Welcome to Thursday, where it’s been one month since Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine, Biden heads to Brussels for NATO talks, and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright dies at age 84. We also focus on Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s defense minister and one of Putin’s closest allies, who has gone missing since March 11.
[*Hausa, Nigeria and Niger]
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• Zelensky calls for global protests to mark one month of war: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky made an impassioned plea for people to take to the streets all over the world, to show their support for Ukraine, as Russia’s invasion of his country reached the one-month mark. Meanwhile, Russian forces have claimed the capture of the city of Izyum in the eastern Kharkiv region.
• Biden in Europe for three summits to discuss Ukraine support: U.S. President Joe Biden has joined Western leaders in Brussels for a NATO summit to agree on greater support for Ukraine and new troop deployments in eastern European countries. This will be followed by a G7 summit, as well as Biden’s participation in an EU meeting, a first for a U.S. President.
• North Korea tests suspected banned missile: North Korea has fired what is believed to be a banned intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) for the first time since 2017. Japanese authorities estimated the missile flew 684 miles before landing in waters off Japan’s western coast.
• Madeleine Albright dies at 84: Madeleine Albright, who became the first female U.S. Secretary of State in 1997, has died at 84 from cancer. Hailed as “a champion of democracy” and human rights, Albright was instrumental in efforts to stop genocide and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans.
• Human remains found at China plane crash site: Recovery teams have found human remains at the crash site of the China Eastern Airlines flight which plunged from more than 20,000 ft into a Chinese mountainside with 132 people on board this week. The cockpit voice recorder is being analyzed in Beijing while the second black box is yet to be found.
• Julian Assange gets married in prison ceremony: Julian Assange and his long-term partner Stella Morris got married at a high-security prison in London, where the WikiLeaks founder has been held since 2019.
• Wreckage of 207-year-old ship discovered in Gulf of Mexico: The wreckage of a whaling ship called the Industry, which was lost at sea during a storm on May 26, 1836, has recently been found on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the finding could give a glimpse into the history of its Black and Native American crew members in the early 1800s.
“One month of infamy,” titles Spanish daily ABC as war in Ukraine enters its second month, with “millions of refugees, hundreds of dead civilians and a change in the world order,” the daily writes.
Africa's richest man, Aliko Dangote, is launching a $2.5 billion fertilizer plant in Lagos, Nigeria. The plant is expected to produce 3 million tons annually of urea fertilizer and target African and foreign markets. The initiative responds to the war in Ukraine having driven up the price of natural gas — a key ingredient for making urea — which risks setting off a global food crisis.
The Sergei Shoigu enigma, “last man in the bunker” with Putin
Gloom and uncertainty increasingly surround Putin as his would-be blitzkrieg of Ukraine stalls. The world wonders whether he'll double down, or if could be betrayed by his entourage. Sergei Shoigu, the man running Russia's military, is iron-clad loyal. He also hasn't been seen in public in two weeks.
🇷🇺💥 For almost a month now, Russia has been fighting a war against Ukraine. During this time, the world community has begun to learn a lot more about Russia's army and intelligence. It turns out that one of the largest armies in the world drives tanks from the second half of the 20th century; the logistics and commanders are completely unprepared for a war they themselves unleashed. "Russia has no intelligence," Russian journalist Maksim Katz says. "There are not and never have been people with a serious military background, but there are plenty of Chekists (secret service operatives)"
💸 Little has been said about defense minister Sergei Shoigu in the Russian media, but this man has made a brilliant career out of his loyalty to Putin. At the same time, Shoigu sits deep within the longstanding corruption schemes of the Russian army. This is also the reason why his deputies submitted to Putin such unrealistic reports and forecasts of military operations in Ukraine. In a state of chaos, it is impossible to keep track of multi-billion dollar embezzlement from the state budget.
🛑 "The system is beginning to devour itself," Russian investigative journalist Vladimir Osechkin says. "It's even reaching the people closest to the director of the Rosgvardia [National Guard of Russia], which indicates that a personnel war is now taking place: who will agree with whom on what and who will set whom up." According to the journalist, these personnel decisions mean the weakening of the power bloc, which evidently has people who are aware of the destructiveness of Putin's actions. Yet Putin remains in power, and the war continues against all odds.
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We will see who is our friend, who is our partner and who sold us out and betrayed us.
— Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, in a video address released early on Thursday, about the three upcoming NATO, G7 and EU summits during which leaders are expected to step up support for Ukraine.
✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet and Bertrand Hauger
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