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Geopolitics

France Unearths Forgotten Maps Of Afghanistan’s Natural Resource Riches

Before Afghanistan descended into civil war, a French geologist collected massive data on the country’s mining resources. His findings, recently rediscovered, could unlock huge wealth in the troubled nation. But look who’s already busy exploiting it...

Mountains near Jalalabad in Afghanistan (peretzp)
Mountains near Jalalabad in Afghanistan (peretzp)
Béatrice Pujebet

BEAUVAIS - Afghanistan's many troubles are compounded by the fact that it is the world's largest producer of opium. But it also has vast natural resources beyond its poppy fields, with the United States putting its mining potential at about one trillion dollars and others citing estimates of maybe even three times as much. Cobalt, lithium, copper, oil, gold, rare earth – everything that the world needs to feed its factories is thought to be there.

Yet detailed information about the specific locations of the deposits needed to guide explorations has long been lacking. That, however, may be about to change with the identification of old French missionary maps of the Afghan territory that could unlock the country's still-buried resources.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Hide-And-Seek Of Drone Warfare, A Letter From Ukraine's Front Line

A member of the Ukrainian Armed Forces writes his account of the new dynamic of targeting, and being targeted by, the invading Russian troops, as drones circle above and trenches get left behind.

A Ukrainian military drone operator during a testing of anti-drone rifle in Kyiv.

Igor Lutsenko*

KYIV — The current war in Ukraine is a game of hide-and-seek. Both sides are very well-stocked with artillery, enough to destroy the enemy along many kilometers. Swarms of drones fly through the air day and night, keeping a close eye on the earth's surface below. If they notice something interesting, it immediately becomes a target. Depending on the priority, they put it in line for destruction by artillery.

Therefore, the only effective way to survive is to hide, or at least somehow prove to the drones your non-priority status — and avoid moving to the front of the 'queue of death.'

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In general, the nature of this queue is a particular thing. It may seem to be a god, but is instead a simple artillery captain's decision of when to have lunch, and when to fire on the house where several enemy soldiers are staying. It's just a handful of ordinary people (observers, artillerymen) deciding how long their enemies will live depending on their own schedule or the weather, the availability of ammunition or if they're feeling tired.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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