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European Commission wants Ukraine to join bloc’s defence industry support scheme, which would also help use the country’s expertise and bring Kyiv closer to EU membership ( www.euractiv.com )

One of the three goals of the European Defence Investment Programme (EDIP) proposal is the step “contributing to the recovery, reconstruction and modernisation of the Ukrainian defence technological and industrial base and progressive integration into the European, thereby contributing to mutual stability, security, peace,...

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Israeli Attacks Continue Unabated After Gaza Food Aid Massacre, 4 More Children Starve to Death

In Gaza, the official death toll has topped 30,200 as Israeli forces continue their deadly attacks, one day after soldiers fired on people waiting for aid in northern Gaza. Over 112 people were killed and 760 injured.

European action plan to acquire ammunition for Ukraine takes shape ( www.euractiv.com )

Several separate and parallel initiatives — the EU-led ammunition plan, a Czech-led bulk ammunition purchase and a series of bilateral security deals between Ukraine and individual Western countries — should ship at least 700,000 shells over the next couple of months....

Lies and scandal: How two rogue scientists at a secret lab worked to benefit China and triggered a national security calamity ( www.cbc.ca )

The release earlier this week of hundreds of documents related to the dismissal of two scientists — Dr. Xiangguo Qiu and her husband Keding Cheng — has pulled back the curtain on an explosive national security probe at the Winnipeg-based National Microbiology Lab, part of the Canadian Science Centre for Human and Animal...

Maldives imperiled between tantalizing promise of development under China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the lurking threat of crushing debt obligations eroding national sovereignty ( www.newsday.co.zw )

With the finance ministry reporting a staggering $550 million budget deficit this year alone, the extent of the Maldives’ financial mess is apparent. Obligations of nearly $400 million in Chinese debt repayments due in 2024 and 2025, exceeding $1 billion in 2026, underscore the burden imposed by unrestrained BRI borrowings....

"Obviously it does buy China a lot of influence:" China wants Canadian private investment in Belt and Road projects, amid scrutiny from Western governments ( canada.constructconnect.com )

In 2019, the World Bank said that the Belt and Road Initiative connects far-reaching rural regions in the global south with economic opportunities and cheaper goods....

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Last year, researchers at AidData, the World Bank, the Harvard Kennedy School, and the Kiel Institute for the World Economy in Germany found that Beijing has dramatically expanded emergency rescue lending to sovereign borrowers in financial distress—or outright default.

Essentially, however, China has been bailing out its own banks, the study found. You can download the study here.


China had undertaken 128 rescue loan operations across 22 debtor countries worth $240 billion [by March 2023 when the study was published]. These include many so-called “rollovers,” in which the same short-term loans are extended again and again to refinance maturing debts.

Less than 5 percent of Beijing’s overseas lending portfolio supported borrower countries in distress in 2010, but that figure soared to 60 percent by 2022. Therefore, China's new funding schemes pivoted away from infrastructure project lending to ramping up liquidity support operations. Nearly 80% of its emergency rescue lending was issued between 2016 and 2021.

China does not offer bailouts to all BRI borrowers: low-income countries are typically offered a debt restructuring that involves a grace period or final repayment date extension but no new money, while middle-income countries tend to receive new money to avoid default. The reason is that these middle-income countries represent 80% or more than $500 billion of China’s total overseas lending, thus posing major balance sheet risks, so Chinese banks have incentives to keep them afloat via bailouts.

Borrowing from Beijing in emergency situations comes at a high price. Rescue loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) carries a 2% interest rate, while the average interest rate attached to a Chinese rescue loan is 5% in comparable situations.

18-Year-Old Darya Kozyreva Jailed in Russia for Anti-War Activism, Faces Two-Year Sentence ( bnnbreaking.com )

Kozyreva's defiance, demonstrated through social media posts and public displays of anti-war poetry, has led to her arrest and potential two-year penal colony sentence, spotlighting the ongoing struggle for freedom of expression in Russia.

Undermining Ukraine: How Russia widened its global information war in 2023 ( www.atlanticcouncil.org )

Western sanctions applied in the wake of the initial invasion disrupted Russia’s ability to reach some European audiences with its state-sponsored media outlets. But Russia has since adjusted its information operations to focus more on social media; in addition to attacking Western public support to fund Ukraine’s defense,...

