Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a ceremony to declare the annexation of Ukranian territory, in Moscow on Friday. | Photo Credit: SPUTNIK / KREMLIN / VIA REUTERS

Weekly Recap: Sept 26 to Oct 2

Oct 3: Russian President Vladimir Putin proclaims annexation of four partially occupied Ukrainian regions, Nicaragua cuts diplomatic ties with the Netherlands over interventionist concerns, Turkey calls back Greek ambassador in protest over Greek deployment of US armoured vehicles along Turkish coast.

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North America:

  • Nicaragua cut diplomatic ties with the Netherlands last Friday (Sept 30) over concerns of them interfering with Nicaragua’s affairs. That day, Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega raised concerns over the Netherlands not following through on their long-promised funding of a hospital. According to President Ortega, the ambassador “came to speak to Nicaraguans as if Nicaragua is a Dutch colony”. The Dutch foreign ministry condemned Nicaragua’s decision to sever diplomatic ties last Saturday (Oct 1). 
  • United States (US) Vice President Kamala Harris visited the demilitarised zone (DMZ) last Thursday (Sept 29) as part of reassuring the US’ commitment to South Korea amidst North Korea’s launch of ballistic missiles. She emphasised that the US’ defending of the Republic of Korea is “ironclad”. Vice President Harris suggested that the launching of the two ballistic missiles by North Korea last Wednesday (Sept 28) indicated a provocative signal to “destabilise the region”. Meanwhile, South Korean President Yoon Suk-Yeol aims to strengthen Seoul’s economic and security partnership with the US. 
  • The Biden administration announced new sanctions against Iran last Thursday (Sept 29) in an effort to “severely restrict” Iranian oil and petrochemical exports. The sanctions are targeted at specific firms from areas like China, the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong that the US believes are involved in the sale of these products. According to Treasury Department official Brian Nelson, the US will continue to enforce sanctions on the sales of Iranian petroleum and petrochemical products if Iran continues to refuse to come to a compromise regarding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
  • The US Senate passed legislation in the form of a short-term government funding bill of US$12.3 billion (S$17.61 billion) to Ukraine last Thursday (Sept 29). The bill is said to aid Ukraine by funding the US government until mid-December and by authorising the transfer of US$3.7 billion (S$5.30 billion) in US weapons to Ukraine. The legislation is expected to be approved in the House of Representatives before it reaches President Joe Biden. 
  • The US and Pacific Island nations signed the Declaration on US-Pacific Partnership last Friday (Sept 30), following the end of a two-day summit in Washington. The partnership not only indicates strengthened relations among the 14 countries but also outlines that these nations are to cooperate to make climate change the “highest priority”. Measures include a commitment to economic and infrastructure development and sustainably using the Pacific Ocean based on rules.

South America:

  • Venezuela released seven jailed Americans last Saturday (Oct 1), in exchange for the release of President Nicholas Maduro’s wife’s two nephews that were jailed by the US on drug smuggling charges. The swap is the largest trade of detained citizens carried out by the Biden administration and can be interpreted as a rare gesture of goodwill by Maduro as he seeks to rebuild relations with the US. 
  • As the Columbia-Venezuela border reopened after seven years last Wednesday (Sept 28), Colombian President Gustavo Petro hailed its reopening as a victory, while residents near the border turned out en masse. President Petro hopes that it symbolically represents the end to years of escalating conflict. Residents are aspirational of the incoming trade that will help struggling communities at the border.
  • The collapse of a concrete bridge on the BR-319 highway in the northern Brazilian state of Amazona last Thursday (Sept 29), left three dead and 15 missing. Local media outlets quoted witnesses claiming a crack developing on the bridge, which caused an initial traffic jam before its eventual collapse. At the time of the incident, the state’s fire department was searching for more than a dozen individuals after the collapse. 
  • For 156 million Brazilians, elections that began last Sunday (Oct 2) were compulsory. One of the most divisive presidential elections in Brazil’s history saw the incumbent far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro square off against former left-wing President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, popularly known as “Lula”. In the past Mr Bolsonaro has mentioned that if he loses the election, it will be because the voting was rigged, indicating his reluctance to accept an unfavourable outcome. Meanwhile, the current polls place Lula at a comfortable lead, with a chance to take the first-round preliminaries with a high enough margin to avoid the need for a run-off election come Oct 30.
  • More than 20 schools have been occupied by student-led sit-ins, as of last Friday (Sept 30), causing tensions to rise between Argentinian students and Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta. The student takeovers come amidst a week of rising social unrest. Those involved aired grievances concerning the administration of the education system, primarily centred around the quality of school lunches, and the requirement of unpaid work-experience schemes that some parents and students view as exploitative. In response, Education Minister Soledad Acuña warned parents of participating students that they would be held financially responsible for the demonstrations. 

