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In The News

War In Ukraine, Day 133: Revelations Of Putin’s Original Invasion Plans

Occupy Kyiv? Turn to Donbas? Hunt down "Nazis"? Vladimir Putin's intentions have been a moving target.

Two days before the start of the war, the Kremlin said that there were no plans to attack Ukraine, and that there can be no plans to do so. On the day of the invasion, Putin urged the Ukrainian army to go to Kyiv and take down the "neo-Nazi" Vladimir Zelensky.

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A week later, when the blitzkrieg was clearly a failure, the "liberation of the Donbas" began, and was cited as the purpose for Russia’s invastion. Each time circumstances required, Putin changed the official reasons for the war, although his original goal was to overthrow the Ukrainian government and occupy the entire territory of Ukraine, a goal he still pursues, according to the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

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"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, EU 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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A Cruel Summer For Ukrainian Kids

And see the contrast with kids in Russia...

With the summer break around the corner and heat taking over most of Europe, Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza is running, as part of its “photo of the day” section, a picture of children splashing about with their parents in a river. A refreshing photo, in stark contrast with the caption chosen by the Warsaw-based newspaper: “These children don’t have to be afraid of bombs.” The river in question is the Moskva, and these are Russian kids cooling off near the Kremlin.

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The same Gazeta Wyborcza has also reported on a Poland-based hotline, open to Ukrainian children (an estimated 500,000 of whom have found refuge in Poland) to be able to talk to a psychologist about their traumatic experiences — or simply looking for a chat in their native tongue.

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Ukraine Plans Counteroffensive In The South

Having been forced to retreat and cede territory in Donbas, Kyiv has its eye on recapturing the key southern port city of Kherson.

The past several weeks have been marked by Ukrainian retreat in the Donbas. The vast eastern part of Ukraine territory has steadily succumbed to fierce and constant bombardment, after Vladimir Putin had shifted near total Russian focus on the strategic eastern part of the country.

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In late April, we wrote about how important it was for the Kremlin to demonstrate at least some kind of victory, and Putin indeed has the proof to bring back to the Russian public with retreat over the past 24 hours of the Ukrainian army from Lysychansk, the latest major city in the Luhansk region that had remained free of Moscow’s troops.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Anna Akage

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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In The News

Anna's Visit, From Avignon To Kyiv And Back

July 2-3

  • Defending Ukraine’s “hero city”
  • Anti-abortion momentum spreads
  • Bunk-bed flights
  • … and much more.
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In The News
Cameron Manley, Jeff Israely, and Emma Albright

Toxic Masculinity, New Iron Curtain — What Rising War Rhetoric Tells Us

What is happening in Ukraine is decidedly not a war of words — it’s a war. Every day people are dying, soldiers and civilians alike. And it is that war which will determine the fate of both Ukraine and Russia, and have a lasting impact all around the world.

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Still, the rhetoric that has risen throughout the conflict, beginning even before the outbreak of war, plays a role, and certainly garners attention on all sides. Just in the past 24 hours, we’ve seen the Kremlin respond indignantly to recent comments by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that: Russia’s invasion was "a perfect example of toxic masculinity." And if Putin were a woman, Johnson added: “I really don't think he would've embarked on a crazy, macho war of invasion and violence in the way that he has.”

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Alfred Hackensberger

Kharkiv Revisited: Inside Russia's New Assault On The "Hero City" Of Ukraine

The nation's second-largest city, Kharkiv was quiet for weeks after Ukrainian forces took control. But now it is again under attack as Russia pushes to capture the city that's considered the "gateway" to Ukraine. Die Welt reports from the frontline.

KHARKIV — "Come, I want to show you something," Denys Vezenych says, opening the door of his dental office.

The 40-year-old begins to tell the story in the waiting room: "It was April 16 when the Russian artillery shell hit. The windowpanes were broken, the walls had holes everywhere and the roof was destroyed. But I renovated everything."

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The repairs cost him several thousand euros. "You have to think positively, because life goes on," he explains with a smile. But this attitude is not so present generally in Saltivka, a neighborhood in northeastern Kharkiv. The dental practice may be like new, but the rest of this area in the northeastern Ukrainian city is completely destroyed.

The Russian army has done a great job in its three-month offensive on Ukraine's second largest metropolis. Countless flats have been burned out, the facades of houses have been shot to pieces, entire shopping centers have been bombed. Debris still lie in the streets everywhere.

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In The News
McKenna Johnson, Lila Paulou, Lisa Berdet and Anne-Sophie Goninet

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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In The News
Shaun Lavelle, Cameron Manley and Emma Albright

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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