Poles take part in a silent march in memory of a teenager who apparently choked to death while trying to swallow a drug packet as narcotics officers tried to stop him, Legionowo, Poland, March 22, 2015 (AP photo by Alik Keplicz).

Poland’s harsh policy on drugs, in place for nearly two decades, has not been effective. Now civil society groups are pushing for a new approach. Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing series about national drug policies in various countries around the world. Poland’s strict drug laws, in place for nearly two decades, are considered among the harshest in Europe. But criminalizing even minor drug possession has proven ineffective, and the president who signed the measures into law has admitted they are a policy failure. In an email interview, Kasia Malinowska, director of the Global Drug Policy Program […]

Muslims pray outside the Moscow Cathedral Mosque during celebrations of Eid al-Adha, Moscow, Russia, Sept. 1, 2017 (AP photo by Pavel Golovkin).

Editor's Note: This article is part of an ongoing series about religious minorities in various countries around the world. In its 2017 annual report, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom called out Russia for creating an increasingly repressive environment for religious minorities. While the report did not put Russia on the U.S. watchdog’s list of most egregious violators, it did recommend for the first time that Russia be designated a “country of particular concern.” In an email interview, Eugene Clay, head of the religious studies faculty at Arizona State University and a scholar on religion in Russia, discusses […]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki review the honor guards prior to a meeting, Berlin, Feb. 16, 2018 (AP photo by Markus Schreiber).

On Feb. 16, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki met in Berlin for what appeared to be a tense discussion aimed at mending their countries’ frayed bilateral ties. Merkel acknowledged that the two leaders “have different points of view” on a number of issues, including the resettlement of refugees in Europe. In an email interview, Piotr Buras, the head of the European Council on Foreign Relations Warsaw office, discusses the points of friction between Berlin and Warsaw and where their interests still overlap. WPR: Where do relations between Germany and Poland currently stand, and what are […]

United Nations peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix is welcomed by U.N peacekeepers upon his arrival in eastern Congo, Dec. 19, 2017 (AP photo by Al-Hadji Kudra Maliro).

Editor’s note: This is a special Wednesday edition of Diplomatic Fallout. Judah Grunstein will return with Balance of Power next week. There is a long history of bold ideas for peacekeeping missions that never quite took off. In 1936, British officials considered deploying 10,000 peacekeepers to the Rhineland as a buffer force between France and an increasingly aggressive Nazi Germany. In 1969, the Irish foreign minister called for a United Nations force to counter mounting sectarian tensions in Northern Ireland. London said no. In January 2009, in one of its very last foreign policy initiatives, the outgoing George W. Bush […]

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini attend the inauguration of the Hybrid CoE, Helsinki, Finland, Oct. 2, 2017 (Lehtikuva photo by Jussi Nukari via AP).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, and associate editor, Omar H. Rahman, discuss a tale of two corruption scandals in Israel and South Africa. For the Report, Mackenzie Weinger talks with Andrew Green about why Finland is in the vanguard of efforts to counter Russia’s use of hybrid threats to undermine Western democracies. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our free newsletter to get some of our uncompromising analysis delivered twice a week straight to your inbox. The […]

Romanians hold a large European Union flag during a protest in Bucharest, Romania, Dec. 3, 2017 (AP photo by Vadim Ghirda).

In late January, Romania’s parliament approved Viorica Dancila as the nation’s first female prime minister—and the third prime minister in just the past year. The same ruling coalition has overseen a period of political turbulence driven by the largest wave of popular protests in Romania in a quarter of a century. In an email interview, Silvia Fierascu, a research fellow at the Center for Network Science at the Central European University in Budapest, discusses the ongoing political tensions, the balance of power and the role of international actors. WPR: What do the recent political battles that ultimately resulted in Dancila’s […]

A protester wearing a mask of President Petro Poroshenko and a sign with the word "Impeachment" attends a rally outside the Ukrainian parliament, Kiev, Oct. 17, 2017 (AP photo by Efrem Lukatsky).

Today in Ukraine, both inside the government and out, it isn’t uncommon to hear that President Petro Poroshenko is no less corrupt than Viktor Yanukovych, the Kremlin-connected leader who was ousted in the 2014 Maidan revolution. The main difference between Poroshenko and Yanukovych, according to many Ukrainians, is that the Poroshenko administration is simply far more duplicitous at presenting a polished image to Western donors. That was the view from more than 100 interviews with Ukrainian public officials, activists, lawyers and businesspeople that I conducted as a visiting Fulbright scholar at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy throughout 2016 and […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto answer questions during a news conference, Savonlinna, Finland, July 27, 2017 (Sputnik photo by Mikhail Klimentyev via AP).

HELSINKI, Finland—Tucked away in an unassuming office building near Helsinki’s waterfront, a group of around 10 academics and government officials—most of them Finns—spend long days and nights tracking disinformation and influence operations emanating from neighboring Russia. They make up a newly formed research and strategy unit tasked with lifting the veil on a range of security threats that blend conventional and unconventional tactics. The European Center of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, known as the Hybrid CoE, was founded last year in Helsinki by a dozen member states of the European Union and NATO. It defines hybrid threats as the […]

Cameroonian President Paul Biya speaks with French President Emmanuel Macron during an EU Africa summit in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, Nov. 29, 2017 (AP photo by Diomande Ble Blonde).

Michel Thierry Atangana Abega spent 17 years in detention in Cameroon, locked in a tiny underground cell. He was alone for nearly all that time, denied access to lawyers and doctors and dependent on charity to supplement meager, state-issued rations. His primary connection to the outside world came from a radio that carried local stations and, sometimes, Radio France Internationale and the BBC. Born in Cameroon in 1964, Atangana studied in France and became a naturalized French citizen in 1988. He embarked on a career as a financial engineer and, in 1994, traveled back to Cameroon to develop road projects. […]

A worker walks on the site of the China-financed reconstruction of a railway line, Belgrade, Serbia, Nov. 28, 2017 (AP photo by Darko Vojinovic).

BELGRADE, Serbia—Is China building a Trojan horse in a divided Europe? The diplomatic initiative between China and 16 countries in Central and Eastern Europe, known as the 16+1, has become more controversial since its launch in 2012 at a summit in Poland. Critics worry that it may undermine the European Union’s unified approach to Beijing, weaken transparency in economic and diplomatic engagement, and give a secretive regime with an increasingly muscular foreign policy a foothold in Europe. The 16 European countries are all ex-communist states, and all but five are EU members. In January, Hans Dietmar Schweisgut, the EU’s ambassador […]

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attend a news conference following talks, Moscow, Russia, Dec. 22, 2017 (AP photo by Pavel Golovkin).

In late December, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had a tense meeting with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, during a visit to Moscow—the first by a British foreign secretary in five years. Johnson and Lavrov clashed over allegations of Russian meddling in European elections and the U.K.’s Brexit referendum. Lavrov admitted it was “not a secret” that the relationship between Russia and the U.K. was at a “very low point.” In an email interview, Duncan Allan, an associate fellow with the Russia and Eurasia Program at Chatham House in London, discusses the nature of the tensions, their economic impact and […]