CLAIRE BERLINSKI, PARIS
💨 A quick tour around the world
Inside the city of the damned. David Patrikarikos writes about the unimaginable evil in Kherson:
A cloud of thick smoke hangs over the occupied city of Kherson in Ukraine. Its very stench is evidence of Russian war crimes, on a scale almost too sickening to contemplate.
The smoke comes from mobile incinerators that are running night and day. Vladimir Putin’s paranoid soldiers are burning the corpses of Ukrainian citizens tortured and murdered on suspicion of helping the resistance. And they are dispatching the bodies of their own comrades too—hundreds of them.
The Russian army is still shelling Ukrainian cities, but the rolling barrage along the front line appears to have stopped. Observers say a turning point has been reached, thanks in large part to military aid.
⚰️ Russia is readying the zinc coffins. US officials believe Russia is facing its toughest fight since World War II, with as many as 80,000 Russian troops killed or wounded since the invasion began.
☢️ UN demands access to Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, calls attacks “suicidal.” “Any attack to a nuclear plant is a suicidal thing,” Guterres said, calling for the International Atomic Energy Agency to be granted access to the plant in southeastern Ukraine to assess the conditions there.
🌾 Getting grain out of Ukraine is literally a minefield. Civilian mariners navigating mine-infested waters in the Black Sea need all the help they can get from Western allies, because Putin might seek to sabotage the grain shipment deal.
Amnesty regrets ‘distress’ caused by claims in Ukraine report: Amnesty sparked outrage in Ukraine by publishing a report accusing its military of endangering civilians. The head of Amnesty’s Ukraine office resigned in protest, accusing the rights organization of parroting Kremlin propaganda.
Ukrainian and Russian social media mobs and trolls: they are all at it today attacking @amnesty investigations. This is called war propaganda, disinformation, misinformation. This wont dent our impartiality and wont change the facts. https://t.co/YvMy2E3d6p
— Agnes Callamard (@AgnesCallamard) August 4, 2022
I am a deputy of the Kyiv City Council, and a soldier of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
I’m not a social media mob and troll, and I’m writing to you from a verified twitter account that you have a russian dick in your mouth.
— Alina Mykhailova (@Mykhailova_A) August 7, 2022
🚢🌾🌻🌽 Another convoy of ships—laden with grain, corn, sunflower seeds, and sunflower oil—left Ukrainian ports:
🇨🇳🇹🇼 China announces fresh drills in seas and airspace around Taiwan: A day after the scheduled end of its largest ever exercises to protest against last week’s visit to Taipei by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, China’s Eastern Theater Command said it would conduct joint drills focusing on anti-submarine and sea assault operations, confirming the fears of some security analysts and diplomats that Beijing would continue to maintain pressure on Taiwan’s defenses.
🇨🇳🇹🇼 Ten warships each from China and Taiwan were maneuvering at close quarters in the Taiwan Strait, with some Chinese vessels crossing the median line. “We will never bow to pressure. We uphold freedom and democracy, and believe Taiwanese disapprove [of] China’s bullying actions with force and saber rattling at our door,” Premier Su Tseng-chang said.
🇨🇳🇹🇼 A blockade of Taiwan would cripple China’s economy. If a real Chinese blockade were challenged by the United States and the Taiwan Strait were designated a war zone, trade finance and insurance would evaporate for all shipping in the area. Any real-life disruption of the sea lanes to the east and west of Taiwan would have a crippling effect on China’s own economy, since its major ports of Shanghai, Dalian, Tianjin and others are dependent on passage through waters near Taiwan.
🇨🇳🌍 Beijing shifts focus of Belt and Road Initiative to the Middle East: Sensing an opportunity to solidify its position in the region, Beijing has shifted the funding focus of BRI to ride the geopolitical tides. … China has long sought a significant foothold in the Middle East in its battle with the US for global hegemony. The ultimate realization of this goal will be upending the US-dollar-dominated global oil trade.
🇨🇳 Divergent narratives on China’s future: “There now is an active debate in the United States over whether China’s power is peaking or ascending. In a recent closed-door workshop of China experts I co-hosted, views were evenly divided on this question.”
🇨🇳 Xi’s Great Leap Backward: Beijing is running out of recipes for its looming jobs crisis—and reviving Mao-era policies.
🌍 Middle East
🇮🇱🚀 A “fragile” truce brokered by Egypt between Israel and Islamic Jihad militants in Gaza appears to be holding. Since Friday, Israel has carried out heavy aerial and artillery bombardment of Islamic Jihad positions in Gaza, with the militants firing hundreds of rockets in retaliation. Buildings in Gaza have been reduced to rubble, while Israelis have been forced to shelter from the barrage of rockets.
