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Russia

How The Rest Of Russia Will Pay For Crimea

Though denied by Putin, there is evidence emerging that investment projects elsewhere in Russia are being held up in order to divert funds to projects in newly annexed Crimea.

In Murmansk
In Murmansk
Yulia Gallyamova, Anatoly Dzhumailo and Kirill Melnikov

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin declared publicly last week that investment in recently annexed Crimea would not come at the expense of other government projects. Still, it appears that reducing investment in other regions cannot be avoided. Cuts have been proposed in transportation investment in the Murmansk region in Northern Russian, with the money saved to be used to develop Black Sea ports in Russia and Crimea.

Earlier this month, Vice Premier Arkady Dvorkovich held a meeting regarding the necessary investments in Crimea, which would largely consist of extending railroads to the Black Sea ports. During the meeting, Dvorkovich conceded that at least 31.5 billion rubles ($870 million) would have to be cut from other federal programs in order to pay for the Black Sea infrastructure projects.

Last Thursday, Putin announced that the expenses for infrastructure projects in Crimea would come from the government’s reserves, adding: “We don’t have to cut anything from other programs.”

Earlier, the finance ministry had said that the government surplus would be 240 billion rubles ($6.7 billion) in 2014 and 80 billion rubles ($2.2 billion) in 2015. Not including the infrastructure projects, the subsidized programs in Crimea this year are estimated to cost around 100 billion rubles ($2.8 billion).

Dvorkovich’s spokesperson was not available for comment, nor were representatives from the Ministry of Finance or Transportation. Sources who were present at the meeting with Dvorkovich say that taking funds from the Murmansk transportation projects for the Black Sea ports was not discussed, and don’t know why the discussion was included in the official minutes.

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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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