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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

"Welcome To Our Hell..." Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba Speaks

In a rare in-depth interview, Ukraine's top diplomat didn't hold back as he discussed NATO, E.U. candidacy, and the future of the war with Russia. He also reserves a special 'thank you' for Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

KYIV — This is the first major interview Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba has given. He spoke to the Ukrainian publication Livy Bereg about NATO, international assistance and confrontation with Russia — on the frontline and in the offices of the European Parliament.

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At 41, Kuleba is the youngest ever foreign minister of Ukraine. He is the former head of the Commission for Coordination of Euro-Atlantic Integration and initiated Ukraine's accession to the European Green Deal. The young but influential pro-European politician is now playing a complicated political game in order to attract as many foreign partners as possible to support Ukraine not only in the war, but also when the war ends.

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Flashback In The USSR? How Former Soviet Republics Are Reacting To War in Ukraine

Vladimir Putin has been upfront about his desire to rebuild Russia’s influence in the region. Former Soviet states are watching developments in Ukraine closely, with many trying to ensure futures free of interference by Moscow.

For 69 years, the Kremlin was able to keep what were de facto separate nations within the Soviet orbit by the use of weapons, hunger and fear. Even after the collapse of the USSR, every Russian leader considered the former republics to be at least a zone of his influence.

Yet Vladimir Putin has revealed his true understanding of neighborliness, repeatedly stating that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a huge tragedy for Russia. And on this, one might agree, he is right.

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Under the Communist Party, each of the national republics also had their own government, albeit ultimately controlled by the Kremlin. Each of the republics, whether in Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, or Ukraine, had their own capital, culture, language and traditions. For each of the national republics, secession from the Soviet Union brought liberation and independence — an opportunity to build their own state. For every former member state, that is, except Russia.

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Putin Reacts To Finland And Sweden, Marcos Sworn In, Record Bangladesh Flood

👋 Zdravo!*

Welcome to Thursday, where Putin plays good-cop/bad-cop with NATO, dictator Marcos’ son is sworn in as Philippines president and a rare portrait by Francis Bacon goes under the hammer. We also look at anti-abortion movements around the world celebrating — and mobilizing — following the historic Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.

[*Slovenian]

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Ukraine Recaptures Snake Island

First captured by Russia in February when the war began, the Black Sea island garnered particular attention when a Ukrainian soldier challenged an attacking Russian warship with a memorable phrase...

Russian forces have retreated from Snake Island in the Black Sea after a “successful” operation, said the Ukrainian Armed Forces on Thursday. Military experts say Ukraine’s recapturing the strategic island weakens any potential plans Russia may have for a future land attack located on the coastline.

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Early on Thursday Ukrainian Armed Forces said Russian forces were forced to evacuate using speedboats. The Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Valeriy Zaluzhniy, said on Telegram that the "occupiers" had left after being “unable to withstand the fire of our artillery, missile and air strikes."

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In The News
Anna Akage, Shaun Lavelle, and Emma Albright

Russia Watching NATO, As Path Cleared For Finland And Sweden To Join

As NATO leaders meet in Madrid, Finland and Sweden look much closer to joining the alliance after Turkey dropped its objections to their membership. It's yet another momentous change underway since Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

A high-stakes NATO summit has kicked off in Madrid, as leaders of the world’s largest defense alliance discuss the war in Ukraine and key decisions that will shape the organization’s future direction. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the Russian invasion of its neighbor had prompted a fundamental shift in its approach to defense.

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Finland and Sweden look much closer to joining the alliance after Turkey dropped its objections to their membership. The three countries released a joint memorandum that “extend[ed] their full support against threats to each other's security," Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said.

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In The News
Joel Silvestri, McKenna Johnson, Lila Paulou and Lisa Berdet

Finland, Sweden Near NATO Membership, Capitol Riot Witness, Serena’s Defeat

👋 Moni moni onse!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where Turkey lifts its veto on Finland and Sweden joining NATO, there’s stunning new testimony in the Jan. 6 hearings and Airbnb bans parties forever. Meanwhile, the latest edition of our “Work → In Progress” series zooms in on changes at play in the world of work, from the emergence of digital nomad visas to asynchronous work schedules.

