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In The News

Russia Says Ukrainian Blitz Foiled, India Train Crash Probe, Looted Antiquities

Photo of people lighting candles in Kolkata, India, to pay tribute to the victims of Saturday’s train crash in Odisha that killed 275 people and injured 1,200.

Lighting candles in Kolkata, India, to pay tribute to the victims of Saturday’s train crash in Odisha that killed 275 people and injured 1,200.

Emma Albright, Marine Béguin, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Chloé Touchard

👋 Saqarik!*

Welcome to Monday, where Russia claims to have thwarted a major offensive by Ukrainian forces, India launches a probe into Saturday’s deadly train crash, and Italy gets some 750 looted artifacts back. Meanwhile, Wieland Freund in Berlin daily Die Welt offers a particular German point of view on the human desire for purebred dogs.

[*Kʼicheʼ, Guatemala]


This is our daily newsletter Worldcrunch Today, a rapid tour of the news of the day from the world's best journalism sources, regardless of language or geography.

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• Russia says it thwarted major Ukrainian offensive: Russia said on Monday its forces had thwarted a major Ukrainian offensive in the region of Donetsk, which may have been the start of Kyiv’s long-awaited counteroffensive. Ukraine dismissed Russia’s report as a lie.

• Indian Railways seek police probe into crash as services resume: India’s railway ministry has recommended the country’s top detective agency should investigate Saturday’s train crash in Odisha that killed 275 people and injured 1,200. Following non-stop efforts to rescue survivors, and clear and repair the track, trains resumed running over that section of the line on Sunday night.

• Sixty Afghan girls hospitalized after food poisoning: Around 60 Afghan girls were hospitalized after being poisoned at their school in northern Afghanistan on Monday. The poisoning, which targeted a girls' school in the Afghan province of Sar-e Pol, comes after intense scrutiny of girls' education in the war-torn nation since the Taliban took over including a wave of poison attacks on girls' schools in neighboring Iran.

• UN boosts Kosovo security: A Turkish commando battalion has arrived in northern Kosovo in response to a request from NATO for more troops to help put an end to violent unrest between ethnic Serbs and Albanians. A military convoy loaded with equipment is also believed to be heading to the Balkans country by land.

• Police detain 23 people in Hong Kong on Tiananmen anniversary: Hong Kong police said they detained 23 people on Sunday for “breaching public peace” as authorities ramped up security for the 34th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. Authorities have banned public commemoration of the 1989 incident, which saw China crush peaceful protests in Beijing with tanks and troops.

• World Environment Day: World Environment Day celebrates its 50th anniversary with the theme “Solutions to plastic pollution.” This year’s host country is Côte d'Ivoire in partnership with the Netherlands. Côte d'Ivoire has banned the production and use of plastic bags, supporting a shift to reusable packaging.

• Looted archaeological treasures returned to Italy: Some 750 looted archaeological treasures have been seized from the notorious British antiquities trader Robin Symes and returned to Italy after a decades-long fight for their return. The artifacts worth more than $12.9 million will go on display in Rome’s Castel Sant’Angelo museum as part of a collection of stolen art.


The Spanish sports daily AS says “goodbye and thank you” to French striker Benzema, who announced yesterday he was leaving Real Madrid after 14 years. The Saudi Pro League reportedly offered him more than $107.05 million to join the club this summer and void his one-year extension. The Ballon d’Or winner said he had “earned the right to decide his future” and scored a penalty in his last game with the Spanish club, leaving with a standing ovation. In other big soccer news, Swedish icon and AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic announced he was retiring from soccer at age 41.


1 million

Saudi Arabia announced it will cut its oil output by 1 million barrels a day in July, in an attempt to boost oil prices. The Saudi Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman called the agreement a “Saudi lollipop,” a sweetener for the other OPEC+ members, and said the cut could be extended if needed.


Purebreds to “Rasse” theory: a German critique of dog breeding

Just like ideas about racial theory, the notion of seeking purebred dogs is a relatively recent human invention. This animal eugenics project came from a fantasy of recreating a glorious past and has done irreparable harm to canines, reports Wieland Freund in German daily Die Welt.

🐶 In one way or another, people have been selectively breeding dogs for as long as dogs have existed. That is why we treat dog breeds as if they were part of the natural order of things that are free from any association with the shameful history of a nationalist, colonialist age. But that is simply not true. Dog breeds are a product of the same era that invented the idea of dividing humans into separate races, an era when pseudoscientists fiddled around with craniometry.

🔍 In reality, the invention of dog breeds is like a huge animal eugenics project, which often has the absurd aim of recreating a supposedly glorious past. The revivals of ancient breeds such as the Hovawart or the Irish wolfhound are romantic projects motivated by a fantasy about returning to a glorious past, a Lord of the Rings of dog breeding.

👑 Sometime in the 19th century our relationship with dogs changed, partly because industrialization was more dependent on human labor than animal labor. As working conditions became even more inhumane for the underprivileged people living in the cities, dogs began to enjoy a more elevated status among the more privileged classes. In Great Britain, Queen Victoria proclaimed that her dogs were part of her family, and they posed alongside her for official portraits.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


“It is undeniable that a severe conflict or confrontation between China and the U.S. will be an unbearable disaster for the world.”

— Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu spoke at Asia’s top security summit yesterday, as tensions between China and the U.S. remain high over various issues, including Taiwan and maritime disputes. On Saturday, the U.S. accused China of “unsafe” maneuvers near one of its destroyers, a second close encounter between military ships in 10 days. Both countries’ ministers claim to be open to dialogue: “The more that we talk, the more that we can avoid the misunderstandings and miscalculations that could lead to crisis or conflict,” said U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

✍️ Newsletter by Emma Albright, Marine Béguin, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Chloé Touchard

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Russia's Dependence On China Is Deep And Wide — It May Also Be Irreversible

Russia is digging itself into a hole as it becomes increasingly dependent on China, as a result of international sanctions and isolation. This shifting dynamic, analysts argue, is bound to have ripple effects around the world

Photo of ​China's Xi Jinping giving a speech while Russia's Vladimir Putin is sitting down, as they meet in Moscow on March 21

China's Xi Jinping and Russia's Vladimir Putin meeting in Moscow on March 21

Vazhnyye Istorii


Russian President Vladimir Putin has scored a "huge own goal" with the war in Ukraine, according to CIA Director William Burns.

He was referring to Russia's losses at the front, international sanctions, the expansion of NATO and Russia's growing dependence on China — something that has escalated in recent years and may well become one of the enduring challenges Putin's government has created for Russia.

The risks associated with this final point, the deepening dependence on China, are substantial — and breaking free from it will prove to be a formidable task.

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

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Russia's evolving relationship with China has become a focal point in international geopolitics and economics. This transformation has been catalyzed by a combination of factors, including Western sanctions, Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014, its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and China's meteoric rise in the global economy since the early 2000s.

The shift in Russia's economic alignment toward China began in earnest in the aftermath of the Ukraine conflict and the resulting Western sanctions. Prior to this, Russia had maintained strong trade ties with Europe, particularly in energy exports. But as sanctions took hold, Russia turned to China as an alternative trading partner and a source of investment.

These hopes for increased commerce between the two countries come as Moscow seeks continued support for its war on Ukraine. China's top diplomat Wang Yi is currently visiting Russia for security talks, which Russian media say could pave the way for Vladimir Putin visiting Beijing soon.

Yet despite attempts to gain diplomatic punch from such a visit, Putin would arrive in the Chinese capital weaker and more beholden to China than ever.

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