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Russia

When Mom Believes Putin: A Russian Family Torn Apart Over Ukraine Invasion

Sisters Rante and Satu Vodich fled Russia because they could no longer bear to live under Putin — but their mother believes state propaganda about the war. Her daughters are building a new life for themselves in Georgia.

TBILISI — On a gloomy afternoon in May, Rante Vodich gets the keys to her new home. A week earlier, the 27-year-old found this wooden shed in Tbilisi, with a corrugated iron roof and ramshackle bathroom. The shed next door houses an old bed covered in dust. Vodich refers to the place as a “studio” and pays $300 per month in rent. She says finding the studio is the best thing that’s happened to her since she came to Georgia. It is her hope for the future.

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Her younger sister Satu Vodich is around 400 kilometers further west, in the city of Batumi on Georgia’s Black Sea coast, surrounded by Russian tourists, Ukrainian flags, skyscrapers with sea views and the run-down homes of local residents.

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Russia Aims Again At Kharkiv, 15 Civilians Killed

Attacks in Ukraine's second biggest city are reminiscent of strategy in Mariupol.

At least 15 confirmed civilian deaths were reported by this morning in Kharkiv, after the Russian army fired multiple Uragan rockets at an industrial area of the northeastern city where there were no military facilities, according to Serhiy Bolvinov, head of the Investigative Department of the Kharkiv Region Police Department.

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"Russian forces are now hitting the city of Kharkiv in the same way that they previously were hitting Mariupol, intending to terrorize the population," Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said in a video address.

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New Probe Finds Russia's “Relentless” Bombing Of Kharkiv Is War Crime

Amnesty International has accused Russia of committing war crimes, causing “widespread death and destruction by relentlessly bombarding residential neighborhoods of Kharkiv” since the war began on February 24.

Amnesty International has accused Russia of committing war crimes during its efforts to capture the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. According to the international NGO’s 40-page report, Russian forces have caused “widespread death and destruction by relentlessly bombarding residential neighborhoods of Kharkiv” since the war began on February 24.

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“People have been killed in their homes and in the streets, in playgrounds and in cemeteries, while queueing for humanitarian aid, or shopping for food and medicine,” Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s senior crisis response adviser, said. “The repeated use of widely banned cluster munitions is shocking, and a further indication of utter disregard for civilian lives.”

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A Slavic Take On The Russian Complex Of Superiority

Putin’s brutal attack on Ukraine has turned the world on its head. As shocking as it is, those closer to Russia sense something familiar in the past three months. This personal dispatch is about the Russians and the Slavs (I am the latter).

-Essay-

LJUBLJANA — I don’t have a great relationship with Russia. Growing up in Slovenia, I did not need to learn Russian to grasp the beauty of classic pre-Soviet literature. The translations of Russian masterpieces into my native language have been admirable.

But besides my proxy relation to Russian culture, I had very few run-ins with actual Russians since, to my knowledge, none of them lived in Slovenia. Well, except one: An athletically-built young man with long curly hair. I recall him mingling with the poets and other groups in a bohemian bar in Ljubljana. I forgot his name, but he disappeared from the scene after a few years. There was talk that he might have been a Russian intelligence officer or a drug pusher. But I had no idea. The matter never interested me enough to investigate further.

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During World War II, my parents took part in the resistance war against Nazi occupiers and spoke fluent German. As a consequence, German was the first foreign language I learned. But it was also the language I used the least. In high school, I learned English and French. I felt no attraction and no affinity to Russian, a language that I felt would be easy to grasp, something that, in a way, was too close and familiar.

But at the same time, there was always a great diffidence toward anything Russian. After the dispute between Joseph Stalin and Tito, and Yugoslavia’s exit from the Soviet bloc in 1948, both sides never recovered the comradeship from the revolutionary times of the Third International.

But to my mind, there was more to it.

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In The News

Good And Bad News For Putin 100 Days After Invasion

One hundred days after Vladimir Putin launched an apparent all-or-nothing invasion of Ukraine, the reality is neither all nor nothing. The Russian president is no doubt comforting himself with news that his troops are progressing in the southeastern Donbas region. President Volodymyr Zelensky reported Thursday that Russia by now controls up to 20% of Ukrainian territory.

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Of course the Feb. 24 assault was presented as a blitzkrieg, across much of Ukraine, with Kremlin plans to quickly take over Kyiv and push Zelensky’s elected government out of power. The world braced itself for a new era of imperialistic ambitions from Moscow.

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In The News
Cameron Manley and Emma Albright

Total Shutdown Of U.S.-Russia Contact

Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov confirmed the complete absence of high-level communication between Moscow and Washington, as tensions continue to rise over the U.S. delivery of long-range rocket launchers to Ukraine.

There are currently no contacts between Russia and the United States. This stark fact was confirmed by Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov. “You can say no, not at the moment,” Peskov said Thursday morning in response to a question from Russian state news agency RIA Novosti on the state of communication between the two countries. “Now all contact is virtually non-existent."

