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Crikey readers talk shareholder activism, Putin’s MH17 mess and the etiquette of fine dining.

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With Europe on the brink, MH17 is Putin’s watershed moment

Vladimir Putin has built up enormous popularity based on Russian nationalism. To take a soft approach in Ukraine risks that, but to go hard risks war with Europe, explains Thomas Ambrosio, professor of political science at North Dakota State University.

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In MH17 response, a rare — and surprising — win for Malaysian govt

Freelance writer Hari Raj compares the Malaysian government’s response to two unprecedented incidents in aviation history.

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MH17: now not the time for diplomatic nuance — and G20 decisions can wait

Tony Abbott’s strong response on the issue of culpability for MH17 was justified and appropriate.

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MH17: backgrounder on the situation in Ukraine

The situation in Ukraine is not merely a border skirmish, it is a full-on war. Ukrainian journalist in the city of Odessa Mikhail Golubev reports on the situation on the ground today.

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Follow Friday: @KevinRothrock, explaining the RuNet

If you want to know what’s happening in Russia, go straight to the source. Kevin Rothrock explains the “Wild West” of Russia’s internet.

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Look at the map, Ukraine’s separatism may have a life of its own

Russian President Vladimir Putin has lost control of the battle for hearts and minds in Ukraine. The situation in the divided nation is now even more complicated.

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Putin a 21st-century tsar, with Russians happy to trade freedoms for security

Russia’s default state is not that of a democracy; its authoritarianism has deep roots. And Russians are more than happy to trade liberties for security, says political academic Thomas Ambrosio.

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An unwilling Ukraine being taught its role in a Slavic tragedy

The end game for Russia and President Vladimir Putin is not one that subsumes the Ukraine, but makes it more sympathetic to the Russian cause. It’s a deadly game of chess.

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Russia won’t invade Ukraine — as long as everyone does what Putin wants

Russia is still massing troops on Ukraine’s border. Most of the posturing is for effect — but if push comes to shove, Russia will be the one doing the shoving.

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George W. Bush turns his hand to painting, but is he any good?

George W. Bush, one of America’s most polarising presidents, has opened a new art exhibition of his work. Freelance journalist Doyle Rader visits the exhibition in Dallas to find out if Dubya has any artistic ability.

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The new tri-polar world: why Russia can do whatever it likes

The United States is effectively powerless in the empire-building of Russia. There’s three sherifs in the world right now, and America might not even be the most influential.

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Australia’s moral duty to slap down US aggression

The United States is guilty of war crimes, human rights violations and extreme violence. As its ally, Australia’ silence on morally reprehensible behaviour constitutes complicity, writes Dr Scott Burchill, senior lecturer in international relations at Deakin University.

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Don’t overthink Russia, we’re all Transnistrians now

Vladimir Putin invaded Crimea because Kosovo. Because Mom jeans. Because shirt off. The neocon Right projects its own failed fantasies onto cautious Russian realpolitik.

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Companies will be glad to scrap animal testing

Crikey readers talk animal testing, the situation in Crimea and what Andrew Bolt really wants.

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European Union to Ukraine: sorry, you’re on your own

Through a lack of military might and political will, the European Union is not going to intervene in the Ukraine-Russia dispute, writes international affairs expert Donnacha Ó Beacháin.

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In Russian-speaking Odessa, a call for calm as Putin advances

The Ukrainian town of Odessa has traditionally continued with business as usual even during times of war. But Ukrainian journalist (and chess grandmaster) Mikhail Golubev says Russian aggression has spurred the town into action.

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Age of empires: Ukraine high-stakes chess game against Russian grandmaster

Russia and Ukraine are on the brink of war, but few in the West have any concept of Russia’s end game. The Russians saw this coming and are strategically placed for any eventuality.

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The president is gone, but Ukraine’s democracy hopes in tatters

Don’t think that Ukraine’s social unrest will usher in a golden era of social democracy. Unfortunately for the former Eastern bloc state, its future is likely to be more of the same.

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Vladimir v Vladimir: meet the Italian transgender ex-MP who took on Putin

An Italian gay rights activist went to Sochi — and got thrown in jail. Crikey intern Luca Zuccaro profiles the former MP, who has had a colourful life — and more than one brush with Russian homophobes.

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Follow Friday: @MarkGaleotti, explaining Russia and the Games

Mark Galeotti is an important voice on the Sochi Olympics, Vladimir Putin’s overarching ambition and all things Russian. Crikey’s Follow Friday series explains why you should add him to your feed.

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Media briefs: Bolt works overtime … Mail on Aboriginals … Putin in tights …

We think Andrew Bolt might need another holiday, at the rate he’s putting nonsense up on his blog. Plus other media tidbits.

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Tips and rumours

Rise Up Australia’s musical campaign … PUP spamming you? … childcare name still in the business …

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Richard Farmer’s chunky bits

Labor has skillfully painted itself as the moderate party on climate change. Plus other political views noted along the way.

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Think Vladimir Putin is bad? Yeltsin was far, far worse

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