The media is embracing the anxiety of realizing the consequences of Donald Trump's likely victory in the 2024 U.S. presidential election. Meanwhile, the BBC assesses the scale of draft evasion in Ukraine and the authorities' plans to counter it, CNN reports on the failure of EU plans to supply ammunition to Ukraine, and Reuters explains why Moscow benefits from supporting Hamas terrorists.
The world is under threat: possible implications of Trump’s second tenure
The Economist published an article commenting on the probability and results of Donald Trump winning the 2024 presidential election.
Trump still dominates the Republican primary and is ahead of President Joe Biden in swing states according to several polls. Civil lawsuits and criminal prosecutions have only strengthened the ex-president’s support. Meanwhile, a meaningful number of black and Hispanic voters, on whom Democrats have relied for decades, are abandoning the party. In the next 12 months a stumble by either candidate could upend the world.
The next U.S. president will have to act under a crisis of democracy, both domestically and abroad. American society is divided by Trump’s lies about him having won the election in 2020, which he uses to manipulate and intimidate his compatriots. Meanwhile, America faces growing hostility abroad, challenged by Russia, Iran, and China. If these autocracies win, it would mean the world where might makes right.
If Trump wins the election, The Economist argues, he would give the most important positions to his true believers. In pursuing his enemies, Trump will wage war on any institution that stands in his way, including the courts and the Department of Justice.
Trump’s victory would have deep implications abroad as well. Trampling due process and civil rights in the United States would convince the world, including the Global South, that American appeals to do what is right are really just an exercise in hypocrisy.
Trump’s protectionist instincts are also a threat to the economy. Trump fired up the economy in his first term by increasing levies on imports and cutting taxes, but with today’s budget deficit, this would feed the inflation, The Economist argues.
Trump’s external policy could lead to more conflicts
Trump’s diplomatic approaches could bring some benefits. His indifference to human rights might make the Saudi government more biddable once the Gaza war is over, and strengthen relations with Narendra Modi’s government in India. But Trump is likely to back Israel without reserve, however much that stirs up conflict in the region, and abandon Taiwan, in which he sees no practical benefit, which may prompt China to attack. Given the hawkishness of Trump’s officials towards China, this can lead to catastrophic consequences.
Trump also judges that for America to spend blood and treasure in Europe is a bad deal and may renege on America’s commitment to treat an attack on one NATO country as an attack on all. Thus, Putin would have an incentive to fight on in Ukraine and to pick off former Soviet countries such as Moldova or the Baltic states.
A second Trump term would be a watershed in a way the first was not. In 2024, the fate of the world will depend on the ballots of tens of thousands of voters in just a handful of states, The Economist summarizes.
20,000 Ukrainians fled from mobilization. What are the government’s plans?
Nearly 20,000 men have fled Ukraine since the beginning of the war to avoid being drafted, the BBC has discovered.
The media outlet’s investigation revealed that despite the ban against men aged 18–60 leaving the country after the full-scale Russian invasion, dozens have made it out daily.
According to the data of illegal border crossings into Romania, Moldova, Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia, 19,740 men illegally crossed into these countries between February 2022 and 31 August 2023. Another 21,113 men attempted to flee but were caught by the Ukrainian authorities. Of them, 14,313 were attempting to walk or swim across the border, and the remaining 6,800 relied on fraudulently obtained official paperwork stating fake exemptions.
In August, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi said that corrupt decisions made by the country's medical military commissions had resulted in a ten-fold increase in exemptions since February 2022. The president's parliamentary representative, Fedir Venislavskyi, acknowledged to the BBC that the problem was serious.
"The government realizes that this phenomenon is not isolated and that it is widespread. But unfortunately, I would emphasize that corruption is very resilient," he said, adding that Ukraine was doing "everything possible to keep the number of corruption cases to a minimum".
According to Venislavskyi, as little as 1–5% men dodge mobilization, which is not critical to the defence of Ukraine. He says that there are no plans to radically increase the number of those eligible for mobilization.
