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A still from the footage
A still from the footage
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Thomas Harloff

BERLIN — Shortly after World War II ended, American cameramen filmed people living in Berlin. Technicolor, an expensive proposition at the time, showed people on the streets, apparently happy to have survived. The film shows the joyful faces of people, some sunbathing, others swimming in the river. But the footage is telling from what is missing in the shots: men aged between 20 and 45.

About 11 million German men were held as prisoners of war at the time. Death was on every city corner and, yet, was barely visible: mounds of turned earth, sometimes marked with small crosses or steel helmets, was its only sign.

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Geopolitics

The Days After: What Would Happen If Putin Opts For A Tactical Nuclear Strike

The risk of the Kremlin launching a tactical nuclear weapon on Ukraine is small but not impossible. The Western response would itself set off a counter-response, which might contain or spiral to the worst-case scenario.

An anti-nuclear activist impersonates Vladimir Putin at a rally in Berlin.

Yves Bourdillon

-Analysis-

PARISVladimir Putin could “go nuclear” in Ukraine. Yes, this expression, which metaphorically means “taking the extreme, drastic action,” is now literally considered a possibility as well. Cornered and humiliated by a now plausible military defeat, experts say the Kremlin could launch a tactical nuclear bomb on a Ukrainian site in a desperate attempt to turn the tables.

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In any case, this is what Putin — who put Russia's nuclear forces on alert just after the start of the invasion in late February — is aiming to achieve: to terrorize populations in Western countries to push their leaders to let go of Ukraine.

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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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