When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

TOPIC: drones


Is There Any Way To Rein In The Power Of Big Tech?

A new biography of the Tesla, X (formerly Twitter) and Space X boss reveals that Elon Musk prevented the Ukrainian army from attacking the Russian fleet in Crimea last year, by limiting the beam of his Starlink satellites. Unchecked power is a problem.

This article was updated Sept. 14, 2023 at 12:20 p.m


PARIS — Nothing Elon Musk does leaves us indifferent. The billionaire is often admired for his audacity, and regularly criticized for his attitude and some of his decisions.

A biography of the founder and CEO of Tesla and Space X, came out today in the United States — 688 pages published by Simon & Schuster and written by William Isaacson (the renowned biographer of Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein).

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

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

One revelation from this book is making headlines, and it's a big one. Elon Musk — brace yourselves — prevented the Ukrainian army from destroying the Russian Black Sea fleet last year.

A bit of context: Starlink, the communications and internet satellite constellation owned by Musk, initially enabled Ukraine to escape Russian blackout attempts.

But when the Ukrainian army decided to send naval drones to destroy Russian ships anchored in Crimea, it found that the signal was blocked. And Starlink refused to extend it to Crimea, because, according to Issacson, Musk feared it would trigger World War III.

It's dizzying, and raises serious questions.

Watch VideoShow less

Johannesburg Blaze Kills Dozens, North Korea’s Mock Nuclear Strike, Tomatina Extravaganza

👋 ሰላም ሃለው*!*

Welcome to Thursday, where at least 73 are killed in a Johannesburg building blaze, North Korea simulates a “tactical nuclear strike,” and Spain’s yearly tomato debauchery yields striking images. Meanwhile, Giulia Zonca for Italian daily La Stampa reports on the controversy caused after a Turin gym installed urinals shaped like a woman's open mouth.

[*Selam halewi - Tigrinya, Eritrea and Ethiopia]

Keep reading...Show less

Kyiv Air Attack, Greek Fire Record, U.S. Open Weed

👋 नमस्कार!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where army officers say they’ve seized power in Gabon, Kyiv is under fire in a major Russian air assault in Ukraine, and tennis players complain about wafts of weed at the U.S. Open. Meanwhile, The Puszcza Białowieska, one of Europe's oldest forests, has become a battleground not only for environment causes, but also for a geopolitical standoff over migration.

[*Namaskār - Marathi, India]

Keep reading...Show less

How The Moscow Drone Attacks Are Quietly Targeting Putin's Inner Circle

Drone air attacks continue in Russia's capital, with evidence that Ukraine has figured out how to target certain buildings belonging to Vladimir Putin's entourage. It's a clear message from Kyiv.

Another drone attack rocked central Moscow on Wednesday — and again the significance of Ukraine striking anywhere in the Russian capital should not be underestimated. It’s the sixth attack of its kind since July 30. Yet the importance of the summer barrage may go even further: the target Wednesday was a building known to belong to an important member of the entourage of President Vladimir Putin.

The Kremlin appears to want to downplay and obfuscate information about the actual targets. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin reported no casualties,but said that several windows had been blown in on a neighboring five-story building. The Defense Ministry said the drone had been suppressed by electronic warfare and collided with the building after losing control.

Keep reading...Show less
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

A Closer Look At The Special Sea Drones Used To Pull Off The Crimea Bridge Attack

The Crimean bridge was attacked in the pre-dawn hours by two Ukrainian sea drones, the Russian National Anti-Terrorist Committee reported. The attack has impressed military analysts who spoke with Russian independent media agents.media (Agenstvo) about the weapons used and the potential next target.

Ukrainian sources were quick to claim responsibility for a deadly overnight attack on the Kerch bridge, which connects Crimea to the mainland, a crucial transport and supplies hub for Russian troops in Ukraine. This is the second attack on the bridge in less than a year, following an explosion in October that killed five and caused damage to key sections of the bridge.

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

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

According to Russia's National Anti-Terrorist Committee, the strike early Monday was carried out by Ukrainian sea drones, unmanned weapons also known as surface drones. Multiple Russian Telegram channels, Ukrainian sources in the special services, and analysts interviewed by Agenstvo all corroborate the use of these weapons.

The Ukraine war has already seen extensive use of drones. But the use of these these obscure unmanned "sea drones," used to attack the symbol of Russia's annexation of Crimea, is a taking the tactic to another level.

