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Ukraine being run over by Russia and for what?????


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A girl and her hamster: Half of Ukraine’s children flee war

MOSTYSKA, Ukraine (AP) — Russia’s invasion has displaced half of Ukraine’s children. On a hospital bed in a town close to the border with Poland, a little girl with a long blonde braid and dressed in pink is one of them.

https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-health-europe-lifestyle-poland-7d580e869aac613dcf41fc12614b7723?

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Russia may shift war aims; 300 reported dead in theater

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — About 300 people were killed in the Russian airstrike last week on a Mariupol theater that was being used as a shelter, Ukrainian authorities said Friday in what would make it the war’s deadliest known attack on civilians yet.

https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-zelenskyy-kyiv-europe-moscow-b56759e5d40db18e94bef8e42db23e47?

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mail?url=https%3A%2F%2Fstatic.nytimes.co

March 25, 2022

 

Good morning. More than three million Ukrainians have fled their country. See who they are.

 
 
 
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Refugees from Ukraine arriving in Medyka, Poland.Mauricio Lima for The New York Times

Ukraine’s diaspora

During the early days of the war in Ukraine — as Russia was attacking the city of Mykolaiv, near the Black Sea — Anna Sevidova decided to hide in her basement with her son. She figured it was their best hope for staying safe.

But when a missile exploded in their yard, a fragment of it shot into the basement and struck Anna in the face. With a piece of the missile lodged in her nose, she crawled through her collapsed home, dragging her son underneath her to protect him. Both of them were covered in blood. “I thought those were the last seconds of my life,” Anna said.

Instead, they survived and soon fled to Moldova, which borders Ukraine. They are among the roughly 10 million Ukrainians, or about one-fourth of the country’s population, who have left their homes in the past month. Of the 10 million, about seven million have moved to other parts of Ukraine, while more than 3.5 million have left the country.

It is the largest displacement of Europeans since World War II, according to the United Nations. More than half of Ukraine’s children are no longer living in their homes.

The numbers are so large because Russia is using a deliberate strategy of attacking civilians to destabilize Ukraine. This flood of refugees has created major challenges in Europe. Moldova, for example, has taken in more than 100,000 Ukrainians, despite being one of Europe’s smallest and poorest countries. About 90 percent of those refugees are living in private homes. “For now, society is showing a great degree of empathy,” Nicu Popescu, Moldova’s foreign minister, told The Times.

President Biden announced yesterday that the U.S. would accept 100,000 refugees and donate $1 billion to help European countries deal with the surge in refugees. Previously, the Biden administration’s has set a cap for refugees, coming from anywhere in the world, of 125,000 per year.

Today’s newsletter summarizes some of the best journalism about Ukraine’s refugees, including photographs that Sarah Hughes, a Times photo editor, selected.

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A family from Odessa, Ukraine, at a temporary shelter in Chisinau, Moldova.Mauricio Lima for The New York Times
  • “One day you are driving to the dentist. The next you are whispering with strangers in a dark basement,” our colleague Sabrina Tavernise writes, as part of a collection of short profiles of fleeing mothers and children. “It is a moment when instinct — to save your children, to get through the next checkpoint — takes over and emotions are blocked. Finally, it is the shocking realization that suddenly, unwillingly, you are a refugee, dependent on the generosity of strangers, no longer a middle-class person in charge of your own life.”
  • Natalia Lutsenko — who has fled to Poland from the bombed-out northern town of Chernihiv — told The Associated Press that she still could not comprehend what Vladimir Putin was thinking: “Why is he bombing peaceful homes? Why there are so many victims, blood, and killed children, body parts everywhere?”
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Waiting at the train station in Lviv, Ukraine, this month.Ivor Prickett for The New York Times
  • Lviv — the largest city in western Ukraine, about 45 miles from Poland — has become a safe haven for many Ukrainians, as Stefanie Glinski describes in Foreign Policy. But they also wonder whether Russia will soon begin attacking it regularly. And daily life is often a crowded struggle. “We had a comfortable life and a nice apartment,” Ludmilla Marchuk, a 44-year-old mother of two said tearfully. “I just want to go home.”
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Pushing onto a train heading west out of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.Lynsey Addario for The New York Times
  • Poland has accepted the most refugees by far — about 2.2 million, according to the U.N. (Next on the list are Romania and Hungary, each between 300,000 and 600,000.) The Washington Post has published drawings by children at the train station in Przemysl, a Polish city near the Ukrainian border. And the Times has reported that Przemysl, an elegant little city, has transformed itself nearly overnight to feed, house and help refugees.
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Ilona Koval, center, choreographer for the Ukrainian national figure skating team.Laetitia Vancon for The New York Times
  • Moldova has taken in about one refugee for every 25 of its citizens. This Times video looks at the situation there — and allows you to hear Anna Sevidova tell her own story.
  • “The best that humanity has to offer”: A Kyiv Independent journalist spent a day with volunteers who deliver food, rescue pets and evacuate people from nearby war zones.
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A gymnasium in Novoyavorivsk, Ukraine, was converted into a shelter for displaced people.Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times
  • For anybody who wants to make a donation to help Ukrainian refugees, there are many worthy options (but watch out for scams). One option recommended by this Times Opinion guide is Mercy Corps, which is supporting local organizations in Poland, Romania and Ukraine. Another option is World Central Kitchen, founded by the chef José Andrés.

