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Reminder: Our International Translation Superhighway, updated daily, shows you the latest news in the Russian- and Arabic-language media.
How fickle is fortune:
Michael McFaul @McFaulRussian retreats from first Kyiv and now Kharkiv at this stage in the war are unexpected (for me) and inspiring.
Ukrainian prosecutors requested a life sentence for the first Russian soldier to be tried for war crimes since Moscow invaded. “I know that you will not be able to forgive me, but nevertheless I ask you for forgiveness,” he said to the wife of the civilian he admitted killing.
The White House is working to put advanced anti-ship missiles in the hands of Ukrainian fighters to help defeat Russia's naval blockade.
Current and former US officials and congressional sources have cited roadblocks to sending longer range, more powerful weapons to Ukraine that include lengthy training requirements, difficulties maintaining equipment, or concerns US weaponry could be captured by Russian forces, in addition to the fear of escalation. But three US officials and two congressional sources said two types of powerful anti-ship missiles, the Harpoon made by Boeing and the Naval Strike Missile made by Kongsberg and Raytheon Technologies were in active consideration for either direct shipment to Ukraine, or through a transfer from a European ally that has the missiles.
Ukrainian officials are growing frustrated with the Biden administration’s resistance to providing US-made long-range rocket systems, critical to the heavy artillery battle in the Donbas:
Officials across the Ukrainian government have pleaded with the US for months to send the Multiple Launch Rocket System, or MLRS. But three people familiar with the issue say the Ukrainians are concerned that the White House is holding back over worries the weapon could be used to launch strikes inside Russia, thereby expanding and prolonging the conflict.
⚜️ See: SORROWS OF THE SÜRGÜNLIK, by Callista Gingrich, in the magazine.
The US Senate confirmed Bridget Brink as the first US ambassador to Ukraine since 2019.
The surrender of Azovstal is not complete, despite the evacuation of several hundred Ukrainian fighters:
Between a hundred and a thousand soldiers have chosen, weapons in hand, to remain in the last square of the devastated steel plant. Very few details are known about the situation on the ground.
The Russian Defense Ministry says that nearly 1,000 Ukrainian troops have handed themselves over.
An unprecedented, public and real-time undertaking to track and document Russian war crimes is underway:
Hundreds of volunteers and activists are working alongside the Ukraine government’s police, lawyers and prosecutors in a sprawling effort to collect evidence that can prove Ukraine’s case to the world and prosecute Russia for launching an unjustified invasion.
The Russian army occupied Hostomel for 35 days and visited unspeakable horror upon it:
Hostomel is a small city north of Kyiv, the kind of place where city dwellers keep summer homes. It forms a trio of satellite suburbs along with Bucha and Irpin, places now synonymous with an array of war crimes perpetrated by Russia on Ukrainian civilians, from executions to torture. Their names will go down in history with the likes of Srebrenica and Babi Yar.
Russia’s puppet governor of the Kherson region said the region will become part of Russia.
One person died and others were injured in after an attack in a village on the border with Ukraine, the governor of Kursk region said. “Another enemy attack on Tyotkino, which took place at dawn unfortunately ended in tragedy. At the moment, we know of at least one civilian death.”
General Mark Milley spoke to his Russian counterpart General Valery Gerasimov for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine.
Russians are “eschatologically chosen.” They must stand against the false faith, the pseudoreligion of Western liberalism and the spread of its evil: modernity, scientism, postmodernity, and the new world order. This is the thesis of Aleksandr Dugin, the prominent Russian philosopher, and a mentor of the Russian president Vladimir Putin. …
All the confident and screechy bloviation we heard a few months ago from the Kremlin about a single Russian people and the great holy work of uniting Ukraine and Russia against the decadent Russian traitors in league with Ukrainian Nazis is gone. The Russians, including Khodaryonok, now admit that they’re up against a dedicated and unified Ukrainian society and army, and that the Ukranians have better training and better weapons than their Russian opponents. …
Putin may have to settle for turning this war of conquest into yet another frozen conflict, where he feeds Russian boys into the meat grinder while pondering his next idiotic move. How long Russians—and the Russian military—will put up with that is anyone’s guess.