An undercover reporter working for the BBC investigation spent a month corresponding with smugglers, posing as a Ukrainian keen to leave the country. He discovered at least six Telegram groups — with membership ranging from 100 to several thousand people. He says they offered a range of services, from adding pretend children to his family, to the most expensive option — the medical exemption certificate. He was told it would take up to a week to make, and would cost him about $4,300.
According to Venislavskyi, the threat posed by fake documentation — and the difficulties in some cases of obtaining real paperwork — should be eradicated within the next year or two by a new digitized system. He also doesn’t deem it practical to punish those who flee and then choose to return to Ukraine.
The EU has failed to meet its commitment to deliver ammunition to Ukraine
Germany’s Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said on Tuesday that the European Union’s goal of supplying Ukraine with 1 million rounds of artillery ammunition was unlikely to be achieved, CNN reports.
In March, EU member states agreed to provide Ukraine with 1 million rounds of artillery ammunition for Ukraine to be delivered within 12 months. Pistorius’ warning came a day after Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, said the bloc may not meet targets for ammunition production to supply Kyiv by the end of the year, but said efforts were underway to increase production capacity.
In the short term, armies have been asked to provide ammunition from existing stocks, amounting to approximately 300,000 shots, Borrell said.
"The combination of no immediate threat and the financial pressures on European governments over the past couple of decades led to a conspiracy of dressing the shop window while letting the stockroom empty out," Nick Witney, senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, told CNN earlier this year.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Kyiv urgently needed the EU to ramp up its ability to supply ammunition for the Ukrainian military. According to him, there is political will in the bloc to support Ukraine, but its defense industry is in a "deplorable state".
Western manufacturing of conventional ammunition went into decline following the end of the Cold War, as countries focused instead on modern equipment. Very few seriously believed another large-scale land war would take place in Europe.
"No private company that is answerable to shareholders will have kept staff and maintained large capacity to produce equipment that people are not buying, so it will be difficult to meet a sudden surge in demand in the short to medium term," said Tom Waldwyn, research associate for defense procurement at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Russia has sided with Hamas. Netanyahu's man pledges revenge
Russian President Vladimir Putin waited three days before commenting on Hamas' massacre of Israelis, and when he did, he blamed the United States, not the terrorists, Reuters recaps.
It was a further six days before Putin spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to offer his condolences over the killing of around 1,200 Israelis. Ten days after that, Russia said a Hamas delegation was in Moscow for talks.
Putin, say Russian and Western policy experts, is trying to use Israel's war against Hamas to escalate what he has cast as an existential battle with the West for a new world order that would end U.S. dominance.
"Israel's main ally is the United States, Russia's main enemy right now. And Hamas' ally is Iran, an ally of Russia," Sergei Markov, a former Kremlin adviser, wrote in his blog.
Hanna Notte, a Berlin-based Russian foreign policy expert, told the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center she thought Moscow had dropped its earlier, more balanced position on the Middle East and adopted "quite an overt pro-Palestinian position". By doing this, in particular, it seeks sympathy from the Global South, where the Palestinian cause continues to resonate.
How the Russian propaganda uses the war in Israel
Russian politicians are comparing Israel’s bombing of Gaza with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They argue that the West is being hypocritical as it has condemned the Russian aggression but supported Israel.
Moscow also sees the crisis as a chance for it to try to grow its clout in the Middle East by casting itself as a potential peacemaker. In addition, it benefits from an increase in the price of oil which will result from this war and the U.S. and EU having to devote resources to yet another conflict.
The ties between Israel and Russia have worsened
Russia's ties with Israel, traditionally close and pragmatic, have suffered. The Israeli government summoned Russia's ambassador, Anatoly Viktorov, after a Hamas delegation visited Moscow, and Alexander Ben Zvi, Israel's ambassador, has been summoned for talks with the Russian foreign ministry at least twice. Moreover, Jerusalem has stopped routinely warning Moscow of air strikes against Russian ally Syria in advance.
Amir Weitmann, chairman of the libertarian caucus in Netanyahu's Likud party, has said Israel will one day punish Moscow for its position.
"We're going to finish this war (with Hamas) ... After this, Russia will pay the price," Weitmann said in October. "Russia is supporting the enemies of Israel. Afterwards we're not forgetting what you are doing. We will come, we will make sure that Ukraine wins."