World Review from the New Statesman


What’s the cost of Qatar’s World Cup?

The Qatar World Cup, which began on Sunday 20 November, has been marred in controversy, from the country’s oppression of LGBT+ people and women to a last-minute decision to ban sales of beer inside stadiums. Thousands of migrant workers are believed to have died during construction of the stadiums, and others employed as security guards appear to be paid as little as 35p an hour. Gianni Infantino, the president of Fifa, who is paid about £2.6m this year, defended the tournament in a rant in which he said he feels “like a migrant worker”.


Ido Vock in Berlin, Megan Gibson in London and Katie Stallard in Washignton DC discuss Fifa’s defence and the attempt by some politicians to “keep politics out of sport”, how individual teams have and have not shown real moral courage, and the power of sport to affect political change.


Next, Megan reports on her trip to Brussels, where she interviewed Jens Stoltenberg, the Nato secretary-general. The team discuss his unwavering support for Ukraine, the prospect for negotiations and the state of the Western alliance.


Then, in You Ask Us, a listener asks what role the Wagner Group plays in Russia’s war effort.

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Katie on what the World Cup tells us about power.


Megan on why Iran’s brave act of defiance puts England to shame.


Megan interviews Jens Stoltenberg.


Katie asks if Volodymyr Zelenksy is losing the support of the West in Ukraine.


Ido on the brutal methods of Russia’s Wagner group.

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Terror and tragedy in Ukraine

A helicopter carrying senior Ukrainian officials crashed on Wednesday (18 January) near a nursery in a suburb of Kyiv. According to reports, children were among those killed, as well as three government officials including the interior minister Denys Monastyrsky – the highest-ranking official to die since the start of the Russian invasion. Ido Vock in Berlin and Katie Stallard in Washington DC discuss what we know about the tragedy so far and why so many officials were travelling on a single aircraft. They also discuss the latest developments in the war, including the Russian missile strike on a block of flats in Dnipro over the weekend that killed at least 45 people, and changes to the Russian military leadership.  Next, they turn to China, where Qin Gang, the former US ambassador, has been appointed foreign minister ahead of the US secretary of state Antony Blinken's expected visit to Beijing in early February. They discuss Gang's reputation for combative “wolf warrior” diplomacy, and whether China is moving away from this approach. If you have a question for You Ask Us, go to 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 China’s new foreign minister and the taming of “wolf warrior” diplomacy Ido on what we know about the helicopter crash that killed three Ukrainian officials Ido writes that new commander Valery Gerasimov may not be able to stem Russia’s losses Jeremy Cliffe writes that divisions over Ukraine are exposing the incoherence of German foreign policy