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The Evolutionary Perspective
Daily Archives: June 26, 2022
Europe’s ‘rewiring’ is crucial, in the face of grinding inflation and Putin’s war – Atlantic Council
Posted: June 26, 2022 at 10:35 pm
Europe has been rewiring itself in impressive ways in the four months since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched hisinvasion of Ukraine.
The coming weeks will show whether that work of building a more resolute European Union for a future of new geopolitical challenges will continueor, instead, if the rewiring will short-circuit before the job is done in the face of rising economic headwinds and Putins grinding war of attrition.
Thus far, the European Union (EU) has remained unified with the United States and others behind anunprecedented set of sanctions on Russia. Further, it has begun to strengthen its hard power throughincreased defense spending, and it has moved swiftly to reduce its shameful energy dependence on Moscow. Most recently the Group of Seven (G7) appears poised to announcean import ban on Russian gold.
In ways Putin never envisioned when he hatched his war, the EU has committed itself to ensuring Ukraines future as a democratic, independent, and European country throughbillions of euros of economic support,unprecedented arms deliveries, and nowan offer of membership candidacy to Ukraine and Moldova.
As NATO prepares to open its summit in Madrid this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov voiced Moscows growing concern about EU unity of purpose alongside the alliance. He said the EU and NATO were building a coalition to engage in a war with Moscowthat he comparedto Hitler during World War II. As laughable as Lavrov sounds to reasonable earsthis eras tyrannical dictator sits in Moscow and not Berlinit underscores Putins worries about Western common cause and hiswarped view of history.
Yet as impressive as the EU rewiring project has been thus far, its likely to short-circuit in the months ahead unless the political conviction grows even stronger around this historic moment. That will demand faster implementation of new defense and energy policiesand greater support for Ukraine.
As Putin gains ground in Ukraine,with new strikes on Kyiv todayalmost certainly timed to coincide with the G7 meeting in Germany, it will take all the political will European leaders can muster. They will face greater public pressures to end the war with benchmark gas prices climbing an additional 15 percent in the last week amidst thedouble shocksof Russian cuts and a fire at Freeport LNG in Texas,with inflation reaching 8.1 percentin the euro area in May, and with economic recession dangers rising rapidly, given the threat of Russian gas cutoffs this winter.
On another front, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde summoned her colleaguesto an emergency sessionlast week in Frankfurt that was designed to generate solidarity around steps to preempt any danger of a new Eurozone debt crisis reaching Italy from the dual shocks of rising inflation and slowing growth.
Putin is counting on the usual fatigue and political divisions that set in among Western democracies when they must weigh growing domestic concerns against international dangers. Hes seen enough to encourage him, including newly re-elected Emmanuel Macronsfailure to win a majority in the National Assembly, the first time in thirty years thats been denied the French president.
And for all the impressive arms shipments and economic support the Biden administration has delivered Ukraine, the weaponry firing range of some fifty miles remains insufficient to stop the Russian carpet-bombing, for fear of expanding the war.
Beyond that, Putin knows US midterm elections are likely to weaken Biden further amid domestic disputes over the Supreme Courtsoverturningof the Roe v. Wade abortion protections and the countrys continuing disputes over gun laws. Even as Putins wargrows uglier, Americans are seeing less of it on their TV screens.
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is also looking weaker than in his first days in office, as hehosts the G7leadersin the Bavarian Alps this weekend.
Scholtz facedsuch a storm of criticismthat hes been dragging his feet on heavy weapons deliveries to Ukraine that his Defense Ministry was compelled to publish afull listof completed and planned deliveries, including seven self-propelled Panzerhaubitze 2000 howitzers that at long last have arrived in Ukraine.
Its worth remembering that Europes greatest moments of forward progress typically come at times of crisis, as has been the case again following Putins war in Ukraine. Its at such times that member states better manage their divisions and work more effectively around the EUs mind-bending bureaucracy.
The problem is that the current European divide that looks hardest to fix is afundamental disagreement over how important a Ukrainian victory isand what it would take to bring it about.
The closer you live to Russia as an EU citizen, the more you argue, as I didin this spaceon June 5, that Putin doesnt need the diplomatic off-ramp that Macron is offering but rather the dead-end that can only be brought by tougher sanctions and a more effective Ukrainian counter-offensive backed by longer-range weapons.
Russias closest neighbors knowthat a bad peace in which Ukraine gives up new territory will only provide a respite before Putin resumes his imperial efforts to take all of Ukraine and ultimately other former Soviet areas.
In Western Europe, the desire is greater for a peace that would end the war now, even if the outcome leaves Putin in power and,as Macron has said, avoids humiliating him.