To military experts Kirill Mikhailov and Yuri Fedorov, the attack on the Kerch bridge shows that Ukrainian sea drones can now hit any target in the Black Sea. They believe that the drones were launched from the Ukrainian-controlled part of the Black Sea coast. This means that the drones traveled about 700 kilometers.

Watch VideoShow less
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Ekaterina Mereminsky

How Hard Do Western Sanctions Hit Russia? Economists Have Some Real Answers

Countries around the world have imposed round after round of sanctions on Russia since the beginning of its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. But are they enough?

After the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, one of the first sanction packages imposed on Russia, along with the freezing of gold and foreign exchange reserves, included a ban on the supply of certain goods and technologies.

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

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Unlike the oil price ceiling, which was supposed to starve Russia of money to fund its war, the purpose of these sanctions was different: first, to limit the production of weapons in Russia, to deprive its inhabitants of their usual goods and cause dissatisfaction with the decline in the quality of life — and by extension the war — and last, to undermine long-term economic prospects.

Independent Russian news site Vazhnye Istorii worked with a group of international economists to try to measure how effective these sanctions were.

Watch VideoShow less
Oleksandr Demchenko

Is Israel Quietly Moving Closer To Russia?

The Ukrainian Embassy in Israel says the current Israeli government is inching closer to Russia, while doing nothing to help Ukraine. A look at what may be driving the shift.


KYIV — While the whole world was discussing the attempted coup by Wagner Group mercenaries in Russia, the Ukrainian embassy in Israel said in a statement that the Israeli government was moving toward closer cooperation with Russia.

"The Embassy of Ukraine in Israel regrets that the current government of Israel has chosen the path of close cooperation with the Russian Federation. Many scandalous events have taken place since the beginning of 2023, and the almost complete absence of humanitarian aid to Ukraine," the official statement said.

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

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Ukrainian ambassador Yevhen Korniychuk said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's interview with the influential Jerusalem Post was the last straw. In the interview, Netanyahu said Israel has chosen not to transfer weapons to Ukraine for several reasons: first, he mentioned the "close military border with Russia," and that Israeli pilots fly alongside Russian pilots in the skies of Syria. He also hinted that communication with Russia allows Israeli forces to counter Iran more effectively.

But the statement which provoked Ukrainian protest was Netanyahu's assertion that the weapons Western allies have provided to Ukraine, including anti-tank systems, have ended up in the hands of Iran.

"We have fears that any systems we give Ukraine will be used against us, because they can fall into Iranian hands. And by the way, this is not a theoretical possibility. This happened with Western anti-tank weapons that we now find near our borders. That's why we must be cautious here," Netanyahu said.

Watch VideoShow less
In The News

Worldcrunch Magazine #36 — The War Comes To Russia

June 5 - June 11, 2023

This is the latest edition of Worldcrunch Magazine, a selection of our best articles of the week from the best international journalists, produced exclusively in English for Worldcrunch readers.


Watch VideoShow less
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Anna Akage

The Real Purpose Of The Drone Strikes Inside Russia? A Decoy For Ukraine's Counterattack

Putin is hesitant to mobilize troops for political reasons. And the Ukrainian military command is well aware that the key to a successful offensive lies in creating new front lines, where Russia will have to relocate troops from Ukraine and thus weaken the existing front.

This article was updated at 8 p.m. local time May 31 with reports of new strikes inside Russia


On the night of May 30, military drones attacked the Russian capital. There were no casualties – just broken windows and minor damage to homes. Ukraine claims it had nothing to do with the attack, and it is instead the frenzied artificial intelligence of military machines that do not understand why they are sent to Kyiv.

While the Ukrainian president’s office jokes that someone in Russia has again been smoking somewhere they shouldn’t, analysts are placing bets on the real reasons for the Moscow strikes. Many believe that Kyiv's real military target can by no means be the capital of Russia itself: it is too far from the front and too well defended – and strikes on Russia, at least with Western weapons, run counter to Ukraine’s agreements with allies, who have said that their weapons cannot be used to attack inside Russia.

Eight apartment buildings, four homes, a school and two administrative buildings were damaged during the shelling in Shebekino, a village in the border region of Belgorod, its governor said, as the oblast increasingly becomes a hotbed of straying violence.

On Wednesday, new reports of a “massive” shelling attack inside Russia's borders that injured at least four people in Belgorod and a drone sparked a fire at an oil refinery further south.

If the goal is not directly military, maybe it is psychological: to scare the residents of the capital, who live in a parallel reality and have no idea how life feels for Ukrainian civilians. Forcing people to live with this reality could push the Kremlin to retreat, or at least make concessions and negotiate with Kyiv. If neither sanctions nor the elite could sober Vladimir Putin up, could angry Muscovites?

