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In The News

Where’s Putin? Russian Leader Stays Silent As Ukrainian Offensive Accelerates

The last sighting of Vladimir Putin was five days ago, when the Russian President appeared at the inauguration of a giant Ferris wheel in Moscow.

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Since then, as the Ukrainian army’s major counter-offensive in the northeast and south has gained momentum, and Russian troops make a hasty retreat, Putin has disappeared from the public space and made no comments on the dramatic events on the front of what he continues to call a “special military operation.”

The same is true of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, considered a loyal Putin insider and chief architect of the war, who has made no appearances or declarations.

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Retaking Kherson, Ukraine’s Southern Counteroffensive Has Begun

Six months into the war, Ukrainian forces have launched a counteroffensive in southern Ukraine to retake Russian-controlled territory. According to an on-the-ground military source, contacted by CNN, “the operation began at night with massive shelling of Russian positions and the rear.” Ukraine has liberated four villages so far: Nova Dmytrivka, Arkhanhel's'ke, Tomyna Balka and Pravdyne, while Kyiv’s main target remains Kherson.

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Situated in the south of Ukraine, Kherson is a port city that serves as a bridge to and from Crimea. It was also the first major city in Ukraine to be occupied by Moscow’s troops. In recent days, the Ukrainian military has managed to cause damage to “bridges across the Dnipro," according to military officials in a Telegram post, making it “possible to cut off the Russian army from the supply of weapons and personnel from Crimea.”

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Zelensky Aims For "Victory" In Independence Day Speech

Ukraine is celebrating its Independence Day. Thirty one years ago, without a single shot being fired, the Soviet Union finally broke up and all of its republics set out to build their statehood.

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The collapse of such a huge totalitarian system unfolded so peacefully that for many of the now independent states, it seemed as if from then on there would be only peace and friendship among neighbors.

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Hunting Orcs, Western Arms — Ukraine's Counteroffensive Is On

The Ukrainian army is preparing its counteroffensive, already beginning to hit Russians hard with U.S. Himars missiles. But experts warn about keeping the expectations too high, because Russia has key advantages. A German reporter sees how Ukrainians are preparing and how far they are willing to go to regain their lost territory.

MALA TOKMACHKA — Dmitry Litvinenko believes in God, Mercedes engines and in chasing the Russians out of his country. "Orcs" is what he and his comrades call the enemy, like the evil creatures from The Lord of the Rings.

"It's only three kilometers from here to the orcs," says the 23-year-old, stretching out his arm towards the fields in front of him.

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Litvinenko stands in front of the bombed-out cultural center in Mala Tokmatchka, a small town near the frontline in southeastern Ukraine. The sun beats down on the pitted asphalt, an old man on his bike stops in front of the soldier.

"No electricity, no water, no medicine," he says, complaining that the situation here is a catastrophe. "And every day the Russian bombs!"

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Geopolitics
Christine Kensche

Inside Putin's Deal For Iranian Drones

Outgunned by Ukraine's Turkish-made Bayraktar drones, Russia has reportedly started importing armed drones from Iran, which may have explained Vladimir Putin's recent visit to Tehran, which is looking to flex its muscles internationally. But it could prove to be a dangerous turning point in the war.

The satellite images show a hangar. The rough outlines of two geometric shapes are visible — a triangle and an elongated object with wide wings. According to intelligence information from the United States, this is the Kashan airfield south of Tehran, where Iran is training its regional militias.

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In The News
Cameron Manley and Emma Albright

Nord Stream Pipeline Repair Sparks Rift Between Kyiv And West

Canada has said it’s planning to return a repaired turbine to Germany that is needed for the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline. Canada's minister of natural resources has said that repairing the pipeline is essentially to ensure continued flows of energy until Europe can end its dependency on Russian gas.

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But Kyiv is convinced that the West must cut off Russian energy immediately, and Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called in the Canadian ambassador in Kyiv for consultation.

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In The News
Meike Eijsberg, Cameron Manley, Lila Paulou and Emma Albright

Macron, Scholz, Draghi In Kyiv - EU Membership On The Table

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi made a joint visit to Ukraine on Thursday to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to discuss the country’s EU membership aspirations and further arms supplies to repel Russia’s invasion.

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The trio of European leaders arrived in Kyiv on an overnight train, joined by Romanian President Klaus Iohannis. Upon arriving, Macron highlighted the symbolic importance of the trip, stating: “It's an important moment. It's a message of unity we're sending to the Ukrainians, of support, to talk both about the present and the future, since the coming weeks, as we know, will be very difficult.”

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Igor Lutsenko*

Hide-And-Seek Of Drone Warfare, A Letter From Ukraine's Front Line

A member of the Ukrainian Armed Forces writes his account of the new dynamic of targeting, and being targeted by, the invading Russian troops, as drones circle above and trenches get left behind.

KYIV — The current war in Ukraine is a game of hide-and-seek. Both sides are very well-stocked with artillery, enough to destroy the enemy along many kilometers. Swarms of drones fly through the air day and night, keeping a close eye on the earth's surface below. If they notice something interesting, it immediately becomes a target. Depending on the priority, they put it in line for destruction by artillery.

Therefore, the only effective way to survive is to hide, or at least somehow prove to the drones your non-priority status — and avoid moving to the front of the 'queue of death.'

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In general, the nature of this queue is a particular thing. It may seem to be a god, but is instead a simple artillery captain's decision of when to have lunch, and when to fire on the house where several enemy soldiers are staying. It's just a handful of ordinary people (observers, artillerymen) deciding how long their enemies will live depending on their own schedule or the weather, the availability of ammunition or if they're feeling tired.

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eyes on the U.S.
Luis Rubio

Trump, 'Terrorist' Cartels And The True Roots Of Mexico's Violence

In loudly rejecting President's Trump threat to label Mexican drug gangs terrorists, Mexico's government is covering its failure, if not reluctance, to tackle systemic corruption and its offspring, crime.

-OpEd-

MEXICO CITY — Gunfire didn't do the job, nor are the Mexican president's much-touted "hugs' working. Facing the plague of criminal violence in Mexico, nobody here seems to have a reasonable diagnosis of its nature, causes or possible solutions. And yet a single recent declaration from President Donald Trump, when he said that the drug cartels might be declared international terrorists, was enough to prompt our public officials to collectively indulge in some patriotic indignation.

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blog

Geeks Use Drones To Make Space Invaders In Real Life

EZUZ — Ask a 1970s kid to imagine bringing his favorite video game to life, and you might hear some weird stuff involving Ms. Pac-Man. Or, he might dream about playing the legendary arcade video game Space Invaders — for real.

Well, the latter is now (kind of) possible, thanks to drones and the work of the too-much-time-on-their hands tech geniuses at this year's edition of Geekcon: a three-day event held in Israel's Negev desert and meant "for hackers, makers, geeks, tinkerers and everyone who's interested in building cool stuff."

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blog

Pressure Mounts On Merkel, Syria Talks, Cruz The Comedian

PRESSURE ON MERKEL MOUNTS

In stark contrast to the popularity German Chancellor Angela Merkel has enjoyed for most of her 10 years in office, a full 40% of Germans now want her to resign over what they believe is her misguided open-door refugee policy, a poll published today shows. The survey was conducted before yesterday's announcement that migrants from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia would likely be refused asylum, as politicians try to reduce migrant numbers.

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blog

Report: U.S., UK Spied On Israeli Air Force

Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth revealed Friday that American and British intelligence spied on Israeli air force missions in Gaza, Syria and Iran.

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