The verdict is in: There will be no honeymoon for Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin. Many analysts were struck by the nonverbal cues in the two leaders’ body language after their first meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, earlier this month. The era of close, warm interpersonal relations between Russian and American presidents, dating back to “Boris and Bill” in the 1990s, has officially come to a close. With both Putin and Obama disinclined to even parrot the motions of friendship before the television cameras, an opportunity beckons to sweep away the “feel good” […]

The European Union’s solidarity vs. sovereignty game of chicken goes another round this week with the EU Council meeting on June 28, and its key actors are France and Germany. France, and others, are seeking a banking union and ultimately eurobonds; German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants collective oversight on spending beforehand. Who gives in first is the crux of this negotiation, and it boils down to a question of trust. My take on the subject at this stage of the events: Trust Germany — and hope that France does, too. I already explained last week in this column that the […]

Earlier this month, the European Union agreed to create the European Cybercrime Center based at the EU’s joint police body, Europol. In an email interview, Dominik Brodowski, a lecturer in the law faculty at Ludwig Maximilians University Munich, discussed the EU’s efforts to fight cybercrime. WPR: What mechanisms does the European Union already have in place to prevent, detect and prosecute cyber crimes, and what are the shortcomings? Dominik Brodowski: Actually, the union’s 27 member states prevent and prosecute cybercrimes — not the European Union itself. As the EU strives to provide an area of freedom, security and justice, though, […]

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A Pentagon official says the US believes three Russian ships carrying supplies and possibly personnel will be departing for Syria and the US has no reason to believe they are headed anywhere other than Russia’s naval base in Tartus. World News Videos by NewsLook

Nobody can predict how the coming week will unfold in the aftermath of Greece’s parliamentary elections. Nervousness in politics and markets has been increasing, and a Greek exit from the euro can no longer be excluded as a last resort. One thing is certain, however: Germany — the biggest contributor to the European Union’s rescue umbrella (the European Stability Mechanism) and thus the Greek debt — is losing patience. Germany is increasingly turning a deaf ear to calls that it do more, more quickly, to save the euro. This is especially the case for calls coming from London and Washington, […]

The European Union decided earlier this month to reduce the size of the EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) by 25-30 percent, while extending its mandate. In an email interview, Vedran Dzihic, a fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, discussed the future of EULEX. WPR: What was the original size and scope of EULEX? Vedran Dzihic: According to the EU Council’s decision of Feb. 4, 2008, EULEX was originally designed to “monitor, mentor and advise” Kosovar institutions on all areas related to the wider rule of law. […]

The president of Cyprus and the head of the country’s central bank acknowledged earlier this month that Cyprus may need to seek a bailout from the European Union’s European Stability Fund due to Cypriot banks’ exposure to the Greek crisis. In an email interview, Farid Mirbagheri, a professor of international relations at the University of Nicosia, discussed Cyprus’ position in the European debt crisis. WPR: What are the scope and causes of Cyprus’ current economic difficulties? Farid Mirbagheri: The main issue has been exposure to the Greek crisis. Cypriot banks hold around €5 billion ($6.2 billion) of Greek sovereign debt […]

Despite all the attention given the recent Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Beijing, it is often overlooked that the most powerful military alliance in Eurasia is the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Four of the five Central Asian countries belong to the CSTO, as does Belarus and Armenia. Vladimir Putin’s decision to skip both the G-8 and NATO summits in the U.S. and his choice of Belarus, rather than Europe or China, as the destination for his first official visit following his May 7 inauguration as president demonstrates the importance that he attaches to strengthening Moscow’s influence in the […]

With U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on a tour of the South Caucasus last week, hopes that Washington’s top diplomat could use the visit as an opportunity to push for regional peacemaking and democracy support were quickly overcome by events on the ground, underscoring the region’s volatility. Though Clinton’s meetings in Georgia were mostly low key, the brittle cease-fire between arch-nemeses Azerbaijan and Armenia was sorely tested by a series of clashes, fueling fears that another Caucasus war was in the offing. Relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia have been rocky since the two former Soviet republics fought a war […]

This weekend, Spain followed Greece, Portugal and Ireland in seeking shelter under the European Union’s rescue umbrella in order to save its banks. Spain, perhaps prouder than the others, tried to avoid by all means a government bailout, fighting hard for a solution that would rescue its hard-hit banks directly. The problem for Madrid is that after two years of crisis, the EU has learned how to hook countries up to its bailout lifeline, but nobody knows how to move them off of it. The confession of failure might take a harder toll on the Spanish nation than the formal […]

Following the death of four French soldiers in Afghanistan on Saturday, French President François Hollande reaffirmed his decision to withdraw French combat forces from the country by the end of 2012, with the drawdown to begin in July. Hollande had already defended the move at last month’s NATO summit in Chicago, where it met with little public opposition from alliance members. Militarily, the withdrawal of French troops will have little impact on the war effort. The transition of security operations to Afghan security forces in France’s area of responsibility, Kapisa province, had already begun in March, and the roughly the […]

As international negotiators prepare for the next round of talks with Iran over its nuclear program, scheduled in Moscow for June 18-19, the United States faces a 21st century version of a “Stevenson moment.” In 1962, in a forceful presentation backed by compelling photographic evidence at the United Nations, Ambassador Adlai Stevenson made the case that the Soviet Union was installing nuclear weapons in Cuba. In addressing Soviet Ambassador Valentin Zorin in the chamber of the Security Council, Stevenson pointedly declared, “Let me say something to you, Mr. Ambassador. We do have the evidence. We have it, and it is […]

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which concluded its annual summit in Beijing, China, today, announced that it had granted observer status to Afghanistan as part of the group’s effort to play a larger role in the stabilization of the war-torn country after the U.S. military leaves in 2014. The organization, which is made up of six nations — China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan — was founded in 2001 to promote regional economic integration and security cooperation. But the two experts who spoke with Trend Lines said the organization has traditionally been better at ceremony than substance, and closer coordination […]

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