World

Ukraine’s spirit isn’t even close to broken

Rome and Kyiv have one thing in common – the distinctive whine of motor-scooter engines in the night. The difference is that in Kyiv the high, Vespa-like noise does not rise from the streets but drifts down from among snow-laden clouds. It’s the unmistakable sound made by Iranian-designed Shahed-136 suicide drones, essentially modern-day doodlebugs armed with warheads big enough to collapse a medium-sized building. Kyivans nickname these sky-borne menaces ‘mopeds’. Shaheds are slow-moving, low altitude and easy to spot, so Russia fires them after dark. With a great deal of noise and spectacular flashes in the night sky, Ukrainian anti-aircraft and Patriot missile batteries usually blow most of them out

Gavin Mortimer

Will the Tories be wiped out like the French Republicans?

Vote for me or you’ll end up with Keir Starmer. That was the threat from Rishi Sunak on Monday evening when in front of the GB News cameras he addressed voters in Country Durham. The Prime Minister warned that the general election will be a straightforward choice between the Conservatives and Labour. He then listed what was at stake: controlling spending, cutting taxes, boosting the economy, protecting borders and policing the streets. ‘All of those things that you care about, who is more likely to deliver them?’ Not the Tories, if the polls are to be believed. One poll last month predicted the party will be ‘wiped out’ in the

Lionel Messi shouldn’t have been in Hong Kong in the first place

Football has turned messy in Hong Kong. Last Sunday, the beleaguered Hong Kong Chinese Communist party was hoping for a public relations boost after Inter Miami agreed to play a friendly in the city against the Hong Kong Team. Instead, the game was overshadowed by a furious row after Miami footballer Lionel Messi failed to come out on the pitch because of a groin injury. The Hong Kong government reacted with outrage, and fans booed the players and demanded refunds. Three days later Messi was well enough to play in Japan, adding insult to injury in the eyes of the CCP. The outcry has now spread to mainland China, with state

Israel has to invade Rafah if it wants to destroy Hamas

When news broke that Israel planned to start an offensive in the city of Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, it was faced with a barrage of warnings and condemnations, including from its allies. Foreign Secretary David Cameron urged Israel to ‘think seriously’ before it launched a large-scale operation in the city. US President Biden called on Israel to halt the offensive. The EU representative for foreign affairs and security, Joseph Borrell, urged Israel’s allies to stop arming it, and Egypt threatened to suspend the peace deal over the planned offensive. Rafah sits close to the border with Egypt. Originally home to about 250,000 people, it’s where

Gavin Mortimer

The sinister transformation of Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg spent her weekend in France supporting two environmental campaigns. On Sunday she appeared at a rally in Bordeaux against an oil drilling project; 24 hours earlier the 21-year-old Swede was further east, adding her voice to those activists opposed to the construction of a new stretch of motorway between Toulouse and Castres. ‘We are here in solidarity with those who are resisting this project and this madness’, said Thunberg in English, her now familiar keffiyeh round her neck. Some French media described Thunberg as an ‘anti-global warming icon’ and the ‘figurehead in the fight to protect the planet’. She might have been once. Now, however, in her ubiquitous keffiyeh, appearing to chant ‘Crush

Greta Thunberg

The battle for Rafah could turn into a bloodbath

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu views the conflict in Gaza as a zero-sum game – with Israel either destroying Hamas or losing the war. Given that is his strategy, the assault on the city of Rafah in the southernmost part of Gaza, where the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) believe up to four battalions of Hamas terrorists are holed-up, makes perfect sense, at least to him. On Saturday, in the face of growing international concern about the forthcoming operation, Netanyahu announced: ‘Those who say that under no circumstances should we enter Rafah are basically saying lose the war, keep Hamas there.’ During the night, Israel began a missile bombardment of the city.

Why is President Biden scared of Iran?