Despite the celebratory rhetoric in Brussels about the European Unions surprisingly robust response to Russias invasion of Ukrainewrites Eoin Dreathis week inForeign Policy, the war has not united the bloc in any unprecedented or transformative way. In fact, its having exactly the opposite effect: Beneath the soaring vista of Ukraine as a catalyst for a more muscular and geopolitically effective EU like deep divisions, shifting allegiances, and a much more complex reality.
Counterbalancing that gloom, Macron, Scholz, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, and Romanian President Klaus Iohannisvisited Kyivon June 16 to hammer home their support for Ukrainian security and European ambitions.
Shortly after they returned, the European Parliamentvotedwith 529 votes to 45 against and 14 abstentions to adopt aresolutioncalling on the heads of state or government to grant EU candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova, which they have now done.
That symbolism must now be complemented by even greater substance. The rewiring of the EU has only just begun to strengthen its defenses, diversify its energy sources, tighten its transatlantic links, and ensure Ukraines survival as a sovereign, free European state.
To stay the course, European leaders and citizens must understand what they are doing isnt just for Ukraine but even more for themselves. The lessons from two devastating World Wars and a Cold War are that staying unified is a prerequisite for victory and that appeasing despots is always self-defeating.
This article originally appeared onCNBC.com
Frederick Kempe is president and chief executive officer of the Atlantic Council. You can follow him on Twitter @FredKempe.
#1 How Far Do Putins Imperial Ambitions Go?Yaroslav Trofimov | WALL STREET JOURNAL
In this chilling analysis, Yaroslav Trofimov lays out in frightening detail just how far Putins imperial ambitions might take him.
Trofimov opens with a bizarre and telling scene, in which Putin, long before his Ukraine invasion, makes a spectacle out of contradicting a nine-year-old on the question of where Russias borders end.
At the Bering Strait with the United States, the nine-year-old boy ventured hesitantly.Putin, who chairs the board of the Russian Geographic Society, contradicted the boy to triumphant applause The borders of Russia, he pronounced, never end.'
Earlier this month, writes Trofimov, Putin said that he views Ukraine as just the first step, with many other territories potential targets. Just this month in St. Petersburg, while honoring the 350th anniversary of Peter the Great, he said that when Peter conquered Sweden he was merely returning what is ours, and strengthening it. Read more
#2 What If Russia Uses Nuclear Weapons in Ukraine?Eric Schlosser | THE ATLANTIC
As Putins war in Ukrainebogs downinto a battle of attrition, the danger that Vladimir Putin willdeploy battlefield nuclear weapons persists. In this richly reported piece, Eric Schlosser interviews nuclear weapons exports to explore what could happenand how the United States could respond.
The risk of nuclear war, Schlosser warns, is greater today than at any other time since the Cuban missile crisis. And the decisions that would have to be made after a Russian nuclear strike on Ukraine are unprecedented. In 1945, when the United States destroyed two Japanese cities with atomic bombs, it was the worlds sole nuclear power. Nine countries now possess nuclear weapons, others may soon obtain them, and the potential for things going terribly wrong has vastly increased. Read more
#3 What Makes a Power GreatMichael J. Mazarr | FOREIGN AFFAIRS
In this smart, in-depth analysis, Michael Mazarr draws from a RAND corporation study on what makes great powersand how they can fall.
Over the course of fifteen months, Mazarr led a RAND Corporation study for the US Defense Departments Office of Net Assessment, supported by analysis from outside historians. The study isolated a number of national characteristics that throughout history have underpinned national competitive successincluding a strong national ambition, a culture of learning and adaptation, and significant diversity and pluralism.
These domestic strengths are the building blocks of international power. But, Mazarr warns, to enable a country to succeed, they must reinforce and support one another. And they must not fall out of balance. Too much national ambition, for instance, can lead to overreach, imperiling the country that overcommits itself. But countries with too little ambition, diversity, or willingness to learn and adapt risk starting a negative cycle that can spiral into national decline.
Read this study to learn why it is that the United States, if it is to prevail in the years ahead in contests with China and Russia, will have to do more than just outspend its rivals on defense or advanced military technologies. It will have to nurture the qualities that make great powers dynamic, innovative, and adaptive. Read more
#4 After a Pivotal Period in Ukraine, US Officials Predict the Wars PathHelene Cooper, Eric Schmitt, Julian E. Barnes| NEW YORK TIMES
Based on analyses by a number of US defense officials, including Atlantic Council military fellows, this New York Times article provides a useful examination of how the US defense establishment expects the war in Ukraine to unfold.
Now that four to six weeks have passed since Russia shifted its main focus to eastern Ukraine, Cooper, Schmitt, and Barnes write, officials say the picture is increasingly clear: Russia is likely to end up with more territory, they said, but neither side will gain full control of the region as a depleted Russian military faces an opponent armed with increasingly sophisticated weapons.
