🌐👀 Global Eyes: Sunday Review
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Deep and dependable as always. Regarding subscriptions: I started out free, but after a week realized that the CG is unique in its breadth and depth. I read several online (and legacy) publications and the CosmoG is not only in a class by itself. Claire and company seem to put out more information than most mid-sized daily newspapers. I’m an old miser who watches every nickel. The CG is a good deal.
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🚩 Note: We often include articles with which we don’t agree, so better to offer you a diversity of opinions. Some articles, though, strike us as particularly important and meritorious, so henceforth we’ll use a red flag to indicate that the article in question is especially worth reading.
Russian forces are conducting operations to cut off Ukrainian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) between Severodonetsk and Lysychansk across the Severskyi Donetsk River.
The information space in Mariupol will likely become increasingly restricted in the coming weeks as Russian forces shift focus from completing the capture of the Azovstal Steel Plant to consolidating occupational control of the city.
Russian troops are likely reinforcing their grouping around Kharkiv City to prevent further Ukrainian advances toward the international border.
Russian forces may be assembling forces in certain areas of Zaporizhia and Kherson oblasts to initiate further offensive operations on the southern axis.
⛓️ Russia claims to have taken nearly 2,500 Ukrainian fighters prisoner from the Azovstal steel plant:
Family members of the fighters, who came from a variety of military and law enforcement units, have pleaded for them to be given rights as prisoners of war and eventually returned to Ukraine. Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Saturday that Ukraine “will fight for the return” of every one of them.
Denis Pushilin, the pro-Kremlin head of an area of eastern Ukraine controlled by Moscow-backed separatists, said the captured fighters included some foreign nationals, though he did not provide details. He said they were sure to face a tribunal. Russian officials and state media have sought to characterize the fighters as neo-Nazis and criminals.
💵 US President Joe Biden signed a US$40 billion bill to ensure a steady supply of weapons and economic support for Ukraine.
🇪🇺 Zelensky said Ukraine should be a full candidate to join the EU, rejecting Macron’s proposal to create a halfway-house community for members-in-waiting.
“We don’t need such compromises. Because, believe me, it will not be compromise with Ukraine in Europe, it will be another compromise between Europe and Russia.”
Russia has launched a major offensive on the remaining Ukrainian-held territory in the eastern province of Luhansk.
Technicians linked to the Syrian military’s infamous barrel bombs that have wreaked devastation across much of the country have been deployed to Russia to help potentially prepare for a similar campaign in the Ukraine war, European officials believe. Intelligence officers say more than 50 specialists, all with vast experience in making and delivering the crude explosive, have been in Russia for several weeks working alongside officials from Vladimir Putin’s military.
“The war will not stop (after concessions). It will just be put on pause for some time,” [Mykhailo] Podolyak, Ukraine’s lead negotiator, told Reuters in an interview in the heavily guarded presidential office. “They’ll start a new offensive, even more bloody and large-scale.”
🛡️ Can Ukrainian forces successfully counterattack in the Donbas? An interview with George Barros, an analyst at the Institute for the Study of War.
If there is an escalatory risk, it will be in relation to Ukrainian attempts to liberate the territories it lost in 2014. In Donbas, Russia had (until February) recognised the two breakaway republics as nominally belonging to Ukraine. .... The loss of these territories would be a humiliation for Putin. Since these territories have never been seen as part of Russia, however, their loss would be less likely to be seen as an existential threat.
Crimea is in a different position.
🇵🇱 Polish President Andrzej Duda made a surprise visit to Kyiv and became the first foreign leader to give a speech in person to the Ukrainian parliament since Russia’s invasion:
“Worrying voices have appeared, saying that Ukraine should give in to Putin's demands. Only Ukraine has the right to decide about its future... nothing about you without you.”
🌊 The fighting in the Donbas is a distraction from Russia’s main success, its control over the Black Sea coast. And it will be mighty hard to dislodge the Russians there. (Paywalled.)
🚩📩 Open Letter to Noam Chomsky (and other like-minded intellectuals) on the Russia-Ukraine war.
An amendment introduced by senior lawmakers in Russia’s Parliament would allow Russians older than 40 to sign first-time military service contracts. Under the current law, Russian citizens must be aged 18 to 40 to sign a first-time contract. The law would bring in more service members with specialties, such as medical workers and engineers, a statement from the lower house of Parliament said. “Highly professional specialists are needed” to operate military equipment, the statement said.
