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LA STAMPA

The Bosnia Solution, How Russia Plans To Split Syria In Three

Moscow is quietly working toward a federal future for war-torn Syria, with a central government but the nation divided into three different ethnic zones. It's a nod to Kurdish ambitions and lessons from the Balkans.

A Syrian Kurd family last April
A Syrian Kurd family last April
Lucia Sgueglia

MOSCOW — After intervening in the long-running conflict on Bashar al-Assad"s behalf, Russia is cautiously planning a federal solution for Syria. As the war sputters on during a temporary ceasefire, Russia is outflanking U.S. attempts at other solutions that don't foresee any partition of the country.

Moscow's plan is inspired by the "Bosnian solution" that arose from the 1995 Dayton Accords, which split Bosnia-Herzegovina into a federation of two ethnic states with a weak central government. "If all parties agree to a federal Syria and it guarantees the territorial unity, independence and sovereignty of the country, then who would object?" says Sergey Ryabkov, Russia's deputy foreign minister.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Kharkiv Revisited: Inside Russia's New Assault On The "Hero City" Of Ukraine

The nation's second-largest city, Kharkiv was quiet for weeks after Ukrainian forces took control. But now it is again under attack as Russia pushes to capture the city that's considered the "gateway" to Ukraine. Die Welt reports from the frontline.

Damages due to Russian shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine

Alfred Hackensberger

KHARKIV — "Come, I want to show you something," Denys Vezenych says, opening the door of his dental office.

The 40-year-old begins to tell the story in the waiting room: "It was April 16 when the Russian artillery shell hit. The windowpanes were broken, the walls had holes everywhere and the roof was destroyed. But I renovated everything."

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The repairs cost him several thousand euros. "You have to think positively, because life goes on," he explains with a smile. But this attitude is not so present generally in Saltivka, a neighborhood in northeastern Kharkiv. The dental practice may be like new, but the rest of this area in the northeastern Ukrainian city is completely destroyed.

The Russian army has done a great job in its three-month offensive on Ukraine's second largest metropolis. Countless flats have been burned out, the facades of houses have been shot to pieces, entire shopping centers have been bombed. Debris still lie in the streets everywhere.

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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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