The Atlas Newsletter - Volume 17

The Atlas Newsletter – World Updates & International News

Monday, May 22nd, 2023

Good morning everyone,

It’s been a big week with the G7 meeting in Japan and the capture of Bakhmut in Ukraine. Briefly, though, Atlas is continuously creating new content for the app and website as things develop throughout the world and for our team. If you haven’t already, you should consider creating an account on the website to gain access to special features and exclusive content. Ultimately, Atlas began and remains in the trenches with our readers. We are incredibly grateful to you all and appreciate the weekly feedback we receive as we continue to develop our app, website, newsletter, and other content to bring you top-of-the-line news.

Now to the important part. In Europe, Wagner Group claims control of Bakhmut, protests erupt in Georgia, and Ukraine invades Russian territory. Over in the Middle East, the Turkish election gets a big announcement, Israel clashes with fighters in Nablus, and Iranian border guards are attacked by unknown militants. In Africa, an American convoy comes under attack, protests erupt and turn violent in the DRC, and Sudan reaches a ceasefire. In the Americas, the migrant crisis continues as Mexico rescues dozens, Guatemala has an election announcement, and Brazil charges a former president with corruption. Then in Asia and Oceania, South Korea sends experts to Japan to test nuclear waste, while India and the United States meet with Papua New Guinea, to the excitement of New Zealand and Australia.

It’s just another day at the office. Let's dive in:

- Joshua Paulo, Sebastien Gray, Trent Barr & the Atlas team

2023 G7 Meeting in Japan

(Photo - Reuters)

Sunday, May 21st, 2023: Leaders of the world’s most powerful democracies gathered for the Group of Seven (G7) summit in Hiroshima, Japan, this weekend, with focuses set for discussing the war in Ukraine, managing the world economy, and the emergence of a highly aggressive China. The summit saw guest appearances from several nations, most notably from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine.

The summit’s primary talking point revolved around the member states collective relationship with China, most notably how to eliminate the threat of expansion without damaging economic ties with the Chinese. The meeting nations called on China to "engage" with them and emphasized that they "stand prepared to build constructive and stable relations", but much of the conference was highly wary of China and critical of China's expansionism and economic coercion, particularly in Asia.

"There is no legal basis for China's expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea, and we oppose China's militarization activities in the region," the summit's ending communiqué reads.

However, the G7 declared they did not seek to "thwart China's economic progress and development" and that each country would work in its own national interest on particular issues with China.

Japan echoed this sentiment in a statement from an anonymous government official, saying, "There are differences among the G7 nations in terms of issues such as the U.S. investment restrictions on China."

France spoke for Europe in saying, "At the heart of the message we wanted to get across at this G7 was the European position that China is a partner, complements us, and is a systemic rival, all presented in G7 language."

President Biden said he expected a thaw in relations with Beijing "very shortly". He also noted that the United States aimed to not even be dependent on any one country for vital resources. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the G7 nations would continue major investments in China regardless of the riskier exposure.

China responded harshly to the summit, summoning the Japanese envoy and announcing it would block US-based Micron Technology Inc. from selling memory chips to key Chinese industries.

Ukranian President Zelenskyy made a dramatic appearance at the G7, delivering a speech on Sunday as the United States announced another round of defense support to Ukraine, this time including F-16 multirole aircraft. This move notably backpedals on President Biden’s promise not to send these aircraft, as Russia promises retaliation for such a move. Zelenskyy remarked in his speech that photos of the city where the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb in 1945 "absolutely remind me of Bakhmut and other cities like it." He added that there is "absolutely nothing alive there, all buildings are destroyed, there is even no understanding of where a street is and where a building is. Absolute total destruction Nothing left, no people left."

The G7 also called on China to appeal to Russia for peace.


May 20th, 2023 - Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner PMC group, has claimed complete control over the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. He further stated that not only would Wagner be withdrawing from the city on May 25th and handing it over to the Russian military, but also that Wagner would be pulling from all front lines in Ukraine. They have sustained immense losses in the several-month battle and need time to recuperate. All this being said, some of their top fighters are headed to Sudan, where the RSF has been enjoying Wagner’s support. Ukraine, of course, denies the city has been fully captured and claims to still have holdouts on the outskirts.

May 19th, 2023 - There have been a series of protests held in Georgia over the last few days as citizens protest a direct flight from Moscow to Tbilisi, the first since 2019, as well as a wedding involving the daughter of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, supposedly held in Georgia. The daughter, Ekaterina Lavrova, as well as her husband and her husband’s brother, the alleged host of the wedding, are all sanctioned individuals. Clashes broke out between protestors and police, which resulted in 16 arrests.

Protestors in Georgia against the Russian flight (Photo from Rayhan Demytrie/BBC).

May 22nd, 2023 - A village in the Belgorod Oblast of Russia has reportedly been seized by Ukrainian troops under the "Freedom of Russia Legion". Belgorod Governor Gladkov has confirmed the action and stated Russian forces are on their way to "eliminate the saboteurs". The "Freedom of Russia Legion" is a Ukrainian unit formed of both Russian military defectors and non-military Russian volunteers. Fighting has been reported in Kozinka, Glotovo, Gora-Podol, and Grayvoron, with Gayvoron being the village seized. The situation is actively developing.

Middle East

May 22nd, 2023 - Sinan Ogan, the man in third place in Turkey’s recent election, has announced he will endorse incumbent President Erdogan in the upcoming Turkish run-off election on May 28th. Neither Erdogan nor Kilicdaroglu received the 50% of the vote they needed to win the previous election. Ogan received 5.2% of the total vote, which would be enough to throw either candidate over the 50% threshold needed for victory.

