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FILE PHOTO: Ukrainian servicemen of the 28th Separate Mechanized Brigade fire a 120-mm mortar towards Russian troops at a frontline, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, near the town of Bakhmut, Ukraine March 15, 2024.

REUTERS/Oleksandr Ratushniak/File Photo

Ukraine’s struggles multiply on the battlefield

Ukraine’s situation on the eastern front line has “significantly worsened,” wrote the country's top military commander, Oleksandr Syrskyi, on Saturday. Kyiv fears that Moscow might be planning an assault on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city in the north-east, as well as a major attack in late spring or summer in the regions of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia.

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Soldiers of the seven newest NATO members parade during a ceremony marking the expansion of NATO's membership from 19 countries to 26 at the alliance headquarters in Brussels April 2, 2004. NATO foreign ministers participated in an event marking the formal accession of the seven newest members, Bulgaria, Estonia Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slonevia.

REUTERS/Thierry Roge THR/CRB

NATO turns 75. Will it make it to 80?

Seventy-five years ago today, 12 leaders from the US, Canada, and Western Europe signed the North Atlantic Treaty, creating the world’s most powerful military alliance: NATO

Where it’s been: As World War II drew to a close in 1945, Europe faced the overwhelming challenge of reconstruction. Over 11 million displaced people were wandering the bombed-out cities and scorched countryside, including hundreds of thousands of war orphans. And on the east bank of the Elbe River stood the massive, battle-hardened Soviet Red Army, a worrying prospect as the USSR came increasingly into conflict with its erstwhile allies.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting to discuss the attack on the Crocus City Hall concert venue, outside Moscow, Russia, March 25, 2024.

Mikhail Metzel/REUTERS

Why did ISIS-K attack Russia?

Islamic State-Khorasan Province, an associate of the Islamic State group based in Central Asia, claimed responsibility for the attack that left 137 dead in a Moscow nightclub on Friday. Try as he might to baselessly cast Ukraine as the responsible party, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s reign has seen him plunge deep into the politics of Islamic extremism.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a concert to celebrate first anniversary of Crimea annexation on Red Square in Moscow after his landslide victory in the presidential election, March 18, 2024.

Yuri Gripas/Reuters

Ukraine warns of escalation after Putin’s talk of a ‘sanitary zone’

Fresh off Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “victory” of a fifth term, the Kremlin on Monday said it would move to establish a buffer zone in Ukrainian territory for the sake of Russia’s security. Putin suggested creating a “'sanitary zone' in the territories today under the Kyiv regime.”

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A member of a local electoral commission installs an electronic voting machine at a polling station during preparations for the presidential election, in Moscow, Russia, March 14, 2024.

REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina

What to watch in this weekend’s Russian presidential “election”

Breaking: GZERO Media’s “decision desk” is now ready to project that Vladimir V. Putin will be reelected president of Russia this weekend. We’re walking out on this limb because the Kremlin controls most media in Russia, any opposition candidate who might embarrass Putin is barred from running, and protests are not tolerated.

But there are a few factors worth watching. Will the government get the turnout it wants? Probably. As Eurasia Group’s Alex Brideau told us yesterday, “Government employees, soldiers, and people working for state-owned companies will be under pressure to vote and ensure others vote for Putin, too.” Even if turnout is low, Russian state media will likely tell us it was high.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with winners of the Leaders of Russia national management competition at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia March 12, 2024.

Sputnik/Sergei Savostyanov/Pool via REUTERS

​Despite Putin’s current swagger, Russia remains vulnerable

After last year’s failed Ukrainian counteroffensive, Russia’s Vladimir Putin has signaled confidence that, thanks to lagging support from the West and Ukraine’s shortage of troops and weapons, Russia can win a war of attrition. But a series of stories today remind us the Kremlin still has plenty of security concerns.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his annual address to the Federal Assembly, in Moscow, Russia, February 29, 2024.

REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina

It’s election interference season — always

Roughly eight months out from the US presidential election, experts are warning that Russian disinformation campaigns against President Joe Biden are already underway. A new NBC investigation alleges the country has begun an effort to undermine Biden’s campaign and erode US support for Ukraine through online attacks by fake accounts and bots.

This marks the third US election in a row that Vladimir Putin is attempting to meddle with.

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Yes, Vladimir Putin is winning.

It’s been two years since Vladimir Putin ordered the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which makes it as good a time as any to ask a simple question: Is he winning?

Here’s the best argument we can think of for why the answer is “da.”

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