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Putin: How much opposition is there in Russia?

This is a digital-only ThinkInIs Putin’s nostalgia for the Soviet Union and obsession with Ukraine shared by fellow Russians? For months, Russia has been sending troops and equipment to the Ukrainian borders. The original stated aim was to limit the expansion of Nato, but after weeks of outfoxing western countries with performative diplomacy, Vladimir Putin finally ordered his troops into Ukraine.Countries around the world are turning to increasingly tougher sanctions. And sanctions are likely to hit the poorest the hardest: Russia’s average annual per capita income is around one fifth of that in the U.S. So how will Putin’s actions, and the West’s economic responses play out locally? Does the invasion of Ukraine mark the beginning of the end of the Putin presidency, or is this the start of an aggressive new chapter? editor and invited experts Giles WhittellSensemaker Editor Melinda HaringDeputy Director, Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Centre Professor Sam GreeneDirector of King’s Russia Institute & Professor of Russian Politics Sir Roderic LyneFormer UK Ambassador to Russia


Sensemaker Live: What does Russia want?

Long stories short Jiang Zemin, the former Chinese leader, died aged 96.The one-eyed founder of the Oath Keepers was convicted of seditious conspiracy in relation to the January 6th insurrection.Fifa said an all-women trio would referee tomorrow’s Costa Rica-Germany game in a first for the men’s World Cup. General Frost Yesterday Nato’s secretary general said Putin was weaponising winter and that Europe had to be ready for a new wave of refugees. He was right. On Monday the Russian bombardment of Ukraine’s critical infrastructure paused, and thousands of civilians seized the chance to leave cities starved of heat and light. Many were leaving for the second or third time.  So what? Having failed to break Ukraine militarily, Putin is aiming “to inflict as much suffering as possible on Ukrainian civilians to try to break their commitment, their unity,” Jens Stoltenberg said at a Nato meeting in Bucharest.  If the past nine months are any guide, Putin will fail again, so the war goes on. That means Russia’s destruction of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure will continue. Ukraine’s army will continue fighting, using autonomous energy sources, but its supply lines will suffer from missile attacks. More civilians are likely to flee cities as temperatures fall and municipal heating systems break down, creating new demands for refugee services across Europe including in the UK, where the welcome mat is shrinking even though refugee numbers are low. Ukraine needs more weapons (especially air defence); more generators; and more homes for refugees if more choose to leave. 7.6 million have fled to Europe so far. British contributions. The UK is the second biggest provider of military aid to Ukraine, after the US and ahead of Poland, Germany and Canada.  But in terms of refugees, the UK has accepted the 7th largest number in Europe in absolute terms (140,000, compared with 1.5 million in Poland) and the 35th largest per capita.  Ukrainian contributions. In Poland, Ukrainian refugees have paid three times as much in taxes as has been spent on benefits on their behalf (€2 billion vs €750 million), Polish researchers say.  Who are they? A typical Ukrainian refugee is a woman (81 per cent), often with children. In the first six months of the war almost half of them (42 per cent) found a job, while struggling with non-recognition of their qualifications (60 per cent) language barriers (47 per cent)trouble accessing rental accommodation (40 per cent)generalised anxiety disorder (21 per cent)symptoms of depression (21 per cent) trouble getting a child into school (20 per cent). (Data from ONS and the Migration Observatory). Rights in the UK. Ukrainians are eligible for work, study, healthcare and social benefits for three years. But the accommodation provided by the UK-based sponsors, guaranteed for six months, is coming to the end, and about 40 per cent of sponsors have said they won’t extend it.  Seven in ten sponsors say doubling the £350 monthly “thank you payment” offered under the Homes for Ukraine scheme would encourage them to extend accommodation offers, but the government has shelved that plan.  Limited options. Ukrainian refugees can seek other sponsors, move to council housing or rent privately. But: Not many new sponsors have come forward.Non-refugee demand for social housing could double next year to 2.1 million households, Barnardo’s reports.Landlords tend to favour tenants with UK credit histories over refugees on benefits. Near the start of the war almost 50,000 UK residents signed an open letter calling on the government to provide a “robust welcome programme” to help Ukrainians settle in the UK. Over the course of the next year, Barnardo’s says 50,000 Ukrainians could become homeless.  Sunak’s stance. Since arriving in Number 10 Sunak has said he’ll stick to promises made as chancellor to support Ukraine “as long as needed”. What this means for refugees remains to be seen, but his promise of more military aid is unambiguous and welcome.  