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Meike Eijsberg

See more by Meike Eijsberg

photo of Greek riot police patrol near Evros river, on the border with Turke
Geopolitics

A Rare Look At Europe's Most Violent Border Crossing

Many migrants want to enter the EU via the Greece-Turkey border. Time and again, it is the scene of violence, and the EU border guard Frontex is also said to be involved. Die Welt managed to visit a place that is off-limits for journalists and usually remains hidden from the public.

EVROS — A photo, 92 naked migrants, some of them wounded. Did Turkey force people across the land border into Greece? That's what the Greek government is saying. Is Greece covering up its own crimes against refugees with the photo? That is what Ankara claims.

The border river Evros is one of the routes for migrants who want to go to the EU – and time and again the scene of violence and violations of the law. The EU-funded border protection agency Frontex is said to be involved in these activities. On the other side of the border, in Turkey, migrants are used as leverage.

The Greek-Turkish land border made headlines in early 2020 after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan unilaterally declared it open. Thousands of migrants rushed to Greece; Greek border guards fended them off with stun grenades and tear gas.

At the time, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said two sentences essential to understanding his government's migration policy: "This is no longer a refugee problem. This is a blatant attempt by Turkey to use desperate people to push its geopolitical agenda."

And according to the Greeks, when asymmetric warfare is the problem, humanitarian aid is not the answer. Defense is.

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Russia Warns Of “Uncontrolled Escalation,” Claims Kyiv May Use Dirty Bomb
In The News

Russia Warns Of “Uncontrolled Escalation,” Claims Kyiv May Use Dirty Bomb

Ukraine and its Western partners say the warnings from Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu could be a "false flag" operation used to divert attention from its own potential use of banned weapons.

In a flurry of phone calls to his Western counterparts, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the war was moving towards “uncontrolled escalation.”

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Shoigu told French, U.S. and UK defense ministers that Moscow was worried that Ukraine could use a "dirty bomb," without providing evidence to support this suggestion. A dirty bomb is a weapon that combines conventional explosives and uranium.

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Gotland, The Swedish Island Standing Between Russia And NATO Vulnerability
Geopolitics

Gotland, The Swedish Island Standing Between Russia And NATO Vulnerability

The Swedish island of Gotland is the last bastion between Russia and the entire Baltic region. Sweden has been busy fortifying the island, with the stakes even higher as Stockholm is set to join NATO, and life for locals makes it clear that something has changed.

VISBY (Gotland) — Dag Svensson is kneeling on the ground in full combat gear. Propped on his shoulder is a 12-kilogram anti-tank guided missile, also known as an NLAW. Under the stern gaze of his captain, Svensson takes aim — a red laser dot in the scope indicates his target — and releases the safety with the fingers of his right hand and presses the ignition button.

There is no recoil from the rocket today, instead a mechanical whirring comes from the housing. Dag's captain is happy, so is Dag.

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"I could fire in the field at any time," he says confidently. It is also clear what he would aim for if the exercise turned into an emergency: "We are training here to meet the Russians."

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Russia Unleashes 28 Kamikaze Drones On Kyiv, Young Family Among Dead
In The News

Russia Unleashes 28 Kamikaze Drones On Kyiv, Young Family Among Dead

A total of 43 of the reported Iranian-made drones fell across the country.

Monday in Kyiv began much as it did one week again: with a new barrage of air attacks that coincided with the morning rush hour: at least three people have been killed and more than a dozen missing under the rubble after at least 28 kamikaze drones targeted the Ukrainian capital.

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Reuters reports from Kyiv that Ukrainian soldiers fired into the air trying to shoot down the drones. Authorities encouraged all residents to take shelter underground. Among the deaths reported was a young couple expecting their first child, reports an advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

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Meet Ibrahim Traoré, Russia’s Favorite New Strongman In Africa
Geopolitics

Meet Ibrahim Traoré, Russia’s Favorite New Strongman In Africa

While Russia is suffering bitter setbacks in the Ukraine war, it is successfully expanding its influence in Africa. With Burkina Faso, Moscow has succeeded in detaching another country from the French sphere of influence. The Kremlin was not only motivated by security policy, but also by digging into the resources available.

