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TOPIC: crimea

FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

How Putin Has Been Quietly Cleansing All Things Ukrainian From Russia

Russia's 2021 census showed a record drop in the number of Ukrainians living in Russia. But the cleansing of everything Ukrainian, including language and culture, started long before Putin's invasion.

The 2021 Russian Population Census showed a record reduction in the number of Ukrainians living in Russia. The figure has halved since the last census just over a decade ago in 2010.

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While experts question the results of the census, the same trend has been recorded by a number of other studies, demographers, and representatives of the Ukrainian diaspora themselves.

Independent Russian news outlet Vazhnyye Istorii has revealed how the Russian authorities began the eradication of Ukrainian identity from citizens within Russia long before the full-scale invasion. Its origin goes back to the very beginning of Vladimir Putin's presidency.

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Meet The Mufti Of Ukraine, From Friday Prayers To The Front Line

Russia has a complicated history with Islam, often built on Moscow's repression of the religious minority. Now, Muslims in Ukraine are ever more committed to a project for a multi-religious society that Kyiv espouses. Ukrainian Mufti Said Ismagilov has taken up arms for that cause, and to defend his nation.

BAKHMUT — Before Feb. 24, Said Ismagilov dedicated his service to the Muslims of Ukraine. Since Feb. 24, his service has shifted to the front line.

A native of Donetsk, Ismagilov was the Mufti of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Ukraine (UMMA). His decision to volunteer at the front, currently fighting in one of the paramedic brigades in Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, is connected to his roots.

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"Russians have been coming to my family for a century, destroying and taking away everything we own, everything we value," says the 44-year-old.

Recently, a video appeared on social networks of Said reading out Sura 48 of Al-Fath, one of the chapters of the Quran dedicated to victory. The clip showed the ruins of Bakhmut, against the background of the unfinished mosque, delayed due to the full-scale invasion.

Among the many motives for Ismagilov to take up arms is a personal one that embodies the history of Ukraine.

"In 2014, the same Muscovites came to Donbas and persecuted me," Ismagilov recalled. "I had to go to Kyiv to settle in Bucha. But the Muscovites came there in 2022 and robbed my apartment. Honestly, I'm getting sick of them. We have to destroy this empire."

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Why Zelensky Will Not Promise Victory In 2023

Will 2023 be the year of victory? A negotiated settlement? The beginning of the new year was a time for speeches in Kyiv and Moscow aimed at inspiring the respective nations 10 months since Russia’s bloody invasion. Yet, for one good reason, certain words were not spoken.

-Analysis-

In Ukraine, New Year's was a sad and violent occasion: Kyiv, the capital, along with other cities, were subjected to drone attacks as the air-raid alarms barely stopped sounding in most parts of Ukraine throughout the would-be “holiday” weekend.

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Ukrainians couldn’t help noticing the contrast with other parts of the world, not just because people were ringing in the new year with celebrations, but more importantly because of the array of politicians, military experts and journalists making predictions for how the war will go in 2023.

The single question underlying all the others: Will the war in Ukraine end this year?

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Just Let Them Have Crimea! On The Risks Of Russian "Resentment" — And Ukraine's Too

Russian-born, Kyiv-based writer Michael Sheitelman writes that while everybody is afraid of Russia's bitter wrath should it be forced to relinquish Crimea, the same should go for Ukraine. Imagine that scenario now...

-OpEd-

For several months now, we have been getting trickles of news from Crimea, the big dab of white-out on the geopolitical map of Ukraine and this war.

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Since its annexation in 2014, the peninsula has been isolated not only from Ukraine, but also by the rest of the world. Russian security services and Putin-appointed local authorities have arrested or forced Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar activists to leave. There are no Ukrainian or international journalists on the territory of Crimea, and all Russian media news about what is happening in Crimea is censored.

What we do know is that the military and naval bases in Crimea and the peninsula are used for the transfer, treatment and training of military personnel before they are sent to the front in Ukraine. It is also where the most iconic military diversions since early 2022 have taken place: the bombing of the Crimean bridge, the attack on military airbases, and the sinking of the pride of the Russia's Black Sea fleet, the Moskva cruiser.

