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Paris Attack, French Elections, Heads And Hearts

Police forces on Paris' Champs Elysees on April 20
Police forces on Paris' Champs Elysees on April 20
Sruthi Gottipati and Bertrand Hauger


PARIS — Warnings about an imminent terrorist attack had hung ominously in the air in the final weeks of the French presidential election. On Tuesday, police arrested two suspects in the southern city of Marseille after finding a cache of weapons and bomb-making ingredients in their apartment. But with the world focused on French politics like never before, that spectre of terrorism crashing into the political campaign became a disturbing reality last night in the French capital.

Already hit by two major terrorist attacks in the past three years, Paris was struck again — less than 72 hours before polls open Sunday. A gunman, possibly linked to terror group ISIS, shot dead a police officer and wounded two others on the iconic Champs Elysées shopping street. French newspaper Le Monde reported that the shooter, who was killed in a firefight with police, is Karim Cheurfi, a 39-year-old French citizen.

Le Parisien"s April 20 front page

Voters will now go to the polls on Sunday in a highly unpredictable race, with four of the 11 candidates within striking distance of making the two-person runoff in May. A Le Monde editorial this morning said the attack might benefit far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, who has made the threat of Islamist extremism and immigration her main talking points. Last Monday, she even claimed there would have been no terror assaults in France under her watch. If history has shown any precedent, the far right may indeed get a boost. After terror attacks in and around Paris on Nov. 13, 2015, that killed 130 people, Le Pen's National Front party had its strongest ever showing in regional elections.

The fight against extremism cannot be won overnight.

Bruno Jeanbart, head of polling institute OpinionWay told French daily Le Figaro that last night's attack "reactivates themes on which Marine Le Pen is already well positioned." And though Jeanbart points out that the Nov. 13 attacks were "much more powerful" than the Champs Elysées one, the latter still "puts the end of the campaign back on national matters' — a development that could benefit rightwing contenders like Le Pen.

Le Pen, reacting to the attacks this morning, said that France needs to tighten its borders and deport all foreigners on the terror watchlist. Emmanuel Macron, a centrist candidate just ahead of her in the polls, cautioned against giving into fear and noted that the fight against extremism cannot be won overnight.Le Parisiendaily described the two reactions as "diametrically opposed."

It's hard to overstate how high the stakes are Sunday. But like with all elections, we can be sure that some in France will vote with their head, others with their heart.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

A Profound And Simple Reason That Negotiations Are Not An Option For Ukraine

The escalation of war in the Middle East and the stagnation of the Ukrainian counteroffensive have left many leaders in the West, who once supported Ukraine unequivocally, to look toward ceasefire talks with Russia. For Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, Piotr Andrusieczko argues that Ukraine simply cannot afford this.

Photo of Ukrainian soldiers in winter gear, marching behind a tank in a snowy landscape

Ukrainian soldiers ploughing through the snow on the frontlines

Volodymyr Zelensky's official Facebook account
Piotr Andrusieczko


KYIVUkraine is fighting for its very existence, and the war will not end soon. What should be done in the face of this reality? How can Kyiv regain its advantage on the front lines?

It's hard to deny that pessimism has been spreading among supporters of the Ukrainian cause, with some even predicting ultimate defeat for Kyiv. It's difficult to agree with this, considering how this war began and what was at stake. Yes, Ukraine has not won yet, but Ukrainians have no choice for now but to continue fighting.

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These assessments are the result of statements by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, and an interview with him in the British weekly The Economist, where the General analyzes the causes of failures on the front, notes the transition of the war to the positional phase, and, critically, evaluates the prospects and possibilities of breaking the deadlock.

Earlier, an article appeared in the American weekly TIME analyzing the challenges facing President Volodymyr Zelensky. His responses indicate that he is disappointed with the attitude of Western partners, and at the same time remains so determined that, somewhat lying to himself, he unequivocally believes in victory.

Combined, these two publications sparked discussions about the future course of the conflict and whether Ukraine can win at all.

Some people outright predict that what has been known from the beginning will happen: Russia will ultimately win, and Ukraine has already failed.

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