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Damascus risks enduring the most immediate consequences of the new Cold War
Damascus risks enduring the most immediate consequences of the new Cold War

PARIS — Will Syrians pay for the Ukrainians? Will the millions of victims of a protracted and bloody conflict in Syria suffer the backlashes of the situation playing out in Ukraine? Sadly, the answer is yes.

Posed in these simplistic terms, the question might seem odd. But in reality, the growing hostility between Moscow and Washington over the events unfolding in Kiev and on the Crimean peninsula will have consequences elsewhere.

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Firefighters work to put out the fire in a mall hit by a Russian missile strike

Shaun Lavelle, Anna Akage and Emma Albright

Officials fear the death toll will continue to climb after two Russian missiles hit the Armstor shopping center in the central Ukrainian city of Kramenchuk. According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, more than 1,000 people were inside the mall Monday at the time of the attack.

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For the moment, the death toll is at 18 with 36 people missing and at least 59 injured, reported a regional official on Tuesday. The search and rescue operations continue under the rubble.

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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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