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Russia

Islamic Terrorism Forces Russia And West Together

This week's UN General Assembly highlighted the need for cooperation in the fight against ISIS and other Islamic terror networks. And that could extend to sworn enemies.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
Sergei Strokan and Elena Chernenko

MOSCOW — The central issue at this week's United Nations General Assembly was how to combat international terrorism, with the United States eager to take the lead and set the tone.

Many U.S. government officials have a complicated relationship with the United Nations, seeing it primarily as an organization that is apt to challenge and undermine American leadership. But it was clear on Wednesday that the United States is taking the international organization seriously: President Barack Obama chaired the meeting of the Security Council on Wednesday that voted unanimously to take measures against global terrorism. It was only the second time Obama has personally attended a Security Council meeting.

Still, the various announcements from Obama and his closest advisors intending to explain their strategy on the fight against terrorism in Iraq and Syria have sometimes been contradictory. After Obama's Sept. 10 speech outlining his strategy in the fight against the Islamic radical group ISIS, National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Secretary of State John Kerry both categorically refused to admit that the U.S. considered ISIS a bonafide military force. Rear Admiral John Kirby then said, "Yes, we know we are at war" with the terrorist group.

Diplomats say this is a sign of confusion and lack of a clear understanding about what is needed to ward off this threat, which could turn out to be even more serious than al-Qaeda.

Behind this confusion there's another, more complex problem. As the United States tried to assemble a "coalition of the willing," there weren't many takers among its Western and regional allies. The recent conference of world leaders in Paris, organized to address the growing threat of ISIS, illustrated that many of Washington's friends don't want to join the fight against the terrorist group.

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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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