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Russia

Putin The Liar, And The Russians Who Love Him

Evidence is so overwhelming that even Russians can no longer deny the truth that their country is fighting in Ukraine. But Putin offers something better than the truth.

Putin in Moscow on April 16
Putin in Moscow on April 16
Jacques Schuster

-OpEd-

BERLIN — Europeans and Americans have known for a long time that Russian troops are aiding Ukrainian separatist rebels. Europe and the U.S. possess countless statements, photos and video that prove how deeply the Russian army is embedded in this conflict.

The latest evidence comes from a posthumously released report by slain Russian political opponent Boris Nemtsov, which was finally published in Moscow last week. It reveals that Russian troops streamed into Ukraine "on a huge scale" starting last August, and have participated in all essential military actions since then.

Last August alone, 150 Russian soldiers were killed. So now, those in Russia who would like to know the truth can hear it from their very own (politically opposed) fellow countryman. It appears that President Vladimir Putin lies just as well as he rides and shoots.

But the West can scarcely get its hopes up now, even if this is a saddening prospect. The fact of the matter is that, politically speaking, the voice of the political opposition is being heard about as attentively as the orchestrated cultural tripe of the Don Cossack Choir at the Bolshoi Theatre.

The West has deluded itself long enough in believing that Russia would become a democracy after the downfall of the Soviet dictatorship because the majority of the Russian people truly wanted democracy. After the chaotic Boris Yeltsin years, which many saw as humiliating, Russians were longing for order and a return to greatness.

Putin has achieved a kind of cult status with his own people. Not only are a vodka brand, a lollipop, an ice cream label, and a freeze-resistant tomato named after him, but also the youth of Russia is apparently amazed by their all-powerful president.

And we must understand that this is because of, not despite, his actions in Ukraine, which German Chancellor Angela Merkel with good cause characterized as criminal.

More than 90% of 18-to-24-year-olds are celebrating the political strategy of their president. And 70% of all Russians praise him for having made their country, once again, one of the great powers on earth. Caught in this thrill of victory, who wants to hear the truth?

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Geopolitics

North Korea And Nukes: Why The World Is Obliged To Try To Negotiate

How to handle a nuclear armed pariah state is not a simple question.

North Korea And Nukes: Why The World Is Obliged To Try To Negotiate

North Korea's missile launch during a news program at the Yongsan Railway Station in Seoul

Alexander Gillespie

The recent claim by Kim Jong Un that North Korea plans to develop the world’s most powerful nuclear force may well have been more bravado than credible threat. But that doesn’t mean it can be ignored.

The best guess is that North Korea now has sufficient fissile material to build 45 to 55 nuclear weapons, three decades after beginning its program. The warheads would mostly have yields of around 10 to 20 kilotons, similar to the 15 kiloton bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945.

But North Korea has the capacity to make devices ten times bigger. Its missile delivery systems are also advancing in leaps and bounds. The technological advance is matched in rhetoric and increasingly reckless acts, including test-firing missiles over Japan in violation of all international norms, provoking terror and risking accidental war.

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