Ukraine’s new president-elect, Petro Poroshenko, has promised to open talks with Moscow on repairing the frayed Russia-Ukraine relationship. With fighting continuing in the eastern parts of the country, the economy headed toward collapse and Western rhetoric of support unmatched by concrete deeds and dollars, Poroshenko and his team might want to consider learning from how another mid-sized Eurasian state has managed its relationship with the Russian bear. This week, in a ceremony in Astana overshadowed by the events in Ukraine, Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, signed the agreements formally creating the Eurasian Economic Union, along with the presidents of Russia and […]

On May 21, after a decade of arduous negotiations, Russia finally signed a gas deal with China. The agreement foresees the delivery of 38 billion cubic meters (bcm) of Siberian gas a year to China for 30 years, starting around 2018. Media commentators have been quick to call the deal “historic,” and Russian President Vladimir Putin trumpeted it as “the biggest contract in the history of the gas sector of the former USSR.” With the deal’s value of $400 billion and the involvement in it of two major non-Western powers, one might be tempted to see the agreement as an […]

I had the opportunity to spend part of last week in Russia, giving a talk at the Moscow Carnegie Center on U.S.-Russia security cooperation after Ukraine, and attending the third annual Moscow International Security Conference, organized by the Russian Defense Ministry. The difference between the two audiences was striking: The talk at Carnegie attracted mostly members of the liberal intelligentsia eager to manage the Ukraine crisis in a way that preserves U.S.-Russian cooperation in some areas; in contrast, the Russians who addressed the conference, including top officials of the Russian Foreign and Defense Ministries as well as the armed services, […]

Shortly after assuming power in May 2010, the government of U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron began setting caps on immigration levels, ultimately promising to reduce net migration into the U.K. to fewer than 100,000 people per year by the 2015 general election. The focus on immigration was unsurprising; migration is highly politicized, particularly near elections and during economic crises. But the overlooked and crucial question was how effective a cap on immigration could be given the European Union’s free movement provisions. The U.K. could indeed limit non-EU immigration by decreasing the number of visas issued. However, there was not much […]

Of the 380 million eligible voters in the 28 countries of the European Union, very few will actually bother to cast ballots in the May 22-25 European parliamentary elections, according to recent polls. Popular disinterest in these elections runs deep, and the trend toward massive abstention—already 60 percent in the most recent EU elections in 2009—will likely be the polls’ biggest winner. Facilitated by the present climate of crisis, right-wing parties, which number approximately 60 across Europe, continue to surge for their part, raising concerns about their weight in the next parliament. What exactly are their chances of success? Analysts […]

Russia and India are reportedly considering a $30 billion oil pipeline that would transit through China’s Xinjiang province. When seen in the context of other bilateral hydrocarbon initiatives between India and Russia, the discussions, first reported in late March, show that Russia is cultivating India in addition to China as part of its accelerated move away from dependence on European markets amid the ongoing Ukraine crisis. For its part, India, which has been on the lookout for stable sources of hydrocarbons outside the Middle East, finds a natural fit in Russia, given the two countries’ traditional ties and Russia’s vast […]

Less than a year ago, Armenia appeared well on its way to taking its first substantial step in years toward European integration. Negotiations with the European Union had been finalized, and all but minor details had been overcome for Yerevan’s initialing of an Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) with the European Union at the November 2013 Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius, Lithuania. For the briefest of moments, Armenia looked ready to venture outside of the pro-Russia system within which it had long been firmly ensconced. But in early September, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan announced during […]

As the diplomatic showdown between the United States and Russia drags on, both governments are seeking ways to exert leverage and impose costs on each other. This is having consequences for areas of longer-term cooperation between the two countries. One of these areas is space. Dmitry Rogozin, the deputy prime minister in charge of Russia’s space program as well as its defense industry—and a target of U.S. sanctions—announced new limits on space cooperation with the United States at a press conference last week. Rogozin said Russia would not cooperate with the United States on the International Space Station (ISS) after […]

