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Exile on Silk Road: The rise of the near abroad

There is a case to be made among historians that the Silk Road was the eighth wonder of the world: not a monument in stone, but a monument to furthering the cause of humanity, allowing for the transmission of economic, cultural and political exchanges between East and West in a manner previously unthinkable and surviving …

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Russia, Ukraine and Africa: Against the grain

Is Russia’s war in Ukraine a localised conflict, a regional war, or a global disaster? The military action concentrated on one country alone would suggest the first, the various nuclear- and cyber-threats against Europe the second, but global trends are increasingly confirming the third. It is possible to view the Russian invasion, and by extension …

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Creating a Dictator

The quagmire of a lengthy, painful, and ultimately unsuccessful campaign in Afghanistan in the 1980s is credited with hastening the demise of the Soviet Union. History could well be repeating, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine stretches into an eleventh month and domestic discontent with Putin’s war continues to rise. Could this be the trigger that …

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Russia’s second front

Vladimir Putin’s efforts to change the world’s balance of power requires not just a strong military, but serious influence over the world’s oil & gas markets, and to be really effective, he needs more than just Saudi Arabia and Iran on side – he needs control directly or indirectly of South America’s oil production as …

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Yandex – The Moral Maze

Yandex, ‘The Russian Google’, was hit by sanctions after the EU decided it had played an active role in spreading propaganda at the start of Putin’s war in Ukraine. Yandex’s founder, Arkady Volozh, managed to avoid personal sanctions by leaving the board and selling his shares. For Russians, Yandex was more than just another tech-giant. …

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China: Tiananmen Square 2.0

The recent unrest in China against the zero-Covid lockdown policy, spanning multiple cities and regions, certainly emulates the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. While no iconic photos of brave individuals standing in front of an army of tanks have surfaced yet, the courage of the Chinese people under authoritarian rule protesting for freedom and liberty needs …

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Cryptocurrency: Step right up for a miracle?

As the pioneers and settlers spread out across the Wild West, a new type of person sprang up in the saloons and squares of the new world: the snake oil salesmen. These charmers would offer tonics promised to cure absolutely any ailment, for an unbelievable price, in a deal that the good townsfolk would be …

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Multipolarity and the Middle East: The not-so-beautiful game

Four years ago, one of the defining images of the 2018 World Cup was of Vladimir Putin and Mohammed bin Salman together in the stands, sharing a joke as hosts Russia hammered Saudi Arabia five-nil. There will be no such repeat this time, given that Russia is – amazingly – too corrupt even for FIFA …

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Blue or Green? The Gulf’s Hydrogen Gamble

Hydrogen is the simplest element in our universe, formed from a single proton and electron pair. Burning hydrogen produces heat without carbon, with pure water as the only by-product. In theory, it’s the cleanest of fuels. Harnessing its power would be an elegant solution to the energy crisis – and with hydrogen representing 75 percent …

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Russia and Putin: The end of the road?

If you drive south-east out of St. Petersburg, you find yourself on the Trans-Siberian Highway, a network of roads eleven thousand kilometres long that is, depending on your disposition towards Australia, either the longest or second-longest highway on the planet. But even eleven thousand kilometres must come to an end, and the prospect of Vladivostok …

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