Welcome to Wednesday, where Ukraine sees its first successful mass evacuation, Biden announces ban on Russian energy imports and Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton’s ship is found after 107 years. We also feature our English edition of an article published by Ukrainian analyst Taras Kuzio on Vladimir Putin’s ultimate plans to turn Ukraine into “Little Russia” and install a familiar face as leader.
[*Wolof, West Africa]
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• Ukraine ceasefire & first mass evacuation: The Russian defense ministry has announced a ceasefire in key cities including Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv and Mariupol. Previous ceasefires have failed, but on Tuesday, 5,000 people were able to successfully evacuate from Sumy. Ukraine announces plans to continue evacuating more civilians through six humanitarian corridors.
• Fallout from Biden’s ban on Russian energy imports: The U.S. ban on Russian oil and gas imports announced yesterday is expected to continue to cause energy prices to skyrocket. This comes as inflation rates continue to climb. The UK and European Union, which are more reliant on Russian oil and gas, have signaled plans to phase out reliance on Russia for its energy supplies rather than an immediate shut down. European share prices have recovered in early trading after several days of losses.
• More companies halt business in Russia: McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, General Electric and Starbucks are the latest to join more than 70 companies in suspending business in Russia. While McDonald’s and Starbucks intend to temporarily close their locations in Russia, PepsiCo and General Electric announced only partial shutdowns.
• South Korea presidential elections: Voters in South Korea head to the polls today to vote in the closest election in recent history. According to exit polls, conservative candidate Yoon Suk-yeol leads by less than a percentage point ahead of liberal candidate Lee Jae-myung.
• Guatemala increases jail time for abortion and prohibits same-sex marriage: Guatemala’s congress approved a law increasing prison time for abortions to up to 25 years, and also banned same-sex marriage and teaching on sexual diversity in schools.
• National emergency declared in Australia: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that the floods that have devastated the east coast will be declared a national emergency. In the past two weeks, the flood has killed 20 people and flooded thousands of homes. Australia’s emergency services are stretched thin, leaving many stranded for hours.
• Shackleton's lost ship found after 107 years: A team of scientists has found the wreckage of Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton’s ship, 107 years after it sank, leading Shackleton and his crew to continue their journey on foot and in small boats. Endurance, which has been sitting at the bottom of the Weddell Sea some 3-kilometers (10,000 feet) deep, is said to be in a remarkable state of preservation.
The Wall Street Journal devotes its front page to President Joe Biden’s announcement of a U.S. ban on the import of Russian oil in response to its invasion of Ukraine. The leading American business daily says “will add pressure to already record U.S. gasoline prices and the economic recovery.”
Rruga Ukraina e Lirë
Following similar moves in the capitals of Lithuania (Vilnius) and the Czech Republic (Prague), the Albanian capital of Tirana has renamed a section of one of its streets where the Russian embassy is located to Rruga Ukraina e Lirë (Free Ukraine Street).
Yanukovych and a new "Little Russia": Putin's final plan for Ukraine
Putin says he wants to "denazify" Ukraine, but his true goal is bringing the country back into Russia's sphere of influence as part of an all-Russian nation. To achieve that, he will try to turn it into a second Belarus, with a puppet ruler who has a familiar face, writes Taras Kuzio in Ukrainian news website Livy Bereg.
🇷🇺🇺🇦 Even now, three decades later, the collapse of the USSR remains a tragedy for Vladimir Putin. He believes that "Little Russia"— that is, Ukraine — must be led by a Russian puppet like the self-proclaimed president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko. After reports from British intelligence about the Kremlin's plans to put Yevgeniy Murayev, leader of the marginal political party “Nashi”, at the head of Ukraine, Moscow now has decided to replace him with Viktor Yanukovych, who is currently in the Belarus capital of Minsk, with Russian occupation forces ready to assign him as a president in Kyiv.
🛑 This would fully comply with the narratives of Russian propaganda, which over the past eight years have been stating that Yanukovych was ousted in 2014 due to an illegal “coup” supported by the West. Yanukovych's return to power would let Putin erase the humiliation he suffered during the Revolution of Dignity in 2014, when Yanukovych was ousted after the Maiden protests in Kyiv and the Orange Revolution, which saw Ukrainians protest the 2004 election results that were reported to be rigged in Yanukovych’s favor.
🌐 According to Putin, the last eight years after the “coup” were a deviation from the normal development of Ukraine. “Denazification” will mean the eradication of all aspects of Ukrainian national identity that contradict Putin's imperial nationalism. According to the paradigm that he has detailed in his own ideological program in July 2021, Russians and Ukrainians are “one people.” "Belarusization" will not mean the end of Ukraine, but will turn it into "Little Russia" as an integral part of the "Russian world" and Eurasia.
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— Chinese President Xi Jinping condemned Western sanctions towards Russia during a virtual call with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron. Xi said China was instead willing to "work actively" with the international community to halt the fighting in Ukraine and that the emphasis should be put on peace talks on both sides.
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