The Biden administration often appears more afraid of Iran than Iran is of the Biden administration. That is a very dangerous dynamic for the United States. While the military action President Joe Biden has ordered this week to counter the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its axis of resistance is degrading Iran’s capacity, it is not deterring its will. President Biden often appears uncomfortable speaking about Iran. Throughout his presidency, he has never delivered substantive, formal remarks outlining his Iran policy. This is unusual for a regime that poses a significant threat to American interests and values. On January 30, when the president was asked about his response to Iran’s axis

Russia’s ‘Red Ripper’ Andrei Chikatilo was a uniquely Soviet serial killer

In the wake of Vladimir Putin’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, as atrocities like the killings at Bucha and Irpin came to light, there were repeated internet posts comparing Russia’s president to another figure from the country’s history. This wasn’t some expansionist empire-builder of the past, but Andrei Chikatilo, the mass-murderer and cannibal from Russia’s Rostov region. He was convicted of 52 murders in 1992 (most of them children or minors) and executed a couple of years later. I first caught sight of Chikatilo in 1992 in a British TV news report on his crimes. Caged in a Rostov-on-Don courtroom, the accused, shaven-headed and crazed-looking, was a figure from a nightmare;

Freddy Gray

How bad is the border crisis?

33 min listen

Freddy is joined by Todd Bensman, fellow at the Centre for Immigration Studies and author of Overrun: how Joe Biden unleashed the greatest border crisis in US history. They discuss how to solve what is perhaps the issue of our time, why meaningful reform doesn’t seem to happen on immigration, and the extent of Biden’s physical and mental frailty after a week of public gaffes. 

Gavin Mortimer

The left can’t stand France’s new culture minister

France’s new minister of culture has promised to put an end to the creeping cancel culture that is threatening the country. ‘Today wokeism has become a policy of censorship,’ said Rachida Dati, who was appointed to her post last month. ‘I am in favour of the freedom of art, the freedom of creation, and I am not in favour of censorship’. She explained that she will launch her campaign next week, summoning the great and the good of the cultural world to ‘ensure that we support creative freedom and do not support these new censors.’ Dati might have had in mind the 1,200 poets, editors, publishers, booksellers and actors, who

Germany’s rustbelt is reviving – but voters are still flocking to the AfD

West Germany’s first chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, hated eastern Germany and said – possibly apocryphally – that Asia begins at the east bank of the Elbe River. When people visit my forest in what’s long been Brandenburg’s rustbelt, I caution that Asiatic Germany isn’t Adenauer’s bucolic Rhineland, let alone Munich or Hamburg. Yet the ‘rustbelt’ moniker no longer suits a region that, while down and out for decades, is rebounding, powered by new industry and proximity to booming Berlin, the capital’s new airport and a Tesla factory. Even low-tech forestry is making money after having been on life-support five years ago. But there are also levels of anger I have never

Freddy Gray

Joe Biden isn’t working

Joe Biden isn’t working. That much has been clear to anyone who has followed American politics for the past four years. The 81-year-old often has no idea what he is saying or where he is. Yet it’s only now, months away from his possible re-election, that the Department of Justice, apparently in an attempt to exonerate him for committing a crime Donald Trump is accused of, has admitted the obvious: he’s not really in charge of himself, let alone the country.  After interrogating Biden about his hoarding of classified documents, Special Counsel Robert K. Hur reported: We have also considered that, at trial, Mr Biden would likely present himself to

Tucker Carlson failed Putin’s history class

They say that he who sups with the devil should have a long spoon. But, driven by vanity and unconstrained by any understanding of Russia’s history or politics, Tucker Carlson slurped up the intoxicating broth of Vladimir Putin’s falsifications this week in his interview with the Russian president. Carlson took to Moscow well. His Russian hosts rolled out the red carpet, fawning over him with an admiration and servility that betrayed their sense of exasperation at being long shunned by the West. They saw him as a glittering American Prometheus who might just be gullible enough to take the fire of Russian disinformation back home. It was not the first

