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Nicolas Sarkozy's Presidential Bid On France's Front Pages

Libération, Aug. 23

Former right-wing French President Nicolas Sarkozy, 61, announced he's running for the 2017 presidential election. "What is worse is that he may win," leftist newspaper Libération lamented on its front page. The daily has a point: Socialist President François Hollande faces record unpopularity, making re-election an uphill battle if he plans to contest.

Sarkozy, who was president from 2007 to 2012, made his big announcement on Twitter by publishing a passage from his forthcoming book Tout pour la France ("Everything for France"). "France demands that we give it everything. I felt that I had enough strength to lead this battle at a troubled time in our history," he wrote.

Sarkozy, who heads the Republican party, had previously said that he wouldn't run for a second term if he were unseated in 2012. "You will never hear about me again if I am defeated," he said at the time. But in a book published last January, Sarkozy wrote about mistakes he made in office, a sign that commentators took to mean that he had a change of heart and would contest again.

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Geopolitics

With The Chechen War Veterans Fighting For Ukraine — And For Revenge

They came to fight Russia, and to avenge the deaths of their loved ones and friends killed in Chechnya. Not wanting to sit in the trenches, they've found work in intelligence and sabotage.

Photo of members of the pro-Ukrainian Chechen group "Dzhokhar Dudayev Battalion" posing with weapons

Members of the pro-Ukrainian Chechen group "Dzhokhar Dudayev Battalion"

Lydia Mikhalchenko

At least five Chechen units are fighting for Ukraine, with more than 1,000 troops in each unit — and their number is growing.

Most of these Chechen fighters took part in the first and second Chechen wars with Russia, and were forced to flee to Ukraine or elsewhere in Europe after their defeat. Vazhnyye Istorii correspondent Lydia Mikhalchenko met with some of these fighters.

Four of the five Chechen battalions are part of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and are paid the standard wages (about €4,000 per month for those on the front line) and receive equipment and supplies.

Chechen fighters say they appreciate that Ukrainian commanders don't order them to take unnecessary risks and attack objectives just to line up with an unrealistic schedule or important dates — something Russian generals are fond of doing.

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The experienced Chechen fighters have taken fewer losses than many other units. Unhappy sitting in trenches, they mostly engage in reconnaissance and sabotage, moving along the front lines. "The Russians wake up, and the commander is gone. Or he's dead," one of the fighters explains.

Some of the fighters say that the Ukrainian war is easier than their previous battles in Chechnya, when they had to sit in the mountains for weeks without supplies and make do with small stocks of arms and ammunition. Some call this a "five-star war."

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