The Russian military analyst who criticized the invasion on TV has now backpedaled.
☞ We should say it, writes Timothy Snyder. Russia is fascist. “I recommend this to you as an essential read,” writes one of our subscribers.
We understand more about fascism than we did in the 1930s. We now know where it led. We should recognize fascism, because then we know what we are dealing with. But to recognize it is not to undo it. Fascism is not a debating position, but a cult of will that emanates fiction. It is about the mystique of a man who heals the world with violence, and it will be sustained by propaganda right to the end. It can be undone only by demonstrations of the leader’s weakness. The fascist leader has to be defeated, which means that those who oppose fascism have to do what is necessary to defeat him. Only then do the myths come crashing down.
Is Russia running low on missiles? Russia has fired 2,154 missiles at Ukraine since the beginning of the invasion, but these attacks have become rarer in recent weeks, leading to speculation that Russia’s missile stocks are running low.
🎧 An interview with Fiona Hill:
A soft-spoken career bureaucrat who served numerous Socialist Party ministers before joining Macron’s government, Borne had a brief stint as environment minister in 2019 when she pushed through bicycle-friendly policies. She then took charge of the Labor Ministry and oversaw negotiations with unions that resulted in a cut to unemployment benefits for some job seekers. On her watch, unemployment fell to its lowest level in 15 years and youth unemployment to its lowest level in 40 years.
Borne’s deep inside knowledge of the workings of the state will help Macron push through more difficult reforms. She will be tasked with staring down France’s muscular unions to oversee his most contested election pledge: raising the retirement age.
Russia’s expulsion of French diplomats shows the dead end of Macron-Putin dialog. Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese diplomats were also ordered to leave the country:
The French, Spanish and Italian ambassadors were summoned one after the other to Smolensk Square, the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Moscow, and were informed of the expulsions: 34 for France, 27 for Spain and 24 for Italy. In each case, these numbers are slightly lower than those of the Russians expelled in early April.
🇭🇺 Viktor Orbán’s praise for China, its leader, the ruling Communist Party, and China’s global role has been as effusive and unqualified as the American right’s has been for Orbán:
… As Beijing’s policies of control, regimentation, and outright repression have intensified, Hungary has become Beijing’s most obliging advocate among EU member states. In case after case, Hungary has been a holdout, usually the lone holdout, when the EU has considered statements denouncing Beijing’s violations of human rights or international law. When the EU proposed a statement criticizing Uighur repression, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó dismissed it as “pointless, self-aggrandizing, and harmful.” Hungary was the only EU member to oppose a statement denouncing Beijing’s imposition of a national security law in Hong Kong, which effectively snuffed out freedom in the territory. Hungary has prevented the formal adoption of statements condemning China’s actions to gain dominance of the South China Sea, human rights abuses, and the imprisonment of human rights lawyers. Orbán has described these resolutions as “inconsequential and frivolous.” Likewise, Hungary refused to protest the Beijing government’s detention of Michael Kovrig, a dual Canadian-Hungarian citizen held for three years as a diplomatic hostage. Hungarian officials refused to help Kovrig, lamely claiming that since Kovrig was arrested as a Canadian and China does not recognize dual citizens, there was nothing Hungary could do.
🇹🇷 A White House visit by the leaders of Finland and Sweden could be overshadowed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s renewed threat to reject their applications to join NATO.
🇹🇷 Does Erdoğan’s Turkey belong in NATO? Under current conditions, Turkey wouldn’t qualify. (Paywalled.)
🇬🇧 Funding cuts and staffing turmoil at the Foreign Office are scaling back the UK’s international ambitions:
The belt-tightening at the Foreign Office started before Johnson’s premiership, but has worsened to the point some in Westminster believe it’s strangling the department just as it’s being called upon to lead the UK’s international charge.
