Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko addresses his supporters in Minsk, Belarus, Aug. 16, 2020 (AP photo by Dmitri Lovetsky).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only Weekly Wrap-Up newsletter, which uses relevant WPR coverage to provide background and context to the week’s top stories. Subscribe to receive it by email every Saturday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. For decades, the president of Belarus, known as “Europe’s last dictator,” has been a thorn in the side of the continent’s democracies. But the threat Alexander Lukashenko poses to European security suddenly grew more serious Sunday, when his security forces—with the help of a transparently false cover […]

Belarusian police detain journalist and activist Roman Protasevich, center, in Minsk, Belarus, March 26, 2017 (AP photo by Sergei Grits).

When a Belarusian MiG-29 fighter jet forced a Ryanair flight filled with civilians to divert from its Athens-to-Vilnius route and land in Minsk on Sunday so that the regime could arrest one of its leading critics, it justifiably triggered international outrage. It was, indeed, a brazen violation of international norms. But this new transgression by the Belarusian dictator, President Alexander Lukashenko, was not an isolated event. It was part of an increasingly common practice by repressive regimes across the globe, one so common that it now has a name: transnational repression. Lukashenko personally ordered the military aircraft to scramble into […]

A U.S. soldier walks past parked armored vehicles and tanks of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team and 1st Calvary Division, based out of Fort Hood, Texas, as they are unloaded in Antwerp, Belgium, Nov. 16, 2020 (AP photo by Francisco Seco).

In late September 2020, the long-simmering conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan boiled over into full-blown war. As Azerbaijani tanks and drones advanced into territory held by Armenian forces, commentators around the world warned of the possibility of regional instability or even a wider conflict between Turkey and Russia, which supported opposite sides in the fighting. The heart of the conflict was the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, an obscure province in the South Caucasus that most Americans have never heard of—even fewer can muster an opinion as to which former Soviet republic it should belong to. Its relationship to U.S. security […]

European Council President Charles Michel speaks at the conclusion of an EU-China summit, in video conference format, at the European Council in Brussels, June 22, 2020 (Pool photo by Yves Herman via AP Images).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, China Note, which includes a look at the week’s top stories and best reads from and about China. Subscribe to receive it by email every Wednesday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. The European Parliament has voted overwhelmingly to freeze a massive investment deal with China that had taken seven years to negotiate. The Guardian reported that the resolution suspended “any consideration of the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), as well as any discussion on ratification” […]

A man sends brain-computer interface commands to a robotic computer during Science Conference at the Convention Center in Washington, D.C., Feb. 17, 2011 (AP photo by Jose Luis Magan).

Technology has blurred all sorts of boundaries we used to take for granted—between work and leisure, between being alone and being with others, between private and public spaces. One boundary we still generally treat as sacrosanct, though, is the one around our own minds, which allows us to think for ourselves and to keep those thoughts private, whether they are rebellious, impolite or simply irrelevant. After all, the power to make up our own minds is an essential part of what makes us individuals. Technology may now be challenging this mental independence, too, and some of its applications could threaten […]

An employee works on the production of AstraZeneca vaccines for COVID-19 at the Fiocruz Foundation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Feb. 12, 2021 (AP photo by Bruna Prado).

Leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies are meeting virtually at the G-20 Global Health Summit on Friday, co-hosted by Italy and the European Commission. There is much that participants agree on: More coronavirus vaccine supplies are urgently needed, and the world must boost manufacturing capacity in order to produce them. But the G-20 countries may disagree on how to build that increased capacity and where it should go. This week, U.S. President Joe Biden promised to share at least 80 million surplus vaccine doses for global use by the end of June and to launch a multilateral effort to […]

Migrants are surrounded by Spanish security forces after arriving at the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, near the border of Morocco and Spain, May 19, 2021 (AP photo by Bernat Armangue).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, Africa Watch, which includes a look at the week’s top stories and best reads from and about the African continent. Subscribe to receive it by email every Friday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. Thousands of African migrants were caught in the middle of a diplomatic feud between Morocco and Spain this week, touching off a humanitarian emergency and raising concerns about Madrid’s migration policy. The standoff between Madrid and Rabat was the latest fallout from a […]

A sign marking the location of the Colonial Pipeline in Charlotte, North Carolina, May 11, 2021 (AP photo by Chris Carlson).

Last week brought the news that Colonial Pipeline made a $5 million ransom payment to an organized criminal gang to recover data held hostage in a ransomware attack. Separately, Ireland’s health care system was brought down, also by a ransomware attack. It feels like the good guys are losing the fight against international cybercrime. Action is urgently needed at the domestic and international levels to improve the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure—and to bring the criminal gangs responsible for these attacks to justice. The problem is that there are seemingly irreconcilable conflicts between the pressures felt by the individual organizations targeted […]

A gas station that ran out of gas to sell following a cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline, in Atlanta, Georgia, May 11, 2021 (AP photo by Ben Margot).

The internet today is on the brink of reaching a state of entropy, as anyone who tried to fill up the gas tank of their car anywhere along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States this week knows. Nearly a week after a crafty network of cybercriminals penetrated the databases of the company that operates the massive Colonial fuel pipeline, which runs nearly the entire length of the East Coast, the United States is still reeling from the crippling cyberattack. The ransomware attack forced the Colonial Pipeline company to close down a sizable portion of its 5,500-mile-long fuel conduit for […]

Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, is reflected in glass as he leaves at the end of an EU summit in Brussels, Dec. 11, 2020 (AP photo by Francisco Seco).

