New Russian Targets, ISIS Leader Death Confirmed, Two Years Of Pandemic
Welcome to Friday, where Russian airstrikes target additional Ukrainian cities, while Moscow’s 40-mile long military convoy is on the move again near Kyiv; also, a new report finds the COVID-19 death toll may be three times higher than official data suggests. Clemens Wergin in German daily Die Welt examines the West’s different possible options to help Ukraine on a military level, and the risks they entail.
[*Salam - Kyrgyz]
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🌎 7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW
• New cities targeted, Russian convoy regrouping near Kyiv: Russian airstrikes target new cities including Dnipro, Lutsk and Ivano-Frankivsk. An airfield and jet engine factory were targeted in Lutsk, and explosions hit airfields at Ivano-Frankivsk. Satellite images show a Russian convoy outside of Kyiv believed to be moving closer to the capital.
• Russia bans exports: Russia bans exports of more than 200 goods and equipment in retaliation for Western sanctions. The ban is set to remain in place until the end of 2022, and will affect all countries excluding members of the EAEU, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia.
• Facebook allows calls for violence against Putin and Russia: Facebook is allowing posts that urge violence against Russian soldiers after its parent company Meta changes its hate-speech policy. These posts are only allowed in certain countries including Russia, Ukraine and Poland.
• COVID deaths may be three times higher, India has highest COVID mortality rate: More than 18 million people — three times higher than what official records suggest — have likely died due to COVID, researchers say. The new study is based on the calculation of “excess deaths,” which extend beyond those who died from the virus itself, but rather conditions linked to the virus. Friday marks two years since WHO first declared the pandemic. A Lancet study shows that India has had the highest mortality rate due to COVID with as many as 4.07 million people estimated to have died in 2020 and 2021.
• ISIS confirms leader’s death: ISIS has confirmed the death of leader Abu Ibrahim al-Qurayshi, providing little detail about his death. The group has not revealed the name of the new leader, but many speculate that it could be Bashar Khattab Ghazal al-Sumaidai, also known as Abu Khattab al-Iraqi, Hajji Zaid and Ustath Zaid.
• Chile’s president sworn in:Gabriel Boric, Chile’s youngest president, is officially sworn in. The 36-year-old leftist ran in last year’s presidential race, beating far-right opponent José Antonio Kast in the election run-off.
• Jussie Smollett found guilty: U.S. actor Jussie Smollett, from the hit TV show Empire, was found guilty of faking a hate crime, three years after alleging that Donald Trump supporters insulted him and placed a noose around his neck. Smollett was sentenced to 150 days in jail, ordered to pay more than $120,000 in restitution as well as a $25,000 fine.
🗞️ FRONT PAGE
Seoul-based economic daily AJU Business Daily features South Korea’s President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol on its front page today. The conservative opposition candidate, who won the presidential race by a narrow margin yesterday, used his first press conference to declare that his administration plans to “switch to a private sector-centered economy rather than a government-led economy.”
#️⃣ BY THE NUMBERS
1.3 million tons
As Japan marks today the 11th anniversary of the Fukushima disaster, the country is planning the construction of an Olympic pool-size shaft to gradually get rid of treated radioactive water, which now exceeds 1.3 million tons stored in 1,000 tanks.
📰 STORY OF THE DAY
Beyond no-fly zones: Weighing the West's options to help Ukraine militarily
Ukrainians are pleading with the West to establish a no-fly zone to stop the destruction of their country. But that would be a high-risk option. Now the U.S. is considering delivering fighting jets, but that could also escalate the conflict. What else can be done? asks Clemens Wergin in German daily Die Welt.
✈️🚫 Many laypeople imagine a no-fly zone as a "clean" solution: Let the skies over Ukraine be patrolled, therefore denying the Russians the opportunity to exploit their own air superiority. But that is a romanticized notion of what a no-fly zone actually is. Such a "zone" is in reality "a combat operation designed to deprive the enemy of its airpower, and it involves direct and sustained fighting." Those would mean direct confrontation between NATO and Russian forces, and thus the risk of extending the war throughout Europe.
⚖️ Some say that the West is already involved in the war with its continuous deliveries of weapons, and that additional NATO military actions in support of Ukraine would change little. But that is actually not the case under international law. The Charter of the United Nations does allow the international community to help states under attack that are merely exercising their right to self-defense. Arms deliveries in support of Ukrainian self-defense are, however, an entirely different category compared to when a state or a community of states participates in hostilities.
💥 If the West interferes more directly, Putin might have to take it as a declaration of war — even if he hadn't at all been intent on a head-to-head conflict with the West. Then he might feel constrained to enter an escalation spiral, which could lead to a bonafide third world war in Europe, which could end in a nuclear escalation. Second, it would jeopardize the hard-won unity of the West and NATO in the Ukraine crisis. It is hardly conceivable that all NATO states would agree to military intervention in Ukraine, whether in the form of a no-fly zone or otherwise.
➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
There is no such thing as a fast-tracking of accession.
— Netherlands’ Prime Minister Mark Rutte said ahead of the informal EU summit at Versailles that negotiations are underway to grant “candidate” status to Ukraine to join the European Union. But in response to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s call for an accelerated entrance, he joined most EU leaders in insisting that accession is a long process with a series of requirements and reforms to be met before being granted entry into the union.
✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Lorraine Olaya and Bertrand Hauger
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