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Geopolitics

Hard Questions, High Risk For Pakistan's Incoming Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif

To talk or not to talk with the Taliban may be the most pressing matter of all, writes Le Monde's correspondent from Islamabad.

Taliban insurrection, energy crisis... Nawaz Sharif will quickly be put to the test
Taliban insurrection, energy crisis... Nawaz Sharif will quickly be put to the test
Frédéric Bobin

ISLAMABAD – Congratulations are already pouring in from abroad, while his supporters have been dancing in the streets of his stronghold city Lahore. Now, Nawaz Sharif is set to become Pakistan's next Prime Minister. Again.

The head of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) won 122 of the 272 seats in the May 11 legislative elections. And despite the Taliban's attempts at undermining the voting process, the voter turnout was notably high (around 60%).

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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.

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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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