Wars aren’t won by evacuations, as Churchill noted, and most Ukrainians don’t want to leave, or can’t. As General Frost hardens the battlefield they will be applauding Lithuania’s foreign minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis, who tweeted yesterday from Bucharest: “Keep calm and give tanks”. world cup 2022 A century and a half of the England football team Paul Hayward The England men’s football team is 150 years old today. On 30 November 1872 an assortment of Victorian dandies kicked it all off with a 0-0 draw on a cricket pitch in Scotland. In Qatar’s futurescape, Gareth Southgate’s squad gave themselves the anniversary gift of a round-of-16 tie with Senegal. Read more CAPITAL ECONOMY, BUSINESS AND FINANCE Unfencing looms Andrew Griffith, minister for the City, told an FT conference yesterday the UK government was ready to “make the UK a better place to be a bank,” in part by releasing capital trapped “around the ringfence”. That would be the ringfence mooted in 2013 and introduced in 2019 which requires banks to keep separate capital reserves for their retail and investment arms as a condition of operating in the UK. Its purpose is to help prevent another crash. But the Sunak government has promised City folk a second big financial deregulation to take advantage of new Brexit freedoms, or to compensate for lost business as trade migrates to the EU, depending on your view. So for a lot of lenders it’s planning to allow a merging of capital reserves and ultimately more leverage… and risk. Buccaneers please note: the ringfence was a British idea, not an EU requirement. Its removal would have been possible without Brexit. Whether it would have been wise is another matter. TECHNOLOGY AI, SCIENCE AND NEW THING Let the horse come as you wish From the department of expensive distractions: Chinese engineers have launched three taikonauts into low Earth orbit (LEO) aboard its new Tiangong space station, while Chinese police continue to round up protesters below who’ve had enough of Xi Jinping’s dictatorship. The launch of a Shenzhou 15 rocket from Jiuquan in the Gobi desert seemed to go without a hitch (a piece of metal siding seemed to hit one of its boosters on the way up, but they don’t have to be used again). Fei Junlong, Dung Qingming and Zhang La are now safely installed in the Tiangong station. Remember these names – they are China’s most experienced taikonauts and China is serious about proceeding from LEO to the moon. Nasa says it wants to go back there too, but its next launch following the current Artemis test flight won’t be for two years. Do say: Space race 2.0. (“Let the horse come as you wish” is a Mandarin version of “bring it on”.) The 100-year life health, education AND GOVERNMENT Manston’s children “I’ve never been more frightened than I was in Manston” is how one child asylum seeker from Syria described the Manston migrant centre in Kent. He is one of many children who, the Guardian reports, have had their ages changed by the Home Office to be over 18 on documents. For some, it was done despite showing ID papers proving otherwise. The difference between 17 and 18 is the difference between safeguarded local authority care or adult accommodation (usually hotels). The UK’s health service authority also confirmed 50 cases of diphtheria in asylum seekers who’ve arrived in England since 1, mostly in the last two months. Although not a risk for those born in the UK who have been vaccinated as a child – it is highly infectious and potentially fatal. One asylum seeker has already died and two have been hospitalised with severe illness. Our planet CLIMATE AND geopolitics Solar stuck In the clean energy corner: the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act provides generous incentives for new renewables. In the rule of law corner: the US Uyghur Force Labour Prevention Act bars the import of Chinese goods believed to have been made with Uyghur forced labour. Stuck in the middle, mainly in the port of Los Angeles: several thousand containers of Chinese solar panels. Also stuck: US solar installers desperate to take advantage of those incentives while they’re still on the table. China produces most of the world’s solar panels, and thanks to the UFLPA those made in Xinjiang have been illegal in the US as of June. 23 gigawatts of solar power installation have been delayed so far this year, nearly twice as much as were installed in 2021, the WSJ reports. Why can’t US installers source panels elsewhere? They can, but Xinjiang has a lot of silicon and no one can beat it on price.  CULTURE soCIETY, IDENTITY AND BELONGING Bondage bears Balenciaga, the Spanish fashion house, has filed a $25 million lawsuit against the production company and set designer involved in its Spring 2023 campaign. The company faced a backlash last week over a new Christmas ad campaign featuring young children posing with leather-harness-clad teddy bear handbags. People started comparing the bears’ outfits to BDSM gear, and then spotted that the company’s Spring 2023 campaign uses papers relating to a US Supreme Court ruling on child pornography as props. Balenciaga apologised on Instagram for the bondage bears and removed the Christmas campaign from all platforms. Hard to know what’s stranger – the choice of props or senior executives’ failure to notice or care about them until the public did.   Thanks for reading. Please tell your friends to sign up, send us ideas and tell us what you think. Email sensemaker@tortoisemedia.com. Nina Kuryata@NinaKuryata Additional reporting by Giles Whittell, Phoebe Davis and Sophie Fenton. Graphics by Katie Riley. Photographs Getty Images, NASA Worldview, Balenciaga in the tortoise app today


Sensemaker Live – What’s in the Russia Report?

