Conflicts, from the continuing one between Russia and Ukraine to the outbreak of the one between Hamas and Israel. But also international events, from the G7 in Japan to Cop28. Then again, the consecration of new leaders on the world stage. 2023 was a year of great international tensions. But also of moments of cooperation. Here are the events that most marked the year that is coming to a close
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Russia-Ukraine war continuing
The year 2023 opened with the same specter that closed 2022: war in Ukraine. No compromise has been reached and peace seems far off.
At times Kiev has stepped up its counteroffensive, and so has Moscow. Russian President Putin, meanwhile, signed a decree in December increasing the maximum size of the army by about 15 percent, adding 170,000 soldiers.
Finland enters NATO
Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Finland had called for an acceleration of the NATO membership process. And on April 4, 2023, the country celebrated its historic entry into the organization.
Moscow’s reaction was immediate: “We will strengthen our military potential in the West and Northwest,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko. “If the forces and resources of other NATO members are deployed in Finland, we will take additional measures to ensure Russia’s military security.”
Also in the context of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, an event that certainly marked 2023 was the death of Wagner Group head Yevgeny Prigozhin. On August 23 a plane, carrying 10 people, including Prigozhin himself (and other prominent Wagner members), crashed between Moscow and St. Petersburg.
The crash occurred two months after the mutiny that had brought Prigozhin’s troops within a few kilometers of Moscow.
Protests in France on pension reform
Moving to France, 2023 in the country was certainly marked by numerous protests against the pension reform desired by President Macron.
The demonstrations mainly involved the capital, Paris, but also many other French cities. In April, despite protests, Macron promulgated the law which includes – among other aspects – the postponement of the legal retirement age to 64 years.
The incrimination against Trump
In the USA, 2023 was the year of Donald Trump’s “return”. The former president was indicted in March for paying porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 to keep her quiet about their affair. Then in June came the indictment for the secret papers at Mar-a-Lago.
In August the former president was indicted for the attack on Congress. Then came the fourth indictment for attempting to subvert the outcome of the 2020 Georgia vote.
New Trump-Biden duel for USA 2024
But this, in the USA, was also the year in which the campaign for the 2024 elections gained momentum. The two likely main contenders will still be them: Trump and Biden. Accusations and counter-allegations have ignited the race for the White House, especially in December 2023.
Meanwhile, Trump is “running away” in the polls. With Biden, however, warning: “I believe that the future of American democracy is at stake”.
The Coronation of King Charles III
In the United Kingdom, May 6 was the “big day” as King Charles III was officially crowned as sovereign at Westminster, in a ceremony that lasted about two hours. The king ascended the throne after the very long reign of his mother Queen Elizabeth II, which lasted 70 years, following her death in 2022.
G7 in Hiroshima
In May, from the 19th to the 21st, the G7 was held in Japan, at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. On this occasion, American President Biden guaranteed: “We will free the world from nuclear weapons forever.”
Erdogan reconfirmed president in Türkiye
At the end of May, Turkish citizens once again chose Erdogan as leader of the country. Called to vote in the run-off between the current president and Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the majority preferred the “Sultan” with 52.1% of the votes. Erdogan’s third term has therefore begun and he will remain in office until 2028.
Implosion of the Titan
In June the story of the Titan submarine kept the world in suspense. What started out as an exploration into the depths ended in tragedy, with the death of 5 people due to a “catastrophic implosion”. The Titan had dived to observe the wreckage of the Titanic, but did not return.
On board the British millionaire Hamish Harding, the Pakistani Shahzada Dawood with her son Suleman, the French explorer Paul-Henri Nargeolet and Stockton Rush, owner of OceanGate, the company that owns the submarine.
Earthquake in Türkiye and Syria
2023 was also a year marked by several natural disasters. On February 6, a strong earthquake, measuring 7.8 magnitude, was recorded in Turkey and Syria. The damage is devastating. The victims were over 50 thousand.
Nobel Prizes 2023
From 2 to 9 October the prestigious Nobel Prizes were awarded in 6 categories:
- The Nobel Prize for Medicine went to Katalin Karikò and Drew Weissman;
- that for Physics to Pierre Agostini, Ferenc Krausz and Anne L’Huillier;
- that for Chemistry to Moungi Bawendi, Louis Brus and Alexei Ekimov;
- the one for Literature was given to the Norwegian Jon Fosse;
- the one for Peace to the Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi;
- finally the prize for Economy was awarded to Claudia Goldin.
Beginning of the war between Israel and Hamas
October 7 is perhaps the date that has most marked this 2023, at an international level. That morning, Hamas terrorists infiltrated from Gaza into southern Israel, attacking various areas of the country, by sea, by land and by air. At the same time, missiles were launched towards Israeli territories from the Gaza Strip.
Israel responded immediately and harshly to the attacks. It began with massive bombings of Gaza and then, a few weeks later, launched a ground offensive. ”We are determined to fight until victory,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said several times.
Milei President of Argentina
Javier Milei became the new Argentine president, a position he began on 10 December 2023. The 53-year-old, leader of La Libertad Avanza, refuses to belong ideologically to the far-right, but has signed up to the Madrid Charter, a document promoted by the far-right party Spanish right Vox.
Shortly after his election, he had to deal with the protests that arose against his mega decree on deregulation and privatization.
COP28 in Dubai
COP28 ended on 13 December 2023 in Dubai. The 198 delegates approved the ‘Global Stocktake‘, the budget of commitments which includes actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“We have the foundations for transformation,” said COP28 president Sultan Al Jaber. “For the first time ever” in the history of COP “we wrote fossil fuels in the lyrics”.
Massacre in Prague
On December 21, 14 people were killed in a massacre carried out with automatic weapons at Charles University in Prague by student David Kozak, who then committed suicide.
On December 23, the country declared national mourning and stopped at midday for a minute of silence, accompanied by the ringing of bells in every church.