Putin visits China after interview blaming ‘western elites’ for Ukraine war

Good morning. Vladimir Putin delivered a blistering attack on the west ahead of a visit to China today, blaming “western elites” for the war in Ukraine and outlining Beijing and Moscow’s alignment on a parallel world order.

In an interview with Chinese state news agency Xinhua, the Russian leader said the two autocracies had “similar or coinciding positions” on geopolitical issues.

Both Russia and China advocated for “international law”, Putin said, but rejected “western attempts to impose an order based on . . . some mythical rules of no one knows whose making”.

Here’s more on Putin’s diatribe, plus a preview of his talks with Xi Jinping.

And here’s what else I’m keeping tabs on today:

  • Economic data: Japan reports preliminary first-quarter GDP.

  • Monetary policy: The Philippines has its monetary policy meeting and decision.

  • Meetings: Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin meets French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris. And the Arab summit begins in Bahrain, bringing together heads of state from the 22 member states.

Five more top stories

1. France has declared a state of emergency in its Pacific overseas territory of New Caledonia as it seeks to quell deadly riots sparked by a controversial electoral reform. Four people have died in unrest that has raged in the south Pacific archipelago, which is one of the world’s biggest nickel producers.

2. Lawrence Wong has been sworn in as Singapore’s new leader, as the city-state charts a new path after decades of rule by the founding Lee family. After his swearing-in, Wong warned in an often grim speech that Singapore was grappling with a “dangerous and troubled world” and would be affected by international conflict and rivalry.

3. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico was critically injured yesterday in a shooting that the government called an assassination attempt and several politicians linked to the country’s stark polarisation. Fico’s office said he was in a “life-threatening condition” after being shot multiple times while greeting people in the town of Handlová.

4. YouTube has blocked access to videos featuring a popular protest anthem in Hong Kong, one week after a local court banned the song deemed seditious by city authorities. The company voiced concerns about the chilling effect on freedom of expression and said it might appeal against the court’s decision.

5. US stocks closed at a record high after data showed inflation had fallen slightly to 3.4 per cent in April. Traders in the futures market reacted to the report by fully pricing in the possibility the Federal Reserve would lower interest rates twice this year, having on Tuesday priced in between one and two cuts.

News in-depth

Montage of an Air India jet and the Tata logo
Tata Sons took over the Air India franchise for $2.4bn in 2022 © FT montage/Getty Image

Hundreds of cabin crew at Air India’s budget carrier called in sick last week, disrupting nearly 200 flights and angering customers. Analysts said the restive staff could be the “Achilles heel” of Tata Sons’ aviation business as it overhauls the Air India franchise it took over two years ago in a $2.4bn deal. With more Indians taking to the skies, the modernisation of Air India is crucial to New Delhi’s attempts to position the country as a global aviation hub.

We’re also reading . . . 

Chart of the day

Chinese investments across eastern Europe, north Africa and central Asia are “dwarfing” those from the US and Germany, according to a new report from the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development.

Line chart of Greenfield FDI capital investments by country of origin (%) showing EBRD countries received almost 40% of their greenfield investments from China in 2023

Take a break from the news

Miss out on last weekend’s aurora borealis? With the Sun approaching a peak in its roughly 11-year activity cycle, more northern lights may lie in store for lower latitudes not normally privy to the phenomenon. But the question of how we classify and weather such geomagnetic storms needs revisiting, writes Anjana Ahuja.

People photograph the northern lights
The phenomenon is powered by solar activity and usually only visible at more northerly latitudes © Andy Carter

Additional contributions from Tee Zhuo and David Hindley

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