Friday, May 20, 2022

White House Says President Biden May Talk With Chinese President Xi In The Coming Weeks

US President Joe Biden holds virtual talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping from the Situation Room at the White House in Washington, US, Mar 18, 2022. (Photo: The White House/Handout via REUTERS)  

CNA/Reuters: White House says Biden, China’s Xi may talk in coming weeks 

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE: US President Joe Biden may talk with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in the coming weeks, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said aboard Air Force One on Thursday (May 19). 

“I wouldn't be surprised if, in the coming weeks, President Biden and President Xi speak again," he said. 

Sullivan spoke on Wednesday with Yang Jiechi, a key foreign policy adviser to Xi, and said he was "direct with him about our concerns about North Korea's nuclear and missile activities and our view that this is not in China's interests." 

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: "May talk with Chinese President Xi in the coming weeks"? It looks like national security adviser Jake Sullivan is hinting that there is no common ground between the two sides that would even justify a telephone call.

White House Pushing For A Meeting With Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (L) and President Joe Biden (R.) AP Photo/Susan Walsh/Sputnik via AFP  

CNN: White House working towards first presidential meeting with Saudi Arabia, which Biden had vowed to make a 'pariah' 

Washington (CNN)President Joe Biden and Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, could meet for the first time as soon as next month, multiple sources told CNN. 

A meeting would come after months of diplomatic heavy lifting and represent a turnabout for a US president who once declared Saudi Arabia a "pariah" with "no redeeming social value." 

Biden administration officials are in talks with the Saudis about arranging a potential in-person meeting while the President is overseas next month, current and former US officials said. Saudi Arabia currently holds the presidency of the Gulf Cooperation Council, so any engagement between Biden and bin Salman, known as MBS, would likely coincide with a meeting of the GCC in Riyadh, the sources noted.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: Saudi Arabia is experiencing record revenues and profits in the current oil environment. So why accommodate President Biden?

My prediction is that both leaders will still meet in Riyadh. But I have zero expectations that anything of substance will come out from such a meeting. 

White House Pushing For A Meeting With Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman  

Biden trying to organize first meeting with Saudi crown prince, CNN reports — a major climbdown after saying he didn't consider him an equal -- Insider  

Biden, Saudi crown prince may meet for first time as soon as next month -CNN -- Reuters  

US, Saudi officials reportedly discussing Biden meeting with crown prince -- Times Of Israel 

Biden 'lining up a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman NEXT MONTH' - after calling Saudi Arabia a 'pariah' with 'no redeeming social value' and slamming his role in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi -- Daily Mail 

Biden may meet Saudi crown prince as early as June, report says -- Middle East Eye

Anti-Government Protests Spread In Iran (Update)

Zero Hedge: Anti-Government Protests Spread In Iran After Flour-Based Food Staples Jump 300% 

 Large-scale street protests have been raging in Iran since last week, as inflation and the war in Ukraine have driven flour-based food staples to jump by as much as 300% - this also after the government moved to cut food subsidies. 

Amid the soaring prices, already in an economy devastated by years of US sanctions gong back to the Trump administration's pullout of the JCPOA nuclear deal, the central government has few options in terms of relief for the populace given assets abroad remain frozen. 

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: Iran is signaling that it will not tolerate these protests .... Iran vows harsh crackdown on economic protests (Al-Monitor).

China Launches Military Exercises In The South China Sea To Coincide With President Biden's First East Asia Visit

China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, has been conducting a mission in the Sea of Japan since the beginning of the month.(Reuters)  

Daily Mail: Are you watching, Joe? China buzzes Taiwan jets and holds military exercises in the South China Sea on the first day of Biden's six-day Asia trip amid pressure to confront Beijing 

* China's Maritime Safety Administration said the drills began Thursday and will continue until Monday 

* Biden arrived in Seoul for his five-day Asia trip on Friday and will later travel to Japan 

* China said that other aircrafts and vessels will be barred from entering the area but did not provide details 

As President Biden visited South Korea and Japan to bolster Asian alliances against China, the nation conducted military exercises in the disputed South China Sea to flex its muscle over Taiwan. 