In this situation, they add, other analysts predict a back and forth that could stretch for months or even years. This is likely to keep going, with each side trading territory on the margins, [director of Russian studies at CNA Michael] Kofman said. Its going to be a dynamic situation. There are unlikely to be significant collapses or major surrenders.Read more
#5 A Ukrainian Refugees Fight To Save The Family She Left BehindEd Caesar | NEW YORKER
This weeks must-read is Ed Caesars riveting, heartbreakingNew Yorkerpiece about a Ukrainian family separated by the war and navigating life as refugees from Putins war.
Follow Inna Blahonravina and her daughters Sasha and Oliviia as they depart Ukraine in midst of Russian air-raids on Kiev, leaving Innas husband Maksym behind. It is a chronicle of resilience and separation, fear, and hope, and it shows a portion of the vast human cost of Putins brutal invasion of Ukraine.
Once, Caesar writes, Oliviia looked over Innas shoulder as she read on her phone about an attack on Kyiv. The report was accompanied by an image of a building on fire, with rescuers at the scene. Oliviia asked who the people in the photograph werewhether they were Russian or Ukrainian, and if one of them was Vladimir Putin. Then she said, Mommy, Im so glad were not killed. Every day, the kids had video calls with their father. Maksym tried to keep the conversations lighthearted, but even banal topics could be laced with sadness.
Do you miss the cats? hed ask. Read more
Image: Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Olaf Scholz, President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of the Council of Ministers of the Italian Republic Mario Draghi and President of Romania Klaus Iohannis (L to R) are pictured during the official welcome ceremony outside the Mariinskyi Palace, Kyiv, capital of Ukraine.
Read more from the original source:
Posted: at 10:35 pm
London will be the first strategic Nato target to be hit by Russian missiles should a third world war erupt, a close ally of president Vladimir Putin has claimed.
Speaking on Russian state TV, Andrey Gurulyov, an MP who sits on Moscows defence committee, described how a possible full-scale invasion of Natos Baltic state members would work.
Mr Gurulyov, a former military commander and member of the pro-Putin United Russia party, said: Well destroy the entire group of the enemys space satellites during the first air operation.
No one will care if they are American or British; we would see them all as Nato.
Second, well mitigate the entire system of anti-missile defence, everywhere and 100 per cent. Third, we certainly wont start from Warsaw, Paris or Berlin. The first to be hit will be London.
Its crystal clear that the threat to the world comes from the Anglo-Saxons.
Vladimir Putins war on Ukraine is now in its fifth month
He said an invasion was the only way to prevent the West from blockading Kaliningrad, a Russian semi-exclave between Lithuania and Poland.
Gurulyov said Western Europe would be cut off from power supplies which he said would also be destroyed and immobilised.
In the third stage, I shall see what the USA will tell Western Europe on continuing their fight in the cold, without food and electricity, he continued. I wonder how they [the US] will manage to stay aside.
This is the rough plan, and I deliberately leave out certain moments because they are not to be discussed on TV.
Putin has made previous threats about an updated version of the Satan missile
The Putin allys threats come as Russias war enters its fifth month, leading to concerns in the West of fatigue over the ongoing and deadly conflict.
Yesterday, Boris Johnson warned that pressure would grow to coerce the Ukrainians into making a bad peace because of economic stresses sparked by the conflict.
Asked at the high commissioners residence in Kigali what he meant by concerns of Ukraine fatigue, Mr Johnson said: I know it is tough. I know it is tough in the UK. I know the cost of food has gone up. Everybody is looking at this and too many countries are saying this is a European war that is unnecessary.
It is an economic problem that we dont need, so the pressure will grow to encourage coerce, maybe the Ukrainians into a bad peace.
I think the risk is that people will fail to see that it is vital to stand up against aggression. If Putin gets away with aggression in Ukraine, if he gets away with the naked conquest of other peoples territory, then the read across for every single country here is absolutely dramatic: the collapse of the international system. And it would be a long-term economic disaster.
Posted: at 10:35 pm
PARIS: Vladimir, firstly one thing! says President Emmanuel Macron as he seeks to make a point to his Russian counterpart.
Listen Emmanuel, interjects the Russian leader.
One of the final calls between the presidents of France and Russia, just four days before Putin issued the order for Moscow to invade Ukraine, is filled with tension, occasional expressions of respect and moments of the bizarre.
With Europes peace in question, it even ends with Putin saying that he was supposed to be playing ice hockey and was conducting the conversation from a sports hall.
In a hugely unusual glimpse into a confidential telephone call between heads of state, Macron and his team were filmed at the Elysee taking the call and the footage will now be broadcast as the centrepiece of a documentary A President, Europe and the War on the French presidents handling of the Ukraine war to be broadcast Thursday on France 2 TV.
