Biden in Seoul
Activists have gathered near the presidential office in South Korea’s capital, Seoul, to pretest against US President Joe Biden’s visit to the country. The demonstrators are against military cooperation between the US, South Korea and Japan, arguing that it would provoke an arms race. They also say Washington’s aggressive military strategy will intensify the already escalating situation on the Korean Peninsula. Similar protests took place in Seoul on Friday. A few hours ago, the US president met with his South Korean counterpart Yoon Suk-yeol. They pledged to expand the scope and scale of bilateral military exercises to ramp up deterrence against North Korea. Biden also said the 70-year alliance between Washington and Seoul was built on working together to deter the North.
Russia cuts gas to Finland
Russia has just cut off flow of natural gas to Finland after it refused to pay for future supplies in the Russian national currency. Finland’s energy firm says, though regrettable, the halt will cause no disruptions in the gas transmission network. Gasum says it has been carefully preparing for this situation. Last Saturday, Russia also cut electricity deliveries to Finland over payment issues. The developments come as Finland and Sweden are planning to join NATO. The two submitted their bids on Wednesday. Russia is opposed to their move, citing security threats caused by NATO expansion. Moscow has promised retaliation should Finland and Sweden join the western military alliance.
Saudi court ruling
Saudi Arabia faces criticism after its supreme court upheld death sentences against two young Bahraini nationals over false terror charges. Several Bahraini opposition groups have called the ruling unfair and arbitrary. They say the ruling was issued based on confessions extracted under torture. The groups have called on the international community to prevent Saudi authorities from carrying out the sentences. Human rights organizations and social media activists have reacted too, calling for the immediate release of the two Bahraini nationals. Sadiq Majid Thamer and Jaafar Mohammed Sultan were arrested in May 2015. Saudi Arabia accused them of smuggling explosives into the kingdom and involvement in terrorist activities.