⚡ Russia has deployed Iskander-M short-range ballistic missile system launchers to Russia’s Belgorod Oblast, which borders Ukraine.
🇨🇳☭ Russia’s failures are a result of outdated Soviet attitudes and ideas that cannot keep up with the evolving intelligence environment:
.,. the revolutions in intelligence affairs largely passed Putin’s Chekist coterie by. To be sure, Russia’s special services had invested heavily and innovated in covert intelligence collection, disinformation and covert paramilitary action. And throughout the conflict the Russian military have proven reasonably competent at offensive ISR, successfully targeting Ukrainian defense facilities and even foreign volunteers. But with a leadership deeply invested in an outdated special services paradigm, there was little incentive or opportunity for Russian intelligence to keep up with the wider world.
🔥 A military enlistment office in Udmurtia was set ablaze with a Molotov cocktail, the twelfth such incident in Russia. (Russian.)
⛔️ Russia permanently banned nearly 1,000 Americans, including Biden, Harris, and the better part of their administration, from entering the country. Trump was not banned. The only prominent Trump administration official banned was Mike Pompeo.
🚛 Vitaly Saveliev, Russia’s head of the Ministry of Transport: “The sanctions imposed on Russia have almost broken all logistics in our country.”
More than half (51 percent) of Russian enterprises face a reduction in the supply of raw materials, equipment, components and spare parts. Among managers, 42 percent noted as a problems the decline in demand for products or services; 32 percent had logistical difficulties. Production and service delivery problems afflicted 26 percent of enterprise managers. (In Russian.)
☦️ Patriarch Kirill I has provided spiritual cover for the invasion of Ukraine, reaping vast resources for his church in return. Now the EU is threatening him with sanctions:
Kirill has in recent years aspired to expand his church’s influence, pursuing an ideology consistent with Moscow being a “Third Rome,” a reference to a 15th-century idea of Manifest Destiny for the Orthodox Church, in which Mr. Putin’s Russia would become the spiritual center of the true church after Rome and Constantinople. It is a grand project that dovetails neatly with—and inspired—Mr. Putin’s mystically tinged imperialism of a “Russkiy Mir,” or a greater Russian world.
🤬 At a concert in St. Petersburg, the crowd yells in unison, “F*ck the war.”
…. The French leader is far from alone in advocating appeasement. Indeed, Macron’s German and Italian counterparts have also indicated support for similar positions in recent weeks, while a May 19 op-ed by the New York Times editorial board was the latest in a series of high-profile articles in the international media calling for Ukraine to cede territory in exchange for an end to the fighting. These arguments in favor of appeasement are typically framed as foreign policy realism, but in fact they have little in common with Putin’s version of reality and underline the failure of many in the West to understand the true nature of modern Russia. …
If Russia retains control over Ukrainian territories, the Kremlin will have to maintain a strong repressive apparatus not only in Occupied Ukraine but also in Russia itself in order to ensure resistance does not spread. Liberalization will be indefinitely foreclosed, to the detriment of ordinary Russians.
At a fundamental level, the Russian public needs to be cured of nostalgia for former imperial possessions like Ukraine before there can be any hope of a lasting peace in the region. However, Western entertainment of the Kremlin’s victimization narrative merely postpones this process.
The Russian military’s disregard for its soldiers has done more than undermine their combat performance. It has also tanked their morale and will to fight. Officers steal the contents of care packages so routinely that some soldiers have called their mothers and told them not to bother sending anything. Officials forget to pay soldiers their entitled combat pay, and units abandon the bodies of the fallen. It is little wonder, then, that some Russian troops simply melted away from the conflict, deserting fully functional modernized equipment in Ukrainian fields. Other soldiers have called their mothers to tell them they were considering shooting themselves in the leg so they could leave. (Paywalled.)
The Putin regime’s rampage has made helping Ukraine in its struggle for survival the EU’s primary priority, so it may feel jarring at the moment to discuss how Europeans can help future Russian state elites and civil society overcome an existential crisis inflicted by Russia’s current leaders. … Yet however satisfying it might be to look at meme maps of a post-Muscovite Eurasia, the global implications of a fragmentation of such a vast nuclear-armed state need to be kept in mind when Europeans discuss what is to be done about Russia. …
World Politics Review @WPReviewRight now, the space to explore a new EU strategy towards changing Russia for the better is limited, but necessary, argues @APHClarkson. https://t.co/WRAq4Ctgv7
Germany has developed a credibility problem since the invasion of Ukraine because of its history as a partner of Russia. This could have an impact on the balance of power in the EU.