The call took place on the morning of February 20 as the French leader made what turned out to be a fruitless attempt to stop Russia from going to war. He also proposed a summit with US President Joe Biden that Russia would turn its back on.
Macron has been praised by admirers by keeping open a channel to Putin, with whom he sought to cultivate a relationship to the point of inviting the Kremlin chief to his summer residence in 2019.
But detractors fear the French leaders eagerness for dialogue was exploited by Russia and Kyiv has been troubled by his insistence that Russia should not be left humiliated when the war comes to an end.
He is lying
I would like you to first give me your reading of the situation and perhaps quite directly, as is our habit, tell me what your intentions are, Macron asked Putin bluntly at the start of the conversation.
What can I say? You yourself see what is happening, retorted Putin, accusing Ukraine of rupturing the Minsk accords that reduced the scale of a conflict that erupted in 2014.
He lambasted the pro-Western Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, falsely accusing Kyiv of seeking a nuclear weapon.
In fact our dear colleague Mr Zelensky is doing nothing to apply the Minsk accords, Putin alleged. He is lying to you, he added, also accusing Macron of seeking to revise Minsk.
I dont know if your legal advisor has learned law! As for me I just look at the texts and I try to apply them, snorted Macron.
Putin then argued that the propositions of separatists in eastern Ukraine should be taken into account. But we dont care about the propositions from the separatists, snapped Macron.
But despite the tension Macron also sought to play the role of mediator, saying he will urge Zelensky to calm down everyone not just in the Ukrainian armed forces but on social media. Do not give in to provocations of any kind in the hours and days to come, he told Putin.
As they have always done in their conversations both men use the informal form of you to address each other.
Did not convince him
The call ended with Macron suggesting to Putin a summit with Biden. Putin did not object but also did not appear interested in fixing a date while insisting that the meeting should be fully prepared.
The Elysee then briefed reporters that an agreement in principle had been reached for a summit between Biden and Putin but this never took place.
The final words were relatively cordial. Thank you in any case Vladimir.
We will stay in touch in real time. When there is something call me, said Macron. I thank you Mr president, said Putin, suddenly slipping into French.
It was then that Putin revealed to Macron what was also on his mind.
To be honest, I wanted to go play ice hockey. Here I am talking to you from the sports hall before starting the physical exertion. But first I will talk with my advisors.
Macron would speak to Putin again the day later, on February 21. But on February 24, Russia launched the invasion, sparking a war that is still raging even if Moscow failed in its apparent initial aim of taking Kyiv.
The president undertook further calls with Putin even after the invasion began, including on February 24 itself, but the exchanges have now dried up.
He has always insisted the diplomacy was the right thing to do but also faced criticism for finally making a trip to Kyiv to back Zelensky only last week and not before.
We did not convince him and he invaded Ukraine, Macron told the film makers. I thought that we could find, through confidence and intellectual discussion, a path with Putin, he added.
Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2022
See the original post:
Posted: at 10:35 pm
The figures, shared by Ukraine's Centre for Strategic Communications and Information Security, which sits under the country's Ministry of Culture and Information Policy, represent the only estimation currently available on the state of Moscow's army. However, information on casualties and hardware losses cannot be verified and, due to governments' individual interests, not fully trusted.
The Ukrainian government issues regular updates of Russia's losses in a conflict that has this week hit the four-month mark.
According to its latest update, on Friday, other losses among the Kremlin's equipment include 3,645 armoured Protected Vehicles (APV), 75 artillery systems, 241 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) and 2,560 vehicles.
Russia has only given an official toll of troops killed on two occasions, the last on March 25, with a figure of 1,351 which experts described at the time as way too low.
READ MORE:UK sent warning as Putin plots terrifying new world order
Kyiv reveals no such statistics for its own forces or hardware.
However, President Volodymyr Zelensky said earlier this month his army was losing up to 100 soldiers per day, while some 500 were being wounded.
In an interview with the US Newsmax television channel, Mr Zelenskiy said: "The situation is very difficult: were losing 60 to 100 soldiers per day as killed in action and something around 500 people as wounded in action. So we are holding our defensive perimeters."
Calling Ukraine and its people are the "defensive perimeter" for the world against Vladimir Putin's aggression, he added: "We have to realise who is the dark power it's Russia.
"And Russia is not going to stop in Ukraine, for sure.
"The other countries, the former Republics of USSR and the members of the EU some of them are already NATO member nations theyre already under threat."
The fall of the city, once home to more than 100,000 people and now reduced to a wasteland of rubble by Russian artillery, is the Kremlin's biggest win since taking the port of Mariupol last month.
It was the latest symbol of Ukrainian resistance in Donbas but now, Mayor Oleksandr Stryuk said, anyone left behind could no longer reach Ukrainian-held territory, as the area was effectively cut off.
