Ukraine’s new president-elect, Petro Poroshenko, has promised to open talks with Moscow on repairing the frayed Russia-Ukraine relationship. With fighting continuing in the eastern parts of the country, the economy headed toward collapse and Western rhetoric of support unmatched by concrete deeds and dollars, Poroshenko and his team might want to consider learning from how another mid-sized Eurasian state has managed its relationship with the Russian bear. This week, in a ceremony in Astana overshadowed by the events in Ukraine, Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, signed the agreements formally creating the Eurasian Economic Union, along with the presidents of Russia and […]

Shortly after assuming power in May 2010, the government of U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron began setting caps on immigration levels, ultimately promising to reduce net migration into the U.K. to fewer than 100,000 people per year by the 2015 general election. The focus on immigration was unsurprising; migration is highly politicized, particularly near elections and during economic crises. But the overlooked and crucial question was how effective a cap on immigration could be given the European Union’s free movement provisions. The U.K. could indeed limit non-EU immigration by decreasing the number of visas issued. However, there was not much […]

Russia and India are reportedly considering a $30 billion oil pipeline that would transit through China’s Xinjiang province. When seen in the context of other bilateral hydrocarbon initiatives between India and Russia, the discussions, first reported in late March, show that Russia is cultivating India in addition to China as part of its accelerated move away from dependence on European markets amid the ongoing Ukraine crisis. For its part, India, which has been on the lookout for stable sources of hydrocarbons outside the Middle East, finds a natural fit in Russia, given the two countries’ traditional ties and Russia’s vast […]

The electoral earthquake that just shook up India is stirring up great excitement in, of all places, Israel, where Indian voters’ dramatic move to sweep away the ruling Congress Party and bring to power the opposition is making outsized headlines. By all indications, the victory of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its leader, Narendra Modi, is about to rapidly accelerate a trend that was already in place, creating much closer and much more productive ties between Israel and India. Modi was famously described months ago by an Indian journalist as “Israel’s best friend in South Asia.” The […]

Less than a year ago, Armenia appeared well on its way to taking its first substantial step in years toward European integration. Negotiations with the European Union had been finalized, and all but minor details had been overcome for Yerevan’s initialing of an Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) with the European Union at the November 2013 Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius, Lithuania. For the briefest of moments, Armenia looked ready to venture outside of the pro-Russia system within which it had long been firmly ensconced. But in early September, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan announced during […]

The dynamics of triangular interaction among South Korea, Japan and China have constituted a central security paradox in Northeast Asia since the late 19th century, with South Korea cursed by its geographical position at the conflux of great power interests in the region. But the division of the Korean Peninsula and the aftereffects of Cold War rivalry, replaced in the post-Cold War world by the U.S.-North Korea nuclear standoff, have served both to obscure Sino-Japanese tensions over the Korean Peninsula, and to spur periodic trilateral and multilateral cooperation aimed at resolving the regional Cold War hangover caused by Korea’s division. […]

On May 9, 2014, Guillermo Solis became Costa Rica’s 47th president. His ascension to the office marked the end to one of the country’s most unusual election cycles in recent memory. Solis succeeds Laura Chinchilla, who departed office with the lowest presidential approval rating in the hemisphere, at one point as low as 9 percent. During Chinchilla’s four years in office (2010-2014), her administration was dogged by corruption scandals, tensions with Nicaragua and a growing deficit. How Solis will manage Costa Rica’s mounting difficulties remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: Costa Ricans are ready for change. Chinchilla, […]

For decades Japan has patiently fostered maturity and order in its relationships with its neighbors, expecting that time and deepening interdependence would yield behavior constrained by a set of mutually agreed rules—in short, that Japan and its neighbors would be waltzing in a formal ballroom setting. The past couple of years have been, instead, a slam dance of intentional collisions and growing frustration. Can the partners resume their orderly maneuvering, or will flying knees and elbows lead to a fight on the dance floor of East Asia? To perhaps push the metaphor too far, it will depend in large part […]

Nowhere else in Asia has the region’s ongoing tectonic realignment been more evident than in the China-Japan-South Korea triangle. The People’s Republic of China is emerging as a new center of geopolitical gravity within the region; South Korea is rising as an influential middle power; and Japan is experiencing relative decline. The three sets of bilateral relationships, the undisputed pillars of prosperity and stability in the region, are branching in different directions. Within this triangle, China’s strategic approach to both Japan and South Korea is driven by intrinsic factors, the most significant of which are historical grievances, economic interdependence and […]

Uruguayan President Jose “Pepe” Mujica’s May 12 meeting with President Barack Obama in Washington was an important if belated step in the right direction for U.S. engagement with South America, reconfirming to a frequently skeptical region the importance that the United States places on building relationships with leaders from across the political spectrum. Since his election in 2009, the former guerrilla fighter has guided Uruguay as a democratic leftist more interested in results than ideology. Certainly, the successful effort last year to legalize the sale and distribution of marijuana and Mujica’s purposeful outreach to Cuba are among the topics that […]

Since the 1998 election of former President Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan government has sought to bolster its state sovereignty and reduce its dependence on the U.S. These efforts have involved, among other strategies, strengthening relations with regional allies such as Cuba and Bolivia, shoring up new regional institutions such as the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and cracking down on domestic nongovernmental organizations that rely upon U.S. funding for survival. As a petro-state, however, Venezuela remains heavily reliant upon its oil industry for revenues. If Venezuela is to ever […]

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe just finished a 10-day, six-country tour of Europe. The trip’s primary focus was securing momentum toward an end state in Tokyo’s negotiations with the European Union on an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). The trade talks have been moving at a steady pace since the first round of negotiations in early 2013. A finalized Japan-EU EPA would facilitate trade between the world’s third-largest economy and the EU, a partnership that would be worth over $20 trillion dollars, or nearly one-third of global GDP. According to a report from the European Commission, the EPA would result in […]

Last month, amid nonstop coverage of the Ukrainian crisis and an onslaught of domestic U.S. issues, the New York Times published an editorial urging the U.S. Congress to pass legislation to comply with international obligations on illegal fishing. Why did the editorial board think this issue warranted ink? Part of the answer is that the illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) trade in fish is no longer just a conservation and biodiversity challenge. Environmental crimes across the board today have significant consequences for countries’ development aspirations, in addition to global security implications. In this light, governments around the world need to […]