India has recently seen a succession of visits by the top leaders of the permanent Security Council members. The British prime minister was in India in late July, and the American president came calling in early November. Visits by the French president and the Chinese premier followed earlier this month. In contrast to the high-profile U.S. visit, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev flew into India almost unnoticed on Dec. 21. Although the Soviet Union was India’s staunchest ally during the Cold War, India has drifted away from post-Cold War Russia. This stands in stark contrast to India’s ties with the U.S., […]

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In contrast to the U.S. and China, with whom India’s bilateral relations have long been hobbled by mistrust or misunderstanding, Russia has proven to be a relatively dependable and accomodating strategic partner for New Delhi. So I was a bit surprised to see, in the context of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to India, that total bilateral trade between the two countries is just $10 billion. Compare that to the $60 billion in bilateral trade between India and China, and it’s positively underwhelming, especially given the potential of the India-Russia relationship. Curiously, that seems to be the overarching theme of […]

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Ukrainian Parliament came crashing to a halt when a fast but furious brawl broke out between members of the opposition and deputies from the ruling party. Fists began flying when opposition members blocked the parliament chamber, demanding abuse charges against their leader, Yulia Timoshenko, be dropped. Four politicians required medical attention for injuries sustained in the fight.

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Matthew Yglesias flags what he calls “the shifting sands inside the German political elite” regarding the need to strengthen the European Union’s political-economic governance mechanisms, but then concludes: Leaving aside the policy ideas here, what you’re seeing is a European policy debate. It’s not Germany versus some other country. And it’s not a simplistic “Europhiles versus Europhobes” debate either. It’s a real disagreement about the best way for Europe to proceed, like how Democrats and Republicans argue in Ohio about national policy. Unfortunately, I think that’s putting too optimistic a spin on things. The truth is, this kind of European […]

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To follow up on Ukraine’s foreign policy rebalancing under President Victor Yanukovich, it’s worth noting that Yanukovich not only reiterated his desire to seek closer EU ties in his annual address to the country’s diplomatic corps, he actually used stronger language than ever before to describe Ukraine’s ultimate EU ambitions. Previously, Yanukovich had pulled back from seeking full EU membership, but he now not only called full membership a strategic goal, he called the “European prospect” the goal not just of Ukraine’s diplomats, but of “the entire state machine, our economic and social reforms.” That’s strong language for someone who […]

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In the aftermath of the French-British defense cooperation treaty, I’d mentioned that EU defense seemed to be the deal’s big loser. So it’s worth noting that France, along with Germany and Poland, called on EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to trigger the Lisbon Treaty’s Permanent Structured Cooperation Clause to allow for more robust military cooperation among a core group of EU member states. At the same time, the three also called for more-structured cooperation between EU defense and the NATO alliance. That further raises the possibility, as I also suggested at the time of the France-U.K. deal, that EU […]

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is the latest head of state to visit India at a time when the latter is looking to award lucrative contracts in energy, infrastructure, security and other areas. As with U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit last month, Sarkozy sought to develop positive atmospherics by making the “right noises” on issues New Delhi holds dear, such as permanent membership on the U.N. Security Council and entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group as well as terrorism emanating from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. The visit also saw forward movement on a number of bilateral deals valued at around $20 billion. […]

When he joined Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg on Nov. 23, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao reassuringly said that, “China will firmly follow the path of peaceful development and support the renaissance of Russia as a great power.” Moscow policymakers, armed with nuclear weapons, probably have little fear of a war with China, but they can rightly be concerned about becoming a raw-material appendage to the growing Chinese economic giant. Since Russia and China have settled their joint border and are not engaged in direct military competition with each other, the focus of the Russian-Chinese relationship in recent […]

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To follow up on my WPR column from Friday, at the last minute, several of the countries that earlier in the week had signaled they would boycott the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony for Liu Xiaobo reversed their positions before the start of the ceremony. Serbia found itself caught between its close relations with China — which has steadfastly supported Belgrade’s position on Kosovo — and its desire to pursue integration with the European Union. Serbia’s initial decision to honor the Chinese demarche was not welcomed by the European Union, and this past Thursday, in Belgrade, EU Enlargement Commisioner Stefan Fule, […]

While much has been said about the overall merits of the New START agreement, comparatively little attention has focused on the treaty’s Article 10. This relatively short but telling passage borrows decades-old language reinforcing both the United States’ and Russia’s mutual obligations regarding “national technical means” (NTM) of treaty monitoring and verification — diplomatic speak for spy satellites. Article 10 obligates both parties to use NTM in accordance with the principles of international law, to refrain from concealment measures intended to impede NTM verification of compliance, and, most importantly, not to interfere with each other’s NTM. The nod to NTM […]

The recent revelation that a computer worm called Stuxnet had caused disruption to the Iranian nuclear program has raised concerns about the unintended consequences of so-called cyber war. It has also caught the attention of nation states and others as Stuxnet has proven to be a truly disruptive cyber weapon. We have witnessed the true dawn of cyber war. Noted cyber security specialist Bruce Schneier recently wrote that cyber arms “agreements are badly needed” and that it is “not too late to reverse the cyber arms race currently under way.” Schneier is not alone in this call. For several years […]

With U.S. defense spending cuts potentially on the agenda, U.S. policymakers would do well to use the United Kingdom’s experience as a cautionary example. The buildup to the recent defense cuts in the United Kingdom served as a call to battle for the U.K.’s military services. Anticipating steep reductions in funding, each of the three branches opened fire on their sister-organizations in the hope of redirecting budgetary knives. This development was neither surprising nor unintended. Civilian policymakers have long understood that they can benefit from inter-service conflict. When services attack one another, it provides fodder for cost-conscious budget-cutters to kill […]

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I’ve had this thought taking shape ever since Kenneth Weisbrode discussed the different U.S. approach to Asia and Europe in his WPR Briefing from last month. Here’s the relevant passages from Weisbrode’s piece: In much of Europe and America, nationalism remains a taboo subject. Elsewhere it does not. As a result, we have one world committed to erasing the legacy of nationalistic rivalry with institutional cooperation, and another that entertains such institutions only insofar as they advance national interests vis-à-vis rivals. . . . Thus, Obama’s tour of Asia was touted as a goodwill visit to rising world powers, while […]

TBILISI, Georgia — Since coming to power in the 2003 Rose Revolution, the government of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has declared in no uncertain terms its desire and intention to bring the country into the West’s orbit. That goal has been most visibly illustrated by Georgia’s efforts to join the NATO alliance as a full member. But geopolitical realities continue to interfere with those plans, forcing Tbilisi to adjust its foreign policy accordingly. While pro forma support in Washington is widespread for Georgia’s right to pursue NATO membership, most would give long odds on Tbilisi’s chances of actually gaining acceptance […]

Two developments this week illustrated the “one step forward, one step back” nature of global nuclear nonproliferation efforts. On the one hand, Iran announced further progress in its domestic nuclear program, increasing Tehran’s potential ability to make nuclear weapons should it ultimately decide to do so. On the other, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) took an important step toward discouraging the further spread of uranium-enrichment technologies, which could be used to pursue nuclear weapons capabilities, by voting to establish the first completely multinational nuclear fuel bank. Although the IAEA move will not solve the immediate problem presented by Iran, […]

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