State of the War

  • Ukraine’s counteroffensive has scored several major strikes, destroying Russian helicopters, a resupply convoy and a naval ship in the Sea of Azov.
  • The U.S. imposed new sanctions on more than 300 members of Russia’s Parliament, and Biden said the country should be removed from the G20.
  • After Biden met with NATO leaders, the alliance activated a task force to prepare for a possible chemical, biological or nuclear attack. Biden visits Poland today, where he plans to meet with refugees and U.S. troops.

More on Ukraine

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mail?url=https%3A%2F%2Fstatic.nytimes.co

March 27, 2022

 

Good morning. Russia’s war in Ukraine is especially dangerous after decades of relative peace worldwide.

 
 
 
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A protest in Brussels of Russia’s invasion.Olivier Hoslet/EPA, via Shutterstock

A fading peace

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could mark a troubling shift: the end of a relatively peaceful global era.

Though it has not always felt like it, the world has since the 1990s endured less war than any other period in recorded history. Wars and resulting deaths plummeted with the conclusion of the Cold War in 1991 — and the subsequent end of direct and proxy conflicts between the world’s great powers.

“The end of the Cold War was the greatest thing to happen to peace in a long time,” said Jeremy Shapiro, the research director at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

But the world has since changed. After emerging from the Cold War as the lone superpower, the U.S. grew weaker, bogged down by failed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Russia and China evolved into more formidable powers; they are now better positioned to challenge a world shaped by American norms and rules.

Invading Ukraine is the biggest example of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s willingness to challenge a U.S.-led order. Another is Russia’s intervention in the Syrian civil war. China has its own interests — in controlling Taiwan and increasing influence in East and Southeast Asia.

The strengthening alliance between Russia and China in recent years also suggests they are sketching new lines of global competition. And in response to these threats, other potential great powers, like Europe, are rebuilding their own militaries.

Peace, experts said, has not looked this fragile in decades.

How conflict receded

For much of human history, war was the norm. Between the 16th and 18th centuries, great powers battled each other most years. And in the 19th and 20th centuries, they fought in conflicts that culminated in two world wars that killed more than 100 million people and displaced tens of millions more.

But after the Cold War, the rate of new conflicts fell more than half, according to Bear Braumoeller, an international security expert at Ohio State University. The conflicts that did occur were on a smaller scale. Deaths from war plummeted. (Part of that decrease was also thanks to militaries getting better at treating wounded soldiers.)

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Data from 1946 to 2020. Labeled conflicts do not account for all deaths. | Source: Our World in Data

The drop was unprecedented, William Wohlforth, an international relations expert at Dartmouth College, told me. “We can’t find another period with a shift in conflict trends that compares,” he said.

Several ingredients factored into this peace. There was a lack of great power competition; no country could seriously challenge the United States. Nuclear weapons also continued to deter nations from warring against each other, given the potentially apocalyptic consequences. An increasingly integrated global economy made any war a risk to everyone’s continued growth. And peacekeeping institutions, like the U.N. and the E.U., created outlets for countries to try to settle disputes and enforce antiwar rules (although not always successfully).

Another element: Great power is no longer synonymous with an appetite for conquest. U.S. officials in the nation’s century as a superpower have viewed attempts to take over other countries as a direct route to sinking the world order they had built and led. America’s own acts of aggression — in Vietnam, Panama, Iraq and elsewhere — were aimed at upholding that order, however flawed the justifications.

Rising challengers

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Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Xi Jinping, China’s leader.Pool photo by Pavel Golovkin

Russia and China never liked the idea of a U.S.-led world order. For decades, both have called for a new structure in which they get a bigger, or even dominant, say over how the world works.

Russia has its own imperial ambitions in Eastern Europe, and it views NATO’s expansion toward its western doorstep as an existential threat.

China has benefited economically from the liberal order and globalization. But its leaders also want to oppress domestic dissidents, the democratic government in Taiwan, protesters in Hong Kong and predominantly Muslim Uighurs, among others, without outside interference.

These are longstanding goals for Russia and China, but they now have a greater ability to act on their beliefs. Putin has cemented his rule after more than two decades in power, and in that time he moved to modernize Russia’s military (though the stalemate in Ukraine has exposed major weaknesses). China has grown its economy to a point that it may soon rival the United States’, and it is expanding its military power and regional influence as well.

That could lead to more great power competition — potentially through a new wave of proxy wars between these countries and the West or, worse, direct conflict.