🇬🇷♻️ We can achieve an energy transition in Southeast Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean by enhancing cooperation between the US and Greece:
US diplomacy has long seen energy as a national security tool to advance Western values and untangle the dependencies and legacies of the Cold War. In the context of big power competition, the goal of integrating energy into national security discussions has expanded to include the geopolitics of energy transition. Greece, as a country already impacted [sic] by climate change, is leading the region’s efforts toward clean energy while still largely dependent on gas imports for its energy needs—and is fully aware of the challenge.
🇩🇪📊 German big business is drafting a plan for an auction system should it need to ration supplies if Russia cuts off the gas.
Such a break was easier for Finland than it will be for other European Union nations. Natural gas accounts for just some 5 percent of total energy consumption in Finland, a country of 5.5 million. Almost all of that gas comes from Russia, and is used mainly by industrial and other companies with only an estimated 4,000 households relying on gas heating.
🇹🇷 Swedish, Finnish, and American officials and diplomats have assured each other that Turkish concerns will soon be resolved. But Erdoğan is making it clear he will exact a price and settle old scores:
“These two countries, especially Sweden, they are a complete hotbed of terrorism,” Erdoğan said … “That’s why we are determined to continue this policy and say ‘no’ to Sweden and Finland joining NATO.” Sweden and Finland have not agreed to the repatriation of 33 people who Turkey considers terrorists. “So you won’t give us back terrorists but you ask us for NATO membership? NATO expansion is only meaningful for us in proportion to the respect that will be shown to our sensitivities.”
🇹🇷🪦 Turkey has demanded the extradition of author Mehmet Sıraç Bilgin in return for approving NATO membership for Sweden and Finland. Just one problem: He’s been dead for years.
🇹🇷 Apparently, Turkey is preparing a list of demands it expects NATO to fulfill. They include:
“Stop the financial support to the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria.” “Disinformation activities carried out by FETÖ (Fetullahist Terrorist Organization)* fugitives who have an arrest warrant against them should be stopped.”1
“Zübeyir Aydar should not speak at Sweden's parliament.”
“Activities of organizations disguised as NGOs against Turkey and to collect funds should be prevented.”
“Extradite everyone who’s the object of a lawsuit or subject to an arrest warrant in Turkey.”
🇹🇷🦃 A golden opportunity arises for Turkey as Sweden, Finland attempt to join NATO. (Yeni Şafak is a lunatic Islamist rag much beloved by Erdoğan—Claire.)
… the Anglo-Saxon bloc planned and programmed to divide from Eurasia continental Europe, which is thought to be off the rails due to its deep dependency on Russia. Thus, Ukraine is serving as the lab rat of this process. Russia has been doomed to an exhausting and earth-shattering war. Ukraine is being devastated and destroyed, stuck between the Russian army and the Azov regiment battalion, the far-right neo-Nazi group backed and armed by the UK secret service within. But the West could not care less. …
… old NATO ally Turkey was left out of the equation. It was not only ostracized but a plan to siege Turkey was also in the works. The green light had been given for an independent Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) state that was forming in northern Syria and northern Iraq. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that operations aimed at turning the PKK into a state are almost complete. Neocon Victoria Nuland’s statement that the economic restrictions, which made it difficult to transfer U.S. resources to the PKK, have been lifted, indicates this finale. Meanwhile, Turkey was subjected to the impertinent demands and harassment of Greece, which was spoilt by NATO. …
… An opportunity finally arose in the course of all these developments that are in favor of Turkey: Sweden and Finland joining NATO. It is clear that the plan will go down the drain if Turkey vetoes this move. …. They will come knocking on Turkey’s door. It is now time to make them pay for the schemes plotted against Turkey—without being fooled by anything else, with determination and endurance. If Turkey is able to do this, it will change the game. Otherwise, if it is fooled, and throws in the towel halfway, this golden opportunity will slip through its fingers ...
