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Geopolitics

Ukraine War Geopolitics: The Growing Risk Of Nonalignment

From India to Brazil to South Africa, countries in the so-called "Global South" are leading a renewed movement of not picking sides in order to protect national interests that may make the new Cold War even more perilous than the last one.

​Demonstrator are seen holding a giant Ukrainian flag at Bowling Green Park in New York City

Demonstrator are seen holding a giant Ukrainian flag at Bowling Green Park in New York City to stand in Solidarity with Ukraine

John Ciorciari

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought strong Western condemnation and sanctions, but many nations around the world have chosen not to join this united front.

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Dozens of governments outside Europe and North America have been reluctant to censure Russia, and many more have refrained from joining multilateral sanctions. China has tacitly supported the Kremlin since its February affirmation of a Sino-Russian friendship with “no limits.” A few others have backed Russia vocally, among them Belarus, which has served as a staging ground for the Russian invasion.

Meanwhile, other governments have sat on the fence. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said pointedly that his country “will not take sides.” Indian leaders have reaffirmed their policy of nonalignment, implying that their nation will seek to stay out of the fight. South Africa, Pakistan and numerous other nations are following a similar path.

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Ideas

Artificial Satellite Pollution, Perils For Biodiversity In Space And On Earth

Exploiting space resources and littering it with satellite and other anthropogenic objects is endangering the ecosystem of space, which also damages the earth and its creatures below.

Image of the small satellite NanoRacks-Remove Debris satellite deployed into space by the ISS

Thomas Lewton

Outer space isn’t what most people would think of as an ecosystem. Its barren and frigid void isn’t exactly akin to the verdant canopies of a rainforest or to the iridescent shoals that swim among coral cities. But if we are to become better stewards of the increasingly frenzied band of orbital space above our atmosphere, a shift to thinking of it as an ecosystem — as part of an interconnected system of living things interacting with their physical environment — may be just what we need.

Last month, in the journal Nature Astronomy, a collective of 11 astrophysicists and space scientists proposed we do just that, citing the proliferation of anthropogenic space objects. Thousands of satellites currently orbit the Earth, with commercial internet providers such as SpaceX’s Starlink launching new ones at a dizzying pace. Based on proposals for projects in the future, the authors note, the number could reach more than a hundred thousand within the decade. Artificial satellites, long a vital part of the space ecosystem, have arguably become an invasive species.

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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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