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Inside China’s Covid crisis

Cases have surged as China ends its strict lockdowns, while a Ukraine missile attack on New Year’s Day kills dozens of Russian troops.

Coronavirus cases have been rising rapidly in China since its government ended its restrictive “zero-Covid” policy last month. Hospitals are expected to be inundated with newly-infected patients.

Megan Gibson in London, Katie Stallard in Washington DC and Ido Vock in Berlin discuss why the country was so ill-prepared to lift its lockdowns and restrictions, where the responsibility lies, and the economic imperatives behind this decision, made in the depths of winter and before the Lunar New Year.

Next they turn to a rare admission by Russia’s defence ministry on Monday (2 January) that 89 Russian soldiers were killed on New Year’s Day after Ukraine hit a “temporary deployment facility” with US-supplied Himars missiles. The team discuss the consequences of the attack, as well as Vladimir Putin’s and Volodymyr Zelenksy’s respective New Year speeches.

Then in You Ask Us a listener asks for reading recommendations to better understand Ukrainian culture.

If you have a question for You Ask Us, go to

Podcast listeners can subscribe to the New Statesman for just £1 a week for 12 weeks using our special offer: visit to learn more 

Read more:

Katie on what China’s devastating Covid outbreak means for the rest of the world

The Orphanage by Serhiy Zhadan

In Isolation by Stanislav Aseyev

Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov

The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine by Serhii Plokhy

Red Famine by Anne Applebaum

Bloodlines by Timothy Snyder

East West Street by Philippe Sands

A Loss. The story of a dead solider told by his sister by Olesya Khromeychuk

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[See also: From partygate to Trussonomics, 2022 in review]

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