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Good morning. Yevgeny Prigozhin has been spending time in Russia, Belarus’s president Alexander Lukashenko said, indicating that the Russian warlord is not in exile despite a peace deal with Moscow under which he agreed to relocate to Belarus.
Prigozhin’s Wagner Group fighters had also not yet moved to Belarus as the deal specified, Lukashenko said. The Kremlin appeared indifferent, claiming it was not tracking the paramilitary leader’s movements despite his abortive insurrection last month.
The claims follow shifts in the Kremlin’s public position on Prigozhin, including whether criminal charges remained outstanding against him, as Moscow attempts to deal with the fallout from the biggest challenge to Russia president Vladimir Putin’s authority in more than two decades of rule.
Lukashenko said Prigozhin was not in jail and was unlikely to get “whacked”, suggesting the mercenary leader is safe from Putin’s security services.
By allowing Prigozhin to return to Russia, the Kremlin was allowing the warlord to “tie up loose ends” in his business empire, said Tatiana Stanovaya, senior fellow at the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center.
“After the first shock of the insurrection receded, Putin realised that Prigozhin didn’t intend to overthrow him,” Stanovaya said. Instead, he came to believe Prigozhin was targeting the generals leading Russia’s armed forces, who the warlord blames for mishandling the invasion of Ukraine, she said.
Nato: Secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said the US-led military alliance was “monitoring closely” the locations of Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin and his Wagner troops
Russo-Iranian collaboration: Russia’s covert drone partnership with Iran has included close co-operation on a new factory in the Russian republic of Tatarstan to supply its war effort in Ukraine.
Here’s what else I’m keeping tabs on today and over the weekend:
Economic data: Japan and Canada release labour force surveys, while Germany publishes its industrial production index. June employment rate and non-farm payrolls data are due in the US.
Japan: The anniversary of the assassination of former prime minister Shinzo Abe is on Saturday.
Diplomacy: US president Joe Biden begins a two-day visit to the UK on Sunday, including meetings with prime minister Rishi Sunak and King Charles III. Biden will also travel to Lithuania and Finland.
Five more top stories
1. Meta said more than 30mn people had signed up to Threads, its long-awaited competitor to Twitter. Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has pitched the “text-based conversation app” as a “friendly” alternative to the struggling social media platform owned by Elon Musk. Read more on the rollout.
Opinion: It feels like 2006 all over again, writes Tim Bradshaw. A new social network has set the internet alight with chatter about the possibilities.
2. Investors sold stocks and bonds across the world on Thursday as US borrowing costs touched a 16-year high, following strong jobs figures that intensified expectations of further rate rises by the Federal Reserve. Europe’s Stoxx 600 index closed down 2.3 per cent, its biggest one-day drop since March, as the yield on the two-year US Treasury note reached its highest level since 2007.
3. Tesla has joined rival Chinese carmakers in pledging to enhance “core socialist values” and compete fairly in the country’s car market after Beijing directed the industry to rein in a months-long price war. The commitment highlights how Tesla is navigating an increasingly fraught US-China business landscape and rising competitiveness in the world’s biggest EV market.
4. UBS has shaken up the leadership of its critical Middle East wealth management operations as it comes under pressure to keep staff happy following its takeover of Credit Suisse. Here are more details on the changes at UBS.
5. Diplomats are nearing an agreement to target net zero emissions from shipping by “close to 2050” after almost two weeks of talks. The goal would significantly strengthen existing ambitions set by the UN’s International Maritime Organisation, but will also disappoint environmentalists hoping for a concrete commitment to eliminate shipping’s greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century.
How well did you keep up with the news this week? Take our quiz.
The Big Read
For 12 years, the World Cup dominated Qatar’s agenda. The gas-rich state spent more than $200bn on infrastructure, while batting away an endless stream of criticism over its treatment of migrant workers and contested allegations that it bought the tournament — as well as surviving regional crises. Seven months after the event, leaders insist there is no hangover. But some already fret that there appears to have been too little thought as to exactly what comes next.
We’re also reading . . .
Graphic of the day
Small-scale miners in the Democratic Republic of Congo are risking their lives to source cobalt, a metal critical for the energy transition. Artisanal mining extends far beyond the DRC, supporting the livelihoods of almost 1 in 20 people on the planet, but it was in 2016 that Amnesty International drew attention to child labour and inhumane working conditions in the country’s informal cobalt mining sector. Read about the struggle to clean up the murky industry.
Take a break from the news
Find out how a patents expert, a music professor and a software engineer set about cracking a 445-year-old code to reveal the secrets of Mary Queen of Scots.
Additional contributions by Miles Ellingham and Tee Zhuo
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