The victory means 95 percent of the Luhansk province is under Russian and local separatist control.
Russians and separatist forces also control about half of Donetsk.
Kyrylo Budanov, head of Defence Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, described the fall of Severodonetsk as a means for Kyiv's forces to regroup on higher ground in neighbouring Lysychansk.
He said: "The activities happening in the area of Severodonetsk are a tactical regrouping of our troops.
"This is a withdrawal to advantageous positions to obtain a tactical advantage."
The head of the military intelligence agency added: "Russia is using the tactic it used in Mariupol: wiping the city from the face of the earth."
View original post here:
The Loop: G7 leaders’ Putin jokes, NASA launches from Australia, mystery nightclub deaths and Top Gun hits record – ABC News
Posted: at 10:35 pm
Hi there, it's Monday, June 27. Here's what you need to get going today.
It's the first commercial rocket launch in Australia's history and NASA's first from here in over 25 years. Here's the lowdown:
"It went up, and then the sound, it was just like a rumbling boom, like nothing I've ever heard."
And back home:
Let's get you up to speed.
They're feeling the need the need for speed (and a whole lot of money).
It's just the second film to break the $US1 billion mark atthe worldwide box office since the pandemic began.
Inits fifth week of release, Top Gun: Maverickhas earned slightly more than half of its takings in the United States.
The film is the biggest ever for Tom Cruise, coming 36 years after the original Top Gun film was released.
We'll be back later on with more.
Pew survey: Half of Malaysians view Russia positively, with six in 10 feeling Putin ‘doing the right thing’ in world affairs | Malay Mail – Malay Mail
Posted: at 10:35 pm
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping pose for a photograph during their meeting in Beijing, on February 4, 2022. (Photo by Alexei Druzhinin / Sputnik / AFP)
KUALA LUMPUR, June 27 A recent survey by Pew Research Centre found that almost half of Malaysians still view Russia positively, even as global perception against the superpower has fallen to a record low following its invasion of Ukraine starting February this year.
In the survey by the Washington-based pollster, Malaysia charted the highest proportion of favourable response towards Russia among the 18 countries polled, and was also the country that had the highest confidence in Russian President Vladimir Putin doing the right thing on global affairs with six out of 10 Malaysians favouring him.
In almost every country surveyed, at least seven-in-ten have an unfavourable opinion of Russia. Malaysia is the only country where this is not true, said the report titled International Attitudes Toward the US, Nato and Russia in a Time of Crisis released last week.
Consistent with trends for Russian favourability, majorities in almost every country surveyed express little confidence in Russian President Vladimir Putin... Malaysia is again an exception to the overall trend, as it is the only country surveyed where a majority expresses confidence in the Russian leader, it added.
In the survey, Malaysians polled were mixed in their view toward Russia. While 47 per cent said they had a very or somewhat favourable view of the country, 30 per cent said they had somewhat unfavourable view and just 20 per cent chose very unfavourable.
In comparison, neighbouring Singapore had just 27 per cent of respondents choosing very or somewhat favourable, 38 per cent somewhat unfavourable, and 32 per cent very unfavourable.
In Poland, for example, 91 per cent of respondents said they viewed Russia very unfavourably, even higher than the 69 per cent in the United States.
In Italy, Greece and Poland, positive views of Russia have declined by more than 30 percentage points since the question was last asked, the report said.
A whopping 59 per cent of Malaysians also said they had some or a lot of confidence in Putin doing the right things regarding world affairs, compared to just 36 per cent in Singapore.
In general, Europeans who support right-wing populist parties in their country are more likely to have confidence in Putin to do the right thing in world affairs, it said.
A similar pattern exists regarding general ideological leanings. There were large ideological divides in 2021 on attitudes toward Putin, with those on the right of the political spectrum expressing more confidence in him than those on the left.
Much like their approval of Putin, Malaysian respondents were also confident of Chinese president Xi Jinping, with 62 per cent saying they had confidence in him doing the right thing on global affairs.
Singapore was the only country among the other 17 who shared the same opinion as Malaysian on Xi, with a higher percentage of 69 per cent viewing Xi positively.
Conversely, Malaysian respondents also viewed the United States negatively, with 56 per cent saying the superpower is not a reliable partner.
Meanwhile, 53 per cent of Malaysians said they were confident that US president Joe Biden is doing the right thing on global affairs, compared to 46 per cent who had no confidence.
In addition, 61 per cent of Malaysians also said that the US decision to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan in August 2021 was the right decision, with 53 per cent of them saying the move was handled well.
Across the Asia-Pacific publics surveyed, views of the US exit of Afghanistan are slightly more positive overall than in Europe. Majorities in Malaysia, Australia and Singapore look favourably on the decision, it said.
