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VOICE OF RUSSIA, KOMMERSANT (Russia) HOUSTON PRESS, (US)

MOSCOW - Russian authorities are staying mostly mum since the United States accused 11 people this week, all from countries in the former Soviet Union, of illegal export of high-tech military equipment and money laundering.

Moscow-based daily Kommersant reports that seven of the 11 accused were arrested near Houston, and an additional member of the group of accused was arrested later at the airport. The US is searching for the last three accused, and the US authorities think they are hiding in Russia, Kommersant reports.

The US has said that the leader of the group was a 46-year-old man originally from Kazakhstan named Aleksander Fishenko. Fishenko obtained American citizenship in 2003, but is accused of having lied on his original application for refugee status in the US. More importantly, US authorities say that his electronics company, which brought in more than $50 million since 2002, was used to illegally export to Russia, Kommersant reports.

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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.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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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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