Photo: Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Aug. 15, 2014 (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev).

Russian President Vladimir Putin has a busy schedule next week in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. On Aug. 26, along with the heads of Belarus and Kazakhstan, the other states that make up the Eurasian Customs Union, Putin will have a face-to-face trilateral summit with Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko and a European Union delegation headed by its foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, and Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger. The summit has an ambitious agenda on the table to try and defuse the Ukraine crisis: ending Russia’s not-so-covert support for rebels in eastern Ukraine; brokering a political settlement between the separatists and […]

EU chief negotiator Ignacio Garcia Bercero and U.S. chief negotiator Dan Mullaney address the media at the end of the sixth round of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, Brussels, Belgium, July 18, 2014 (AP photo by Yves Logghe).

Last month, Germany voiced concerns over the inclusion of an Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) in the free trade agreement between the European Union and Canada. German objections also call into question the inclusion of an ISDS in the trade deal currently being negotiated between the EU and the United States. In an email interview, Timothy Josling, senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University, discussed the settlements and their role in international trade agreements. WPR: What is an Investor-State Dispute Settlement and how common is it in free trade agreements? Timothy Josling: Investor-State Dispute Settlement […]

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay meets with South Sudan's former Vice President and now rebel leader Riek Machar at an undisclosed location in South Sudan, April 29, 2014 (AP photo by UNMISS).

“The System Worked.” That is the title of a new book by Daniel W. Drezner reviewing the role of institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organization in the global financial crisis. Although the world economy tanked in 2008, Drezner argues, multilateral organizations helped save it from collapse. It is unlikely that anyone will write a book about the current wars in the Middle East and Ukraine with a similar title. A pithy summary of the United Nations’ rifts over Syria or NATO’s inability to halt Russia from seizing Crimea could be “the system flopped.” While the […]

A Russian construction worker speaks on a mobile phone in Portovaya Bay, Russia, during a ceremony marking the start of Nord Stream pipeline construction, April 9, 2010 (AP photo by Dmitry Lovetsky).

It is the misfortune of the Obama administration to preside over the unraveling of several long-term U.S. strategies in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. The tactics used by previous administrations to delay making hard choices in the hope that problems would resolve themselves over time without Washington being required to make sacrifices are no longer available, as the crises in both regions make abundantly clear. For the past 20 years, successive U.S. administrations have held open the door for Ukraine’s full integration into the Euro-Atlantic world, with the expectation that either Russia would at long last accept the move […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after their talks in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in Sochi, Russia, Feb. 8, 2014 (AP photo/RIA-Novosti, Mikhail Klimentyev).

One of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s main objectives since returning to office has been to improve relations with Russia, a goal also sought by Moscow. Both governments want to enlarge their diplomatic options and gain leverage with third parties as well as achieve mutually beneficial bilateral economic and energy deals. The two sides’ territorial dispute over the Russian-administered Southern Kurils, which the Japanese call their Northern Territories, has long stood in the way of improved ties. Because of the dispute, for instance, Japan and Russia have yet to sign a peace treaty formally ending the state of war between […]

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton talks with Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini and Croatian Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic during an EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels, Belgium, July 22, 2014 (AP photo by Yves Logghe).

Last week Bulgaria nominated Kristalina Georgieva to be the European Union foreign policy chief. Her nomination appears to be gaining momentum after several countries, mostly in Central and Eastern Europe, raised objections to Italy’s candidate, Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini, given her close ties to Russia. The debate over the selection of the next EU foreign policy chief highlights the east-west divide that has existed since the bloc’s 2004 enlargement, when 10 countries in Central and Eastern Europe joined the EU. The very different histories of Eastern and Western Europe since World War II have shaped the political, cultural and economic […]

Crew of a Polish Wolverine Armored Personnel Carrier practice demounting and taking up defensive positions during a live fire exercise as part of Exercise Steadfast Jazz at the Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area, Poland, Nov. 6, 2013 (NATO photo).

Ironically for Poland, World War II—a conflict that officially started in order to defend Polish sovereignty and territorial integrity—resulted in the country ceasing to exist as an independent state and military actor. During the Cold War, the Polish People’s Republic military, which was the second-strongest member of the Warsaw Pact after the Soviet Union, primarily served Moscow’s plans, rather than Polish national interests. Formed with little divergence from Soviet vision and doctrine, it was large, with over 400,000 troops in peacetime; heavy, with over 7,000 tanks and armored vehicles; hierarchical; and devoid of indigenous strategic guidance. The fall of the […]

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrives for an EU summit at the European Council building in Brussels, July 16, 2014 (AP photo by Geert Vanden Wijngaert).

Nations across Europe are commemorating the centennial of World War I, but in Hungary the bitter memory of the war has always lingered. Hungary lost two-thirds of its territory in the 1920 Treaty of Trianon, which left roughly one-third of ethnic Magyars in neighboring countries. Even today, maps with the pre-Trianon borders are a common sight in Hungary, a country whose nationalist drift is increasingly a source of alarm within the European Union. In April, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s conservative Fidesz party maintained its majority in parliament in national elections, which also saw 20 percent of the vote go to […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev as they attend an annual international tournament in combat sambo in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Aug. 9, 2014 (AP photo/RIA-Novosti).

