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Richard Engel on Iraq, Ukraine, and the danger of 'wars of choice' | GZERO World

Richard Engel on Iraq, Ukraine, and the danger of 'wars of choice'

Richard Engel, NBC's Chief Foreign Correspondent, was one of the few US TV journalists on the ground in Baghdad when the US-led invasion of Iraq began in 2003. Engel joins GZERO World to reflect on his experience covering the Iraq War as a freelance journalist, and what lessons he took away as he covers other global conflicts, like the war in Ukraine.

Engel recounts the lead-up to the war in 2003, when it was very difficult to enter Iraq, and how he ended up getting into the country on a "human shield" visa. Once inside, he found a population that was beaten down by years of dictatorship, and a chaotic, disorganized government. While many Iraqis expressed their joy that "Americans were coming in and getting rid of Saddam," it got ugly very quickly. The Bush Administration made a lot of mistakes, and there was lingering resentment from the Sunni Muslim community, which led to anger and animosity.

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"I know Ukraine will win" | Ukrainian journalist a year into war | GZERO Media

"Our neighbor is a lunatic," says Ukrainian journalist a year on

Last March, as the Russian war machine bore down on Kyiv, I spoke with Ukrainian journalist Kristina Berdynskykh about what it was like to be in a city whose fate had suddenly, and violently, become uncertain.

Berdynskykh, who stayed in Ukraine to cover the war rather than leave as a refugee, told me at the time that “Kyiv will win.”

One year later, I went back to her to learn what she’s seen, why living in Ukraine is like a “lottery ticket,” and what she thinks about how the war will end.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity. You can watch a video version of it above.

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What We're Watching: Russian annexations

Russia 'annexes' parts of Ukraine

Vladimir Putin’s sham referenda in four regions of Ukraine have officially moved forward to annexations. But Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson are bang in the center of the war zone, where fighting continues. If Russia manages to retain control of the region, which won’t be simple with Ukrainian soldiers pushing back, then Putin could have a potential land bridge between southeastern Ukraine and Crimea, already annexed by Moscow in 2014. While the annexations are illegal under international law, they come with serious military implications. Russia controls Luhansk and Kherson and about half of Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk, but the Ukrainians continue to make some gains. The referenda give Putin a cover to claim that any attack on these areas by Ukraine (backed by the West) is in fact an attack on Russia proper. Will Putin use that as cover to try to deploy nuclear weapons? The annexations, formalized with a signing ceremony at the Kremlin on Friday, are the latest push in what Putin is now calling his faltering war: an “anti-colonial movement.” In response, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has requested an accelerated accession to NATO.

Did the West play a role in causing Russia's invasion of Ukraine?

Did the West play a role in causing Russia's invasion of Ukraine?

More than a month into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it’s important to take stock of how we got here.

The easy answer: President Vladimir Putin singlehandedly decided to start a war in an evil and crazed attempt to subjugate an innocent neighbor that posed no threat to his country or his regime, other than by setting an example of what a successful, democratic former Soviet republic could look like.

That is undoubtedly true. President Putin bears 100% of the blame for this war.

Not the Ukrainian government, which contrary to Putin’s claims did not commit acts of genocide against ethnic Russians in the Donbas. Not the West, which despite what Putin and certain foreign policy scholars say did not threaten Russia’s security with NATO enlargement.

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New War between Armenia & Azerbaijan is not a New Conflict | Quick Take | GZERO Media

New war between Armenia & Azerbaijan is not a new conflict

Watch Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

A new war breaking out between Armenia and Azerbaijan, not a new conflict. They've been fighting over contested territory that used to be a part of the Azeri Soviet Socialist Republic. Nagorno-Karabakh was an autonomous region. It was taken by the Armenians. It's a mostly Armenian enclave in terms of population. It's been contested since that military fight. There's been ongoing negotiations. The Azeris a number of months ago tried some shelling. They got pasted. This time around, it's war and for a few reasons.

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