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Zelensky’s Whirlwind Trip, Netanyahu’s New Government, Spain’s Hottest Year

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris hold a Ukrainian flag bearing the signatures of Ukrainian soldiers on the battlefield while Volodymyr Zelensky gives a speech at the Congress.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gave U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris a Ukrainian flag bearing the signatures of soldiers on the battlefield. “Our heroes gave me the flag, the battle flag, the flag of those who defend Ukraine, Europe, and the world at the cost of their lives,” said Zelensky.

Renate Mattar, Emma Albright, Hugo Perrin and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Manao ahoana!*

Welcome to Thursday, where Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky concludes a historic visit to Washington, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu forms a new government after weeks of negotiations with far-right partners, and 2022 was más caliente in Spain. Meanwhile, we look at Donald Trump’s current legal woes and how they look in countries where recent presidents have been prosecuted.

[*Malagasy, Madagascar]


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• Zelensky in U.S., Kremlin reacts: Following the historic trip to Washington by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Russia slammed the U.S. on Thursday for fighting a “proxy” war that Kremlin spokesman Dimitry Peskov said would be fought “to the last Ukrainian.” More below on Zelensky’s first trip outside of Ukraine since the invasion began, which included a White House meeting with President Joe Biden and a speech before a joint session of Congress.

• Netanyahu announces new Israeli government: Benjamin Netanyahu says he has formed a new coalition, which if confirmed will make him Israel’s prime minister for a record sixth time, presiding over the most extreme right-wing government in the nation’s history. The announcement Thursday came after weeks of post-election negotiations between his Likud party and other nationalist and ultra orthodox partners.

• Peru appoints new prime minister: Following weeks of protests around Peru over former President Pedro Castillo's removal, that resulted in at least 25 deaths, President Dina Boluarte appointed Alberto Otarola, the country’s defense chief to the prime minister job as part of a cabinet reshuffle.

• India on edge after China’s COVID spike: The Indian government is taking a series of measures, including genome sequencing of positive cases, to detect and prevent new COVID-19 variants. Concerns are growing in India over renewed coronavirus waves in neighboring China, following Beijing’s recent relaxing of strict zero-COVID guidelines.

• FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried extradited to U.S.: FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried has landed in New York after consenting to be extradited from the Bahamas, where he was arrested on Dec. 12, following the collapse of his cryptocurrency exchange platform. Bankman-Fried faces charges of fraud, as two of his former FTX have pleaded guilty to similar charges.

• Asia’s most-wanted drug lord extradited to Australia: Tse Chi Lop, the alleged drug kingpin thought to be behind the Asia-Pacific-based crime syndicate Sam Gor, has been extradited to Melbourne, Australia to face drug trafficking charges. “Asia’s El Chapo,” as he is nicknamed, had been arrested at a Dutch airport last year by Interpol.

• Spain’s most caliente year: With average daily temperatures above 15 °C (59 °F), 2022 will be Spain’s hottest year since record-keeping started in 1963, with the year also on track to be one of the country’s driest ever. Experts have linked the extreme weather to climate change.


The Washington Post devotes its front page to Volodymyr Zelensky’s historic speech from the United States Capitol. The Ukrainian President expressed his country’s gratitude to the U.S. for its support against the Russian invasion (the White House confirmed delivery of a Patriot defense system battery) while also calling for more help and stronger sanctions against Moscow.



During a parliamentary debate last week, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was caught on a hot mic, calling opposition leader David Seymour "such an arrogant prick" as he was criticizing her in a speech. Arden quickly apologized, and Seymour quickly accepted the apology. But then the pair of political opponents decided to take their rare political reasonableness to a whole other level: Both signed a copy of the official parliamentary record of the crude transcript, to be auctioned off for charity. The winning bid of NZ$100,100 ($63,200) came from Julian Shorten, who said : "This is a moment in New Zealand political history."


How Trump’s legal troubles look in places where presidents get prosecuted

What do South Korea, Taiwan, Israel, Italy, France, Portugal, and Iceland all have in common? They’re all wealthy democracies that have charged and prosecuted former heads of state or heads of government for criminal acts committed while in office. The United States is not a member of this club — at least, not yet.

🗞️🌍 So how are countries like these, and others, looking at the U.S. House of Representative Committee’s recommendation that Donald Trump be prosecuted for, among other things, inciting an insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021? Is the view in their mainstream news outlets informed by their own experiences with charging former leaders?

🇰🇷 “The first time in history that Congress recommends criminal punishment for a former president,” notes South Korea’s largest daily, Chosun. Conversely, any indication that the staunchly anti-China former U.S. President might end up in jail received rather scant coverage from Taiwan’s pro-independence Liberty Times.

🇦🇷 In Latin America though, which is no stranger to seeing former rulers jailed, Argentina’s Clarin offers an in-depth explanation of the charges the U.S. Justice Department will have to decide whether or not to pursue: “insurrection, obstruction of official process, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and conspiracy to lie, for which he could face jail time and removal from office.”

🇮🇹 In Italy, where former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was convicted of tax fraud, Corriere della Sera writes at more length about what it called “Trump: nightmare week,” and lists out the twice-impeached, single-term former president’s perils: possible charges, a concrete mark on his historical legacy, whether his taxes records will be made public, and the impact of all of that on his support among Republican voters.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


“Ukraine is alive and kicking.”

— Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky took his first trip out of Ukraine since the beginning of the war to go to Washington. On Wednesday, he delivered a speech to the U.S. Congress expressing gratitude for the American support, “Against all odds, and doom and gloom scenarios, Ukraine didn’t fall. Ukraine is alive and kicking.”

✍️ Newsletter by Renate Mattar, Emma Albright, Hugo Perrin and Anne-Sophie Goninet

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

The Tyrant's Solitude: How Dictators Lose Touch With Reality

The fundamentally irrational decision to invade Ukraine was the final proof that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been living in a world of illusions. He may be best understood by retracing the steps of history's other tyrants, and gauging how their stories ended.

Photo of Vladimir Putin making remarks during a Victory Day military parade marking the 76th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, in Moscow's Red Square

Vladimir Putin in Moscow's Red Square

Sergiy Gromenko*


KYIVFeb. 21, 2022. This wasn't just the day when Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine became inevitable. This was also the day that two critical parts of Russian President Vladimir Putin's regime were made clear: his unconditional dominance even over his closest, highest-ranking associates, and his complete immersion in the world of his illusions, where even his associates are forbidden to enter.

When both of these features lined up, the result was his suicidal decision to attack Ukraine.

Tyrants and despots style themselves as the most knowledgeable among mortals. Supposedly, they have access to detailed reports from the omnipresent, omnipotent special services, who never miss anything. That is why the despot seems to know everything better than the average person. There is no need to ask the people anything: the giraffe is tall — it sees further.

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This could not be further from the truth.

In fact, each person has their own worldview. The more authoritarian a person is, the stronger the conviction that their view is correct; the higher the person, the more they are inclined to believe that they are doing everything right.

Having risen to the heights of power, the dictator falls into a vicious circle.

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