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TOPIC: ukraine war

FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

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 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 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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War In Ukraine, Day 275: Zelensky Says "No Schism," Trying To Keep West United At Key Juncture

Fears of European discord over energy prices, as Ukraine is facing what the UN calls "appalling conditions of life" amid Russia's onslaught timed with the arrival of winter.

Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky declared Friday that Europe remains unified in its support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression. In a virtual address to “The Idea of Europe” conference in Lithuania, Zelensky said “There is no split. There is no schism among Europeans. We have to preserve this so this is our mission number one this year.”

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Zelensky made the case that both Europe and Ukraine are suffering from Russia’s military aggression and manipulation of energy markets.

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Macron Calls Putin’s Airstrikes On Civilian Infrastructure A War Crime

The French President leads a growing chorus of outrage against Russia, including the strongest condemnation to date from Pope Francis.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday led a rising chorus of outrage after unprecedented Russian air attacks on civilian infrastructure targets, which left up to 75% of Kyiv residents without power and water, and killed 10 people across Ukraine.

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“Strikes against civilian infrastructures are war crimes and cannot go unpunished,” Macron said.

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Kyiv In The Dark, China’s COVID Record, Stuttgart Christmas Market

👋 Goedemorgen!*

Welcome to Thursday, where 25% of Kyiv remains without power after heavy Russian air strikes on energy infrastructure, China sees record COVID cases, and sorry Thanksgiving, t’is the season for German Christmas markets. Meanwhile, Portuguese news website Mensagem reports from the city of Sintra, in western Portugal, where single parents have banded together to create a new model of joint child care.

[*Flemish]

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In The News
Anna Akage, Bertrand Hauger and Emma Albright

Newborn Killed In Russian “Terror” Strike On Ukrainian Maternity Ward

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned Russia's strike Wednesday on a maternity ward in southern Ukraine that killed a baby born two days ago. The newborn’s mother and a doctor were pulled from the rubble of the hospital in Vilnyansk, located in the Zaporizhzhia region.

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The morning strike was part of what appears to be another day of nationwide air attacks, with sirens and explosions heard around the country early Wednesday afternoon.

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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, Bertrand Hauger and Emma Albright

Iran-Israel Proxy War? Israeli Military May Send High-Tech Missiles To Kyiv

Sending Ukraine advanced weaponry would be a response from Israel to reports that Tehran is sending ballistic missiles to Moscow.

Israeli state media corporation Kan 11, citing the head of the National Security Council of Israel, Eyal Hulat, reported that Israel might transfer high-tech missiles to Ukraine if Iran supplies ballistic missiles to Russia.

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The Washington Post reported last month that Tehran could supply such missiles to Moscow, as well as Russia beginning to produce Iranian-designed drones on its own territory. Russia’s Chief of the Defense Intelligence Kirill Budanov stated that Moscow could use Iranian short-range ballistic missiles against Ukraine, which would have no effective means of combating Iranian rockets of this type.

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In The News
Laure Gautherin, Emma Albright, Bertrand Hauger and Anne-Sophie Goninet

Java Quake Death Toll Jumps, Defiant Iranian Soccer Players, Monster Goldfish

👋 Kaixo!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where the death toll in Indonesia’s earthquake rises to 252, the Iranian soccer team refuses to sing their national anthem in apparent support of protests, and holy carp, that’s a nice catch. Meanwhile, Suman Mandal in Indian website The Wire looks at how the deaths of migrant workers and Qatar's poor human rights record will linger over the World Cup.

[*Basque]

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Anna Akage

Putin’s Kyiv Obsession, From Failed Feb. 24 Blitz To Coming Winter Siege

Kremlin war aims in Ukraine have never been entirely clear. Part of that is due to the setbacks the Russian army has suffered; and now it appears that both the strategic and symbolic objective of reducing the capital of Kyiv to its knees is again very much on Vladimir Putin's mind.

