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Christian Drosten, Director, Institute of Virology at Campus Charité Mitte
Christian Drosten, Director, Institute of Virology at Campus Charité Mitte

Not since George Clooney was walking the halls of E.R. have doctors gotten so much air time. More particularly, virologists and epidemiologists are taking the lead in guiding us through the coronavirus crisis, both those offering explanations on news outlets and those holding increasingly vital positions of authority who help set national policies in response to COVID-19. Here are some of the highest profile MDs:

  • Massimo Galli: As the first country hit in Europe, Italy was also the first in the West to develop a near daily attachment with an expert of infectious diseases: Dr. Massimo Galli, director of the infectious diseases department at Luigi Sacco University Hospital in Milan, became a household name as his stern, no-nonsense assertions began to fill the Italian media two months back. As the recognition of a true crisis was still impending in less-affected countries around the world, Galli issued sharp warnings to both neighboring France and Spain as well as the U.S., saying that "we're only at the beginning" and that the virus could spread undetected in California and New York as it has in Italy. With a new virus, there are no certainties," he told Corriere della Sera.

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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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