Last week, when the head of the Russian navy, Vice Adm. Viktor Chirkov, was quoted saying that Russia was seeking access to naval maintenance and supply facilities in Cuba, Vietnam and the Seychelles, the Russian government quickly denied the reports. The Russian navy abandoned almost all such overseas facilities more than a decade ago to save money and because it no longer had a global mission. Significantly, however, the government has not challenged Chirkov’s statement that Russia would construct new aircraft carriers starting after 2020. “At the moment,” Chirkov told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, “the construction bureau has […]

As Syria’s crisis descends into an increasingly bloody civil war, emerging fault lines have been reinforced both within the country and across the region. Once a close partner to the Syrian government, neighboring Turkey has now become a wary adversary. Meanwhile, bitter divisions at the U.N. Security Council have all but paralyzed the international community. And even if an intervention were to be approved, it would face serious obstacles. This World Politics Review special report examines Syria’s downward spiral. Below are links to each article in this special report, which subscribers can read in full. Not a subscriber?Try our subscription […]

The downgrade warning issued to Germany by the credit rating agency Moody’s last week has shaken German public opinion and raised the question of whether Berlin can bear the costs of extricating the eurozone from its ongoing sovereign debt crisis. The question of what Germany can bear has two components: One involves the financial costs, while the other has to do with what German public opinion can support. Of the two, the answer to the latter question is easier to determine: According to recent polls, 70 percent of Germans are fed up with the euro crisis and increasingly convinced that […]

The British government revealed plans in early July to restructure the British army, including cutting the number of regular soldiers from 102,000 to 82,000 by 2020. In an email interview, Michael Codner, the director of the military sciences department at the Royal United Services Institute in London, discussed the U.K.’s defense cuts. WPR: What are the concrete consequences, in terms of force size and capabilities, of the defense cuts the U.K. has announced? Michael Codner: The cuts in the army, as well as to the Royal Marines, who were affected through the earlier 18 percent cuts to the navy, are […]

A remarkable transformation is underway in a country where most people were nomadic herders a generation ago. Mongolia has the fastest-growing economy in the world, with GDP increasing by more than 17 percent last year. It sits on vast precious metal and mineral resources: The 10 biggest deposits alone are estimated to be worth almost $1.5 trillion. Given all this wealth in a country of only 3 million people, Mongolia has the potential to become an Asian version of Norway. However, popular anger is growing as fast as the economy. Despite the “gold rush,” the poverty rate increased between 2008 […]

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius visited Algeria recently to discuss bilateral relations and the security situation in Mali. In an email interview, Laurence Aïda Ammour, a research fellow at the Bordeaux Institute for Political Science and a consultant in international security and defense at GéopoliSudconsultance, discussed French-Algerian relations. WPR: How have relations between France and Algeria evolved over the past decade in terms of trade and diplomatic ties? Laurence Aïda Ammour: Bilateral relations between France and Algeria have always gone through cycles of crisis. They also depend on personal ties between the leaders of both countries. In 2003, French President […]

A plurality of Britons would like to leave the European Union if they could, with 48 percent supporting an EU exit against just 31 percent who would prefer to stay. However, most of them — 63 percent — don’t think this will happen. That’s perhaps the only optimistic figure of a recently released Chatham House and YouGov poll, showing that Britons understand and are resigned to the key consequence of globalization: Cooperation and multilateralism trump bilateralism or “going it alone.” Thus, the U.K. is not yet completely a lost cause for continental Europe. But it is close, as the rest […]

In a significant foreign policy breakthrough, the Russian Duma voted last week to ratify the country’s accession to the World Trade Organization, resolving an issue that had been a point of contention between Russia and the West since the 1990s. Russia’s accession negotiations, which opened in 1995 and were completed in November 2011, were the longest and arguably the thorniest in WTO history. Economic and political disputes, not to mention the Russia-Georgia War of 2008, repeatedly delayed Russian accession. With Russia now set to formally enter the WTO in August, it is worth examining what the move will mean for […]

