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President Barack Obama and Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk
President Barack Obama and Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk

KERRY AND LAVROV MEET IN LONDON
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov are meeting today at the American ambassador’s residence in London, two days before the Crimean vote on whether to join the Russian Federation, The Washington Postreports.

  • Kerry is expected to warn Lavrov that a Russian decision to “annex” the disputed region could trigger more sanctions against Moscow. Western leaders have repeatedly called the referendum “illegal,” and Ukraine’s Interim Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk said Kiev wouldn’t recognize the result. But Russian President Vladimir Putin claims it is in accordance with international law. According to AFP, Russia asked the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to send observers to monitor the poll. The result of Sunday’s vote will be announced 10 days later, the BBC explains.

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Russia

When Mom Believes Putin: A Russian Family Torn Apart Over Ukraine Invasion

Sisters Rante and Satu Vodich fled Russia because they could no longer bear to live under Putin — but their mother believes state propaganda about the war. Her daughters are building a new life for themselves in Georgia.

A mother and her daughter on a barricade in Kyiv

Steffi Unsleber

TBILISI — On a gloomy afternoon in May, Rante Vodich gets the keys to her new home. A week earlier, the 27-year-old found this wooden shed in Tbilisi, with a corrugated iron roof and ramshackle bathroom. The shed next door houses an old bed covered in dust. Vodich refers to the place as a “studio” and pays $300 per month in rent. She says finding the studio is the best thing that’s happened to her since she came to Georgia. It is her hope for the future.

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Her younger sister Satu Vodich is around 400 kilometers further west, in the city of Batumi on Georgia’s Black Sea coast, surrounded by Russian tourists, Ukrainian flags, skyscrapers with sea views and the run-down homes of local residents.

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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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