The Atlas Newsletter - Volume 3

The Atlas Newsletter returns to you for weekly international updates!

Good morning everyone,

What a week it has been. The situation in Ukraine continues to worsen with the Russians continuing several offensives and both sides seeing casualties rise dramatically as President Zelenskyy continues to petition the West for more support. Something intense but highly classified is going on over the skies of both Canada and the United States as they scramble jets to shoot down several unmanned aircraft. Officials have been reluctant so far to share anything noteworthy on the events. In the Middle East an earthquake has taken an incredible toll on Southern Turkey and Northern Syria, leading to an international coalition of aid and continuing efforts to assist those affected.

As for Atlas itself, we continue to prepare a wealth of diverse and in-depth content for you in the form of daily articles, podcasts, and mini docu-series. We've heard your requests for a U.S. news section and so have begun plans for a new newsletter specifically centering around domestic U.S. coverage in an entirely unbiased and unfiltered way. Please don't forget to add us to your email list so as to avoid us landing in your spam folder and so you can stay up to date on the latest developments on upcoming newsletters and the Atlas team.

All in all, it's just another day at the office. Let's jump in:- Joshua Paulo, Sebastien Gray, & the Atlas team


Sunday, February 12th, 2023: At the beginning of February a Chinese spy balloon drifted across the United States and Canada, sending the nation into a panic and confusion and officials scrambled to handle the situation and the population questioned the capabilities of U.S. leadership. This hysteria has continued into this week as several more unidentified objects have been widely publicized as flying over the United States and Canada. Each of these incidents have been handled much more aggressively than the initial balloon last week, with each incursion into North American airspace being shot down by the U.S. Air Force. It is currently unknown or unannounced what these objects were, who sent them, or what their purpose is.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has been tracking several unidentified "octagonal" flying objects "the size of a small car", one being shot down over Alaska, one being shot down over the Canadian Yukon by USAF F-22s on command of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and one being shot down by USAF F-16s over Lake Huron. The objects have not been identified by any military or government officials but recovery teams have been dispatched to recover the wreckage. China has also reported an unidentified craft over the coast near the port city of Rizho, with the military preparing to shoot it down.


Monday, February 6th, 2023: A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Southern Turkey and Northern Syria in the early morning hours, causing severe damage and tens of thousands of deaths. The earthquake itself lasted about a minute, completely destroying over 6,000 buildings and leaving at least 30,000 people dead as rescuers continue to comb the rubble. The situation is made dramatically worse by the fact that rival rebel groups and insurgencies control parts of the area in the war-torn Syrian region, hampering any efforts to coordinate and execute the already minimal rescue and relief efforts sent to Aleppo, due to sanctions on the Syrian government.

The U.S. Geological Survey, an organization dedicated to tracking and recording seismic activity, said that the earthquake happened at a depth of nearly 18km where the Anatolia, Arabia, and Africa tectonic plates meet. The epicenter of the earthquake is located in the Turkish city of Gaziantep in the Southern Anatolia region, with several provinces affected, including Syria's embattled Aleppo.


February 7th, 2023 - The Defence Ministers for both the UK and Greece have announced the signing of a Joint Vision Statement, in order "to strengthen our already close relationship in order to face common threats and challenges together while looking forward to new opportunities for future cooperation." Effectively, Greece and the United Kingdom will begin to hold joint training and exercises between their militaries. Certainly a good thing for Greece at a time of heightened tensions with Turkey, as NATO appears to take sides.

Rishi Sunak and Volodomyr Zelenskyy meet in the UK (Photo from Alberto Pezzali/AP)

February 8th, 2023 - During a series of visits to European countries, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy landed in the UK, being received by UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Hot on the agenda for Zelenskyy was the potential supply of jets to Ukraine, which they are in very short supply of. The UK has announced they will be training Ukrainian pilots, while Sunak stated that "nothing was off the table" in regards to further aid, hinting at the potential for jet deliveries. He also announced that the delivery of Challenger 2 tanks was quickened, now set for March. Ukraine is in dire need of tanks as they prepare for a potential Russian offensive, which some believe will begin around the one year anniversary of the war, February 24th.

February 9th, 2023 - The Russian Kremlin has issued sanctions against 77 Americans. The list includes 33 State Governors, Nancy Pelosi’s daughters, several members of Congress, five executives of Leidos, who’s surveillance planes have been used to survey Russian military activity in Ukraine, as well as the CEO of Desert Tech, a company who’s weapons have been sent to Ukraine for use.