Despite generally supportive views of the US withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, public opinion in the countries surveyed is less positive on how the withdrawal was handled... Only in two countries do half or more feel favourably toward the handling of the US exit from Afghanistan: Poland and Malaysia, it added.
China is Malaysias biggest trading partner, with the US as the third after Singapore.
Russia is not even in the top 25, but Putrajaya previously said that relations between the two remain cordial despite the former being implicated in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in 2014.
The survey involved 18 countries: the US, Canada, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Israel, Australia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea.
The report draws on nationally representative surveys of 19,903 adults across the countries from February 14 to May 11 this year, with most occurring after Russias invasion of Ukraine which began February 24.
Posted: at 10:34 pm
Cyberpunk 2077 is getting a board game courtesy of a Kickstarter campaign. Cyberpunk 2077: Gangs of Night City is a strange twist on the high-tech, low-life underbelly of the world brought to life by CD Projekt Red and Mike Pondsmith. The game is being published by CMON Games, which have put together board game adaptations of God of War and Bloodborne in addition to other existing IPs.
If the slang-ridden synopsis of the game provided on its Kickstarter page is any indicator, its clear that its creators have some serious reverence for the source material: Cyberpunk 2077: Gangs of Night City is a competitive game in which 1 to 4 players take on the role of ruthless gangs vying for control of the underground in the glittering hellhole that is Night City. Clash with other gangs in the meat or on the Net as your enterprising band of toughs seeks to gain dominance over the criminal underworld that rules the streets. Only the boldest will be remembered, and your Street Cred will pave your way to the top.
The aesthetics and fiction of this game appear to be more closely based on the Cyberpunk 2077 video game published by CD Projekt Red, as opposed to a riff on the source material penned by Mike Pondsmith in the pen-and-paper Cyberpunk RPG. In addition to its trademark crimson and neon-yellow aesthetic, this board game comes packaged with a pile of unpainted plastic miniatures that bear the likeness of notable characters from the video game. Players can expect to see Jackie Welles, Johnny Silverhand, and Judy Alvarez among the two dozen or so plastic minis that are planned to ship with the game.
At the time of publishing, the project has more than tripled its funding goal of $100,000 and is just shy of its final stretch goal with about 10 days remaining in its campaign. Currently, the only funding level available is set at $110 but nets you access to the core box and all the miniatures.
We understand that a hot pile of unpainted plastic is tough to resist, but its worth mentioning that the current timeline for shipping doesnt start until at least eight months after the end of the Kickstarter. And just like Cyberpunks digital version, theres no guarantee that it wont be delayed.
Posted: at 10:34 pm
Cyberpunk 2077 is the latest work from CD Projekt, the video game studio responsible for the Witcher series, and with the story of Geralt of Rivia becoming a hit for Netflix, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the streaming service is set to adapt the company's take on the technologically advanced future. Now, with the major event known as Anime Expo set to take place next month, Studio TRIGGER has announced that not only will it be participating, but that it will also premiere the first episode of the anime series, Cyberpunk: Edgerunners.
Studio TRIGGER used its Official Twitter Account to share the news that the studio will be attending this year's Anime Expo, which is set to take place early next month in July, and will air the premiere episode of Cyberpunk 2077's anime adaptation, Edgerunners, which will debut on Netflix:
If you want to know which creators will be a part of this upcoming anime adapting the story from the popular video game, Hiroyuki Imaishi (Gurren Lagann, Kill la Kill, Promare) will direct along with assistant director Masahiko Otsuka (Gurren Lagann, Promare), creative director Hiromi Wakabayashi (Kill la Kill), character designers Yoh Yoshinari (Little Witch Academia, BNA: Brand New Animal) and Yuto Kaneko (Little Witch Academia), The screenplay was adapted by Yoshiki Usa (SSSS.GRIDMAN, Promare)and Masahiko Otsuka (Gurren Lagann, Kill la Kill, Promare). The original score will be composed by Akira Yamaoka.
Netflix recently revealed the first clip from the upcoming TRIGGER adaptation that will take viewers into the world of this technologically advanced future:
If you haven't had a chance to dive into the world of Cyberpunk 2077 via the video game created by CD Projekt, an official description of the game reads as such:
"Cyberpunk 2077 is an open-world, action-adventure story set in night city, a megalopolis obsessed with power, glamour, and body modification. You play as V, a mercenary Outlaw going after a one-of-a-kind implant that is the key to immortality. You can customize your character's cyberwar, skill set, and play style, and explore a vast city where the choices you make shape the story and the world around you."
Are you hyped for the upcoming anime adaptation that is set to arrive on Netflix that will explore the world of Cyberpunk 2077? Feel free to let us know in the comments or hit me up directly on Twitter @EVComedy to talk all things comics, anime, and the world of TRIGGER.
