Ukraine observed the second year mark of Russia’s full-scale invasion mostly in peace, with ordinary Ukrainians powering through the day and wondering when the end of the conflict will come, especially given that a horizon is no longer visible. However on the frontline and in liberated population centers such as Kherson, it was a different scene with Russian forces pounding the Ukrainian side. For the first time, Ukrainian commander and soldiers appeared to become more outspoken about a lack of ammunition and of enthusiasm wearing thin. As I said on multiple broadcasts yesterday, that creates a split screen reality where the Presidential Administration is broadcasting a scenario of bravado and victory (as one would expect) versus the more dire accounts from fighters and journalists on the frontlines. At the YES Summit, several speakers called for the immediate unfreezing of some $300-billion in Russian sovereign funds held in the West. Much of that is held in Belgium: former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the Belgians “will get over it” if forced to transfer the funds to Ukraine.

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Around the world, Ukrainians and friends of the country marked Saturday’s grim milestone with peaceful vigils and marches. In Canada, the Peace Tower above Parliament in Ottawa was lit up in the colors of the Ukrainian flag. Commemorations were held from coast-to-coast, and even as far north as the Yukon Territories.

The Russian authorities have transferred the body of the opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny to his mother, his spokeswoman said on Saturday, ending a grim battle for custody of his remains, but it is unclear whether he will get a funeral that the public can attend. “Aleksei’s body has been handed over to his mother,” Mr. Navalny’s spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, said in a statement posted on social media. “The funeral is yet to come. We don’t know whether the authorities will interfere with carrying it out in the way the family wants and as Aleksei deserves.” The question now is how Mr. Navalny’s funeral will take shape. The dispute over custody of his body appears to reflect the Kremlin’s fears about a public funeral in Moscow turning into a focal point for protest - NYT

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WORLD BRIEFING: April 21, 2024
Other Topics of Interest

WORLD BRIEFING: April 21, 2024

The world in focus, as seen by a Canadian leading global affairs analyst, writer and speaker, in his review of international media.

Donald Trump won South Carolina’s Republican primary on Saturday, easily beating former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley in her home state and further consolidating his path to a third straight GOP nomination. Trump has now swept every contest that counted for Republican delegates, adding to previous wins in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Haley is facing growing pressure to leave the race but says she’s not going anywhere despite losing the state where she was governor from 2011 to 2017. A 2020 rematch between Trump and President Joe Biden is becoming increasingly inevitable. Haley has vowed to stay in the race through at least the batch of primaries on March 5, known as Super Tuesday, but was unable to dent Trump’s momentum in her home state despite holding far more campaign events and arguing that the indictments against Trump will hamstring him against Biden - AP

There’s more to the Maldives than golden sand and sun: the holiday paradise - which is the ongoing target of influence by China and India - has become a key transit point for sanctioned items headed to Russia, especially semiconductors. Well over $50m worth of chips shipped to Russia via Maldives since the start of the war in Ukraine. Attendees at Saturday’s YES summit in Kyiv were told that countries such as the Maldives are key players in Russia’s efforts to evade sanctions. The tiny Indian Ocean nation has also seen a steep upsurge in Russian tourists since Feb. 2022.

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This review is reprinted with the author’s permission from his World Briefing blog.

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