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A dragon parade marks the start of the Wat Saket temple fair in Bangkok
A dragon parade marks the start of the Wat Saket temple fair in Bangkok
Worldcrunch

Friday, October 31, 2014

RUSSIA/UKRAINE GAS DEAL
Months-long talks between Moscow, Kiev and Brussels ended with a deal yesterday for Russia to resume supplying gas to Ukraine at least until March 2015, Reuters reports. The agreement is also good news for EU countries that rely on Russian gas because it ensures that gas supplies via Ukraine are secure. CEO of Russia’s Gazprom also said a discount for Ukraine is also nearly finalized, meaning that gas deliveries could resume as soon as Kiev pays $1.45 billion in debt it owes the Russian company. According to the BBC, the total package is worth $4.6 billion, with money coming from the International Monetary Fund and the EU, which will act as a guarantor for Kiev.

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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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