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Israel

Netanyahu: The Rewards And Limits Of Shooting For The Status Quo

Op-Ed: The veteran Prime Minister's passivity suits the Israeli public, interested in neither war nor peace. Still, to turn the short-term success into a lasting legacy Netanyahu must radically change his strategy -- and coalition partners.

Benjamin Netanyahu at the Masa Israel Journey conference
Benjamin Netanyahu at the Masa Israel Journey conference
Aluf Benn

Love him or hate him, you can't argue with Benjamin Netanyahu's success. Since his return to the Prime Minister's office, Israel has been enjoying the calm that comes with greater security, economic growth and a level of political stability not seen in generations. The public prefers political deadlock and Netanyahu's restraint on security matters, following the policies of his predecessor Ehud Olmert, who combined bold politics with military adventurousness. Israelis are in love with the status quo, and don't want to be bothered with either wars or peace initiatives. Netanyhu's passiveness suits them perfectly.

In his foreign policy, Netanyahu turns out to be a skillful diplomat who knows how to leverage crises, and turn them into opportunities. He used the political difficulties of President Barack Obama to shake off the settlement freeze and push back on the American peace initiative. His assessment that he can bend the President, with the help of the Congress and the Jewish community in the US, proved correct. Obama struggles for his reelection for a second term and drops the occasional love message to Israel, even though he cannot stand Netanyahu and his policy.

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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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