But any great shift in the world order hinges largely on what China does, as the only real rival to the U.S. Given the risks of war, China could continue to pursue its interests with economic or diplomatic levers over military force, said Stacie Goddard, an international security expert at Wellesley College.

China also has repeatedly called for respecting every nation’s sovereignty. There are good reasons to be skeptical of that pledge, including China’s interests in Taiwan and its continued support for Russia after the invasion of Ukraine. But if China means it, the war in Ukraine could end up looking less like a sign of what is to come and more like a deadly last gasp from the Cold War era.

State of the War

  • President Biden denounced Russia’s invasion and declared that Putin “cannot remain in power.” But a White House official downplayed the possibility that Biden had called for the Russian president to step down.
  • While Biden was traveling in Poland, two rocket strikes hit Lviv in western Ukraine, not far from the Polish border. The strikes undercut earlier signals that Russia had narrowed its ambitions.
  • Western officials, however, have picked up chatter among senior Russian commanders about giving up on capturing Kyiv and other key areas in Ukraine, according to two people with access to intelligence.
  • Ukrainian forces have mounted a counteroffensive in the Kyiv suburbs to block Russia’s route to the capital, destroying tanks and killing Russian troops.

More on Ukraine

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Why Is an Award-Winning Russian Journalist Fighting for Ukraine?

A former correspondent for the LA Times put down his pen and picked up a rifle, taking a stand in what he calls “a battle between good and evil.”

https://aish.com/why-is-an-award-winning-russian-journalist-fighting-for-ukraine/?src=ac-rdm

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Russia shifts focus to try to grind Ukraine’s army in east

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — With its aspirations for a quick victory dashed by a stiff Ukrainian resistance, Russia has increasingly focused on grinding down Ukraine’s military in the east in the hope of forcing Kyiv into surrendering part of the country’s territory to possibly end the war.

https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-war-shift-in-strategy-7386a5893a3b43bad7e438cfe45468c2?

 

ps:Right!! What was there original purpose for going into Ukraine? Oh! yeah, right!! For peace keeping!! The biggest liar and yet we still have many believing this horse manure coming from the, what was he called? Oh yeah, a "genus!!"

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Holocaust survivors flee from Ukraine to Germany for safety

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — When the bombs started falling on Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, last month, Tatyana Zhuravliova had a horrible deja vu: the 83-year-old Ukrainian Jew felt the same panic she suffered as a little girl when the Nazis were flying air attacks on her hometown of Odesa.

https://apnews.com/article/holocaust-survivors-flee-ukraine-to-germany-55fae67ceebbe88e8edf04ce387d374b?

 

ps:I'm so glad my Father doesn't have to live through this again! I feel for these people, it never amazes me as to how cruel people can be to each other!!

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Russia says it will scale back near Kyiv as talks progress

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia announced Tuesday it will significantly scale back military operations near Ukraine’s capital and a northern city, as the outlines of a possible deal to end the grinding war came into view at the latest round of talks.

https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-zelenskyy-ap-top-news-europe-istanbul-4625afe04bd10a05c14914bb9f4ef0b0?

ps:I've heard this before!! I'll believe it when I actually see it!!

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mail?url=https%3A%2F%2Fstatic.nytimes.co

March 29, 2022

 

Good morning. Biden says that Ukraine has the full support of the U.S. Zelensky disagrees.

 
 
 
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Oleg, 61, after being shot in the leg by Russian forces.Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

‘Coming and coming and coming’

President Biden, in a passionate speech from Warsaw on Saturday, proclaimed the West’s complete support for Ukraine. “We stand with you, period,” Biden said.

The next day, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, offered a different message: He criticized the West for not doing enough. In a videotaped speech to Ukrainians, Zelensky contrasted their “determination, heroism and firmness” with the lack of courage from Western countries that had refused to send jets and tanks to Ukraine.

In a detailed interview with The Economist this past weekend, he also called out the U.S. and, even more so, France and Germany, for not doing more. “We have a long list of items we need,” Zelensky told The Economist’s editor in chief, Zanny Minton Beddoes, and a colleague during a sit-down interview in a Kyiv bunker.

Who’s right — Zelensky or Biden? Today, I will try to answer that question, with help from Times colleagues. I’ll do so by breaking Zelensky’s argument into three categories. The first critiques the West’s behavior in the run-up to the war. The second covers current requests from Zelensky that may be more performative than real. The third deals with steps that could help Ukraine and that the West is choosing not to take.

1. Alternative history

Some of Zelensky’s complaints are about the past. He says that the West could have altered Vladimir Putin’s war plans by imposing harsh sanctions as Russia mobilized for war. He made the same argument at the time.

It is obviously impossible to know if Zelensky is right, but he has a legitimate case. The West’s initial response to Russia’s buildup was timid, offering little military support and threatening only modest sanctions. As The Atlantic’s Anne Applebaum wrote at the time, “Tragically, the Western leaders and diplomats who are right now trying to stave off a Russian invasion of Ukraine still think they live in a world where rules matter, where diplomatic protocol is useful, where polite speech is valued.”

