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Finishing touches in Sochi
Finishing touches in Sochi
Andrei Voskresenskii

SOCHI - For those around the world watching the Olympic Games on television, the location of the event is not, in the end, what matters. The important thing is who is skating faster, spinning better and winning golds and silvers.

And then, before we know it, they ski away – in just a couple of weeks. The question that will remain instead for Russia is what will be left of the massive seven-year financial and construction effort that led to the Winter Olympics in Sochi?

Our country’s previous experience with the Olympics – in 1980 – turned out to be quite successful in terms of “legacy.” Almost everything that was built for the Olympics was not only used afterwards, but, as we now can see clearly, absolutely necessary for Moscow.

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In The News

War in Ukraine, Day 92: Is Severodonetsk The Next Mariupol?

Russian troops are attempting to encircle Severodonetsk, the last key city remaining under Ukrainian control in the Luhansk region, as Vladimir Putin looks to claim victory in a war that is not going Moscow's way. But will the toll be for civilians?

Inside a shelter in Severodonetsk.

Meike Eijsberg, Shaun Lavelle and Cameron Manley

Severodonetsk, the last key city remaining under Ukrainian control in the Luhansk area, is now the focal point of Russia’s war. In 2014, it had been recaptured from the pro-Russian separatists in a hard-fought battle by Ukrainian forces. Now, eight years later, Moscow is launching an all-out attack to try to take it back again.

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Alex Crawford, a Sky News correspondent in the region, says Russian forces have the means to conquer the city that in normal times has a population of circa 100,000 — and Moscow will be eager to cite it as the “victory”. But, Crawford wrote, “the path to victory comes – like the capture of the port city of Mariupol – strewn with the broken and battered bodies of the city's citizens.”

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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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