Middle East

February 12th, 2023 - The Arab League has issued a series of condemnations and recommendations in regards to recent Israeli action taken against the Palestinian community. At least 42 Palestinians and 10 Israeli’s have been killed in traded attacks so far in 2023, a mere month and a half in. The Arab League, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, said that Israel’s actions will not only sour the peace process within Israel, but also further regional turmoil. They issued condemnations of Israel’s tactics, including the demolition of the homes of Palestinian attackers, as well as the increase in settlement building.

The Arab League’s Foreign Ministers meeting in Cairo (Photo from Mohamed el-Shahed/AFP)

February 11th, 2023 - In the aftermath of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, the land border between Armenia and Turkey has opened for the first time in 35 years, as Armenia has sent trucks containing aid for Turkey. They sent 100 tonnes of food, water, and medicines, on top of a team of 27 rescuers. The border has been closed since the First Nagorno-Karabakh war, which Armenia fought against Turkey’s ally, Azerbaijan. Armenia has also sent 30 tonnes of aid and a team of 29 rescuers to Syria, who has seen a comparatively low amount of aid compared to Turkey, largely due to sanctions. The team and aid landed in Aleppo on February 8th.

February 7th, 2023 - Turkey and Kurdish groups traded accusations of being attacked by the other in the wake of the earthquake. Turkeys Ministry of National Defence tweeted that one of their border outposts was hit by rockets, originating from Tal Rifaat in Syria. They blamed the "terror organization PKK/YPG", said they took no casualties, and that afterwards the "terrorist targets were dealt with". However several Kurdish groups have disputed this, saying the Turkish military launched strikes against Tal Rifaat unprovoked. The Afrin Liberation Forces further claimed the PKK does not have a presence in the area the attack was said to originate from.


February 7th, 2023 - Eight civilians were killed and 28 wounded during an attack on a UN convoy as it was returning from a supply mission north of Goma. Four of the convoys trucks were set on fire, leading to the UN peacekeepers to fire "warning shots", which "unfortunately caused the death of eight of our compatriots among the displaced and 28 wounded," said DRC Lieutenant-General Constant Ndima.

Civilians loot one of the burnt trucks after the attack took place (Photo from REUTERS/Djaffar Sabiti)

February 6th, 2023 - The Human Rights Watch released a comprehensive report accusing the M23 DRC rebel group, among others, of various war crimes. The report lists a series of specific examples of summary executions, forcibly recruiting civilians into it’s forces, and forcing civilians into slave labor, among other things. All of these are war crimes as per the Geneva Convention.

February 12th, 2023 - AFRICOM, the United States Africa Command, has announced that an airstrike killed 12 Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia. The Airstrike was requested by Somalia’s government and reportedly has resulted in 0 civilian casualties.

The Americas

February 8th, 2023 - Mexico now officially recognizes the Armenian genocide, much to the dismay of Turkey. Turkey’s foreign ministry said they "reject and strongly condemn" the recognition. "Recognizing the 1915 events as ‘genocide’ is an invalid attempt to rewrite history with political motives," they stated, adding; "We call on the Mexican Senate to correct this misstep, instead of serving the agenda of some circles that try to create hostility from history." Turkey has previously resisted several attempts to recognize the genocide by other countries, as well.

US President Biden and Brazilian President Lula meet at the White House

February 10th, 2023 - Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon in January, when compared to January of last year, has dropped 61%. Satellite imaging showed an area of 167km2 had been deforested, compared to last years 430km2. January was Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's first month in office, who made part of his campaign center around him being a strong proponent of Amazonian environmental protection. Lula has announced that he hopes to reach 0 deforestation by 2030.

Asia and Oceania

February 7th, 2023 - Protests took place in Auki, Solomon Islands, after one of the nations most outspoken China critics was ousted in a no confidence vote. Daniel Suidani was the Provincial Premier of the Malaita province, which is one of the Solomon Islands largest and most populous islands. Police used teargas to disperse the protests. The no confidence vote was called after he was accused of soliciting money from a Chinese mining company, using government funds to pay personal staff, as well as financial mismanagement. The vote in the Provincial Assembly was unanimous, after Suidani and his executive walked away, boycotting the motion.

February 7th, 2023 - A New Zealander Pilot and five additional passengers (one of which is a young child) have been taken hostage by the West Papua National Liberation Army (OPM). The OPM are a separatist group in Indonesia, demanding the independence of West Papua. The group announced that the pilot is "safe" and said they had already released the five passengers as they were "native Papuans", though their present whereabouts are unknown. The group then took several more hostages from aid workers who were building clinics and have said the pilot will not be released until West Papuan independence is recognized by the Indonesian government.

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