European Parliament calls on EU to give Ukraine whatever it needs to defeat Russia, U.S. House of Representatives must adopt stalled military assistance 'without delay' ( www.europarl.europa.eu )

For Kyiv to win, there should be “no self-imposed restriction on military assistance to Ukraine”, with Parliament reaffirming the need to provide the country with whatever is needed to regain full control over its internationally recognised territory....

Massive turnout at Navalny's funeral in Russia despite obstacles from the Kremlin, people shouting 'no to war' and ' Putin is a killer' --- (article includes videos) ( m.novinite.com )

In a powerful display of solidarity and defiance, over 10,000 individuals gathered outside a church in Moscow today for the funeral of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Chanting slogans such as "Alexei" and "We are not afraid," mourners paid their respects to Navalny, who died in prison on February 16.

SpaceX Starlink terminals openly available on Russian website offered by Chinese drone maker DJI claiming to be an "official distributor" ( www.newsweek.com )

The revelation follows allegations Russian forces are deploying Starlink in their invasion of Ukraine, now in its third year. DJI says it forbids distributors from selling its products in instances of suspected combat end-use. In April 2022, the tech firm announced it was temporarily suspending business in both Russia and...

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Massive Turnout at Navalny's Funeral Despite Obstacles from the Kremlin, people shouting 'no to war' and 'Putin is a killer' (article includes videos)

In a powerful display of solidarity and defiance, over 10,000 individuals gathered outside a church in Moscow today for the funeral of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Chanting slogans such as "Alexei" and "We are not afraid," mourners paid their respects to Navalny, who died in prison on February 16.

Driven by economic hardship and war fatigue, Russians are increasingly in favour of withdrawing troops from Ukraine without achieving the war's objectives, according to recent sociological research ( voxeurop.eu )

By the end of 2023, Russians who support a troop withdrawal from Ukraine "without achieving the war goals" were for the first time more numerous than those who oppose such a move. Ordinary Russians consider the war to be the most important negative fact in their lives and want it to end quickly....

Scientist fired from Winnipeg disease lab intentionally worked to benefit China, potentially putting people's health in jeopardy, Canadian intelligence says ( www.cbc.ca )

One of the scientists who was fired from Canada's top infectious disease laboratory "intentionally" shared scientific information with China, says an assessment by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS)....

India to look elsewhere for oil amid new sanctions on Russian trade ( trendydigests.com )

Indian refiners are concerned that the sanctions could lead to challenges in securing vessels for Russian oil, which would, in turn, push up freight rates. Additionally, payment issues related to the sanctions have been holding up purchases of Russian crude oil, with some tankers previously headed to India diverting elsewhere....

Putin failed to conquer Navalny or Ukraine, he's had better luck with Trump’s GOP: The U.S. Republican Party’s alignment with Putin’s Russia becomes clear. ( www.theframelab.org )

"The murder of Navalny provided a depressing end to a two-week run during which Putin — with lots of help from prominent Republicans — dominated the news."

The Billionaire-Fueled Lobbying Group Behind the State Bills to Ban Basic Income Experiments in the U.S. ( www.scottsantens.com )

The Foundation for Government Accountability was founded in Florida in 2011 by Tarren Bragdon after cutting his chops in Maine at the Maine Heritage Policy Center and then as adviser to Maine's governor, LePage. It was in Maine where Bragdon and a cohort of fellow young conservatives gained a reputation for outrageous...

Global study: many say their country would be better off if more women, people from poor backgrounds and young adults held elective office ( www.pewresearch.org )

Solid majorities in each of the 24 countries surveyed by Pew Research Center in 2023 describe representative democracy, or a democratic system where representatives elected by citizens decide what becomes law, as a somewhat or very good way to govern their country....

Reconstruction in Ukraine to cost $486 billion over the next decade, up from $411 billion estimated a year ago, report says ( news.un.org )

The highest needs are in housing, or 17 per cent of the overall estimated costs, followed by transport, commerce and industry, agriculture and energy. Social protection and livelihood support and explosive hazard management are pegged at under 10 per cent, respectively, according to the UN....

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