But neither Russia's military command nor its political leadership depends on the opinion of citizens. And there are enough special forces in Moscow to crush any mass protest.

Laying bare Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inability to guarantee his country's security, in front of Russia’s remaining international partners or among the country’s elites, is also an unlikely goal. The Russian army has already seen such embarrassing failures that a few drone strikes on the Kremlin can’t possibly change how Putin is seen as a leader, or Russia as a state. So why would Kyiv launch attacks on Moscow?

Let's go back to the date of the shelling: May 29 is Kyiv Day, a holiday in the Ukrainian capital. It was also the 16th attack on Kyiv in May alone, unprecedented in its scale, even compared to the winter months when Russia had still hoped to cut off Ukrainian electricity and leave Kyiv residents, or even the whole country, freezing in the dark.

The backdrop: the Ukrainian counter-offensive to liberate the occupied territories, which is in the works, if not already launched.

Watch VideoShow less
In The News
Marine Béguin, Emma Albright, Sophie Jacquier and Anne-Sophie Goninet

Russia Accuses U.S. Of Enabling “Terrorists”, N. Korea Satellite Fail, NZ Air Weight

👋 Grüss Gott!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where Russia accuses the U.S. of encouraging cross-border "terrorist" attacks, a North Korean military reconnaissance satellite launch fails and New Zealand air travels must weigh in. Meanwhile, Hannelore Crolly and Ricarda Breyton in Berlin-based daily Die Welt unpack reports that Belarus strongman Alexander Lukashenko may be trying to create another migrant crisis in the EU, with Russia’s help.

[*Swabian, Germany]

Watch VideoShow less
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Anatolii Schara

Drones, Tablets, Cigarettes: How Ukraine's Reconnaissance Warriors Pinpoint The Enemy

Near the embattled city of Vuhledar, Ukrainian artillery reconnaissance units detect enemy positions. They work with drones, tablets and satellite internet — and they are often the last line of defense from a Russian onslaught.

VUHLEDAR — It's early in the morning, just before dawn. The artillery reconnaissance units are in Kurakhove, a city in Donetsk oblast, to pick up the equipment supplies that have just arrived from Kyiv: drones, tablets, portable solar power generators and Internet hardware for connection to the Starlink satellite system.

Because of the tremendous strain on the equipment, it needs to be constantly replaced. Everything is loaded into all-terrain vehicles, then they head toward the fiercely contested city of Vuhledar, in southeastern Ukraine, 60 kilometers from Donetsk.

"The task of artillery reconnaissance is to locate and fix enemy targets and to conduct artillery observation," explains commander Zeus, who only gives his combat name, in line with the policy of the Ukrainian army.

Artillery fire is mainly indirect. The target is not visible from the gun, which is usually located four to ten kilometers from the front line.

On the car radio, the music ends, the presenter announces in a solemn voice that Ukrainian troops are retreating in panic from Vuhledar. The men are unimpressed; they know that only Russian stations work in the frontline area.

Watch VideoShow less
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Irina Dolinina

"Pacifism Is Not An Option" — Meet The Anti-Putin Russians Supplying Drones To Ukraine

Russians who oppose the war in Ukraine face a tough moral question: How far are they prepared to go? Around the world, a group of Russians are organizing and raising money to send much-needed drones to help Ukrainian forces fight the Russian invasion.

Many Russians feel deeply conflicted by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Some have walled themselves off from the news, believing that they are powerless to change anything. Others have refused to fight, left the country and stopped paying taxes — and others have sent humanitarian assistance to Ukrainians. A small few, however, have decided to help the Ukrainian army directly.

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

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Members of the Ukrainian Drone Forces volunteer group, which is run by Russians and supplies civilian drones to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, tell Russian independent news site Vazhniye Istorii (Important Stories) why they believe Russians must do more to help Ukraine.

When Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, many Russians disassociated themselves from their country’s actions, stepping back from what was going on and remaining silent.

“Most Russians that I speak to are not prepared to financially support the Ukrainian army,” says Gleb, a 30-year-old sociologist. “I suppose I should be grateful that at least they don't give money to the Russian army. Yet the strangest argument for me, personally, is when people hide behind pacifism: ‘I am a pacifist. I will not give money to the army.’ But it’s a problematic position to take, because a person who refuses to interfere in the battle between the strong and the weak automatically takes the side of the strong.”

Watch VideoShow less