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The statue of Notre-Dame-des-Neiges (Our Lady of the Snow) marks the top of the Bavella Pass, in central Corsica. In this photograph, the serene but somewhat austere statue stands in stark contrast with our playful daughter Cécile posing under the road sign.

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Meeting of the Russian Defense Ministry Board where Putin announced the possible use of nuclear weapons.

Anna Akage, Bertrand Hauger, Meike Eijsberg, Sophia Constantino, and Emma Albright

Backed in a corner with this month’s successful Ukrainian counter-offensive, Russian President Vladimir Putin made allusions last week to Moscow’s nuclear arsenal. Putin’s veiled threat has prompted a mixture of warnings and posturing over the past 72 hours.

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U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in a weekend interview on U.S. network NBC that “If Russia crosses this line, there will be catastrophic consequences for Russia. The United States will respond decisively.” Sullivan added that the United States has been in frequent and direct contact with Russia to discuss the situation in Ukraine as well as Putin’s actions and threats.

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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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