As soon as the global magnitude of the coronavirus pandemic started to become evident in the early part of last year, the obvious corollary became inescapable: COVID-19 would have far-reaching political impact around the world. One of the places where the political ramifications of the crisis—or, more precisely, the consequences of its mismanagement by authorities—are becoming more pronounced is Central Europe, a region that in recent years has drifted steadily in an authoritarian, illiberal direction. While a steady erosion of democratic practices has been on display across much of the globe over the past 15 years, the pattern in Central […]

Annalena Baerbock of Germany’s Green party at a party convention in Leipzig, Germany, Nov. 9, 2018 (AP photo by Jens Meyer).

Germany’s Green party has surged in public opinion polling ahead of general elections this fall, indicating it is likely to be part of the country’s next coalition government. On the Trend Lines podcast this week, Claudia Major, head of the international security research division at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin, joined WPR’s Elliot Waldman to talk about how the Greens’ views on foreign policy have evolved in recent years and how they fit into the German political mainstream. Listen to the full interview with Claudia Major here: If you like what you hear, subscribe to […]

Annalena Baerbock of Germany’s Green party at a news conference in Berlin, April 26, 2021 (pool photo by Markus Schreiber via AP).

Voters in Germany will go to the polls in September for elections that will be unusually consequential for the country’s foreign and defense policy. Chancellor Angela Merkel is retiring after almost 16 years in the position, and three major parties recently announced their candidates to replace her. Much attention has focused on one of the candidates in particular: Annalena Baerbock of the Green party, which is surging in popularity and is likely to enter government as part of a coalition in the fall. This could allow the Greens to exercise influence over decision-making in Berlin. What would that mean for […]

Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission’s executive vice president for a Europe fit for the digital age, speaks on Europe's Digital Future at EU headquarters in Brussels, Feb. 19, 2020 (AP photo by Virginia Mayo).

It may be some years before your AI-powered assistant can sit at your kitchen table, finishing off a haiku while debating the nuances of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” as imagined by Ian McEwan in his 2019 novel, “Machines Like Me.” Even if that always remains the stuff of fiction, AI, short for artificial intelligence, has already crept into daily life. It is now helping heart surgeons spot minor problems that go undetected in routine scans. It is similarly more accurate than human experts at interpreting mammograms to detect early stage breast cancer. And it is starting to solve the complexities of […]

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov arrives for an EU summit in Brussels, Dec. 10, 2020 (pool photo by John Thys via AP).

As a European Union and NATO member that borders Turkey, hugs the Black Sea coast and maintains cordial relations with Russia, Bulgaria is a strategically significant country. Yet in recent years, it has rarely made international news—except for the occasional domestic clash over Russian influence and periodic mass protests over corruption and state capture. The latest such uprising may have finally forced the departure from high-level politics of Boyko Borissov, who has served three nonconsecutive terms as prime minister since 2009 and was a mainstay of the Bulgarian political scene before that. His center-right populist Citizens for the European Development […]

French President Emmanuel Macron, center, attends the state funeral for the late Chadian President Idriss Deby, with Deby’s son, Mahamat Idriss Deby, in N’Djamena, Chad, April 23, 2021 (pool photo by Christophe Petit Tesson via AP).

It all started in late April with an open letter written by a group of 20 retired French generals and published in a right-wing weekly news magazine, Valeurs Actuelles, known for its inflammatory provocations. Describing France as teetering on the edge of civil war, the letter called on France’s civilian leadership to take action so the military wouldn’t have to. With its reference to the threats posed by “Islamism and the hordes from the banlieues”—France’s peri-urban ghettos—and a form of anti-racism that “despises our country, its traditions, its culture,” the letter was more foghorn than dog whistle when it comes […]

Security guards march past a shop selling Apple and Huawei phones in Beijing, China, March 6, 2019 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

What is it with technical standards these days? Suddenly, this closed and unwelcoming world populated by guys with shirt-pocket protectors working on incomprehensible documents thick with unexplained acronyms—as well as not-so-hilarious racism and misogyny under the flimsy cover of April Fool’s Day jokes—is today’s hot internet governance topic. To anyone familiar with the world of technical standards, it still feels incongruous to hear people like British Prime Minister Boris Johnson—who would be cruelly laughed out of the room at the Internet Engineering Task Force, one of the leading standards bodies—extolling the virtues of making “our voices heard more loudly in […]

Senegalese President Macky Sall, left, and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez during a welcome ceremony at the presidential palace in Dakar, Senegal, April 9, 2021 (AP photo by Leo Correa).

MALAGA, Spain—In early April, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez traveled to Angola and Senegal, accompanied by representatives of 12 Spanish companies he hopes will do business there. The visit followed the launch in late March of his ambitious Focus Africa 2023 project, which aims to increase Spain’s commercial presence and investment throughout the continent, as well as to improve economic opportunities and infrastructure in several sub-Saharan nations. Closer to home, in terms of Sanchez’s political agenda, the project seeks to address the root causes of migration, with the hope that, in time, these improved circumstances will reduce the levels of […]