-Analysis-

Experience shows that the number of well-wishers after coups d'état is close to zero.

The situation is different for Burkina Faso's new military ruler, Ibrahim Traoré. Although he received the expected condemnation for his September 30 coup from the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union and the West African confederation Ecowas, he also received benevolent words — from Russia.

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They came from Russian oligarch Yevgini Prigozhin, founder of the Kremlin-affiliated mercenary group Wagner.

"I congratulate and support Captain Ibrahim Traoré," the Putin loyalist announced just hours after the coup, when the whole world was still puzzling over who exactly is this soldier, who is just 34 years old and has emerged from the middle ranks of the army hierarchy.

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back vew of a man holding up and waving a little ukrainian flag in front of the Russian Embassy in Washington
Geopolitics

Putin's Thirst For Blood Is A Reckoning For The West

The Russian military is systematically committing war crimes - now for all to see in the middle of Kyiv. It is shameful that the West is not helping adequately, for example with appropriate air defense systems. The time for political excuses is over.

-Analysis-

BERLIN — It was the worst assault of rockets since the first days of the war in late February. Kyiv and other major Ukrainian cities are being targeted primarily against civilians and civilian targets, yet another brazen Russian violation of international law.

We are told it is retaliation for the Ukrainian attack on the Kerch Bridge, which connects Russia to Ukraine's Crimea.

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Like a small child throwing a tantrum, Russia's President Vladimir Putin is lashing out with missile attacks that have no military utility whatsoever, designed instead only to terrorize the population.

This coincides with the arrival of Sergey Surovikin as Russian commander-in-chief of the Ukraine war. His resume includes having flattened the city of Aleppo in the Syrian civil war. Now he has begun using the same terror tactics against Ukrainian cities.

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How An Erdogan-Assad Truce Could Trigger A New Migrant Crisis At Europe's Border
Migrant Lives

How An Erdogan-Assad Truce Could Trigger A New Migrant Crisis At Europe's Border

In Turkey, resentment against Syrian refugees is growing. And President Erdogan – once their patron – is now busy seeking good relations with the man the Syrians fled, the dictator Bashar al-Assad.

ISTANBUL — At some point, they'd simply had enough. Enough of the hostilities, the insecurity, the attacks. In a group on the messenger service Telegram, Syrians living in Turkey called for a caravan – a march to the Turkish-Greek border, and then crossing into the European Union.

Tens of thousands of users are now following updates from the group, in which the organizers are asking Syrian refugees in Arabic to equip themselves with sleeping bags, tents, life jackets, drinking water, canned food and first aid kits. The AFP news agency spoke to an organizer who wants to remain anonymous because of possible reprisals. "We will let you know when it's time to leave," said the 46-year-old Syrian engineer.

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Photo of people putting their hands up in heart shapes following ​Slovenia's decision to legalize same-sex marriage and adoption
LGBTQ Plus

LGBTQ+ International: Slovenia Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage, Outed In Nollywood — And The Week’s Other Top News

Welcome to Worldcrunch’s LGBTQ+ International. We bring you up-to-speed each week on a topic you may follow closely at home, but can now see from different places and perspectives around the world. Discover the latest news on everything LGBTQ+ — from all corners of the planet. All in one smooth scroll!

This week featuring:

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Photo of a fireman walking among rubble after a rocket attack by Russian troops in Kharkiv
In The News

Ukrainian Army Makes New Gains In Regions Annexed By Russia

The Ukrainian army is pushing the front line forward in several directions.

The Ukrainian army is pushing the front line forward in several directions, including the liberation of two more cities – Arkhangelske and Myrolyubivka – in the southern region of Kherson. There were also reports Monday of major breakthroughs by Kyiv forces along the Dnipro River in the south.

