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The Musee d'Orsay reopened to the public in Paris in June
The Musee d'Orsay reopened to the public in Paris in June
Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

PARIS — Growing up in Chicago, one of my favorite books was From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the story of a brother and sister who run away to live in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. Even as a kid, I could sense what a rare treat it could be to spend such quiet, intimate time with artistic masterpieces.

Little did I know that years later, and even farther from home, I would have my own experience of a (nearly) solitary visit inside one of the world's great museums. It happened here in Paris, where I was among the first to line up on a recent Saturday at the Musée d'Orsay after the end of the months-long COVID-19 lockdown.

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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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