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At first, most thought it was another earthquake. But the 5.3-magnitude rumble coming from the northeastern corner of North Korea was a potentially much more frightening event: Pyongyang had set off its most powerful nuclear weapon test ever.


World leaders were quick to react to this latest act of defiance. South Korea denounced Pyongyang leader Kim Jong-un for his "maniacal recklessness." Japan, Russia, the U.S., France — all quickly joined in condemning the threat posed by the the biggest of North Korea's biggest of five nuclear tests.


But with each passing provocation coming from North Korea, the world is increasingly counting on one power to step in: China. Not only is it Pyongyang's direct economic ally, but as a neighbor, the stakes are even higher in avoiding that a nuclear confrontation is sparked.


Chinese state news media issued a prompt statement this morning, calling on "all sides" to stop "adding oil to the flames" while the foreign ministry in Beijing said that it was "firmly opposed" to the test. Still, too carefully picked words from a country that has spent the past decade seeking a larger role on the international stage, but has so far failed to take tougher sanctions against its gung-ho neighbor.


We're used to poking fun at the North Korean dictator and his antics. Just yesterday, news reports circulated that Kim Jong-un had banned the use of sarcasm in private conversation, which definitely sounds like a great idea. But toying with nuclear warheads is no laughing matter, and China should know it's even less funny when you're in the neighborhood.

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Geopolitics

Fall Of The Empire? Ethnic Separatism On The Rise In Russia

Far from being a unified state, Russia is full of federal subjects — many of which have spawned separatist movements. Moscow, far from Siberia or the Caucasus and focused on Ukraine, is finding it harder to contain them.

Kalmyks attend the unveiling ceremony of a Buddha statue in Kalmykia, Russia

Pavel Lysyansky

They began to show up more and more in 2019: people were displaying symbols of separatism at protests in different regions of Russia. One example that marked this movement were the flags of the Ural People's Republic at protests during the spring of 2019 against the construction of a temple in Yekaterinburg, the industrial city in the Ural mountains 1,100 miles east of Moscow.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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