When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

​Tokyo citizens shield themselves from the heat as Japan faces its worst heat wave ever recorded.

Tokyo citizens shield themselves from the heat as Japan faces its worst heat wave ever recorded.

McKenna Johnson, Lila Paulou, Lisa Berdet and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Салом!*

Welcome to Friday, where at least 19 die as Odessa is hit by Russian missiles overnight, Israel gets a new (interim) prime minister and the world’s most famous cycling race kicks off in Denmark. And in French daily Les Echos, Clara Le Fort reports on the surprising trend of using clay as a building material in modern architecture.

[*Salom - Uzbek]

✅  SIGN UP

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.

It's easy (and free!) to sign up to receive it each day in your inbox: 👉 Sign up here

🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• 19 civilians killed by Russian missiles in Odessa region: 19 civilians were killed and 38 Injured in the village of Serhiyivka, in Ukraine’s southern Odessa region, as Russian missiles hit a nine-story residential building and a holiday resort overnight.

• Xi Jinping celebrates Hong Kong handover ceremony: Chinese President Xi Jinping made his first trip to Hong Kong in two years to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Britain returning the city to China. This was the occasion for the president to defend China’s “one country two systems” principle and increased control over Hong Kong, saying it should be preserved in the long term.

• Supreme Court restricts the EPA’s power: The U.S. Supreme Court voted to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating fossil-fuel companies and states’ carbon emissions. The same day, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in as a replacement of liberal Justice Stephen Breyer, which will not change the conservative majority of 6 to 3.

• Israel’s new interim prime minister: Israel’s foreign minister and centrist party leader Yair Lapid has become the country’s interim prime minister following the dissolution of parliament. He will occupy this position until Israel’s fifth election in three years on November 1.

• Machu Picchu threatened by wildfires: Peruvian firefighters are having difficulty stopping a wildfire near the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu in the Andean mountains due to the area’s remoteness. The fire was started on Tuesday by farmers preparing to sow crops and had burnt 49 acres by Wednesday.

• North Korea blames COVID on “unusual items”: North Korean authorities have blamed the recent COVID-19 outbreak in the country on “unusual items” brought by the wind and “balloons” through their border with South Korea. For years, activists have sent humanitarian aid and leaflets by balloons across the border.

• Ecuador government and Indigenous leaders reach deal: Following 18 days of violent protests against the rising cost of living, leaders from the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities have obtained that the government would cut fuel prices and increase the monthly aid to the poorest inhabitants.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

Israeli newspaper Haaretz devotes its frontpage to Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid who has become interim Prime Minister for four months after the Parliament — or Knesset — was dissolved. Lapid replaces Naftali Bennett, while former longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plots his return ahead of November elections.

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

3,328 km

The Tour de France kicks off today in Copenhagen with a 3,328 km-long race that includes 21 stages in Denmark, Belgium, Switzerland and France. The world’s most famous cycling race, which includes 176 athletes this year, will end on July 24 on the Champs-Elysées in Paris.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

Return to clay: Why an ancient building material is back in fashion

Concrete and glass are often thought of as the only building materials of modern architecture. But Francis Diébédo Kéré, the first African winner of a prestigious Pritzker architecture prize, works with clay, whose sustainability is not the only benefit, reports Clara Le Fort in French daily Les Echos.

🌱 "Clay is fascinating. It has this unique grain and is both beautiful and soft. It soothes; it contributes to well-being..." Francis Diébédo Kéré, the first African to be awarded the prestigious Pritzker Prize last March, is paying tribute to clay. It's a material that he adores, which has too often been shunned and attributed to modest constructions and peasant houses. Diébédo Kéré has always wanted to celebrate “earthen architecture”: buildings made out of clay. It's a technique that has been used for at least 10,000 years.

🏰 This architecture, mainly associated with underdeveloped countries, was widespread throughout urban and rural Europe, until the 20th century: among the French rural housing built before 1914, and still standing, 15% are made from this material. Palaces, fortifications, entire cities, mosques, cultural landscapes and archeological sites constructed in raw clay are still standing nowadays.

🌡️ Although it is no longer fully appreciated, earthen architecture, including brick, has all the qualities needed: aesthetic, economic, structural and environmental. "This technique does not require any firing and is environmentally friendly as it does not emit any CO2. It also allows for natural insulation of the building: cool inside when it is hot outside, and vice versa, the porous earth regulates the temperature, which remains constant," chief architect Papa Omotayo says.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

There is no reason to change such a good system.

— In a speech to mark Hong Kong’s 25th handover anniversary, China’s President Xi Jinping defended his “One country, two systems” principle of governance that gives Hong Kong its own laws and legislations and whose objective is to protect the sovereignty of the country and its security. Xi Jinping added “it must remain for a long time” as it is a success under Beijing’s “comprehensive jurisdiction.” The former colony returned to China in 1997.

✍️ Newsletter by McKenna Johnson, Lila Paulou, Lisa Berdet and Anne-Sophie Goninet


Let us know what’s happening in your corner of the world!

info@worldcrunch.com

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Geopolitics

Inside Putin's Deal For Iranian Drones

Outgunned by Ukraine's Turkish-made Bayraktar drones, Russia has reportedly started importing armed drones from Iran, which may have explained Vladimir Putin's recent visit to Tehran, which is looking to flex its muscles internationally. But it could prove to be a dangerous turning point in the war.

