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TOPIC: kyiv

In The News

Zelensky Visits Breached Dam Area, Australia Bans Nazi Signs, Crocodile Gets Self Pregnant

👋 Сайн уу*

Welcome to Thursday, where Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visits flood-hit Kherson, Australia announces a national ban on Nazi symbols, and a crocodile is found to have made herself pregnant. Meanwhile, we look at the increase of food counterfeiting around the world, from fake honey in Germany to Canada’s fish laundering.

[*Sain uu - Mongolian]

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Putin's Hidden Message In Dam Explosion: If Cornered, I Will Stop At Nothing

The Nova Kakhovka dam explosion was undoubtedly carried out by Putin, putting both Ukrainian and Russian lives at risk. The explosion makes clear that there are no limits to how far Putin will go. That has been his message since Day One of the war.


Southern Ukraine is still reeling from the explosion at the Nova Kakhovka dam on the Dnipro River. The surrounding Kherson region, where Ukraine retook several key towns and cities last November, is flooding as water levels on both banks of the river rose by 10 meters, forcing thousands of Ukrainians to evacuate.

The catastrophe may lead to the shutting down of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the nuclear reactors of which are cooled by water from the Dnipro.

With enormous consequences on a human, environmental and strategic levels, Kyiv and Moscow are blaming each other for the explosion. But it is simply unfathomable that Ukraine could be responsible for the attack — both, because it wouldn't make sense for Ukraine to attack its own people — and because the disaster is a major impediment from Kyiv's much-anticipated military counteroffensive.

Yes, the bombing of the dam was ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin to try to slow down his coming military losses. But there is another, deeper explanation for this attack at this moment in time: it's a clear message to the world that there are no limits to Putin’s aggression. Especially when his back is against the wall.

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How The Dam Destruction Will Impact Ukraine's Counteroffensive — And What That Tells Us

When both sides of a conflict blame each other for something as important as the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam, there's only one way to understand what's going on: find out who benefits from the crime.


PARIS — Moscow and Kyiv continue to blame each other for blowing up the Nova Kakhovka dam in Russian-controlled Ukrainian territory. The dam's destruction is flooding the region around Kherson, the main town retaken by the Ukrainians last November.

It's a humanitarian and ecological disaster, and a major offense. It's worth pointing out that the Geneva Conventions formally prohibit attacks on dams, dikes or nuclear power plants, so this may constitute a war crime.

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The immediate consequence of this sabotage is that it could hamper a possible Ukrainian counteroffensive in this strategic region. If the Ukrainians had considered launching their long-awaited and much-trumpeted assault in the Kherson region, this is now doubtful.

The flooding and state of the soil over the next few weeks makes the passage of armored vehicles and troops no longer possible.

This could force Ukrainian forces to divert some of their resources to deal with the humanitarian emergency, and to review their attack plans. From this point of view, it's a setback for Kyiv.

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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.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Pierre Haski

Drones On Moscow: Vladimir Putin On The Defensive Like Never Before

In another scenario, Putin could be bragging about Russia's control of Bakhmut after nearly a year of fighting, and the bombing of the Ukrainian Intelligence’s headquarters, which was recently acknowledged by Kyiv. But instead he must retreat to the ultimate home front after drone attacks in the capital.


PARIS — In February of last year, when Russian President Vladimir Putin dubbed his invasion of Ukraine a “special military operation,” he was telling Russians that it would be over quickly. Now, 15 months later, drones are striking apartment buildings in Moscow, bringing a whiff of war to inhabitants of the Russian capital, who had so far thought they’d been spared.

The psychological shock is far greater than the military impact.

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It is a symbol of the failure of the Russian president’s Ukraine campaign. Pro-war nationalist bloggers were quick to criticize the lack of air defense, which allowed the drones to strike Moscow. But if they had really wanted to taunt the government, they could have compared it with the performance of the Ukrainian air defense which, thanks to Western equipment, knocks down most of the Russian drones and missiles fired at Kyiv.

In the same vein, Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the mercenary outfit Wagner and rival to Russia's military commanders, commented on his Telegram channel: “The people have a right to ask these questions," and, in a message aimed at the military establishment, added a pointed note: “May your houses burn."

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In The News
Bertrand Hauger, Laure Gautherin and Sophie Jacquier

Erdogan Reelected, Kyiv Under Fresh Attacks, Bright Green Venice

👋 Guuten takh!*

Welcome to Monday, where Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gets reelected for an unprecedented third term, explosions rock Kyiv after two nights of sustained drone attacks, and Venice waters turn a mysterious fluorescent green. Meanwhile, for Worldcrunch, Ukrainian journalist Anna Akage wonders whether the recent incursion in Russia’s Belgorod border region could be a turning point in the conflict.

[*Cimbrian, northeastern Italy]

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In The News
Yannick Champion-Osselin, Chloé Touchard, Inès Mermat, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Emma Albright

Kremlin Accuses U.S. Of Drone Attack, Africa Floods Kill 136, Walk Of Fame Star (Wars)

👋 A jaaraama!*

Welcome to Thursday, where the Kremlin accuses Washington of being behind yesterday's drone attack in Moscow, severe floods kill at least 136 people across eastern Africa, and Hollywood pays tribute to Carrie Fisher on Star Wars day. Meanwhile, pan-African newspaper Financial Afrik looks at how Gabon, known for its successful sustainable development policy, is trying to reap the financial rewards of its preservation efforts.

