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Siempre Picasso
Siempre Picasso
Francesco Bonami

Many years ago, when Italian military service was still compulsory, the army subjected its new conscripts to a general culture test with various types of questions. One asked: “Who is Leonardo?,” which prompted a surprising range of responses. Someone, it seems, even replied “The pope.” The artist behind the most famous painting in the world, the Mona Lisa, wasn’t as famous as one might have thought.

If the question had been “Who is Picasso?” then the majority, if not all, would have probably given the right answer. How is it possible that the genius of all geniuses, the great Leonardo da Vinci, could be less famous than a modern artist, of whose actual works few would be able to name a single one? Why is Picasso so famous and every exhibition that carries his name guaranteed huge box-office success, regardless of what is on display?

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Hide-And-Seek Of Drone Warfare, A Letter From Ukraine's Front Line

A member of the Ukrainian Armed Forces writes his account of the new dynamic of targeting, and being targeted by, the invading Russian troops, as drones circle above and trenches get left behind.

A Ukrainian military drone operator during a testing of anti-drone rifle in Kyiv.

Igor Lutsenko*

KYIV — The current war in Ukraine is a game of hide-and-seek. Both sides are very well-stocked with artillery, enough to destroy the enemy along many kilometers. Swarms of drones fly through the air day and night, keeping a close eye on the earth's surface below. If they notice something interesting, it immediately becomes a target. Depending on the priority, they put it in line for destruction by artillery.

Therefore, the only effective way to survive is to hide, or at least somehow prove to the drones your non-priority status — and avoid moving to the front of the 'queue of death.'

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In general, the nature of this queue is a particular thing. It may seem to be a god, but is instead a simple artillery captain's decision of when to have lunch, and when to fire on the house where several enemy soldiers are staying. It's just a handful of ordinary people (observers, artillerymen) deciding how long their enemies will live depending on their own schedule or the weather, the availability of ammunition or if they're feeling tired.

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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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