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Posted: at 10:34 pm
It goes without saying that the debut of one of the most hyped games in recent history was controversial. Upon its (rather premature) release into the gaming world in 2020, Cyberpunk 2077s laundry list of glitches, bugs and incompatibility issues rendered the game underwhelming, frustrating and costly.
Why? Because to say that the game failed entirely wouldnt be accurate. It raked in a handful of awards, managed to implement the iconic Keanu Reevess avatar (and voice) into the majority of scenes, and generated a buzz rarely rivaled in the gaming world. Its just too bad that wasnt the point, and that the associated anime looks even more promising than the game did.
CD Projekt Red has been sleeplessly attempting to win back fans affections with several initiatives, including addressing and cutting out flagged issues with every update and issuing apologies left and right. Remember the overpriced T-2077 blockchain watch released in honor of Cyberpunk 2077s anniversary? Not many fans really do. The hit to Projekt Reds reputation, and the amount of money lost, was substantial indeed, so maybe its best to let sleeping dogs lie to lick their wounds. Or is it?
These days, it seems that fans cantand wontaccept the word goodbye. A slew of retired and beloved TV shows have either resurrected a side characters story arch or completely rebooted the franchise, in order to satiate starving audiences who obsessively wait for a bone thrown down from the studio executives that be. If you find yourself lumped into that group (as I unabashedly do), Lady Luck has shown us mercy. Cyberpunk 2077 gets a second chance in the form of an anime adaptation.
From what we know so far, Studio Trigger will gift us with Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, a ten-episode series that will debut in early 2023. According to Netflix, the premise is seemingly straightforward: In a dystopia riddled with corruption and cybernetic implants, a talented but reckless street kid strives to become an edgerunner: a mercenary outlaw.
The response to the trailer has been ecstatic, similar to the adulation of praise that its source material garnered prior to its release. Even the writers/executive producers of Cyberpunk 2077 admit that the anime takes viewers to places that were previously impossible in the video game. Showrunner and Executive Producer Rafal Jaki states, via Cyberpunk 2077 on YouTube, in the video game its all about the immersion and the power fantasy of being in Night City for the show, we explore things and topics that were not possible in that specific experience of a video game.
A successful spin-off is a balancing act: the content must be lovingly adapted to the medium of choice, while simultaneously appeasing the source materials sensitive fan base. In Studio Triggers case, its obvious that they are fans of the game. They have spared no expense in capturing the dystopian essence of Night City, but have also dug deeper in portraying the emotions of the characters through the (often very graphic) action that will be seen throughout the series.
It is not clear at this stage why Studio Trigger was tapped, or what the backstory of collaboration involves. We can only speculate as to what the end result will be based on the studios previous work and their accolades. Judging by the team in charge, it cant lose.
Director Hiroyuki Imaishi (Neon Genesis Evangelion, Full Metal Alchemist, Kill La Kill), and character designer/drawing director Yoh Yoshinari (Little Witch Academia and more) are both on board to ensure the animes success, per RPG Site, as well as Japanese composer Akira Yamaoka (Silent Hill series OST). From the precious few seconds shown in the action-packed trailer, it is clear to see that Studio Trigger has injected new and timely lifeblood into the weary bones of Cyberpunk 2077.
Not only were fans given a teaser trailer to meticulously unpack, but an exclusive 54-second clip featuring the Maelstrom gang. Players will immediately recognize the gangs threatening face-plates and various body modifications that seem even more intimidating, thanks to Yoshinaris art direction. The other tough-looking group in the clip are revealed to be the eponymous Edgerunners.
A thrashing metal soundtrack opens the scene and enhances the tension between the Maelstrom gang and the Edgerunners eyeing each other in an intense standoff. A Maelstrom gang member opens a refrigerator to reveal a terrified person stuffed inside. The camera then cuts to crackling neon electricity shooting up a characters spine. The next second, the captive person vanishes, much to the dismay of the Maelstrom. A smirking young person in a yellow jacket materializes, holding the prisoner in his arms. Its same to assume that this is the aforementioned street kid; the protagonist of the series, whose use of speedy modifications seem to be for good (at least in this scene).
A bloodbath ensues, resulting in the death of all Maelstrom members by way of nanowire and heavy guns. After the melee, the street kid and his fellow Edgerunners grin widely, giving each other a round of thumbs up. The juxtaposition of gore and goofy bonhomie is a classic anime trope, one that fits like a glove here without seeming too over the top.
Its worth mentioning that anime is an ideal vehicle to fully showcase the power of the sandevistan. Its something akin to bullet-time, where a player can outmaneuver other characters through the use of slow-motion. In the Cyberpunk 2077 game, V can equip the cyberwear modification to enhance his speed, strength, vision, etc. It also really comes in handy in getting those critical head shots.