Crimea remains a hot spot and a non-negotiable goal of liberation for the Ukrainian side. Only with the return of Crimea, say Ukrainians, will this war end.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Important Stories

Frozen In Time: A Rare Look At Life In Mariupol Under Russian Occupation

Russian occupation authorities promised to rebuild housing in Mariupol by winter, but in reality, thousands of people face the cold in largely destroyed houses and apartments. Mariupol residents told Vazhnyye Istorii about how they are surviving as winter falls.

Russian troops shelled Mariupol for more than two months straight, and fully occupied it by May. The Kremlin needed the city to provide a land link to annexed Crimea. It is still unknown how many people have died in the city of approximately half a million people in peacetime.

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In May, Ukraine reported at least 25,000 dead but the number could be much higher. Many are buried under rubble or in mass graves, and countless others reported missing.

Up to 90% of high-rise buildings and 60% of private homes have been damaged or destroyed. Nevertheless, there are still about 100,000 people in the occupied city. Many of them have no electricity, heat, water, or sewage. People live without utilities, with tape covering broken windows, and are freezing in their homes in the absence of promised aid that Russia has failed to deliver.

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Ideas
Dominique Moïsi

Why Ukraine-Russia Peace Talks Are Now More Impossible Than Ever

The reconquest of Kherson seemed like a turning point in the Ukraine war. But while Kyiv and the West can see it as an encouraging sign for the long-term fate of the war, it makes negotiations a veritable non-starter now. A cold, hard analysis from French geopolitical expert Dominique Moïsi.

-Analysis-

The liberation of Kherson two weeks ago brought Ukrainian forces closer to Crimea and pushed the Russian army further from Odessa. It was a strategic and symbolic turning point. The images that emerged evoke the liberation of Paris in August 1944. Although it is a show of strength from Ukraine and a sign of Russian weakness, it does not mean that the time has come for negotiations to begin.

Far from it, in fact.

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Up until the Ukrainian army retook Kherson, it was still possible to imagine that Russia and Ukraine might reach a compromise on territory, redrawing the borders as they were on Feb. 23, 2022. That is no longer the case today. For Kyiv, there is no longer any question of going back to February 2022, but rather to January 2014: before Moscow seized Crimea by force.

In nine months of war — with nearly 100,000 victims on both sides — millions of Ukrainians have been displaced, towns and cities have been systematically targeted and infrastructure has been destroyed.

Russia has committed multiple war crimes, perhaps even crimes against humanity. Unable to compete on the ground with the Ukrainian forces — who outnumber the Russians, are better equipped (thanks to Western aid) and above all are more motivated — Moscow has had no other choice than to try and bring the Ukrainian people to their knees through hunger and cold, while hoping to sow division among Kyiv’s allies.

So far, this strategy has had the opposite of the desired effect. Now that Ukraine has retaken Kherson, and after the G20 summit in Bali, Russia is more isolated than ever on the global stage.

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In The News
Anna Akage and Emma Albright

First Snow In Ukraine Falls On Second Day Of Mass Air Strikes On Power Grid

Is this what Vladimir Putin's winter plans look like?

For the second straight day, Russia has launched a massive nationwide air attack against the infrastructure targets of major Ukrainian cities. Reports of explosions, buildings on fire and energy cuts were reported in Kyiv, Donbas, Dnipro and other cities around Ukraine.

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Russians fired at least 16 cruise missiles and launched five drones in the overnight hours and early morning, with Ukrainian defense forces managing to shoot down four cruise missiles and five Iranian-made Shahed kamikaze drones over Kyiv.

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Russia
Manoj Joshi

Could India Be The Ukraine-Russia Mediator The World Needs?

New Delhi has the ability and diplomatic space to lead an effort to halt the conflict. But timing is everything.

-Analysis-

NEW DELHI — Let's look at several recent developments: Narendra Modi’s rebuke of Russia at the SCO summit in Samarkand, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar’s visit to Moscow, a Washington Post story saying the U.S. was pushing Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to be open to negotiations with Russia. Taken together, these and other factors have triggered speculation that New Delhi could possibly play the role of peacemaker in the Ukraine war.

Does India have the necessary heft and stamina to take up the task?

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For the record, speaking at a Hindustan Times event on Thursday, Jaishankar has said that it would be “premature” to speak of India acting as a mediator to make peace between Russia and Ukraine. Note that he did not reject the notion.

