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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Dnipro, A Heinous Attack Sparks Hard Questions About Weapon Supplies — On Both Sides

After Dnipro was left devastated by one of Russia’s deadliest attacks on Ukrainian civilians to date, the problem of arms delivery in a war that keeps escalating has never been more urgent.

Photo France's AMX-10 RC light tanks

France will be sending AMX-10 RC light tanks to Ukraine, but has not committed to heavy combat tanks.

Gouhier Nicolas/Abaca via ZUMA
Pierre Haski

The Russian missile that struck a residential building on Saturday afternoon in Dnipro killed at least 40 people, a number that keeps growing as bodies are discovered under the rubble in the central Ukrainian city. It appears to be a war crime with no legitimate target near the neighborhood.

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This bombing is also particularly informative about what’s happening right now on the Russian side of the war: The KH-22 cruise missile used is designed to sink an aircraft carrier, the biggest one in Moscow’s arsenal.

This precision missile was fired from an aircraft hundreds of miles away and has no link whatsoever to the target.

This enormous gap between the type of missile used and its ultimate target might actually reveal a missile scarcity in Russia, after weeks of continuous bombing in Ukraine. Tapping into strategic Russian weaponry (the KH-22 can be equipped with nuclear warheads) can never be justified considering the innocence of the target. Russian arms plants running at full capacity, for the time being at least, cannot keep up supplies.

But this tragic strike is also a clear sign of a progressive escalation in a war that, at this stage, shows no signs it can be stopped.


The type of weapons supplied by the Western countries to the Ukrainian army are the source of constant questions.

The question of tanks

The British announced this weekend that they would send Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine — so far the heaviest Western armed vehicle delivered to Ukraine.

There has been an ongoing debate over the past few days from military experts and political leaders behind the scenes, about the weapons with which Ukraine says it needs to keep its forces equipped. The British tanks would enable Ukraine to face down Russian offensives like the one that destroyed the mining town of Soledar, now threatening the nearby key city of Bakhmut.

It’s a decision each time that delays the modernization of the Ukrainian army.

Poland has already provided old Soviet-made tanks from its stocks, while Western countries refused any negotiation on supplying Ukraine with their modern tanks. But while France recently announced a delivery of AMX-10-RC light armored vehicles, its Leclerc tanks are completely out of the question.

France claims to be all-in pulling for Ukraine’s victory in this brutal war, but adapts its weaponry deliveries to each stage of a war that only keeps getting worse.

Photo of the consequences of the Russian rocket attack on apartment building in Dnipro

Consequences of Russian rocket attack on apartment block in Dnipro

Mykola Miakshykov/Ukrinform/Zuma

The slow modernization of the Ukrainian army

Since the very beginning of the war, the West has been reluctant to accelerate the different stages of its escalation regarding the type of weapons provided to Ukraine. It is an approach that can seem wise when one considers facing the world’s second strongest military power; but it’s a decision each time that delays the modernization of the Ukrainian army and threatens the safety of civilians.

Part of the explanation is the availability of the arms themselves, as both France and Europe face possible stock shortages and sluggish production lines. Germany has declared that it will deliver Leopard tanks to Ukraine, but that it won’t happen until 2024.

The tension between urgency and realism, from Dnipro to Bakhmut, may also require a painful rethinking of the broader strategy — the hard questions of the war in Ukraine are far from over.


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Economy

How Fleeing Russians (And Their Rubles) Are Shaking Up Neighboring Economies

Russians fled the war to neighboring countries, bringing with them billions of dollars worth of wealth. The influx of money is both a windfall and a problem.

How Fleeing Russians (And Their Rubles) Are Shaking Up Neighboring Economies

January 2023, Saint Petersburg, Russia. Sberbank logo seen on a residential building during the sanctions against Russian banks

Maksim Konstantinov / SOPA Images via ZUMA Press Wire
Important Stories

Posting a comment on a Kazakhstani real estate listing and sales website this past fall, one user couldn't contain his enthusiasm: "It's unbelievable, hasn't happened since 2013 — the market has exploded! ... Yippee! I don't know who to kiss!"

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The boom of demand — and dollars — in Kazakhstan, and other countries in the region, is traced directly to the incoming Russians and their wealth who have arrived since the war in Ukraine began.

The ongoing wave of fleeing Russians is likely the largest emigration from the country in 100 years. There are no accurate estimates of how many Russians have left the country, much less where they will settle or how many of them will eventually return home. But between March and October, up to 1.5 million people left Russia. A conservative estimate suggests half a million haven't returned.

The main flow passed through Georgia, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan (which has the longest land border with Russia). In these countries, the Russian language is widespread and visas are unnecessary. Russians can even enter Kazakhstan and Armenia without a passport.

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