The first public showings of post-Soviet Russian-made aircraft were held last week at Russia’s recently completed International Aviation & Space Salon exhibition, known as MAKS-2011 and held at Zhukovsky airfield outside Moscow. More than 400,000 visitors attended the five-day biennial aviation event, at which hundreds of aerospace firms were represented, including many foreign ones. The exhibition shed considerable light on the revival of Russian military aviation as it attempts to break free from lingering Soviet-era constraints. Until a few years ago, Russian aerospace companies struggled to keep Soviet-era weapons platforms operational through upgrades. The Russian military-industrial complex rarely produced any […]

Following a violent struggle for control of two checkpoints on the Kosovo-Serbia border, the immediate danger of an escalating crisis has been averted. But the cost has been to reinforce the message that violence delivers results. On the night of July 25, Kosovan Prime Minister Hashim Thaci sent special police to seize a pair of border posts in the country’s lawless, Serb-dominated north, resulting in the death of one Kosovo Albanian police officer and injuries to four others. The police withdrew under fierce resistance from the locals, leaving Kosovo Serbs barricading roads to prevent their return. Others torched one of […]

In recent weeks, pundits, diplomats and assorted foreign policy wonks have started raising the alarm on U.S.-Russia relations, with the Obama administration’s much-trumpeted “reset” seeming to be increasingly under threat. A recent travel ban by the U.S. State Department on certain Russian officials believed to be involved in the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky elicited an angry response from Moscow threatening cooperation in areas ranging from Afghanistan to North Korea. Russia’s ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, has started grousing about U.S. missile defense plans again. And all of this comes against a backdrop of increasing criticism from Prime Minister Vladimir […]

Amid the anxiety and devastation of the London riots, there was one brief comic interlude, when the government of Iran urged British authorities to use restraint in dealing with protesters. The appeal was bitterly amusing, of course, because of the brutal tactics Tehran used to put down protests in 2009. Police in London managed to end the rioting using traditional crowd-control methods. But then, in the wake of a public outcry over the disturbances and the disappointing performance of the police, British Prime Minister David Cameron made a highly controversial proposal: Next time, he suggested, the government might choke off […]

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There are two interesting U.S. angles to the recent spate of high-level defense contacts between Israel and China. The first has to do with the respective roles each country plays in the domestic U.S. discourse, with Israel universally portrayed as the United States’ most stalwart ally and China increasingly portrayed as our most likely future peer competitor. This Manichean view is especially pronounced among the Tea Party and Christian Zionist wings of the GOP, but is also present in moderate Republican and Democratic circles. So it will be interesting to see how a closer defense relationship between the two plays […]

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In thinking about how to support the twin goals of deterrence and assurance, the Obama administration has been struggling with how best to integrate U.S. nuclear weapons, conventional forces and missile defenses into a coherent strategic posture. Now budgetary pressures are making the trade-offs involved in striking the necessary balance for such an initiative even sharper. These three military tools interact in complex ways. Nuclear forces are very powerful but for the most part unusable due to their destructiveness and the taboo associated with their use. Their main value is therefore to deter adversaries and reassure allies, thereby helping to […]

When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, I was completing my doctoral dissertation on Warsaw Pact-Third World relations. I immediately understood that my time in Soviet studies was done. Why? Because I knew that Russia was full of brilliant political scientists who, once free to pursue their craft free of ideological constraints, would do a better job explaining things there than outsiders could. The generation of Russian scholars that emerged in the post-Soviet era proved me right, and none has consistently impressed more than Dmitri Trenin, who heads up the Moscow office of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Trenin, […]

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The U.K. recently announced plans to cooperate with Bolivia against drug trafficking, following a diplomatic overture to Brazil in June. In an email interview, Juliana Bertazzo, an associate at the London School of Economics and an associate fellow at the Institute for the Study of the Americas at the University of London, discussed U.K.-South America relations. WPR: What is the recent history of the U.K.’s relations with South America? Juliana Bertazzo: The most significant recent event is a new rapprochement between the U.K. and individual South American countries after Argentina’s latest attempt to gather multilateral support for its claim on […]

The riots this past week in the United Kingdom, coming on the heels of the terrorist attack in Norway last month, the protests in Greece and the tsunami and subsequent nuclear accident in Japan earlier this spring, should be a wake-up call to Europe and the rest of the developed world that it cannot ignore the domestic side of the national security equation. It is time to dispense with the hubris of thinking that natural disasters, civil unrest or terrorism produces instability only in countries like Haiti or Iraq. And as Reuters correspondent Peter Apps notes, while a massive police […]

The latest crisis in Kosovo, which erupted in late-July, seems to be abating after a NATO-brokered deal between Belgrade and Pristina. However, the incident focused attention on the region’s most-recent frozen conflict: Kosovo’s north. The crisis followed the decision of the government in Pristina to impose a trade ban on goods from Serbia, in belated retaliation for Serbia’s 2008 ban on imports from Kosovo after its declaration of independence. Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s independence and still considers it to be an integral part of its territory. Most of the international community, under U.S. leadership, has recognized Kosovo as an […]

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Last month the U.S. threatened to impose sanctions against Iceland over its increased whaling activities. In an email interview, Peter Stoett, professor at Concordia University, discussed the politics of the international whaling regime. WPR: What are the main components of the international whaling regime, and what is its recent trajectory? Peter Stoett: The International Whaling Commission is the central global body, mandated to protect the whaling industry back in 1946. As the threat of extinction for several species of cetaceans rose and whales assumed a prominent space in public environmental consciousness, the IWC gradually swung towards an anti-whaling position, led […]

Allegations of Russian involvement in a bombing targeting the U.S. embassy compound in Tbilisi, Georgia, have sent diplomatic shockwaves through international policy circles and threaten the Obama administration’s carefully calibrated “reset” program with Moscow. While the details of the incident underscore the Caucasus’ still-smoldering volatility, they are consistent with Russia’s longtime activities in the region. The reactions were quick and vigorous following Eli Lake’s July 22 report in the Washington Times, in which official Georgian sources accused Russian agents of complicity in a September 2010 explosion near the American Embassy in Tbilisi. According to the Georgian Interior Ministry, an Abkhazia-based […]