China's Maritime Safety Administration said the drills began Thursday and will continue until Monday. Biden arrived in Seoul for his five-day Asia trip on Friday and will later travel to Japan. 

China said that other aircrafts and vessels will be barred from entering the area but did not provide details. 

China claims almost all of the South China Sea, although Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan also make similar claims.  

Read more .... 

China Launches Military Exercises In The South China Sea To Coincide With President Biden's First East Asia Visit  

As Biden visits Asia, China launches South China Sea drills -- ABC News/AP  

Chinese military exercises in South China Sea coincide with Joe Biden's first East Asia visit -- ABC News Australia  

China launches military exercises in South China Sea as Biden visits Asia -- FOX News  

China sends 14 warplanes into Taiwan's air-defense zone as Biden arrives in Asia -- Stars and Stripes

Washington Says It Is Likely It Will Keep 100,000 Troops In Europe For The Foreseeable Future

U.S. Army Paratroopers assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division walk to their aircraft at Pope Army Airfield, N.C. Feb. 8, 2022.  (U.S. Army photo Sgt. Hunter Garcia)  

CNN: US likely to keep 100,000 troops in Europe for foreseeable future in face of Russian threat, US officials say 

(CNN)The US is expected to keep 100,000 troops stationed in Europe for the foreseeable future unless Russia escalates and threatens Sweden and Finland or NATO members, according to multiple US officials. 

The numbers could temporarily increase if NATO carries out more military exercises in the region, and the US could add additional bases in Europe if the security environment changes, the officials added.

The plans are being considered following Thursday's meeting of NATO's military chiefs in Brussels, the officials said. The military chiefs are making the recommendations to a NATO defense ministers meeting planned for June, and NATO leaders including President Joe Biden will meet in Madrid at the end of that month.  

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WNU Editor: I would not be surprised if this 100,000 number actually increases in the coming months.

Ukrainian Official Says The US Is Devising A Plan To Destroy Russia’s Black Sea Fleet

About 20 Russian navy vessels, including submarines, are in the Black Sea, the British Defense Ministry has said. EPA/RUSSIAN DEFENCE MINISTRY  

NYPost: Ukrainian official says US devising plan to destroy Russia’s Black Sea Fleet 

The US is working on a plan “to destroy the Black Sea Fleet” with powerful missiles in order to unblock Ukraine’s ports, according to a high-ranking Ukrainian official. 

“The effective work of the Ukrainians on warships convinced (the US) to prepare a plan to unblock the ports,” Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs adviser Anton Geraschchenko tweeted Friday. 

“Deliveries of powerful anti-ship weapons (Harpoon and Naval Strike Missile with a range of 250-300 km) are being discussed.”  

Read more ....   

WNU Editor: Russian officials are saying that they are monitoring these shipments .... Russia has said it is monitoring the supply of American Harpoon anti-ship missiles to Ukraine (Ukrayinska Pravda).

Ukrainian Official Says The US Is Devising A Plan To Destroy Russia’s Black Sea Fleet  

Russian Fleet U.S. Plans to Destroy Has Missiles Ready to Fire: Ukraine -- Newsweek  

Exclusive-U.S. aims to arm Ukraine with advanced anti-ship missiles to fight Russian blockade -- Reuters 

American anti-ship missiles could help avert global food shortage by breaking Russian blockade of Ukrainian grain -- Daily Mail

Russian Ministry Of Defense Says The Last 500 Ukrainian Soldiers Have Surrendered At “Azovstal” In Mariupol

Ukrainian soldiers of the Azov battalion who have surrendered at the Azovstal steel plant walk on a road in the Russia-controlled port city of Mariupol, Donetsk People's Republic. © Sputnik/Russian Defence Ministry 

RT: Azovstal ‘fully liberated’ – Russian military 

The last members of Ukraine’s neo-Nazi ‘Azov’ unit have surrenderred in Mariupol The entire territory of the “Azovstal” factory complex in Mariupol has been liberated, the Russian Defense Ministry announced on Friday. More than 2,400 people surrounded inside for almost a month, including Ukrainian servicemen and members of the neo-Nazi ‘Azov’ unit, have laid down their arms and surrendered. 

