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In The News

Kharkiv Civilian Deaths, Russia Bears Down on Kyiv, More Talks Scheduled

Photo of rubble and smoke in Bucha, near Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, after shelling by the Russian army

Scenes of destruction in Bucha, near Kyiv, after shelling by the Russian army

Anne-Sophie Goninet and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Goedendag!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where Ukraine’s president calls Russian targeting of central Kharkiv a war crime, Russian troops are closing in on Kyiv and Die Welt reports from near the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad on the rising fear following Putin’s putting nuclear forces on high alert. We also look at how countries around the world are coming around to the controversial COVID policies of Sweden.

[*Dutch]

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🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Zelensky denounces Kharkiv war crime, Russians bear down on Kyiv: The center of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second biggest city, has been hit by a Russian strike which caused a massive explosion and destroyed a government building, after Russian forces bombarded Ukraine’s second-biggest city on Monday, killing at least 9 civilians. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky denounced the bombardment as a war crime. At least 70 soldiers were also killed in an attack on a military unit in the eastern city of Okhtyrka. Meanwhile, satellite images show a massive 64-kilometer-long Russian military convoy is closing in on Kyiv.

• Next round of peace talks to be held in a few days: Officials from Ukraine and Russia ended peace talks on Monday at the Rumyantsev-Paskevich residence in Gomel, Belarus on Monday without any breakthrough or a secured ceasefire, but both sides agreed to meet again later this week to return with potential grounds for compromise.

• African refugees fleeing Ukraine say they face racism at border: As African governments scramble to help their nationals escape Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, reports are emerging of racist and unfair treatment of African citizens, as well as African and Indian students, at the border with Poland. The UN has reported that more than half a million people have fled Ukraine since the invasion started.

• Lockdown fears cause panic buying in Hong Kong: Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam urged calm after residents stripped supermarket shelves bare amid rumors and mixed messaging from the government about a potential city-wide lockdown. Authorities plan to test all 7.4 million residents at the end of this month as Hong Kong has reported more than 190,000 infections in the last two months, compared to just 12,000 in the past two years.

• Three-year military-led transition approved in Burkina Faso: Following a military coup last January, Burkina Faso’s junta has adopted a charter allowing a three-year transition period before the West African country heads to elections.

• Russia-Ukraine war affects sport and entertainment: Hollywood studios Warner Bros., Disney, and Sony Pictures announced they would “pause” the release of their films in Russia, including one of this year’s most anticipated movies, The Batman. Meanwhile, soccer federations FIFA and UEFA have expelled Russia from the 2022 World Cup and suspended the country’s clubs and national teams from all their competitions.

• T. rex may have been three species: Researchers studying fossils of T. rex found in lower layers of sediment have discovered that the fearsome predator may have had two sibling tyrannosaurus species, that the scientists named Tyrannosaurus imperator (tyrant lizard emperor) and Tyrannosaurus regina (tyrant lizard queen).

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

“Red Card” — French sports daily L’Équipe reports on the decision of the world soccer governing bodies FIFA and UEFA to suspend Russia indefinitely from international competitions and expel it from the 2022 World Cup playoffs. Poland, the Czech Republic and Sweden had said they would refuse to play against the Russian team in the final qualification matches.


💬  LEXICON

Rosenmontag

The German city of Cologne has turned its famous Rosenmontag carnival parade into a peaceful protest in solidarity with Ukraine. The centuries-old festival (whose name comes from the German dialect word roose meaning "frolic" and Montag, “Monday”), the German equivalent to Mardi Gras although celebrated a day earlier, was canceled this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but organizers replaced it with an anti-war march that drew an estimated 250,000.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

Kaliningrad revisited: Where Putin's nuclear threat is most chilling

Vladimir Putin has put his nuclear forces on alert — a shock for many, but even more so for those just across the Polish border from Kaliningrad where Russian nuclear missiles are stationed, and aimed at European capitals from Warsaw to Berlin, report Klaus Geiger and Dominik Kalus in German daily Die Welt.

🇷🇺🇪🇺 The Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, which is geographically separated from Russia and located by the Baltic Sea, is of vital importance to Moscow when it comes to threatening Europe — with nuclear weapons in particular. Since 2018, the area has been home to nuclear-tipped short-range Iskander missiles. Russia sees the missiles as retaliation for the stationing of NATO soldiers in the Baltic states and Poland. The Iskander missiles have a range of 500 kilometers, they could hit European capitals: Warsaw, Vilnius, Riga, Copenhagen — and Berlin.

⚠️ For the German population, which showed little interest in military strategy issues before last week's Russian invasion of Ukraine, the nuclear missiles in Kaliningrad had hardly been an issue. The danger of using nuclear weapons was considered a relic of the distant past. But Sunday, the general disinterest of the past three decades of nuclear weapon policy should have well evaporated when Vladimir Putin announced that he was putting his military's nuclear defense arsenal on "highest alert."

☢️ Russia, which was insulted as a “regional power” by then U.S. President Barack Obama a few years back, is the largest nuclear power in the world. The country possesses some 6,250 nuclear warheads, according to the latest figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). That’s slightly more than the U.S. arsenal, and nearly half of the roughly 13,000 such weapons worldwide. Some of these are discarded warheads, but about 4,500 are deployable. An estimated 1,600 of them are ready to be launched or dropped at present.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

Starlink — here. Thanks, @elonmusk

— Ukrainian Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov took to Twitter to thank SpaceX CEO Elon Musk upon receiving a shipment of Starlink terminals that can provide internet service. The gift comes with a caveat, as some warn that the terminals’ satellite transmissions could be triangulated by the Russian army and create vulnerabilities.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet and Bertrand Hauger


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eyes on the U.S.

The Weight Of Trump's Indictment Will Test The Strength Of American Democracy

The U.S. legal system cannot simply run its course in a vacuum. Presidential politics, and democracy itself, are at stake in the coming weeks and months.

The Weight Of Trump's Indictment Will Test The Strength Of American Democracy

File photo of former U.S. President Donald Trump in Clyde, Ohio, in 2020.

Emma Shortis*

-Analysis-

Events often seem inevitable in hindsight. The indictment of former U.S. President Donald Trump on criminal charges has been a possibility since the start of his presidency – arguably, since close to the beginning of his career in New York real estate.

But until now, the potential consequences of such a cataclysmic development in American politics have been purely theoretical.

Today, after much build-up in the media, The New York Times reported that a Manhattan grand jury has voted to indict Trump and the Manhattan district attorney will now likely attempt to negotiate Trump’s surrender.

The indictment stems from a criminal investigation by the district attorney’s office into “hush money” payments made to the adult film star Stormy Daniels (through Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen), and whether they contravened electoral laws.

Trump also faces a swathe of other criminal investigations and civil suits, some of which may also result in state or federal charges. As he pursues another run for the presidency, Trump could simultaneously be dealing with multiple criminal cases and all the court appearances and frenzied media attention that will come with that.

These investigations and possible charges won’t prevent Trump from running or even serving as president again (though, as with everything in the U.S. legal system, it’s complicated).

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