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Geopolitics

Happy Birthday Silvio! His Circus-Like Reign Crumbling, Berlusconi Hits 75

Op-Ed: Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi has built an empire and survived repeated scandal. But this birthday, one message is clear: as the economy tanks, Italy has finally grown tired of his antics.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (EPP)
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (EPP)
Andrea Bachstein

ROME - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is 75 years old today. But rather than counting his birthday surprises, he's staring at a mountain of troubles. The Cavaliere may still be putting on a happy face, but nearly the whole country, his own party included, is against him now.

"One thing is for sure, and that is that I'm having a shitty birthday." That's what Silvio Berlusconi is supposed to have said to an Italian Parliament member on Sept. 29 last year. It's unlikely that he's finding this one much better. The prime minister, who likes to flaunt a youthful image, turns 75 on Thursday.

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Geopolitics

The Days After: What Would Happen If Putin Opts For A Tactical Nuclear Strike

The risk of the Kremlin launching a tactical nuclear weapon on Ukraine is small but not impossible. The Western response would itself set off a counter-response, which might contain or spiral to the worst-case scenario.

An anti-nuclear activist impersonates Vladimir Putin at a rally in Berlin.

Yves Bourdillon

-Analysis-

PARISVladimir Putin could “go nuclear” in Ukraine. Yes, this expression, which metaphorically means “taking the extreme, drastic action,” is now literally considered a possibility as well. Cornered and humiliated by a now plausible military defeat, experts say the Kremlin could launch a tactical nuclear bomb on a Ukrainian site in a desperate attempt to turn the tables.

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In any case, this is what Putin — who put Russia's nuclear forces on alert just after the start of the invasion in late February — is aiming to achieve: to terrorize populations in Western countries to push their leaders to let go of Ukraine.

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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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