Adrian Olivier,

Sunday 26 November – Sunday 3 December:

On Sunday morning, Sierra Leone witnessed a coup attempt in the capital of Freetown, including on a military barracks and an armoury. The coup attempt, in which active and retired soldiers participated, was put down and a nationwide curfew was imposed on Sunday. The President, Julius Maada Bio is “in full and complete control” of Sierra Leone. Thirteen soldiers loyal to the government were killed in the attack. In an address to the nation on Sunday, President Bio called on the West African country’s political and traditional leaders, as well as civil society, to work to preserve peace. On Monday, the streets of Freetown were nearly empty, with most shops shuttered and school children staying home. Security forces were still patrolling Freetown’s streets and controlling traffic at checkpoints.

On Monday, the truce between Israel and Hamas – which was set to expire on Monday – was renewed for a further two days to allow for further hostage and prisoner exchanges. The announcement was welcomed internationally. The truce ended on Friday and the war has resumed, with Hamas launching rockets into the Israeli city of Sderot and Israeli jets pummelling the Gaza Strip. 

On Monday, South Korea’s defence ministry said North Korea had started rebuilding guard posts and stationing heavy weapons along the border with South Korea. The guard posts were destroyed in 2018 following a military agreement designed to lower the risk of confrontation. North Korean troops had also been seen digging trenched along the border In a statement carried by the state-run KCNA news agency on Monday, North Korea’s foreign ministry dismissed condemnation of the satellite launch from the U.S. and nine other members of the UN security council. It said the launch was “a legal and just way to exercise its right to defend itself and thoroughly respond to and precisely monitor … serious military action by the U.S. and its followers”.

On Tuesday, Finland announced it would be temporarily closing its entire border with Russia within 24 hours after weeks of tensions between the countries over asylum seekers that Helsinki has labelled a “hybrid operation” by Moscow. The Finnish government said it would close Raja-Jooseppi in Lapland, its last remaining border crossing point with Russia, on Wednesday night. Eight other crossing points were closed earlier. The entirety of the land border between Finland and Russia is now closed until December 13. During the closure, asylum seekers will instead be directed to airports and ports. Announcing the move, the Finnish prime minister, Petteri Orpo, said: “This is Russia’s influence operation and we do not accept it.” The interior minister, Mari Rantanen, said: “Finland is the target of a Russian hybrid operation. This is a matter of national security.” Last week, at a Nordic-Baltic summit in Stockholm, Estonia claimed Russia was weaponising immigration on Europe’s eastern borders amid a rise in the number of asylum seekers trying to enter its own territory and Finland. Hanno Pevkur, Estonia’s defence minister, claimed the hundreds of people who had arrived at the borders of the two countries in recent weeks were part of a “fully state-orchestrated” operation by Moscow. The EU believes the latest incidents on the border could be part of a “hybrid” war being waged by Russia that uses non-military weapons including disinformation to destabilise Europe. On Friday, Finland announced a plan to build a border fence at a cost of 139 million euros. The planned border fence will stretch for a distance of 130 to 260 kilometres and will come with accompanying surveillance equipment and a patrol road as well. “In the assessment of the Finnish Border Guard, the changed security environment has made it necessary to construct a barrier fence along part of the eastern border,” the border guard said in a statement.

On Tuesday morning, Warren Buffet’s business partner and right-hand man Charlie Munger died at the age of 99. Berkshire Hathaway said in a statement that Munger’s family told the company that he died Tuesday morning at the hospital just over a month before his 100th birthday. “Berkshire Hathaway could not have been built to its present status without Charlie’s inspiration, wisdom and participation,” Buffett said in a statement. Munger served as Buffett’s sounding board on investments and business decisions and helped lead Berkshire for more than five decades and served as its longtime vice-chair.

On Wednesday, Elon Musk made an appearance at the New York Times’ DealBook Summit, where he courted controversy with his announcement to Twitter/X advertisers to “go fuck [themselves].” Twitter/X has seen a large number of advertisers leave the platform to avoid controversial content. 

On Wednesday, former American Secretary of State and national security advisor Henry Kissinger died at the age of 100. The Nobel Peace Prize winner is today an unpopular figure, with many articles following his death taking aim at his ruthlessness. 

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to increase the number of soldiers in the Russian military by some 170,000. This would bring the total to 1.3 million troops. The Russian defense ministry in a message posted on Telegram cited the war in Ukraine and NATO’s expansion as the reasons for the increase in army personnel. Finland joined the Western defense alliance this past spring, and Sweden said this week that Turkey has promised it will ratify Stockholm’s bid “within weeks.” NATO’s “combined armed forces are being built up near Russia’s borders and additional air defense systems and strike weapons are being deployed,” the Russian ministry said in its post. “The potential of NATO’s tactical nuclear forces is being increased,” it added. “Under the current conditions, an additional increase in the combat strength and size of the Armed Forces is an adequate response to the aggressive activities of the NATO bloc,” the ministry said.

On Saturday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned that the Western military alliance should be “prepared for bad news”. He continued that “wars develop in phases… We have to support Ukraine in both good and bad times.”

On Sunday, the U.S. military said there were four attacks against three separate commercial vessels operating in international waters in the southern Red Sea. Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for attacking two vessels, the Unity Explorer and Number 9, but made no mention of attacking a U.S. Navy ship. The military said three drones were shot down as they approached the American warship the USS Carney. “We cannot assess at this time whether the Carney was a target of the UAVs,” US Central Command (Centcom) said after earlier reports the US Navy vessel was attacked. “The Arleigh-Burke Class destroyer USS Carney responded to the distress calls from the ships and provided assistance,” and shot down three drones that were heading for the warship during the day, the statement said. The Houthis said they attacked the ships because they were linked to Israel and were targeted after they rejected warnings, however Israeli military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said the two ships that came under attack had had no connection to the state of Israel. Centcom said “We also have every reason to believe that these attacks, while launched by the Houthis in Yemen, are fully enabled by Iran. The United States will consider all appropriate responses in full coordination with its international allies and partners.”