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Andalusian Graffiti

"The electoral campaign is like selling detergent," reads this graffiti just one month after the first general election held in Spain since the death of longtime dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

After Major Setback In Ukraine, 7 Options For What Putin Could Do Next

Negotiate? Stall? Double down? The Russian leader suddenly finds himself in front of a situation that offers no obvious good choices. Doing nothing, however, is not an option.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin at a summit in Uzbekistan

Cameron Manley

In just one week, the war in Ukraine has made a full about-turn. Ukraine’s armed forces went from an apparent slow ceding of land to launching two hugely successful counter offensives around Kharkiv in the nation’s east, and in the south near the Russian-occupied city of Kherson.

As of Friday, Kyiv claims to have recaptured some 8,000 square kilometers of its territory, taking back in a matter of days what it took Russia months to originally conquer.

By now, there is no doubt that Russia is in serious trouble. President Vladimir Putin’s tentative encounter this week with Chinese President Xi Jinping, his most important potential international ally, only confirms that his options for reversing the recent battlefield defeats may be rapidly shrinking.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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