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A view shows destroyed Russian tanks and armored vehicles in Lyman, recently liberated by Ukraine.

REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

What We’re Watching: Russian rhetoric & retreat, Ugandan “tweeting general” canned, Colombia-ELN talks resume

Russians retreat, but what comes next?

It’s a case of rhetoric vs. reality. On Wednesday, President Vladimir Putin signed constitutional laws formalizing Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions and vowed to stabilize them. Yet continued Ukrainian advances in one of those regions, Kherson, are now forcing Russian troops to beat a partial retreat. Russia’s acting governor in the region, Kirill Stremousov, has even admitted openly that Putin’s forces are “regrouping to get their strength together and strike back.” Does the Russian retreat raise the risk that Putin, increasingly on his back foot, turns to the use of the once-unthinkable — nuclear weapons — to regain the advantage? While many analysts say such an escalation is unlikely, Moscow has signaled — through the reported movement of nuclear-capable equipment — an ability to make good on the threats. Increased domestic criticism of the war within Russia and losses on the ground no doubt have Putin feeling cornered. So the question remains, how far will he go?

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A car is seen burning during renewed riots in the city of Lod, following the funeral of a 25-year-old Israeli-Arab man who was shot and killed during riots the previous night.

Reuters

What We’re Watching: Clashes in Jewish-Arab cities, Nepal's COVID crisis, Uganda's forever president

Integrated Israeli cities on the brink: Another bloody day in Israel and the Gaza Strip: Israeli forces continued to bomb Gaza Wednesday, killing several Hamas commanders. At least 56 Gazans have now been killed in Israeli strikes, including 14 children. Meanwhile, rockets continue to fall inside Israeli cities, causing millions to flee to bomb shelters. The Israeli death count now stands at eight. The more startling development for intelligence analysts, however, has been the increasingly violent clashes between Arabs and Jews in integrated Israeli cities following weeks of confrontations in Jerusalem: an Arab man was pulled from his car and attacked by Jewish vigilantes in a suburb outside Tel Aviv, while Arab Israelis have burnt synagogues and attacked Jewish Israelis. Integrated cities like Lod, Acre and Haifa are often highlighted as models for broader Palestinian-Israeli peace, but as Haaretz reporter Anshel Pfeffer points out, these unprecedented clashes show that Israel's security apparatus failed to understand that Palestinians in Israel, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank are still motivated "to rise up and show solidarity with each other." International actors are reportedly trying to get the two sides to agree to an imminent ceasefire. Will it work?

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