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It's Me, Not You: Zelensky Between Trump And Biden — And Putin

The impeachment storm in Washington comes with high stakes in Ukraine as well, especially for the country's own TV-star-turned-President.

President Zelensky in Kiev on Aug. 29
President Zelensky in Kiev on Aug. 29
Anna Akage

Donald Trump's response to the Ukraine-related impeachment probe is nothing short of surreal, with the U.S. president now openly calling on foreign powers to investigate a domestic political rival. The view from Kiev, meanwhile, is surreal in other ways.

President Volodymyr Zelensky, who, like Trump was a television star before turning to politics, has proven to be much less able than his American counterpart to play both roles simultaneously. Embarrassed by the initial revelations of the July 25 phone conversation with Trump — in which he also criticized Germany and France for not doing enough for Ukraine — Zelensky has released a single statement on the subject: "I think you read everything in the transcript of the July 25 talk. I don't want to be dragged into the democratic, open elections in the U.S. We had a good, normal conversation. We talked about a lot, and no one pressed me," said Zelensky during a meeting with Trump last month.

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Ideas

Ukraine Has Exposed The Bankruptcy Of Germany's "Never Again" Pacifism

A group of pro-peace German intellectuals published a letter asking the country not to deliver heavy weapons to Ukraine, but they're missing the point completely. Germany needs to reinvent itself in order to face today's challenges — and threats.

The Bundestag, or German federal government, meets at the Reichstag building in Berlin.

Sascha Lehnartz

-OpEd-

BERLIN — When even the brightest minds — some of whom have shaped the intellectual life of this republic for decades — suddenly seem at a loss, it can mean one of two things. Either the clever minds are not as clever as we were always led to believe. Or the times have changed so brutally that old pieces of wisdom are suddenly no longer valid.

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If you don't want to give up your childhood faith in the Federal Republic of Germany quite yet, you can settle on the second option.

Alexander Kluge, one of Germany's most versatile artists, founded a television production company, proving that there can even be television for intellectuals. Journalist and prominent feminist Alice Schwarzer has done more for the liberation of women in this country than anyone else. Yet Schwarzer and Kluge, along with another two dozen intellectuals, have written an open letter that basically recommends Ukraine to submit to Vladimir Putin for the sake of the authors' peace of mind.

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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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