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TOPIC: moscow

Geopolitics

Putin & Kim: What Happens When Two Pariahs Have Nothing Left To Lose

North Korea lends its full support to Russia's war in Ukraine, and will supply ammunition to Moscow, which in return will help Kim Jong-un with his space ambitions. With the whiff of a Cold War alliance, it shows how two regimes that have become so isolated they multiply the risks for the rest of the world.

-Analysis-

There's a feeling of nostalgia watching the meeting between Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the Vostochny cosmodrome in Russia's Far East.

To hear the third descendant of North Korea's communist dynasty tell the Russian president that they were fighting imperialism together recalls a past that seemed long forgotten.

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It reminds us of how Joseph Stalin backed the founder of Pyongyang's ruling dynasty, Kim Il Sung, the current leader's grandfather, in his quest to take over Korea. Since succeeding his father 11 years ago, Kim Jong-un has looked to follow the model of his grandfather.

There's no doubt that North Korea's talented propaganda team will make good use of this anti-imperialism remake, even if times and men have changed. Seen from Pyongyang, not so much. But beyond the symbols, which have their importance, this meeting may have tangible consequences.

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How The Russian Orthodox Church Has Become A Willing Pawn In Putin's War

Since the start of Russia's war in Ukraine, the Russian Orthodox Church has fully supported the Kremlin. Priests or members of the church that disagree with this politicization and militarization of the church face heavy consequences such as removal.

Since March 2022, the Russian Orthodox Church has increasingly fallen in line with militarization efforts. Meanwhile, initial hopes that Orthodox Kyiv would welcome the invasion of Ukraine with open arms — hanging portraits of Moscow Patriarch Kirill and ringing bells — were quickly dashed.

As a result, Kirill adopted an increasingly hard line. He required priests to include a prayer for the "victory of Holy Russia" and threatened harsh consequences for those who used the word "peace" instead of "victory" in their prayers, calling them pacifist heretics.

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What Does Prigozhin's Death Mean For Russia's Ambitions In Africa?

Russia has entered the race for influence in Africa over the past decade, largely on the shoulders of the Wagner Group and its founder, Yevgeny Prigozhin. What happens now is unclear, though Vladimir Putin won't want to cede any ground to other world powers in the race for influence on the continent.

Africa will become increasingly important in Russian foreign policy in the near future, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov recently declared. Statements by Russian officials are often empty words — but not this one.

Russia entered the race for influence in Africa in the second half of the 2010s, when it became obvious that cooperation with the West was coming to an end. The annexation of Crimea, the war in Donbas and sanctions were already things of the past.

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Now, the full-scale invasion of Ukraine has returned Moscow's foreign policy to the Cold War era, when it was critical to have political spheres of influence. But Russia is struggling: it has almost nothing it can offer Africa. Instead, it is Russia that needs Africa’s support. As one of the largest blocs of countries voting in the UN, and one of the most promising regional economies, Africa is of huge strategic importance for Russia.

Moscow's return to Africa began after its military operation in Syria in 2015. After it had regained influence in the Middle East, many governments in the Global South appreciated the strength Russia demonstrated in defending Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and turned to Moscow to aid in resolving regional conflicts.

As confrontation with the West intensified, Moscow needed allies, if only from a rhetorical standpoint. Indeed, Russia’s emphasis on the hypocrisy of Western elites and their colonial projects resonate with people in Africa.

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Report: Russia's New National High School Exam To Include Ukraine War Justification

High school students will now need to know details of the Russian annexation of territories in eastern Ukraine and "reunification" of Crimea with Russia. Regular topics in the past, such as democracy and human rights, will no longer be part of the high school exam.

In a draft of a new Unified State Examination in Social Studies paper seen by independent Russian news site Agenstvo, graduating high school students must now demonstrate an understanding of the causes and consequences of the collapse of the Soviet Union, but also how the Russian Federation has been “revived” as a leading world power, as well as the necessity both for Crimea’s “reunification” with Russia and the invasion of Ukraine.

Earlier this month, Reuters confirmed the publication of four new history textbooks for schoolchildren aged 16-18. Among the co-authors was presidential aide Vladimir Medinsky. These textbooks entirely reinterpreted the fall of the Soviet Union, the rule of President Vladimir Putin and added a chapter especially devoted to the causes of what is referred to as the "special military operation" in Ukraine.

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The newly published exam syllabus states that candidates must “be able to defend historical truth” and must “not allow the feat of the people in defending the Fatherland to be diminished.”

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In The News
Yannick Champion-Osselin, Valeria Berghinz and Katarzyna Skiba

Prigozhin Confirmed Dead, Zimbabwe’s “Crocodile” Reelected, Spanish Horses

👋 Bunâ!*

Welcome to Monday, where Russia says DNA tests confirm the death of Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin in a plane crash last week, Zimbabwe’s “Crocodile” gets reelected amid accusations of vote manipulation, and Spain saddles up for its yearly horse festival. Meanwhile, Die Welt’s Fabian Peltsch touches base with Taiwan’s “Buddhist death metal” scene.

[*Romanian]

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In The News
Yannick Champion-Osselin, Valeria Berghinz and Marine Béguin.