Make sense of this week’s major news stories in a live editorial conference with Tortoise editors. Our daily digital ThinkIns are exclusively for Tortoise members and their guests.Try Tortoise free for four weeks to unlock your complimentary tickets to all our digital ThinkIns.If you’re already a member and looking for your ThinkIn access code you can find it in the My Tortoise > My Membership section of the app next to ‘ThinkIn access code’.We’d love you to join us.If there’s one document that seems to represent the Tories’ questionable taste for secrecy, it’s the report on alleged Russian interference in UK politics prepared by the Intelligence and Security Committee during the last parliament and still not published. Why not? Boris Johnson says he’s cleared it and it’s up to the ISC – but the ISC hasn’t sat since the election. Now it has a new Tory chairman and a Tory majority. Will they do the right thing and publish? Or does the government have something to hide on interference, or Russian money?Chair: Giles Whittell, Editor and Partner, Tortoise Sensemaker Live is hosted in partnership with Santander.Our special guests include:Edward Lucas, a writer and consultant specialising in European and transatlantic security. His expertise also includes energy, cyber-security, espionage, information warfare and Russian foreign and security policy. Formerly a senior editor at The Economist, he is now a senior vice-president at the Centre for European Policy Analysis (CEPA). He writes a weekly column in the Times.In 2008 he wrote The New Cold War, a prescient account of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, followed in 2011 by Deception, an investigative account of east-west espionage. His latest print book is Cyberphobia. He has also written two e-books on espionage: The Snowden Operation and Spycraft Rebooted. He has contributed to books on religion, on media ethics and on the significance of Andrei Sakharov’s legacy.Marina Litvinenko, a public speaker and a campaigner for justice. Following the murder of her husband, Alexander Litvinenko, in November 2006, Marina began a decade long fight to get at the truth behind his assassination which resulted in the publication of a comprehensive public inquiry report in January 2016. Through this tragedy she found her own compelling voice, one that speaks with strength and conviction. Appearing in newspapers, magazines and on television screens, Marina has appealed to the public to heed the warning of her husband’s death. In her own way, she uses her public platform to continue what her husband started. In 2007 she co-authored ‘Death of a Dissident: The Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and the Return of the KGB’ with Alex Goldfarb. In 2011 the two also published an updated version in Russian, ‘Sasha, Volodya, Boris: The Story of a Murder’. She attends and speaks at international seminars and conferences in the UK and abroad, participates in roundtable discussions and is involved in human rights causes.Bill Browder is founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, Head of the Global Magnitsky Justice Campaign and author of Red Notice: How I became Putin’s No 1 enemy. Browder was the largest foreign investor in Russia until 2005, when he was declared “a threat to national security” for exposing corruption in Russian state-owned companies. Browder’s lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, uncovered a massive fraud, testified against state officials and was subsequently arrested, imprisoned without trial and systematically tortured until he died in prison a year later. Browder has sought justice outside of Russia and started a global campaign to impose targeted visa bans and asset freezes on human rights abusers and corrupt officials. He is working to have similar legislation passed across the European Union and countries worldwide.How does a digital ThinkIn work?A digital ThinkIn is like a video conference, hosted by a Tortoise editor, that takes place at the advertised time of the event. Digital ThinkIns are new to Tortoise. Now that our newsroom has closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, we feel it’s more important than ever that we ‘get together’ to talk about the world and what’s going on.The link to join the conversation will be emailed to you after you have registered for your ticket to attend. When you click the link, you enter the digital ThinkIn and can join a live conversation from wherever you are in the world. Members can enter their unique members’ access code to book tickets. Find yours in My Tortoise > My Membership in the Tortoise app.If you have any questions or get stuck, please read our FAQs, or get in touch with us at memberhelp@tortoisemedia.comWhat is a Tortoise ThinkIn?A ThinkIn is not another panel discussion. It is a forum for civilised disagreement. It is a place where everyone has a seat at the (virtual) table. It’s where we get to hear what you think, drawn from your experience, energy and expertise. It is the heart of what we do at Tortoise.How we work with partnersWe want to be open about the business model of our journalism, too. At Tortoise, we don’t take ads. We don’t want to chase eyeballs or sell data. We don’t want to add to the clutter of life with ever more invasive ads. We think that ads force newsrooms to produce more and more stories, more and more quickly. We want to do less, better.Our journalism is funded by our members and our partners. We are establishing Founding Partnerships with a small group of businesses willing to back a new form of journalism, enable the public debate, share their expertise and communicate their point of view. Those companies, of course, know that we are a journalistic enterprise. Our independence is non-negotiable. If we ever have to choose between the relationship and the story, we’ll always choose the story.We value the support that those partners give us to deliver original reporting, patient investigations and considered analysis.We believe in opening up journalism so we can examine issues and develop ideas for the 21st Century. We want to do this with our members and with our partners. We want to give everyone a seat at the table.