Putin seemed to assume that the Western reaction would remain fairly modest, much as the response to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea had been. He decided that a full takeover of Ukraine would be worth the price.

But the brutality and scope of the invasion changed the West’s approach. Biden and the leaders of other countries rallied to impose sweeping sanctions. The ruble and Russian stocks have plunged, and Putin himself has acknowledged that the economic damage will be large.

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Mothers and children at a center for displaced families in Lviv.Mauricio Lima for The New York Times

“If tougher sanctions had been levied earlier, a full-scale Russian attack would not have occurred,” Zelensky claimed this weekend. “It would have been on a different scale,” he added, “giving us more time.”

This argument is a way for him to urge the world not to make the same mistake again. Ukraine’s allies should “act pre-emptively, not after the situation becomes complicated,” he said.

2. Politics as performance

It’s often naïve to take the words of political leaders literally. The public speech of politicians tends to combine an honest expression of their views with an attempt to influence others. Zelensky, an actor by training, is well aware of the performative part of politics.

Over the past few weeks, he has repeatedly asked for forms of help that he surely knows he will not get, my colleague Max Fisher says. The clearest example is a no-fly zone over Ukraine. Establishing one could require the West to shoot down Russian planes and even bomb air-defense systems inside Russia, potentially starting a world war.

Still, making unreasonable requests has value to Zelensky. It signals to Ukrainians that he is doing everything possible to defeat Russia and also makes it harder for the West to say no to other requests. “He’s asking for the moon, knowing he’ll get less,” Eric Schmitt, a senior writer at The Times who has long covered military affairs, told me. “But it keeps the pressure on the West to deliver the stuff he needs.”

3. What Ukraine wants

Another set of requests coming from Zelensky and his aides is more literal and realistic. The biggest is their plea for the kind of equipment that allows a smaller army defending territory to hold off a larger, attacking army. The U.S. and other allies have already sent a large amount of such equipment, like shoulder-fired rocket launchers, but Ukraine says that it needs more.

So far, Ukraine’s military has performed better than most observers expected, preventing Russia from taking over most major cities while reclaiming a few towns in the northeast. Because Russia has an enormous military, however, a war of attrition tends to work to its advantage, Eric notes. Russia can continue to bomb Ukrainian troops and civilians and hope for eventual capitulation.

“The Russians have thousands of military vehicles, and they are coming and coming and coming,” Zelensky said.

Western military officials argue that they are providing Ukraine with weapons and equipment as fast as is logistically possible. Zelensky says that his country’s fate may depend on the West doing better.

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A Ukrainian soldier reviewing drone footage.Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

Other requests by Zelensky fall into a middle ground: It’s unclear whether Ukraine expects the West to say no. This list includes additional tanks and fighter jets as well as further sanctions on Russia and an end to European purchase of Russian energy.

The bottom line

The uncomfortable truth is that Ukraine and the West do not have identical interests, despite Biden’s suggestion to the contrary.

Ukraine is fighting for survival, and its people are dying. Its leaders need to try any strategy that might plausibly help. The leaders of the U.S., E.U. and other allies genuinely want to come to Ukraine’s defense, but they are also concerned about their own economies, domestic support for their policies and the risk of nuclear war with Russia.

More on Ukraine

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Russia bombards areas where it pledged to scale back

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian forces bombarded areas around Kyiv and another city just hours after pledging to scale back operations in those zones to promote trust between the two sides, Ukrainian authorities said Wednesday.

https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-zelenskyy-roman-abramovich-kyiv-europe-ef9c28c44f94b34262fe6b7c296d58a6?

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mail?url=https%3A%2F%2Fstatic.nytimes.co

March 30, 2022

 

Good morning. Russia appears to be focusing more on eastern Ukraine. That’s both good and bad for Ukraine’s military.

 
 
 
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Yulia Beley, center, with her daughter at a shelter in Lviv, western Ukraine.Mauricio Lima for The New York Times

‘Significant danger’

When Russia began its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, Vladimir Putin and his inner circle were not the only people who expected a rapid Russian march to victory. Many independent observers did, too.

Instead, Ukraine has held firm.

Ukrainian civilians have shown resilience amid terrible suffering. Its military has kept Russia from taking over Kyiv and even regained some ground in the northeast. And the Russian military has suffered heavy losses, partly because of an overly ambitious strategy — evidently reflecting Putin’s wishes more than military reality — that left its forces stretched thin and vulnerable to counterattacks.

Russia’s early failures explain its new willingness to hold peace negotiations and its promised pullback from Kyiv. U.S. officials understandably expressed skepticism yesterday about whether Putin is genuinely open to ending the war. But Russia really does appear to have narrowed its goals, in response to its battlefield struggles. That’s good news for Ukraine.

