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The first half of 2022 has seen global risks multiply, even as the grip of COVID-19 recedes. The anticipated cost-of-living crisis has been exacerbated by the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, ranging from reduced supplies of grain, broad Western sanctions on Russia and Moscow’s retaliatory steps. No region of the world has been unaffected. Central banks in developed markets are struggling to change direction after years of highly accommodative monetary policy and weak inflationary pressures. With the US Federal Reserve now tightening policy, borrowing rates are rising across emerging markets and a credit squeeze is threatening states and companies that went deeper into debt to survive the pandemic. Sri Lanka is unlikely to be the only victim.

International relations are equally turbulent. The invasion of Ukraine has already set in motion the expansion of NATO and the strengthening of links between the US-led alliances in Europe and Asia. While Western states have coalesced against Russia, few other states globally have applied sanctions on Russia, underscoring the limits of western ‘soft power’. Russia and China have become more hostile towards Western states. The countries of the Global South, in the main, prefer not to pick sides and face pressing domestic challenges.

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