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Donald Trump travels to Las Vegas to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Trump International Casino, a day after calling The Wall Street Journal "garbage propaganda directed by an immigrant named Rupert Murdoch, who at 85 should be in a nursing home." The man bringing together Trump and Putin is Silvio Berlusconi.

That's how Spanish daily El Mundo imagines Trump's first days in the White House. Writer Pablo Pardo's whimsical envisioning of a Trump presidency begins with a trip to Mexico, where the new leader of the free world and his Vice President Ted Cruz announce that the Department of Homeland Security will create a safe zone for any companies willing to help bankroll a 3,145-kilometer-long wall stretching from the Pacific to the Atlantic. When The Wall Street Journal reports that not a single company has stepped forward, and that banks have turned down a $2.1 billion loan request, "Trump tweets from the White House," calling the bankers "idiots and lightweights."

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Geopolitics

Russia's Military Failures Are Really About Its Soldiers

No doubt, strategic errors and corruption at the highest ranks in the Kremlin are partly to blame for the Russian military's stunning difficulties in Ukraine. But the roots run deeper, where the ordinary recruits come from, how they are exploited, how they react.

Army reserve soldiers go to Red Square to attend a Pioneer Induction ceremony

Anna Akage

To the great relief of Ukraine and the great surprise of the rest of the world, the Russian army — considered until February 24, the second strongest in the world — is now eminently beatable on the battlefield against Ukrainian forces operating with vastly inferior firepower.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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After renouncing the original ambitions to take Kyiv and unseat the Ukrainian government, the focus turned to the southeastern region of Donbas, where a would-be great battle on a scale comparable to World War II Soviet victories has turned into a quagmire peppered with laughable updates by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov on TikTok.

The Russians have not managed to occupy a single significant Ukrainian city, except Kherson, which they partially destroyed and now find difficult to hold. Meanwhile, Ukrainian civilians are left to suffer the bombing of cities and villages from Lviv to Odessa, with looting, torture and assorted war crimes.

The reasons for both the poor performance and atrocities are many, and include deep-seated corruption and lack of professionalism up through the highest ranks, including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who had never served in the army, and arrived in his position only because of his loyalty to the No. 1 man in the Kremlin.

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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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