Dear ST readers,
Russian forces have invaded Ukraine by land, air and sea, after weeks of dialogue and negotiations failed to deter the Kremlin. The assault on a sovereign nation a continent away from us will have repercussions far beyond its borders. This week 50 years ago, diplomacy produced a far better outcome.
This is a week certain to go down in history. Russian forces have launched a major military assault on Ukraine. On the ground, there is a palpable sense of shock, horror, and grief. Global stocks plunged and oil prices broke US$100 for the first time since 2014.
Russia’s coordinated attacks make clear President Vladimir Putin’s intent to remove the Ukrainian government and impose Russian control on the country, global affairs correspondent Jonathan Eyal says. While Russia and Ukraine may share borders, history and culture, they do not share a destiny, Ukraine’s Ambassador to Singapore Kateryna Zelenko tells ST’s foreign editor Bhagyashree Garekar.
Over in Asia, political observers have questioned if the crisis in Ukraine will shake the United States’ commitment to the Indo-Pacific region, US correspondent Charissa Yong writes. The instability in eastern Europe will have far-reaching consequences, affecting facets of everyday life for the common man on the street as far away as Asia.
Follow The Straits Times live blog for the latest developments.
Watch The Big Story as Ukrainians flee Kyiv amid explosions.
Go deeper with Jonathan Eyal’s analyses on the crisis as it unfolds.
Nixon’s China visit
Fifty years ago this week, something momentous happened as well. Richard Nixon became the first US president to visit China in a historic first step towards normalising ties with the then-isolated communist country. Today, Mr Nixon’s diplomatic legacy remains as relevant as ever, as Washington's worries about Beijing and Moscow's political ambitions push China and Russia further into each other's embrace.
A winning Olympics
On Sunday, China celebrated the conclusion of what will be remembered as a successful and incident-free Olympic Games, earning its largest medal haul in any Winter Games and managing to keep the coronavirus at bay within the competition bubble, China bureau chief Tan Dawn Wei reports. Chinese media coverage of the fortnight-long event showed that in China, there is simply no room for losers, says China correspondent Elizabeth Law.
No way home for them
Thousands of Myanmar residents fled across the border to Thailand and India as armed conflict escalated following the military coup last year. Thailand correspondent Tan Hui Yee visited refugees in the Thai border town of Mae Sot, while India correspondent Debarshi Dasgupta interviewed those trapped in limbo in the Indian border district of Champhai in Mizoram. A return to Myanmar now seems like an elusive dream for many of them.
Looking for love abroad?
In cheerier news, a matchmaking agency in Seoul is expanding its base of eligible foreign men by looking farther afield, South Korea correspondent Chang May Choon writes in the ST Letter from the Bureau column. One in three South Korean women in their 30s are single, census data show, and matchmakers are now targeting Singapore, China and other parts of Asia to help their bachelorettes find their “happily ever after”.
Other reasons to visit South Korea: