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In The News

Germany OKs Tanks For Ukraine, Peru Protests Reignite, 90 Seconds To Armageddon

Anti-riot officers advance through tear-gases in the streets of Peru’s capital city Lima during a protest to demand the resignation of President Dina Boluarte
Renate Mattar & Ginevra Falciani

👋 Yumalundi!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where Germany finally confirms it will be sending combat tanks to Ukraine, North Korea orders a five-day lockdown in Pyongyang over an “unspecified respiratory illness,” and Justin Bieber sells his music rights for a hefty sum. Meanwhile, we look at why the MeToo movement has repeatedly failed to take off in Italy.

[*Ngunnawal, New South Wales and ACT, Australia]

​💡 SPOTLIGHT

A decisive spring? How Ukraine plans to beat back Putin's coming offensive

Even before this morning’s news that Germany will join the U.S. in supplying tanks to Ukraine, Kyiv was busy preparing to protect the areas that may soon be the theater of Moscow's announced offensive. Will this be the last Russian Spring? asks Ukrainian journalist Anna Akage.

Ukrainian forces are digging new fortifications and preparing battle plans along the entire frontline as spring, and a probable new Russian advance, nears.

But this may be the last spring for occupying Russian forces.

"Spring and early summer will be decisive in the war. If the great Russian offensive planned for this time fails, it will be the downfall of Russia and Putin," said Vadym Skibitsky, the deputy head of Ukrainian military intelligence.

Skinitysky added that Ukraine believes Russia is planning a new offensive in the spring or early summer. The Institute for the Study of War thinks that such an offensive is more likely to come from the occupied territories of Luhansk and Donetsk than from Belarus, as some have feared.

Still, the possibility of an attack by Belarus should not be dismissed entirely — all the more so because, in recent weeks, a flurry of MiG fighter jet activity in Belarusian airspace has prompted a number of air raid alarms throughout Ukraine.

Ukraine is now preparing for possible attacks along the entire active and potential front line. Even with the stalwart support of allies, a long war is not in Ukraine's interests.

Polesia, the wooded, swampy region of Ukraine that borders Belarus, has remained under the unwavering control of Ukrainian troops. The border is mined, dotted with checkpoints and guarded by troops and heavy equipment. Russia or its allies won’t be able to enter from this side by land without taking significant losses.

Polesia is not far from the Kyiv area, where new defensive structures are being built. According to the Novoe Vremya newspaper, the Kyiv Defense Forces are building defensive structures at possible enemy infiltration points, and adding dug-in, reinforced concrete bunkers to protect troops.

Polish General Waldemar Skrzyczak believes that Russia may strike from Voronezh, Kursk and Bryansk — near the northeastern edge of Ukraine — and then drive south, west of Kharkiv and along the Vorskla River, which flows into the Dnipro River. In this scenario, Poltava and the Dnipro city would come under attack.

Bordering the Bryansk and Kursk provinces are Chernihiv, Sumy and Kharkiv. Daily shelling continues in these regions, even after their liberation by Ukrainian forces.

A Russian reconnaissance group recently retreated under Ukrainian fire after being spotted trying to cross the border in the Sumy region — a common occurrence.

To protect these regions, Ukraine needs artillery and long-range missiles to hit military targets in Russia — including the launch sites for Russian rockets.

"Two options have yet to open up: long-range missiles so that we can engage the Russian occupying forces on the territory of Ukraine, and combat airplanes," noted Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, adding that the country is already negotiating with allies, including the Netherlands, about possible aircraft deliveries.

In a large-scale offensive, the occupied areas of Luhansk and Donetsk may become the hottest part of the frontline. In that case, the towns of Soledar or Bakhmut could play the role of a distraction, with the real offensive starting in Kherson and Crimea with the support of the Russian navy’s Black Sea fleet.

There are now three surface ships, one submarine missile launcher and eight more warships in the Black Sea.

Despite the problematic situation in Donbas, where Russian troops are managing to hold their positions, Ukraine has achieved a breakthrough in the supply of tanks and is now forming new battalions. Allied assistance in supplying heavy weapons is critical at this stage of the war.

Ben Hodges, a former American general who commanded the U.S. army in Europe, told newspaper Novoye Vremya that it was crucial to supply Ukraine with the long-range ATACMS missile system, which he said could help Ukraine to liberate Crimea this spring.

It's too soon to expect an end to the war in 2023 — but the events of the next few months will be decisive.

Anna Akage

🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Germany confirms tanks delivery to Ukraine: After weeks of mounting pressure, Germany confirms that it will send a first shipment of 14 Leopard tanks to Ukraine, to help Kyiv regain Russian-controlled territories. This followed the U.S. announcement late Tuesday that Washington was also ready to send M1 tanks to Ukraine.

• 150 killed by extremely cold in Afghanistan: A Taliban announced on Tuesday that at least 150 have died in Afghanistan’s harsh winter, as the population is facing extremely cold temperatures. Since Taliban banned female NGO workers, humanitarian aid has been very limited in Afghanistan, with the country facing one of its coldest winters, as temperatures go down to -23 °C (-18 °F).

• Classified documents found at Mike Pence’s home: Former Vice President Mike Pence’s attorney has revealed that about a dozen classified documents were found last week at Pence’s Indiana home. The attorney has just turned in the documents to the FBI. This follows the discovery of classified documents in the possession of President Joe Biden from his time as vice president to Barack Obama.

• Peru protesters tear-gassed after president calls for a truce: Thousands of protestors took the streets of Lima on Tuesday, demanding President Dina Boluarte’s resignation. They were met with tear gas, as violent riots between police forces and protesters took place. This happened a few hours after Boluarte called for a “truce”, for the first time in two months of protests.

• North Korea locks down its capital: Authorities have ordered a five-day lockdown in Pyongyang, due to rising cases of an “unspecified respiratory illness”. The announcement also specified that the capital’s residents should submit themselves to temperature checks several times a day.

• New Zealand PM sworn in: Following former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s resignation last week, the Labor Party chose COVID-19 and Police Minister Chris Hipkins to replace her. The formal ceremony took place, where Hipkins was sworn in as new Prime Minister, took place this Wednesday.

• Justin Bieber sells song catalog for $200 million: Justin Bieber has just sold the rights to his publishing and artist royalties from his song catalog to the music rights investment company Hipgnosis. This $200 million deal is reportedly the largest sale of this kind for any artist of Bieber’s generation.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

“Russia wins from Turkey's ‘no’ to Sweden,” titles Stockholm-based daily Dagens Nyheter, writing that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s “hesitancy towards Swedish NATO membership mainly benefits Russian President Vladimir Putin.” Erdogan ruled out supporting Sweden’s bid to join the military alliance after a Danish extremist burned a copy of the Koran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm.

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

90 seconds

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced its decision to update the Doomsday Clock, a “metaphor for how close humanity is to self-annihilation”: The hands of the clock, which had been standing at 100 seconds to midnight since 2020, have been brought up by 10 seconds and are now at 90 seconds until midnight. The symbolic decision was “largely (though not exclusively) because of the mounting dangers of the war in Ukraine,” with the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists also citing such factors as climate change, biological events, and the misuse of disruptive technologies.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

Why MeToo in Italy is different

A recent wave of testimony from inside the Italian entertainment industry again failed to gain much attention, another example of MeToo failing to take off in the traditionally sexist country. There are multiple explanations, though also quieter signs that something may be changing.

📣 For a few fleeting hours, it seemed the MeToo movement might finally break out of the shadows in Italy: the internet was buzzing after the La Repubblica daily had published the testimonies of several actresses recounting the sexual harassment they’d faced. The associations Amleta and Differenza Donna later held a press conference to report that 223 additional testimonies of sexual harassment and violence in show business had arrived since the La Repubblica article. A few newspapers reported the news. Then, nothing more.

🇮🇹🇫🇷 The Italian version of #MeToo — #quellavoltache (#thattimewhen) — has not had anywhere near the same effect as #BalanceTonPorc (#exposeyourpig) in neighboring France, where a discussion erupted between two generations of women about the normalization of men’s predatory behavior in different sectors, such as that of entertainment.

✊ And yet, perhaps, real change is happening below the surface. In an article published in the Rome-based weekly magazine Internazionale, Giulia Siviero writes that a MeToo movement has indeed happened in Italy, even if it did not result in spectacular trials and prominent men behind bars. Instead, the movement has led to a more quiet increase of awareness — particularly among women — regarding the existence of rape culture and systemic sexism in the country.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

“It’s not a crime. Yes, but it’s a sin.”

— In a lengthy interview for the Associated Press, Pope Francis said that although it’s considered a sin, “being homosexual is not a crime,” adding that “it’s also a sin to lack charity with one another.” The pontiff labeled anti-LBGTQ+ bills, such as Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, as “unjust” and declared that bishops supporting these laws need “to have a process of conversion,” and should apply “tenderness, please, as God has for each one of us.”

📸  PHOTO DU JOUR

Thousands took to the streets of Peru’s capital city Lima to demand the resignation of President Dina Boluarte and immediate elections amid clashes with security forces — the largest and most violent anti-government protests since last Thursday. — Photo: Carlos Garcia Granthon/ZUMA

✍️ Newsletter by Renate Mattar, Ginevra Falciani, Bertrand Hauger and Anne-Sophie Goninet


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Society

How Gen Z Is Breaking Europe's Eternal Alcohol Habit

Young people across Europe are drinking less, which is driving a boom in non-alcoholic alternatives, and the emergence of new, more complex markets.

photo of a beer half full on a bar

German beer, half-full?

Katarzyna Skiba

Updated Dec. 6, 2023 at 10:00 a.m.

PARIS — From Irish whisky to French wine to German beer, Europe has long been known for alcohol consumption. Of the top 10 countries for drinking, nine are in the European Union, according to the World Health Organization.

✉️ You can receive our Bon Vivant selection of fresh reads on international culture, food & travel directly in your inbox. Subscribe here.

But that may be starting to change, especially among Gen Z Europeans, who are increasingly drinking less or opting out entirely, out of concern for their health or problematic alcohol use. A recent French study found the proportion of 17-year-olds who have never consumed alcohol has multiplied, from less than 5% to nearly 20% over the past two decades.

The alcohol-free trend is propping up new markets for low- or zero-alcoholic beverages, including in one of Europe’s beer capitals: Germany.

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