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EL MUNDO (Spain), LE FIGARO (France) BLOOMBERG (U.S.),

MADRID - At the beginning of the week, Spain was supposed to have been saved. So much for that: Moody's downgraded Spain's debt rating three steps to Baa3. The main reason for this downgrade "is obviously the need of Spain's government to ask for external help," Kathrin Muehlbronner, senior analyst at Moody's, told Bloomberg.

Clearly, the 100 billion euros ($125 billion) set aside by the EU to help save Spain's banking sector have not convinced the ratings agency, and "Spain is on review for further downgrade," Bloomberg adds.

Asian stock fell following this announcement, with Japan's Nikkei down 0.2%, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index sliding 1.2%. European markets were heading in the same direction, with the French stock market also lost 1.09 percent this morning, according to the French newspaper Le Figaro.

A second Spanish bailout plan is now considered, El Mundo reports. According to Alberto Matellán, director of macroeconomics and strategy for the Spanish brokerage firm Inverseguros, Spain has nevertheless "not reached the critical point." A markets strategist at IG Markets, quoted by the Spanish newspaper, concludes: "What we need now to reassure the markets are decisions at the European level."

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War In Ukraine, Day 222: Ukrainian Army Makes New Gains In Regions Annexed By Russia

The Ukrainian army is pushing the front line forward in several directions.

Fire after a rocket attack by Russian troops in Kharkiv

Anna Akage, Meike Eijsberg and Sophia Constantino

The Ukrainian army is pushing the front line forward in several directions, including the liberation of two more cities – Arkhangelske and Myrolyubivka – in the southern region of Kherson. There were also reports Monday of major breakthroughs by Kyiv forces along the Dnipro River in the south.

Ukraine has also made progress in the past 48 hours in the region of Luhansk. Notably, these are two of the four regions that Vladimir Putin announced that Russia had annexed on Friday.

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With these advances by Ukrainian forces, along with gains in Donetsk (see below) and Zaporizhzhia, Russia does not hold the full territory of any of the areas of occupied Ukraine that Moscow now claims as its own.

Fighting has also intensified in the northeastern Kharkiv region, where Ukraine has also made significant advances and Russia continues shelling in response.

The successful counterattacks by the Ukrainian military in Kherson and the Kharkiv region since last month has left Russian forces controlling less Ukrainian land than they did at the start of the war in February 2022, an analysis by CNN found. Russia’s first massive push overnight into February 24 allowed it to secure or advance on one fifth of Ukrainian territory, or about 119,000 square kilometers. Russia now controls roughly 3,000 square kilometers less land than it did in the first five days of the war.

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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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