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Germany

If Germany Or France Lose Their Triple-A Ratings, It May Be History For The Euro

Europe’s financial stability agreement of 2010 is safe for now. But protecting the top credit ratings of the two biggest economies of the euro zone is the only way to ensure common currency’s survival.

Cerstin Gammelin

MUNICH - Slovakia votes yes – but so what? The European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) not only has a complicated name, it has a complicated structure. The bottom line, however, is that it's all up to Germany and France. If either loses its top AAA rating, it would spell the end of this 2010 emergency mechanism to respond to the euro zone debt crisis. And to make sure that doesn't happen, Germany's federal government will have to accept some bitter compromises.

One thing's for sure: the euro zone breathed a collective sigh of relief when Bratislava finally overcame their internal squabbles to vote "yes' to expand the EFSF.

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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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