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LE MONDE
This leading French daily newspaper Le Monde ("The World") was founded in December 1944 in the aftermath of World War II. Today, it is distributed in 120 countries. In late 2010, a trio formed by Pierre Berge, Xavier Niel and Matthieu Pigasse took a controlling 64.5% stake in the newspaper.
Angela Merkel Defends Her Handling Of Putin
In The News
Shaun Lavelle, Anna Akage and Emma Albright

Angela Merkel Defends Her Handling Of Putin

In her first interview since the end of her 16 years as German Chancellor, Merkel said she had "nothing to apologize for." Asked why she had opposed plans for NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia in 2008. “Ukraine was not the country that we know now."

Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended her track record in dealing with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying she “has nothing to apologize for,” during her first public appearance since leaving office six months ago.

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In a public interview Tuesday night with Der Spiegel in Berlin, Merkel was asked about her government’s opposition of a U.S.-led plan for NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia in 2008. The Chancellor said she did not regret the decision. “Ukraine was not the country that we know now. It was a Ukraine that was very split” and “ruled by oligarchs at the time.”

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Ukrainian Navy Claims Success In Black Sea
In The News
Shaun Lavelle, Anna Akage, Joel Silvestri, and Emma Albright

Ukrainian Navy Claims Success In Black Sea

Ukrainian officials say a fleet of Russian ships has been forced more than 100 kilometers from the Ukrainian coast, which could be used to alleviate the economic pressure of the Russian blockade.

The Ukrainian Navyclaimed yesterday that it had pushed a fleet of Russian ships more than 100 kilometers from the Ukrainian coast. Ukraine alleged that as a result, Russia had been forced to change its tactics in the northwest part of the Black Sea to rely on coastal defenses in occupied Kherson and Crimea, rather than seaborne air defenses.

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The U.S. think-tank theInstitute for the Study of War reported that it is likely Ukraine will try to use these successes to alleviate the economic pressure of the Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports.

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Photo of a bus transporting a group of Mariupol residents heading for Zaporizhzhia, southeastern Ukraine.
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Irene Caselli, Bertrand Hauger, Cameron Manley and Emma Albright

Major New EU Sanctions Against Russia Include Ban On Oil Imports

Testimonies are emerging of civilians being evacuated from Mariupol and Lyman, as Russian attacks on Ukrainian cities continue. Meanwhile, the EU has revealed plans to enforce its sixth package of sanctions against Moscow.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has announced a new package of sanctions against Russia. Speaking to the European Parliament on Wednesday morning, von der Leyen unveiled plans to ban Russian oil imports as well as a proposal to ban three banks, including Sberbank, the country’s biggest, from the SWIFT international payments networks.

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Von der Leyen also announced that three big Russian state-owned broadcasters “that amplify Putin's lies and propaganda aggressively” would be banned from EU airwaves. The proposal needs to be approved by all EU member states to become effective.

The ban on oil poses a serious risk to the European economy, and will require countries to seek other energy sources after having long been reliant on Russian supply.

"Let's be clear: It will not be easy,” said von der Leyen. “But we simply have to work on it. We will make sure that we phase out Russian oil in an orderly fashion, to maximize pressure on Russia, while minimizing the impact on our own economies."

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Photo of two men through a bullet hole on a window in Ukraine
Geopolitics

Lavrov’s World War III Warning And Veiled Nuclear Threats

The Russian foreign minister's words come after U.S. officials say they believe Ukraine can win the war, and aim for a "weakened" Russia in the future.

Over the past 24 hours, the war of words between Washington and Moscow has escalated significantly. After U.S. Defense Secretary Llyod Austin said that seeing Russia not just defeated by Ukraine, but “weakened” by the war, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov responded with an explicit warning that U.S. actions could lead to “World War III,” with veiled references to possible nuclear attacks.

Lavrov told Russia’s Channel One television network early Tuesday that the risks of nuclear conflict “are really very, very significant, I would not like these risks to be artificially inflated, and there are many who want them. The danger is serious, it is real, it cannot be underestimated,” Lavrov said.

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Comparing the current situation with the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, Lavrov noted that there used to be a channel of communication "which was trusted by both leaders," but now "there is no such channel, and no one is trying to create it. Then there were few written rules, but the rules of conduct were quite clear. Moscow understood how Washington was behaving, Washington understood how Moscow was behaving. And now there are few of those rules.”

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​Screenshot of a video posted by AP's Francesca Ebel on Twitter showing a bridge that was blown up to prevent the advance of Russian tanks, north of Kyiv
Geopolitics
Irene Caselli

First 48 Hours: Scenes Of War From Journalists On The Ground In Ukraine

As fog of war spreads across Ukraine, we’ve tried to gather some testimony, videos and images from verified journalists covering the beginning of the Russian invasion.

In these first hours and days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it is virtually impossible to gauge the full extent of the terror and destruction being wrought. Both witnesses and journalists — local Ukrainian-based reporters and foreign war correspondents — offer a mosaic of testimony and observation around the country.

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Attack Of The Visa Bots: When Hackers Make Life Hell For Immigrants
Ideas
Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

Attack Of The Visa Bots: When Hackers Make Life Hell For Immigrants

A first-hand experience of how illegal bots are making it impossible for many immigrants in France to live here legally.

-Essay-

PARIS — On a Sunday night in mid-January, I was prepared with a computer and phone to try to get a ticket for the hottest event in Paris. A cool new band concert? A Champions League soccer match? No, as an American citizen living in France, I was simply trying to get an appointment to pick up my renewed visa. When the clock hit midnight — when new slots were supposed to open up — I immediately clicked on the button to see the available times.

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Vladimir Putin during the president's annual press conference in Russia
Geopolitics
Anna Akage

Putin Psychology 101: The World Tries To Get Inside Russian Leader’s Head

Experts in geopolitics and the workings of world leaders have accelerated a two-decade long quest to understand the motivations of the enigmatic man in the Kremlin.

PARISVladimir Putin’s origin story, fed by Russian propaganda into the Western media, centers around his rise to lead Russia after a strategic KGB posting in the closing years of the Cold War. Understanding his current geopolitical ambitions would thus require that we imagine the mindset of a Soviet spymaster ready to manipulate world politics for the past two decades as he attempts to build a new Russian empire.

But what if Putin was nothing more than a desk clerk in his late 1980s posting in the eastern German city of Dresden? If the young functionary was simply a convenient tool plucked by the circle of oligarchs formed around then Russian president Boris Yeltsin to secure their own status? That indeed is the reading from influential Russian blogger and political analyst Maxim Katz, who last year exposed recently declassified documents that Putin was a minor player who went by the codename of “Moth” — not a bear or tiger, or even a hamster!

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New Vaccine Requirements Around The World Are Getting Nasty
Coronavirus
Anne-Sophie Goninet

New Vaccine Requirements Around The World Are Getting Nasty

Countries are going all-in on virtually forcing citizens to get vaccinated: From the French President openly acknowledging his readiness to make life unpleasant for the unvaccinated to un-jabbed Canadians not qualifying for unemployment benefits to Greeks imposing monthly fines on the unvaccinated.

PARIS — Last year, as vaccination campaigns went into full swing across the world, governments and health authorities found creative ways to encourage people to get the COVID-19 vaccine, from VIP testimonials to lotteries to donuts.

But as several parts of the globe are experiencing huge surges in infections with the Delta and Omicron variants, we seem to be past the time for celebrity endorsements and free snacks. Or as a public health official in Hong Kong said recently: “enough carrots, time for the stick.”

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