Welcome to Wednesday, where Russia claims to have killed 70 attackers in the cross-border Belgorod raid while Kyiv denies any involvement, India’s Narendra Modi gets rock-star treatment in Australia, and the last emperor’s watch breaks an auction record. Meanwhile, Basile Dekonink in French daily Les Echos reports from Greece’s once-neglected Alexandroupoli port, which is becoming a new strategic hub since the war in Ukraine began.
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• Fallout from cross-border Belgorod raid: Russia claims to have killed 70 attackers and shot down multiple drones in response to a brazen two-day attack in Belgorod from across the border in Ukraine. Kyiv has denied its involvement in the attack, and a Russian anti-government brigade has claimed responsibility. The U.S. has made a point of distancing itself from any involvement in the attack, which could force Russian troops to be diverted from the front lines.
• Australia and India sign migration deal: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met his counterpart Anthony Albanese in Sydney, where they announced a migration agreement to strengthen two-way mobility and economic cooperation between the countries. Modi was welcomed as “the boss” by Albanese in a public event filled mostly by people from the Indian diaspora in Australia.
• DeSantis to announce U.S. presidential bid on Twitter: Florida governor Ron DeSantis will officially announce his run in the 2024 presidential campaign on Twitter's audio platform on Wednesday, in a live event hosted by Twitter boss Elon Musk.
• Deadly Guyana school fire started by student: Police say that Monday’s deadly dormitory fire in Guyana was started by a student, reportedly angry that school authorities had confiscated her phone. The student was not injured in the fire, which called 19 children and injured dozens.
• Virgin Orbit rocket company shuts down: Sir Richard Branson's company Virgin Orbit officially closed down on Wednesday, after having filed for bankruptcy last month. Since the company’s failed attempt at the first ever satellite mission launched from UK soil, Virgin Orbit has sold its converted Boeing 747 jet and properties for a fraction of their value, and will be making a large part of its staff redundant.
• Seven arrested for racism against Vinicius: Spain has arrested seven Valencia supporters for alleged racial abuse against footballer Vinicius Junior. The Real Madrid player was called “monkey” and other racial epithets in Sunday's 1-0 defeat against Valencia.
Barcelona-based La Vanguardia dedicates its front page to Spain's new record population census, registered by the National Institute of Statistics (INE) in the first quarter of 2023. For the first time, the country counts more than 48 million inhabitants — 48,196,693 exactly. This increase, mainly induced by immigration, includes the arrival of 150,000 foreigners on Spanish soil, an important boost to the population as the country’s birth rate remains one of the lowest in the world.
The Patek Philippe Ref 96 Quantieme Lune watch that belonged to Aisin-Gioro Puyi, the last emperor of the Chinese Qing Dynasty who died in 1967, sold at auction for a record-breaking HK$49 million, or $6.2 million. This is the highest sale price for an emperor’s watch, with the winning bid coming from an Asian collector.
Alexandroupoli, how the Ukraine war made this sleepy Greek port a geopolitical hub
Once neglected, this small port in Thrace, northeastern Greece, has become a strategic hub for transporting men and arms to the shores of the Black Sea. Propelled by ambitious infrastructure and gas projects, the region dreams of becoming an alternative to the Bosphorus strait, reports Basile Dekonink in French daily Les Echos.
🛳️🗺️ “If you look north from Alexandroupoli, along the Evros River, you can see a corridor. A corridor for trade, for the transport of goods and people to the heart of the Balkans and, a little further, to Ukraine," explains the port's CEO, Konstantinos Chatzikonstantinou. According to him, the sudden interest in this small town of 70,000 inhabitants is explained by "geography, geography, and… geography.” In 2023, in a Europe fractured by a war on its eastern flank, Alexandroupoli offers, via the sea, strategic access to the heart of the Old Continent.
🇬🇷🇺🇸 Alexandroupoli has been, along with the Souda Air Base, the cornerstone of the U.S. presence in Greece: between 2019 and the end of 2021, 117,000 tons of U.S. military equipment passed through the port, including 70 planes and 165 armored vehicles. During the summer of 2022 alone, 2,400 "pieces" — the term used by the U.S. military to refer to vehicles, weapons, and ammunition — were transported, a record for Alexandroupoli.
💰 Everything is being done to increase the logistical possibilities of Alexandroupoli. The EU recently included it in the trans-European transport network, a community program aimed at connecting the continent's nerve centers: a first project worth €35 million has been launched to deepen the port, purchase cranes, build a bypass and new warehouses.
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“It is obvious that there is no victory for the poor Ukrainians on the battlefield.”
— Speaking at the Qatar Economic Forum in Doha, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said Ukrainian troops are unlikely to win the war and called for diplomatic resolution. The right-wing leader said the Russian invasion was the result of “failed diplomacy” and that an agreement between the U.S. and Russia was “the only way out.” Since the war started, Hungary has refused to break ties with Moscow and has not supported European sanctions against Russia or aid sent to Ukraine.
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