At an underground drone base, in an unknown location in Iran

Christine Kensche

The satellite images show a hangar. The rough outlines of two geometric shapes are visible — a triangle and an elongated object with wide wings. According to intelligence information from the United States, this is the Kashan airfield south of Tehran, where Iran is training its regional militias.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

The geometric objects are drones: the Shahed-191 and the Shahed-129, both considered capable of carrying weapons. Their name translates to martyr. According to U.S. information, the picture also shows a transport vehicle for visitors from Russia. If what the White House recently said is true, the "martyr" drones could soon be circling Ukraine, controlled remotely by Russian soldiers.

Tehran's drone army

According to national security adviser Jake Sullivan, Iran wants to deliver "several hundred" drones to Russia and train Russian soldiers on the devices. Training may have already begun, Sullivan said. In June, Russian delegations traveled to the Iranian airfield twice. Russian President Vladimir Putin was in Tehran in person on Tuesday.

It's a turning point for Iran as an international arms dealer.

"This is a significant turning point for Iran as an international arms dealer," says Israeli drone expert Seth Frantzman, who has published a book on the subject (Drone Wars). So far, outside the circle of its allies in the region, Tehran has only sold its technology to Venezuela and built a drone factory in Tajikistan. "The deal with the world power Russia finally makes Iran an international player in the drone business, with its influence reaching as far as Europe."

In terms of technology and trade, the world's drone powers are the U.S., Israel, China and, by some margin, Turkey. Indeed, the Turkish-designed Bayraktar drones are deployed by Ukraine against Russia, which initially gave Kyiv important strategic successes.

There are two key reasons why Russia is now apparently buying from Iran: its own drones cannot keep up. And Iran's drones are technically less sophisticated than those of Western competitors. But they do the job – and are quicker and cheaper to make. Even Iran's nemesis Israel recognizes the powerful potential of Tehran's drone army.

"Iran has massively upgraded its drone program in recent years," says Frantzman. The Shiite regime introduces new types of drones almost every week. According to information from the Israeli army, Iran has a complete production chain, from missiles to navigation systems. The parts are often copied — for example, from U.S. drones that Iran shot down in the past. It now has a variety of different series and types — from unarmed reconnaissance devices to combat drones and those called kamikaze drones (small unmanned aerial vehicles with explosive charges that ram their target). The damage Iranian technology can do has been demonstrated by the regime's devastating attacks in recent years.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei receiving Russian President Vladimir Putin in the presence of his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi (right) in Tehran

Iranian Supreme Leader's Office/ZUMA

Attacks by Iranian drones

Iran's arsenal of remotely piloted aircraft stretches from Lebanon, Syria and Iraq to the Gulf and Yemen. The technology is used by Iranian allies — by Hezbollah and Hamas against Israel, by Yemen's Huthis against Saudi Arabia, by Shiite militias against the U.S. Army. Or, indeed, by Iran itself.

The "Pearl Harbor" of the drone war happened three years ago: Iran used drones and rockets to attack the Abqaiq refinery of the world's largest oil company Aramco in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi air defenses were powerless. The attack shut down Saudi Arabia's oil exports for several months. Global oil production collapsed by six percent.

Iranian drones were used in the last Gaza war.

Since then, Iran has systematically relied on weapons. Drones are said to be responsible for at least five attacks on U.S. bases in Syria and Iraq in May and June last year. Iranian drone technology also played a role in the last Gaza war. Hamas not only fired 4,000 rockets at Israel last May. It also deployed a new explosive-laden drone.

Last year, Iranian drone attacks claimed human lives for the first time: Kamikaze drones attacked the Mercer Street oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world's most strategically important choke points between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Two crew members died, including the captain. Then, in the spring, drones attacked tankers and Abu Dhabi airport. Three people lost their lives. The Houthi rebels in Yemen, who are supplied with weapons and technology by Iran, said they were responsible for the attack on the U.A.E.

A military unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV or drone) launched from an Iranian navy vessel in the Indian ocean

Iranian Army Office/ZUMA

No war is won by drones alone

There is no precise information on exactly which drones Russia could acquire. The types shown by the U.S. on the satellite images are among Iran's most important reconnaissance and combat drones. The Shahed-129 is the country's oldest combat drone. It can stay in the air for up to 24 hours and can be armed with eight guided missiles. Also known as the Saegheh (Thunderbolt), the Shahed-191 is a combat drone whose specialty is great mobility. It can be mounted on the back of a truck and launched while the vehicle is in motion.

Kamikaze drones are easier and cheaper to produce.

This combat drone, which can be equipped with two remote-controlled anti-tank missiles, is therefore extremely flexible. However, it is doubtful that Iran can actually deliver hundreds of these types in a hurry. A deal with Russia is therefore likely to include kamikaze drones, which are easier and cheaper to produce.

If Russia were to use Iranian drones in the near future, it would not be a turning point in the Ukraine war, says expert Frantzman: "You don't win a war with drones." However, Russia could use them to damage Ukraine's strategic infrastructure comparatively cheaply, without having to put expensive war equipment at risk.

And another target could become the focus of Iranian drones — Western war equipment, such as the HIMARS multiple rocket launchers, which the U.S. supplied to Ukraine and which play a central role in defense against Russia.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