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THE TIMES OF INDIA, THE HINDU, HINDUSTAN TIMES (India)

A fire on a passenger train in southern India has killed at least 47 people in the early hours of Monday morning.

The fire broke out at around 4:30am on a train travelling from Delhi to Chennai, when passing through Nellore in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

The Times of India reported that a short circuit may have been the cause of the fire.

Nellore district collector Sridhar told the newspaper: "The fire spread fast and the passengers could not come out through one of the doors because of the fire. So the other edge of the coach was to be used. Some people could come out and others succumbed to death."

The fire was put out at 5:20am and remaining injured passengers have been rushed to nearby hospitals, The Hindu reported.

The fire came at a time when seven states in the north of India faced the worst blackout in a decade with 300 million people affected.

A disturbance in the northern grid in the early hours on Monday left millions of stranded commuters in sweltering conditions.

Power is now being gradually restored, with the Delhi metro now running.

Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde told a press conference: "It took four days to restore power in America... our power grid is very good," making reference to the 2003 blackout in the United States.

Mr Shinde said he has appointed a committee to inquire into the causes of the power failure.

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Geopolitics

One By One, The Former Soviet Republics Are Abandoning Putin

From Kazakhstan to Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Tajikistan, countries in Russia's orbit have refused to help him turn the tide in the Ukraine war. All (maybe even Belarus?) is coming to understand that his next step would be a complete restoration of the Soviet empire.

Leaders of Armenia, Russia, Tajikistan, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan attend a summit marking the 30th anniversary of signing the Collective Security Treaty in Moscow on May 16.

Oleksandr Demchenko

-Analysis-

KYIV — Virtually all of Vladimir Putin's last remaining partner countries in the region are gone from his grip. Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan have refused to help him turn the tide in the Ukraine war, because they've all come to understand that his next step would be a complete restoration of the empire, where their own sovereignty is lost.

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Before zooming in on the current state of relations in the region, and what it means for Ukraine's destiny, it's worth briefly reviewing the last 30 years of post-Soviet history.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) was first created in 1992 by the Kremlin to keep former republics from fully seceding from the former Soviet sphere of influence. The plan was simple: to destroy the local Communist elite, to replace them with "their" people in the former colonies, and then return these territories — never truly considered as independent states by any Russian leadership — into its orbit.

In a word - to restore the USSR.

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