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Terror in Europe

For The French, Why It's Different This Time

Paris has been brutally attacked by Islamist terrorists two times in the past 10 months. Will Friday's attack wind up changing the way the French live their lives?

Mourners near Paris' Bataclan concert venue on Nov. 15
Mourners near Paris' Bataclan concert venue on Nov. 15
Cynthia Martens

PARIS — France, land of pens. At least, it seemed that way when I came back home from my first day of French elementary school and presented my parents with a very precise list of the supplies I was expected to have each day in class. One stylo plume (fountain pen), with blue (and only blue!) ink cartridges. Four ballpoint pens: one red, one green, one black, and one blue — certainly not one of those clicking multi-color pens.

So France loves pens. This of course is a country where the written word (not to mention, colorful bande dessinée) is treasured, as the most direct and diffused forms of freedom of expression. When terrorists attacked the Charlie Hebdo offices in January, it was an assault on individual cartoonists, but also on cherished national beliefs that are passed on from the first day of school.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Hide-And-Seek Of Drone Warfare, A Letter From Ukraine's Front Line

A member of the Ukrainian Armed Forces writes his account of the new dynamic of targeting, and being targeted by, the invading Russian troops, as drones circle above and trenches get left behind.

A Ukrainian military drone operator during a testing of anti-drone rifle in Kyiv.

Igor Lutsenko*

KYIV — The current war in Ukraine is a game of hide-and-seek. Both sides are very well-stocked with artillery, enough to destroy the enemy along many kilometers. Swarms of drones fly through the air day and night, keeping a close eye on the earth's surface below. If they notice something interesting, it immediately becomes a target. Depending on the priority, they put it in line for destruction by artillery.

Therefore, the only effective way to survive is to hide, or at least somehow prove to the drones your non-priority status — and avoid moving to the front of the 'queue of death.'

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In general, the nature of this queue is a particular thing. It may seem to be a god, but is instead a simple artillery captain's decision of when to have lunch, and when to fire on the house where several enemy soldiers are staying. It's just a handful of ordinary people (observers, artillerymen) deciding how long their enemies will live depending on their own schedule or the weather, the availability of ammunition or if they're feeling tired.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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