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LES ECHOS

Ocean Micronations, The Libertarian Floating Utopia

The U.S.-based Seasteading Institute is pursuing the notion of "startup governments" and the opportunity for like-minded people to live in shared offshore communities. Could man-made island colonies be our future?

Vincent Callebaut's
Vincent Callebaut's
Julien Damon

In the early 16th century, humanist Thomas More envisioned Utopia as a fictional island whose organization principles could inspire the world. Now, at a time when all the world's natural islands have been discovered, some U.S. libertarians aspire to create new ones so they can better organize the world.

For the island of Utopia, More contemplated a system of perfect equality where private property was banned. On the islands dreamed by these U.S. entrepreneurs, who are keen on absolute liberalism and high tech, one principle rules: freedom for the shareholder citizens.

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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.

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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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