Welcome to Monday, where EU leaders try to overcome divisions on Russian sanctions, Shanghai lifts some of its COVID-19 restrictions and a killer whale dies after getting lost in the river Seine. Meanwhile, German Die Welt reports on fears in Georgia that its breakaway territory South Ossetia might be next in the Kremlin’s crosshairs.
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• Crucial EU summit on Ukraine amid signs of “crumbling” unity: A crucial two-day summit of European Union leaders is underway to forge a new response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as German Economy Minister Robert Habek expressed fears that the unity of the European Union "is beginning to crumble."
• Shanghai to lift COVID restrictions: Shanghai’s authorities have announced that lockdown measures will be eased on the city’s businesses from Wednesday to support its hard-hit economy after two months of lockdown. Workers will be allowed to go back to work and resume production in China’s financial center.
• Monkeypox presents moderate risk to public health: The World Health Organization reports that monkeypox presents a “moderate” risk to global public health, in a statement released on Sunday. More than 250 cases have now been confirmed in 23 countries, most of them in Europe and North America.
• 31 dead in Nigeria church fair stampede: A stampede at a church charity fair in southern Nigeria killed 31 people, including many children. The annual “Shop for Free” event Saturday was aimed to bring hope to people in poverty, but quickly became overcrowded.
• Uvalde update: The U.S. Department of Justice will investigate the police response to the Uvalde school shooting following reports that officers delayed storming the school by 40 minutes because they thought the “active shooter” situation was over.
• Killer whale found dead in the Seine: The male killer whale who seemed stuck in the River Seine in northern France since May 16 was found dead this Monday morning. Authorities had asked for the animal to be euthanized after a rescue plan failed and specialists concluded it was terminally ill with mucormycosis, a disease never before seen in Europe.
• Cannes Film Festival winners: Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund won his second Palme d’Or for Triangle of Sadness, a satire about wealthy people, during the closing ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday evening. In second position, the Grand Prix was jointly awarded to Claire Denis’ Stars at Noon and Lukas Dhont’s Close. The best actress award went to Iranian Zar Amir-Ebrahimi while Korean star Song Kang-ho was named best actor.
The front page of Barranquilla-based daily El Heraldo reports on the upcoming “second round” of Colombia’s presidential election, after yesterday saw leftist leader and former guerrilla fighter Gustavo Petro take the lead with 40.32% of the votes, as Rodolfo Hernández, dubbed the “Trump of Colombia”, trails with 28.15%. Petro will face new challenges in the second round, scheduled for June 19, after third runner up Federico Gutiérrez made his endorsement for Hernández.
The Bach Long glass-bottomed bridge in northern Vietnam, has been recognized by the Guinness World Record as the longest such structure in the world. With 2,073 ft (632 meters) in length, this new vertigo-inducing bridge has beaten the previous record of 1,726 ft held by Guangdong, China.
In Georgia, fears of being back on Putin's hit list
Vladimir Putin has not forgotten about the breakaway republic of South Ossetia, which wants to decide in July whether to join Russia. People here still remember when the Russian army invaded while the West looked on. And according to Gregor Schwung in this article for German daily Die Welt, there is growing worry that this could soon happen again.
💥 Every time Russian troops exercise in South Ossetia, people in this Georgian border village hear the artillery. The aftershock reverberations are already causing the stones in Lia Khlachidze’s house to crumble off the wall. She lives in Ergneti, only about 100 meters as the crow flies from the demarcation line. She rebuilt her house a year after it was destroyed in 2008, when Russia invaded Georgia, and within five days captured the breakaway territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Both territories declared their independence following the war, which was recognized by Russia. Russian “peacekeepers” have been securing the two territories ever since.
🇬🇪 On Friday May 13, the separatist government in South Ossetia announced a referendum on annexation to Russia in July. It is unclear whether the latter will actually take place, but the signal behind the announcement is clear: Putin has not forgotten Georgia. A threat directed at the West – and at Tbilisi. In early March, shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, the Georgian government applied for EU membership, and on May 18 Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili traveled to Brussels to discuss his country’s partnership with the defense alliance with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
🤝🇺🇦 In Georgia, solidarity with Ukraine is strong. The blue and yellow flag seems to be more present in Tbilisi than the Georgian flag. But Tbilisi is pursuing a more cautious policy on the matter. To date, Georgia has joined international financial sanctions against Putin’s regime, but bilateral trade continues. Russia could easily hurt the country militarily. The capitol is just 50 kilometers from the easternmost tip of South Ossetia.
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It was the most petrifying experience I’ve ever had at a football match.
— BBC’s sports journalist Nick Parrott has shared his chaotic experience at the Champion’s League Final — Liverpool v. Real Madrid — held in Paris, which was delayed by 35 minutes as thousands of supporters were trying to get inside the stadium, some with fake tickets. The journalist, who was pepper-sprayed in the queue, said locals were "trying to force their way in leading to security closing the gates and keeping out legitimate fans with tickets," also lamenting the general organization of the event. Madrid beat Liverpool 1-0 for its 14th top European title.
✍️ Newsletter by Lisa Berdet, Anne-Sophie Goninet, Lila Paulou, Joel Silvestri and Bertrand Hauger.
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