🇭🇷 Meanwhile, inspired by Erdoğan’s vision of NATO as a bazaar, Croatian President Zoran Milanović said he would instruct Croatia’s permanent representative to NATO to vote against the admission of Finland and Sweden unless election laws in Bosnia and Herzegovina are amended:
Milanović said today that Turkey, which is opposed to the two Nordic countries joining the Alliance, is showing how to fight for national interests. “Turkey certainly will not move away from the table before it gets what it wants,” said Milanović. He believes Croatia is acting quite the opposite. “How are we fighting for our interests?”
🇭🇷 The attempt to haggle could backfire on him, though, because the Croatian government is more inclined to dismiss Milanović than to dismiss Finland and Sweden:
The Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina fear that Bosniaks, who are the majority in the federation they share, will choose their representatives in the presidency and the parliament’s House of People. So, they have proposed changes that would enable the formation of new ethnic-based electoral districts where people would vote only for their own community’s representatives at all levels of governance, including the presidency. But talks on reforming the election law, held last year under the auspices of the EU and US, failed as Bosniaks rejected the proposals in fear they could be a maneuver to forge a separatist Croat entity reminiscent of the 90s Bosnian War.
Meanwhile, Croatia’s Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman expressed his country’s support for NATO membership of Finland and Sweden. Foreign policy analyst Denis Avdagic, on Croatian Radio and Television, said the government may call for the dismissal of Milanovic. “Prime Minister (Andrej) Plenkovic and the majority power may call for the dismissal of Milanovic. The reason is Milanovic’s veto statement. I hope the government and the president can gather around a common consensus, taking into account the national interests of the country.”
It is very clear that without the drones the Azeris would not have achieved the success that they did. However, it is just as clear that the drones did not win the war by themselves and did not make the ground battle easy. Given the available data, computing the exact share in victory between drones and ground forces more accurately than that is impossible.
A notorious Hungarian racist who has called Jews “stinking excrement,” referred to Roma as “animals” and used racial epithets to describe Black people, was a featured speaker at a major gathering of US Republicans in Budapest. Zsolt Bayer took the stage at the second day of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Hungary, a convention that also featured speeches from Donald Trump, Fox News host Tucker Carlson, and Trump’s former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows.
🇮🇷🇦🇫 Iran’s concerns about Afghanistan are not so different from those of other countries, including the United States. This could provide the basis for tacit multilateral cooperation, as it did when the Taliban last ruled more than two decades ago:
History has taught world powers such as Britain, Russia, and the United States that Afghanistan is a hornets’ nest. Iran has also been stung repeatedly in encounters with its mountainous eastern neighbor and Afghanistan’s rugged, diverse peoples. In postrevolutionary Iran’s approach to Afghanistan so far, a carefully measured pragmatism can be discerned, perhaps in contrast to Tehran’s approach to the Arabian Peninsula, Levant, or the West. There are no easy slogans that can be spray-painted on Tehran walls or chanted after Friday prayers to characterize Iran’s relations with Afghanistan. There is only an abundance of caution and an eagerness to resolve problems through diplomacy. That potentially presents a low-risk opportunity for the United States and the West to encourage Iranian policies more favorable to mutual interests in Afghanistan.
🇦🇺🦘 Australia’s Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese will be the next prime minister after the ruling Liberal-National coalition suffered a devastating federal election defeat:
Despite belonging to Labor’s left-wing faction, he ran on a centrist platform that avoided ambitious plans and backed many of the coalition’s major policies on issues such as taxation and defense. …
One of the spectacular results on Saturday was the show of support for minor parties and independents, who collectively were on track to win about 12 seats, including at least two Greens MPs. More than 30 per cent of voters supported candidates who were not from the major parties. This was a result that, if it continues, will upend Australia’s two-party system of government and could make it increasingly difficult for major parties to win an outright parliamentary majority.
The end of neoliberalism has created a void but few answers. It is a long death with the old guard of politics clinging to the corpse of neoliberalism, trying to breathe life into it. Here a wave of protest has washed over our federal election. The people are speaking, yet political leaders hear only what they want. …
The new prime minister says there was a mood for change but it is not Labor’s change. It is change out of frustration. It is a cri de coeur.
