Xi on Ukraine crisis
- Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated China’s stance on “the side of peace” and urged a peace settlement of the Ukraine crisis during a video summit with EU leaders on Friday. Highlighting the necessity to “ensure lasting peace in Europe and the Eurasian continent,” the President warned that it could take decades to undo the damage of the crisis if the situation continues deteriorating.
- President Xi also cautioned against a Cold-War mentality, saying that “in properly handling the [Ukraine] crisis, one should not take the wrong medicine, or focus on just one aspect of the issue without regard to the rest, or hold the entire world hostage.”
Federal investigation into Hunter Biden intensifies
- The Federal Department of Justice (DOJ) is ramping up the tax investigation into Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden. The probe started in 2018 and is related to Hunter Biden’s ties to foreign businesses, including Ukraine’s Burimas Holding, during his father’s tenure as vice president. A laptop of Hunter Biden surfaced in 2019 provided more evidence for the case. So far, the prosecutors have not yet charged Biden with any crime, and Hunter Biden has denied any wrongdoing.
Pro-Russia leaders in Serbian, Hungary to win re-election
- Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Serbia President Aleksandar Vucic are likely to remain in office after elections on Sunday. Orban and Vucic, the biggest supporters of the Kremlin among the European leaders, have been facing criticisms from EU countries. In 2020, the U.S. think tank Freedom House delisted the two countries from democracies due to their “democratic backsliding.”
- Hungary has been an EU member since 2004, and Serbia applied for EU membership in 2009 and was expected to join the bloc in 2025.
Pakistan de-notified Imran Khan as PM
- Pakistani Cabinet Division de-notified Imran Khan as the Prime Minister after President Arif Alvi dissolved the National Assembly on the advice of Khan. The National Assembly, or the lower house of the parliament, moved a no-confidence motion against Khan last week. Khan accused the U.S. of backing the attempt to topple his government.
Massive protests continue in Sri Lanka
- Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa imposed a 36-hour curfew across the country on Friday after nationwide protests turned violent around his residence. However, the curfew was defied by the protesters. All 26 Cabinet Ministers of the government resigned, and the President has invited all parliamentary parties to join the government.
Afghanistan bans poppy growing
- Taliban's supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzada ordered a ban on opium poppy cultivation in the whole country, which produced around 80% of the world’s opium. The decree, if successfully implemented, would be a significant step to undermine terrorism. However, huge challenges remain in breaking away from the opium supply chain and finding profitable alternatives to the risky business.