The Valdai International Discussion Club held the first meeting of its Defense and Security section in Moscow from May 25-27. The discussions, which focused on Russia’s military modernization program as well as on Russian cooperation in international security, brought together about two-dozen Russian and Western international security analysts. The meeting was co-organized by the Russian RIA Novosti state news agency, the independent Council on Foreign and Defense Policy think tank and the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technology (CAST) research institute, and included visits to several important Russian military facilities. Participants were also able to meet with some of […]

For all the ways that Kosovo’s declaration of independence on Feb. 17, 2008, was a seminal moment, it changed little. To be sure, it marked the beginning of a fundamentally new phase in Kosovo’s political life and led to material as well as symbolic changes in its international status. Many powerful states recognized Kosovo as independent, and its altered international standing quickly allowed it to reach new heights of political autonomy. Yet many of the underlying political challenges and divisions that made Kosovo such a political flashpoint in Europe in the first place remained in place. Its early post-independence years […]

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With the United States and Europe behind the curve on so many fronts — from the economic meltdown to the Arab Spring — observers have noted that U.S. President Barack Obama hoped his trip to Europe this week would inspire a new era of U.S.-European cohesion toward solving the world’s problems. “There are a whole variety of issues that he’s probably not going to solve on this trip, but he’s got to lay the groundwork that we need a united front,” says James Joyner, managing editor of the Atlantic Council in Washington. “At a minimum, he needs to overcome a […]

BELGRADE, Serbia — The arrest of Ratko Mladic offers Europe some closure on a horrific period of its recent history, and is a substantial boost for Serbia and its president, Boris Tadic. But obstacles remain ahead for Serbia on its long journey back to the European family. After 16 years of evading near misses and false leads, Mladic came quietly. The former head of the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS) was found not in a mountain redoubt in Bosnia, but in an innocuous town on the northern Serbian plains. Mladic has been indicted on 15 counts, including genocide and crimes against […]

Seventy years ago yesterday, the Royal Navy battlecruiser the HMS Hood was destroyed by the German battleship the Bismarck, striking the British national security apparatus with panic. Although the Hood was 20 years old when it faced off against the Bismarck, it was still one of the largest, fastest and most powerful warships in the world. It was also the most visible symbol of British naval power, having conducted many “show the flag” cruises during the interwar period. The loss of the Hood inspired an intense, emotional desire for vengeance on the part of the Royal Navy, as well as […]

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Thousands of protesters have been rallying for several days now in Georgia with the goal to overthrow President Mikhail Saakashvili. This report by the Russian government-owned news network Russia Today maintains that the opposition has vowed to take radical action by Wednesday saying that the current regime must go by then.

The International Monetary Fund is in an unexpected state of flux. The shocking sexual assault charges, arrest and subsequent resignation of former Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn have turned the institution’s leadership on its ear. As the surprise of last week’s events dissipates, the focus now becomes selecting Strauss-Kahn’s replacement. In the coming weeks, a highly political process will unfold behind the scenes as the Europeans wrangle with a group of emboldened emerging-market countries for the fund’s top slot. In the middle lie the Americans, who hold the key to the success of either group. If the U.S. is shrewd, it […]

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Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari visited Russia earlier this month for broad-ranging strategic talks. In an email interview, Rouben Azizian, a professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, discussed Russia-Pakistan relations. WPR: What is the recent history of Pakistan-Russia relations? Rouben Azizian: For decades, Moscow and Islamabad viewed each other as adversaries because of the Cold War’s impact on South Asia, Russia’s special relations with India and the U.S.-Pakistan alliance. The withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan briefly opened the door for improved bilateral relations, but Pakistan’s support for the Taliban government in Afghanistan and the presence of Chechen […]

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Facing pressure from the European Union, the Serbian political entity within Bosnia-Herzegovina backed off of plans last week to hold a referendum that would have challenged the authority of statewide institutions in the country. In an email interview, Bruce Hitchner, a professor at Tufts University and the chairman of the Dayton Peace Accords Project, discussed Bosnia’s relations with the EU. WPR: What is the current status of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s EU aspirations, on both sides? Bruce Hitchner: The European Union has strongly supported Bosnia’s eventual membership in the EU, and Bosnia-Herzegovina has signed a Security and Stabilization Agreement with the European Union, […]

If terrorism recedes as the central defining question of contemporary international relations, will “natural security” rise to take its place? Thom Shanker sees natural security emerging “not just by competitive economic growth, but also by potentially disruptive scarcities — depletion of minerals; desertification of land; pollution or overuse of water; weather changes that kill fish and farms.” Natural security, and its potential to fuel new conflicts between states, is becoming an issue because of the rapid growth of a truly global middle class — projected to encompass some 5 billion people by 2030. Two of the drivers of a middle-class […]

The Stuxnet computer worm, WikiLeaks and the social-media-facilitated revolutions of the Arab Spring have already provided ample reason for a high-level U.S. policy on cyber issues. Now the killing of Osama bin Laden has provided an opening for a broader strategic dialogue in Washington, one that includes cyberspace in its proper context. This policy discussion has been a long time coming, and it has now arrived in the form of the Obama administration’s “International Strategy for Cyberspace” (.pdf), which presents concepts and ideals on a cluster of diplomatic, commercial and security issues related to the global information space that the […]

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In a press conference yesterday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned that disagreements over European-based missile defense might erupt into a new Cold War. In an email interview, Richard Weitz, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and a World Politics Review senior editor, discussed the state of NATO-Russia missile defense talks. WPR: Where do discussions between the U.S. and its NATO allies and Russia on missile defense stand? Richard Weitz: At the November 2010 NATO-Russia Council Summit in Lisbon, NATO and Russia agreed to expand their cooperation on tactical missile defense and take measures to overcome their differences on territorial ballistic […]

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My first thought upon hearing the news of Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s arrest was that, if there is even a kernel of truth to the allegations, it is highly unlikely that this is the first time he has been guilty of this kind of behavior. And indeed, the stories have begun, not to surface, but to resurface, with one former Sarkozy adviser quoted a few years ago as saying, “Everyone in Paris has known for years he had something of a problem. Not many female journalists are prepared to interview him alone these days.” If this is actually the case, then it […]

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