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A similar lack of communication was confirmed in early April, shortly after the Russian invasion began. On May 20, the U.S. State Department announced that the time had not yet come to resume contacts with Russia at the Foreign Ministry level. On May 13, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke on the phone with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu for the first time since the start of the military operation in Ukraine.

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Geopolitics
Dominique Moïsi

Our 'Emotional' Divide: How The Ukraine War Reveals A World Broken In Two

Russia's invasion has created a stark global divide: them and us. On one side are the countries refusing to condemn Moscow, with the West on the other. It's a dangerous split that could have repercussions far into the future.

-Analysis-

PARIS — "The West and the Rest of Us." That's the title of a 1975 essay written by Nigerian essayist and critic Chinweizu Ibekwe. I've been thinking about his words as the war in Ukraine both reveals and accelerates divisions of the world that I believe are ultimately "emotional" in nature.

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With war returning to Europe and the risk of escalation, there is a gap between the Western view and that of the "others," a distinct "us and them." This gap cannot be explained in strictly geographical, political, and economic terms.

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In The News
Meike Eijsberg, Anna Akage and Emma Albright

“We Are Here” - Ukrainian Forces Reach Russian Border

After reseizing Kharkiv, Ukrainian soldiers reach the border with Russia. Meanwhile, Moscow continues its assault on Donbas, and has renewed missile strikes of the port city of Odesa.

Ukrainian forces continue to regain more territory in the northeast of the country, and by Monday morning had announced that a battalion had reached the Russian border.

This comes after having taken back control of Kharkiv, the second biggest Ukrainian city, as Russian troops appear to be making a hasty retreat. This latest development continues to indicate the inability of Russian troops to dominate Ukrainian forces.

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After this successful counter-offensive, Ukraine’s defense ministry posted a video showing soldiers gathered around a yellow and blue painted post upon arrival at the Russian border. “Today the 15th of May, Kharkiv's territorial defense forces of Ukraine - 227th battalion, 127th brigade - went to the border with the Russian Federation,” said one soldier. “We are here.”

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In The News

Russia Warns Finland Over Joining NATO

Sharing an 800-mile border with Russia, the Nordic country has seen public support for NATO membership skyrocket following the invasion of Ukraine. Neighboring Sweden also looks set to join the military alliance later this month. Both countries had for decades avoided NATO membership for fear of provoking Russia.

Finland looks certain to join NATO after the country’s president and prime minister released a joint statement saying they are in favor of joining the military alliance.

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“NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security. As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defense alliance. Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay,” they said. NATO leaders indicated that the application would be approved rapidly.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned "corresponding symmetrical responses on our side," to Finland's accession to the military alliance.

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Geopolitics
Benjamin Quénelle

Meet The Russians Protesting The War At Their Peril

Despite legal threats or worse, a notable minority of Russians, from students to elected officials, are finding ways to oppose the invasion of Ukraine. Meanwhile, many others have left the country since the war began, creating a brain drain that could last for many years.

MOSCOW — On this Wednesday in the middle of spring, Valeria Pasternakova and Polina Petrova, both in their twenties, are in a small courtroom of the municipal tribunal of Khamovniki, a district near the center of Moscow. A banal case before an administrative judge offers a view into the judicial absurdity that Vladimir Putin's opponents face.

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All over Russia, those opposed to the "special military operation" in Ukraine finds different ways to express themselves. But many end up in court.

The lawyer asks questions to the police officer who wrote the protocol for the students' arrest. Seated opposite of Valeria and Polina, he is nervous and vague in his answers. The judge, in her sixties, is protecting him: She rejects questions and requests with evasive glances and pouting. She yawns, showing impatience and boredom, when Polina Petrova, in her energetic plea, looks at her straight in the eyes.

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In The News
Shaun Lavelle, Anna Akage, Emma Albright

Is Odessa The Next Mariupol?

Other top news breaking: UN says civilian toll much higher, Moscow metro workers may be forced to fight, Lithuanian Parliament calls war "genocide", special Pulitzer for Ukrainian journalists, and more.

A new Russian overnight offensive aimed at the southern port city of Odessa may signal a new focus in the Ukraine war.

Ukrainian newspaper Pravda reports that at least one person was killed and five injured as Russian rockets pounded Ukraine’s third largest city, targeting a shopping center and a depot and leaving emergency services scrambling to put out fires and rescue civilians.

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These are not the first attacks by Russian missiles on the city, but officials imposed martial law for the first time yesterday.

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Geopolitics
Hayat Gazzane

Putin's Arsenal: How Russia Is Playing With Nuclear Fire

While Western countries are increasing their military support to Kyiv, Russian President Vladimir Putin threatens to use his new hypersonic missiles. He thereby makes the threat of a nuclear war in Europe a little more concrete.

How far will Vladimir Putin go in Ukraine? More than 60 days after the outbreak of the conflict, few dare to try to answer this question. But by his words and actions, the Russian president seems ready to do anything.

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After closing gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria, both members of the European Union and NATO, Putin is now threatening to make use of his latest-generation missiles against Western countries, as they step up delivery of heavy weapons to Kyiv.

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