🐫🥙 Middle East
🇮🇱✈️ The US Air Force will refuel Israeli fighter jets during a massive simulation of an Israeli strike against Iran, the Israeli media reports:
The unprecedented Israel-US aerial collaboration in a drill simulating a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities is seen as a potential message to Iran amid long-stalled negotiations in Vienna over a return to the 2015 nuclear deal, a possibility Israel has repeatedly voiced its objection to, warning it would lead to “a more violent, more volatile Middle East.”
Despite some Israeli media reports to the contrary, there was no connection between a US Air Force refueling training flight off the coast of Israel Wednesday and a major Israeli training exercise simulating an attack on Iran, a spokesman for US Central Command tells The War Zone.
“DoD is not directly participating in the exercise … A small number of personnel from across US Central Command are observing portions of the exercise.”
🇮🇱 The Israeli government has lost another member of its coalition, leaving it in the minority in the Knesset. Left-wing Arab lawmaker Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi’s departure could bring about a fresh election:
“I entered politics because I saw myself as an emissary of Arab society, which I represent,” Zoabi wrote. “Unfortunately over the last few months for narrow political reasons, the heads of the coalition preferred to strengthen their right side. Again and again, the heads of the coalition preferred to take harsh hawkish right-wing steps on key issues related to Arab society.” She cited the Al Aqsa, the Temple Mount, Sheikh Jarrah, settlements, house demolitions, the Citizenship Law and land confiscations in the Negev.
🇮🇱🇸🇦 Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz met US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in the White House to discuss the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear project and the progress made by the Islamic Republic. The day before, Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid Bin Salman met Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. The timing of the meetings suggest Israel may be coordinating its next moves on Iran with the US and Saudi Arabia.
The Iranian media have apparently been banned from reporting on the protests that began two weeks ago but social media users say protesters took to the streets again in Farsan in Chahar Mahal and Bakhtiari Province Wednesday evening and were shot at by security forces. In Dezful, a city of around 250,000 in southwestern Khuzestan Province, security forces patrolled streets on motorbikes and in full riot gear on Wednesday to prevent a new round of protests. Extensive disruption of access to the Internet has been reported in Dezful as well as other areas of the province where protests first began two weeks ago including in the provincial capital Ahvaz. …
Economic chaos continues in Iran in the wake of a government decision to stop subsidizing food imports. The government says it will compensate for the price increases by paying 90 percent of Iranians a monthly cash subsidy for the time being and will later substitute it with ration cards for cheap staples.
At least 18 prisoners, including a woman, have been executed in recent days in Iran. One of those executed was a minor at the time of the arrest. Nine of those executed were convicted of drug-related charges and nine were convicted of murder.
The political prisoners detained in ward 3 of the Central Prison of Zahedan have recently reported, “There are reliable reports that the death sentences for another 83 prisoners have been sent to the Bureau for Implementation of the Verdict of Zahedan Prison.” The actual number of executions is much higher. The clerical regime carries out most executions in secret and out of the public eye. No witnesses are present at the time of execution but those who carry them out.
Senior regime officials in Iran began the Persian calendar year on March 21 with promises to rein in the country’s economic crises. What we have seen to this day has been anything but that and Iran’s financial woes are mounting in an unprecedented fashion.
President Ebrahim Raisi claimed to be conducting “economic surgery” and bringing rising inflation under control. “The government should not become addicted to throwing money all around,” he said, claiming to be addressing “the people’s expectations” of decreased inflation and an improved economy.
🇮🇷 In a meeting with his forces in Golestan province, the commander-in-chief of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, Hossein Salami, said that the enemy would defeat them if they didn’t act in time:
Our experience in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Afghanistan showed that if we do not act in time and do not show up in the trenches quickly, if we fail to make preparations for the battle, the enemy will overpower us and destroy our land and displace the people, and it will be an achievement for the enemy. (Farsi.)
🇯🇴 Jordan’s King Abdullah II discusses Jordan-US relations, the Jordanian perspective on the Middle East, and multilateral cooperation in the region with H.R. McMaster. He says that Iran and its proxies are filling the vacuum left by Russia in southern Syria, threatening Jordanian security. Watch the interview:
In decades past, two or three big sandstorms were expected every year. This spring Iraq has already logged at least eight, including the one on May 16th that put some 4,000 people in hospital. Two people died across the border in Syria. The more frequent storms are causing misery for millions and doing billions of dollars in damage.
