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Geopolitics

Why Macron's New EU Membership Scheme Is All About Appeasing Putin

French President Emmanuel Macron has proposed a new European Political Community, with support from Germany's Olaf Scholz, that would include Ukraine in a second-tier union. No, this is not about European "core values" — it's just the latest attempt by the EU's two biggest players to be sure not to upset Vladimir Putin.

-OpEd-

KYIV — French President Emmanuel Macron said that Ukraine's accession to the European Union will take years, if not decades. He also proposed 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).

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At the same time, according to Macron's plan, joining the new union will mean other states cannot gain membership to the European Union.

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Le Weekend ➡️ Crypto Is Dead, Long Live Crypto

An estimate one trillion dollars was wiped off crypto value this past week. But there may actually be more signs now than ever that Bitcoin and company are here to stay...

May 14-15

  • Putin’s nuclear option
  • Tracking heat waves
  • Trending sad face
  • … and much more.
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Russia & Finland, North Korea’s First Lockdown, Aramco v. Apple

👋 ሰላም*

Welcome to Thursday, where Finland moves toward NATO membership, North Korea reports its first COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown and Barbie gets hearing aids. Meanwhile, Spanish independent magazine La Marea meets with Turkish Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk to discuss his latest book, the pandemic and freedom of expression in Turkey.

[*Selam, Amharic - Ethiopia]

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So May 9 Has Passed? Why We Should Watch Putin Now More Than Ever

It’s a grim reality from Soviet times that Vladimir Putin continues to embody: Individual horrors and monumental changes of history happen without fanfare.

-Essay-

All the worst news from the Kremlin happens on some faceless Tuesday or Thursday. It happens in a room you will never see.

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And so it was never going to be this Monday, as much of the Western media was predicting. It was never going to be in Red Square. That’s just not the way the Kremlin works.

The world had been told that May 9, Russia’s annual Victory Day celebration, was the perfect time for Vladimir Putin to make some sort of loud, momentous statement that would change the course of the war in Ukraine. His address might include an official declaration of war, call on Russians for a national mobilization, state his readiness to use nuclear weapons — or even just announce that he’d won the war.

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Geopolitics
Dominique Moïsi

Is Emmanuel Macron Ready For New Role As Bonafide World Leader?

Having long articulated a strong pro-European stance, Emmanuel Macron's reelection comes on the heels of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and Angela Merkel's departure. It is a clear opportunity for the French president to take a key leadership role in the world. How should he approach it?

-Analysis-

PARIS — In 2022, as in 2017, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy played as Emmanuel Macron walked toward his victory address after being re-elected. Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen had promised, if elected, to remove the European Union flag from her official presidential portrait. Macron --- the pro-European par excellence --- appeared proud to reaffirm his loyalty to “the EU official anthem” as he stepped forth to address the French public. Consider it a final political jab at his vanquished rival by way of music.

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But beyond the seeming continuity, there are more than a few differences between the Macron of 2017, walking alone in victory to the Louvre Esplanade, and the one of 2022 holding his wife's hand, surrounded by a group of children and teenagers, at the Champ-de-Mars beneath the Eiffel Tower.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Cameron Manley

What The Obsession With Putin’s Health Says About The Grim State Of The War

The ongoing speculation around the Russian president being suddenly gone from power, because of either illness or death, captures the reality that this is Putin’s war. What could come next is no less troubling.

Every few days, a fresh round of speculation circulate about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s deteriorating health: He’s got Parkinson’s or Rett syndrome or inoperable cancer. The latest reports this week declared that Putin was heading any day into surgery for cancer, and would be out of the public eye for an extended period and temporarily turn over the reins of power to a deputy.

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Part of the explanation is that, objectively, Putin has appeared weaker and less steady in recent public appearances. Some point to a widely viewed video last month of the Russian President showing signs of limp arm during a meeting with his Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, followed a week later by an apparently shaky Putin during Easter Mass.

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Geopolitics
Benjamin Quénelle

A Visit To Putin Country: What Absolute Faith In The Kremlin Looks Like

In the agricultural region of Mordovia, south of Moscow, people live in their own reality, far from Western news and the bloodshed of Ukraine. And Vladimir Putin is like a father.

SARANSK — Alexander Kireev embodies the Russia that defies Western sanctions, that sees the war in Ukraine as the Kremlin calls it: a “special military operation.”

Asked if he has ever had doubts in what Vladimir Putin says about Ukraine: Kireev responds with his twinkling eyes and sharp mind: "never.”

“The focus is completely on the liberation of Ukraine. Unfortunately, Russia had no other choice. We must put an end to the abuses committed by Ukrainian nationalists,” he adds.

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Kireev doesn’t speak English, hasn't traveled abroad since COVID-19 restrictions were implemented and, anyway, doesn’t have friends to interact with on social networks outside of Russia.

“I don’t have time to waste watching Western media outlets,” he says.

Like many Russians, he keeps up to date with state-owned televisions and some Telegram channels. But Kireev is hardly isolated in his daily life. This agricultural engineer is in charge of an ultra-modern factory equipped with French, Spanish and German machine tools and is proud to produce, along with his 250 employees, about 7,000 tons of cheese a year. And production is booming.

“Sanctions have helped!” Since the 2014 Russian embargo on many European agri-food products, imposed in retaliation for the first wave of Western measures against Russia, the national dairy industry is growing to supplant imports.