Asia Pacific:

  • North Korea fired ballistic missiles last Thursday (Sept 29), after US Vice President Kamala Harris left the demilitarised zone. The firing made it the third time North Korea has launched a ballistic missile within five days, which signals the nation’s increased pace in weapons westing. Currently, Washington has an estimated 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea, and the allies will be conducting a large-scale joint naval exercise this week.
  • The US claimed last Tuesday (Sept 27) that its US$450 million (S$644.39 million) fighter jet sale to Pakistan was to strengthen the fight against terrorist activity. This was in response to criticisms from India, which sees itself as a possible target of the fighter jet deal. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the deal was for the maintenance of Pakistan’s existing fleet. 
  • A suicide bomber attacked an educational institute in the Afghan capital Kabul last Friday (Sept 30), resulting in at least 35 killed and 82 others injured. According to police spokesman Khalid Zadran, students in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood –  which is home to the minority Hazara community – were preparing for an exam when the suicide bomber attacked. Ethnic Hazara have been allegedly persecuted by the Taliban for years, and have also been victims of attacks by the ISIL (ISIS) group. No group has since claimed responsibility for the attack.
  • The Taliban signed a provisional deal with Russia last Wednesday (Sept 28) to secure petroleum products and wheat amidst the worsening humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. According to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry spokesperson Akhundzada Abdul Salam Jawad, the deal includes an annual purchase of one million tonnes of petrol, one million tonnes of diesel and two million tonnes of wheat. Acting commerce and industry minister Haji Nooruddin Azizi posits that both sides are expected to sign a longer-term deal if the current engagement goes smoothly. 
  • A stampede and riot at an Indonesian football stadium last Saturday (Oct 1) caused 125 fatalities. The police in East Java province reported that fans of Arema FC caused a riot at Kanjuruhan Stadium after their team lost to Persebaya Surabaya. In response, police fired tear gas which caused the arena to go into a frenzy. 


  • Russian President Vladimir Putin proclaimed the annexation of four partially occupied Ukrainian regions last Friday (Sept 30). In his speech, Putin said the residents of occupied Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia regions are their citizens “forever”. Ukraine, Western countries and the United Nations (UN) secretary-general have since denounced and criticised the move as a breach of international law.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said last Friday (Sept 30) that Ukraine will submit an “accelerated” application to join the North Atlantic treaty Organisation (NATO) military alliance. This comes after Russian President Putin’s speech on the annexation of four Ukrainian regions, marking a significant action taken from Ukraine. 
  • Germany defence minister Christine Lambrecht announced during her visit to Odesa last Saturday (Oct 1) that Germany will deliver the first of four advanced IRIS-T air defence systems to Ukraine in an effort to protect Ukraine from drone attacks. 
  • The head of Russia’s region of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, suggested last Saturday (Oct 1) that Moscow should use a low-yield nuclear weapon in Ukraine. UN nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi is expected to hold talks in Moscow and Kyiv this week regarding the establishment of a protected zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine which is under the hands of Russia. 
  • British Prime Minister Liz Truss acknowledged last Sunday (Oct 2) that she could have better prepared the country for the debt-driven mini-budget which slashed taxes and sparked market turmoil. She insisted that the plan would help Britain strengthen its economy amidst the high inflation. “We have a clear plan moving forward, both to deal with the energy crisis and to deal with inflation, but also to get the economy growing”, she said. 