Only 17 percent of Africa’s 1.3 billion population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19—versus above 70 percent in some countries—in part because richer nations hoarded supply last year, when global demand was greatest, to the chagrin of African nations desperate for international supplies. Now though, as doses finally arrive in force in the continent, inoculation rates are falling. The number of shots administered dropped 35 percent in March, World Health Organization data shows, erasing a 23 percent rise seen in February. People are less afraid now. Misinformation about vaccines has festered.
🇲🇿⚕️A new case of wild polio found in Mozambique is very similar to a case previously reported in Malawi, says the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Malawi found the first case of wild poliovirus in 30 years in February. The cases are raising alarm because Africa was declared free of wild polio in 2020.
🇲🇱 Mali’s interim government claimed “Western-backed” military officers tried to stage a coup last week. They provided no details or evidence.
🇪🇹 Ethiopia and the World Bank have signed a pact for US$300 million to assist reconstruction and recovery in areas affected by the Tigray conflict.
🐊 By responding to Russia’s invasion with unexpected unity and strength, Western allies appear to have deterred China from attacking Taiwan:
Chinese academics often provide an early tell as to what Xi and his coterie are planning in private. According to these tea leaves, China has been thwarted and its elites are distraught. In private chat rooms, Chinese generals are bemoaning their forces’ lack of battlefield experience, along with their perceived inability to win a war of information with the West. China has backed away from its full-throated public support of Russia’s war on Ukraine, for with a mercantilist export-dominated economy it simply cannot afford to be cut off from Western markets.
🇨🇳 How China avoided Soviet-Style collapse. How did China evade the shock therapy that brought down the Soviet Union? Adam Tooze describes the shifting balance of social forces, interest groups and political factions that allowed Deng to oversee a process of incremental institutional and macroeconomic adjustment when Gorbachev couldn’t.
🇨🇳🇹🇼 The Chinese military simply does not have the naval assets or the auxiliary forces necessary to execute a successful amphibious invasion of Taiwan:
Since 1949, when the defeated Kuomintang retreated to Formosa, the Chinese Communist Party has maintained the fictional goal of “reunifying” Taiwan by force. That’s never been possible. Even after a victory on the mainland, China has never had the capability to take Taiwan, particularly in the face of US opposition in three successive Taiwan Strait crises. While the Chinese military has strengthened, re-organized, and reequipped with new technology, it’s still not possible. … Instead of viewing the Russian invasion of Ukraine as encouragement of authoritarian neighbors, China and the United States should look at it as a cautionary tale about what happens when amateurs go to war.
🇨🇳 Rumors of Xi Jinping’s demise are exaggerated. The host of recent articles speculating about the Xi’s weakness represent wishful thinking:
Xi Jinping is in no real danger of losing power. His whole political method since 2012 has been to seize control over what Christopher Johnson, former head China analyst at the CIA, has described as the three key “levers of power” within the Chinese Deep State. Using a ruthless anti-corruption campaign as a knife, he was able to quickly break his rivals’ hold over the military, security services, and party bureaucracy (i.e., the HR department, essentially), and aggregate control over them entirely into his own hands—where they still very much remain. This means a little public discontent or elite financial distress is not going to meaningfully weaken Xi’s grip. Moreover, he retains the powerful force of popular Chinese nationalism to lean on in any period of real difficulty.
🧧🥬 Young people all over China, fed up with city life, are searching for new ways of life amid old traditions in undeveloped rural parts of the country:
Wu told me that she and her husband had come here because they wanted to anchor their son’s value system in China’s rural traditions. They are not alone. In Qixi and elsewhere across China, a new internal migration is underway. As the middle class has grown rapidly over recent decades, access to top-tier urban real estate, spots in elite universities and other scarce goods have not. The result is the creation of incentives for alternative lifestyles, and the cities, full to the brim, have started to spill over into the countryside.
