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In The News

New Russia Sanctions, Scotland’s Sturgeon Quits, Quake Survivors

two more survivors were miraculously pulled alive from the rubble of the powerful earthquake that struck Turkey nine days ago
Renate Mattar & Inès Mermat

👋 Ke aal aee!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where the EU debates hitting Russia with a 10th sanctions package, Nicola Sturgeon announces her surprise resignation after eight years as Scotland’s leader and rescuers are still pulling survivors out alive nine days after the Turkey-Syria earthquake. We also feature a report on a group of anti-Putin Russians who are supplying drones to Ukraine’s army, convinced that neutrality and “pacifism” is not an option in this war.

[*Dogri, Jammu and Kashmir, India]


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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• EU debates 10th package of sanctions against Russia: Representatives of EU countries are meeting in Brussels to discuss a new batch of sanctions against Russia. These are expected to include a ban on exports of “critical” goods worth 11-billion euros, and target Iran for helping Russia by blacklisting entities linked to Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps.

• Nicola Sturgeon to quit as Scotland leader: After more than eight years in the role, Nicola Sturgeon has announced her surprise resignation as Scotland’s first minister, saying she felt she couldn’t “give this job everything it demands and deserves for another year.” Sturgeon said she would remain in office until the election of her successor.

• First UN aid convoy enters Syria: A first UN aid convoy of 11 trucks has entered rebel-held northwestern Syria from Turkey after the Bab al-Salam crossing was opened on Tuesday, as the death toll from last week’s earthquake passes the 40,000 mark.

• Philippines summons China envoy over laser dispute: Philippines president Ferdinand Marcos has summoned China’s ambassador to discuss reports that a Chinese coast guard ship used a “military-grade laser light” against a Philippine vessel in the South China Sea, temporarily blinding a crew member. The U.S. has backed the Philippines and described China’s conduct as “provocative and unsafe.”

• Berlusconi acquitted in Bunga Bunga case: An Italian court acquitted former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who was accused of bribing 24 witnesses to lie about his “Bunga Bunga” parties in an underage prostitution case from more than a decade ago.

• Boy who was rescued from Thai cave dies in UK: Duangpetch Promthep, captain of the Thai boys’ football team that had been rescued from a cave in the Chiang Rai province in 2018, has died in the UK, reportedly from a head injury. The 17-year-old had been enrolled in the Brooke House College Football Academy in Leicester last year after winning a scholarship.

Jo-jo-jo Joker face: Lady Gaga shared the very first shot from the set of Joker: Folie à deux, the sequel to Todd Philipp’s 2019 Joker where she’ll be sharing the screen with Joaquin Phoenix.


Shanghai-based Jiefang daily features Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi shaking hands with Xi Jinping on its front page today — the first state visit to China by an Iranian leader in more than 20 years — as both countries are looking to cement trade ties and reinforce investment cooperation.



Air India has announced it will be purchasing 220 planes from Boeing and 250 from Airbus. It’s the largest such order in history, as the Tata-owned airline looks to respond to the rapid expansion of air travel in Asia. After speaking with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, U.S. President Joe Biden called the agreement "historic."


“Pacifism is not an option” — meet the anti-Putin Russians supplying drones to Ukraine

Russians who oppose the war in Ukraine face a tough moral question: How far are they prepared to go? Around the world, a group of Russians are organizing and raising money to send much-needed drones to help Ukrainian forces fight the Russian invasion, reports Irina Dolinina in Russian-language independent website Vazhnyye Istorii/Important Stories.

🇷🇺🇺🇦 Many Russians feel deeply conflicted by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Some have walled themselves off from the news, believing that they are powerless to change anything. Others have refused to fight, left the country and stopped paying taxes — and others have sent humanitarian assistance to Ukrainians. A small few, however, have decided to help the Ukrainian army directly.

🎖️ The Ukrainian Drone Forces volunteer group, which is run by Russians and supplies civilian drones to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, was formed by two volunteers from Canada and Kyiv in April 2022. They bought one drone for the territorial defense of Kharkiv, then another and another, figuring out as they went which drones were most needed, and establishing closer ties with the Ukrainian military. “The confidence of Ukrainians in us is extremely valuable,” says Natalya, a 48-year-old scientist.

💊 The group has raised over €25,000 in donations from around the world — even transfers from Russians still in Russia, often via proxies for safety. “It is important to emphasize that drones are not weapons. They are the ‘eyes’ (of the military),” Natalya says. In addition to reconnaissance and artillery adjustment, the drones the group sends to the front help Ukrainian soldiers to find and recover the wounded. Medicines and supplies can also be loaded onto drones and sent to the front.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


“I'm not expecting violins here, but I am a human being as well as a politician.”

— During a news conference in Edinburgh, Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that she was stepping down as Scotland's first minister. Speaking of the "physical and mental impact" the role had on her for the past eight years, she said she could not devote the required 100% of her energy to leading the country anymore, choosing to spend more time with her family. "Please know that being your first minister has been the privilege of my life," she added.

✍️ Newsletter by Renate Mattar, Inès Mermat, Bertrand Hauger, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Laure Gautherin

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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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