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Destroyed shop in Kharkiv after the center of the city was hit by Russian strikes

A destroyed shop can be seen in Kharkiv, after the center of the city was hit by Russian artillery strikes, killing 5 and injuring 13

Lisa Berdet & Anna Akage

👋 Bună dimineața!*

Welcome to Monday, where Russia is expanding its assault across Ukraine, with strikes reported from the Western city of Lviv to targets across the south and east, including the besieged city of Mariupol. Shanghai reports its first COVID-related death and the Invictus Games open with a shout-out to Ukraine. We also look at the hidden toll of the Russian invasion on the elderly of Ukraine, many of whom were too weak or ill to flee.

[*Romanian]


🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• More strikes from Mariupol to Lviv: Ukrainians defy Moscow’s deadline to surrender in the besieged city of Mariupol, vowing to “fight to the end” despite Russian troops increasing the assaults ahead of an expected major push in the eastern Donbas region. Meanwhile, missile strikes have also taken place in the Western city of Lviv, where at least six people were reported killed.

• EU ban on Russian and Belarusian trucks: Russian and Belarusian truckers are stuck at the Polish border while trying to leave the European Union, forming a 50-mile (80 kilometers) back up. A ban was passed against both countries' vehicles on Sunday, forbidding them from crossing the EU territory following the invasion in Ukraine.

• Jerusalem clashes continue: A new series of incidents near Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound left more than 20 Palestinians and Israelis injured, following earlier major riots that broke out at the flashpoint site where at least 170 people had been wounded on Friday

• Rising Japan-China tensions over islands: The remote Japanese-controlled Nansei Islands are reinforcing their defenses, worried that Chinese is increasing its position around the islands, which it claims were historically part of China.

• Shanghai confirms first COVID deaths since lockdown: Shanghai reports its first COVID-19 deaths since the city entered its zero-COVID lockdown in late March. Authorities stated the three victims were unvaccinated elderly people with underlying health problems.

• Sweden’s Koran protests: At least three people were injured in Swedish riots after far-right wing extremists planned to burn the Koran at rallies.

• Duke and Duchess of Sussex joined the Invictus Games ceremony: Prince Harry and Meghan opened the Invictus Games in the Netherlands with a special tribute to Ukraine: “You know we stand with you. The world is united with you and still you deserve more…”

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

The tightly monitored press in China continues to cover the latest COVID-19 updates, carefully. The Shanghai Daily, an English-language newspaper founded in 1999, reports on officials declarations of progress on the so-called “dynamic Zero-Covid” policy.

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

4.8%

First quarter China’s Gross Domestic Product rose by 4.8%, outperforming expectations (+4.4%) from a year ago, though analysts note that the numbers don’t take into account the continuing COVID-related shutdowns in Shanghai and elsewhere. Share prices were down in Monday trading in China, as other indicators, including unemployment showed signs of weakness in the Chinese economy.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

Ukraine's Elderly, The Left-Behind Victims Of The War

There are few children left in Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities, but there are many elderly people, trapped by their health in their homes. Their fate is a mirror of the tragic fate of a nation that was already aging before the war. A few shared their stories:

1️⃣ Eiludgarda Miroshnychenko is 85 years old, has heart problems and is terrified that something will happen to her and that it will take her daughters hours to realize that something is wrong. “When I hear the bombs I get under the table and I cry like when I was a child during World War II."

2️⃣ Dimitrii and Lera live in a rusty four-story building that the Soviet regime earmarked for geologists. When she’s informed that there’s a journalist, Lera goes back inside her house and asks her husband not to speak. Fear grips everything these days in Ukraine: that someone could be a Russian agent, or an agent of the Ukrainian state who could end up accusing them of being a Russian agent. Yet Dimitrii insists on speaking. Even from the doorstep. “How can our older brothers do this to us? Well, because they weren't our brothers. That is what we have discovered with this war.”

3️⃣ Helen Kuchma's mother had been battling neck and bone cancer for four years when Russia invaded Ukraine. And then not only her life but also that of her daughter became much more complicated. “We couldn't take her down to the basements when the alarms sounded because she was bedridden, there was no way to transport her, nor to be able to keep her in decent conditions for hours in a shelter.” Specialized medical clinics closed in the first days of the invasion, and Helen spent hours running from one pharmacy to another to get the morphine that would ease her mother's pain. Her mother died shortly after.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch

📣 VERBATIM

The situation in Mariupol is both dire militarily and heartbreaking. The city doesn't exist anymore.

— Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba offered a grim update on the fate of the southern Ukrainian port city, which has been under siege by Russian forces for seven weeks. "The remainings of the Ukrainian army and large group of civilians are basically encircled by the Russian forces,” Kuleba added Sunday on the U.S. news broadcast "Face the Nation." “They continue their struggle, but it seems from the way the Russian army behaves in Mariupol, they decided to raze the city to the ground at any cost."

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✍️ Newsletter by Lisa Berdet and Anna Akage


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Ideas

My Debt To Russia, My Letter To Putin: A Very Personal Plea To End The War

Polish-born French writer Marek Halter, who fled the Nazis to the USSR, has known Vladimir Putin for 30 years. Halter sent the Russian president a long letter on May 18, and later shared a copy of it with Les Echos. In the letter, he lays out the path for Putin to renounce the war without undermining Russia's standing.

In his letter to Vladimir Putin, writer Marek Halter calls for the President to end the war.

Marek Halter*

Mr. President,

Vladimir Vladimirovich,

We have known each other for more than 30 years. Our first encounter dates back to the inauguration of the French University College of Saint Petersburg in 1992. This second French university in post-Communist Russia, the brainchild of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov, opened a year after the one in Moscow. And it was commissioned to me by Anatoly Sobchak, then mayor of the “city of Tsars” of which you were the deputy mayor, through the intermediary of his counterpart, Jacques Chirac, who was then mayor of Paris before becoming President of France.

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

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You probably remember that day because we unexpectedly brought up your relation with the Jewish people. Because when I, as a Jew, was condemned by the Nazis to be turned into soap, it was the Russians who saved my life. This certainly explains my attachment to your country. We also mentioned my love for Russian literature and its characters who have undoubtedly marked those of my books: Natasha, Prince Bolkonsky, the Karamazov brothers, uncle Vanya…

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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.

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