Welcome to Monday, where Ukraine accuses Russia of bogus humanitarian corridors and targeting civilians, the global death toll from COVID-19 tops 6 million and the price of oil hits a 13-year high. We also take a look at what the “icon” tag earned by Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky really amounts to.
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• Dispute over humanitarian corridors, Russia accused of targeting civilians: Kyiv has rejected Moscow’s proposal to provide safe passage for civilians to Russia or Belarus, which it says won’t protect them — and instead proposes a ceasefire to allow civilians to flee to Poland and other countries to the West. Ukraine says that rocket attacks have intensified, and accuses Russia of targeting civilians. Outrage has multiplied following the release of video and photographs of the killing of a family in Irpin as it tried to flee with their belongings. Russian and Ukraine negotiators will meet for a third round of peace talks today. Previous talks have been inconclusive.
• Highest oil prices in 13 years, More companies pull out of Russia: The cost of petrol and diesel has increased sharply, with record highs in Europe, and the highest in the U.S. since July 2008. Last week, the global oil benchmark saw more than a 20% increase as the Russia-Ukraine conflict provoked fears of an oil shortage. Meanwhile, Netflix and American Express have become the latest multinational companies to sever ties with Russia, even as others including clothing retailer Uniqlo, defend their decision to remain.
• Russia conflict risks undermining Iran nuclear talks: France has warned Russia not to resort to blackmail as efforts continue to revive the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. Moscow had demanded a U.S. guarantee that sanctions it faces over Ukraine would not hurt its trade with Tehran.
• Six million COVID deaths worldwide: The global death toll of COVID-19 has surpassed six million as the pandemic enters its third year.
• Kenya declares yellow fever outbreak: Kenya declares a yellow fever outbreak after three people in the centrally county of Isiolo have died, and more than 20 cases were reported in the Imerti and Garbatulla Sub-counties in the last month.
• Mummified mermaid: Scientists in Japan are studying a 300-year old mummified “mermaid” allegedly caught off the coast of Kochi Prefecture in the 18th century, and stored in the Asakuchi Temple. According to Japanese folklore, mermaid flesh can grant immortality, and legends also suggest a mermaid foretelling an infectious disease like COVID-19.
Warsaw-based daily Gazeta Wyborcza devotes its front page to the plight of Ukraine refugees, many of whom are arriving in Poland: “One million already, more to come,” reads its headline.
Russian police made more than 4,300 arrests on Sunday during protests against President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the highest nationwide total in any single day of protest in recent memory. According to independent protest monitoring group OVD-Info, protests were held Russia-wide, across 56 cities. In total, more than 10,000 have been detained post-anti-war protests since the Feb. 24 invasion.
Zelensky, global icon: Memes, magazine covers and what it really means
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has instantly become an international icon of courage in the fight for freedom. This sudden fame is as much a proof of how much is at stake in Ukraine as any one man's power — and Zelensky is the first to know his limits.
🤳🏼👕 “I need ammunition, not a ride..." It was just one of many phrases, perhaps the most Hollywood among them, that have turned Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into an international icon. Indeed, it only took a few hours before t-shirts printed with these words — uttered in response to the U.S. offer to evacuate him to safety — and the yellow-and-blue flag were being sold on Amazon for $19.95.
🤹🏼>🦸 With such instant global passion around him, one could almost forget that the comedian-turned-president had often looked overmatched to the eyes of the world, from his election in 2019 to his part in the Donald Trump impeachment saga, up until the hours before the threat of a Russian invasion became real. But then came his first video the night after Russia's invasion began, in which he addresses his people and the world, saying he and his fellow government ministers were "present" in Kyiv, and that Ukraine would not yield before their bigger neighbor.
🎬❌ If President Zelensky's bravery is helping keep the spotlight on the conflict ravaging the country he made the oath to protect, the hero tag that comes with his determination is alone not a strategy for winning the war. “While memification helps a political message or cause spread to many people, it often comes at the expense of a flattening of that story,” explains Sulafa Zidani, a professor specializing in digital culture studies, to Wired. But it is Zelensky himself who understands this best, noting the risks in how his image is being used. “It's very serious. It's not a movie,” he told Reuters and CNN during an exclusive interview.
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We will defend every inch of NATO territory if it comes under attack.
— Beginning a rapid visit to the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken assured the three recent NATO members and ex-Soviet republics that the Transatlantic alliance is “bolstering our shared defense so that we and our allies are prepared." Blinken added: “No one should doubt our readiness, no one should doubt our resolve.”
✍️ Newsletter by Lorraine Olaya, Bertrand Hauger, Laure Gautherin and Anne-Sophie Goninet
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