[*Fula, West and Central Africa]

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Valentyna Romanenko, Oleksandr Shumilin

The Kremlin Drone Attack Is Linked To Ukraine’s Counter-Offensive — No Matter Who Did It

Whether Ukraine or Russia is behind the clamorous attack on the Kremlin, which Moscow says was an assassination attempt against Vladimir Putin, it is bound to shape the imminent counter-offensive.

This article has been updated May 3, at 8:45 p.m. CET, with Zelensky quote and additional background


KYIV — The stakes could not be higher. The alleged drone attack on the Kremlin — whether Kyiv or Moscow ordered it — means that the Russia-Ukraine war is reaching a new level.

A video began circulating Wednesday afternoon of what the Russian authorities said were two Ukrainian drones that "tried to strike" the Kremlin residence and assassinate Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader was not on the premises, and no injuries or material damage was reported.

The Kremlin called the attack a "planned terrorist act" and "an attempt on the life of the President of Russia,” adding that "the Russian side reserves the right to take retaliatory measures where and when it sees fit."

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Mykhailo Krygel

Maryinka As Memory: How A City In Ukraine Has Been Blown Out Of Existence

Citizens of the now destroyed Ukrainian city of Maryinka are left struggling to remember what their town used to look like.

As Yulia Semendyaeva looks at a photo of the Ukrainian city of Maryinka, the place where she was born and lived 29 of the 30 years of her life, she cannot recognize a single street.

"The ponds are the only things that are still where I remember them," she says.

As Yulia’s hometown had become unrecognizable, the world, for the first time, was beginning to notice it.

When people began to share photos of the completely destroyed city, where seemingly not one building remained untouched, the Russian military boasted of the "impressive" results of what it calls the "denazification" project in Ukraine.

Today, Maryinka only exists on maps. Its streets still have names. But in reality, it is all only rubble.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Olga Kirylenko

From The Trenches Of Avdiivka, Ukraine's Hell On Earth

Journalists from Ukrainska Pravda report directly from the trenches near Avdiivka, one of the oldest settlements in the eastern Donetsk region of Ukraine, where troops are facing near-constant Russian fire.

“Get down!”

Machine gun fire whistling overhead is interrupted by the shout of a combat medic named Petro. Five people, including three soldiers and two journalists from Ukrainian publication Ukrainska Pravda fall to the snow.

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The sound of ringing bullets seemed distant to Petro's team and, as those under fire always hope, didn't come too close to hitting.

“Are you all good?” Petro asks after a few seconds.

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Petro Shevchenko

Xi Jinping's Mission In Moscow, And The Limits Of The Russia-China Alliance

As Xi's closely watched visit to Moscow begins, China and Russia may seem like strategic partners, but it has ultimately shown to be a marriage of convenience. And both countries are naturally competitors, wary if the other grows stronger.

This article has been updated March 20, 12:00 p.m. CST


Long before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping were growing closer. China’s goal? To revamp the current world order, significantly weaken the West and its leaders, and to become the world-dominating figurehead over and above the United States.

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Russia’s war in Ukraine has become an essential element of this plan to destabilize the global situation.

When the West began imposing stringent sanctions on Russia, China instead chose to economically support Putin and left its markets open to accept raw materials from Russia. But don’t think this means China is Putin’s lapdog. Quite the contrary: Beijing has never helped Moscow to its own detriment, not wishing to fall under the punitive measures of the U.S. and Europe.

The fundamental dynamic has not changed ahead of Xi Jinping's arrival on Monday for his first visit to Moscow since the war began. Beyond the photo ops and pleasant words that Xi and Putin are sure to share, the Russian-Chinese alliance continues to be looked at skeptically amongst the elite in both Beijing and Moscow.

China was not expecting Russia’s plans to occupy Ukraine in a matter of days to fail and as a result, China’s aim to destabilize the West alongside its Russian partner failed.

Add to this the various alliances in the West emerging against Beijing and fears for China’s economy on home turf is beginning to grow.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Roman Kravets and Roman Romanyuk

First We'll Take Kyiv: Inside Putin's Original Plans To Occupy Ukraine

If Russia's invasion of Ukraine hadn't gone so badly, the Kremlin had two possible plans for governing the country under the Russian flag.

KYIV — On the morning of Feb. 23, 2022, regiments of the Russian army were preparing to attack and encircle Kyiv. Within three days, the Kremlin expected to see the Russian tricolor flying over the city.

What was supposed to happen if Putin’s invasion had gone according to plan? After overthrowing Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky's government, who would have seized power and led Putin's Ukraine?

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Ukrainian news site Ukrainska Pravda looks at the two scenarios Russian strategists had laid out for the capture of Kyiv, as well as which Ukrainian officials were expected to help.

"If you think that the Russians had a clear plan as to who would end up ruling Ukraine, you are very much mistaken,” a high-ranking Ukrainian intelligence officer said. “Their primary goal was simply this: the government had to fall. According to their plan, that would have happened on the third day. On the tenth day, they would have gained control over the entire country. The specific names of those who would be the new power were not that clear."

For Russia, it was simple: if Kyiv surrendered, Moscow would rule everything. That was what mattered.

Although plans were not set in stone, Moscow still had two options in its playbook.

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