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SPOTLIGHT: MIGRANT RISKS

Whether fleeing war or poverty, migrants from Africa and the Middle East continue to risk their lives to reach Europe for what's been advertised as just one dangerous leap away from a much better life. The latest grim report comes this morning from Morocco where one migrant died attempting to reach the Spanish enclave of Melilla through the sewage system. More often, the tragic ending to these stories feature would-be migrants suffocating in the back of a smuggler's truck or drowning in the Mediterranean, where this week we learned more than 10,000 migrants have died since 2014.


In a bid to stem the influx of migrants, the European Commission set out partnership plans with several Middle Eastern and African countries earlier this week. This plan, following the model of a much-criticized deal with Turkey, includes trade and visa deals, as well as the creation of a $70-billion investment fund. While being a boon for the countries on the receiving end, whether such a plan would suffice to stop migrants heading north or west, or indeed whether such a plan can even materialize, are both questionable. Demands from voters at home to reduce the arrival combine with calls from human rights groups to save lives. In the more cloistered confines of diplomatic and economic negotiations, Financial Times reporter Duncan Robinson notes, European governments face a very different kind of risk: European Council President Donald Tusk bluntly called it "blackmail."

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Russia

When Mom Believes Putin: A Russian Family Torn Apart Over Ukraine Invasion

Sisters Rante and Satu Vodich fled Russia because they could no longer bear to live under Putin — but their mother believes state propaganda about the war. Her daughters are building a new life for themselves in Georgia.

A mother and her daughter on a barricade in Kyiv

Steffi Unsleber

TBILISI — On a gloomy afternoon in May, Rante Vodich gets the keys to her new home. A week earlier, the 27-year-old found this wooden shed in Tbilisi, with a corrugated iron roof and ramshackle bathroom. The shed next door houses an old bed covered in dust. Vodich refers to the place as a “studio” and pays $300 per month in rent. She says finding the studio is the best thing that’s happened to her since she came to Georgia. It is her hope for the future.

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Her younger sister Satu Vodich is around 400 kilometers further west, in the city of Batumi on Georgia’s Black Sea coast, surrounded by Russian tourists, Ukrainian flags, skyscrapers with sea views and the run-down homes of local residents.

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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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