My wife Tamara gave me Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics by Tim Marshall. It’s a book about geopolitics and how geography affects foreign policy.

The first chapter is about Russia and Russia’s position in the world.

First, a quick recap, about NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

It was formed in 1949, with a declared aim of containing Communism and establishing a defence against the Soviet Union.

The original members were Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and the United States.

It was historic in that the U.S. formally tied its security to that of Europe.

The Warsaw Pact was formed in 1955 in reaction to the creation of NATO, and it was an alliance of Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and the USSR.

And, this is the thing – in Prisoners of Geography, the author points out that by 2004 every country except Russia that was in the Warsaw Pact had left and was either in the EU or NATO.

That’s an amazing fact when you think about the nervousness that Russia might be feeling over its position in the world.

Of course, NATO was and is a very different creation to the Warsaw Pact. The countries of Europe would not describe themselves as semi-occupied nations around a central strong man, as was the case with Russia and its satellite countries.

But still, the complete disintegration of the Warsaw Pact and the former members joining ‘the opposition’. That’s quite a thing, no?

The year is off to a good start, with China formally starting the ban on ivory on 31 December 2017 that it announced last year.

According to Xinhua News Agency there has already been a 65% decline in the price of raw ivory over the past year, with an 80% decline in seizures of ivory entering China, with sixty-seven official factories and shops dealing in ivory closed by March 2017, with the remaining 105 being shut down by yesterday.