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Geopolitics

When Disaster Aid Never Finds Its Victims

In Congo, too often aid gets diverted from those most needy to those best connected. The devastating rains this spring were a tragic case in point.

True helping hands are needed in Congo (Julien Harneis)
True helping hands are needed in Congo (Julien Harneis)
Trésor Makunya Muhindo

SANGE - Those most in need of disaster aid are not necessarily the ones who are receiving it in South Kivu, Congo, where some local authorities are distributing aid to their friends and family. Meanwhile, NGOs too often turn a blind eye.

Back in May, the playground of Rutanga primary school, in the middle of Sange in South Kivu was crowded one morning with men and women, all clutching bags and baskets. Forming long queues, they waited for kitchen utensils, tarpaulin and cloths from the International Rescue Committee (IRC), an international NGO working to help victims of the torrential rains that had devastated the town. More than 1,900 houses had their roofs collapse or swept away by the rains that struck the Democratic Republic of Congo last March and April.

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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.

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