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TOPIC: russia ukraine war

FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Why Russia Is Suddenly Deploying Air Defense Systems On Moscow Rooftops

Russia is increasingly concerned about security from the sky: air defense systems have been installed on rooftops in Moscow's government quarter. Systems have also appeared in several other places in Russia, including near Vladimir Putin's lakeside home in Valdai. What is the Kremlin really worried about?

-Analysis-

The Russian Defense Ministry has refused to comment. State Duma parliamentary officials say it’s a fake. Still, a series of verified photographs have circulated in recent days of an array of long-range C-400 and short-range air defense systems installed on three complexes in Moscow near the Kremlin, as well as on locations in the outskirts of the capital and in the northwest village of Valdai, where Vladimir Putin has a lakeside residence.

Some experts believe the air defense installations in Moscow were an immediate response to recent Ukrainian statements about a new fleet of military drones: The Ukroboronprom defense contracter said this month that it completed a series of successful tests of a new strike drone with a range of over 1,000 kilometers. Analyst Michael Naki suggests that Moscow’s anti-air defense systems were an immediate reaction to the fact that the drones can theoretically hit Kremlin.

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Yet the air defense installations in Valdai seem to have been in place since late December, following Ukrainian drone attacks on a military airfield deep inside Russia’s Sorotov region, 730 kilometers (454 miles) southeast of Moscow.

Others pose a very different rationale to explain Russia’s beefing up anti-air defenses on its own territory. Russian military analyst Yan Matveev argues that Putin demanded the deployment of such local systems not as defense against long-range Ukrainian drones, but rather for fear of sabotage from inside Russia.

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Yes, Navalny Still Matters — But Putin's Opposition Can't Fix Russia Now

Two years ago, Vladimir Putin's most prominent critic Alexei Navalny was jailed. Much has and hasn't changed since then, but Putin's invasion of Ukraine means that Russia has put itself on a course of no return.

-Analysis-

It was exactly two years ago, when leading Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny was finally in good enough health to fly home from Germany to Moscow. But he knew the risks.

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“Russia is my home,” he said before leaving. “I want to go back and try to change it.”

Landing on the tarmac, five months after he was nearly assassinated by a nerve agent, he embraced his wife. They walked to passport control, followed by hordes of eager journalists.

The border guard carefully scrutinized Navalny’s passport, looking at his face, at his passport — again, his face, his passport. He called over his superiors, who did the same. “You need to come with us,” they told him.

His lawyer protested, exclaiming that she should be allowed to accompany him. But in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, then as now, there is no use in protesting.

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Cargo 300: For The Wounds Of Ukraine Have No Time To Heal

After a grim New Year, a soldier and mother reflects on the trauma of the past 10 months: fear, the corpses of friends and the choice between her own children and joining the war effort.

-Essay-

The Facebook feed of holiday photos is not pleasant.

Someone is seen celebrating in a trench; others in blacked-out cities. Another is in a foreign country. And some spend a first holiday without a beloved father, son or husband.

It is all sadness.

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Cargo 300 is a military term for transporting a wounded soldier out of combat zones. Cargo 200 is for the deceased.

As I return to civilian life, I realize that from now on and for decades to come, we will be a nation of "300s," wounded by war, physically and morally crippled, regardless of whether or not we were directly on the battlefield.

Immediately after demobilization, I travelled to Germany, where my children were all this time. I met a friend who had served eight months in Iraq.

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The Real Message Of Putin’s Bogus Christmas Ceasefire

Vladimir Putin used the Orthodox Christmas holiday as a 36-hour communication ops, while plans proceed to widen his war in Ukraine.


The announcement of the truce was all properly orchestrated: first a request from the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kiril, famously close to the Kremlin, which was duly and promptly accepted by Vladimir Putin himself.

Russia thus decrees a unilateral ceasefire on Orthodox Christmas, from Friday noon to midnight Saturday (local time).

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It is the first truce since the beginning of the Russian invasion, just over 10 months ago. Yet unfortunately, this should not be seen as the prelude to any significant let up in the fighting.

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Geopolitics
Editorial

Why Olaf Scholz Is Still Not Convincing On Ukraine

Praising the courage of the Ukrainian people, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz assured Kyiv of Germany's support for “as long as it is needed.” Not nearly enough, according to the country's opposition.