At the same time, Russia’s new strategy creates a potential challenge: Increasingly, Russia appears to be concentrating its effort in fewer areas — particularly the Donbas region, in eastern Ukraine.

“We’ve seen a major shift toward one specific front in this war,” Michael Kofman of the Russia studies program at CNA told me. “For Russia, it’s much more rational.”

Today’s newsletter examines the battle for Donbas, which is likely to be an increasing focus of the war in coming weeks.

Why Donbas matters

The Donbas region, on the border with Russia, makes up about 9 percent of Ukraine’s landmass. Many of its residents have long felt at least as much of a connection to Russia as to the rest of Ukraine.

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The New York Times

After Russia invaded a nearby region of Ukraine in 2014 and annexed it — Crimea — Moscow-backed separatists in Donbas started their own civil war against Ukraine’s government. The separatists proclaimed the formation of two breakaway republics, and fighting has continued sporadically over the past eight years. Last month, Putin recognized both republics.

Focusing on Donbas has multiple advantages for Russia. In recent weeks, it has already made progress in taking over territory there. It can hold that territory without the long, exposed supply lines that Ukraine has successfully attacked elsewhere. A battle over Donbas also gives Russia an opportunity to encircle and destroy a large chunk of Ukraine’s military. More than a third of all Ukrainian troops may be in the region, fighting both the separatists and the Russian military.

Russia appears to be on the verge of being able to create such a pincer around these Ukrainian troops, coming from both the east and the south. Experts refer to this Russian progress as a “land bridge” from Crimea to the Donbas.

The city of Mariupol, in southern Donbas, is a part of this story. Putin and his military planners have attacked Mariupol so brutally because it is the largest city in the potential land bridge that they do not yet control. It also has a major port.

(This Times story examines Russia’s attempts to starve the people of Mariupol, including the physical and psychological toll of hunger. “The fire was gone from their eyes,” one mother said about her children, describing her futile attempts to distract them by reading fairy tales.)

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Damaged houses in Mariupol.Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

Some analysts, like Kofman, believe that Russia would struggle to maintain the land bridge for an extended period. Its military would face many of the same challenges — a dedicated opposition, dispersed over a large territory — that have bedeviled it elsewhere in Ukraine.

Others think a sustained land bridge is more likely. “With its long history of starting wars disastrously but then winning them by piling in more men and matériel to overwhelm the defender through sheer brute force, Russia has time on its side,” said Keir Giles of the Conflict Studies Research Center in Britain. “It can keep up the pressure on Ukraine longer than Ukraine can keep up Western interest in supporting it in its fight for freedom.”

A new risk

Either way, Putin may try to use the cease-fire negotiations as a way to lock in the territory Russia now controls or soon may, including the land bridge. That prospect worries some experts who want to see Putin defeated. “We’re at the next moment of significant danger around this conflict,” Frederick Kagan, a military expert at the American Enterprise Institute, told me.

If the West pressures Ukraine to accept a cease-fire that leaves the land bridge intact, Ukraine would be a broken country, Kagan argues. It would be cut off from a large number of its citizens and from economically important coal and natural gas resources in the east. Many parts of central Ukraine would be vulnerable to Russian attacks and disruption.

“If we allow the Russians under the facade of a cease-fire to control that line, that’s exactly what I’m worried about,” Kagan added.

The war has gone surprisingly well for Ukraine so far, but it still faces major risks. “I think a lot of folks in the West are more starry-eyed than Ukrainians are,” Kofman said. “I’m skeptical that either side is ready for peace, because both sides in this war still have opportunities in the battlefield.”

Related: “It’s always wiser to treat your adversary as a canny fox, not a crazy fool,” Bret Stephens writes, asking whether Putin’s goal was always to take over the east, rather than to conquer the whole country.

State of the War

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Russia faces global outrage over bodies in Ukraine’s streets

BUCHA, Ukraine (AP) — Moscow faced global revulsion and accusations of war crimes Monday after the Russian pullout from the outskirts of Kyiv revealed streets strewn with corpses of what appeared to be civilians, some of whom had seemingly been killed at close range.

https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-zelenskyy-kyiv-business-moscow-3a40c029638ffddb289ceba89462c1aa?

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April 4, 2022

 

Good morning. The fight between democracy and autocracy is happening not only in Ukraine.

 
 
 
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“Onwards Ukraine,” a mural in Paris by the street artist Seth.Sarah Meyssonnier/Reuters

Putin’s fifth column

President Biden has described the world as being engaged in a “battle between democracy and autocracy,” and Ukraine has become the central front.

There, Vladimir Putin, the autocratic head of Russia, launched a military invasion meant to destroy a democracy, and his military appears to be committing horrific atrocities in the process. A crucial part of Russia’s war effort is the economic help that it is receiving from another authoritarian government, China. On the other side of the fight, many democracies — including the U.S. and much of Europe — have rallied to support Ukraine, supplying it with arms and placing harsh economic sanctions on Russia.