On Aug. 1, heavy clashes erupted along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, prompting worries that the unresolved conflict over the contested region of Nagorno-Karabakh was about to reignite into a full-fledged war. With a death toll of at least 15, the skirmish was the worst outburst of violence between Armenia and Azerbaijan since the cease-fire protocol came into effect in 1994. Publicly, each side has tried to blame the other for the escalation. However, a number of factors suggest that the recent escalation might have less to do with the two belligerent parties and more with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s growing geopolitical […]

Two A-129 Mangusta helicopters fly over an unknown location in Afghanistan, Sept. 8, 2013 (AP photo courtesy of the Italian Army Public Affairs Office in Herat).

Next month’s NATO summit needs to make greater progress on so-called Smart Defense, the alliance-wide effort to get more collective benefits out of individual members’ defense budgets. The initiative aims to induce NATO governments to acquire military capabilities collectively that they cannot afford individually, so that even members with limited resources can contribute to expensive joint projects. The May 2012 Chicago summit launched almost two dozen Smart Defense projects in such areas as logistics and sustainment; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and force protection. One country leads each project. For example, Germany is in charge of pooling maritime patrol aircraft; France […]

Nagorno-Karabakh soldiers and tanks return to their positions during military exercises outside Stepanakert in Nagorno-Karabakh, April 19, 2006 (AP photo by Karen Minasian).

This year, while Europe commemorated 100 years since the beginning of World War I, a long-forgotten conflict on the edge of the continent rumbled on. Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in a contest for control over Nagorno-Karabakh for more than 25 years. Beginning as an obscure conflict in a remote Soviet province during perestroika, the Nagorno-Karabakh stand-off has evolved into an enduring rivalry between two independent states, profoundly affecting both and casting a consistent shadow of insecurity across the South Caucasus. The conflict began in 1988, when a movement formed by the local Armenian majority in Nagorno-Karabakh, then an […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Chinese President Xi Jinping and South African President Jacob Zuma, at the BRICS summit, Brazil, July 15, 2014 (AP photo by Silvia Izquierdo).

The list of applicants for the job of “international financial crisis manager” just got a bit longer. After two years of negotiations, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa—known collectively as the BRICS—have unveiled a new international financial institution. The centerpiece of the aptly named New Development Bank is a $50 billion pool of resources set aside to fund infrastructure and other development projects in the BRICS countries. However, the group also announced the creation of the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA), a $100 billion fund designed to provide short-term liquidity support to members of the group, similar to the Western-dominated […]

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk talk during a session of the parliament in Kiev, Ukraine, July 31, 2014 (AP photo by Efrem Lukatsky).

Global attention remains focused on the conflict in eastern Ukraine, especially in the wake of the tragic downing of the Malaysian commercial airliner MH17. But in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, the ongoing war with Russia is only one of several competing priorities. Attempts to restructure and reform Ukraine’s troubled economy have led to a series of political earthquakes. Two weeks ago, the governing coalition, which had been assembled after the Maidan protests drove former President Viktor Yanukovych from power, was dissolved, and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk offered his resignation. Then last week, Yatsenyuk’s resignation was rejected by Ukraine’s parliament, […]

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin speaks with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission in Brussels, June 25, 2014 (AP photo by Virginia Mayo).

A recently released paper of the Defense Committee of the U.K. House of Commons on Russia’s seizure of Crimea and the implications for Western security concludes that “events in Crimea and Ukraine represent a ‘game changer’ [that] will have significant implications for resources, force structures, equipment and training.” In addition to their excellent analysis of Russian strategy and tactics, the authors offered useful recommendations meant to inform both the next U.K. Defense and Security Review and the upcoming NATO summit. The alliance will need to adapt its capabilities and approach to collective defense if it is to avoid being caught […]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confers with French President Francois Hollande during a visit to a French-Israeli technology innovation summit in Tel Aviv, Israel, Nov. 19, 2013 (AP photo by Jack Guez).

France has been in the spotlight during the Israel-Hamas war for anti-Semitic attacks that took place on the margins of marches protesting Israel’s military campaign in Gaza. But the conflict has also highlighted continuity with shifts in France’s policy toward Israel as well as its broader foreign policy alignment begun under former President Nicolas Sarkozy. President Francois Hollande’s response to the current conflict, combined with his foreign policy approach to date, suggests the shifts have achieved a bipartisan consensus in Paris, although not an uncontested one. Though an early ally of Israel and crucial partner in the development of Israel’s […]

President Barack Obama during the APEC summit in Honolulu, Hawaii, Nov. 12, 2011 (White House photo by Pete Souza).

As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry bustles around the world attempting to staunch conflict after conflict, one question arises with increasing frequency: Why bother? Kerry has certainly had a rough year. Major peace initiatives he had personally pursued, ranging from January’s Syrian peace conference in Geneva to the Israeli-Palestinian talks, have collapsed. His early efforts to defuse the Ukrainian crisis through direct talks with Russia also failed, while Israeli officials have poured scorn on his recent push for a cease-fire in Gaza. At a time when a majority of U.S. voters favor less engagement with foreign problems, Kerry’s ill-fated […]

Russian RS-18 Stiletto missile is launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Oct. 22, 2008 (AP photo).

Last week, the State Department officially reported that Russia had violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty when it tested cruise missiles starting in 2008. Republican lawmakers expressed immediate dismay, building on a steady drumbeat of criticism about the Obama administration’s response to Russian actions in recent months. The report found Russia “in violation of its obligations” under the treaty to not test a ground-launched cruise missile with a maximum range of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. A State Department spokesperson writes in an email to Trend Lines that “this is a serious matter which we have attempted to […]

Showing 1 - 17 of 181 2 Last