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In The News

U.S. Pledge To Ukraine War Effort, Macron Re-elected, Beijing Mass Testing

Ukrainians celebrated Orthodox Easter on Sunday at a church in Irpin as the country marked two months of war​

Ukrainians celebrated Orthodox Easter on Sunday at a church in Irpin as the country marked two months of war

Lila Paulou, Lisa Berdet, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Bertrand Hauger

👋 ¡Hola!*

Welcome to Monday, where the U.S. pledges more military aid to Ukraine, France’s Emmanuel Macron gets reelected and a COVID-19 outbreak in Beijing triggers mass testing and panic buying. Meanwhile, Russian daily Kommersant looks at the consequences of the ban on Western social media for Russian influencers and their online activity.



• Russia strikes five railway stations in Ukraine: Five railway stations in central and western Ukraine were hit by missiles within one hour on Monday morning, including one in Krasne, near Lviv, with officials reporting casualties. The Ukrainian rail system, which is one the world’s largest, is integral to the country’s war effort to move troops and military hardware but also to evacuate civilians.

• Austin and Blinken pledge more military aid: In the highest-level visit of U.S. officials to Ukraine since the Russian invasion began, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have pledged a total of $713 million in foreign military aid for Ukraine and 15 allied and partner countries, with $322 million for Ukraine alone.

— Read all the latest at War in Ukraine, Day 61

• French President Macron re-elected: French voters chose to reelect Emmanuel Macron for a second five-year term on Sunday. Despite the lowest turnout in decades, the incumbent president won with 58,5% of the vote against far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

• Attacks in Western Africa leave 21 dead: Twenty-one people — including civilians and five soldiers — were killed and dozens wounded in terrorist attacks which targeted military bases and detachments in northern Burkina Faso and in Mali. A group linked to the firebrand preacher Amadou Koufa claimed the attacks in central Mali.

• Slovenian PM Jansa defeated at election: The left-leaning party of Robert Golob, a liberal and newcomer in politics, won yesterday’s parliamentary elections in Slovenia with 34,5% of the vote — a major defeat for populist three-time Prime minister Janez Jansa, who has been accused of undermining democratic institutions and press freedoms since his return to power in 2020.

• Beijing starts mass testing: China’s capital city has started mass testing of 3.5 million inhabitants living in the Chaoyang district amid a COVID-19 outbreak. Residents are reportedly emptying supermarket shelves to stock up on supplies, fearing Beijing authorities could implement a Shanghai-style city-wide lockdown.

• First same-sex wedding in British Antartics: Stephen Carpenter and Eric Bourne, British members of a polar research chip crew, got married in British Antartic Territory. This is the first gay wedding celebrated there since the same-sex marriage became legal in 2016.


La Croix features a victorious Emmanuel Macron on its front page, after he was re-elected with 58,5% of the vote. The French daily writes nonetheless that “everything is still to be done” as the election “highlighted deep fractures” within the country. Check out our collection of front pages from around the world dedicated to Macron’s win.



The portmanteau word, which stands for Russian fascism, is trending on social media in Europe. It has been used by officials since the beginning of the war in Ukraine to denounce the Russian invasion and Russia’s political ideology. “The notion of ‘Ruscism’ will remain in history,” Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said.


Instagram nyet! Russian influencers lose mojo on homegrown platforms

It's a different kind of "migration" indeed, from Instagram to VKontakte, after U.S. social media were banned in Russia. As Russians are trying to continue with their daily life, Yuri Litvinenko and Valeria Lebedeva report in Moscow-based daily Kommersant:

🚫 Since the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine, access to international digital platforms and social networks within Russia has become virtually impossible. Facebook and Instagram were banned in late March, the activities of their parent company Meta were declared extremist and blocked, and Twitter was quickly added later to the hit list. The platforms themselves also set restrictions: YouTube prevented the ability to monetize content in Russia while Meta blocked certain advertisers' accounts.

🔜📱 All this has resulted in another mass migration since the start of the war: this time, of a different sort. Russians who earn their living through Western social media must now move their online activity to domestic Russian platforms. Russian social networks have been busy boasting a growing audience. A representative of VKontakte, the Russian Facebook equivalent, told Kommersant that in March, the daily number of users in the Russian Federation increased by 9% and the total monthly audience in the country amounted to 72 million, the first time it ever exceeded 50 million.

📉 But for influencers, the change is not as easy as it seems at first glance. Indeed, Epicstars Communications Director Anastasia Yermoshina said that popular bloggers with an audience of more than 1 million subscribers will not be able to quickly transfer them to new platforms. When switching from Instagram to other social networks, bloggers can lose around 15-20% of the “legacy” audience.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


$2.1 trillion

Global military spending has reached an all-time high, surpassing $2 trillion in 2021 and increasing for the seventh consecutive year, according to the latest report from defense think tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The U.S., China, India, the UK and Russia are the top five spenders, accounting for 62% of the global expenditure.

✍️ Newsletter by Lila Paulou, Lisa Berdet, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Bertrand Hauger

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Wagner Group 2.0: Why Russia's Mercenary System Is Here To Stay

Many had predicted that the death last month of Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin meant the demise of the mercenary outfit. Yet signs in recent days say the private military outfit is active again in Ukraine, a reminder of the Kremlin's interest in continuing a private fighting formula that has worked all around the world.

Photograph of a Wagner soldier in the city of Artyomovsk, holding a rifle.

Ukraine, Donetsk Region - March 24, 2023: A Wagner Group soldier guards an area in the city of Artyomovsk (Bakhmut).

Cameron Manley


“Let’s not forget that there is no Wagner Group anymore,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had declared. “Such an organization, in our eyes, does not exist.”

The August 25 statement from came less than two days after the death of Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the infamous Russian mercenary outfit, as questions swirled about Wagner's fate after its crucial role in the war in Ukraine and other Russian military missions around the world.

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

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How could an independent military outfit survive after its charismatic founder's death? It seemed highly unlikely that President Vladimir Putin would allow the survival of a group after had launched a short-lived coup attempt in late June that most outside observers believe led to Prigozhin's private airplane being shot down by Russian forces on August 23.

"Wagner is over,” said the Kremlin critic and Russian political commentator Maksim Katz. “The group can’t keep going. There’s the possibility that they could continue in parts or with Defense Ministry contracts, but the group only worked with an unofficial agreement between Putin and Prigozhin.”

Yet barely a month later, and there are already multiple signs that the Wagner phoenix is rising from the ashes.

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