BEIRUT, Lebanon — Thanking Russia for the military intervention he credited for “saving Syria,” President Bashar al-Assad met with President Vladimir V. Putin amid preparations for new talks aimed at ending the civil war. Mr. Assad’s visit on Monday to the Russian resort town of Sochi was made public on Tuesday, a day before a summit meeting there for the leaders of Iran, Turkey and Russia, who have taken an increasingly prominent role in diplomacy with Syria while the United States has put Mr. Assad’s fate on the back burner. Russian officials have said that their aim is to ensure Mr. Assad’s support for a political process to end a conflict that began more than six years ago. But Mr. Assad has consistently resisted compromise with his Syrian opponents, and doubts remain about how much Russia is willing, or able, to push him to accept significant changes like substantive power sharing or reforms. In another signal that political change in Syria is less and less an international … [Read more...] about Assad and Putin Meet, as Russia Pushes to End Syrian War
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TURIN, Italy — The Ukrainian rap and folk band Kalush Orchestra won the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday, as European viewers and juries delivered a symbolic, pop culture endorsement of solidarity behind Ukraine in its defense against Russia’s invasion. After 80 days of fighting that has forced millions from their homes, brought ruin to cities and towns across Ukraine’s east and killed tens of thousands, the band won an emotional victory for Ukraine with a performance of “ Stefania ,” a rousing, anthemic song. Written to honor the mother of the group’s frontman, Oleh Psiuk, the song has been reinterpreted during the war as a tribute to Ukraine as a motherland. The song includes lyrics that roughly translate to, “You can’t take my willpower from me, as I got it from her,” and “I’ll always find my way home, even if the roads are destroyed.” After Psiuk performed the song on Saturday night, he put his hand to his heart and shouted, “I ask for all of you, please help Ukraine!” … [Read more...] about Ukraine wins the Eurovision Song Contest.
NAIROBI, Kenya — A bloody and contentious election season in Uganda , in which dozens of people were killed and the principal opposition candidate was placed under de facto house arrest, recently gave a sixth five-year term to President Yoweri Museveni, a staunch U.S. military ally. But now the U.S. State Department says it is considering a range of actions against Mr. Museveni, who, since taking office in 1986, has been among Africa’s leading beneficiaries of American aid, taking in billions of dollars even as he tightened his iron grip on the nation. Mr. Museveni, 76, has suppressed opposing voices for years , often by force, and the campaign leading to this month’s election was marred by the intimidation of opposition candidates and their staffs, particularly Bobi Wine, a pop-star-turned-lawmaker who rose to become the president’s toughest challenger. Violence convulsed the country during the campaign, and election observers and opposition figures contend that electoral … [Read more...] about The West’s Patience With Uganda’s Strongman Wanes After a Bloody Election
The signs of failure in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are readily apparent: the tattered reputation of its military as a modernized, overpowering fighting force; its tattered economy; and a Western alliance more unified than at any time since the worst tensions of the Cold War. But what is less appreciated is that this is only the latest and potentially the most spectacular in a series of failures suffered by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in Ukraine. If Afghanistan is the “graveyard of empires,” Ukraine is where Mr. Putin’s imperial ambitions consistently flounder. In fact, the main reason the Russian leader took such a potentially self-destructive step as a whole scale invasion, some analysts believe, was to reverse a long line of fiascos dating back to Ukraine’s so-called Orange Revolution in 2004, during the early years of Mr. Putin’s presidency. “He has been obsessed with Ukraine since the early 2000s because Ukraine became the field where he kept losing, the only … [Read more...] about For Putin, Invasion Is the Latest in a Long String of Failures in Ukraine