A bad moon is rising. War is raging in Ukraine, and we are being told to prepare for war in our region. The world is in an inflationary cycle driving up interest rates and that will feed into higher unemployment. Supply chains are being disrupted. We are facing trillion-dollar debt. It will cost more to pay it back.
China is recasting our world, an authoritarian superpower that is on track to be the biggest economy in the world. It is expanding its reach into what Australia considers its sphere of influence, the Pacific. The Solomons-China security pact has been a wake-up call. The 21st century will be defined by the big power rivalry between China and the United States. It will determine everything from the global economy to conflict to climate change.
Does a parliament with a teal-coloured crossbench, more Greens, and a small-target Labor government have the answers to this age? We can hope so.
🦘 Anthony Albanese’s victory: “The most transformative election you can imagine.”
There may have been lots of swirling currents but the results of the federal election overwhelmingly showed that 2022 was, finally, the climate election. But it was also an election that profoundly changed the political geography and demography of Australia. And an election that rejected smarty-pants political tactics and messaging, and a call for our political leaders to take the job of government seriously.
France’s former foreign affairs minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said he’s pleased that Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison lost Saturday's election, showing lingering bad blood following the controversial termination of a $90 billion submarine contract. “I can't but admit that Morrison’s defeat suits me very well,” Le Drian said from Paris. Morrison’s actions showed “brutality and cynicism, and I would be even tempted to say even a measure of clear incompetence.”
🇨🇳🇺🇸⚔️ As their strategic rivalry grows, China and the US are increasingly operating in close proximity in the Asia Pacific. An accident or misinterpreted signal could set off a wider confrontation.
🇹🇭 Bangkok votes for governor in the first election since the 2014 coup:
A record 31 candidates entered the race, but the battle being watched most closely is between two who registered as independents. One is former Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt, a front-runner, and the other Asawin Kwanmuang, who served as the military-appointed governor since 2016. He stepped down in March to contest the election.
🇮🇳₹ US seeks to wean India from Russia’s weapons with arms-aid package. The US$500 million deal would put India near Israel and Egypt among recipients of US aid. (Paywalled.)
“We are looking to deepen our economic partnership with Taiwan including on high technology issues, including on semiconductor supply,” [National Security Adviser Jake] Sullivan said. “But we’re pursuing that in the first instance on a bilateral basis."
The framework is meant to establish Biden’s economic strategy for the region. Matthew Goodman, the senior vice president for economics at Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, suggested that some Pacific signatories will be disappointed because the pact is not expected to include provisions for greater access to the US market.
Chinese policymakers have recognized the rift between Seoul and Tokyo as a godsend. Fractures between two crucial U.S. allies make it harder for Washington to form a united front in peacetime or in a potential crisis. Such disunity also benefits China when it comes to dealing with North Korea, the nuclear-armed pariah state on its border. Here, Beijing favors sanctions relief, diplomatic engagement, and various economic inducements. So, too, does the current government of South Korea, but its space for engagement has been restricted by Washington and Tokyo, who prefer a more hawkish approach. Now, with the tripartite partnership under stress, China could try to make common cause with South Korea, disrupting Washington’s and Tokyo’s efforts to pursue hard-line policies. (Paywalled.)
🇰🇷🪖 Biden and his new South Korean counterpart agreed to hold bigger military drills and deploy more US weapons to deter North Korea. They also offered to send the North Covid vaccines:
Yoon had sought more assurances that the United States would boost its deterrence against North Korean threats. In a joint statement, Biden reaffirmed the US commitment to defend South Korea with nuclear weapons if necessary. … The United States also promised to deploy “strategic assets”—which typically include long-range bomber aircraft, missile submarines, or aircraft carriers—if necessary to deter North Korea.
“With regard to whether I would meet with the leader of North Korea, it would depend on whether he was sincere and whether he was serious,” Biden said.
🇵🇭 “Bongbong” Marcos Jr’s victory in the Philippine presidential election isn’t the greatest advertisement for the nation’s brand of democracy.
… but its impact on regional strategic affairs is unlikely to be profound. At the very least, it’s not likely to halt Manila’s steady drift back towards a closer alignment with its treaty ally, the United States, thanks more to Beijing’s actions than Washington’s. …
Welcoming someone with familial links to colossal levels of malfeasance and corruption, decades-old alleged tax misdemeanors and a court violation hanging over him might be more concordant with the character of Biden’s predecessor than with a leader who constantly invokes the merits of the rule of law, whether in a domestic or international context. But needs must when the devil drives—or at least when the exigencies of geopolitics do.
