Thought for the day

"There is no worse mistake in public leadership than to hold out false hopes soon to be swept away. The British people can face peril or misfortune with fortitude and buoyancy, but they bitterly resent being deceived or finding that those responsible for their affairs are themselves dwelling in a fool's paradise." -- Winston Churchill

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Up to 10 tankers carrying oil from Kazakhstan remain stranded in the Turkish straits of the Bosphorus and Dardanelles, the head of the KazMunayGas Kazakh oil and gas company, Magzum Mirzagaliev, said on Thursday.

“As of yesterday, there were 21 tankers there, including six tankers with oil from TCO [Kazakh oil producer]. In general, we estimate that about eight tankers related to Kazakhstan — from eight to 10 — are among those stranded,” Mirzagaliev told reporters.

Saudi Arabia is selling more oil to Europe, while Russia is chipping into the kingdom’s Asian market share, a rewiring of the energy trade that is likely to accelerate after the West imposed new penalties on Russian crude sales.

Ulaanbaatar’s mayor, Dolgorsurengiin Sumiyabazar, has canceled his order to use force to disperse protesters as they voluntarily left the capital's central square, Mongolia’s Sonin news website said on Monday, citing the mayor’s office.

According to the news portal, police did not have to use force as the protesters had left Ulaanbaatar’s central square by 11:00 p.m. local time (06:00 p.m. Moscow time). Those who did not leave stayed to clean up the square.

Thousands of people have braved freezing temperatures in Mongolia’s capital to protest against alleged corruption in the country’s coal industry and soaring inflation, with some later attempting to storm government house.

Protesters, many of them young people, rallied in Ulaanbaatar’s central Sukhbaatar Square in -21C (-6F) temperatures on Monday, demanding “justice” against corrupt officials and calling for the country’s parliament to be dismissed.

“Help us our country is collapsing,” read one placard. Some herders also travelled to the city to take part in the rallies.

With the collapse of its economy in June, the situation is dire in Sri Lanka.

According to the World Food Programme (WFP), Sri Lanka faces a “serious food crisis,” with 6.3 million people—close to 30% of the 22 million population—being food insecure. Food inflation has reached a record-high of 90%, making staples such as rice unaffordable for millions of people. Overall, inflation is running at 60%.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, speaking at an economic forum in Berlin, said that happy times for the West were over.

The head of the German government means stable economic growth and low inflation.

It is the growth of Asian economies that appears to be the real cause of the economic crisis in Europe, the German chancellor said. The coronavirus pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine could only catalyse those trends. They did not trigger the crisis that the EU found itself in.

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev has said his country does not want France to take part in its peace talks with Armenia, calling off a four-way meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and European Council head Charles Michel in Brussels on December 7.

Aliyev said on Friday that Macron had “attacked” and “insulted” Baku and should not act as a go-between.

Josep Borrell’s plan to construct new transportation corridors between the European Union and Central Asia, which will bypass Russia, will be difficult to achieve due to issues of geography. The EU is already economically suffering because of their refusal to deal with Russia and it can be expected that any corridors bypassing the Eurasian Giant will also face the same issues.

Southeast Asia is right at the center of international relations for a whole week viz a viz three consecutive summits: Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Phnom Penh, the Group of Twenty (G20) summit in Bali, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Bangkok.

Eighteen nations accounting for roughly half of the global economy represented at the first in-person ASEAN summit since the Covid-19 pandemic in Cambodia: the ASEAN 10, Japan, South Korea, China, India, US, Russia, Australia, and New Zealand.