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In The News
Anna Akage, Sophia Constatino and Emma Albright

After Kherson, How Russia's Army Could “Fold Like A House Of Cards”

Kyiv has no intentions of letting Russian troops regroup with any "operational pause." Events will begin to move quickly in Donbas, and may be heading for Crimea sooner rather than later.

Following last week’s recapture of Kherson, the Ukrainian army does not intend to allow Russia any “operational pause” to regroup and regain strength.

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The U.S. Institute for the Study of War predicts that Russia will likely launch a new offensive in the Donetsk region. Ukraine is then expected to use the forces freed up after pushing the Russian army out of the western Kherson region to reinforce the current offensive in the Luhansk region.

In an interview after the liberation Friday of Kherson, Mykhailo Podolyak, top advisor to the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, said that the situation at the front will develop very quickly from now on.

"The heaviest battles will be in the direction of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhya. Especially in the Donetsk direction, where combat-capable Russian military units exist,” he said.

Podolyak added that the push will happen independently of weather conditions. “No one will give Mr. Putin, Mr. Surovikin, or Mr. Shoigu any opportunity to get an operational pause", he said, referring to Russia’s President, the general in charge of the war in Ukraine, and Russia’s defense minister.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Roman Badanin and Mikhail Rubin

Who Is Putin? The Long And Subtle Manipulation Of A Public Biography

Even Russians are unlikely to have noticed that over the 23 years of Vladimir Putin's presidency, the biography the Kremlin presents of him has been repeatedly altered. Having recently celebrated his 70th birthday, Proekt reveals details of how the authorities have hidden facts and evidence about Putin's life and his relationship with his family and friends — and the Russian people.

In January and February 2000, Russia was one of the main topics at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Specifically, the change of power in Moscow, where former KGB officer Vladimir Putin, heralded as Boris Yeltsin’s successor, was preparing for his first presidential election.

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"Who is Mr. Putin?" the American journalist Trudy Rubin asked the Russian delegation. Anatoly Chubais and Sergei Kiriyenko, leaders of the now-defunct, center-right SPS party, looked at each other but couldn't answer. Neither could then-Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov. The audience laughed, but the situation was difficult. The country of 146 million people had been entrusted to a man whom few people knew, either in Russia or abroad.

Just weeks later, Trudy Rubin would get an answer to her question, with the publication of First Person, a compilation of more than 24 hours worth of interviews with Putin by Natalia Gevorkian, a journalist at Kommersant. The book—solicited by Valentin Yumashev, Boris Yeltsin’s Chief of Staff—came out just in time for the Russian presidential election.

The book was partly personal, with fragments about Putin’s daughters and quotes from his wife Lyudmila Putina. In it, she recalls seeing her future husband for the first time. "Volodya (Putin) was standing on the steps of this cash register. He was very modestly dressed; I would even say poor. He was very plain, and I would not have noticed him on the street,” describes Putina.

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In The News
Cameron Manley, Bertrand Hauger and Emma Albright

Russia Is Either Giving Up Kherson, Or Setting A Trap

The mixed messages Friday may be part of a Kremlin strategy to fight for the southern city even harder.

The strategic southern Ukraine city of Kherson hangs in the balance Friday, as top leadership in Moscow is sending conflicting messages.

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Kirill Stremousov, the deputy head of Kherson’s Moscow-installed administration, told Russian state television that “most likely, our units, our troops will go to the left bank part of the Kherson region.” The revelation appears to signal a withdrawal of Russian troops from the strategic southern city that would prove to be a major setback for Moscow.

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In The News
Anne-Sophie Goninet, Laure Gautherin and Sophia Constantino

Major Russian Attacks On Kyiv And Other Cities, North Korea Confirms “Nuclear” Drill, Pink Diamond Record

👋 Nyob zoo!*

Welcome to Monday, where Russia launches missile strikes on Kyiv and other cities across Ukraine as revenge for the Crimea bridge attack, protests in Iran enter their fourth week and the final 2022 Nobel Prize is awarded. Meanwhile, Brazilian news agency Agência Pública meets with a team of experts investigating one of the worst torture centers in São Paulo, in a bid to recover the country's painful history of torture during the military regime.

[*Nyaw zhong - Hmong, China, Vietnam, Laos]

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