-Analysis-

According to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz Russian President Vladimir Putin has not achieved any of his goals in Ukraine. “Not a single one of Putin’s plans has worked,” Scholz said in a speech to the German Parliament earlier this month.

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He said Putin had “fundamentally miscalculated” in believing that Russian troops would overrun Ukraine within a few days.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Anna Akage

Igor Girkin Blues: Russia's Most Depressed War Criminal Has More Bad News For Putin

He’s been accused of multiple atrocities, and convicted in the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine in 2014. But since Russia's invasion, Igor Girkin seems ever more in a state of despondency, with a uniquely dark view on the future, for Vladimir Putin most of all.

-Analysis-

For Ukrainians, Igor Girkin is one of the most despised figures of the standing Russian power structure. He helped lead the 2014 military coup in Donbas and is the self-proclaimed commander of Donetsk, later found guilty and sentenced in absentia to life in prison for the deaths of 298 on the Amsterdam-to-Kuala Lumpur Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 that was shot down in 2014 by pro-Russian forces in Ukraine.

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A veteran of the Federal Security Service (FSB) spy service, the Moscow native has monarchist leanings and boasts of his standing as a Russian patriot. Girkin is also, apparently, very depressed.

In his latest interview, the 52-year-old said that Vladimir Putin had long ago lost the war in Ukraine. He also predicted that Russia would fall apart into warring regions — and he himself would face trial and death in The Hague.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Ivanna Skyba-Yakubova

Despair, Love, Betrayal — Then Death: A Ukrainian War Diary

Volodymyr Vakulenko was a Ukrainian writer killed by the Russians during the invasion. He left behind a diary that is intensely personal, yet encompasses much of the tragedy of his nation.

KYIV — Volodymyr Vakulenko lived in the Ukrainian village of Kapitolivka near Izyum, with his 14-year-old son who has autism. Volodymyr was abducted by the Russians back in March, in the weeks after the invasion. For months, his family, investigators, fellow writers, journalists and volunteers searched for him in vain.

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Volodymyr recounted in his diary, which was later found, the first weeks of the Russian invasion of the Izyum region in eastern Ukraine. Kyiv-based media Livy Bereg takes a look back at Volodymyr's life and publishes excerpts from his diary, the original of which is now kept in the Kharkiv Literary Museum.

This is his story:

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Russia
Kateryna Mola

How The War In Ukraine Could Overturn Everyone's Plans For The Arctic

Russia owns 60% of Arctic coastline and half of the region's population. In recent history, NATO has not been overly concerned with the defense of the Arctic region because the U.S. military has been focused on the Middle East. This is all changing since Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

-Analysis-

KYIV — As important as the Arctic is for studying climate control and ecology, various states have eyes on it for another reason: resources. Climate change has made the Arctic more accessible for mining, and much of that area is in the Russian Arctic. In order to exploit these potential natural resources, Russia turned to foreign investors and foreign technology, from both the West and China. The war in Ukraine is throwing all of that into question.

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Russia's invasion of Ukraine will have a profoundly devastating impact on the development of Russian Arctic infrastructure, as well as shipping routes through the Arctic. Western companies have left or are about to leave the market, and counter-sanctions threaten those who still cooperate with the Russians.

Given that Russia does not produce the sophisticated equipment to operate in such a complex region and soon will not even be able to repair the equipment it possesses, we can expect Russia's activity in the Arctic to slow down.

Yet, Vladimir Putin has continued to emphasize the Arctic as a priority region, and extended invitations to cooperate to both India and China.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Vazhnyye Istorii/Important Stories

Important Things: A Rare Unfiltered Look Inside Russian Schools

In Russian schools, lessons on "important things" are a compulsory hour pushing state propaganda. But not everyone is buying it. Independent Russian media outlet Vazhnyye Istorii/Important Stories spoke to teachers, parents and students about how they see patriotism and Putin's mobilization.

MOSCOW — On March 1, schools found themselves on the ideological front line of the Russian-Ukrainian war. At the end of May, teachers were told they would have to lead classes with students called "Lessons about important things." The topic was "patriotism and civic education."

