Welcome to Thursday, where BRICS members are meeting for the first time since the Ukraine war began, a judge in Argentina orders a homicide trial for medical staff of football legend Diego Maradona and Twitter tests a new feature to push its character limit. Meanwhile, Ukrainian media Livy Bereg looks at the reasons why Belarus might not be so keen on joining the war against Ukraine.
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• BRICS summit begins: China is hosting the 14th BRICS summit with the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa connecting virtually to discuss global economic recovery, climate action and public health. The meeting is the clearest opportunity for Russian President Vladimir Putin since his invasion of Ukraine to demonstrate that he is not isolated diplomatically.
• EU set to grant Ukraine candidate status: European leaders are expected to formally approve Ukraine’s candidate status today, along with that of Moldova, to join the European Union during a summit in Brussels. The EU has not accepted new members since Croatia in 2013.
• Taliban appeal for aid after earthquake: The Taliban supreme leader Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada has asked for international aid after suffering its deadliest earthquake since 1998 on Tuesday night. The 6.1 magnitude earthquake killed more than 1,000 people and injured at least 1,500 in the mountainous Paktika and Khost provinces near the Pakistani border.
• Maradona’s medical staff tried for homicide: A judge in Argentina has ordered a homicide trial for eight medical staff who took care of Diego Maradona before the football legend’s death by cardiac arrest at the age of 60 in 2020.
• Aung San Suu Kyi moved to solitary confinement: Myanmar’s junta has announced that former leader Aung San Suu Kyi was moved to solitary confinement inside a prison compound in Naypyidaw. The 77-year-old politician has been held by the military since she was ousted from power in Feb. 2021.
• Remains of Patrice Lumumba returned to Congo: Belgium has returned the remains of Congolese independence hero Patrice Lumumba 61 years after he was executed by separatists and Belgian mercenaries. The remains will be laid to rest in Kinshasa’s mausoleum on June 30.
• Twitter tests “notes” feature with 2,500 word limit: Chatty people will be delighted to learn that Twitter is testing a new “notes” feature allowing users to write up to 2,500 words, in addition to its posts limited to 280 characters.
Ecuadorian daily El Universo reports on violent protests against president Guillermo Lasso’s economic policies. The country is facing food and fuel shortages as demonstrators continue to demand lower gas prices, price controls for agricultural products, an increased budget for education, and now that military and police be removed from areas where the demonstrations are taking place.
UNESCO published a new report after it reassessed the damage caused to cultural sites in Ukraine due to the Russian invasion: the UN agency added about 60 sites that have been partially or totally destroyed to its list, raising the total number to 152. This includes religious buildings, historical buildings as well as monuments, cultural centers, museums and libraries. Most of the damage occurred in the Donetsk region and around Kharkiv and Kyiv.
Unpacking why Belarus will or won't join the war against Ukraine
Analysts have closely followed whether Belarus, a loyal Putin ally, will invade its neighbor. But even though the Belarusian president toes the Kremlin line, he is unlikely to want to get in over his head in Ukraine, writes Igor Ilyash in Ukrainian media Livy Bereg.
🇧🇾 For several months, Belarusian troops have been conducting constant exercises and training, particularly in the regions bordering Ukraine. Combined with the specific statements by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, this raises logical concerns about the direct involvement of the Belarusian army in the war. In late May, Lukashenko once again held hours of talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia. During the public part of the meeting, he supported the Kremlin's narrative of Poland's plans to seize western Ukraine.
❌ Anti-war sentiment in Belarus clearly dominates. A poll by Chatham House among the urban population shows that only 3% of Belarusians are ready to support the participation of the Belarusian army in the war against Ukraine. A study by sociologist Andriy Vardamatsky, which also covered rural residents, showed a higher level of approval — up to 11%. Meanwhile, 85-86% are unequivocally against. That is, even the vast majority of supporters of the dictatorship will not support the participation of the Belarusian army in the war.
🇷🇺🤝 Strong anti-war sentiment and a catastrophic electoral situation are a key deterrent to the Lukashenko regime. The first serious losses at the front could lead to military riots and revolution. At the same time, the threat of a complete destabilization of the situation in Belarus is exactly the argument that Lukashenko can successfully use in negotiations with Putin. After all, the collapse of the Lukashenko regime will mean that Russia has not only lost its only ally, but, in fact, has received a second front itself.
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— Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said about striking a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help stabilize the country’s economy amid its worst financial crisis in seven decades. The country faces fuel, electricity and food shortages so severe that, according to police officials, 11 people have died while waiting in queues for fuel, CNN reports. In a parliament speech, Wickremesinghe also warned that the nation was “facing a far more serious situation,” adding that “Our economy has faced a complete collapse.”
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