“The last group of 531 militants surrendered today,” the Russian military spokesman, Major-General Igor Konashenkov, said in a statement. He added that a total of “2,439 Azov Nazis” and Ukrainian servicemen had laid down their arms since May 16, and that the entire “Azovstal” complex is now under control of Russian armed forces. 

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: This last surrender is coming about hours after Kyiv ordered its remaining troops to lay down their arms .... Ukraine Orders End to Defense of Mariupol (Moscow Times/AFP). 

According to Russia and the DPR. 2,439 Ukrainian fighters have surrendered since May 16, and the entire complex is now under Russian/DPR control.

Russian Ruble Hits A Seven Year High Against The Euro

Reuters: Rouble hits 2015 level against euro as EU prepares to pay for gas 

(Reuters) -The Russian rouble rallied to its strongest levels against the euro and dollar since June 2015 and March 2018 respectively on Friday, which analysts attributed to EU countries preparing to pay Russia for gas and to capital controls imposed by Moscow. 

Russia said on Thursday that half of gas giant Gazprom's 54 clients have opened accounts at Gazprombank, as European companies approach imminent deadlines to pay for their gas supplies. 

Opening such accounts became possible after EU executives allowed member states to keep buying Russian gas without breaching the slew of sanctions they have collectively imposed on Russia over what Moscow calls its "special military operation" in Ukraine that started on Feb. 24.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: So much for President Biden's "ruble to rubble" narrative just a few weeks ago...

Russian Ruble Hits A Seven Year High Against The Euro  

Ruble Hits 7-Year High As Gas Buyers Bow To Putin's Payment Mandate -- Zero Hedge  

Russia Ruble (RUB USD) Price Quote Surges to 7-Year High -- Bloomberg  

As inflation slows and the ruble rallies, Russia is hoping to avoid a financial crisis -- CNBC  

Ruble smashes four-year high against US dollar -- RT

Canada Bans Chinese Tech Giants Huawei And ZTE From 5G Network

 

CBC: Canada bans Chinese tech giant Huawei from 5G network 

Decision comes loaded with implications for national security and diplomacy 

The federal government has banned Huawei from working on Canada's fifth-generation networks over security concerns — a decision critics say was long overdue. 

The move puts Canada in line with key intelligence allies like the United States, which have expressed concerns about the national security implications of giving the Chinese tech giant access to key infrastructure. 

The government is also banning ZTE, another Chinese state-backed telecommunications firm. 

A government policy statement posted online says companies will have until June 28, 2024, to remove or terminate 5G equipment from Huawei and ZTE.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: China has already responded .... China says Canada's planned Huawei ban violates free trade rules (CGTN). 

Canada Bans Chinese Tech Giants Huawei And ZTE From 5G Network  

Canada to ban Huawei, ZTE 5G equipment, joining Five Eyes allies -- CNN/Reuters  

Canada to ban Huawei and ZTE from 5G network, risking China tensions -- The Guardian 

Canada to ban China's Huawei, ZTE from 5G networks -- DW  

Canada joins Five Eyes in ban on Huawei and ZTE -- Politico  

China will see Canada’s Huawei, ZTE bans as ‘a slap in the face,’ experts warn -- Global News

Sri Lanka Prime Minister Warns Of Fuel And Food Shortages Amid Economic Crisis

 

Reuters: Thousands queue for petrol, gas in Sri Lanka amid warnings of food shortages 

COLOMBO (Reuters) - Thousands of people queued for cooking gas and petrol in Sri Lanka's commercial capital on Friday and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe warned of a food shortage as the island nation battles a devastating economic crisis. 

Lines formed in many parts of Colombo, a city of around 900,000 people, as residents tried to stock up on fuel, which is mostly imported and is in extremely short supply with the government running out of foreign exchange.  

Read more ....  

Update #1: Sri Lanka Prime Minister warns of food shortages amid economic crisis and lack of fertiliser (ABC News)  

Update #2: Food shortages add to Sri Lanka's woes (Reuters)  

WNU Editor: It looks like Sri Lanka is not going to be the only country facing an economic crisis .... Is Bangladesh heading toward a Sri Lanka-like crisis? (DW).