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Russian embassy in the Netherlands
Russian embassy in the Netherlands
Tim Röhn

MAASTRICHT — The worst thing about it, says Marina Smirnova, is that people won’t tell her directly to her face what they think of her. When the 27-year-old Russian, a linguist, joins a discussion with colleagues at work about the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, and points out that responsibility for the tragedy has not yet been formally established, everybody suddenly goes silent.

Feeling increasingly isolated, Smirnova is sure that people are badmouthing her, making malicious remarks behind her back. On Facebook there have already been calls tor Russians to be chased out of the Netherlands and for a killer commando to be sent to take care of Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin.

Smirnova has read the posts. She sits in Café Zuid by the Maas River in the Dutch university town of Maastricht and reflects about where her relations with Dutch people are going.

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Severodonetsk

Cameron Manley and Emma Albright

After weeks of raging battles, it appears Severodonetsk is set to fall under full control of Russian forces. The governor of the Luhansk region, Serhiy Haidai wrote on Telegram that Ukrainian forces will have to withdraw from the strategic city in southeastern Ukraine.

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The decision to retreat was made in order to save Ukrainian soldiers: “Nobody abandons our guys, nobody allows the encirclement (of our troops). The situation right now is as such that staying at these destroyed positions just for the sake of being there doesn't make sense,” Haidai said. At least 90% of the city's infrastructure has been destroyed.

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