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Iranian flags in Tehran
Iranian flags in Tehran
Christophe Ayad

TEHERAN - In the middle of the election campaign, Washington has found a way to remind Iranians that the next president they will elect will have to pull the country out of an unprecedented economic crisis.

The crisis, of course, is largely the result of the tough sanctions imposed by Western countries in response to Iran’s suspected nuclear program. And last week, U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order authorizing a ninth round of sanctions. The new measures target foreign banks and institutions that make transactions in the Iran currency – the rial – or keep accounts in rial outside the country. The Iranian currency has already lost two-thirds of its value since the end of 2011. The sanctions also target the auto industry by banning the sale of goods and services to Iran for car manufacturing.

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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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