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Russia pulls ahead of China in Central Asia vaccine diplomacy

Sputnik V gains traction as working with Beijing grows politically awkward

Vials of the Sputnik V vaccine, officially called Gam-COVID-Vac, are seen on a production line in Saint Petersburg, Russia.   © Reuters

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- As Kazakhstan kicks off its coronavirus inoculation program with Russia's Sputnik V shot and Turkmenistan prepares to start a similar campaign, Russia is pulling ahead of China in the battle to win Central Asian hearts and minds through vaccine diplomacy.

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