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European Union officials are putting on a brave face as the bloc approves a plan to ration natural gas this winter to avoid an energy crisis should Russia make additional cuts to its exports. But the discussions leading up to the plan’s approval revealed cracks in their public display of solidarity.

The U.K. carrier strike group conducts operations alongside Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces

In recent years, several European states have sought to project their precious naval assets in the Indo-Pacific region in ways that reflect widely accepted fashions in strategic thinking. But the underlying logic of this thinking now needs to be viewed more critically after the return of interstate war on European soil.

U.S. President Joe Biden participates in a working session with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the Al Salman Royal Palace, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, July 15, 2022 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

U.S. President Joe Biden’s “summer of diplomacy” continued last week, this time with stops in the Middle East, where he visited two long-term U.S. regional partners, Israel and Saudi Arabia. But unlike recent stops in the German Alps for the annual G-7 meeting or in Madrid for the NATO leaders’ summit, Biden’s meetings in Riyadh, in particular, generated a great deal of criticism and even opprobrium. Ahead of the trip, critics had warned that visiting Saudi Arabia went directly against Biden’s campaign promise to no longer give the kingdom a “blank check” when it comes to its human rights record. […]

African heads of state gather for a group photograph at the African Union leaders’ summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Feb. 5, 2022 (AP photo).

Last week, 13 African heads of state and government attended the African Union’s Mid-Year Coordination Meeting, the principal forum for the AU and Africa’s Regional Economic Communities, or RECs, to align their priorities and coordinate implementation of the continental integration agenda. This year’s meeting, the fourth since the format was launched in 2017 to replace a mid-year leaders’ summit, was focused on issues like the status of regional integration in Africa; the division of labor between the AU, its member states and RECs; a tripartite free trade agreement between the East African Community, The Common Market for Eastern and Southern […]

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Three days after U.S. President Joe Biden returned to Washington from a controversial visit to Saudi Arabia, Russian President Vladimir Putin landed in Tehran with a complex set of goals of his own. Much like Biden, who aimed to strengthen Washington’s ties in the region, Putin sought to bolster Russia’s relations in the Middle East. The meeting in Iran showcased the awkward relationship between these two dictatorial regimes and their oil-rich nations, both of which have been subjected to Western economic sanctions. By embracing one another, Putin and Iran’s supreme leader aimed to show that they are not pariahs.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a press conference after the EU summit at the Chateau de Versailles, March 11, 2022 in Versailles, France (AP photo by Michel Euler).

Just days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as Europe still reeled in shock, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz declared that it was time for what he called a Zeitenwende, or sea change, in how the country approaches national and collective defense. Announcing huge increases in Germany’s defense budget, Scholz’s speech to the Bundestag—the German Parliament—on Feb. 27 represented an epochal shift in Germany’s strategic priorities. But it also reflected a wider reassessment across the European Union over how to respond to military threats facing Europe’s neighborhood. The dilemmas that rapid rearmament has raised for Germany are vast. Having been worn down through […]

A Ukrainian serviceman steps on the barrel of a destroyed tank near the village of Malaya Rohan, Ukraine, April 1, 2022 (AP photo by Andrew Marienko).

In the immediate aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, many military analysts found that their prewar predictions about the Russian military’s performance were wildly off the mark. Even if many had expressed doubts about Russia’s ability to sustainably achieve its strategic objectives in Ukraine, most experts shared the widespread expectation that the superior firepower and mobility of Russian forces’ combined arms operations would quickly overwhelm the Ukrainian military. In the months since then, endless post-mortems have dissected the particular Russian blunders and Ukrainian successes that determined the course of the war’s first weeks, and why military analysts were unable to […]

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, left, walks with European Council President Charles Michel at the European Council building in Brussels, March 9, 2020 (AP photoby Olivier Matthys).

After nearly two years of intermittent border skirmishes and protracted diplomatic talks, Armenia and Azerbaijan are edging closer to reaching a definitive peace agreement to their decades-long dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Significant hurdles still exist, but the Armenian perspective on Nagorno-Karabakh since the end of the 2020 war over the breakaway Azerbaijani province has undergone significant changes, reflecting the altered geopolitical balance of power in the region. The first concrete evidence of the progress in peace negotiations came in March 2022, when Azerbaijan presented a framework for normalizing bilateral relations. This includes establishing diplomatic relations, opening transport routes, mutually […]

Chinese soldiers look at photographs of survivors of the Nanjing Massacre at the National Museum of China in Beijing, Aug. 12, 2005 (AP photo by Elizabeth Dalziel).

To prominent Asia watchers and policymakers, making sense of the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has involved going beyond the man himself to reflect on the politics of the Asia he envisioned. In practice, that means that not only has Abe the man been mourned, but his legacy lauded, too. Matt Pottinger, the former White House coordinator for Asia policy under then-U.S. President Donald Trump, summed up the general sentiment in an op-ed that described Abe as having popularized the idea of a “free and open Indo-Pacific” among regional states wary of China’s rise, turning it into a unifying […]

Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, right, the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Advocate (UNSGSA) for Inclusive Finance for Development, looks at a book with the Governor of the Central Bank of the Philippines, July 1, 2015 (AP Photo by Aaron Favila).

As diplomats and international officials head off on their summer vacations, most will want to stop thinking about world affairs for a few weeks. 2022 has been a grueling year, thanks to Russia’s war on Ukraine and a worsening global economic crisis. Foreign policy professionals will want to read nothing more taxing than a frivolous thriller. Nonetheless, the summer break—which will be no break at all if more major crises erupt—is a good moment to delve into books that can cast light on the state of geopolitics. This week, I’ll highlight a big-picture book on warfare, a memoir, a biography […]

Participants gather near a screen showing a speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin during a plenary session of the 25th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in Saint Petersburg, Russia, June 17, 2017 (Sputnik photo by Grigory Sysoev).

Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine in February, headlines spread claiming that a new iron curtain had fallen across Europe. Russia’s economic and political isolation, they claimed, had come hand-in-hand with digital isolation. As the United States and its allies introduced technological sanctions against Russia, numerous Western tech companies also stopped doing business there, making their products and services unavailable to Russians. At the same time, the Russian state had moved quickly to block any websites that offered information about the war, especially those that criticized the Kremlin’s actions. It is well-known that Russian President Vladimir Putin sees an open and […]

Armed militiamen gather near Rutshuru, 45 miles north of Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, June 22, 2022 (AP photo by Moses Sawasawa).

Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi and his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame, have agreed to a deescalation process between their two countries following bilateral talks last week to address rising tensions on their mutual border. The two leaders held the talks in Luanda, Angola’s capital, at a tripartite summit hosted by Angolan President Joao Lourenco, who was appointed by the African Union to mediate. In a statement released on Twitter, the Congolese presidency said that “the summit aimed to restore trust between the two neighboring countries,” adding that their process of deescalation will be achieved by reviving the joint Congo-Rwanda joint commission, which has […]

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Can we predict the future of United Nations peacekeeping by looking back at its Cold War origins? Over the past two decades, the U.N. has prioritized large, complex blue helmet operations in countries like Mali and South Sudan. But these missions seem to be in slow decline. The Security Council last mandated a big blue helmet force in 2014, in the Central African Republic. The U.N.’s largest operation, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is very gradually winding down after more than two decades. In parallel, some experts on peacekeeping are taking a fresh interest in the organization’s longstanding missions […]