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TOPIC: volodymyr zelensky

FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

A Decisive Spring? How Ukraine Plans To Beat Back Putin's Coming Offensive

The next months will be decisive in the war between Moscow and Kyiv. From the forests of Polesia to Chernihiv and the Black Sea, Ukraine is looking to protect the areas that may soon be the theater of Moscow's announced offensive. Will this be the last Russian Spring?

Ukrainian forces are digging new fortifications and preparing battle plans along the entire frontline as spring, and a probable new Russian advance, nears.

But this may be the last spring for occupying Russian forces.

"Spring and early summer will be decisive in the war. If the great Russian offensive planned for this time fails, it will be the downfall of Russia and Putin," said Vadym Skibitsky, the deputy head of Ukrainian military intelligence.

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Skinitysky added that Ukraine believes Russia is planning a new offensive in the spring or early summer. The Institute for the Study of War thinks that such an offensive is more likely to come from the occupied territories of Luhansk and Donetsk than from Belarus, as some have feared.

Still, the possibility of an attack by Belarus should not be dismissed entirely — all the more so because, in recent weeks, a flurry of MiG fighter jet activity in Belarusian airspace has prompted a number of air raid alarms throughout Ukraine.

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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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And If It Had Been Zelensky? How The War Became Bigger Than Any One Person

Ukraine’s Minister of Internal Affairs Denys Monastyrsky was killed Wednesday in a helicopter crash. The cause is still unknown, but the high-profile victim could just have well been President Zelensky instead. It raises the question of whether there are indispensable figures on either side in a war of this nature?

-Analysis-

The news came at 8 a.m., local time: a helicopter had crashed in Brovary, near Kyiv, with all the top management of Ukraine's Ministry of Internal Affairs on board, including Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky. There were no survivors.

Having come just days after a Russian missile killed dozens in a Dnipro apartment, the first thought of most Ukrainians was about the senseless loss of innocent life in this brutal war inflicted on Ukraine. Indeed, it occurred near a kindergarten and at least one of the dozens killed was a small child.

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But there was also another kind of reaction to this tragedy, since the victims this time included the country's top official for domestic security. For Ukrainians (and others) have been wondering — regardless of whether or not the crash was an accident — if instead of Interior Minister Monastyrsky, it had been President Volodymyr Zelensky in that helicopter. What then?

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Why Zelensky Will Not Promise Victory In 2023

Will 2023 be the year of victory? A negotiated settlement? The beginning of the new year was a time for speeches in Kyiv and Moscow aimed at inspiring the respective nations 10 months since Russia’s bloody invasion. Yet, for one good reason, certain words were not spoken.

-Analysis-

In Ukraine, New Year's was a sad and violent occasion: Kyiv, the capital, along with other cities, were subjected to drone attacks as the air-raid alarms barely stopped sounding in most parts of Ukraine throughout the would-be “holiday” weekend.

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Ukrainians couldn’t help noticing the contrast with other parts of the world, not just because people were ringing in the new year with celebrations, but more importantly because of the array of politicians, military experts and journalists making predictions for how the war will go in 2023.

The single question underlying all the others: Will the war in Ukraine end this year?

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In The News
Renate Mattar, Emma Albright, Hugo Perrin and Anne-Sophie Goninet

Zelensky’s Whirlwind Trip, Netanyahu’s New Government, Spain’s Hottest Year

👋 Manao ahoana!*

Welcome to Thursday, where Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky concludes a historic visit to Washington, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu forms a new government after weeks of negotiations with far-right partners, and 2022 was más caliente in Spain. Meanwhile, we look at Donald Trump’s current legal woes and how they look in countries where recent presidents have been prosecuted.

[*Malagasy, Madagascar]

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In The News
Renate Mattar, Laure Gautherin and Anne-Sophie Goninet

Zelensky Goes To Washington, Taliban New Women Ban, Santa Swims In Bangkok

👋 Haia!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrives in Washington on his first trip abroad since the Russian invasion, Taliban ban female students from university, and Lionel Messi becomes an Instagram world champion. Meanwhile, Russian-language independent website Vazhnyye Istorii/Important Stories reports on the situation in Chechnya, where strongman Ramzan Kadyrov’s strong pro-Russian rhetoric is at odds with the country’s real commitment to Moscow.