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At the beginning of November, we learned about the revival of an elementary military training course for senior classes. In the teaching materials sent to the teachers, it was stated that a "special peacekeeping operation was going on, the purpose of which was to restrain the nationalists who oppress the Russian-speaking population."

Independent Russian media outlet Vazhnyye Istorii/Important Stories asked several teachers, students and parents about their experiences with the school's attempt to instill patriotism and Russia's partial mobilization of citizens.

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Ideas
Sonia Koshkina

How To Stop Thinking About Russia — A Message From Eastern Europe To The West

David Stulik, senior research analyst at the Prague-based European Values Research Center, explains the risks of continuing to calculate all our choices according to hypothetical fears of and future compromises with Russia.

-Analysis-

KYIV — There’s a school of thought among some in Europe that the energy crisis is due to the war “between Ukraine and Russia,” not because of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. It’s a subtle, but important difference in language — and one that reveals the partial success of Russia's non-stop propaganda and disinformation campaign.

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Even some very pro-Ukraine politicians consistently use the phrase “the war in Ukraine” for saying what caused energy prices to increase, or why household incomes in the West are going to drop.

It is of course unfair to blame Ukraine for these problems.

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Russia
Anna Akage

The Next Big Move? What Would Happen If Belarus Enters War Against Ukraine

As the war in Donbas is bogged down, the most likely major new gambit in Vladimir Putin’s ambitions in Ukraine would be to get military support from his ally in Minsk, Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko. How would that actually go down?

This article was updated Oct. 12 at 1:00 p.m EST

What will Lukashenko do? It’s a high-stakes corollary to the even higher stakes "what-will-Putin-do" question that has been weighing on the world since the beginning of the year.

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Few doubt that the role of Belarus and its leader Alexander Lukashenko — the 68-year-old strongman who's ruled Belarus since 1994 — is absolutely crucial to the outcome of the war in Ukraine. Will he invade? Will he bide his time? Will he do whatever Putin tells him to do?

Lukashenko's announcement Monday that he would deploy his troops alongside Russian forces near Ukraine shows that it is indeed increasingly likely that Belarus will enter the war.

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Geopolitics
*Igor Ilyash

Time's Up, Lukashenko: Belarus Prepares To Join The War Against Ukraine

Staunch Putin ally Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has recently tried to distance himself from an escalating war. But a series of events over the past month look set to drag him into Moscow's war with all the risks that entails for his small country.

This article was updated Oct. 10 at 2:30 p.m EST

-Analysis-

The announcement Monday by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko that he would deploy his troops alongside Russian forces near Ukraine is the clearest sign to date that Belarus is prepared to enter the war.

The 68-year-old strongman, who has ruled Belarus since 1994, cited the Saturday bombing of the Kerch bridge and the risk of a similar such attack on his country, for joining forces with Russia near the border.

"We have been preparing for this for decades. If necessary, we will respond," Lukashenko said.

Even before the bombing of Russia' bridge connecting its mainland to Crimea, the Kremlin's decision last month to hold pseudo-referendums in the occupied territories of Ukraine and the announcement of a partial mobilization had already already deprived Lukashenko of the opportunity to maintain the status quo.

It will no longer be possible to remain a passive participant in the Russian aggression: now it is necessary either to sharply take its distance from Russia or join a total war. And the news Monday of a joint operation with Moscow looks like Lukashenko's attempts to avoid joining the conflict have come to an end.

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Minsk's reaction last month to the news about the pseudo-referendums and mobilization indicated a continued desire to distance itself from the upcoming escalation.

On the day of announcement of the Russian mobilization, in Moscow there was a meeting between the Secretary of the Security Council of Belarus, Alexander Volfovich, and the Secretary of the Security Council of Russia, Nikolai Patrushev. The main topic, obviously, was the war and “tension” on the borders of both Belarus and Russia.

But no concrete decisions were announced, and any hints of a possible mobilization in Belarus were rejected at that time. “Mobilization is not about us, the people of Belarus and the country are already mobilized,” Volfovich assured.

Lukashenko himself spoke on this topic only on September 24, but also quite ambiguously. “There will be no mobilization. We are not going to mobilize," he said. "This is a lie.”

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