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In The News

Le Weekend ➡️ African Migrants And Ukrainian Wheat, A Tale Of Two Seas

Photo of Ukrainian refugees taking the train in a small village on the Poland-Ukraine border

Ukrainian refugees taking the train in a small village on the Poland-Ukraine border

June 11-12

  • A letter to Putin
  • A French-U.S. take on gun culture
  • Saving Mariupol’s dogs
  • … and much more.


What do you remember from the news this week?

1.Which former world leader said she has “nothing to apologize for” while defending her policy towards Russia and handling of diplomatic relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin?

2. After the school shooting in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas, which American celebrity made an emotional plea to Congress for gun reform?

3. The EU has decided that by 2024, all phones, cameras, and tablets (including Apple’s) sold in Europe must feature the same: processor, charging port, or LCD screen?

4. Due to a shortage, KFCs in Australia replaced lettuce with what ingredient?

[Answers at the bottom of this newsletter]


African Migrants And Ukrainian Wheat, A Tale Of Two Seas

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, more than 14 million people have fled their homes — close to a third of Ukraine’s total population. Nearly half have left for neighboring countries, turning into the largest displacement in Europe since World War II.

It is a sudden surge in migration that nobody expected, a major anomaly that neither demographers or policymakers were prepared for. And as has been noted, unlike with migrants from other parts of the world, the EU quickly opened its doors, granting Ukrainians the right to stay and work throughout its 27 member nations for up to three years. The impact is being felt more severely especially in countries like Poland, which have welcomed the largest numbers of Ukrainians who crossed the border.

But there is also a wave of arrivals underway that nobody can claim was unexpected, arriving (often in perilous conditions) on Europe’s southern coasts — and this year, both the scale and danger of “migration season” is even more fraught than usual.

In Italy, there has been a 30% increase of arrivals by boat in the first five months of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021. Europe’s border and coast guard agency, Frontex, which polices the entries, said that the first quarter of 2022 saw the largest influx of migrants since 2016 — at the height of the so-called refugee crisis — without counting Ukrainians. Deaths have gone up too, with the central Mediterranean route through Libya remaining the most deadly.

Mediterranean countries are bracing for a new emergency, expecting migrant numbers to soar as a result of the drought in sub-Saharan Africa and the shipments of grains halted in Ukraine that has made wheat prices soar especially across Africa. In a summit last week, Italy, Cyprus, Greece, Malta and Spain called on “adequate mechanisms to distribute migrants.”

Does this mean more detention centers in Libya, more repatriations to dangerous countries, more barriers put up for those crossing? And how much is Putin counting on solidarity beginning to wane out as the EU’s economy struggles after a pandemic and a war? As the summer approaches, we are seeing the blockade of Ukrainian food exports coincide with the swell of would-be migrants setting off from the shores of North Africa. Never before have the Mediterranean and Black Seas seemed so close.

Irene Caselli


• La Scala’s Russian choice: Milan’s most famous opera house La Scala has announced that it will be hosting a Russian opera in the spirit of separating politics from culture, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues to dominate headlines.

• Unburnable Atwood: An unburnable copy of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale has sold for $130,000 at Sotheby’s. Proceeds from the auction will be donated to PEN America, an organization which advocates for free expression.

• Paula Rego dies: Portuguese-British artist Paula Rego died in London at age 87 after a short illness. Rego has been celebrated internationally for her visceral works and feminist stands, challenging traditional representations of women in art.

• Enter Ms. Marvel: The first episode of Marvel’s new series Ms. Marvel, based on the comic books of the same name, is now streaming on Disney+. It features the franchise’s first ever Muslim superhero.

• Taylor Hawkins tribute: Following the death of their drummer Taylor Hawkins earlier this year, U.S. band Foo Fighters have announced that they will be playing tribute shows in September to honor the late musician.

📝 Dear Vladimir: A Letter To End The War

Polish-born French writer Marek Halter, who fled the Nazis to the USSR, has known Vladimir Putin for 30 years. He sent a letter last month to the Russian president, trying to convince him that there’s a way to end the war without humiliating Russia. Marek shared the letter with French Daily Les Echos, which Worldcrunch translated into English.

Read the full story: My Debt To Russia, My Letter To Putin: A Very Personal Plea To End The War

🇺🇸 America & Guns: It’s Complicated

Gun control may be one of the hardest things to comprehend if you’re not from America. The countless mass shootings happening in the country continues to bewilder the rest of the world. This personal essay written by a young French-American, explores what it felt like to grow up in France but also be faced with the reality of gun culture when going back to Louisiana to visit family.

Read the full story: Uvalde And Moi: Reflections From The French Niece Of A Gun-Owning American

📰 What It's Like Being A Young War Reporter in Ukraine

As a war reporter, Ibrahim Naber has seen the terrible suffering that has been going on in Ukraine for more than 100 days now. In his personal account for German daily Die Welt, Naber speaks of the people he has encountered and how they are dealing with the unimaginable pain and loss. Through his “millennial’s” perspective, he also talks about the persistent relentlessness of Ukrainians and how his generation's illusion of peace has been shattered.

