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Dasha Metelyova practicing in Murmansk
Dasha Metelyova practicing in Murmansk
Julia Smirnova

MURMANSK — Dasha Metelyova gets up shortly before 6 a.m. to apply her makeup and do her hair. In the hall of her apartment building, the paint is peeling from the walls. Dasha steps outside, where it is still dark because this time of year here it only gets light around 10 a.m. Soon the polar night will begin and last until February, creating permanent darkness. The sun is not to be seen. Little lamps will be lit in the windows to replace sunlight for the house plants.

The most difficult time, Dasha says, is right after polar night ends. The lack of light tends to make people feel weak and want to sleep. Many people get sick during this period, and there are extra vacation days at school.

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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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