Ukraine has also made progress in the past 48 hours in the region of Luhansk. Notably, these are two of the four regions that Vladimir Putin announced that Russia had annexed on Friday.

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With these advances by Ukrainian forces, along with gains in Donetsk (see below) and Zaporizhzhia, Russia does not hold the full territory of any of the areas of occupied Ukraine that Moscow now claims as its own.

Fighting has also intensified in the northeastern Kharkiv region, where Ukraine has also made significant advances and Russia continues shelling in response.

The successful counterattacks by the Ukrainian military in Kherson and the Kharkiv region since last month has left Russian forces controlling less Ukrainian land than they did at the start of the war in February 2022, an analysis by CNN found. Russia’s first massive push overnight into February 24 allowed it to secure or advance on one fifth of Ukrainian territory, or about 119,000 square kilometers. Russia now controls roughly 3,000 square kilometers less land than it did in the first five days of the war.

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Ukrainian soldier
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Along The "New Border" Of Ukraine, Annexation Has Just Doubled The Danger

Vladimir Putin announced the annexation of Ukrainian territories in a ceremony in the Kremlin. In a village just a few kilometers away from what is now the Ukraine-Russia "border" in Putin's eyes, life continues amid constant shelling and the fear of what comes next.

INHULKA — The trail leads over a gravel road, a rickety pontoon bridge past a checkpoint. Here in the remote village of Inhulka near Kherson in southern Ukraine, soldiers sit in front of the village shop. Inside, two women run back and forth behind the counter, making coffee, selling sausages, weighing tomatoes. "Natalochka, where are the cookies," calls a dark-haired lady across the room.

But Natalochka, her colleague, is about to lose her nerve. "What kind of life is that?" she says, finally reaching up to grab the cookies from the top of a shelf. What kind of life can it be, she asks, when something is constantly exploding next to you and you don't know if you'll wake up in the morning.

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Inhulka is the center of a rural community. 1,587 inhabitants, as the village chief says, one school, one kindergarten, one doctor, two stores. Since March, nothing here is as it used to be. That was when the Russian army came to the village.

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Is He Bluffing? Warnings Issued After Putin’s Nuclear Threat
In The News

Is He Bluffing? Warnings Issued After Putin’s Nuclear Threat

Backed in a corner with this month’s successful Ukrainian counter-offensive, Russian President Vladimir Putin made allusions last week to Moscow’s nuclear arsenal. Putin’s veiled threat has prompted a mixture of warnings and posturing over the past 72 hours.

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U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in a weekend interview on U.S. network NBC that “If Russia crosses this line, there will be catastrophic consequences for Russia. The United States will respond decisively.” Sullivan added that the United States has been in frequent and direct contact with Russia to discuss the situation in Ukraine as well as Putin’s actions and threats.

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​China's President Xi Jinping, Uzbekistan's President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Russia's President Vladimir Putin for the 22nd Summit of the SCO
Geopolitics

The Xi-Putin Alliance Is Dead, Long Live The Xi-Putin Alliance

The façade of unity between Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin was lifted in Uzbekistan last week. But where exactly does the Chinese head of state stand on the Russian invasion of Ukraine? Beijing is still establishing its place in the world, and it remains in contradiction to the West

-Analysis-

Xi Jinping is not out of practice. The Chinese President's public demeanor on his first foreign trip since January 2020 was as confident as ever. When meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, he promptly removed his mask and stood inches away from the Russian president, smiling affably.

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What looked routine to the outside world was a diplomatic tightrope walk that the Chinese leader felt compelled to perform. It was the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders since February, when they proclaimed a "friendship without borders" at the Winter Olympics in Beijing. Shortly thereafter, Putin launched his campaign against Ukraine – and the world wondered whether Putin had used his Olympic visit to obtain Xi's approval for his invasion.

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