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An excavator attempts to free the front end of the Ever Given, the container ship which is currently blocking the Suez Canal
An excavator attempts to free the front end of the Ever Given, the container ship which is currently blocking the Suez Canal

Welcome to Friday, where the UK-China diplomatic clash escalates, Ethiopian refugee camps have been razed to the ground and French President Macron has no regrets (really?). We also have an exclusive Le Monde reportage on a secret global outfit that's infiltrating the data of jihadists.

• China-UK diplomatic dispute: China has issued sanctions on nine British individuals and four entities after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson voiced support for a British lawmaker who denounced China's "gross human rights violations."

• Norway remains AstraZeneca skeptic, U.S. vaccinations accelerate: Norway's public health institute announced it will continue to suspend the use of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine by up to three weeks. Other European countries have resumed the use of the vaccine after it's safety was confirmed by the chief EU health body. Meanwhile, in his first press conference as president, Joe Biden doubles down on the impressively rapid U.S. vaccine rollout.

• Refugee camps in Ethiopia destroyed: An international aid team gained access to the Shimelba and Hitsats refugee camps, home to about 20,000 refugees, in Ethiopia's northern Tigray region, only to find them completely destroyed, many burnt to the ground, and all "humanitarian facilities looted and vandalised."

• Projectile attack on oil terminal in Saudi Arabia: A drone attack sparked fire at an oil terminal in southern Saudi Arabia, following a recent increase in attacks by Yemen rebels in the long-simmering war in the region.

• Massive U.S. university sex abuse settlement: The University of Southern California has agreed to pay $1.1 billion to the 710 former students who were patients of the school gynecologist. George Tyndall is still awaiting trial on dozens of charges of sexual abuse.

• Freediver world record swim under ice: French freediver Arthur Guerin-Boeri set a world record for longest distance travelled under a sheet of ice, swimming 120 meters in Finland's Lake Sonnanen.

• Georgia man gets final paycheck in pennies: After leaving his job in November, a Georgia man's boss finally delivered the paycheck, in the form of 90,000 pennies covered in oil on his driveway and an explicit note atop the pile.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

The "Corrosion" Strategy: How Ukraine Targets Russian Networks And Morale

Russia continues to shrink its ambitions in Donbas, as Ukraine doubles down on its strategy of guerilla attacks, interrupting supply and communication contacts and ultimately undermines the morale of the enemy.

Ukrainian soldiers sitting atop a tank in Donbas on May 22

Clemens Wergin

For years to come, military experts will be studying how Ukraine managed to push back a far stronger enemy and grind Russia’s major offensive in the east of the country to a halt.

Some military strategists are already trying to find a term to sum up the Ukrainians’ success. Australian military expert and retired army major general Mick Ryan credited Kyiv's stunning showing to "the adoption of a simple military strategy: corrosion. The Ukrainian approach has embraced the corrosion of the Russian physical, moral, and intellectual capacity to fight and win in Ukraine.”

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Ryan argues that while the Ukrainians have used the firepower they possess to halt the Russian advance, while aggressively targeting their enemy’s greatest shortcoming. “They have attacked the weakest physical support systems of an army in the field – communications networks, logistic supply routes, rear areas, artillery and senior commanders in their command posts,” Ryan wrote.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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