Since becoming editor-in-chief in April 2019, I have kept our content within the geographic boundaries of Asia to make our publication distinctive.
In principle, the dividing line between Europe and Asia follows the Ural and Caucasus mountains and the Bosporus and Dardanelles waterways. Separating Asia and Africa, meanwhile, is the Suez Canal.
The Middle East, Siberia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia all fall within our "Asian" editorial scope, and I have always encouraged my colleagues to cover those areas.
In that sense, the focus of this week's Big Story might strike you as an exception, because Ukraine is by any definition a European country. And yet I did not hesitate when deciding whether to pursue the story. That is because the future of Ukraine will undoubtedly influence Taiwan's future, just as the Crimean annexation by Russia in 2014 affected Hong Kong.
In addition, what is happening in Ukraine cannot be separated from another former Soviet republic, the Central Asian nation of Kazakhstan.
In the article, author Eiji Furukawa presents the concept of "spheres of influence," an idea I think is crucial to understanding Russia and China. Take, for example, China's reaction to Russia's military intervention in protest-roiled Kazakhstan. What struck me was that Beijing, which always attacks what it sees as meddling by other countries in its internal affairs, supported Moscow. This could be interpreted as meaning that China approves of Russian influence over former Soviet republics.
It was Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev that called for intervention from the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization forces. This reminds me of the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. The Czech Republic and Slovakia became members of NATO in 1999 and 2004, respectively, and are no longer within Russia's sphere of influence.
I do not believe Russia is ambitious enough to bring former Warsaw Pact member states in Eastern Europe back to its sphere of influence, but it definitely wants the Baltic States to be the last former Soviet republics to join NATO.
U.S. President Joe Biden has hinted that the U.S. expects Russian troops to move into Ukraine sooner or later. It is important that another territorial annexation not be allowed. If the international community remains quiet and lets Russian troops invade, that could send the wrong message to China. This is truly an Asian issue.
We also have wonderful feature stories on space exploration, Indian conglomerate Reliance, and Turkish monetary easing amid inflation.
For weekend reading, I recommend a story connected to Thai silk. I have a Jim Thompson tie myself, and I am able to distinguish it from my other ties with my eyes closed, because when I put it on, the rustling of the cloth makes the unique sound of authentic silk.
Stay safe and healthy, and have a wonderful weekend.
Editor-in-chief, Nikkei Asia
Follow me on Twitter @ShigesaburoO