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Robert Bierdron, Poland's first MP and mayor
Robert Bierdron, Poland's first MP and mayor
Maciej Sandecki

SLUPSK — One of the first things journalists wanted to know after the recent mayoral election in Slupsk, a small city in northern Poland, is what the winner planned to do with the Pope John Paul II portrait hanging in his mayor's office. Will he remove it? Does he plan to rid the office of religious symbols?

Obviously irritated, Mayor-Elect Robert Bierdron fired back with some queries of his own. "What are you even asking me about?" Bierdron responded. "Why don't you ask me about my plans for Slupsk?"

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Geopolitics

Our 'Emotional' Divide: How The Ukraine War Reveals A World Broken In Two

Russia's invasion has created a stark global divide: them and us. On one side are the countries refusing to condemn Moscow, with the West on the other. It's a dangerous split that could have repercussions far into the future.

Protesters against the war in Ukraine demonstrate in front of the Russian embassy in London

Dominique Moïsi

-Analysis-

PARIS — "The West and the Rest of Us." That's the title of a 1975 essay written by Nigerian essayist and critic Chinweizu Ibekwe. I've been thinking about his words as the war in Ukraine both reveals and accelerates divisions of the world that I believe are ultimately "emotional" in nature.

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With war returning to Europe and the risk of escalation, there is a gap between the Western view and that of the "others," a distinct "us and them." This gap cannot be explained in strictly geographical, political, and economic terms.

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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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