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Germany

Neo-Nazi Terror Cell: How Did German Intelligence Miss It?

German authorities had plenty of info on a far-right terror group accused of killing immigrations, robbing banks and building bombs. Yet for more than a decade, the neo-Nazis operated freely. People now want to know why investigators were unable to put tw

An unidentified skin head (wikipedia)
An unidentified skin head (wikipedia)

For German security authorities, it's nothing short of disaster. For 13 years, a small group of right-wing extremists was allegedly able to kill immigrants, build bombs, and rob banks without appearing on police radars. Local intelligence in the state of Thüringen, Germany, will have to answer some particularly pointed questions about how a terror cell could exist right under their noses.

Ten years ago, when a series of embarrassing incidents shook the service to its core and cost the head of the Thüringen State Office his job, state parliamentarian Heiko Gentzel, a Social Democrat, called for nothing less than dissolution of the state's intelligence service. "A secret service that can keep neither its confidential information nor its sources secret is incapable of doing its job, and needs to go," he said.

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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.

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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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