But Ukraine is not the only place where the contest between autocracy and democracy is taking place. It is also happening within several European democracies, through elections rather than military conflict. In these countries, politicians who are friendly to Putin — and share his right-wing, nationalist outlook — are trying to win power.

Two of them appear to have succeeded yesterday. In both Hungary and Serbia, incumbent leaders who are supportive of Putin won re-election. A bigger test will occur this month in France, which will hold its own presidential election — and where a victory by the far-right candidate would be a geopolitical earthquake.

Today’s newsletter looks at all three countries.

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Viktor Orban, Hungary’s prime minister, at a rally on Friday.Petr David Josek/Associated Press

Hungary

Viktor Orban, Hungary’s Putin-friendly prime minister, appears to have won re-election there. “We won a victory so big that you can perhaps see it from the moon, and certainly from Brussels,” Mr. Orban told supporters last night, taking a dig at the European Union.

Hungary is the purest example of a democracy sliding toward autocracy. After taking power in 2010 with a legitimate election victory, Orban set about changing the rules to remain in power. He has stacked the courts with allies and used lawsuits to quash critical media coverage. He has aggressively changed election rules, as my colleagues Matt Apuzzo and Benjamin Novak reported.

In each of the past two national elections, Orban’s party, Fidesz, received less than half the votes, yet still won a two-thirds supermajority in Parliament. After yesterday’s election, Fidesz appears to be on track to win 135 seats of the 199-seat parliament.

Orban has overseen a government that combines cultural nationalism, economic populism and high-level corruption. His policies have lifted the incomes of many Hungarians, including in the more rural areas that make up his base, while stoking fears of immigrants and, more recently, L.G.B.T.Q. people.

All of which aligns him with Putin. In recent weeks, Orban has tried to cast himself as a neutral peacemaker in Ukraine, knowing that many Hungarians have long feared Russia. But he has mostly taken Putin’s side.

Hungary has not joined Western Europe’s efforts to provide Ukraine with weapons, and he has opposed efforts within the E.U. to ban the import of Russian energy. Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, yesterday described Orban as “virtually the only one in Europe to openly support Mr. Putin.”

Hungary has become the closest thing to a fifth column within NATO and the European Union. It is officially a Western democracy — yet effectively a Putin ally.

Read more about the election results in The Times’s coverage.

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A cameraman in Belgrade in front of a picture of Aleksandar Vucic, Serbia’s president.Darko Vojinovic/Associated Press

Serbia

Serbia’s president, Aleksandar Vucic, has used both Putin and Orban as role models. After becoming president in 2017, Vucic helped turn Serbia’s once-independent media into something more akin to a propaganda machine. In recent months, it has aired rants by pro-Russian commentators and boosted Putin’s lies about Ukraine being a nest of Nazis, The Times’s Andrew Higgins wrote.

Serbia is not a member of either NATO or the E.U., and many of its citizens share Russia’s distrust of the West.

But the country is not strictly pro-Russia. Although Vucic has not imposed sanctions on Russia or suspended flights to Moscow, his government did vote in favor of a U.N. resolution condemning the invasion.

In yesterday’s election, voter turnout was high, but opposition politicians said that they were concerned about foul play. Vucic’s party is on track to keep its hold on Parliament, but with a reduced majority, exit polls indicated.

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Marine Le Pen meeting supporters last week.Andrea Mantovani for The New York Times

France

French voters will go to the polls for the first round of a presidential election on Sunday. If no candidate receives a majority — and none is likely to — a two-person runoff will take place two weeks later on April 24.

The favorite is the incumbent, Emmanuel Macron. But his lead in the polls is not huge, and the war in Ukraine seems to be hurting him. Inflation was already fairly high in Europe, as it is in much of the world, because of the pandemic. The war has caused prices to rise even further, mostly because of sanctions on Russian oil.

While Macron has focused on trying to find a diplomatic solution in Ukraine — and is failing, so far — his leading opponent has instead focused on the French economy, my colleague Roger Cohen explains in a preview of the election. That opponent is Marine Le Pen, a hard-right candidate.

As Roger writes, “Her patient focus on cost-of-living issues has resonated with the millions of French people struggling to make ends meet after an increase of more than 53 percent in gas prices over the past year.”

Le Pen has a long history of friendliness to Putin. Her party has taken loans from a Russian bank, and she met with him in 2017 in an attempt to strengthen her political image, Elisabeth Zerofsky writes in a Times Magazine story about the French far right. Until the invasion, Le Pen largely supported Putin’s policies. Even now, she largely opposes hard-line policies toward Putin.

Le Pen trails in the polls by roughly six percentage points — a small enough margin for an upset to be conceivable. If she wins, the autocracy-friendly caucus within Europe’s democracies would become far larger than it already is.

“A victory by her,” Roger writes, “would threaten European unity, alarm French allies from Washington to Warsaw, and confront the European Union with its biggest crisis since Brexit.”