😷 Shanghai has been allowing more businesses to reopen and letting more residents leave their homes for the first time in nearly seven weeks.
🇨🇳🇵🇰 China has demanded military outposts in Pakistan to ensure the security of its citizens:
On April 26, a burqa-clad Baloch woman suicide bomber struck a van near Pakistan’s Confucius Institute, killing three Chinese teachers, including the head of the department, and their local driver. The banned Balochistan Liberation Army-linked Majeed Brigade claimed responsibility for the attack on the teachers.
Pakistan is currently cash-strapped and has no financial support from friendly nations like Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, China and Malaysia, and even the International Monetary Fund’s program for Pakistan is at a “crucial stage" and the next round of talks with the IMF is likely in Doha, Qatar on May 18.
In diplomatic circles, a source also claimed that this demand came after the United States’ demand for bases in Pakistan to fight terrorists and surveillance in Afghanistan and the US is keen to re-operate Shamsi airbase in Balochistan.
🇱🇰 Sri Lanka’s central bank has secured foreign exchange to pay for fuel and cooking gas shipments:
Most of Sri Lanka’s petrol stations have run dry as the island nation battles its most devastating economic crisis since independence in 1948. At some pumps in the commercial capital, Colombo, dozens of people stood in lines holding plastic jerry cans, as troops in combat gear and armed with assault rifles patrolled the streets.
🇦🇫 A report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction blames the Trump and Biden administrations for collapse of Afghan troops:
SIGAR found that the single most important factor in the ANDSF’s collapse in August 2021 was the US decision to withdraw military forces and contractors from Afghanistan through signing the US-Taliban agreement in February 2020 under the Trump administration, followed by President Biden’s withdrawal announcement in April 2021. Due to the ANDSF’s dependency on US military forces, these events destroyed ANDSF morale. The ANDSF had long relied on the US military’s presence to protect against large-scale ANDSF losses, and Afghan troops saw the United States as a means of holding their government accountable for paying their salaries. The US-Taliban agreement made it clear that this was no longer the case, resulting in a sense of abandonment within the ANDSF and the Afghan population. The agreement set in motion a series of events crucial to understanding the ANDSF’s collapse.
🇦🇫 In what seems to be an uncoordinated offensive, disaffected elements of the previous Afghan administration are claiming responsibility for attacking the Taliban in many provinces across Afghanistan. Anti-Taliban groups “are popping up everywhere in Afghanistan.”
One of the most visible anti-Taliban groups is the National Resistance Front, led by Ahmad Massoud. Massoud is the son of the Northern Alliance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud, who prevented the Taliban from overrunning Afghanistan in the mid-1990s, following the Soviet withdrawal, until he was killed by al-Qaeda assassins two days before 9/11.
🇦🇫 The Taliban is facing stiff resistance in the Panjshir and Andarab valleys north of Kabul from the National Resistance Forces, an alliance of anti-Taliban forces made up of former members of the country’s military and police, many of them trained by US.
🇦🇫 Resistance groups could embed among local populations and use their knowledge of the terrain for a guerrilla insurgency.
This seems to be the Taliban’s greatest fear, and the vicious response to the uprisings, including reported arbitrary executions of civilians in some hotspots, is a clear attempt to stub out any signs of support for the resistance effort.
🍼🇺🇸 President Biden has invoked the Defense Production Act to speed the production of baby formula and authorized flights to import supply from overseas.
⚕️The Pan-American Health Organization is warning that Covid cases are rising sharply throughout the region—by 27.2 percent over the past week.
⚕️🇺🇸The rise is driven by a surge in confirmed cases in the United States. Of the 918,000 new cases in the region, more than 605,000 were reported in the United States.
🇨🇱 The Chilean government has redeployed the military to the south to pacify the so-called Mapuche conflict—a policy President Gabriel Boric had previously deplored.
