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Turkey

Billions In EU Aid To Turkey Hasn't Stopped Wave Of Refugees

Turkey is supposed to guard our borders against more refugees and receive financial aid for its services. But refugees fleeing to Europe across the Mediterranean keep coming.

Refugees arriving on the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing from Turkey on a dinghy
Refugees arriving on the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing from Turkey on a dinghy
Deniz Yücel

AYVACIK — Less than six miles separate this town on Turkey's western coast from the Island of Lesbos, Greece. Nearly two-thirds of the 850,000 refugees who arrived in Europe via the Greek isles in 2015 crossed over to Lesbos.

But entering European Union territory via Turkey is supposed to have become impossible now, at least according to the Joint Plan of Action that the EU signed with Turkey at the end of November. This agreement stipulates that Turkey must patrol its coastlines more effectively and take back illegal refugees who crossed over from its territory. To be able to fulfill these terms, Turkey will receive 3 billion euros from Brussels and Turkish citizens will no longer have to apply for a visa to enter the EU.

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Geopolitics

Russia's Military Failures Are Really About Its Soldiers

No doubt, strategic errors and corruption at the highest ranks in the Kremlin are partly to blame for the Russian military's stunning difficulties in Ukraine. But the roots run deeper, where the ordinary recruits come from, how they are exploited, how they react.

Army reserve soldiers go to Red Square to attend a Pioneer Induction ceremony

Anna Akage

To the great relief of Ukraine and the great surprise of the rest of the world, the Russian army — considered until February 24, the second strongest in the world — is now eminently beatable on the battlefield against Ukrainian forces operating with vastly inferior firepower.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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After renouncing the original ambitions to take Kyiv and unseat the Ukrainian government, the focus turned to the southeastern region of Donbas, where a would-be great battle on a scale comparable to World War II Soviet victories has turned into a quagmire peppered with laughable updates by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov on TikTok.

The Russians have not managed to occupy a single significant Ukrainian city, except Kherson, which they partially destroyed and now find difficult to hold. Meanwhile, Ukrainian civilians are left to suffer the bombing of cities and villages from Lviv to Odessa, with looting, torture and assorted war crimes.

The reasons for both the poor performance and atrocities are many, and include deep-seated corruption and lack of professionalism up through the highest ranks, including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who had never served in the army, and arrived in his position only because of his loyalty to the No. 1 man in the Kremlin.

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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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