Islamic Jihad rockets killed more civilians in Gaza than IDF airstrikes did. According to the IDF, 200 out of 1,100 Islamic Jihad rockets fell in Gaza.
Iron Dome passes another Gaza war missile test: If there is one thing clear as war breaks out in southern Israel and the Gaza strip, it is that Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system works and works in spectacular fashion. Faced with the launch of over 70 missiles, many of them simultaneously, the Iron Dome interceptors picked them off quickly, one by one:
🇩🇪🦦 Deep trouble for EU shipping push as Rhine River runs dry. Water levels for Western Europe’s most important waterway are falling fast, endangering German industry.
🇪🇺🇹🇼 Why Europe needs Taiwan. Europe has built up its dependency on Taiwanese chips over many years. A Chinese attack could instantly wreck a vital supply line, with little or no warning.
🇭🇺 Orbán’s use of fascist terminology obscured elements of his speech that delighted the pro-Putin propagandists of the Russian media—because Orbán also spoke at length about Ukraine, claiming that the war’s real cause was the West, and in particular its rejection of Russia’s “security demands.” … Just like Orbán’s comments on “race mixing,” this line of argument has a history:
A US administration that wants to avoid [the solidification of the Orbán-Putin axis] should follow a careful but firm policy. It should demand action against the substantial Russian intelligence presence in Hungary and threaten to downgrade ties if Orbán’s government refuses. It should support truly independent local media that have played a crucial role in exposing corrupt deals …. It should also seek to strengthen relations with politicians in Hungary who are partisans of strong, values-based transatlantic ties. Last, but not least, it should be upfront—just like the US Embassy in Budapest was after Orbán’s speech—and consistent about what it considers acceptable rhetoric from an ally.
🇷🇺🔥 Russia is playing with fire in the Balkans. While all eyes are on Ukraine, Russia is using the Balkans, which Putin sees as Europe’s soft underbelly, as the next battlefield to weaken NATO and the European Union.
🇫🇷🐋 Paris is captivated by the plight of a lost Beluga whale, stranded in the Seine about 44 miles north of Paris. It is ailing—it is very lost—and it has stopped eating and moving. They’re debating whether they should open the locks to encourage it to swim toward the English Channel, but they’re worried it will swim the wrong way and wind up in Paris, which definitely wouldn’t help. I fear this story will end in heartbreak. (In French.)
🇷🇺 Russia shifts its battleground to Africa: Both Russia and the West have focused on Africa since the March vote at the United Nations that condemned Russia’s invasion. Half of all African states abstained. Since then, Russia has sought to reinforce its narrative about the war in African countries, while the West has sought to change their minds.
🇰🇪 Kenya’s mega-infrastructure frenzy risks pushing country into debt distress. Incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta has left his country dependent on China and on an International Monetary Fund program.
- Kenya 2022: The most boring election.
- How do the Kenyan elections work?
- Kenya’s presidential candidates hold final rallies on election eve.
- Kenyan presidential wildcard plans four-day weeks, cannabis farms.
- Touch not my anointed: Holy fever grips Kenya in election season.
- The “deep state” conspiracy theory tainting Kenya’s elections.
🇹🇩 Chad’s junta, rebel groups sign ceasefire. The military government and more than forty rebel groups agreed to a ceasefire before talks planned for August 20 in N’Djamena. But the deal didn’t include Chad’s main rebel group.
🇷🇼🇨🇩 Rwandan troops attacked soldiers inside DR Congo and aided the M23 rebel group with weapons and support, a UN expert group said, citing “solid evidence” despite reiterated denials by Kigali.
🇺🇸 US Senate adopts sweeping climate and health plan, a major victory for Biden and Democrats. After 18 months of arduous negotiations and a marathon night of debate, the US Senate passed Biden’s climate, tax and health care plan.
🇺🇸🦠 Prior to 2020, Congress conducted 167 hearings on the threat of emerging infectious diseases. Government officials knew that an infectious disease outbreak was likely and would have dire consequences for Americans’ health and the economy. They also knew the US wasn’t prepared—and that it needed to prepare. But when Covid19 arrived, the US wasn’t prepared at all. Why not?
🇲🇽 Efforts continued to rescue ten miners trapped underground in the El Pinabete coal mine in Sabinas, Coahuila, in Mexico. Critics say there was “clear evidence” the mine could collapse.
🇺🇳☢️ UN Secretary-General Guterres warns of nuclear arms race. In Japan for the anniversaries of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Antonio Guterres implored nuclear powers to stick to their no-first-strike policies.
- 🇯🇵 Related: As Japan marks atomic bomb anniversaries, threat from China breaks military taboo.
🐈⬛ Today’s animal: The alley cat
Claire Berlinski is the editor of the Cosmopolitan Globalist.