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Geopolitics

Why Conquering Mariupol Is Key To Russia's Donbas Strategy

This final bombing assault on the port city coincides with the beginning of a major land campaign across much of the territory of Donbas. The bloody siege of Mariupol is a sign of how Putin intends to carry out his quest for the entire nation.

Photo of Ukrainian soldiers in a destroyed building

Ukrainian soldiers in a destroyed building as people flee from Mariupol through Zaporizhzhia

Anna Akage

-Analysis-

Every day could be the last for Mariupol, where the remaining survivors have been sitting in basements for 50 days. On Monday, the Russians began dropping multi-ton bombs on one of the largest shelters tucked in the basements of the Azovstal steel plant, where 1,000 people are believed to be hiding.

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This all-out bombing campaign on the port city coincides with the beginning of a major land assault across the much of the territory of Donbas, of which Mariupol is historically one of the key ports. With a pre-war population of about 430,000, Mariupol sits in the south of the Donetsk region, connecting the wider Donbas to Crimea. Since 2014, it also served as host to many of the refugees from the occupied territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions during the ongoing war with pro-Russian separatists.

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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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