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As you may remember, I used to conduct a traditional French music choir in my hometown. This shot was from a memorable trip abroad, to Wales, where we'd been invited to the famed Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod folk festival. The tall and handsome man signing autographs like a celebrity was not only a strong tenor in the choir, he would eventually become family. His son next to him, wearing a white bonnet, ended up marrying my daughter, making him l'autre grand-père of my grandchildren — including my grandson who helps me write this here column!



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Fire in a nature reserve near Mykolaiv, Ukraine, after shelling attack by the Armed Forces of Ukraine as part of Kyiv's counteroffensive.

Kherson Region Emergency Service
Worldcrunch

Ukraine’s lightning-fast counter-offensive continues Monday, as Kyiv’s chief commander General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi declared more than 3,000 square kilometers of territory recaptured since the start of the month, forcing Russian troops from more than 20 towns and villages.

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Ukrainian soldiers are in firm control of the northeastern Kharkiv region, having arrived at the border with Russia. Moscow appears to be reeling from the losses as thousands of Russian troops abandoned their positions, leaving behind huge stocks of ammunition and equipment.

Vitaly Ganchev, the Russian-installed head of Moscow's occupation administration in the Kharkiv region, acknowledged that Ukraine's troops had broken through, ordering civilians to evacuate from the Russian-occupied parts. Ukrainian forces outnumbered Russian troops by eight times during the counteroffensive in the northeastern Kharkiv region, a Russian-installed official said.

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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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