The forced labor and abuse that Turkic peoples in Xinjiang face does not stay within the region’s borders, but spills into the world through global systems of trade and finance. These global ties can allow for increased profits at the expense of human rights, and, unless countered, mean that international stakeholders tacitly enable such crimes.
The three-year US$400 million aid package from the IMF had been set to automatically expire on May 17 if a new administration was not in place by then, with multiple election delays adding to the heavily indebted country’s turmoil. But last week the IMF Executive Board accepted the Somali government’s request for a three-month extension until August 17, giving newly-elected President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s government time to examine and endorse planned reforms.
🇺🇬💰 Why Uganda is attractive to tainted foreign money. Uganda is a hair away from being added to money laundering blacklists, but officials are cautiously optimistic about their ability to crack down.
🇺🇬💊 Inside Uganda’s dark world of drug cartels. “The find was mind-boggling: 91 pellets stuffed in her private parts.”
🇲🇱🌳 Mali is one of the largest suppliers of rosewood to China. The harvest of the wood is banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora:
The Environmental Investigation Agency’s findings indicate that China has imported the equivalent of half a million kosso trees from Mali—worth approximately US$220 million, between January 2017 and January 2022, a large portion of it being the product of illegal harvesting or illegal export. The relentless timber poaching in the Southern forests of Mali has resulted in a significant decline of the species.
👨🏿🌾 The African Development Bank has approved a US$1.5 billion emergency food production facility for 20 million African farmers:
The funding is meant to assist Africa overcome a shortage of at least 30 million metric tons of food due to the disruption of global food supplies caused by the conflict in Europe, especially for wheat, maize and soybeans imported from Russia and the Ukraine.
🕌 Middle East
🇮🇷💀 A senior member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps has been shot and killed outside his home east of Tehran:
Sayyad Khodaei “was assassinated during a gun attack carried out by two motorcyclists in Tehran's Mohahedin-e Eslam Street," state-run IRNA reported on May 22. … the IRGC identified Khodaei as a colonel and denounced the killing as a “terrorist act,” blaming “elements linked to global arrogance”—a reference to the United States and its allies.
Saudi Arabia had largely washed its hands of Lebanon after spending billions to carve out influence, only to watch Hezbollah's role grow and Iran extend its regional clout via other proxies closer to home, including in Yemen and Iraq. Amid signs of renewed Saudi interest in Lebanon, analysts believe Riyadh will maneuver cautiously rather than dive fully back into a country where Shiite Islamist Hezbollah, founded by Iran's Revolutionary Guards, remains Lebanon’s most powerful faction, with weapons that outgun the national army.
🇵🇸 Two decades after Israel invaded a sprawling refugee camp in Jenin with tanks and helicopters and flattened homes in response to the second Intifada, the area is reemerging as a stronghold of Palestinian militancy. (Paywalled.)
🇮🇱🇮🇷💣 Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Iran is installing another thousand advanced IR6 centrifuges at underground sites near the Natanz nuclear plant and is weeks away from obtaining enough fissile material for a bomb:
… the number of strategic weapons such as long-range missiles and drones in the hands of Iranian proxies has increased “significantly” over the past year, including in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, the defense minister noted. “[Iran] is developing operational platforms throughout the region with accurate capabilities including cruise missiles, surface-to-surface missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles that have a range of thousands of kilometers.”
Since February 2021, IAEA inspectors have been unable to monitor how many advanced centrifuges Tehran has made—meaning the regime could be squirrelling away untold quantities at a secret location. Maintaining such an inventory is critical, since, using existing enriched uranium stocks, Iran would need only 650 IR6 machines at a clandestine facility to enrich uranium to 90 percent, the ideal purity level for nuclear weapons.
🇪🇺🇮🇷💣 The EU’s chief nuclear negotiator, Enrique Mora, met with senior Iranian officials, and the talks seem to have revived the nuclear deal:
Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Thursday that if the US acts “logically” then a deal is within reach. On Friday, the foreign minister spoke by phone with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell. According to an Iranian readout of the call, Borrell said, “We’re now on a new path of continuing talks and focusing on solutions … I’m hopeful for a good result.” He reportedly added that the EU was “determined to continue efforts to close gaps between Iran and the United States.” He told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that the other sides in the Vienna talks should put forward their initiatives to this end, adding that Tehran is willing to reach a “good,” “strong,” and “lasting” agreement while observing the Islamic Republic’s red lines.