In these and other areas of southern Chile there has been for decades a territorial dispute between the State, some Mapuche communities and forestry companies that exploit lands considered ancestral by the indigenous people. The scenario creates favorable conditions for frequent arson attacks on machinery and property, shootouts with fatalities, and hunger strikes by indigenous prisoners. …
Boric, until now, had shown reluctance to militarize, noting that it only put more stress on the conflict. He had also fiercely criticized his predecessor, the conservative Piñera, for promoting the arrival of uniformed men. After assuming the presidency last March, the progressive president decided to end this measure and pointed to a “dialogue” strategy, through the territorial deployment of different authorities. However, this was not well received by some radical groups, who continued to carry out attacks and sabotaged several visits by the Executive.
🇬🇹 Guatemala’s President Alejandro Giammattei announced he will boycott next month’s Summit of the Americas after Washington sanctioned his top prosecutor for corruption:
The United States officially designated Guatemalan Attorney General Consuelo Porras for “significant corruption” Monday, just hours after she was reappointed for a second four-year term. Speaking on Tuesday during an event at the Mexican Embassy in Guatemala, Giammattei said he did not expect to be invited to the summit. “In any case, I sent word that I’m not going,” he said. “As long as I am president, this country will be respected and its sovereignty will be respected.”
🇨🇺 The Biden administration accused Cuba of fueling controversy over its exclusion from the Summit of the Americas next month to distract attention from its human rights record:
“The more that they can shine the light on us and call us the bad guy, they’re avoiding the fact that the repression that they’ve been actively perpetrating against their people,” she said, citing a crackdown on street protests last July. “They want the press on us not inviting them to the summit or not. ... Hypocrisy plays well in the media.”
🩺 A team of Australian researchers has found a biochemical marker in the blood that could identify newborns at risk of sudden infant death syndrome—a major breakthrough.
So, have you heard about monkeypox? A new viral outbreak is testing whether the world has learned anything from Covid:
The current outbreaks in Europe and the U.S. are different and very concerning. The first case, which was identified in the United Kingdom on May 7, fit the traditional pattern: The individual had recently traveled to Nigeria. But several others hadn’t recently been to endemic countries, and some had had no obvious contact with people known to be infected. This suggests that the monkeypox virus may be surreptitiously spreading from person to person, with some number of undetected cases. (The incubation period between infection and symptoms is long, ranging from 5 to 21 days.) “It’s uncommon to see this number of cases in four countries at the same time,” Inglesby said. (The count may soon be seven: Since we spoke yesterday, monkeypox has been confirmed in Sweden and Italy, while Canada is investigating suspected cases.)
At the beginning of 2022 the world-spanning system which makes this possible was already in a ropey state. The number of people with access to food so poor that their lives or livelihoods were at immediate risk had risen from 108 million to 193 million over the past five years, according to the UN’s World Food Program. A lot of that near-doubling of “acute food insecurity” was due to the Covid19 pandemic, which reduced incomes and disrupted both farm work and supply chains; a good bit more was down to rising prices of energy and shipping as the effects of the pandemic wore off. Things were made worse by swine flu in China and a series of bad harvests in exporting countries, some of which were due to La Niña conditions that began in the middle of 2020. La Niña is a recurrent pattern of currents and wind patterns in and over the equatorial Pacific which has worldwide effects, just as its also-troublesome counterpart El Niño does.
Global grain stocks were, admittedly, quite high. But they were mostly in the hands of well-off importing nations, not those of exporters keen to sell them or poor importers likely to need them. “If we do not address the situation immediately,” David Beasley, who runs the WFP, told the Munich Security Conference in February, “over the next nine months we will see famine, we will see destabilization of nations and we will see mass migration.”
Just six days after he spoke those words Russia rammed a rifle barrel into the already creaking machinery.
🚢 Russia’s blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports is strangling the country’s economy and preventing Ukrainian agricultural exports from reaching international markets. Unless this issue is addressed, it will cause famine around the world in the coming months:
The only viable solution at this time is the creation of a protected maritime zone enforced by the international community. There are a variety of expert opinions on how this might best be achieved, with many relying on NATO capabilities. One of the most frequently cited options would involve the establishment of a humanitarian navigation corridor patrolled by NATO ships and aircraft to ensure the safety of commercial shipping.