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Outrage widens over Russian attacks Zelensky now calls a ‘genocide’

ODESSA, Ukraine — Haunting images of dead bodies littering the streets of a Kyiv suburb and reports of civilian executions are triggering new international condemnation against Russia, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky demanded accountability for what he said amounts to “genocide.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/04/03/ukraine-russia-zelensky/

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Russia faces global outrage over bodies in Ukraine’s streets

BUCHA, Ukraine (AP) — Moscow faced global revulsion and accusations of war crimes Monday after the Russian pullout from the outskirts of Kyiv revealed streets strewn with corpses of what appeared to be civilians, some of whom had seemingly been killed at close range.

https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-zelenskyy-kyiv-business-moscow-3a40c029638ffddb289ceba89462c1aa?

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1 hour ago, phkrause said:
 
  • Donald Trump and a small number of House Republicans have also praised Putin and expressed skepticism about supporting Ukraine. Representative Liz Cheney has described them as “the Putin wing of the GOP.”
 
The left keeps saying and repeating that Trump praised Putin.  Can someone here that seems to believe this is fact offer the praise Trump expressed for Putin? Acknowledging someone is smart and savvy is not the same as praising someone.
Rather than the same old foaming at the mouth about Trump, he is no longer president. Maybe a little concern for where Biden is leading this country is in order.
Trump stated Putin is smart. Less than"smart" Biden 
enlists the aid of Putin,the man slaughtering people, including children  in the streets, nary a bleep from the left. All is good using someone that Biden has branded as a war criminal negotiating with Iranians and nuclear deals.
Personally I wish Trump would sit down, shutup and go away. He had his time and maybe will have another but can the left concentrate now on the man that is not always sure where he is or who he is talking about and what is happening in this country
 
Trump said
"The problem is not that Putin is smart, which, of course, he's smart," Trump said. "The problem is that our leaders are dumb... and so far, allowed him to get away with this travesty and assault on humanity."
"Putin is playing [President Joe] Biden like a drum and it's not a pretty thing to watch," he continued.
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For those not familiar with the definition of the word praise. 

I think even the most left leaning would be hard pressed to present the approval by TRump for Putins actions.

I think the Clintons are smart and very savvy politically. I can't think of anyone on here that believes I have the slightest admiration for two people I think are the most corrupt, dishonest , and disgraceful human beings

praise
[prāz]
 
VERB
  1. express warm approval or admiration of:
    "we can't praise Chris enough—he did a brilliant job"
    synonyms:
    commend · express approval of · express admiration for · applaud · 
NOUN
  1. the expression of approval or admiration for someone or something:
    "the audience was full of praise for the whole production"
    synonyms:
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At least you took the predictable way around.  Regardless of the impression you would like to leave with a answer like that, you are unable to produce something that has Trump praising Putin. Only offering the liberal twisting of what was said.

Maybe the emphasis should remain on Trump to cover for the Biden disaster, but many of us have more  pressing concerns. A trip to the grocery store, gas station, their children's education, anywhere money will be exchanged is far more important  than Trump to most 

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First off I didn't post the article because the cult leader was being mentioned in the article!! I posted because the article was about Ukraine, period!! If you can't except that to bad!! 2nd I didn't take the predictable way around or leave any impression on something about the cult leader, like I said didn't post to try and lower anyones opinion of him or what he says!!!!! 3rd so only liberals twist what is said?? So I'm glad I'm not a liberal or a conservative for that matter, if you don't like that to bad!! 4th as far as the cult leader praising the terrorist I really could care less, they both will have to face there maker some day just like the rest of us!

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Zelenskyy at the UN accuses Russian military of war crimes

BUCHA, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused the Russians of gruesome atrocities in Ukraine and told the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday that those responsible should immediately be brought up on war crimes charges in front of a tribunal like the one established at Nuremberg after World War II.

https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-putin-zelenskyy-biden-business-1b84b61ca7b7bf3c31bb856845269efd?

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War Crimes Watch: Hard path to justice in Bucha atrocities

BRUSSELS (AP) — The horrific images and stories tumbling out of Ukrainian towns like Bucha in the wake of the withdrawal of Russian troops bear witness to depravity on a scale recalling the barbarities of Cambodia, the Balkans, World War II.

https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-putin-zelenskyy-biden-world-war-ii-b6d021c5b906bcc2d9dbd2eedf2aa4b8?

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Good morning. How can the world respond to Russian atrocities?

 
 
 
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The destruction in Bucha, Ukraine, on Sunday.Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

Weapons and sanctions

Civilians lay dead in the middle of the street. Others lay by the side of the road, next to or underneath their bicycles. Often, the victims had been shot in the head. Some of them had their hands tied.

These are the scenes that the world is discovering as Russian troops retreat from the area around Kyiv. In one suburb, Bucha, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine alleged that Russia had tortured and killed more than 300 people, with the death count still rising. In another town, Nova Basan, residents told The Times’s Carlotta Gall about being beaten, tortured and subjected to mock executions.