If the critics of the United Nations were to design a scenario to make the organization seem absolutely irrelevant, it would look a lot like this week’s debacle over Syria. On Wednesday, the U.N. Security Council was meant to vote on a Western resolution to impose sanctions on Syria unless the government of embattled President Bashar al-Assad ceased significant military operations within 10 days. The vote was delayed after three high-ranking members of Assad’s inner circle, including his brother-in-law Assef Shawkat and Defense Minister Gen. Dawoud Rajiha, were killed in Damascus that day. But with fighting escalating in Syria, the […]

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During the Soviet era, Russian trade unions were state run and had nothing to do with helping workers fight for their rights against employers. That changed following the Soviet Union’s collapse. This report by Euronews takes an in-depth look at the evolution of Russian trade unions and the battles they face today.

In 2000, when Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel formed a coalition government with Jörg Haider’s far-right populist Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), the 14 member states of the European Union immediately agreed to sanction the country. Acting on the basis of bilateral relations, as the EU Treaty did not justify such sanctions, the EU member states froze diplomatic relations and sought to isolate Austria in international institutions, despite the fact that Haider and his FPÖ had been democratically elected. Today, with populism on the rise across the member states of the EU, this kind of forceful reaction is no longer even […]

In late-June, Turkey and Azerbaijan signed accords green-lighting the much-anticipated $7 billion Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP), which will ferry 16 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field through neighboring Georgia to Turkey and from there to European markets. While the deal has been described as a deathblow to the once highly touted European Union-backed Nabucco pipeline consortium, TANAP’s emergence alongside a host of other alternative and unconventional energy options is also endangering Russia’s near-monopoly in the European natural gas market. In its original form, Nabucco, named for Verdi’s famous opera, was billed as a means […]

Romania’s plunge into political crisis is the last thing the country needs. Still deeply scarred by Stalinist dictatorship, it is one of the European Union’s poorest member states and has been hit hard by a recent recession. Its rulers have long been criticized for corruption, remoteness and authoritarianism, and now they stand accused of tearing the country apart. The EU is seriously considering sanctions on Romania this week as the new government of Prime Minister Victor Ponta appears reluctant to back down on the moves it has taken to gain control of key institutions of state. Meanwhile, the government’s attempt […]

Uzbekistan formally withdrew from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) on June 28. In an email interview, Alexander Cooley, the Tow professor of political science at Barnard College, Columbia University, discussed Uzbekistan’s rationale for leaving the Russian-backed security organization. WPR: What were the causes, both underlying and immediate, behind Uzbekistan’s exit from the CSTO? Alexander Cooley: Uzbekistan had been a nonenthusiastic member of the Russian-led CSTO since 2006, when it rejoined the organization after falling out with the West over the government’s brutal crackdown on protesters in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijan in May 2005. However, Tashkent has long […]

Uzbekistan’s decision to withdraw from the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) highlights the dilemma confronting Russian President Vladimir Putin as he tries to strengthen Moscow’s pre-eminence among the former Soviet republics through the region’s multiple multilateral institutions. The CSTO and other Moscow-led regional organizations have important symbolic value to Russia regardless of their actual effectiveness, because they affirm Moscow’s strategic primacy in the former Soviet space. The other member states accept this arrangement since it can yield some tangible benefits, such as economic and military assistance, as long as it does not overly constrain their freedom of action. The […]

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Mongolia on Monday on the second day of her Asia tour intended to boost U.S. economic engagement with the region. She praised the Asian country as a model of democracy and called it an “inspiration.” By visiting Mongolia, Clinton aimed to put to rest the idea that democracy is a Western ideal in conflict with Asian values, explained Stephen Noerper, senior vice president of the Korea Society. “It provided the U.S. with an opportunity to acknowledge and congratulate Mongolia on its path toward democracy and to quietly acknowledge the fragility of that and […]

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