[*Chewa, Malawi and Zambia]

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In The News
Joel Silvestri, McKenna Johnson and Anne-Sophie Goninet

Ukraine Mall Terror, 46 Migrants Dead In Texas Truck, Sardinia Beaches

👋 你好*

Welcome to Tuesday, where at least 16 die as Russia strikes a shopping mall in central Ukraine, 46 people are found dead inside a truck in Texas and Bangkok airport authorities make a surprising discovery in two women’s luggage. From India, Banjot Kaur writes in news site The Wire about the dangers of yoga malpractice — and the need for nationwide regulation.

[*Nĭ hăo - Mandarin]

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Cameron Manley

Why Hasn't Joe Biden Visited Ukraine?

U.S. President Joe Biden has been evasive when asked if he plans to follow European leaders by visiting Kyiv. However, such a move could have far-reaching consequences for Ukraine and the rest of the world.

U.S. President Joe Biden has been unyielding in his response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: heavy sanctions on the Russian government and financial markets and strong words about Russian President Vladimir Putin, labeling him a “ butcher" and “war criminal”. The U.S. has also sent upwards of $54 billion in aid to Ukraine.

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In The News
Shaun Lavelle, Anna Akage and Emma Albright

Zelensky To G7, Let’s Try To End War Before Winter

Ukrainian President Zelensky addressed the G7 leaders via video call at the summit in Kruen, Germany, where he asked to “intensify sanctions” against Russia and warned against the war dragging on.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told G7 leaders that he wanted the Russia-Ukraine war to end before the winter sets in, according to Reuters.

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Zelensky addressed the G7 leaders via video call at the summit in Kruen, Germany, where he asked to “intensify sanctions” against Russia. He also requested more reconstruction aid, aircraft defense systems, further help on exporting grain out of the country as well as security guarantees.

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Ideas
Anna Akage

Why Western Military Aid For Ukraine Is Never Enough

The U.S. and Europe have again committed to supplying weapons to Kyiv, whose gratitude has its limits in the face of the life-and-death struggle against the Russian invasion.

-Analysis-

With a quick glance at the headlines, it may seem like a running contradiction — or even ingratitude. The West announces another new round of military support to Ukraine, and Ukraine promptly says: “Thank you, but it’s not enough.”

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Just in the last 48 hours, the U.S. approved a $700 million package of military support for Ukraine that included longer-range Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), while German Chancellor Olaf Scholz promised to send state-of-the-art air defense systems and tracking radar.

Over the past three months, there have also been shipments of weapons and munitions from more than 30 other nations, including the UK, much of Europe, Australia and Japan.

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Geopolitics
Anna Schneider

Neutrality Is Not An Option! Austria Must Follow Finland And Sweden Into NATO

While Sweden and Finland are fast-tracking NATO applications, the writer's homeland of Austria continues to cling to longstanding "neutrality" status, sleepwalking through the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The government has the polls on their side. But in reality, it's not our neutrality that protects us.

-OpEd-

Growing up in Austria, there's one word we seem to learn to say faster than “mama.” That word is: “neutrality.”

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It's a status that apparently we all say we want – just look at recent statements by Austrian Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner: Neutrality is “in the heart of the Austrians,” she said, making it clear once again that this matter is not up for discussion.

For Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, the matter was also always (and forever) clear: “Austria was neutral, Austria is neutral, and Austria will remain neutral,” he said, shortly before he tried to talk Putin to persuade him to find his conscience in Moscow. Putin remained unimpressed, and so were the Austrians.

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In The News
Shaun Lavelle, Anna Akage and Emma Albright

Kissinger v. Soros, Two Survivors Of World War II Clash On Ukraine

The two 90-something European-Americans spoke separately at the Davos summit this week, offering very different assessments of what the West should do in the face of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The Davos summit was the setting for a heavyweight contrast of aging but still influential power brokers of another era. Henry Kissinger and George Soros, two Americans, born in pre-World War II Europe, offered very different takes on what to do about the war in Ukraine.

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Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, 98, told a Davos audience that the way out of the conflict with Russia was for Kyiv to cede territory in eastern Ukraine. The Telegraph quoted him Tuesday as telling the annual meeting of business and political leaders: “Negotiations need to begin in the next two months before it creates upheavals and tensions that will not be easily overcome.”

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