Briefing of February 28, 2022 — Quartz
Here’s what you need to know
- Russia and Ukraine have agreed to talk. The negotiations will take place near the Belarusian border and are without preconditions. But the situation is still tense – Russia has put its nuclear forces on high alert, a move condemned by NATO.
- EU interior ministers met on Sunday to decide how to help Ukrainian refugees. EU Interior Commissioner Ylva Johansson said a measure, which would trigger ground-breaking legislation, has received “great support” and plans to formally propose it to the bloc on March 3. The EU is also closing its airspace to Russian planes.
- BP has divested itself of its 20% stake in Rosneft. A former executive and CEO of the British energy giant has also quit the board of the Russian oil company.
- Russia’s invasion sparked global protests. Supporters of Ukraine demonstrated in Europe, Australia, Japan, Iran and the United States. Meanwhile, Poland and the United Kingdom refuse to face Russia in football matches.
- Two studies have identified a seafood market in Wuhan as the source of covid-19. The studies, which are not yet peer-reviewed, found no evidence that the coronavirus escaped from a lab.
- India publishes its GDP on Monday. Economists predict that the country’s economy grew by 6.6% in the quarter that ended in December.
Over the weekend, the United States, the EU and their allies decided to cancel funding for Russia’s military efforts by expelling certain private banks from the global money transfer system SWIFT and freezing of the assets of the Russian central bank. The sanctions, although largely symbolic, are also aimed at preventing Russian banks from carrying out transactions, devaluing the Russian currency and limiting the country’s access to reserve funds abroad (about 300 billion dollars). Together, these efforts prevent Russia from diluting the sanctions by, for example, making payments through countries that are still friendly.
The impact could be huge. Central bank sanctions could bankrupt the Russian banking system and render the ruble worthless. One estimate suggests that SWIFT bans alone could cost Russia 5% of its GDP.
Russia is not completely isolated – it is still allowed to trade natural gas (✦) with these countries. And while President Vladimir Putin is unlikely to personally pay the price, some countries are going after the wealthy oligarchs around him.
Mapping Ukraine’s Internet Infrastructure
What if Ukraine was cut off from the internet? It’s happened to other countries plagued by violence, from Cuba to Iran. And while web traffic has dropped (at least part of the drop can be explained by Ukrainians fleeing the country), that’s unlikely to happen in Ukraine. The physical infrastructure that powers the web in Ukraine is vast, owned by many independent internet service providers and has several connections to the outside world. There is no single choke point that an oppressive government could use to stifle internet access all at once.
Each “M” on this map is a place where a fiber optic cable crosses Ukraine’s borders and connects the country to the outside world.
Can deepfakes be ethical?
Images of explosions and fighting in Ukraine have proliferated on social media, but not all of them are real or contextualized. Twitter removed several videos and captions that were found to be misleading or downright false.
In an age of growing misinformation and cyberattacks, deepfakes (computer-generated videos that transplant a person’s face, voice, and general image onto another body) are becoming increasingly disturbing, especially if technology is used as hostile political propaganda.
🔮 Quartz reporter Scott Nover asked Tom Graham, the co-founder of the company behind Deep Tom Cruise, if a deepfake business can really be ethical. The interview is part of our Next 10 Years series, which explores how industries marked by rapid change are adapting and evolving.
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