While most Americans have been absorbed over the past month in the usual medley of celebrity scandals, from Donald Sterling’s racist comments to Jay Z’s family troubles, the Obama administration has quietly hinted at two changes in its approach to U.S. foreign policy that, if followed to their logical conclusion, signal a major reorientation in how Washington plans to conduct international affairs. The first, in response to the crisis in Ukraine, has been, as Peter Baker of the New York Times described it, to develop “an updated version of the Cold War strategy of containment” for dealing with Russia. The […]

Last week, European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi raised the possibility that the ECB might act to prevent deflation in the eurozone. In an email interview, Milton Ezrati, senior economist and market strategist with Lord Abbett and author of “Thirty Tomorrows: The Next Three Decades of Globalization, Demographics, and How We Will Live,” discussed the ECB’s monetary policy. WPR: What economic concerns are driving the current debate over the ECB’s monetary and interest rate policy, and how are intra-European Union politics impacting it? Milton Ezrati: The ECB has turned its major concern from economic matters, especially the goal of […]

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Tensions between Moscow and Washington are nothing new, but the growing level of animosity and the dangerous escalation around the political turmoil in Ukraine have ended any remaining illusion that the U.S. and Russia could develop a partnership, working together without rancor toward common goals on the global stage. Now that Ukraine stands on the edge of civil war, with the two sides clearly delineated—one supported, even controlled, by Russia, the other backed by the U.S. and its Western allies—it looks as if the world has undergone a geopolitical backflip. The calendar seems to have been returned to something resembling […]

France’s announcement that it will reorganize its deployment of thousands of troops across the Sahel region of Africa came as a blow to early hopes that security could be swiftly restored in northern Mali after last year’s Operation Serval. French Defense Minister Jean-Yves le Drian said on May 8 that despite assurances in 2013 that his country’s military intervention in Mali would be over in a matter of months, 1,000 French troops will now remain in the country, down from what are thought to be about 1,600 French troops at present. A further 3,000 will be based in three other […]

The past few years have seen a remarkable recovery of Russia’s international influence and ambitions. Rejecting an implicit offer of partnership with the West, albeit with junior status for Moscow outside its Eurasian region, the Russian government under President Vladimir Putin continues to pursue a separate agenda aimed at making Russia an important and independent pillar of the global order. Moscow may not yet aspire to become a global superpower and peer rival of the United States again, but its goals and some of its capabilities still exceed those of Britain, France, Germany, Japan and other typical regional powers. Not […]

No matter whether the crisis in Ukraine begins to de-escalate in the coming days, Vladimir Putin, with his 19th century outlook, has demonstrated the hollowness of the West’s 21st century approach to Euro-Atlantic security. The twin pillars of the European security establishment—NATO and the EU—have been unable to respond effectively because their assumptions about the nature of conflict and the burdens that members ought to bear to provide for the common defense, formed out of the experiences of the mid-to-late 20th century, have not been updated. For all the exalted talk about NATO as the mailed fist of the West, […]

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe just finished a 10-day, six-country tour of Europe. The trip’s primary focus was securing momentum toward an end state in Tokyo’s negotiations with the European Union on an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). The trade talks have been moving at a steady pace since the first round of negotiations in early 2013. A finalized Japan-EU EPA would facilitate trade between the world’s third-largest economy and the EU, a partnership that would be worth over $20 trillion dollars, or nearly one-third of global GDP. According to a report from the European Commission, the EPA would result in […]

Last month, amid nonstop coverage of the Ukrainian crisis and an onslaught of domestic U.S. issues, the New York Times published an editorial urging the U.S. Congress to pass legislation to comply with international obligations on illegal fishing. Why did the editorial board think this issue warranted ink? Part of the answer is that the illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) trade in fish is no longer just a conservation and biodiversity challenge. Environmental crimes across the board today have significant consequences for countries’ development aspirations, in addition to global security implications. In this light, governments around the world need to […]

“Russia fulfilled none of its commitments. None. Zero.” Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday, that was how Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland described Russia’s implementation of the Geneva agreement reached on April 17 to de-escalate tensions between Russia and Ukraine. In response, she said, the administration will continue its policy of “steadily raising the economic costs” for Russia, including targeted sanctions on Russian entities and individuals. One target of more muscular sanctions will be the Russian defense industry. A White House statement announced that the departments of State and Commerce would pursue a “tightened policy to deny […]

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