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Ukrainian soldiers pose with their national flag outside a Kharkiv village recently liberated from Russia.

Ukrainian Armed Forces/Handout via REUTERS

What We’re Watching: Ukraine retakes Kharkiv, Sweden turns right

Ukraine makes big gains, Putin gets rare pushback

As the war reached its 200-day mark Sunday, the Ukrainian military made its most significant gains against Russia since the invasion began. President Volodymyr Zelensky said more than 1,000 km of territory had been liberated and promised that the ultimate goal is “de-occupation.” The loss of Izyum and dozens of other Kharkiv towns and villages that had been under Russian occupation was met by Moscow with a flurry of air strikes to knock out power and water in the region. Russia notably admitted on Sunday that it had lost much of the northern Kharkiv region. Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin came under fire from pro-war conservatives and allies like Chechnyan leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who publicly admitted that the “special military operation” was not going to plan. Also, local officials in Putin’s hometown of St. Petersburg petitioned the Duma (parliament) to oust the president for committing alleged treason (they’ve been dealt with swiftly). Finally, there has been some relief at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine: after losing all power and the ability to cool its last functioning reactor, the facility was finally reconnected to a backup power line on Sunday.

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Omicron in EU Not as Much of a Concern as Delta | Sweden's Female PM | Europe In :60 | GZERO Media

EU battles delta variant with omicron next; Sweden government turmoil

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

How is Europe dealing with new omicron version of the pandemic?

Well, I mean the big issue isn't really that one, the big issue if you see the havoc that is created in several European countries at the moment is the delta. The delta is making impressive strides, particularly in countries that have a slightly lower vaccination rates. So that's the number one fight at the moment. And then we must of course prepare for the omicron as well.

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What We're Watching: Egypt closes Gaza border, Swedish PM resigns, Tunisia's indefinite emergency

Egypt closes Gaza border: Egypt closed the Rafah border with the Gaza Strip this week, giving no indication when it'll reopen. Rafah, one of two economic gateways to Gaza and the only entrance not controlled by Israel, is the primary exit point for Palestinians in the Strip to travel overseas. So why did Egypt close it? Well, Cairo — which has been trying to negotiate a ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas militant group that runs Gaza since an 11-day war broke out in May — is extremely peeved at the lack of progress, and blames Hamas for the impasse. Much of this is linked to a recent wave of violence, whereby Hamas launched a series of bomb balloons across the border with Israel, causing multiple fires across Israeli communities, and prompting Israel to launch several military strikes in response. Egypt has long been a negotiator between Israel and the Palestinians, and Egypt-Israel ties have warmed in recent years: last week, Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel met with Israel's PM Naftali Bennett, and invited him to visit Egypt.

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