Francia Marquez raises her arm next to presidential candidate Gustavo Petro, at an event presenting her as his running mate in Bogota, Colombia, March 23, 2022 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

TORIBIO, Colombia—At night, the hills around Toribio twinkle with the grow lights used to both illuminate and heat the marijuana plantations that dominate the local economy. Laid out in rectangular grids, these plots are a reminder that the fertile soils of this mountainous territory in Colombia’s southern province of Cauca are both a blessing and a curse. The local Nasa communities, key actors in the mass protests that rocked Colombia last year, cultivate a wide range of crops in an attempt to find alternatives to drug production, but marijuana and coca remain the mainstay of the local economy. “We have […]

A protester covered by an EU flag takes part in a demonstration to call on the European Union to stop buying Russian oil and gas, outside EU headquarters in Brussels, April 29, 2022 (AP photo by Virginia Mayo).

Editor’s note: This will be Candace Rondeaux’s final weekly column for World Politics Review. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Candace for her sharp analysis, compelling prose and passionate commitment to putting people at the heart of international security commentary. It’s been a pleasure offering her work to WPR’s readers for the past three years. We wish her the best of luck in her multiple endeavors moving forward. Russia’s move this week to cut off natural gas deliveries to Poland and Bulgaria, combined with growing fears that Moldova could be drawn into President Vladimir Putin’s militaristic machinations, invites a thought experiment: What […]

Displaced people watch a helicopter carrying U.N. Undersecretary-General for Peace Operations Jean Pierre Lacroix land in Bunia, eastern Congo, Feb. 22, 2022 (AP photo by Moses Sawasawa).

The seven member states of the East African Community have agreed to create a regional military force to be deployed to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The bloc’s leaders announced the decision at a special meeting on Congo held last week in Nairobi at the request of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who currently serves at the EAC’s rotating chairperson. The bloc also appealed to the African Union and the United Nations for support for the initiative, which is designed to end decades of bloodshed caused by militant activity and bring peace and stability to eastern Congo, a call the two bodies appear to […]

A demonstrator holds a poster reading “Peace for Ukraine” during a protest against the Russian invasion, Almaty, Kazakhstan, March 6, 2022 (AP photo by Vladimir Tretyakov).

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is upending the geopolitical calculations of states around the world. The fallout is especially complex for the post-Soviet states of Central Asia, which maintain extensive economic, political, cultural and other ties to both Russia and Ukraine. While Central Asia is far from the front lines of the ongoing war, and therefore less directly impacted than states like Moldova or Georgia, its leaders also face difficult decisions. Independent for three decades, the Central Asian states remain dependent to varying degrees on Russia as a security provider and economic partner, and as a source of political support. Their […]

Women gather to demand their rights under the Taliban rule during a protest in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 3, 2021 (AP photo by Wali Sabawoon).

A month ago, when all eyes were on the war in Ukraine, the Taliban quietly reneged on their promise to put school-age girls back in classrooms. This followed a six-month period in which women faced crippling restrictions on their employment, freedom of movement, dress, access to healthcare and participation in sports, plus gender-based violence, torture and arrest if they protested. But the international community’s initial response—to pull humanitarian aid, for instance—threatens to make matters even worse. Since the U.S. withdrawal in August 2021, U.S. government agencies and representatives, like the wider international donor community, have been struggling to determine how best to support women’s human rights in […]

Displaced Ukrainian refugees have lunch cooked by volunteers, at a restaurant that was transformed into a shelter for those who are fleeing the war from eastern region of the country, in Dnipro, Ukraine, April 20, 2022 (AP photo by Leo Correa).

Amid the horror that has befallen Ukraine and its people, one rare uplifting aspect of the tragedy is the remarkably warm and generous reception that Ukrainian refugees fleeing the carnage have received from European nations. Not only have governments across the continent rushed to develop the legal and logistical infrastructure to help, but individuals outside of Ukraine scrambled almost immediately after the bombs started falling, opening their homes and their wallets to the millions seeking to escape the Russian invasion. It’s an inspiring, heartwarming story. But it’s also one that stands in sharp contrast to the callous way much of Europe, including […]

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen arrives at a television recording studio for a debate with President Emmanuel Macron in La Plaine-Saint-Denis, outside Paris, April 20, 2022 (AP photo by Francois Mori).

Many in Brussels continue to anxiously observe events in France in anticipation of what this Sunday’s presidential runoff election will bring. President Emmanuel Macron has widened his lead over his far-right challenger, Marine Le Pen, since the first round earlier this month, with the latest polls showing him with a 10-point lead. But this gap is considered too close for comfort and is a smaller margin than Macron’s 33-point victory over Le Pen in 2017. A Le Pen victory on Sunday would undoubtedly present an existential crisis for the European Union, a notion highlighted by Macron in last night’s presidential debate, in which […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin listens as German Chancellor Angela Merkel answers a question during the news conference at the Russia-EU Summit in Volzhsky Utyos, May 18, 2007 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

Usually, parents don’t congratulate their children for ending up in detention at school. But for my Ukrainian mom in early-1990s Germany, there were some things that mattered more than what my teachers thought. Having opted to learn Russian at my high school in the city of Hanover, I quickly discovered that the version of history my teachers embraced did not square with what I had experienced growing up in the Ukrainian tradition. My Russian teachers espoused a deep commitment to promoting reconciliation between Germany and the Russian people, having embraced the idea that all of German society shared a collective […]

A man walks past a wall with posters depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Warsaw, Poland, March 24, 2022 (AP Photo by Petr David Josek).

