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Russia

Russia’s “Friends of Syria” Snub -- As Seen From Moscow

Russia won’t be joining the “Friends of Syria” group for its upcoming summit in Tunisia. Why? Because Moscow sees it as a repeat of the ‘Contact Group on Libya,’ which helped lay the groundwork for foreign military intervention.

Alexander Lukashevich speaking about Russia's refusal to go to the 'Friends of Syria' conference.
Alexander Lukashevich speaking about Russia's refusal to go to the "Friends of Syria" conference.
Alexandr Reutov

MOSCOW -- Russia on Tuesday turned down an invitation by Arab countries to take part in the "Friends of Syria" group, which has active support from the United States and the European Union. Moscow is concerned that the conference – slated to take place on Friday in Tunis, Tunisia – will become an excuse to interfere in the Syrian conflict - just as happened in Libya.

"Many different opposition groups were invited to Tunis, but the Syrian government was not invited to the conference," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Alexander Lukashevich said in a rebuke to the conference organizers. "That means that the interests of the majority of Syria's population, which support the government, will not be represented." He went on to say that the conference "brings up more questions then it does answers."

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Hide-And-Seek Of Drone Warfare, A Letter From Ukraine's Front Line

A member of the Ukrainian Armed Forces writes his account of the new dynamic of targeting, and being targeted by, the invading Russian troops, as drones circle above and trenches get left behind.

A Ukrainian military drone operator during a testing of anti-drone rifle in Kyiv.

Igor Lutsenko*

KYIV — The current war in Ukraine is a game of hide-and-seek. Both sides are very well-stocked with artillery, enough to destroy the enemy along many kilometers. Swarms of drones fly through the air day and night, keeping a close eye on the earth's surface below. If they notice something interesting, it immediately becomes a target. Depending on the priority, they put it in line for destruction by artillery.

Therefore, the only effective way to survive is to hide, or at least somehow prove to the drones your non-priority status — and avoid moving to the front of the 'queue of death.'

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In general, the nature of this queue is a particular thing. It may seem to be a god, but is instead a simple artillery captain's decision of when to have lunch, and when to fire on the house where several enemy soldiers are staying. It's just a handful of ordinary people (observers, artillerymen) deciding how long their enemies will live depending on their own schedule or the weather, the availability of ammunition or if they're feeling tired.

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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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