In response to these atrocities against Ukrainian civilians, President Biden and European leaders vowed yesterday to take new measures against Russia. Today’s newsletter explains their options. They fall into two main categories: weapons for Ukrainian troops and economic sanctions against Russia.

Weapons

The West is already providing Ukraine with a large number of weapons, especially shoulder-fired missile systems like Javelins and NLAWs. Those systems have helped Ukraine repel Russian troops in several parts of the country, including around Kyiv.

But Zelensky has criticized the West for not sending a broader array of weapons. He has also asked for fighter jets and S-300 missile systems, which are based on the back of trucks and can shoot down airplanes and missiles. “If we don’t have heavy weapons, how can we defend ourselves?” he said last week. “Just give us missiles. Give us airplanes.”

The West has refused. Some Western military officials argue that these weapons will not help Ukraine as much as Zelensky thinks. But the main reason seems to be a fear that Vladimir Putin might see the weapons as a precursor to a Western invasion of Russia and respond by widening the war, including potentially with nuclear weapons.

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Ukrainian forces training with antitank missiles in Kyiv.Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

It is a difficult balance for the West, as I described in an earlier newsletter. A wider war could be even more horrific. On the other hand, the refusal to give Ukraine what it wants also brings a big downside: Without more planes and missile systems, Ukraine may struggle to recapture territory in the east and south that Russia now occupies.

“Putin is in control of large parts of Ukraine, and we know atrocities are occurring there,” Frederick Kagan, a military expert at the American Enterprise Institute, told me. So far, Kagan said, the West has mostly been providing Ukraine with smaller weapons that help defend territory. But for Ukraine to retake territory — and to stop the violence there — it also needs weapons that are useful on offense.

At least two European countries, both on Ukraine’s border, seem open to providing some of the weapons that Zelensky wants. Slovakia, which owns S-300 missile systems, has said it is willing to send them to Ukraine, while Poland has offered to send MIG fighter planes. But both countries want the transfers to be part of a larger agreement that includes the U.S. or NATO — so that Slovakia and Poland, suddenly without key weapons, do not feel more vulnerable to a Russian attack.

The Biden administration has blocked both deals, out of a concern over Putin’s reaction. Some members of Congress have criticized the administration for not being more willing to take risks to help Ukraine, as Josh Rogin of The Washington Post has explained.

Before the evidence of atrocities emerged, the administration could point out that Ukraine was winning the war without the more aggressive weapon systems. That may still be true. But the human costs of a long Russian occupation of Ukraine have become clearer in the past few days.

What’s next: NATO foreign ministers are scheduled to meet in Brussels tomorrow and may discuss further military help for Ukraine.

Sanctions

Biden and European leaders have both vowed to enact additional economic penalties on Russia in response to the atrocities. “This guy is brutal,” Biden said, suggesting he would soon announce new sanctions.

For Europe, the biggest potential step would involve a reduction in the purchase of Russian natural gas. (This Times graphic shows why.)

Lithuania said this past weekend that it had stopped importing any natural gas from Russia, and some officials elsewhere have called for similar measures. “You can’t constantly support a great power like Russia with billions in payments from the purchase of energy,” Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Poland’s deputy prime minister, said.

But the full E.U. does not seem poised to do so. Officials are worried that such a move will do too much economic damage when inflation is already a problem. A compromise step would be to stop purchasing oil from Russia, which President Emmanuel Macron of France has suggested. Germany has resisted that policy, though, dooming it. Still, some experts think the recent atrocities may be shifting the debate.

(Related: Biden called for Putin to face a “war crime trial” over the killings, and Germany and France expelled 75 Russian diplomats.)

For now, the most likely step appears to be reductions in the purchase of coal — the third-largest form of energy that the E.U. buys from Russia. “In the grand scheme of things, they’re unlikely to create much more of a headache than what the E.U. has already done,” Matina Stevis-Gridneff, The Times’s Brussels bureau chief, said.

The U.S. could also intensify its sanctions. It could make it harder for more Russian weapons makers to import parts, notes my colleague Alan Rappeport, an economics correspondent. Or the Western countries could seize — not just freeze — Russian government money held in foreign banks, said Jeffrey Schott of the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

But sanctions rarely affect battlefield behavior, says Nicholas Mulder, a Cornell historian. When they work, it can take a long time.

Stopping the atrocities, Kagan predicted, will probably require expelling Russia from Ukraine with military force.

State of the War

  • Russia appears to be positioning troops for an intensified assault in the Donbas region. The strategy includes bombarding cities to prevent Ukrainian forces from traveling to the new front.
  • Russia threatened to charge any citizen who blamed its troops for the atrocities in Bucha. But a Times investigation shows why Russian troops appear to have committed the killings.
  • China is pushing a domestic campaign that paints Russia as a long-suffering victim of the West, rather than an aggressor.
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