Cambodians hold a protest demanding the release of opposition leader Kem Sokha,  Brussels, Belgium, Sept. 18, 2017 (DPA photo by Wiktor Dabkowski via AP Images).

Cambodia has made significant progress on reducing poverty since its transition to democracy in the 1990s, yet millions still remain at risk of falling back into destitution given the nation’s shaky dependence on foreign money, both from trading partners and aid donors. That’s why many Cambodians will be desperately hoping the European Union’s recent threat to suspend valuable trade preferences does not actually come to fruition. In early October, the EU announced that it was formally looking into removing Cambodia’s special trade status, known as “Everything But Arms,” which gives developing nations duty-free access to export into Europe. European Trade […]

A Russian S-400 air defense missile system during a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade in Moscow, May 3, 2018 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko). Such systems reduce NATO's ability to counter the Russian threat in Eastern Europe.

As NATO has focused its attention on Russia’s offensive military capabilities in Eastern Europe, an equally significant and, in practice, more problematic issue has been largely ignored: Russia’s preponderance of “anti-access, area-denial” capabilities in the borderlands between the Baltic and Black Seas. Is NATO focusing on the wrong Russian threat in Eastern Europe? This week, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton was in Moscow, where he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss, among other things, the U.S. withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Announced by President Donald Trump last weekend, the move comes after repeated Russian violations […]

Rafal Trzaskowski, the candidate for mayor of Warsaw from the opposition party Civic Platform, speaks to supporters, Warsaw, Poland, Oct. 21, 2018 (AP photo by Alik Keplicz).

Almost exactly one year ago, Poland’s celebration of its national Independence Day turned into a festival of extremism, filling the streets of Warsaw with throngs of flare-burning demonstrators chanting racist, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and homophobic slogans. At the time, I wrote that Poland risked becoming the European capital of xenophobia, unless its government and its people made a deliberate decision to counteract the troubling tolerance for right-wing radicals. Just weeks before this year’s Nov. 11 holiday, Poles voted in regional elections that were the first electoral test for the ruling Law and Justice party, or PiS, in three years. The results […]

John Brennan, Adm. Michael Rogers and James Clapper arrive to meet with the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of the probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign, Washington, May 16, 2018 (AP photo by J. Scott Applewhite).

The New York Times reported yesterday that the U.S. is targeting Russian cyber-operatives involved in efforts to disrupt America’s congressional midterm elections in early November. Though there are few details on what measures have been taken, it would seem to amount to the cyber equivalent of a brushback pitch to deter individual actors by making it clear that U.S. Cyber Command has them in its sights. The Times describes the effort as the “first known overseas cyberoperation to protect American elections, including the November midterms.” The Obama administration famously dithered in its response to the initial discovery of Russian interference […]

Large copies of the new 100 and 200 euro notes with new and better security features are unveiled at the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany, Sept. 17, 2018 (AP photo by Michael Probst).

Just weeks before the Trump administration reimposes sanctions against Iran in November, a growing gulf has emerged between the United States and Europe. Denouncing Washington’s ability to dictate with whom they can trade, European politicians have declared their desire to build alternate institutions to bolster Europe’s financial autonomy. However, Europe will find few meaningful options to insulate itself from a largely U.S.-run global financial and trading system. So far, the discussions about European economic autonomy have proposed action along two lines of attack. To begin with, European leaders, including European Commission officials as well as ministers from member states, have […]

Robert Habeck, center, and Anton Hofreiter, right, leaders of the Greens, celebrate the results of the Bavaria state elections, Munich, Germany, Oct. 14, 2018 (AP photo by Kerstin Joensson).

While much has been made of the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany, or AfD, party, it was the left-wing Greens that recorded the biggest gains in last week’s state elections in Bavaria. By winning more than 17 percent of the vote, the Greens nearly doubled their total from Bavaria’s last elections in 2013 and will enter the new state parliament as the second-largest bloc. Their success amid the ongoing collapse of Germany’s political center was a sign that across the spectrum, and not only on the right, voters are beginning to harden around the political extremes. If that […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton during their meeting in the Kremlin, Moscow, Russia, Oct. 23, 2018 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton is in Moscow for meetings with senior Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, as the U.S. prepares to officially withdraw from a key Cold War-era arms reduction pact. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which was signed in 1987 by then-President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, bans all ground-based ballistic and cruise missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. Washington has repeatedly accused Moscow of violating the treaty for years. That, along with concerns over the rising threat from other U.S. rivals who are not bound by the deal’s terms, […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump at a joint news conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Aug. 18, 2018 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

The political space for dialogue between Russia and the West has shrunk severely in recent years. It narrowed even further last week, with potentially disastrous consequences. United Nations officials signaled that the chances of a deal to end the Syrian war are lower than ever. Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested that there will be no progress toward ending the Ukrainian conflict until next year at the earliest. And Putin’s American counterpart, Donald Trump, announced that the U.S. will quit a crucial nuclear arms control agreement with Moscow. Any one of these developments would have been worrying in isolation. Combined, they […]

Nils Ushakovs, leader of the pro-Russian Harmony party, with his wife and son, cast their ballots at a polling station during Latvia’s parliamentary elections, Riga, Latvia, Oct. 6, 2018 (Photo by Sergey Melkonov for Sputnik via AP Images).

