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SPOTLIGHT: BEYOND BREXIT

The big day has arrived. Britons have begun voting to decide if their country should remain a member of the European Union, or go its own way. The latest polls all suggest the race is too close to call, with two surveys putting the "Remain" camp ahead while two others say those opting for Britain's exit, a so-called Brexit, is leading. Voting stations will close at 10 p.m. local time and the final result is expected tomorrow morning.

While the thought of a member state leaving the EU is an alarming prospect for many, others argue that Brexit is merely the latest faultline in an already shaky institution.

Deep divides, such as those on the refugee and economic crises, betray a splintering Europe, whose members are unable to agree on even traditionally unifying matters. As Reuters points out, Europe is struggling to reach a consensus on how to deal with Russian president Vladimir Putin over Ukraine.

At a time when some are calling for a more unified foreign policy and a more integrated Europe, the Brexit rupture and the bloc's weakening resolve toward Putin are signs that the EU may have overreached.

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Geopolitics

The Days After: What Would Happen If Putin Opts For A Tactical Nuclear Strike

The risk of the Kremlin launching a tactical nuclear weapon on Ukraine is small but not impossible. The Western response would itself set off a counter-response, which might contain or spiral to the worst-case scenario.

An anti-nuclear activist impersonates Vladimir Putin at a rally in Berlin.

Yves Bourdillon

-Analysis-

PARISVladimir Putin could “go nuclear” in Ukraine. Yes, this expression, which metaphorically means “taking the extreme, drastic action,” is now literally considered a possibility as well. Cornered and humiliated by a now plausible military defeat, experts say the Kremlin could launch a tactical nuclear bomb on a Ukrainian site in a desperate attempt to turn the tables.

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In any case, this is what Putin — who put Russia's nuclear forces on alert just after the start of the invasion in late February — is aiming to achieve: to terrorize populations in Western countries to push their leaders to let go of Ukraine.

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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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