lower house of parliament, has been in much the same vein.
- The outcome may be a foregone conclusion: the Kremlin’s United Russia party is expected to retain its constitutional majority in the 450-seat chamber, with the other seats going to a handful of pliant “systemic opposition” parties.
- But as soaring food prices and sliding real incomes have sent United Russia’s approval ratings close to record lows, the election has become a key test of Russia’s increasingly authoritarian system before Putin’s current term expires in 2024.
- Unable to register their own candidates, Navalny’s team are focusing their strategy on a “smart voting” app that directs supporters to back the candidate with the best chance of beating United Russia.
- Foreign Policy – Natia Seskuria / Why Putin is obsessed with ‘foreign agents’
Today’s further reads:
- RFI / French forces kill IS Sahel jihadist leader wanted by US
- Bloomberg – Elizabeth Elkin and Isis Almeida / Europe’s energy crunch is forcing U.K. factories to shut down