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In The News

Sweden May Decide Monday To Join NATO Too

A leading Swedish daily says the government will move toward a decision over the weekend, with the formal application coming as soon as Monday evening. This follows the announcement Thursday that neighboring Finland would seek membership in the Western military alliance, which both countries had long rejected to avoid provoking Moscow.

Sweden May Decide Monday To Join NATO Too
Irene Caselli, Shaun Lavelle, Cameron Manley, and Emma Albright

Sweden is to send in a formal NATO application on Monday, Swedish daily Expressen reported on Friday citing anonymous government sources. The news comes on the heels of the announcement Thursday that neighboring Finland would seek membership in the Western military alliance, which both countries had long rejected to avoid provoking Moscow that has been reconsidered following the invasion of Ukraine.

Expressen, a sometimes sensationalist tabloid that nevertheless often breaks big stories, says that Sweden’s prime minister Magdalena Andersson will call a government meeting Monday, where the historic decision on whether to join NATO will be made. If nothing unforeseen takes place, the report says Sweden plans on submitting the formal application late Monday.

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On Sunday Andersson’s Social Democrats party will decide whether or not to back the initiative which will be crucial in the final government decision. While leftist parties, including the Greens, do not want to give up on Sweden’s neutrality, the Social Democrats are expected to back the NATO plan.

The support toward joining NATO has grown considerably since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, from 37% in January to 48% in May, but it is still less popular than in Finland, where now over three-quarters of the population want to join.

If Expressen is right, the news would show how much Finland’s statement in favor of joining NATO on Thursday accelerated Sweden’s decision-making process.

After Finland’s announcement, two Swedish dailies thanked Finland in their front pages. While Dagens Nyheter thanked Finland for its courage, Expressen wrote an editorial in Finnish titled “Thank you for NATO help, big brother Finland!”

Once the countries submit their formal requests, it takes some months until they can officially join the alliance — with all NATO members needing to agree on their entry.

Until then, the countries, and Finland in particular, may become especially vulnerable. So far the UK and the U.S. have promised them military support in case of an attack in the interim period. Germany should also step up its game, says an editorial by Jacques Schuster in Germany’s Die Welt newspaper.

“Although Putin's weakened army currently does not seem capable of waging a two-front war and invading Finland like the Soviet army under Joseph Stalin, border crossings on land, at sea and in the air are possible at any time,” writes Schuster. “Until NATO accession is complete, Berlin should conclude defensive alliances with Helsinki and Stockholm. Russia needs to know what it faces if it violates Finnish and Swedish sovereignty.”

The presence of Sweden, but especially that of Finland, will significantly strengthen NATO geographically and militarily, while increasing Russia’s border with NATO by 1,343 kilometers. “It realizes, above all, Vladimir Putin's worst nightmare, namely an extension of NATO to the gates of his country,” writes Lucie Robequain in France’s Les Echos.

Expressen (Sweden)

"Putin may blame himself"

Afontbladet (Sweden)

"Now the most dangerous time begins in modern Swedish history"

Viikko (Finland) 

Lavrov Warns About Ukraine’s Push To Join EU

As NATO looks set to expand, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may also prompt a widening of the European Union. It is Ukraine itself that is seeking membership in both international bodies, and is more likely to be welcomed into the EU in the short term.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters Friday that Ukraine’s push for EU membership undermines their claim of wanting to be a “neutral.”

“They are trying in every possible way to emphasize their desire to become an EU member," the top Russian diplomat noted. "There are serious doubts about how harmless such a desire is from Kyiv.”

Still, after initial signs of openness to fast-tracking EU membership, France (with the support of Europe’s other major power, Germany) has proposed a “two-tier” Europe, with the creation of a new union on the continent — the European Political Community, which may include countries that must wait to join the EU, or which have left (like the UK).

Writing in Ukrainian newssite Livy Bereg, Daria Badior and Ksenia Bilash blast French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for trying to “appease” Vladimir Putin, by not fast-tracking full EU membership. Read the piece in English via Worldcrunch

Ukraine Forces Push Back, Taking Out Bridge And Russian Unit

Video footage released by Ukraine’s military showed Ukrainian forces destroying a pontoon bridge and parts of a Russian armored column as it tried to cross a river in the Donbas region.