Gavin Mortimer

Taylor Swift can’t save the EU

The EU hopes that Taylor Swift and other pop starlets will come to its rescue in June’s European elections. With pollsters predicting significant gains for the right, Brussels’ ruling elite is preparing to turn to ‘famous artists, actors, athletes and other stars for help’. Their ambition is to persuade these personalities to encourage their young fans to vote in the elections – and to vote for them, the ruling centrist elite.   ‘No one can mobilise young people better than young people, that’s how it works,’ said Margaritis Schinas, the EU Commissioner for Promoting the European Way of Life, recently. ‘That works better than commissioners speaking from the press room.’ A generation ago,

Steerpike

Biden branded ‘well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory’

Special Counsel Robert K. Hur submitted his report on the confidential documents found in President Biden’s Delaware garage — and Mr S can confirm, it’s a doozy.  The report is brutal in its characterisation of Biden’s acuity. It says that Biden ‘did not remember when he was vice president’ Hur found that Biden wilfully concealed the fact that he held confidential documents, citing a recorded interview with his ghostwriter from 2017 where he claimed to have ‘stumbled upon classified documents.’ Amazingly, in 2023, Biden claimed not to have any recollection of this. In what CNN calls a ‘searing report’, Hur said, ‘We have also considered that, at trial, Mr Biden would likely

Freddy Gray

Nobody can stop Vladimir Putin… from talking

The trouble with ageing authoritarians is not necessarily that nobody dares tell them they are wrong. It’s that nobody ever tells them they are being tiresome. A less polite man might have aggressively interrupted his interviewee, but would that have stopped Vlad, the intellectual impaler?  Yes, as Tucker Carlson’s big interview in Moscow finally dropped online tonight, the world learned that Vladimir Putin is, among other things, an almighty history bore. He just cannot be stopped. Following all the controversy and intrigue about what might be said, Putin managed to smother the excitement of the interview under an iron curtain of his own autodidactism. It was impressive, in a mind-numbing way.  Carlson

America might regret its Baghdad drone strike

The latest American drone strike in Iraq, which killed the commander of a powerful Iranian-backed militia group, is one more dangerous escalation in the increasingly unpredictable Middle East conflict. The US strike in the Iraqi capital Baghdad targeted Wisam ‘Abu Baqer’ al-Saadi – a senior leader of Kataib Hezbollah, which the Pentagon blames for the attack that led to the deaths of three American soldiers in Jordan last month. The rationale for the American retaliation is clear enough. It sends a powerful message that Washington will punish attacks on US forces in the region, using every means to hunt down those responsible. Everyone and everything – from military leaders to

Mark Galeotti

How long will Nadezhdin dare to defy Putin?

Despite a little eleventh-hour drama, Boris Nadezhdin’s bid to become the only genuine opposition candidate in March’s Russian elections has been blocked. What’s interesting is not that he was barred, but what this whole process says about the evolution of ‘late Putinism.’ Once, after all, it was marked both by a – limited but real – degree of genuine pluralism, especially at a local level, and also dramaturgiya, a theatrical facsimile of genuine democratic politics. The elections were stage-managed, of course, and the so-called ‘systemic opposition’ knew that their job was to put on a show rather than actually challenge the regime. Nonetheless, the showrunners appreciated the importance of spectacle, both

Why the EU detests Hungary

To misquote von Clausewitz, the European Union sees lawfare as the continuation of politics by other means. Brussels’s latest sally against the government of Viktor Orbán in Hungary, which it viscerally detests (and which seriously rattled Eurocrats last week with its calculated brinkmanship over the Ukrainian aid programme) is a nice example. The new casus belli is a piece of domestic Hungarian legislation from last year, the Act on the Defence of National Sovereignty. (For a fairly rough English translation of the law, see here.) The measure is essentially aimed at making it harder for transnational NGOs and foreign-funded organisations like the Soros Foundation (called the ‘dollar left’ and the ‘Soros Empire’ in Hungary) to