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Germany

Departing GI's Leave German Host City With Huge Urban Planning Headache

The Pentagon plans to shutter its air base in Mannheim, Germany, meaning the property – which is significantly bigger than the city itself – will soon be on the market. The local government wants to incorporate the space, but fears it’ll end up in the han

Mannheim in the works (MichaelTK)
Mannheim in the works (MichaelTK)

MANNHEIM -- Taking pictures at the main gate is not allowed. A security measure to prevent images making it onto the Internet that might unwittingly reveal military secrets. That holds for the tower too, which just now has a Black Hawk helicopter flying past it. Only after we all put our iPhones away does the double-decker bus roll past the last anti-tank obstacle.

For Mayor Peter Kurz and the four dozen local politicians joining him, this tour of Coleman Barracks is a first. They have never been beyond the barbed wire fencing that surrounds the American military airbase – even though Coleman is entirely within Mannheim city limits.

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Geopolitics

Russia's Military Failures Are Really About Its Soldiers

No doubt, strategic errors and corruption at the highest ranks in the Kremlin are partly to blame for the Russian military's stunning difficulties in Ukraine. But the roots run deeper, where the ordinary recruits come from, how they are exploited, how they react.

Army reserve soldiers go to Red Square to attend a Pioneer Induction ceremony

Anna Akage

To the great relief of Ukraine and the great surprise of the rest of the world, the Russian army — considered until February 24, the second strongest in the world — is now eminently beatable on the battlefield against Ukrainian forces operating with vastly inferior firepower.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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After renouncing the original ambitions to take Kyiv and unseat the Ukrainian government, the focus turned to the southeastern region of Donbas, where a would-be great battle on a scale comparable to World War II Soviet victories has turned into a quagmire peppered with laughable updates by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov on TikTok.

The Russians have not managed to occupy a single significant Ukrainian city, except Kherson, which they partially destroyed and now find difficult to hold. Meanwhile, Ukrainian civilians are left to suffer the bombing of cities and villages from Lviv to Odessa, with looting, torture and assorted war crimes.

The reasons for both the poor performance and atrocities are many, and include deep-seated corruption and lack of professionalism up through the highest ranks, including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who had never served in the army, and arrived in his position only because of his loyalty to the No. 1 man in the Kremlin.

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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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