Sinan Ogan and President Erdogan pictured at a meeting between the two on May 19th (Photo from Reuters).

May 22nd, 2023 - Three Palestinians were killed and seven injured in an Israeli raid in Nablus this morning as fierce clashes took place between the IDF and Palestinian militants. The three killed have been claimed as fighters of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade. Israel has been stepping up it’s crackdowns on Palestinian militant groups over the past several months, with raids producing fatalities fairly often. Several hundred people attended the funeral procession for the three killed, which was held a number of hours after the raid.

May 21st, 2023 - Iranian State Media has reported that five Iranian border guards were killed by a thus-far unknown armed group, originating from Pakistan, that was attempting to enter the country. The announcement stated that they inflicted casualties on the militants, but did not say how many. Two guards were also wounded in the clashes.


May 16th, 2023 - An American convoy in Nigeria came under attack, resulting in the deaths of 4 people and the kidnapping of 3 (though, they have since been rescued). 2 of the dead were Nigerian police officers, and the other 2 were staff of the US embassy. Notably, none of those killed were US nationals.

May 20th, 2023 - Protests concerning the DRC’s upcoming election in December are already arising as citizens gathered in the DRC capital, Kinshasa, to protest what they say are “irregularities” for people attempting to register to vote in the election. Protestors also protested against the high cost of living in the nation, calling President Tshisekedi corrupt. Protestors clashed with police after police said they deviated from the pre-determined path for their march. Police fired tear gas in the protests.

Protestors and police pictured in Kinshasa on May 20th (Photo - France24).

May 22nd, 2023 - A ceasefire between the Sudanese government and the RSF is due to come into effect tonight, set to last for one week. The ceasefire has been being negotiated for around two weeks in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah, brokered by them and the US. While the agreement is to allow for humanitarian organizations to have a moment to support the struggling populace, many are hoping it can put an end to the conflict. Some are less hopeful, however, due to the number of ceasefires which were established and then nearly immediately broken. Both sides have affirmed their commitment to it, but only time will tell.

The Americas

May 18th, 2023 - The Mexican Army rescued 49 kidnapped migrants, including 11 children, on Thursday. The migrants were found in separate groups within Mexico’s central state of San Luis Potosi and the neighboring state of Nuevo Leon. The migrants were kidnapped after a group of criminals entered the bus during a stop at a gas station. Officials of the bus company reported the abduction on Tuesday and told local media they received a demand of 40,000 pesos ($2,250) for each migrant. Two bus drivers remain missing; however, "we're going to keep looking, and the drivers are a priority," Mexico’s Defense Minister, Luis Cresencio Sandoval, promised during the announcement. The total busload of migrants is estimated to be 50; however, Sandoval hasn’t ruled out the possibility of more migrants being involved. 

A Mexican soldier mans his machine gun while guarding the perimeter of a government building. (Photo - AP/Felix Marquez)

May 19, 2023 - A judge has suspended Guatemalan presidential frontrunner Carlos Pineda on Friday following accusations of "noncompliance with rules governing the nomination process." Mr. Pineda was quick to deny the accusations, accusing the judge of kicking him off for "refusing to be an ally to corruption." This ruling has followed other suspensions of opposition runners, including Leftist Thelma Cabrera and Conservative Roberto Arzu, leading many to believe that current President Alejandro Giammattei is attempting to take the election. Giametti has faced backlash from critics accusing him of repressing judges, journalists, and activists, forcing them to flee the country. Pineda was leading the race by 23%, according to a recent poll earlier this month.

May 18, 2023 - Brazil’s Federal Court has convicted former president Fernando Collor on corruption and money laundering charges. The conviction comes after Brazil’s Federal Police’s infamous "Operation Car Wash," which led to hundreds of indictments and involved at least 11 countries. Six of the ten federal judges on the court voted in favor of the conviction, cementing Collar’s fate. The remaining judges will continue their voting and discuss sentencing on Wednesday. Collor’s lawyers adamantly denied the conviction, stating that "in none of these sets of facts did the Public Prosecutor’s Office put together sufficient evidence or [evidence] capable of generating the slightest certainty with regard to culpability." Collor served as Brazil’s president from the 15th of March 1990 to the 29th of December 1992 before resigning after facing impeachment on a separate corruption charge. Despite his resignation, the Brazilian Senate continued the impeachment process, barring the former president from holding office again for eight years. Despite these restrictions, Collor became the Senator for Alagoas in 2007, only recently giving up his seat in February of this year.

Asia and Oceania

May 21st, 2023 - India and the United States are to meet with leaders in Papua New Guinea this week. The move drew criticism from China but much praise from the rest of Oceania and the “global south”. The United States had India are both expected to sign agreements to increase military cooperation and economic development in Papua New Guinea in order to counter the growing Chinese threat in the region. Part of the agreements will include PNG allowing the United States Coast Guard to patrol PNG territorial waters.

Indian Prime Minister Modi is greeted by Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Marape at Jackson International Airport, Papua New Guinea. (Photo - Reuters)

May 21st, 2023 - A delegation of 21 experts from South Korea have arrived for a six-day visit to assess the safety of Japan's planned release of treated radioactive water into the ocean. The water has been stored since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear powerplant disaster in 2011, where it became contaminated after being pumped in to cool melted reactor fuel during the meltdown. Japan has promised to release the water in cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency but still faces opposition from local fishermen, and neighboring countries such as Russia, South Korea and China.

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