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Russia

Sinking U.S.-Russia Relations: Behind Scenes Of Toughest Ever Medvedev Speech

Typically mild-mannered, Russian President Dimitri Medvedev let loose in a nationally televised speech against American and NATO plans for a missile defense system. His probable successor, Vladimir Putin, may even boycott the next NATO summit in Chicago n

Medvedev during his televised speech (RussiaToday)
Medvedev during his televised speech (RussiaToday)
Alexander Gabuyev

MOSCOW – With arms negotiations faltering, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has delivered a stern warning to the United States in a televised speech at least one month in the making.

Medvedev went to the national airwaves to declare that Russia would quit the START deal on nuclear arms reduction if Washington continued with plans to deploy a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe. Sources tell Kommersant that the text for Medvedev's speech, delivered on Russian TV Wednesday night, was first crafted among Russian Foreign Ministry officials in October, almost a month before Medvedev's meeting with U.S President Barack Obama in Honolulu.

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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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