🇹🇷🇦🇪The UAE and Turkey are rehabilitating their relationship after falling out over the Arab Spring, the Qatar diplomatic crisis, and the Libyan civil war. Trade groups in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates have signed an agreement to augment bilateral trade.
🇹🇷 Thousands in Istanbul protested the five-year prison sentence imposed on Canan Kaftancıoğlu, one of Turkey’s leading opposition politicians, for insulting Erdoğan on Twitter.
🥷🏻 Hamas sent a delegation to Moscow in the hope of capitalizing upon tensions in the Russian-Israeli relationship stemming from the war in Ukraine.
🇸🇾🇮🇱✈ A Russian S-300 surface-to-air missile battery fired at Israeli Air Force jets as they conducted a strike in Syria. (This is exactly what Israel has been trying to avoid by refraining from taking a strong stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine—Claire.)
It was not immediately clear whether the S-300 battery that reportedly fired on the Israeli jets officially belonged to Russian or Syrian forces, but in the past, this had made no difference. No S-300 systems in Syria ever fired on IAF aircraft, although pretty much everything else in Syria’s otherwise dated air defense system has. Russia controls Syrian airspace and has an extensive military presence in the war-torn country that shares a border with northern Israel.
Israel coordinates with Russia in Syria but tensions have been ramping up recently between the Kremlin and Jerusalem over the war in Ukraine as Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's government plays a balancing act between Kyiv and Moscow.
🇾🇪 Taiz, a city in central Yemen, is besieged by Houthi rebels and practically cut off from the rest of the country. Restored road access would save lives and build trust that could help bring peace to Yemen, but time is short.
🇻🇪🛢 Democracy is not a commodity. The United States shouldn’t bargain away Venezuela’s future for oil:
… ignoring Maduro’s dictatorship in the hopes of lowering domestic US energy prices is not only ethically problematic but counterproductive and ineffective. Venezuelan oil won’t reduce US fuel prices in the short or medium term nor will it serve Venezuelans’ long-term goals of securing a free and democratic country. Standing in solidarity with Ukrainian patriots does not require abandoning Venezuelan democrats.
🇨🇺 Biden administration officials are considering inviting a Cuban representative to the US-hosted Summit of the Americas. A growing number of leaders, including Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, have threatened to skip the summit unless all countries in the region are allowed to attend.
A free-trade agreement with Mexico would also boost Britain's foreign policy tilt towards the Indo-Pacific. Mexico is a member of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Britain wants to join. …
Britain added that it wanted to help workers move between the two countries more easily, make it easier for UK firms to bid for contracts in Mexico and have a dedicated chapter in the deal on small and medium-sized enterprises.
🇳🇮 A Nicaraguan bishop critical of President Daniel Ortega’s government has gone on a hunger strike after taking refuge in a Catholic church in Managua.
🇪🇨 Authorities in Ecuador arrested former Vice President Jorge Glas after a court ordered him back to prison to serve out the rest of his corruption sentence.
⛽️ The World Economic Forum says the world is in one of the most severe energy crises since 1970s:
Many countries have demonstrated resilience to the pandemic and exceptional economic recovery. However, the faster-than-expected rebound coupled with low investments in parts of the energy system have put stress on the energy supply, leading to very high energy prices and severely impacting households and businesses. Supply-demand imbalances can recur through the transition as energy systems reconfigure, yet the transition cannot progress at pace if it leads to expensive energy or exacerbates inequalities.
🙉🦠 Monkeypox goes global: Why has this virus cropped up in so many countries around the world?
More than 120 confirmed or suspected cases of monkeypox, a rare viral disease seldom detected outside of Africa, have been reported in at least 11 non-African countries in the past week. The emergence of the virus in separate populations across the world where it doesn’t usually appear has alarmed scientists—and sent them racing for answers.
🙊🦠 President Biden said “everybody” should be concerned about the spread of monkeypox, contradicting comments from CDC officials who have urged calm.
