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Geopolitics

Ukrainians Resist Donbas Assault

Photo of Ukrainian soldier looking at the destruction in a wall

A Ukrainian soldier in a village near the front lines of Mykolaiv

Celestino Arce Lavin/ZUMA
Anna Akage and Emma Albright

The 56th day of Russia’s invasion is also the second day of the all-out ground assault on the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, with Ukrainian forces attempting to repel Moscow’s better equipped units.

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Kyiv-based Pravda.ua reports that Russia launched overnight airstrikes on civilian infrastructure in Donbas, as well as in the area around Ukraine’s second-biggest city Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk region.

The situation in the Donbas port city of Mariupol remains desperate, with Ukrainian troops defending the last bastion of soldiers and civilians trapped in the Azovstal steel plant, which has been targeted by Russian missiles.

In one glimmer of hope early this afternoon, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Russia has agreed to a humanitarian corridor to evacuate civilians from Mariupol — though it remains to be seen if that will be respected.

Grim Assessments From Frontline Of Donbas, Mariupol:

Major Serhiy Volinski, commander of Ukraine’s 36th Marines Brigade, who is fighting in Mariupol, spoke with Pravda, suggesting two possible options for saving the city and its inhabitants: "The first is a sharp military operation, which will take place right now with all the necessary equipment. A large, well-equipped group of forces, which in one fell swoop, with a sharp and deep strike, will join us in our area of defense. This option is possible, though difficult and risky. Another one is a political solution, which is more realistic.”

The ashes of Mariupol

Reporting for Italian daily La Stampa, Francesco Semprini spoke to Volodymyr Rebalkin, commander of the Ukrainian forces in the town of Svyatogorsk in Donbas. The prospects are grim: “Nobody has any intention of retreating or surrendering. The invaders will have all that they desire: a graveyard.”

U.S., UK & Canada Pledge Arms While Germany Says It’s Maxed Out

The United States, the United Kingdom and Canada have pledged to send a major new shipment of weapons to Ukraine, as Russia launches its offensive in Donbas. This comes as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said his country’s military has nearly exhausted the weaponry that it can send to Ukraine, and is trying to work with manufactures to increase production.

Russia’s Medvedev Issues Threat To Foreign Fighters

Former Russian Interim President Dmitry Medvedev, who currently serves as a top security advisor to Vladimir Putin, has issued a not-so-subtle threat to foreign soldiers fighting on Ukraine’s behalf. The deputy chairman of the Russian security council sent the warning out on the Russian messaging platform Telegram: “To us, mercenaries are not volunteers. They are not legitimate combatants, they are not covered by the Geneva Conventions. Therefore, foreign mercenaries in Ukraine who do not surrender to our troops, along with their Banderite mentors, are subject to denazification in the first place. They will have to answer for their actions in full. Of course, if they remain alive…”

Read more about the meaning of Russia’s so-called “denazification” campaign

Zelensky Urges “No Cooperation” In Russian-Held Areas


President Volodymyr Zelensky paid tribute to residents of Russian-occupied settlements for refusing to cooperate with the enemy. He stated this in a video statement. "On the east of our country the occupants are trying to demonstrate at least something that can be presented in Russia as if the Ukrainians were ready to cooperate with the Russian structures. It looks miserable,” he said in a video message. “The situation is quite clear — Ukrainians in all regions of our country support the Ukrainian national identity. They support our national statehood. No cooperation with the occupants. No support for the collaborators. If we are more principled, if you are more principled, normal life will return sooner."

Ukrainians Forced To Relocate To Russia Include 121,000 Children

Some 500,000 Ukrainians have been forced to relocate to Russia, including 121,000 children, reports Kyiv-based Pravda. Meanwhile Ukrainians are being forced to fill out documents that prohibit them from leaving the Russian regions for two years. The reports of the relocation of Ukrainians to economically depressed regions of the Russian Federation, includes at least 20,000 Ukrainians said to be held in camps on the Mangush-Nikolsky-Yalta line and about 5,000-7,000 in Bezimenne of Donetsk region.

Displaced Ukrainians Tops 5 Million


The United Nations now estimates that more than 5 million Ukrainians have been displaced by the war, which includes refugees who have fled the country and those who have been forced to move elsewhere in Ukraine. Swedish daily, Dagens Nyheter, featured the plight of migrants on its front page.

Hungary Won’t Join EU On Russia Energy Sanctions

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjártó said his countrywill not join sanctions of the European Union against Russian oil and gas: "The Hungarian people cannot pay for this war, so we do not support the imposition of sanctions on gas and oil supplies," Szijjártó said at a Tuesday press conference.

Kharkiv Zoo Employees Shot To Death

Two employees of the famous Ecopark zoo located in Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv, had stayed behind when the war began to help feed and care for the animals. After they went missing in early March, Zoo officials report that the dead bodies of both have been found, saying they had been shot by Russian soldiers after trying to barricade themselves in a room.

Draghi Pushes Price Cap For Natural Gas To Wean EU Off Russian Energy

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi says he’s rallying fellow Europeans around a new proposal for a price cap on natural gas a way to wean the continent off its dependence on Russian energy supplies. Draghi, the former head of the European Central Bank, laid out his position in a recent interview with Milan-based daily Corriere della Sera.

Russian Oligarch Denounces War


Russian billionaire and founder of Tinkoff banks, Oleg Tinkov, has called the war in Ukraine a “massacre” and is urging to end this “crazy” conflict. The statement, issued on an Instagram post, is the strongest criticism yet made by a prominent Russian oligarch.

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Geopolitics

Smaller Allies Matter: Afghanistan Offers Hard Lessons For Ukraine's Future

Despite controversies at home, Nordic countries were heavily involved in the NATO-led war in Afghanistan. As the Ukraine war grinds on, lessons from that conflict are more relevant than ever.

Photo of Finnish Defence Forces in Afghanistan

Finnish Defence Forces in Afghanistan

Johannes Jauhiainen

-Analysis-

HELSINKI — In May 2021, the Taliban took back power in Afghanistan after 20 years of international presence, astronomical sums of development aid and casualties on all warring sides.

As Kabul fell, a chaotic evacuation prompted comparisons to the fall of Saigon — and most of the attention was on the U.S., which had led the original war to unseat the Taliban after 9/11 and remained by far the largest foreign force on the ground. Yet, the fall of Kabul was also a tumultuous and troubling experience for a number of other smaller foreign countries who had been presented for years in Afghanistan.

In an interview at the time, Antti Kaikkonen, the Finnish Minister of Defense, tried to explain what went wrong during the evacuation.

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“Originally we anticipated that the smaller countries would withdraw before the Americans. Then it became clear that getting people to the airport had become more difficult," Kaikkonen said. "So we decided last night to bring home our last soldiers who were helping with the evacuation.”

During the 20-year-long Afghan war, the foreign troop presence included many countries:Finland committed around 2,500 soldiers,Sweden 8,000,Denmark 12,000 and Norway 9,000. And in the nearly two years since the end of the war, Finland,Belgium and theNetherlands have commissioned investigations into their engagements in Afghanistan.

As the number of fragile or failed states around the world increases, it’s important to understand how to best organize international development aid and the security of such countries. Twenty years of international engagement in Afghanistan offers valuable lessons.

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