Ukraine is only the opening gambit, so far as the Russian President is concerned. With his sights set on territorial expansion and undeterred by the prospect of a new Cold War, he intends first to shift Russia’s economic focus towards the East in order to shield the country from the reprisals that his next move is sure to provoke. The President delegates to his Prime Minister the redeployment of Russia’s vast energy resources, a vital component of his strategy. But when plans for a pipeline to run through Turkmenistan and Afghanistan tilt off-course, it threatens to spread the current conflagration in the Middle East right up to Russia’s own borders. Against a background of political corruption, state-sponsored terrorism and increased Taliban insurgency, the President turns to independent troubleshooter ALEX LEKSIN whose investigations take him from Moscow into one of the world’s most sinister countries, right at the heart of Central Asia.