The headlines coming out of Latvia’s Oct. 6 parliamentary elections suggested that, as elsewhere in the world, populism is on the rise in the small Baltic nation. The anti-establishment KPV LV party was one of the big winners, along with the pro-Russian Harmony party. But in Latvia’s fragmented political system, no party is guaranteed a spot in the ruling coalition. Agnia Grigas, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and the author of “The Politics of Energy and Memory between the Baltic States and Russia,” among other books, breaks down the election results in an email interview with WPR. […]

Cover photo: Migrants sit in front of Spanish police officers at the port of Algeciras, southern Spain, July 31, 2018 (AP photo by Marcos Moreno).

Explore how the global refugee crisis has transformed and continues to transform Europe. Download your FREE copy of The European Refugee Crisis: Current Policy Failures and Potential Solutions today. In the wake of the largest European refugee crisis since World War II, the influx of migrants from Africa and the Middle East have had a profound impact across the EU, closing minds and borders. So far, the EU’s refugee policy has undermined norms and the EU itself. Tragically, its approach appears doomed to fail, as it ignores the push factors driving people to make the trip. Download The European Refugee […]

German Interior Minister and Christian Social Union chairman Horst Seehofer attends a press conference at party headquarters, Munich, Germany, Oct. 15, 2018 (AP photo by Matthias Schrader).

Last weekend’s state elections in Germany’s reliably conservative region of Bavaria smashed a tradition that had endured since the end of World War II and reinforced a trend that is spreading across the world in this tumultuous political age. In country after country, moderates are getting squeezed while parties advocating a less conciliatory approach on both the right and the left make gains. Bavarian voters refused to give a majority to the center-right Christian Social Union, or CSU, the sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, the CDU. In keeping with the emerging pattern, voters punished the CSU […]

Migrants wait to be transported to a police station after being rescued in the Strait of Gibraltar, Algeciras, Spain, June 26, 2018 (AP photo by Emilio Morenatti).

Roughly 300 people will wade into the shallow water off the coast of Libya today, moving under the cover of night and according to the shouted instructions of their smugglers. Most will have come from sub-Saharan nations like Nigeria and Eritrea, having traveled for months along a route plagued by armed gangs and predatory police for the opportunity to climb into a rubber raft and float toward a future in Europe and beyond. In 2016 and 2017, nearly 8,000 migrants drowned while attempting this dangerous Mediterranean crossing. In his address to the United Nations General Assembly late last month, U.S. […]

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban delivers a speech at the European Parliament, Strasbourg, France, Sept. 11, 2018 (AP photo by Jean-Francois Badias).

Last month, the European Parliament took the unusual step of formally censuring a member state, voting by a wide margin to condemn Hungary under far-right Prime Minister Viktor Orban as a “systemic threat to the rule of law” and trigger the Article 7 process of the Lisbon Treaty that could suspend its EU voting rights. The vote followed a report from the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs warning that the Hungarian government was abusing the rights of asylum-seekers, migrants and women and restricting freedom of the press, while it permitted corruption and suffered from a […]

Russian police officers harass a teenager during a rally against increasing the retirement age, St. Petersburg, Russia, Sept. 9, 2018 (AP photo by Valentin Egorshin).

In the wake of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in 2014, the United States embarked on a two-pronged policy of sanctions and isolation to punish Moscow. At the time, some Russian analysts predicted it would be impossible to isolate Russia, and that those seeking to do so would only isolate themselves. That has proven to be right in more respects than those analysts and the Kremlin may have realized. While Russia has suffered significant economic harm from the U.S.-led international sanctions regime—a collapse in the ruble, near stagnant GDP growth, exclusion from international credit markets—it has nonetheless expanded its exports, deepened […]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, listens to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, prior to their breakfast meeting at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Sept. 29, 2018 (Presidency Press Service photo via AP Images).

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s state visit to Berlin last month came at a turbulent time for both Turkey’s relationship with Germany and Erdogan’s personal relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. While the visit has been billed as a sign of rapprochement, the reality is that Germany and Turkey need each other and are willing to work together on a transactional basis despite persistent irritants in the bilateral relationship. In an email interview with WPR, Lisel Hintz, assistant professor of international relations at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, discusses the backdrop to Erdogan’s visit and how it […]

A supporter of a movement for voters to boycott the Macedonian referendum holds an old Republic of Macedonia flag during celebrations in central Skopje, Sept. 30, 2018 (AP photo by Thanassis Stavrakis).

History has indelibly branded the Balkans as the battleground of empires, a fault line where great powers clash. That pattern came into full view again this weekend, when Macedonians voted in a referendum on whether or not to change their country’s name in order to ease its accession into the European Union and NATO, a question that has drawn the interest and involvement of Russia. The referendum yielded a head-snapping outcome. First, the returns showed overwhelming approval, with some 90 percent voting to change the country’s name. But then the tally showed that voter turnout was just 36 percent, well […]

Taliban fighters gather with residents to celebrate a three-day cease fire marking the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr, in Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, June 16, 2018 (AP photo by Ramat Gul).

A little more than a year after the launch of its new South Asia strategy, the Trump administration—without officially announcing a change in approach—appears to have refocused much of its efforts in Afghanistan around a long-elusive peace process. Gen. John Nicholson, the departing top military commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, backed up the Afghan government’s extended cease-fire with the Taliban during the Eid al-Fitr holiday in June, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently appointed former Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad as a new special envoy tasked with leading reconciliation efforts. But despite that summer cease-fire and some preliminary […]