“Depression, Inflation, and the Russians”: 2022 in the Past
After two years of fighting against a global pandemic, the world was finally preparing for some normalcy in 2022, but that hope was largely crushed when Russia decided to invade Ukraine in February.
Not only did the war bring death and destruction, it caused a domino effect of major crises in global politics as well as global energy and food supplies.
Only exacerbated by the looming climate crisis, political turmoil, and instability in countries like the US and Britain, peace in Ethiopia after two years of conflict is perhaps the only bright side.
The war in Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the biggest invasion into Europe since World War II when he sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, causing millions of Ukrainians to flee abroad.
The West imposed unprecedented sanctions on Moscow and sent billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine. Russian forces failed to seize the capital, Kyiv, and overthrow the government of President Volodymyr Zelensky.
In the south, Russian forces captured most of Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, including the port of Mariupol, which was destroyed in a three-month siege.
In April, Russian forces were accused of killing dozens of civilians in the Kyiv suburb of Pusha.
By September, Ukrainian forces were retaking territory in the northeast and south. Putin hastily annexed four Ukrainian regions partially controlled by Russia, a move condemned by the United Nations as illegal.
In November, Russian forces withdrew from the southern port of Kherson, ending eight months of occupation.
As the year comes to an end, Russian strikes are hitting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure relentlessly, causing blackouts across the country as winter approaches.
In December, on his first foreign trip since the invasion, Zelensky went to Washington to address the US Congress, calling for long-term US support.
A nightmare in Downing Street
Britain has its fifth Conservative prime minister in six years in 2022.
Rishi Sunak took office in October after his predecessor Liz Truss slashed taxes in just 44 days – the shortest ever for a British leader.
A lightning bolt’s fall from grace, triggered by a disastrous small budget, has capped a tumultuous 2022 in Britain.
The year was marked by the death of the longest-serving Queen Elizabeth II, at the age of 96, and the forced resignation of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson after a series of scandals.
The trauma of abortion in the United States
The US Supreme Court sent global shock waves in June when it overturned its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which enshrined a nationwide constitutional right to abortion, and relegated the issue to individual states.
After the ruling, Republicans imposed abortion bans in 16 US states, which are home to 26.5 million women.
The issue affected the November midterm elections, as American voters in several states sided with candidates advocating abortion access.
Shi control of cement
President Xi Jinping consolidated his grip on China’s leadership after winning a historic third term in November as leader of the world’s second-largest economy.
But the Chinese have lost patience with the sudden lockdowns, mass testing and movement restrictions imposed by the government’s strategy of not spreading the coronavirus.
Hundreds of people took part in protests against the restrictions in Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Urumqi, Wuhan and other cities. Some even dared to demand Xi’s resignation.
Raids by Chinese warplanes have escalated in Taiwan’s air defense zone, while Beijing has conducted its biggest military maneuvers in decades around the self-ruled island, raising alarm in Taipei.
In December, Beijing announced an easing of its coronavirus policy, ending widespread lockdowns and allowing some positive cases to be isolated at home.
She also said that the quarantine procedures for those arriving abroad will be canceled in the new year.
Heat wave after heat wave
Europe was sweltering during its hottest summer in recorded history, with the mercury reaching 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) for the first time in Britain.
Parts of the Arctic and Antarctic, China and the United States also experienced record temperatures.
Extreme weather events linked to climate change continue to wreak havoc in developing countries.
Floods in Pakistan have affected swathes of the country, Nigeria has suffered its worst floods in a decade, and parts of drought-stricken Somalia are facing the threat of famine.
At the UN Climate Summit in Egypt (COP27), developing countries finally succeeded in convincing wealthy polluters to agree to pay “loss and damage” money to compensate poor countries for climate damage.
The invasion of Ukraine and sanctions against Russia have created an energy crisis not seen in the region in half a century, with gas and electricity costs soaring globally.
Britain sees its energy bills double over the course of a year. High energy prices are also a factor in Sri Lanka’s cost-of-living crisis, which in August forced President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to flee abroad.
Inflation has soared globally, prompting central banks to aggressively raise interest rates, sparking fears of another major debt crisis.
far right in the march
The far right made unprecedented gains in Europe in 2022.
Italy’s voters elected their most right-wing leader since World War II in post-fascist carnage, Giorgia Meloni.
The anti-immigration Sweden Democrats were the biggest winners in the general election that brought the conservatives to power in that country.
In France, the rise of the far right and hard left has stopped center-right President Emmanuel Macron from his parliamentary majority.
But in Latin America, the right has receded.
Veteran left winger Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva made a stunning comeback in Brazil, knocking out current far right Jair Bolsonaro. Left leaders also came to power in Colombia and Honduras.
In Iran, the death of 22-year-old Mohsa Amini, after her arrest for alleged violations of the country’s Islamic dress code, sparked the biggest protests in years.
On the street and on social media, women and girls defiantly removed their veils in an unprecedented challenge to the country’s religious leadership.
Iran has sought to suppress the protests by sentencing some protesters to death.
On December 8, Mohsen Shekari, 23, became the first person to be executed by the authorities over the protests. Four days later, Majid Reza Rahnavard, 23, was publicly hanged.
The Oslo-based Iranian Human Rights Watch said on December 19 that Iranian security forces have killed at least 469 people in the protests, while at least 14,000 people have been detained, according to the United Nations.
Peace in Ethiopia
After two years of conflict that has claimed countless civilian lives and led to near-famine in Tigray, the Ethiopian government and Tigrayan rebels have agreed to a historic peace deal.
The agreement allowed for the resumption of vital humanitarian aid in the northern region.