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Geopolitics
Hayat Gazzane

Putin's Arsenal: How Russia Is Playing With Nuclear Fire

While Western countries are increasing their military support to Kyiv, Russian President Vladimir Putin threatens to use his new hypersonic missiles. He thereby makes the threat of a nuclear war in Europe a little more concrete.

How far will Vladimir Putin go in Ukraine? More than 60 days after the outbreak of the conflict, few dare to try to answer this question. But by his words and actions, the Russian president seems ready to do anything.

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After closing gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria, both members of the European Union and NATO, Putin is now threatening to make use of his latest-generation missiles against Western countries, as they step up delivery of heavy weapons to Kyiv.

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In The News

Le Weekend ➡️ A Social Media Journey, From Tunisia To Ukraine To The Ego Of Elon Musk

April 30-May 1

  • A different kind of disaster near Chernobyl
  • Russian cartoon propaganda
  • Progressive fashion
  • … and much more.
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Geopolitics
Emma Albright, Shaun Lavelle and Cameron Manley

Fears Of Putin’s War Spreading Amid Rumblings In Transnistria

More of the latest: European economy under threat by gas cuts, Mariupol soldier holed up in steel plant, Finland poll on joining, Russia pulls out mercenary troops from Libya, U.S. considers labeling Russia sponsors of terrorism, and more...

The recent series of explosions occurring in part of Transnistria, a breakaway territory within Moldova that has housed Russian troops for decades, have sparked fears that this region may be where Vladimir Putin will take his expansionist war next.

The inhabitants of Transnistria, considered to be pro-Russian, insist they want to be left out of the conflict, reports Tonia Mastrobuoni reports for Italian daily La Repubblica. “We want peace and want to be left in peace,” one of several residents interviewed who refused to give their name.

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Moldovan Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu insisted that the situation in Transnistria is "more or less calm," though in the past 36 hours there have been a series of explosions that no one has taken responsibility for — and which Ukraine says could be used by Moscow as a pretext to move into Moldova.

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In The News

Le Weekend ➡️ Another Climate Delusion: How The French Election Ignored The Nation’s Youth

April 23-24

  • Russian oligarchs in Dubai
  • Life hacks for Ukrainians
  • Revolutionary chopsticks
  • … and much more.
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Ideas
Marina Ovsyannikova

"You Need More Russians Like Me To Beat Putin" — A Response To My Ukrainian Critics

Marina Ovsyannikova's anti-war protest on Moscow’s state television made world headlines. Her story, and her new column in Die Welt, have prompted both admirers and critics. She insists on embracing all those ready to find the courage to take the risk to challenge Vladimir Putin.

-OpEd-

It is impossible to break my spirit. I know exactly what I have done, and the consequences it may bring. And I take full responsibility for my decision.

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Of course I wish I had quit earlier from Russia's state broadcaster Perviy Kanal (Channel One), where I'd worked up until my protest on the live nightly news of March 14. I should have left in 2014.

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Russia
Lisa Berdet

Marine Le Pen’s Russian Ties: What To Know Before France's Presidential Election

What exactly are French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen’s past and present positions on Putin and Russia?

French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has spent five years preparing for a possible rematch against Emmanuel Macron. Her dream, after losing to Macron in a 2017 runoff, was no doubt to hammer away on domestic issues like immigration and economic opportunity against a sitting president criticized for being out of touch with voters.

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But then, the war in Ukraine happened.

Le Pen, who is in striking distance from Macron ahead of Sunday’s election, has been forced to answer questions about her pro-Russia stance that dates back at least a decade.

The leader of the Rassemblement National party insists her views are being mischaracterized by Macron and other critics. But Le Pen also appears to be doubling down on her sympathetic views towards Russia and Vladimir Putin in a country that has largely rallied around the Ukrainian cause and a united Western front against Moscow.

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In The News

Le Weekend ➡️ From The Sorbonne To Kyiv, The Friendly Fires Of Democracy

April 16-17

  • My month under Russian occupation
  • Beijing’s problem with Bucha
  • An eggcellent gorilla surprise
  • … and much more.
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In The News

Le Weekend ➡️ I Choose To Believe My Eyes, From Primo Levi To The Photos Of Bucha

April 9-10

  • Inside Ukraine war’s eastward shift
  • Putin’s Arctic ambitions
  • Risking a French election "accident"
  • … and much more.
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Ideas
Héctor Abad Faciolince

The Club Of Tyrants: Putin And His Western Comrades, Past And Present

Russia's President Putin may speak of denazifying Ukraine, but his words and actions — from the Mariupol maternity hospital to the atrocities of Bucha to Friday's missile attack on the Kramatorsk railway station — show that he's taken up the mantle of Europe's line of fascist dictators. Take a look at those today who still lend him support.

OpEd-

BOGOTÁ — A Ukrainian soldier at the front walks across a snow-covered field. He has one of the saddest smiles one could imagine. There is a photographer nearby, Alex Lourie, one of those people who risk everything to show the truth, who hears the soldier speak a language he knows. Both have been in Iran and discover they can understand each other in Persian. So the soldier recites him a verse: "I wonder at times / Who will tell you of my death?"

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He is not a soldier by profession. He ran a business and was forced to fight. He feels a moral obligation to defend his country from the Russian invasion. His wife and child stayed home. Who will inform them of his death?

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