The notion that Vladimir Putin was only interested in the contested southeastern regions of Ukraine vanished on Feb. 24. His so-called “special military operation” was in fact an all-out invasion of the nation — with Kyiv as the central objective.

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Russian forces attacked the capital from the direction of the Chernobyl exclusion zone and Belarus. In addition to regular troops, OMON special police units and troops loyal to Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov were directed toward Kyiv.

High among the orders was the assassination of the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, along with his family and top advisers. Oleksiy Danilov, a top military chief, Russian special forces tried in vain several times to pierce the presidential quarters in the first days of the war.

Those efforts, as well as the wider attempt to capture Kyiv, were repelled by Ukrainian forces, with the battles for the city and its surroundings lasting just over a month. By early April, Moscow was diverting its war effort elsewhere, and the capital would gradually regain some semblance of daily normality.

Nearly nine months later, Russian troops have gained then lost much of the territory they have occupied, and are moving steadily back closer to the border of the 2014 conflict. During this time, the south and east of the country suffered heavy losses, and entire cities were destroyed. The retreat of Russian forces from Kherson earlier this month marked another low moment, with signs that the Ukrainian army is ready to move farther east — and perhaps even head toward the Crimean peninsula.

So where is the Kremlin looking now? Yes, Kyiv again.

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In The News
Anna Akage, Bertrand Hauger and Emma Albright

Nuclear Risks Rise As Zaporizhzhia Shelling Multiplies In 24 Hours

At least 12 missiles over the past 24 hours were fired at or near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine.

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The surrounding territory and the plant itself, also known as ZNPP, are currently controlled by Russian forces, but the plant is a crucial source of energy for much of Ukraine. The Ukrainian nuclear energy company, Energoatom, reports Monday that the latest barrage of attacks has damaged parts of the plant’s infrastructure, including water storage tanks and two stationary diesel generators.

Ukraine Defense Ministry official Yuriy Sak placed the blame squarely on Moscow in what he called a “genocidal campaign to freeze Ukrainians to death, to deprive Ukrainians of electricity.”

ZNPP is the biggest nuclear power plant in Europe, and a serious accident there risks exceeding the consequences from Chernobyl or Fukushima. The IAEA mission continues to monitor the operation of the plant, as Ukraine and Russia trade accusations of who is to blame for the rising risk of a nuclear accident.

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Russia
Yulya Krasnikova

The Prigozhin Method: Inside Wagner Group's Russian Prison Recruitment

An inmate of the penal colony in the town of Kopeysk reveals the different ways convicts are recruited in the Russian mercenary Wagner Group, whose founder and Putin confidante Yevgeny Prigozhin personally sought the most violent criminals with vows to pay big sums and expunge their sentences.

The Wagner Group, also known as Wagner PMC, is a private military force with close links to Vladimir Putin. Officially, they do not exist. Their presence in Ukraine made headlines and caused concern as UN investigators and rights groups have accused the group of targeting civilians and conducting mass executions.

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The group first emerged in 2014, reportedly financed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian businessman and associate of Putin. Videos emerged online of Prigozhin recruiting prisoners to fight in Ukraine in exchange for shortened sentences. Just last week a new video emerged of the execution of the Russian prisoner Evgeny Nuzhin who had joined Wagner and later surrendered to the Ukrainian army and testified against the Russians. The video in question shows Wagner recruits executing Nuzhin by smashing in his head with a sledgehammer.

Independent exiled Russian news outlet Vazhnyye Istorii was the first to report on the recruitment of convicts to the Wagner PMC in July from the St. Petersburg area, which has since expanded to penal colonies in the Ural, Siberia, the Far East, and even the Arctic Circle.

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In The News
Cameron Manley, Bertrand Hauger and Emma Albright

Why Are There No Peace Talks? Kremlin And Kyiv Trade Blame

Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov insisted that Russia has no choice to continue the war because of Ukraine’s "unwillingness to negotiate."

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“First they negotiate, then they refuse to negotiate, then they pass a law that prohibits any kind of negotiations, then they say they want negotiations, but public ones,” Peskov told reporters.

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