The Atlas Newsletter - Volume 9

The Atlas Newsletter – World Updates & International News

Monday, March 27th, 2023

Good morning everyone,

What a week for the world. We’ve seen diplomatic issues between dozens of nations, protests on every continent, and significant developments in the war in Ukraine. Here at Atlas, we’ve reached a point where the newsletter should remain the same for the foreseeable future. We will continue to tweak the writing to improve your reading experience, but the format will remain. Many of you have asked to see more news on the United States and China, which is forthcoming. In the meantime, check out the website for more on these topics daily, as well as other international news.

In Asia, tensions are rising again between China and its neighbors, while India continues to tear itself apart during a manhunt. In the Americas, the border continues to be a source of tension for the United States, and China exerts further influence to dislodge US interests in Latin America. In Europe, France continues to riot and Ukraine watches the siege at Bakhmut. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan continues to threaten to break its peace with Armenia, and King Charles cancels his trip to Bordeaux. In the Middle East, Iran and the US exchange attacks while Syria makes nice with most of their neighbors. In Africa, several nations prepare for a visit from Vice President Kamala Harris as the terrorism index marks Africa as the world’s most dangerous continent.

As usual, its just another day at the office. Let's take a look:- Joshua Paulo, Sebastien Gray, & the Atlas team


According to Russian state-owned media, the Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces will be transferring tactical nuclear weapons for basing and storage inside Belarus at a specially built facility by July 1st.

Putin said, "On July 1, Russia will finish building a special place to store tactical weapons in Belarus. Russia is not transferring tactical nuclear weapons to Minsk but will deploy them and train the military to handle them like the United States does in Europe."

It is important to note that Putin explicitly states he will not transfer these nukes to Belarussian control, meaning a Russian team must remain on permanent station in Belarus to maintain the facility. Belarus signed a nuclear proliferation treaty in the 1990s, giving all of the nukes it held from the Soviet Union back to Russia.

“We are not going to hand over control of nuclear weapons. The US doesn’t hand it over to its allies. We’re basically doing the same thing (US leaders) have been doing for a decade,” Putin said, referring to the U.S. nuclear facilities throughout Europe, to keep them from breaking their commitments as non-nuclear powers.

Russian state-owned media has also reported that President Putin confirmed Iskander ballistic missile launchers have already been deployed to Belarus, where both nations’ crews are being trained: "We have already handed over to Belarus our well-known, very effective Iskander complex, it can also be a carrier. From April 3, we will start training the crew, and on July 1, we will complete the construction of a special storage facility for tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus."

Putin claims the move was made in response to the United Kingdom sending Ukraine ammunition containing depleted uranium, which Russia fears could potentially be used to make a "dirty bomb". The UK denies these allegations, saying Russia is "deliberately trying to disinform" and claiming the ammunition is for conventional anti-tank use. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense said in a statement, "The British Army has used depleted uranium in its armor-piercing shells for decades. It is a standard component and has nothing to do with nuclear weapons or capabilities. Russia knows this but is deliberately trying to disinform."

“Independent research by scientists from groups such as the Royal Society has assessed that any impact to personal health and the environment from the use of depleted uranium munitions is likely to be low,” the spokesperson added.

National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said the United States is monitoring the situation, saying, “We have not seen any reason to adjust our own strategic nuclear posture, nor any indications that Russia is preparing to use a nuclear weapon. We remain committed to the collective defense of the NATO alliance.”


March 25th, 2023 - Azerbaijan violated the ceasefire in Artsakh after they advanced and seized a key road. In justifying the move, they claim that "illegal Armenian armed detachments" had been using the road to transport weapons and ammunition along the route. Artsakh authorities deny Azeri claims. "As stated by Artsakh officials, the road in question is used for the organization of civil and urgent communication between the four communities of Stepanakert and Shushi region". Russian peacekeepers told Azerbaijan to withdraw to their initial positions and cease engineering work.

March 23rd, 2023 - Fires have been burning across France as protests against President Macron’s pension reform bill have intensified. On Thursday, 80 people were arrested and 123 police officers were injured. Nationwide strikes have also been taking effect. Several oil refineries have shut down; schools and many other public services have also shut down or reduced operations. The violent protests have resulted in the visit of the UK's King Charles being postponed. The king was set to visit Bordeaux on March 28th in his first visit to France as monarch, but due to the unstable situation of the country, the visit has been pushed back. "In view of yesterday's announcement of a new national day of action against pension reform on Tuesday, March 28 in France, the visit of King Charles III, originally scheduled for March 26–29 in our country, will be postponed," reads a French government statement.

A couple in Paris sit to enjoy a glass of wine as protest fires burn in the background.

March 22nd, 2023 - Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky paid a visit near the highly contested city of Bakhmut. "I am honored to be here today, in the east of our country, in Donbas, and to award our heroes, to thank you, to shake hands. Thank you for protecting the state, sovereignty, and the east of Ukraine," Zelensky said. Russia has maintained a steady assault on the city since August, and if Wagner’s Yevgeny Prigozhin is to be believed, they are in control of approximately 70% of the city. Western observers estimate Russia has sustained approximately 20–30,000 casualties, killed or wounded, in their attempt to take the city. Meanwhile, Ukraine suffers between 100 and 200 casualties per day.

Middle East

March 24th, 2023 - One American contractor was killed and five service members were wounded in a drone attack in northeastern Syria. The attack has been claimed by Liwa Al-Ghaliboon, an Iranian-backed militia. The coalition's Green Village base was later targeted in a rocket attack, though this resulted in no casualties. The US launched several retaliatory strikes "against facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)". The American strikes killed 11 militia fighters.

