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India

Brave New World: Inside India's First Bonafide Baby Factory

Poor women come to this Indian clinic to rent their bellies to wealthy couples from around the world. A practical solution to modern problems or the worst kind of social engineering?

Some of the babies recently born at the clinic in Anand
Some of the babies recently born at the clinic in Anand
Natacha Tatu

ANAND — Maanasi is ready. The 34-year-old is lying on the examination table, her feet in stirrups, waiting for Dr. Patel to arrive. Two nurse’s aides point a lamp at her belly. Maanasi barely lets out a sigh when the doctor implants two embryos inside of her, before leaving without a single word. The operation didn’t even last 10 minutes. The clients, an American couple, had sent six frozen embryos by plane. Another attempt will still be possible, should this one fail.

With her small sack on her shoulder, the young woman will be taken to the “house of surrogates,” a few hundred meters from the clinic, where she will be staying until the baby is born. That is also when Maanasi will meet the clients for the first time, just after the birth. She will then be able to go back home to her village, to her husband and her two children, aged seven and nine. And in her bank account, which will have been opened for the occasion, there will be $4,000 for her trouble.

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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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