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Geopolitics

Mladic Capture: A Victory For European Soft Power

The arrest of war criminal Ratko Mladic demonstrates how the EU can be a force for stability, especially when it holds out the possibility of membership.

Mladic was wanted for 15 years on war crimes charges. (Steffan42)
Mladic was wanted for 15 years on war crimes charges. (Steffan42)
Clemens Wergin

BERLIN - The arrest of Serbian general Ratko Mladic ends the darkest chapter in the history of post-reunification Europe. The Yugoslav Wars, which reached their peak with the Srebrenica massacres and the four-year siege of Sarajevo, proved just how destructive national ideologies in Europe can be. But the wars also bear witness to the failure of European foreign policy—the feuding continent of the 1990s was incapable of resolving the conflict. It required the leadership of a world power—the United States—and the Dayton Agreement in 1995 to bring an end to more than three years of war and killing.

One wishes that the architect of the agreement, recently deceased U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke, could have lived to see the moment when the last of the three major criminal Serbian warmongers was finally captured and turned over to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

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Ukrainian soldiers at the border of Russia

Meike Eijsberg, Anna Akage and Emma Albright

Ukrainian forces continue to regain more territory in the northeast of the country, and by Monday morning had announced that a battalion had reached the Russian border.

This comes after having taken back control of Kharkiv, the second biggest Ukrainian city, as Russian troops appear to be making a hasty retreat. This latest development continues to indicate the inability of Russian troops to dominate Ukrainian forces.

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After this successful counter-offensive, Ukraine’s defense ministry posted a video showing soldiers gathered around a yellow and blue painted post upon arrival at the Russian border. “Today the 15th of May, Kharkiv's territorial defense forces of Ukraine - 227th battalion, 127th brigade - went to the border with the Russian Federation,” said one soldier. “We are here.”

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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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