Russia’s Achilles’ Heel: A Turkish Drone

Bayraktar TB2 drone is seen during the Ukrainian Independence Day parade in Kyiv

Mohammad Javad Abjoushak/SOPA/ZUMA

A Turkish-made drone has become a key part of Ukrainian defense strategy and could even be tipping the war in Ukraine’s favor, according to several recent international press reports. The Bayraktar TB2, an unmanned aerial vehicle that carries laser-guided bombs, is operated via satellite by controllers on the ground.

Even though Turkey has stayed neutral and is not officially providing weapons to Kyiv,online sleuths have provided evidence that the privately manufactured drones are still reaching Ukraine. The Russian militaryclaims to have downed six of the TB2 drones, which have targeted their air defenses, supply convoys and command posts. However, open-source experts revealed that Moscow had faked one additional shoot-down, illustrating how important the drone is in the propaganda war.

For the Ukrainian public, the drone is so appreciated that it has become the subject of a popular folk song in the country, with the refrain that it “makes ghosts out of Russian bandits.”

Ukraine Reveals Cost Of War To Date: $8.3 Billion

Machine gun belts hang from a tree in an area fortified by Ukrainian military

Russian Defence Ministry/TASS/ZUMA

Ukraine has been forced to spend $8.3 billion on its war with Russia, the finance minister, Serhiy Marchenko, said in an interview with Reuters.

Thursday’s revelation is the first time the Ukrainian government has disclosed the cost of the war. The investment, initially intended for development, has been spent on buying and repairing weapons, emergency support for internally displaced people and other urgent needs.

Marchenko also said that Kyiv urgently needed an increase in foreign support as it is being forced to provide billions of additional dollars into emergency spending. European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Friday the bloc would provide a further 500 millions euros ($518 million) worth of military support to Ukraine.

Medvedev Issues New “Responsible” Nuclear Threat

Russian Ministry of Defence officials have claimed they have successfully test-launched their Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile

Cover Images/ZUMA

Former Russian President and Vladimir Putin ally Dmitry Medvedev has repeatedly raised the rhetorical stakes since the invasion of Ukraine. On Friday, following the news that Finland intended to join NATO, he explicitly cited the nuclear option — though added a “responsible” caveat.

"The targets of the nuclear weapons of NATO countries are objects on the territory of the Russian Federation, and our warheads are aimed at targets in Europe and the United States. Such is life. Therefore, one must always think about this and pursue a responsible policy," Medvedev said.

German daily Die Welt wrote about how Moscow uses the threat of nuclear attacks to advance its own military and foreign policy aims.

“The threat of a nuclear attack is central to this intimidation, as the Washington-based think tank CNA wrote in its analysis of the military doctrine, arguing it was designed to give the impression “that the country is far more willing to use nuclear weapons than is actually the case.”

Because in wartime – and Russia is at war – the country’s chief aim is to prompt foreign powers to “reduce their hostile actions” towards Moscow.”

War Of Words Between Romania And Russia

Romanian Embassy Moscow


The Romanian Foreign Ministry summoned the country’s Russian ambassador after a provocative article was posted on the website of the Russian embassy in Bucharest. Romania objected to the aggressive rhetoric of the article, titled “On NATO barking at the borders of Russia and the main source of disinformation in the world.”

In a press release, the Romanian Foreign Ministry drew attention to: “the repeated use of inappropriate, offensive and provocative language by Russia against Romania and NATO, the alliance to which our country belongs as a result of its democratic decision, is unacceptable.”

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How A Xi Jinping Dinner In San Francisco May Have Sealed Mastercard's Arrival In China

The credit giant becomes only the second player after American Express to be allowed to set up a bank card-clearing RMB operation in mainland China.

Photo of a hand holding a phone displaying an Union Pay logo, with a Mastercard VISA logo in the background of the photo.

Mastercard has just been granted a bank card clearing license in China.

Liu Qianshan


It appears that one of the biggest beneficiaries from Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to San Francisco was Mastercard.

The U.S. credit card giant has since secured eagerly anticipated approval to expand in China's massive financial sector, having finally obtained long sought approval from China's central bank and financial regulatory authorities to initiate a bank card business in China through its joint venture with its new Chinese partner.

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Through a joint venture in China between Mastercard and China's NetsUnion Clearing Corporation, dubbed Mastercard NUCC, it has officially entered mainland China as an RMB currency clearing organization. It's only the second foreign business of its kind to do so following American Express in 2020.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that the development is linked to Chinese President Xi Jinping's meeting on Nov. 15 with U.S. President Joe Biden in San Francisco, part of a two-day visit that also included dinner that Xi had with U.S. business executives.

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