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Geopolitics

A Wrestler's Execution, Proof That Iran's Regime Is Nervous

Under pressure both at both home and abroad, the Islamic Republic's clerical regime is using capital punishment to sow fear and force compliance.

Vigil held after the execution of Navid Afkari on Sept. 14
Vigil held after the execution of Navid Afkari on Sept. 14
Roshanak Astaraki

-OpEd-

LONDON — Ignoring countless pleas for mercy, the Islamic Republic of Iran recently executed Navid Afkari, a former wrestler convicted of killing a state agent during street protests in 2018. The killing is part of a vicious strategy, one that targets detained opponents but whose real objective is to cow a restless population.

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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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