Tortoise Festival of ThinkIns – Democracy: Zuckerberg and Putin, partners in crime?

Democracy: Zuckerberg and Putin, partners in crime? Facebook didn’t intend to trash western politics, but it’s certainly been an enabler for those who have tried to do so; what started as a digital prank by Harvard students has become the arms manufacturer that unwittingly weaponised Russia’s information wars. Our democracies urgently need protection from bad actors and foreign interference: immunisation against the virus of fake news and post truth. There’s a growing consensus that we must regulate social media –  and a growing clamour to break up the big tech companies. But will such measures be enough to address what is increasingly becoming a crisis of national security? Our special guests for this ThinkIn included: Peter Jukes, author, screenwriter, playwright, literary critic and blogger. Orysia Lutsevych, research fellow and manager of the Ukraine Forum at Chatham House. Rowland Manthorpe, technology correspondent, Sky News. The Readout  Technology and Democracy: Putin and Zuckerberg, partners in crime?  Deliberate disinformation is in a category of its own. It’s intentional, often criminal, and, as proven by the experience of Ukraine and the evidence of the Mueller report, international. It raises questions about the effectiveness of police powers (the legislation was passed pre-Facebook) and the competence of Government cyber-authorities. As the databases governing health, land and education are digitised, we are more open to disinformation attacks.   Disruption to democracy – polarisation, exaggeration, false promises, alternative politics conspiracy theories and victim politics – is pervasive, but much harder to moderate. It’s all very well to point the finger at Mark Zuckerberg and ask him to restore trust, but what, exactly, are we asking of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram? We got to the beginnings of an answer: to take responsibility for content on the platforms. That means a version of the kind of legal liability that now covers established media to cover new media. It means authentication of the data it collects and then uses to sell advertising. It means self-reporting on the information paths that algorithms send us down. And it means meeting a public standard – i.e. a standard of accuracy, safety and accountability – for content.    The social media landscape is deliberately being redrawn by Facebook. The emphasis on groups or private social networks is giving many people what they want – a room of their own to chat with family and friends, fans and fellow travellers, neighbours and colleagues. But it will also make it much harder to regulate a private, fragmented, clustered internet for lies and extremism online. The pivot to groups is the next challenge to the health and safety of democracy.     What next?  –       Huawei – we took a long look at it earlier this year; we should look again –       China social credit system – data, who owns it, what government does with it –       Replacement theory and other conspiracies – how prevalent are they and where?  –       Fakes – data analysis on fakes, deep fakes, where they are and who runs them


Has Putin won?

Twenty years ago Vladimir Putin became Russia’s sixth prime minister in two years. Political chaos was the norm. The economy was on its knees. Internationally, the rump of the former Soviet Union was humiliated. In the generation since, Putin has ruthlessly consolidated power, co-opted the economy and harnessed the media to his message of Russian nationalism. He has invaded two neighbours, disrupted western democracies and suffered only the pin-prick of commercial sanctions. Russia is a world power while Europe argues with itself. Has he won? He certainly hasn’t lost. Special guests include: Sir Andrew Wood, Associate Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Programme; British ambassador to Russia from 1995 to 2000 Dr Samuel Greene, Director of King’s Russia Institute & Reader of Russian Politics What is a Tortoise ThinkIn? A ThinkIn is not another panel discussion. It is a forum for civilised disagreement. Modelled on what we call a ‘leader conference’ in the UK (or an editorial board in the US), it is a place where everyone has a seat at the table. It’s where we get to hear what you think, drawn from your experience, energy and expertise. It’s where, together, we sift through what we know to come to a clear, concise point of view. It is the heart of what we do at Tortoise. Drinks from 6.00pm, starts promptly at 6.30pm. If you are late to a ThinkIn you can ‘SlinkIn’! If you would like to contribute to this ThinkIn, let us know by emailing thinkin@tortoisemedia.com We film our Thinkins so we can watch them back, edit the best bits and share them with members who weren’t there in person. Members can find their ThinkIn booking code in My Tortoise, under My Membership.