[*Welsch]

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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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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

Le Weekend ➡️ Lab-Grown Blood, Nam June Paik Retrospective, Baby Shark Nurse

November 12-13

  • Glued to Warhol down under
  • Growing blood in a lab
  • Dancing nurse in Kenya
  • … and much more.
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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Jessica Genauer*

Channeling Churchill: Why Zelensky's Speeches Have So Much Political Punch

Since the beginning of the invasion, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has held the world's attention with his powerful speeches. His rhetoric works because he reveals the power of remaining human in inhumane conditions.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has captured the world’s attention with powerful speeches broadcast from a besieged Kyiv. His words have galvanized global support for Ukraine’s struggle.

Now, a selection of 16 wartime speeches, chosen by Zelensky himself, will be published in a new volume: A Message From Ukraine. All proceeds from book sales will go to United24, an initiative established by him to raise funds for Ukraine.

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The sheer volume of speeches delivered since February by Zelensky – a former TV comedian and actor with a degree in law – is almost overwhelming, with multiple speeches given daily. Thanks to modern technology, he has never lost direct, real-time access to decision-makers and ordinary people.

He has virtually addressed national parliaments across Europe and North America, as well as Israel, South Korea, Japan and Australia, along with international summits and meetings including the European Council and the United Nations Security Council. Last month he even addressed the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Zelensky also provides a nightly video address on each day’s events, uploaded to social media channels and the government’s official site. His speeches have won hearts and minds across the world. What drives the power behind his words?

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Geopolitics
Maria Zholobova

Kyiv Blackout Siege: Russian Strikes On Power Grid Are A War Crime In The Making

Russia takes away light, water, and heat from Ukrainians with their missile strikes against the nation's energy infrastructure. It is a very intentional strategy of cruelty.

KYIV — The Russian Defense Ministry reported in matter-of-fact terms on the strikes with "high-precision weapons" "against military command facilities and energy systems. Russian TV channels and propagandists on the Telegram social network explain that these attacks have military significance: Ukrainians "will not be able to deliver either ammunition or fuel, and then the Ukrainian army will turn into a crowd of armed men with nothing but pieces of iron."

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But in fact, the touted new tactics and military precision adds up to Russia striking Ukrainian civilians.

Gennady Ryabtsev, a member of the expert council at Ukraine's Agency on Energy Efficiency, lives in the area of the thermal power plant. "There was shelling: one "shahed" [an Iranian drone] crashed into a residential building across from this plant, another flew into the yard of a business center, police hit the third, a fourth fell on the roof of the administrative building of Ukrenergo, the call center there went out of order, and a fifth fell somewhere in the yard of this thermal power plant," Ryabtsev recounted. "That is the destruction of energy facilities by high-precision weapons."

Those missiles and drones that hit power plants and power lines are aimed to hit civilians: both hospitals and schools in Kyiv are now without heat and light work.

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In The News
Cameron Manley, Sophia Constantino, Bertrand Hauger, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Jeff Israely

Six Hundred And Counting — Russia Losing Ground, Town By Town

Russia has begun evacuating pro-Moscow residents in the Kherson region after a Russian official in the partially occupied area said residents should leave for their own safety.

Ukraine’s armed forces have retaken more than 600 localities under Russian occupation in the past month, including 75 in the strategic Kherson region, Ukraine's Ministry for Reintegration of the Temporary Occupied Territories said.

The ministry said 502 towns and villages have been liberated in the northeast Kharkiv region, 43 in the Donetsk region and seven in the Luhansk region.

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"The area of liberated Ukrainian territories has increased significantly," the ministry said in a statement on its website.

In perhaps another show of its weakened hold on recently occupied territories, Russia has begun evacuating pro-Moscow residents in the Kherson region after a Russian official in the partially occupied area said residents should leave for their own safety.

Russia’s TASS news agency reported a first group of civilians from Kherson was expected to land in Russia’s Rostov region as soon as Friday, while more will move to Crimea.

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