Welcome to Tuesday, where Europe braces for Russia turning off gas, an architect of Northern Ireland peace deal dies and a European rival to SpaceX is taking shape. Meanwhile, we look at what makes the Ukrainian port city of Odessa such a strategic and symbolic target for Vladimir Putin.
[*Marshallese, Marshall Islands]
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• Europe prepares for Russian gas cut: European Union countries have agreed on an emergency plan to curb their gas demand after Russia announced it will significantly cut gas supplies to the continent to 20% of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline capacity beginning Wednesday.
• Tensions over Nancy Pelosi’s planned visit to Taiwan: U.S. authorities have shown concern over China’s warnings that “resolute and forceful measures" would be taken if a potential visit to Taipei by House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi went ahead. Some Chinese experts have suggested the measures could involve a military component.
• Northern Ireland’s David Trimble dies: Northern Ireland’s first First Minister David Trimble, who played a key role in the end of the Troubles, has died at 77. As the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, he helped forge the Good Friday agreement alongside nationalist leader John Hume, for which they were both awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998.
• Macron’s Africa tour: French President Emmanuel Macron has begun a three-country trip to western Africa with a first stop in Cameroon. Macron will then follow with visits to Benin and Guinea-Bissau, in a bid to renew post-colonial relationship with the African continent.
• Japan executes mass murderer: Japan has executed 39-year-old Tomohiro Kato, who killed 7 people and wounded 8 others in Tokyo’s Akihabara shopping district in 2008. This is the first execution of 2022 in Japan, where more than 100 prisoners remain on death row.
• Shooter kills two in Canada: A 28-year-old gunman killed two people and severely injured two others before being shot dead by police in Langley, a city in the suburbs of Vancouver.
• Fewer shrimp on the barbie: Local groups and Maori tribes in New Zealand’s North Island have called for authorities to implement temporary bans on gathering from rockpools and shorelines, amid fears that overfishing (and New Zealanders’ taste for barbecued anemones, shrimp, crabs and starfish) might drive some species to extinction and disrupt ecosystems.
“The pope asks for forgiveness,” titles Canadian daily Le Journal de Montréal after Pope Francis began his weeklong “pilgrimage of penance” to the country by apologizing for the Catholic Church’s role in the abuse of Indigenous children in residential schools and promised a “serious investigation.” Last year, hundreds of unmarked graves had been discovered on the grounds of former residential schools in the country, many of which were run by the Catholic Church.
French satellite company Eutelsat is set to merge with OneWeb in a deal valuing the British company at $3.4 billion. The move could help create a European rival to Elon Musk’s SpaceX. After merging, the companies could combine resources to build a constellation of low-orbit satellites, as demand for launches is expected to increase after the Russian space launch industry was sidelined because of sanctions linked to the invasion of Ukraine.
What is Putin’s endgame in Odessa?
The timing and location of Russia's latest attacks shows that the southern Ukrainian city is more important than ever to Vladimir Putin, for symbolic and strategic reasons.
💥 When Moscow and Kyiv signed their UN-brokered "Black Sea initiative" deal Friday in Istanbul, Ukraine’s southern ports were set to reopen and resume the regular flow of wheat and maize exports. But within hours the most important of those Ukrainian ports came under fire from a Russian missile attack. Moscow, after first denying responsibility, later claimed to having launched the strike at military targets and that no grain storage facilities had been hit. And yet, it is impossible to deny that the timing — and location — was anything but intentional.
📍 Known as the "Pearl by the Sea," Odessa has long been a travel destination and well-known for a thriving economy and lively mix of cultures and ethnicities. Now, in the context of the grain agreement, its significance has multiplied: a unique vantage point from which to control the development of the world food crisis. The capture or destruction of Odessa (as was done in Mariupol, another port city 600 kilometers due east) would allow Russia to have its hand on the lever on the world’s food supply.
🤝 The attack also comes as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov embarks on a tour of several countries in Africa. With 44% of Africa's wheat coming from Russia and Ukraine, Moscow's intentions may well be cynically aligned with keeping Africa dependent on Russia. Having cultivated ties in the region through commodities, weapons and energy deals, as well as by deploying Russian mercenaries linked to the Kremlin (such as the Wagner Group) to support local political leaders or movements in some areas and foment discord in others, Russia hopes to deepen Africa’s reliance on the Kremlin, and thereby widen its sphere of influence.➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
It was a masterclass in leadership.
— During an interview with the BBC, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair paid tribute to former First Minister of Northern Ireland David Trimble, who died on Monday at 77. He was the unionist co-architect of the Good Friday Agreement that ended The Troubles that lasted for decades in Ireland and for which he won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1998.
✍️ Newsletter by Lila Paulou, Lisa Berdet, McKenna Johnson and Anne-Sophie Goninet
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