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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

How Russia Is Grooming Future Politicians On The Frontline In Ukraine

The war in Ukraine will have a lasting impact on the political landscape of both Russia and Ukraine, regardless of its ultimate outcome. Independent Russian publication Agents Media suggests that the ongoing conflict will shape the country’s future decision-makers.

How Russia Is Grooming Future Politicians On The Frontline In Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin toasting the soldiers awarded the Gold Star Hero of Russia at the Grand Kremlin Palace.

Michal Kubala

Throughout history, wars have been a breeding ground for future political leaders: from victorious commanders like Napoleon and Dwight D. Eisenhower, to foot soldiers who run for elected office on the strength of their battlefield heroics. Early accounts of the intermingling of politics and war date back to ancient Rome, where military service was a prerequisite for entering political life.

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The same dynamic is sure to occur after the war in Ukraine. Independent Russian news site Agents Media reports that Moscow is already grooming prospective Russian politicians among those currently fighting in Ukraine, offering evidence of aspiring politicians who are laying the foundation of their careers at the front line.

With Russian regional elections set for September, parties are already banking on candidates who have fought in the war. Some politicians have even volunteered to go to the front, to showcase their patriotism and enhance their candidacies.

“I agree with the notion that a new elite is crystallizing in the new territories,” First Deputy Prime Minister Andrey Belousov said in a June 13 interview with Russian corporate media RBC, referring to Ukrainian territory annexed by Russia last year. Belousov emphasized the importance of making decisions based on real-life experience, instead of living in a "virtual" world.

Proved patriots

“There, they face very real situations. I see guys going there and back; I see them transforming before my eyes,” he said.

In January, the Russian outlet Vedomosti wrote that local parties are bolstering their rosters with candidates who have served in the war.

"These people have proved themselves to be patriots, so if any of them want to pursue a political career, then more power to them," a source from United Russia, President Vladimir Putin’s ruling party, told Vedomosti.

A source close to the Duma explained that some parties like United Russia are staking their election campaigns on people coming from the combat zone. More than 100 people nominated in United Russia's May primaries had taken part in the war in Ukraine. The Kremlin trusts officials who have gained experience working in the "new territories," according to Russian media outlet Kommersant.

A ceremony introducing acting Governor Vladislav Kuznetsov to the government and parliament of the Chukotka Autonomous Area.

Alexander Shimotkin/TASS

Veteran status

"It's no coincidence that some lawmakers went to the new territories as volunteers,” another source close to the Duma told Vedomosti, explaining that once they have participated in the war, they may enter the election campaign with veteran status.

For example, United Russia’s candidate for the Khakassia region during the September regional elections will be Sergei Sokol, who volunteered to fight in Ukraine in fall 2022.

The crucible of conflict has the power to shape the future direction of both nations.

In addition, Russian President Vladimir Putin has already promoted officials from the occupied regions. In March, he nominated First Deputy Prime Minister Vladislav Kuznetsov of the so-called Luhansk People's Republic and Vitaly Khotsenko, head of the administration of the so-called Donetsk People's Republic, to the positions of the governor of the Chukotka and the Omsk region respectively.

While the result of the war remains uncertain, yet it has already had a profound impact on Russia and Ukraine. The crucible of conflict has the power to shape the future direction of both nations. Back home, those who have risked their lives on the front lines may be valued for their experiences and proven commitment to their countries, and could have the potential to assume leadership roles

Ukraine's society has already displayed strong unity during its defense, with many fighters who witnessed the realities of the front line recognized as committed patriots and heroes. The military could harbor Ukraine's leaders of tomorrow, who will be determined to rebuild Ukraine in a shape and form that ensures the sacrifices made were not in vain.

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The Unsustainable Future Of Fish Farming — On Vivid Display In Turkish Waters

Currently, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming, compared to just 10% two decades ago. The short-sightedness of this shift risks eliminating fishing output from both the farms and the open seas along Turkey's 5,200 miles of coastline.

Photograph of two fishermen throwing a net into the Tigris river in Turkey.

Traditional fishermen on the Tigris river, Turkey.

Dûrzan Cîrano/Wikimeidia
İrfan Donat

ISTANBUL — Turkey's annual fish production includes 515,000 tons from cultivation and 335,000 tons came from fishing in open waters. In other words, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming.

It's a radical shift from just 20 years ago when some 600,000 tons, or 90% of the total output, came from fishing. Now, researchers are warning the current system dominated by fish farming is ultimately unsustainable in the country with 8,333 kilometers (5,177 miles) long.

Professor Mustafa Sarı from the Maritime Studies Faculty of Bandırma 17 Eylül University believes urgent action is needed: “Why were we getting 600,000 tons of fish from the seas in the 2000’s and only 300,000 now? Where did the other 300,000 tons of fish go?”

Professor Sarı is challenging the argument from certain sectors of the industry that cultivation is the more sustainable approach. “Now we are feeding the fish that we cultivate at the farms with the fish that we catch from nature," he explained. "The fish types that we cultivate at the farms are sea bass, sea bram, trout and salmon, which are fed with artificial feed produced at fish-feed factories. All of these fish-feeds must have a significant amount of fish flour and fish oil in them.”

That fish flour and fish oil inevitably must come from the sea. "We have to get them from natural sources. We need to catch 5.7 kilogram of fish from the seas in order to cultivate a sea bream of 1 kg," Sarı said. "Therefore, we are feeding the fish to the fish. We cannot cultivate fish at the farms if the fish in nature becomes extinct. The natural fish need to be protected. The consequences would be severe if the current policy is continued.”

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