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Geopolitics

Up Close With Burma's Least-Known Rebels, Fighting For Autonomy For 60 Years

A reporter travels to the Thai-Burmese border to find the rebel army of the Mons, an ethnic minority for whom little has changed despite the opening up of the Myanmar regime.

View from the hills behind Inthein, Burma
View from the hills behind Inthein, Burma
Bruno Philip

PALAUNG – On a recent rainy monsoon morning in Palaung, a Burmese village close to the Thai border, a thin man is trying to charge up a group of camouflage-wearing, self-declared freedom fighters.

The man, named Nay Han Hta, wears glasses with the look of a primary school teacher. Like all the other men in these regions, his mouth is red-stained from chewing betel leaves. The guerilla group he’s leading is not well-known, even if it was one of the first groups in the country to rebel against the regime -- more than 60 years ago.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

The "Corrosion" Strategy: How Ukraine Targets Russian Networks And Morale

Russia continues to shrink its ambitions in Donbas, as Ukraine doubles down on its strategy of guerilla attacks, interrupting supply and communication contacts and ultimately undermines the morale of the enemy.

Ukrainian soldiers sitting atop a tank in Donbas on May 22

Clemens Wergin

For years to come, military experts will be studying how Ukraine managed to push back a far stronger enemy and grind Russia’s major offensive in the east of the country to a halt.

Some military strategists are already trying to find a term to sum up the Ukrainians’ success. Australian military expert and retired army major general Mick Ryan credited Kyiv's stunning showing to "the adoption of a simple military strategy: corrosion. The Ukrainian approach has embraced the corrosion of the Russian physical, moral, and intellectual capacity to fight and win in Ukraine.”

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Ryan argues that while the Ukrainians have used the firepower they possess to halt the Russian advance, while aggressively targeting their enemy’s greatest shortcoming. “They have attacked the weakest physical support systems of an army in the field – communications networks, logistic supply routes, rear areas, artillery and senior commanders in their command posts,” Ryan wrote.

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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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