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Russia May Allow Over-40s To Enlist, North Korea Refuses COVID Help, Mercedes Record

​Ukrainian protestors stand at Brandenburg Gate in Berlin to mark Vyshyvanka Day

Ukrainian protestors stand at Brandenburg Gate in Berlin to mark Vyshyvanka Day, an International day to celebrate Ukrainian heritage and traditions

Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou and Bertrand Hauger.

👋 Guten Tag!*

Welcome to Friday, where Russia intensifies shelling in eastern Ukraine, Biden lands in South Korea, and a Mercedes becomes the most expensive car ever sold. Meanwhile, for German daily die Welt, Cosima Lutz explores the sizzling question of the skyrocketing price of cooking oils.



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• Russia ready to step up attacks in Donbas: The British Ministry of Defence said Friday that more Russian troops are likely to be deployed to Donbas, while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that the war is reaching its “bloodiest” phase. The Russian parliament also announced on Friday that it would consider a bill to allow Russians over 40 and foreigners over 30 to enlist in the military.

• New video evidence of war crimes in Bucha:The New York Times conducted a week-long investigation that pieced together witness testimony, exclusive video footage of Russian soldiers leading a group of Ukrainian captives to a courtyard in the city of Bucha to find conclusive evidence of cold-blooded executions of civilians, and possible war crimes.

— Read all the latest at War in Ukraine, Day 86

• Joe Biden begins Asia tour in South Korea: U.S. President Joe Biden has arrived this morning in South Korea, where he is set to begin a diplomatic tour of Asian countries. Biden aims to strengthen U.S. influence in the region over China and Russia, and to launch the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.

• North Korea shuns international COVID help: As North Korea reports more than 2.2 million cases amid its first COVID outbreak, Pyongyang has not responded to offers of help by the U.S., South Korea and UNICEF. The country has repeatedly declined to accept coronavirus vaccines from the international community.

• First case of monkeypox confirmed in France: French health authorities have confirmed a first case of monkeypox in the Paris region. More than 30 cases have been reported by countries in Europe and Northern America, among which Spain, Sweden, the UK, Portugal, the U.S. and Canada.

• Israeli lawmaker resigns, condemns “harassment” of Palestinians: Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi, an Arab-Israeli lawmaker, has resigned from the ruling coalition, making the government lose its parliamentary majority. She accused the leaders of harassing Palestinians and condemned the violent police intervention during the funeral of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

• Rihanna and ASAP Rocky welcome baby boy: Sources have confirmed the birth of singer Rihanna and rapper ASAP Rocky’s first child, a baby boy born on May 13. No word yet on the name, which should come as soon as possible. Also, no more showing off mama’s baby bump in fabulous maternity fashion.


Greek daily Kathimerini mourns the passing of composer Vangelis Odysseas Papathanassiou, who died yesterday at age 79. Known simply as “Vangelis”, he had received an Academy Award for his score on Hugh Hudson’s 1981 “Chariots of Fire” before penning the soundtrack to “Blade Runner”.


135 million euros

Germany’s Mercedes-Benz announced it had sold a rare 1955 SLR Coupe to a private owner for 135 million euros (or $142 million) at auction, making it the most expensive car ever sold. The record was previously held by a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, which sold for €45 million in 2018.


Fried And Drizzled: Soaring Cooking Oil Prices Spark New Ethical Questions

The price of cooking oils and fats has gone up dramatically. Indonesia has even banned exports of palm oil. Suddenly, what type of oil we use — and how — has become an important question, reports Cosima Lutz in German daily Die Welt.

🛒 As long as there is enough cooking oil on supermarket shelves, discerning chefs make their choice based on taste, healthiness and environmental impact. Now, concerns around production, prices and health implications mean that, more than ever before, the choice of cooking oil is taking on a moral dimension. But empty supermarket shelves raise the question of how people can cook and eat without oil. According to the German Federal Statistical Office, the price of cooking fats and oils has gone up by 27.3% since last year. There are many reasons for this: supply problems caused by the pandemic, bad harvests, and Russia’s war on Ukraine, which has affected shipping routes and stockpiling.

🍽 The symbolic value of oil goes far beyond a simple culinary choice. Since ancient times, olive oil has been a symbol of peace, life and innocence. But even using only the purest olive oil to cook dinner does not prevent you from unknowingly consuming something unhealthy: In a recent study, the magazine Öko-Test tested 19 olive oils and judged 16 of them – including organic options – as “unsatisfactory”. And until the 1970s, only the poorest used rapeseed oil for cooking, due to its high erucic acid content. A significant proportion of the harvest of rapeseed but also soya, maize and wheat ends up as biodiesel. In the context of worsening food shortages, Germany’s Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Svenja Schulze wants to put a stop to this.

⛽️ The German Sunday paper Bild am Sonntag appealed to drivers’ consciences: “No one filling up their car wants to be responsible for making world hunger worse. We must stop putting food into our petrol tanks.” E10 petrol was once considered to be eco-friendly, but now its green credentials have been called into question because of competition for land between food and energy crops. Oil is fuel for both killing and life. One thing will not change because it is part of our evolutionary programming: Humans love to eat fat because the body stores it for times when food is scarce.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


No one asked Gene Kelly ‘why do you dance?’

— Asked during a masterclass at the Cannes film festival why he insists on doing all his own stunts, U.S. actor Tom Cruise drew a humorous comparison to Hollywood icon Gene Kelly to explain that risk-taking is in his blood. Cruise was awarded a surprise Palme d'Or by the festival, where he is premiering his Top Gun: Maverick movie.

✍️ Newsletter by Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou and Bertrand Hauger

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

That Man In Mariupol: Is Putin Using A Body Double To Avoid Public Appearances?

Putin really is meeting with Xi in Moscow — we know that. But there are credible experts saying that the person who showed up in Mariupol the day before was someone else — the latest report that the Russian president uses a doppelganger for meetings and appearances.

screen grab of Putin in a dark down jacket

During the visit to Mariupol, the Presidential office only released screen grabs of a video

Russian President Press Office/TASS via ZUMA
Anna Akage

Have no doubt, the Vladimir Putin we’re seeing alongside Xi Jinping this week is the real Vladimir Putin. But it’s a question that is being asked after a range of credible experts have accused the Russian president of sending a body double for a high-profile visit this past weekend in the occupied Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

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Reports and conspiracy theories have circulated in the past about the Russian leader using a stand-in because of health or security issues. But the reaction to the Kremlin leader's trip to Mariupol is the first time that multiple credible sources — including those who’ve spent time with him in the past — have cast doubt on the identity of the man who showed up in the southeastern Ukrainian city that Russia took over last spring after a months-long siege.

Russian opposition politician Gennady Gudkov is among those who confidently claim that a Putin look-alike, or rather one of his look-alikes, was in the Ukrainian city.

"Now that there is a war going on, I don't rule out the possibility that someone strongly resembling or disguised as Putin is playing his role," Gudkov said.

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