Hello, everyone! I'm asking you to bear with me this week because I am....sick. 🤒
Of course, it all started in the middle of a flight from Iceland to Newark. I was heading home, ready to get back into everyday routines like working out and watering plants and making home-cooked meals full of vegetables, when I suddenly wondered....do I feel funny? I spent the next hour ordering hot tea from the stewardesses and nervously poking at my glands before I realized, 'yes, it is excruciating to swallow, and I am feverish.'
Needless to say, being ill on a transatlantic flight is no fun at all. It's even less fun when your plane lands, and it takes 4 hours to travel 35 miles because every form of public transportation is broken or delayed (thanks, America!).
By the time I got into bed, I was ready to weep from exhaustion, relief, and other illness-induced emotions. Then I slept 11 hours, woke up for 1 hour, and slept for 4 more.
The big question now is: do I have covid?! I've been isolating as if I do, but I'm testing negative. I'm missing some scarier symptoms of covid, like brain fog, loss of taste and smell, and shortness of breath. But I've had the fever, cough, sore throat, and body chills you would expect. I guess all of those symptoms existed before covid. Still, I can't help but doubt the reliability of rapid tests.
For now, the only thing I can do is rest and recuperate and keep testing. I am working remotely and checking emails this week, thanks to the above-mentioned lack of brain fog. But I haven't put together anything for this newsletter aside from this missive. Next week there will be more! Until then, stay healthy and safe wherever you are wandering. And drop me a note to say hi! I'll probably read it from bed.
What I'm reading:
• Something fun: my former colleague twice over and current Politico Europe reporter Leonie Kijewski was assigned to use regional trains to cross Germany from west to east using the country’s temporary cheap travel pass. Here's her dispatch.
• The U.S. and other countries are taking action to label Russian diamonds as “conflict diamonds,” claiming their sale helps pay for Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine, the New York Times reports.
• The U.S. State Department and Yale University identified at least 21 detention sites in Russian-controlled territory. The Russian military or Russian-backed Ukrainian separatists are using the sites to detain, interrogate, or deport civilians and prisoners of war in ways that violate international humanitarian law, the research found.
• Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a sharp increase in the size of Russia’s armed forces. The decree raised the target number of active-duty service members by about 137,000, to 1.15 million, as of January of next year. It is the first time in five years that Putin issued an order changing the overall headcount of the Russian armed forces, the New York Times reports.
• A car bomb killed the daughter of Aleksandr Dugin, an ultra-nationalist writer and ally of President Vladimir Putin, Politico Europe reports.
• Russian opposition politician and former mayor of Yekaterinburg, Yevgeny Roizman, was detained at his home in the latest move by authorities to punish critics of the war in Ukraine, Reuters reports.
This is what happened when people came out in support of Roizman:
• American intelligence agencies believe Russia will increase its efforts to attack civilian infrastructure and government buildings in Ukraine, according to a security alert from the U.S. embassy in Kyiv.
• Preparations for the trial of Ukrainian soldiers captured at Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant are nearing completion, the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic told Russian state television. The Wall Street Journal has the report.
• Ethnic Estonians and the Russian-speaking minority in Estonia are at odds over the war in Ukraine, Politico Europe reports from Narva, where a Soviet-era tank memorial was removed from a park and moved to a museum last week.
• Authorities in Albania arrested two Russian men and a Ukrainian woman on suspicion of espionage after one of the men was found inside a weapons factory, the New York Times reports. The individuals are suspected of being Kremlin spies and were arrested after attacking two guards at the military base with what could be a chemical agent.
• Serbian leader Aleksandar Vučić delivered a speech warning NATO troops to “do their job” in Kosovo — or Serbia would protect its minority there, ABC Australia reports.
• Serbia’s Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin, a pro-Moscow figure, met with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and denounced the West’s sanctions as "hysteria," ABC reports.
• Montenegro's government collapsed over an agreement regulating the status of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the country. The government of Prime Minister Dritan Abazović, in place since April, lost a confidence vote, plunging the country into more political instability, Politico Europe reports.
• Greece’s government is on the ropes following surveillance revelations that brought down the country’s spy chief and an aide to the Prime Minister. One targeted reporter tells Balkan Insight there is much more to come. (Greece's parliament might soon launch a parliamentary inquiry into wiretapping.)
• The death of a three-month-old baby at an overcrowded center for asylum seekers in the Netherlands is being investigated, as medical charity Doctors without Borders were deployed to the controversial facility, Agence France-Presse reports.
• Brazilian police raided several prominent business supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro days after leaked messages appeared to show the men backing a coup d’état if the far-right leader loses his re-election bid in October, the Associated Press reports.
• The Solomon Islands failed to answer a U.S. Coast Guard vessel’s request for a port visit, raising concerns about China’s influence in the region, Reuters reports. The Solomon Islands has had a tense relationship with the U.S. and its allies since striking a security pact with China in May.
• The U.S. military carried out strikes on ammunition and logistics bunkers in northeast Syria used by groups affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Wall Street Journal reports. The fighting between the U.S. and the IRGC has reportedly escalated over the past few days.
• The Biden administration will press ahead with talks on releasing billions of dollars in Afghanistan's foreign-held assets despite frustrations with the Taliban, Reuters reports.
• Fighting between forces from Ethiopia's Tigray region and central government forces erupted around the town of Kobo, ending a months-long ceasefire, Reuters reports.
• Angola’s ruling party is set to win this week's general election by a narrow margin, handing President João Lourenço another five-year term despite allegations of unfairness, the Wall Street Journal reports.
• A 30-hour siege by Shabab militants at a hotel in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, left 21 people dead and 117 wounded, the New York Times reports.
• Kenyan presidential candidate Raila Odinga filed a petition to Kenya’s Supreme Court challenging the country’s recent election results, CNN reports.
What the State Department says:
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