If it proved too difficult to reach a consensus within NATO for such an initiative, a coalition of participating countries could be created for the purpose. With global food security at stake and millions of lives at risk, it would theoretically be possible to justify such a move while deflecting accusations of direct intervention in the Russo-Ukrainian War.
[Ending the blockade] is urgent not only because of the effect on Ukraine’s battered economy but also on supplies of essential agricultural products to the rest of the world. … If this is not addressed diplomatically then there could be demands on the major maritime powers to mount freedom of navigation operations to break the blockade. …
Protecting commercial shipping is by no means a simple option. The escorts would need to include minesweepers. Accompanying warships can also suffer from mines. There would need to be unanimity in NATO to authorize the operation, and Turkey in particular would need to sign up. Because of the Treaty of Montreux it has an effective veto as it would need to authorize NATO warships moving through the Straits from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea, and it is not always predictable on such matters . Most importantly, the view up to now has been that this would be an unduly provocative move, subject to the same misgivings that led NATO to reject calls for a “No-Fly Zone” above Ukraine earlier in the war, as it could lead to a direct confrontation with Russian naval forces. Yet, while prudence might be understandable, in purpose and conduct this would be quite different. The principle of freedom of navigation is important, in the Indo-Pacific region as well as here.
🏚 The number of people who fled their homes and sought shelter within their own countries reached a record of nearly 60 million last year:
Disasters, including weather events such as cyclones and floods in Asia as well as protracted conflicts in places like Syria, Afghanistan and Ethiopia were factors behind high levels of new displacements last year, according the report compiled by the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Center. “The world is falling apart, too many countries are falling apart,” said Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council.
Henry Kissinger discusses Russia, the Ukraine war, and China. Here’s an edited transcript if you’re in a hurry.
✍️ By the Cosmopolitan Globalists
The Defenders of Mariupol. Branding the Azov Battalion as “neo-Nazi” long after it shed its far-right origins is part of a deafening corruption of public discourse, by Vladislav Davidzon:
In the last few months, the siege of Mariupol has witnessed the most thorough destruction of a European city since the bombing of Dresden. In the process of committing numerous war crimes (and likely crimes against humanity), the Russian army leveled the city’s housing stock to the ground. The fighting reportedly killed tens of thousands of civilians, and most of the city’s nearly half million residents have fled, even as tens of thousands more remain trapped in basements and bunkers under ruins without access to medicine, water, electricity, or basic health care. These include the parents of several of my friends and acquaintances—incidentally ethnic Jewish and Armenian citizens of Ukraine. One, the Lithuanian filmmaker Mantas Kvedaravičius, was killed in Mariupol as he was filming the war.
The latest batsh*t from Vzglyad
… Having accumulated some capital on the fitness-center network and given birth to three children, Greene cuts a very glamorous image among those voters who live in trailers and shoot at opossums. Scandalous, aggressive, poorly educated, out of place, devout, and armed to the teeth, she is nevertheless one of the types who’s “made it” and “achieved everything” that America really respects. (In Russian.)
🇨🇳 The CCP is saddened by your inadequacy
In addition to playing the previous cards of “security” and “military,” Biden will also bring the anti-China “economic” card this time. US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo revealed on Tuesday that Biden will announce the launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework during his visit to Japan. The economic initiative will focus on building key areas in economy and supply chain in the decades to come. This is not because the US really wants to promote economic prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region, rather it is an attempt to rope in other countries to “decouple” from China, and then create a “small circle” that excludes China in terms of the economy. …
The consequences of the US constantly stirring up regional tensions and creating world divisions are very clear. There were the examples of Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, and then there is the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Now, the US is targeting the Asia-Pacific region, viewing it as a geopolitical chess game and turning China’s neighboring countries into pawns it can manipulate at will. However, the Cold War alliance and geopolitical confrontation have long been unpopular, and any initiative to serve this goal is short-lived. We believe that most Asia-Pacific countries are sober-minded. It’ s not feasible to scare China by borrowing the power of the US, and it is even less worthwhile to sacrifice themselves for the interests of the US.