Prigozhin Presumed Dead, Six More BRICS, Brain-To-Speech Breakthrough

👋 Aloha!*

Welcome to Thursday, where Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin is believed to have died in a plane crash north of Moscow, six new countries (including Iran) are invited to join the BRICS bloc, and a brain-to-speech breakthrough allows a paralyzed woman to speak for the first time in 18 years. Meanwhile, Worldcrunch’s very own Emma Albright reflects on the impacts of global warming that go beyond the natural disasters, including the added burden of working through the rising heat of summer.

[*Hawaiian]

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Benjamin Quénelle

Prigozhin’s Death, A Perfect Consolidation Of Power For Vladimir Putin

Two months after his failed coup, the Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin has reportedly died on Wednesday in a plane crash. Many questions remain unanswered, but one thing is for sure: we know who is bound to benefit the most.

-Analysis-

MOSCOWYevgeny Prigozhin's days were numbered. Exactly two months after his iconic "rebellion," a spectacular but futile insurrection that humiliated and weakened Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin, the 62-year-old paramilitary leader Wagner died on Aug. 23 in a plane crash that looks quite clearly like an assassination.

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Neither the Kremlin nor any other Russian political authority has officially confirmed it, but the state media made it pretty clear, right after the downing of the Embraer Legacy private jet that was scheduled to fly from Moscow to St. Petersburg.

According to the national air transport agency, on board the private jet that crashed near the village of Kuzhenkino in the Tver region, leaving no survivors, was the former friend and personal chef who Putin had called a “traitor” on June 24, and who had since been living on borrowed time, flying back and forth to Russia despite his pariah status.

" Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the Wagner group, hero of Russia and true patriot of his homeland, was killed as a result of the actions of traitors to Russia. But even in hell, he'll be the best!” reacted his supporters on Grey Zone, a Telegram channel reputedly close to Wagner on social media.

Putin so far has not commented on the apparent death of his former ally. And yet...

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Cameron Manley

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.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Will Putin's Quiet Bodyguard Replace Him As Russian President?

Alexei Dyumin, a former bodyguard of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been touted as a likely successor to the man he once protected. Russian independent news outlet Important Stories takes a closer look at a man who prefers to keep a low profile.

MOSCOW — To say that Alexei Dyumin has had quite a career rise would be putting it mildly. The former bodyguard of Vladimir Putin is now governor of the region of Tula in west Russia, south of Moscow. Recently, he was mentioned as a possible new Russian Defense Minister, and even as a successor to Putin.

How exactly Dyumin transitioned from a military unit member to the security guard of some of the highest-ranking state officials remains a mystery.

So who is Alexei Dyumin? That's a tricky question to answer.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Up Close With The "Beaver" Drones Leading Ukraine's Airborne Counteroffensive

In recent days, multiple drone attacks targeted and hit skyscrapers in Moscow's business district. These strikes are thought to have been led by Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), reportedly belonging to a new category of "Beaver" drones. Here's what we know about them.

MOSCOW — Earlier this week, drones hit the high-rise block where Russia's federal ministries are located. In this latest attack, offices for the Ministry of Economic Development were damaged, with windows blown in. And although the Russian army claims that the drones can be jammed with radio waves, the strikes still succeeded in damaging the building’s facades and interior.

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On Wednesday, Aug. 2, Russia retaliated with a drone attack of its own — on a Ukrainian port at Izmail in Odessa, damaging a grain warehouse, a passenger building and an elevator for loading grain.

Newsweek magazine writes that the Ukrainian attacks were carried out by the latest generation of Ukrainian drones known as "Beaver". Justin Bronk, a researcher at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), compared said Beaver drone to the Iranian Shahed drones that Russia used in its attacks on Ukrainian cities: the Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have a comparable weight and size and flight range (1,000km), but a larger wingspan.

Analysts note that as it stands, it is unclear whether the Beaver UAV can cope with electronic warfare systems and interference as effectively as the Iranian Shaheds, which have several types of navigation.

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In The News
Yannick Champion-Osselin and Chloé Touchard

Trump Indicted Part III, Evacuating Niger, Sturgeon Supermoon

👋 Kaixo!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where former U.S. president Donald Trump is facing federal charges over attempts to overturn the 2020 election, European countries have started evacuating their citizens from Niger, and NASA picks up an unexpected heartbeat from Voyager 2. Meanwhile, Zoriana Variena and Katarzyna Pawłowska in Warsaw-based daily Gazeta Wyborcza look at what drives Ukrainian women, who found refuge in Poland, to cross back into their home country to get medical care.

[*Basque]

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In The News
Emma Albright, Chloé Touchard, Anne-Sophie Goninet, and Valeria Berghinz

Aung San Suu Kyi Partial Pardon, Moscow Building Hit Twice, Endangered Venice

👋 Allo!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where Myanmar’s junta reduces former leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s jail time, a skyscraper in Moscow is hit by a drone attack for the second time in as many days, and UNESCO suggests adding Venice to the list of World Heritage sites in danger. Meanwhile, in Italian daily La Stampa, Franco Giubilei looks at how Italy’s nightclubs and discos have been slowly but surely replaced by “nomadic” parties on the beach and in villas.

[*Seychellois Creole]

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