Welcome to Tuesday, where Russia resumes shelling of Odessa And Kharkiv, a historical Supreme Court leak reveals that Roe v. Wade may be about to be overturned, and BP posts record profits. Meanwhile, Les Echos’ reporter Benjamin Quénelle goes on a trip to the Russian agricultural region of Mordovia, where support for Vladimir Putin is as unwavering as ever.
• Russia shells multiple cities, as Mariupol evacuation continues: Russia launched new rounds of rocket attacks on Odessa and Kharkiv. Mariupol mayor Vadym Boichenko has said that an evacuation convoy has begun moving from the coastal town of Berdiansk, towards territory held by Ukraine.
• West says Russia could declare war on Ukraine for May 9: Vladimir Putin may use Moscow’s annual May 9 “Victory Day” commemoration to officially declare war against Ukraine. May 9 marks the defeat of the Nazi regime, and Putin continues to refer to Ukraine’s leaders as Nazis.
— Read all the latest at War in Ukraine, Day 69 —
• A potential end to abortion law in the U.S.: A leaked opinion draft revealed that the U.S. Supreme Court may overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 court decision which makes abortion a federal constitutional right. A majority of 5 out of 8 justices provisionally voted to overrule the decision. The final verdict should be given later this spring or in early summer.
• Shanghai patient mistakenly taken away in body bag: An elderly man was declared dead at a care home in Shanghai and sent to the morgue, where mortuary workers found out he was in fact still alive. The man has been returned to the hospital where he is in stable condition, but a video of the incident is causing outrage on social media.
• Malian government to cut off all defense ties with France: Mali’s junta announced on Monday that it is breaking away from defense accords with France amid rising military tensions. The government denounced a deterioration in military cooperation between the two countries and severe violations of Mali’s sovereignty by French troops.
• Record 28 countries rank “very bad” for press freedom: Reporters Without Borders has published its 2022 World Press Freedom Index of 180 countries, reflecting conflicts around the world. Hong Kong has fallen a steep 68 places to 148th due to media control by China. Russia, ranking 153th, has been condemned by the NGO for its state propaganda in the context of the war in Ukraine.
• Annual Met Gala takes place in NYC: Last night saw celebrities attending the 2022 Met Gala in New York, one of fashion’s major events. About 400 guests, among whom Blake Lively, Kim Kardashian and Billie Eilish, dressed in exuberant “gilded glamor” themed outfits to raise money for the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute.
“The government had known for months about the Pegasus attack on Sánchez and Robles’ mobile phones,” titles Spanish daily newspaper ABC as authorities announced Spain Prime Minister and Defense Minister had been targeted with the spyware. The newspaper reveals the government didn’t make it public at the time, as agreed with other international leaders affected by spyware attacks.
British oil and gas giant BP announced an underlying $6.2 billion profit for the first three months of this year — against $2.6 billion in early 2021. This is the company’s highest profit in more than a decade, amid rising prices of energy caused by the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
A visit to Putin country: What undying faith in the Kremlin looks like
In the agricultural region of Mordovia, south of Moscow, people live in their own reality, far from Western news and the bloodshed of Ukraine. And Vladimir Putin is like a father, reports Benjamin Quénelle in French daily Les Echos.
🌾 Alexander Kireev, an agricultural engineer, embodies the Russia that defies Western sanctions, that sees the war in Ukraine as the Kremlin calls it: a “special military operation.” Asked if he has ever had doubts in what Vladimir Putin says about Ukraine: Kireev responds with his twinkling eyes and sharp mind: "never.” “The focus is completely on the liberation of Ukraine. Unfortunately, Russia had no other choice. We must put an end to the abuses committed by Ukrainian nationalists,” he adds.
✋ In this Russian region of Mordovia, as elsewhere, far from the buzz generated by the small liberal circles of Moscow or Saint Petersburg, most people see the “operation” as an attempt to avoid war. In Saransk, the capital of the region long influenced by the Soviet-era forced settlements, a city of 300,000 inhabitants located 500 kilometers southeast of Moscow, the local elites are supporters of Putin's United Russia party.
🇷🇺 Vladimir Avramenko, a United Russia local deputy, does not let himself be swayed by doubt: "In Ukraine, the Nazi must be hunted. And not only in Donbas. It's like weed in your garden: if your neighbor doesn't do anything, you have to fix the problem." Avramenko has seen the images of Bucha, but doesn’t want to believe in a cleanup operation conducted by the Russian army. "From the start, Putin said: no shooting at the population, no civilian casualties! How could our soldiers go against presidential orders?" he asks.➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
So much brutality — how can you not stop it?
— In an interview with Italian daily Corriere Della Sera, Pope Francis says the Vatican sent a message to the Kremlin about a visit, but that they had yet to receive an answer. “We are still insisting,” the pope said, “even if I fear that Putin cannot and does not want to have this meeting right now. But so much brutality — how can you not stop it?”
✍️ Newsletter by Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Bertrand Hauger
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