Today’s standoff between Russia and the West over Ukraine can be traced back to 2004, a little more than a decade after the end of the Cold War. At the time, Russian President Vladimir Putin was just embarking on his second term, and he began nurturing a cult of personality, voicing grievances about perceived threats on Russia’s security perimeter, and positioning himself as the defender of Russia’s great power status. By some accounts, Putin’s sense that Russia is under threat goes back to historic invasions of Russia: Batu Khan’s in the 13th century, Karl the XII’s in the 18th, Napoleon’s […]

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Earlier this month, the lead U.N. representative for Yemen announced a two-month cease-fire, the first major breakthrough since 2015 in the conflict between the Houthi rebels and Iran on the one side and the Yemeni government and its Gulf backers on the other. The news was a ray of hope in an otherwise unremittingly troubling international context. Or was it? Coming on the heels of the Taliban’s assumption of power in Afghanistan and the normalization of Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, the cease-fire, which appears to be the product of Houthi advancement rather than international diplomacy, suggests that, in many cases, it […]

The words “No Money for Murderers, Stop the Oil and Gas Trade” are projected by activists onto the Russian consulate in Frankfurt, Germany, April 4, 2022 (AP photo by Michael Probst).

In banning Russian coal imports from August onward, the European Union has finally broken the “energy taboo” that had beset its discussions of punitive sanctions against Russia for the war in Ukraine. Yet, the coal ban is not going to hit Russia’s economy very hard. With the clock now ticking as Russia prepares its next offensive in eastern Ukraine, Europe should press ahead and move swiftly toward measures that target Russian oil imports. Western sanctions adopted against Russia since the start of the war in Ukraine have been unprecedented in both scale and scope. They have also been insufficient. Russia’s […]

Spent bullet casings lie scattered on the ground in a hut near the village of Chenna Teklehaymanot, in the Amhara region of northern Ethiopia, Sept. 9, 2021 (AP file photo).

In 2019, Ethiopia’s young and dynamic prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to resolve the longstanding tensions between his country and Eritrea. His announcement of domestic political reforms were received well both abroad and at home, many Ethiopians had felt excluded by a political system seen as having been captured by the country’s Tigrayan ethnic minority. Today, none of this enthusiasm is left. In late 2020, long-running tensions between the central government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, once the dominant ethnic party in the ruling coalition, escalated into a full-blown civil war. […]

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin at a joint press conference in Stockholm, Sweden, April 13, 2022 (SIPA photo via AP Images).

Sweden and Finland both took a major step toward joining NATO this week. Finland will make its decision on whether to apply for membership in “weeks rather than months,” Prime Minister Sanna Marin said yesterday in a joint press conference in Stockholm alongside her Swedish counterpart, Magdalena Andersson. Sweden will reportedly wait until after Finland makes a final decision, but Swedish media are reporting that Andersson’s Social Democrats are already sold on the idea and have decided to push for Sweden’s NATO membership. The bombshell announcement makes for yet another groundbreaking development in European security policy since Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized the invasion of Ukraine in February. Finland has historically steered […]

President Joe Biden and then-Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga leave after a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House, Washington, April 16, 2021 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

In January, U.S. President Joe Biden held a virtual summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in which both leaders largely agreed to maintain the direction bilateral relations have taken in the 15 months since Biden took office. But if the meeting signaled both sides’ desire for continuity, there are still numerous unanswered questions regarding the future of the alliance. With Biden’s inauguration as U.S. president, the U.S.-Japan relationship—and U.S. policy on Asia more broadly—appeared set to return to where things stood at the end of the Obama administration. As a candidate, Biden repeatedly stressed that it was urgent to […]

A Ukrainian soldier takes a selfie standing on a destroyed Russian tank after Ukrainian forces overran a Russian position outside Kyiv, Ukraine, March 31, 2022 (AP photo by Vadim Ghirda).

At a time when old certainties have been shaken and the pace of events is overwhelming, it can be difficult to assess what the long-term impact of a geopolitical shock might be for the global order. In the immediate aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the widespread shock that such a calamity could befall millions of people made it difficult to think through the unanticipated consequences of such a profound rupture of the international state system. Yet after five weeks of brutal war triggered by a criminalized Russian state under President Vladimir Putin, there are now a few indicators that […]

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Editor’s Note: This article contains descriptions of police abuse, abduction and torture. The soldiers arrived at the Kampala home of Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, the award-winning Ugandan novelist, on a mid-afternoon in late December. Armed with machine guns and sledgehammers, they beat him and dragged him out, shoving him into the backseat of an unmarked car. The writer, desperate, attempted to call a lawyer, but his phone was swiftly confiscated by his captors. Rukirabashaija spent the next two weeks in the bowels of a detention facility, where he was tortured daily. He emerged 26 pounds lighter and unable to walk on his own, […]

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan speaks during a news conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, March 22, 2021 (Saudi Press Agency photo via AP).

April has been quite a dramatic month in Yemen, with the first major cease-fire reached between the government, the Houthis and other smaller combatant parties since the early stages of the war in 2015. Combined with a change in leadership among the Saudi-backed Yemeni government, the quieting of the guns, though temporary, could open a window of opportunity for resolving the conflict. But both developments also underscore the difficulty of ending a war that has resisted efforts to do so for years, with no relief in sight for the long-suffering civilians who are bearing most of its deadly cost. The […]

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