March 26th, 2023 - Protests across Israel continue to rage as clashes with government forces are widespread, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu firing Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. On the 25th, Gallant spoke out against Netanyahu’s planned judicial reform, saying the PM should pause the reforms, citing "the security of Israel," and further saying "the growing rift in our society is penetrating the IDF and security agencies. This poses a clear, immediate, and tangible threat to the security of the state". After the minister was fired, larger protests broke out nationwide, which led to the Prime Minister's Jerusalem residence being stormed by thousands of protestors. Pictures are emerging of police joining protestors in some areas of Israel.

Israeli police marching amongst protestors.

March 23rd, 2023 - US Senator Bob Menendez has told Congress that Turkey doesn’t "deserve" F-16s. The Biden administration is preparing a $20 billion sale of 40 F-16s to Turkey, which Menendez has long been an opponent of. The quote came after Menendez listed a series of critiques of Turkey to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was briefing a group of senators on a potential budget increase. Menendez pointed to recent Turkish hostility toward Greece, Turkish action in Cyprus, a lack of press freedom, Turkish business deals with Russia, and action in Syria, among other things. Biden’s arms deal has to be voted on in Congress before it can go through, where, as it stands, it is unlikely to pass.


March 25th, 2023 - Paul Rusesabagina, the subject of the famous movie "Hotel Rwanda", has been freed from prison in Rwanda after having his 25-year sentence commuted by President Paul Kagame. He was in jail for just over two years on terrorism charges in connection to a series of attacks in Rwanda by the "National Liberation Front" (FLN) that left nine dead, of which Rusesabagina held connections to this group. He was freed alongside Callixte Nsabimana, who was an FLN spokesman. The two are still mandated to pay a collective 375k USD, along with the others that were tried with them, in reparations to the victims of the attacks. Rusesabagina’s release was welcomed by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and President Biden, who both thanked Rwanda for their cooperation on the matter. Rusesabagina will head to Qatar and then the US, where he holds permanent residence.

Rusesabagina pictured at a hearing in September 2021. (Photo by Sam Ngendahimana)

March 21st, 2023 - Uganda’s parliament has proposed one of the world's most restrictive legislations on the LGBT community. The bill hands out a life sentence for anyone convicted of having gay sex, a seven-year sentence for a homosexual relationship, and the death penalty for what they call "aggravated homosexuality." "Aggravated homosexuality,", they say, is "homosexual acts committed by anyone infected with H.I.V. or involving children, disabled people, or anyone drugged against their will". Most of these are already crimes under Ugandan law, but the penalties for these crimes involving same-sex relationships have been increased.

March 26th, 2023 - US Vice President Kamala Harris has begun a week-long trip to Africa. She landed in Ghana, where she promised expanded US investment in the region, which has been slowly warming up to Russia and China as an alternative to the United States. "On this trip, I intend to do work that is focused on increasing investments here on the continent and facilitating economic growth and opportunity," she said. She will remain in Ghana until the 29th before moving on to Tanzania and ending her trip in Zambia.

The Americas

March 26th, 2023 - Honduras has announced that they have officially severed ties with Taiwan as they move to establish diplomatic ties with China, opening themselves up to Chinese investment. Honduras’s foreign ministry said, "The Government of the Republic of Honduras recognizes the existence of only one China in the world and that the Government of the People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government that represents all of China. Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory, and as of today, the Honduran government has informed Taiwan of the severance of diplomatic relations, pledging not to have any official relationship or contact with Taiwan". Honduras had asked Taiwan for almost 2.5 million USD in order to fund projects and debt elimination, but decided against it when they compared the aid they could receive from China. Honduras held 74 years of diplomatic relations with Taiwan and was one of 14 nations that recognized them. This number has dropped drastically in recent years.

Honduras Foreign Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina shakes hands with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang during their March 26th meeting in Beijing. (Photo by GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images)

March 24th, 2023 - 17 illegal immigrants were found in a train car near Knippa, Texas, two of whom have died. Seven migrants were hospitalized after the incident, and their conditions are unknown. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has tweeted a statement on the matter, saying, "We are heartbroken to learn of yet another tragic incident of migrants taking the dangerous journey. We will work with the Uvalde County Sheriff's Office to hold those responsible. Smugglers are callous and only care about making a profit". Union Pacific, the owner of the train in which the migrants were discovered, has said it will launch an investigation into how the incident managed to occur.

Asia and Oceania

March 24th, 2023 - A delegation of Chinese officials, led by China's Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong, was summoned to meet in Manila for talks with Filipino diplomats over tensions in the South China Sea. During this meeting, the Filipino delegation made clear their anger over aggressive Chinese action in the region, citing an incident on February 6th when a ship from the Chinese Coast Guard aimed a military-grade laser at a Filipino patrol vessel, briefly blinding the crew. The two nations have conflicting territorial claims that result in heightened tension between them, with frequent confrontations between naval vessels. Journalists were asked to leave the room when the meeting actually began.

March 26th, 2023 - India has sent diplomatic protests to the US, UK, Canada, and Australia after protests were held outside Indian government missions, consulates, and embassies in these nations in support of Sikh "Khalistan" separatists. In San Francisco, the Indian consulate was vandalized, while in London, protestors pulled down the Indian flag outside the Indian High Commission. In Canada, Sanjay Kumar Verma, an envoy from India, was scheduled to attend an event in honor of his first visit to Western Canada. The event was cancelled, however, due to security concerns. The incident led India to summon Canada's high commissioner because protesters assaulted a native-Indian journalist who was there to cover the event. Global protests have intensified as India expands its search for Sikh separatist Amritpal Singh.

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