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Economy

Bad Or Worse? Gauging Europe's Economic Prospects For 2012

Analysis: Looking ahead to the next 12 months, European business leaders are hoping the current economic slowdown will be more manageable than the crisis four years ago. Fear of a worst-case scenario, however, is part of everyone's calculation.

A Pétroplus refinery in Petit-Couronne, France
A Pétroplus refinery in Petit-Couronne, France
David Barroux


LES ÉCHOS/Worldcrunch

PARIS – The year 2012 has just begun with one grim question: is it going to be "just" a tough year...or an awful one?

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Sergey Lavrov, Putin’s Decoy-In-Chief

The Russian Foreign Minister, among the country’s most recognizable figures, embodies both the corruption and confusion of the Putin regime. Not everything is what it seems — and that’s the point.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a diplomatic reception for heads of African diplomatic missions

Anna Akage

From the outside, one might have the impression that the Russian Federation is run through a highly complex and well-coordinated apparatus that ensures that any single cog in Vladimir Putin’s system is by definition both in synch with the other cogs — and utterly replaceable. The Kremlin appears to us through this lens as an impregnable citadel with long arms and peering eyes that are literally everywhere.

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And yet, this is a completely false picture — and there’s no greater proof than in looking more closely at one of Russia's most prominent figures, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

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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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