👋 Kia ora!*
Welcome to Thursday, where Putin declares martial law in the Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine, UK Prime Minister Liz Truss clings to power and the James Webb telescope keeps wowing space enthusiasts. Meanwhile, Benjamin Quénelle reports for French daily Les Echos from the small Russian town of Ust-Labinsk, where support for Putin’s war remains strong.
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• Martial law in occupied regions in Ukraine: Vladimir Putin says “martial law” may take effect in Ukraine’s occupied territories as soon as today. Ukraine and Western allies have dismissed the move as an illegal measure, with one U.S. official qualifies Russia’s tactics as “desperate”.
• Yen sinks to 1990 low: Japan’s yen currency sunk to 150 against the dollar for the first time since 1990, as the country’s loose monetary policies clash with aggressive U.S. interest rate hikes amid skyrocketing inflation and growing unease about the global economy.
• Chad declares state of emergency over floods: A state of emergency has been declared in Chad as 450,000 hectares of field and 636 localities have been affected by floods.
• France-Germany summit postponed as tensions rise: This regular bilateral meeting between Europe’s two most influential countries, slated next week, will now be held in January. The countries are struggling to find common ground on issues such as gas, defense, and dealing with the economic crisis in the face of the Ukraine War.
• China sees 4x spike in COVID: As Beijing reports 18 new cases of COVID-19, the government is strengthening prevention measures, including three-days lockdown for some residential compounds. Despite increasing frustrations among the population, health authorities are sticking with the country’s inflexible “zero COVID” policy.
• Indonesia bans syrup medication after the death of 99 children: Indonesia has halted sales of all syrup and liquid medication after at least 99 children were believed to have died after taking such medicine. This comes just weeks after reports in Gambia of dozens of child deaths linked to cough syrup.
• Ancient carvings found in Mosul: U.S. and Iraqi archeologists who were working to rebuild the Mashki Gate of Mosul that was bulldozed by ISIS have discovered delicate, 2,700-year-old bas-relief carvings dating back to the time of Assyrian kings.
London-based daily The I sets out the chaotic state of Liz Truss’ government and Conservative party six weeks after her election. On Wednesday, Home Secretary Suella Braverman resigned through a letter in which she expressed her concerns over the “direction of the government.” The same day, Chief Whip and Deputy chief whip are said to have resigned, later denied by Downing Street. Braverman’s departure occurs five days after the Truss dismissed the finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng. MPs, Tories included, are now questioning Truss’ ability to recover from the turmoil.
Tesla is ramping up production of its electric cars amid supply shortages, logistics bottlenecks and rising costs. Though revenue was lower than expected in the three months ending in September, at $21.45 billion, it remained more than 50% higher than last year.
“We trust Putin” — In Russia's hinterland, support for the war is stronger than ever
Thousands from Moscow and other major cities may have fled Russia to avoid mobilization, but that doesn't paint the full picture. In parts of the country far from the capital, Vladimir Putin still has strong support and no shortage of willing draftees, reports Benjamin Quénelle for French daily Les Echos.
🇷🇺 “There are no cowards here!" Elena, around 30, has a stern gaze, and she doesn’t mince her words. "We're ready to go to Ukraine and fight the West!” The "here" she's referring to is Ust-Labinsk, a small town with a population of fewer than 40,000 in Russia's southern agriculture region of Krasnodar. Far away from Moscow and the misgivings of the urban elite, support for Putin’s war remains strong in the Russian hinterlands. When asked about the fighting in Ukraine, the locals immediately praise the “war” and speak of their pride in sending their men to the front.
🤐 Like millions of Russians, the residents of Ust-Labinsk have listened to all of Vladimir Putin’s speeches about Ukraine and his anti-Western rants. “Here, there are thousands of enthusiastic conscripts,” says Dmitri, a taxi driver and father of three. However, most people cut the conversation short when asked to explain their reasons for supporting the war. “We’re going to a great war. I am ready!” says Yuri, a local honey and apple juice seller. “We are showing our support,” he says. Support for what? “Support, that’s all…” the young man replies with a smile.
❌ Who are the “fascists” being targeted in Ukraine? What are the Kremlin’s aims? Why is the Russian army being pushed back by the Ukrainians, when they thought they would take Kyiv quickly in the spring? What are the economic consequences of the conflict? Like the majority of people in Ust-Labinsk, Svetlana prefers not to answer these kinds of questions. “Let’s talk about nature and the nice weather,” she deflects.
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Scorched earth tactics will not help Russia win the war.
— In a speech to the German parliament, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s use of energy and hunger as weapons to break the West’s unity would not help him win the war in Ukraine. Scholz also called for EU countries to “coordinate closely with other gas consumers like Japan and Korea so as not to be in competition with each other.”
✍️ Newsletter by Renate Mattar, Anne-Sophie Goninet, Sophia Constantino, Laure Gautherin and Bertrand Hauger
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