Global Political Calendar: Ukraine crisis, doubts over Libyan polls

NATO will kick off a 12-day maritime exercise in the Mediterranean Sea amid tensions along the Ukrainian-Russian border, and a new date for the delayed Libyan presidential election is yet to be confirmed. 

Meanwhile, a delegation of the Afghan Taliban will hold talks with Western officials in Oslo on humanitarian aid, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will host the first meeting of the India-Central Asia Summit. 

The coming week will be the last week before the Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls on February 1.

NATO drills amid Ukraine crisis

NATO partners, including the United States, will start maritime drills in the Mediterranean Sea on Monday, U.S. Department of Defense spokesperson John Kirby said on Friday. 

The exercise, called "Neptune Strike '22," will run through February 4 and is meant to demonstrate and test NATO's maritime capabilities, according to Kirby. 

Ukraine, the United States and some other Western countries have recently voiced concerns over a Russian military build-up along the Ukrainian borders, fearing that Russia is preparing for an attack. 

Russia has denied it has plans to attack Ukraine and urged the West to stop delivering weapons to the country. 

Russia last month sent a draft agreement to NATO and a draft treaty to the U.S. both on security guarantees in Europe for the Western countries to consider. Moscow has asked Washington to prevent further eastward expansion of NATO and deny former Soviet republics accession to the alliance.  

Russia has also demanded that the U.S. and NATO do not deploy offensive weapons in its neighboring countries. 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a 90-minute meeting in Geneva on Friday, without achieving any major breakthrough over Ukraine.

No date set for Libyan election

Libya's first-ever presidential election, initially scheduled for December 24 last year, was delayed amid political tensions. The electoral board has suggested postponing the polls by a month to January 24, but no decision has been made on the proposal. 

Libya has been ravaged by violence and insecurity ever since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed Moamer Kadhafi in 2011. Tensions in recent years pit military strongman Khalifa Haftar and an eastern-based parliament against authorities centering around an interim government in the capital Tripoli in the west, led by Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah. 

Libya's Parliamentary Speaker Aguila Saleh said on Tuesday that a "definitive" date for the polls must be set by the end of January. 

United Nations' special adviser on Libya, Stephanie Williams, said last week that it is still "very reasonable and possible" for Libya's 2.8 million voters to cast their ballots by June in line with a UN-brokered 2020 roadmap.

Day by day:

Monday: NATO starts a 12-day maritime exercise in the Mediterranean Sea; an Afghan Taliban delegation headed by Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi holds talks with Western officials in Norway's Oslo on human rights and humanitarian aid (January 23-25); German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock delivers a keynote address at an annual UN event in conjunction with the International Holocaust Remembrance Day; the EU Foreign Affairs Council holds a meeting. 

Tuesday: The EU General Affairs Council holds a meeting; Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visits Indonesia for the Singapore-Indonesia Leaders' Retreat. 

Wednesday: Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway pay an official visit to Sweden (to January 28). 

Thursday: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosts the first meeting of the India-Central Asia Summit in a virtual format, with the participation of the presidents of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan; the Defense Ministers of Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines meet to discuss efforts to strengthen the Trilateral Cooperative Arrangement to boost security in the Sulu Sea, Sulawesi and Sabah's east coast; the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. 

Friday: A quiet day in politics. 

Saturday: A quiet day in politics. 

Sunday: Portugal holds its legislative election. 

(With input from agencies)

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