Global Political Calendar: Beijing 2022, Ukraine tension, DPRK tests

The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics will open, tensions between Russia and Ukraine remain a focus of the world, and uncertainties have increased following Pyongyang's seventh round of weapons launches in January.

World leaders to gather in Beijing in holiday season

The Beijing Winter Olympics will open on Friday, as the Chinese people enjoy the week-long Spring Festival holiday. The Spring Festival, or the Chinese Lunar New Year, falls on Tuesday. 

A large number of world leaders will come to Beijing to attend the opening ceremony of the Games and relevant activities, including the leaders of Russia, Cambodia, Singapore, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Poland, Serbia, Luxembourg, Monaco, Argentina, Ecuador, Mongolia, Pakistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Azerbaijan, Thailand, the International Olympic Committee, the United Nations, the UN General Assembly, the World Health Organization, the World Intelligence Property Organization, the New Development Bank and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has announced. 

Beijing, the host city of the 2008 Summer Olympics, is set to become the first city in the world to host both the summer and winter editions of the Olympic Games.

Russia does not rule out Putin-Zelensky meeting

With the confrontation along the Russian-Ukrainian borders still unresolved, the Ukraine crisis will continue to be a key focus of the world next week. 

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Saturday that Russia does not completely rule out the possibility of a meeting between President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky. 

Peskov made the comment in response to a question about whether the two leaders would meet while attending the Winter Olympics. 

Meanwhile, joint military exercises between Russia and Belarus will continue in Belarus. The Allied Resolve exercises are split into two phases, with the first phase from January 17 to February 9 and the second from February 10 to 20.  

Zelensky on Friday called on Western governments and media to stop fueling panic over the Russian troop buildup.

Rising uncertainties over Korean Peninsula

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile eastward on Sunday, the ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff said. 

It would be the seventh such test in January if confirmed. 

ROK President Moon Jae-in called the latest launch "a challenge for denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, and diplomatic efforts by the international community, as well as an act that violates the UN Security Council resolution." 

The United States condemned the launch and called on Pyongyang to refrain from further destabilizing acts. 

The escalation of tensions on the peninsula comes amid stalled denuclearization talks between the U.S. and the DPRK since 2019. Pyongyang has accused Washington of pursuing a "hostile policy" against it. 

Will the tensions escalate further?

Day by day:

Monday: Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani visits the United States and meets President Joe Biden; second anniversary of "full Brexit" when Britain officially ended its membership of the European Union. 

Tuesday: Spring Festival, or Chinese Lunar New Year; Russian President Vladimir Putin meets Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban during his visit to Moscow; first anniversary of a military takeover in Myanmar that ousted President U Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. 

Wednesday: Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau pays a four-day visit to the United States (to February 6). 

Thursday: Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan starts his three-day visit to China to attend the opening ceremony of Winter Olympics Games; Putin meets Argentina's President Fernandez in Moscow; Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visits Ukraine. 

Friday: Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games officially kicks off. 

Saturday: Rau meets with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to discuss "the Ukraine crisis and Poland’s role as chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)" in 2022. 

Sunday: Costa Rican presidential election and legislative assembly election.

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