Read the full story: War Reporter's Diary: How My Young German Eyes Were Opened In Ukraine


Indian users rallied on Twitter with the hashtag #BycottQatarAirways [sic] to condemn companies from Muslim countries — including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, the UAE, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran — that demanded an apology from the Indian goverment following controversial comments from two senior officials of the country’s ruling party about the Prophet Muhammad.


A nano-sensor capable of detecting pesticide residue on fruits in mere minutes has been developed by researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. The new technology uses flame-sprayed nanoparticles made from silver to increase the signal of chemicals, and can be reproduced inexpensively at a large scale. The researchers hope their invention will help limit the consumption of pesticides, which lead to health issues when absorbed in large quantities.


Ukrainian Irina Petrova, who owned a chihuahua kennel in Mariupol, rescued dogs left behind by owners fleeing the war and evacuated the city with more than 30 dogs. She drove with all the animals in her car to the southeastern town of Zaporizhzhya. So far, 10 out of the 30 dogs have been adopted.


• The first round of France’s legislative elections will start this weekend to elect 577 members to the National Assembly, France’s lower house of parliament. On the same day, Italy will hold a five-part referendum to vote on the repeal of 5 articles and decrees related to justice.

• Starting next Wednesday, builders, construction staff and other employees in the UAE will not be allowed to work outside under the sun between 12:30 and 3 p.m. The measure was put in place because of rising temperatures in the summer, and will last until September 15.

• A “Strawberry Supermoon”, a.k.a. “Super Full Moon”, “Rose Moon” or “Hot Moon” will grace the night sky on Tuesday. For optimal viewing, find an observation location with a view low to the eastern horizon.

• The 90th edition of the world’s oldest sports car race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, begins today in France, with U.S. racer Joshua Pierson set to become the youngest racer to ever compete in the race, at age 16.

News quiz answers:

1. In a public interview Tuesday night with Der Spiegel in Berlin, former German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended her track record with Putin. While calling Russia’s invasion “a great mistake,” the former German leader who served for 16 years, blamed the West for not managing to "create a security architecture" that could have prevented the war in Ukraine.

2. American actor Matthew McConaughey visited the White House earlier this week to deliver an emotional speech in which he called for stricter gun control, after a school shooting in his native Uvalde killed 19 children and two adults on May 24.

3. In a blow to Apple, which is known for its proprietary connectors and accessories, the EU has ruled that all mobile phones, cameras, and tablets must use the same charging port by 2024.

4. Australian KFC locations are now mixing lettuce with cabbage after floods destroyed lettuce crops, leading to a shortage.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

War Of Attrition, Western Fatigue, U.S. Election: Clock Is Ticking On Ukraine's Fate

Russia is hoping that the West’s support for Ukraine will begin to falter. Kyiv knows this, and is therefore trying to obtain long-term aid agreements — which have the potential to determine their future. But the current Poland-Ukraine row is a troubling sign.

Photo of Ukrainian soldiers on a reconnaissance mission at an undisclosed location in Ukraine.

Ukrainian soldiers on a reconnaissance mission at an undisclosed location in Ukraine.

Piotr Andrusieczko


WARSAW — It's been four months since the Ukrainian Armed Forces mounted their counteroffensive in southeastern Ukraine. The fighting is extremely difficult, and Ukrainian soldiers must make their way through kilometers of mines and fortified lands occupied by Russia.

Few would argue that Ukrainian army’s effort would be more effective if they had modern planes, including the F-16 fighter jets they were promised after several months of negotiations (they will receive the first ones in 2024, at earliest). Ukraine is also seeking long-range missiles: whether a U.S. arsenal of ATACMS missiles, which have a range of 300 kilometers, or Germany's Taurus cruise missiles with a range of over 500 kilometers. For now Washington and Berlin have balked on delivery.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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There was more bad news this week for Kyiv amid a dispute over grain exports with its neighbor and ally Poland, which announced that it wouldn't send new weapons systems to Ukraine, though it will continue to fulfill its existing deals.

But Kyiv has also been facing problems with arms that it has already been promised. In a recent interview with CNN, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that it's now been months that many of the arms Ukraine has been promised have been in an “on-their-way” status.

The Western supplies of arms to Ukraine are not only key to helping their efforts in the counteroffensive. Russia, having a numerical advantage, is trying to wage a war of attrition: wearing down Ukraine until its army has no choice but to collapse. For Radosław Sikorski, a Polish member of the European Parliament, who took part in the recent Yalta European Strategy (YES) conference in Kyiv, said the West must remember what's at stake even more when the battle hardens.

“It’s paradoxical that the human willingness to help is strongest when the victim of aggression is successful, but as soon as they start to have problems, it falls," Sikorski said. "But it is exactly this logic that we must be opposed to. Now is exactly the moment to show our true character: that we are with Ukraine until the end, and not only when things are going well.”

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