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The red line: Biden and Xi’s secret Ukraine talks revealed

Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China has played a decisive – though publicly low-profile – role in strategic decision-making in both Washington and Moscow. As I report for the first time in my new book Overreach, it was a back-channel intervention approved by Beijing that caused the US to scupper a deal

This England squad is better than mine

The England squad that I took to Germany for the 2006 World Cup is called the ‘Golden Generation’. We had some great players, but I think that today’s England squad is better. We had a brilliant starting XI in 2006 – Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Michael Owen, David Beckham, John Terry and Rio

The Iranian regime is at war with its own children

Twenty-two-year-old Hadis Najafi does not look like a foot soldier in a revolution. In the last film of Najafi alive, it is night and she’s walking down a road in Karaj, her home town, smiling and scrunching up her hair into a ponytail. She is young, blonde and on her way to a demonstration. Najafi

It’s time to replace the Society of Authors

The most important job of any union is to support its members against bullies. So why has the Society of Authors, a sort of posh union for writers, illustrators and translators, failed to support members who are receiving death threats? In August, J.K. Rowling tweeted her sympathy for Sir Salman Rushdie after his attempted murder.

Where will Kherson’s freedom fighters go next?

When Vladimir Putin’s troops first invaded Kherson, they marched into Eugene Chykysh’s hipster coffee shop. ‘They all asked for cappuccinos with four sugars,’ Eugene told me. Later, another Kherson resident says that the soldiers who raided his house took ten kilos of sugar from him. Eugene is one of the few Ukrainians in Kherson who

Notes on...

The beauty of gaslights

Turn down an alley off St James’s Street (the east side), lined with old painted panelling, and you are in Pickering Place, which pub quizzers say is London’s smallest public square. It is certainly charming, with stone paving, wrought iron railings, Georgian windows and a sundial on a pedestal. A gaslight on a wall bracket