Middle East:

  • Head of the UN nuclear agency Rafael Mariano Grossi met Iran’s nuclear chief Mohammad Eslami in Vienna last Monday (Sept 26), where both men delivered speeches at the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna. Talks are expected to proceed between Iran and Grossi regarding this issue. A probe in 2015 discovered uranium traces in undeclared sites in Iran. Conversely, Iran mandates the safeguard probes to be closed in order to reach an agreement on restoring the JCPOA.
  • The UN announced the worst outbreak of cholera in Syria for years last Monday (Sept 26). As of now, the outbreak has claimed 29 lives. There have been 338 confirmed cases since its inception, with the Syrian health ministry noting the bulk of cases originating from the northern Aleppo regions. According to the UN, the outbreak was believed to be linked to the usage of contaminated water for irrigation, and people drinking unsafe water from the Euphrates River.
  • Hundreds of ultra-nationalist Jews guarded by riot police streamed their way into the Jerusalem compound revered both in Judaism and Islam last Monday (Sept 26), resulting in violence between police and outraged Muslim worshippers. Israeli police attacked Palestinians gathered at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, and prevented others from entering. Batons were also used against Palestinian women and the elderly, as well as journalists. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, at least three were injured while 20 others were arrested.
  • In a cabinet reshuffle ordered by King Salman of Saudi Arabia last Tuesday (Sept 27), Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has now been named the kingdom’s new Prime Minister (PM). Crown Prince Mohammed has already been the de facto ruler, and this new appointment formalises him as the leader of the kingdom’s government. Prince Mohammed previously served as the deputy prime minister as well as defence minister, and his appointment as PM indicates the steady transfer of power in the kingdom. 
  • Aegean tensions rose as Turkey called back their Greek ambassador last Monday (Sept 26) as a protest to Washington over the Greek deployment of US armoured vehicles on Greek islands along the Turkish coast. Greece in turn called the move to be “unfounded” and retorted the Turkish behaviour. This latest escalation originated from Turkish aerial images that showed US armoured vehicles docking at two Greek islands, Lesbos and Samos.


  • According to the UN, a truck belonging to the World Food Programme (WFP) was damaged by a drone strike last Monday (Sept 26) in the northern Ethiopian Tigray region. The driver also sustained injuries from this attack. According to Reuters, other food distribution operations from other organisations were also disrupted. Amidst the conflict between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government, 17 people have died from air strikes, while 13 million people in Tigray and the neighbouring regions of Amhara and Afar are in “desperate need of food assistance”, according to the WFP.
  • A peace deal was signed last Friday (Sept 30), by the candidates participating in Nigeria’s upcoming presidential election next February. Campaigning for the election in Africa’s largest democracy officially began last Wednesday (Sept 28). While the campaigns are usually held in a tense atmosphere, the current candidates have pledged to run a peaceful violence-free campaign by respecting electoral laws before, during and after the elections.
  • Hundreds of Ugandan students marched in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, last Thursday (Sept 29), in a demonstration against the European Union (EU) Parliament, after it opposed an oil pipeline project in neighbouring Tanzania. Earlier this month, EU lawmakers passed a resolution warning of human rights abuses, as well as human rights, social and environmental risks posed by the project. The students are marching to deliver a petition to the EU mission, and appear to be state-sanctioned as they were accompanied by a police escort.
  • Burkina Faso army Captain Ibrahim Traore announced on national television last Friday (Sept 30) that he had deposed military leader Paul-Henri Damiba, dissolved the government, and suspended the constitution and transitional charter. This comes as the second takeover in eight months for the West African state, which has found itself struggling to contain rebel groups. A curfew has been enacted suspending all political and social activities.
  • Guinea’s former military ruler Moussa Dadis Camara was set to face trial last Wednesday (Sept 28), alongside 10 other men for the murder, massacre and mass rape of 150 protesting people in 2009. Testimonies of the massacre noted how the President’s forces entered and cordoned off exits at a stadium, before opening fire indiscriminately on a crowd that had previously been festive. The trial was welcomed by both the International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor Karim Khan and the UN’s Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights, Nada Al-Nashif.
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