The anime is slated to be released this September, but now that weve had a taste, it seems like forever. Hopefully, Studio Trigger, CD Project Red and Netflix will provide a smattering of clips, interviews and goodies to us in the interim.
Thanks to the upcoming series, many fans interest in Cyberpunk 2077 seems to have officially been renewed. Though only snippets have been revealed at the time of writing, the anime looks to deliver on all the non-stop flashy action and intrigue that the game couldnt quite hit to its potential. Regardless of its losses in the past, I think a lot of fans will agree that Cyberpunk 2077s future hasnt looked this bright in some time.
Posted: at 10:34 pm
Two out of two Blade Runner films are box office bombs. But the key difference between Blade Runner (1982) and Blade Runner 2049 (2017) is that one received mostly positive reviews upon release. It was not the first one. Unlike its recent successor, Blade Runner not only failed to sell enough tickets to justify its existence but was also drubbed by critics. 40 years later, it's a sci-fi classic that brought an entire subgenre to the mainstream. What changed?
Blade Runners story is pure sci-fi noir. Ex-cop Deckard (Harrison Ford) is charged with hunting down artificial humans called Replicants, only to realize hes in love with a Replicant named Rachael (Sean Young). As Deckard closes in on his prey, he reflects on his own humanity and stares into the middle distance long enough to make us wonder if he too is a Replicant. In what is now considered the definitive final cut of Blade Runner, thats all but confirmed. Deckard, it appears, has had memories and dreams implanted in his mind, making him and Rachael the same and rendering his entire reason for hunting and retiring the supposedly soulless Replicants questionable.
Harrison Ford in Blade Runner, looking quite sad.Sunset Boulevard/Corbis Historical/Getty Images
Sounds awesome, right? But because of its style, and perhaps stiff competition from ET and The Wrath of Khan, Blade Runner suffered the twin curses of poor box office returns and bad press. According to Paul M. Sammons book Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner, the film made 14 million against a budget of 28 million. And although not all reviews were bad, most were, including legendary critic Pauline Kael writing this for the New Yorker:
Although this critique is savage, whats hidden in Kaels negative assessment is the key to why Blade Runner survived. Despite having an intriguing story, despite asking big questions about the human condition, and despite wonderful performances from Harrison Ford, Sean Young, Rutger Hauer, and Edward James Olmos, the movie works because of its style.
Blade Runner is all aesthetics, and the influence of those aesthetics is how it survived all these years to enter the mainstream. In the end, it didnt really matter that only a fraction of the population had seen it. Arguably, relative to other big sci-fi movies, that is still true. Youre still far more likely to find someone who has never seen Blade Runner than someone who has never seen Star Wars. And yet the trappings of the cyberpunk genre are more pervasive in real life than the aesthetics of 2001 or A New Hope.
Speaking to The Paris Review in 2011, cyberpunk novelist William Gibson said:
Gibson, of course, is famous for many sci-fi novels, but specifically for Neuromancer, a novel published two years after Blade Runner hit theaters. The world Gibson creates is very reminiscent of Blade Runner despite the fact that Gibson had started writing it before its release, and the fact that Blade Runner is based on a 1968 Philip K. Dick novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which doesnt really contain any of the cyberpunk aesthetics.
Los Angeles in 2019, as depicted by Blade Runner.Sunset Boulevard/Corbis Historical/Getty Images
Neuromancer is sometimes credited as the novel that began cyberpunk. Ditto Blade Runner, but for films. Essentially, prior to Neuromancer and Blade Runner, seeing this kind of urban-focused, dirty techno future wasnt common in science fiction. Or, if it was, it lacked style. Gibson and Ridley Scott were aesthetic pioneers within science fiction which, in terms of impact, is only second to the storytelling.
Much of the production design of Blade Runner can be credited to designer Lawrence G. Paull and legendary futurist Syd Mead. But Scott himself hand-drew sketches of many of the basic concepts for what we would see in the film. Both he and Gibson were world-builders just as much as they were storytellers. Writing teachers like to say the characters are the story. For Blade Runner, the characters are the story, but the environment, the city, is a character too.
Within the world of science fiction, it's easy to see how Blade Runners aesthetics changed everything. From The 5th Element to The Matrix, to quieter films like Ex Machina and almost everything about Black Mirror, what Blade Runner did was create science fiction shorthand. A dreary, tired future, one that felt familiar and made you long for being depressed about hard rain and robot romance. Blade Runner, with its noir influences, romanticized a specific kind of sci-fi melancholy. In the future, you could be sad and worrying about Replicants. But everything was also going to be effortlessly cool.
Blade Runner: The Final Cut is streaming now on Netflix.
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