Eric Feigl-Ding @DrEricDing⚠️MONKEYPOX confirmed cases warrant a PHEIC alert soon by @WHO Portugal🇵🇹 34 Spain🇪🇸 32 Canada🇨🇦 2 United Kingdom🇬🇧 20 Italy🇮🇹 3 Belgium🇧🇪 3 United States🇺🇸 2 Australia🇦🇺 2 Sweden🇸🇪 1 Germany 🇩🇪 1 France🇫🇷 1 Data: https://t.co/Ypjgxw5iSR (tab "MonkeyPox") by @Antonio_Caramia https://t.co/53JiSIwkYs
Getting users to pay for news remains a key challenge in journalism. With advertising revenues dwindling, news organizations have become increasingly dependent on reader revenue. This paper explores reasons news users have for not paying for (print and digital) news. 68 participants tried a free three-week newspaper trial subscription and afterward were interviewed about their considerations for (not) getting a paid subscription. …
Cook and Attari (2012) found that support and willingness to pay for digital news increased when paywalls were framed in terms of “financial necessity”, but decreased when they were framed in terms of “a profit motive” (p. 1).
The Cosmopolitan Globalist needs your help to be financially viable:
Kim et al. (2021b) found that subscription appeals using loss-framed messages (e.g., “Don’t lose touch with news from [….]”) generated fewer clicks than those with gain-framed (e.g., “Stay in touch with news from […]”) messages, suggesting that “subscription decisions are motivated by feeling relatively certain about gaining beneficial information from doing so” (p. 314). …
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Yet, whereas uses and gratifications studies typically point to “surveillance” (and to a lesser extent “entertainment” and “passing time”) as people’s main reason for using news (e.g., Diddi and LaRose, 2006), Chen and Thorson (2021) found only one motivation significantly predicted paying for news: social-cultural interaction, measured via “I consume news to define/promote my membership in subgroups I belong” (p. 1303).
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🪆Purifying thoughts from Tsargrad
It has become clear how Russia will join Ukraine. Everything is being restored in the occupied territories. A ruble is being introduced. Pensions are paid. Economy and transport have been launched. Russian TV channels are emerging. Schools are opening. Law and order are ensured. The population has declared—”Russia is here forever”—not only in words, but also in deeds. At the same time, complete mess, chaos, lawlessness and robbery reign in the Ukrainian territories, Nazis and clowns are raging there, and people’s lives turn into hell every day. Attempts by Kiev, acting like a dog in the manger, to disrupt the establishment of life in the liberated regions by shelling cities, villages and sabotage (Ukrainian terrorists behave the same way towards the border regions of Russia) will soon force Moscow to start creating “security zones” at the expense of territories controlled by the criminal Kiev authorities. Shelling of these lands by Ukronazis after the indignation of their residents and demands for Russia to protect them will lead to the creation of new, further westward, “security zones.” Thus, as new territories are occupied, Russia will receive a smarter, more loyal population. In the end, there will be a choice—between Russia and Ruin. There is no doubt about what it will be like if this process lasts at least another six months.
🇨🇳 We look down upon you with concern from our heavenly paradise on earth
URUMQI, May 18 (Xinhua)—From farmer to supervisor at a garment factory, Atu Tursun, like many other rural residents in southern Xinjiang, lives a better life thanks to an improving employment environment.
The former farmer from Shache County, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, entered the local factory as a sewing worker three years ago. She is ambitious about her career planning with her promotion to warehouse supervisor.
“I leave the farmwork to my mother-in-law and am pursuing higher education to strive for more important working positions,” she said.
Atu Tursun is the epitome of rural women in southern Xinjiang who are no longer confined to housework and choose to work at factories for better lives.
The 195 Series
Welcome to the first week of the 195 series, where I take you on a mini-tour of every country (and maybe some places that want to be countries). Each week I’ll feature a new location. Some you may have heard of, while others may be new to you. The point is to learn and nurture our curiosity about the wider world. Maybe you'll find a new artist or musician you like, too.
The War in Ukraine is a colonial war, by Timothy Snyder. For centuries, the country has lived in the shadow of empire. But its past also provides the key to its present.
🎧 Monique Camarra talks to Alexander Khara and Edward Lucas at the EuroFile.
Today’s animal: This Swiss Guy
(This is exactly how I live, too, except my lions are much smaller. And we live in a small apartment in Paris. Otherwise, just the same—Claire.)