German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during a press conference at an EU summit in Brussels, Oct. 2, 2020 (AP photo by Johanna Geron).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, Europe Decoder, which includes a look at the week’s top stories and best reads from and about Europe. Subscribe to receive it by email every Thursday. If you’re already a subscriber,  adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. In Brussels, where Germany’s heavy influence in the European Union looms large, people are still processing the Social Democrats’ narrow “win” in Sunday’s general election, wondering what the next potential steps look like.  The immediate takeaway from Sunday night was that the underperformance of the far-left Die […]

Supporters of Belarus’ opposition from Lithuania wave historical Belarusian flags near Medininkai, east of Vilnius, Lithuania, Aug. 23, 2020 (AP photo by Mindaugas Kulbis).

Last month, China recalled its ambassador to Lithuania and demanded that Vilnius do the same in response to Lithuania’s plans to establish reciprocal diplomatic offices with Taiwan. Despite the pressure from Beijing, the Lithuanian government has refused to back down in its plans to deepen relations with Taipei. This week on the Trend Lines podcast this week, Edward Lucas, a nonresident senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis and a former senior editor at The Economist, joined WPR’s Elliot Waldman to discuss the history and context behind the strong anti-authoritarian streak in Lithuania’s foreign policy. Listen to the […]

Russian troops line up before the start of joint military drills with Tajik and Uzbek forces at the Harb-Maidon firing range, in Tajikistan near the Afghan border, Aug. 10, 2021 (AP photo by Didor Sadulloev).

On Feb. 15, 1989, Col. Gen. Boris Gromov became the last Soviet commander to leave Afghanistan, crossing the Friendship Bridge into what was then the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic. Gromov’s departure ended the USSR’s decade-long military occupation of Afghanistan, characterized by some as the country’s version of the Vietnam War. Moscow left behind capable local security forces, infrastructure projects and a pipeline of assistance to support its client, the socialist government led by then-President Mohammad Najibullah. Although Najibullah’s government would hold out for another three years, Moscow’s Afghanistan debacle helped bring about the implosion of the Soviet empire between 1989 to […]

A police officer patrols alongside a steel wall at Evros river, near the village of Poros, at the Greek-Turkish border, Greece, May 21, 2021 (AP photo by Giannis Papanikos).

Editor’s Note: Guest columnist Judah Grunstein is filling in this week for Howard French, who will return next week. Has the center held in Europe? The obvious answer would seem to be yes. As has been widely noted, parties on the extremes lost ground in Germany’s election this weekend compared to 2017. And across Europe, far-right and anti-establishment parties similarly seem to be receding in electoral and political relevance. But in other ways, the picture is less heartening, as the impact those parties have had on political discourse has mainstreamed a brand of anti-immigrant, identity-based closure that calls into question […]

Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, right, at a press conference with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, in Vilnius, Lithuania, Aug. 9, 2021 (AP photo by Mindaugas Kulbis).

The government of Lithuania caused a stir this summer when it announced that it would allow Taiwan to open a de facto embassy in the capital, Vilnius, with plans to open a reciprocal Lithuanian representative office in Taipei. China responded by withdrawing its ambassador to Vilnius and demanding that Lithuania do the same. And in May, the Lithuanian parliament passed a resolution labeling China’s treatment of the Uighurs in Xinjiang as a “genocide.” China is not the only authoritarian power that Lithuania is facing off with. Vilnius hosts the Belarusian opposition leader, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who fled her home country last […]

President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron during a bilateral meeting at the G-7 summit in Carbis Bay, England, June 12, 2021 (AP photo by Patrick Semansky).

As evidenced by the wall-to-wall coverage this week in this publication and countless others, French President Emmanuel Macron’s recall of France’s ambassadors from Washington and Canberra over the trilateral security pact between the U.S., Australia and the U.K. has naturally raised anew worries about the stability of the trans-Atlantic partnership and the cohesiveness of NATO. U.S. President Joe Biden’s hard pivot to the Indo-Pacific is clearly giving France specifically, and the EU and the world more generally, a bad case of whiplash.  But perhaps overshadowed by Paris’ fit of pique over Australia’s cancellation of its multibillion-dollar deal with France to build attack-class submarines in favor of […]

Australian Minister of Defense Peter Dutton, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin attend a news conference at the State Department in Washington, Sept. 16, 2021 (AP photo

This is the web version of our subscriber-only Weekly Wrap-Up newsletter, which gives a rundown of the week’s top stories on WPR. 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. The aftershocks from last week’s bombshell announcement by the U.S., Australia and the U.K. that they would be forming a new security partnership whose pilot project would be to assist Australia in building a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines continued to be felt well into this week. The deal signaled a major shift in the strategic landscape of […]

Col. Assimi Goita, left, head of Mali’s military junta, and retired Col. Maj. Bah N’Daw, right, as N’Daw is sworn into the office of transitional president, Bamako, Mali, Sept. 25, 2020 (AP file photo).

With rising communal and interethnic violence gripping swaths of the country, two coups in less than a year and a deadlocked transition to civilian rule, Mali is arguably facing its most uncertain moment since the 1991 March Revolution, which paved the way for the country’s return to civilian government nearly 30 years ago. Throw in a peace accord with northern insurgent groups on life support, a drawdown of Operation Barkhane—France’s massive counterinsurgency mission across the Sahel—and a rumored deal to deploy Russian private military contractors from the Wagner Group to the country, and it’s fair to say Mali’s immediate and […]

President Joe Biden speaks with French President Emmanuel Macron at the G-7 summit, Cornwall, U.K., June 11, 2021 (AP Photo by Patrick Semansky).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, Europe Decoder, which includes a look at the week’s top stories from and about Europe. Subscribe to receive it by email every Thursday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. Despite yesterday’s conciliatory phone call between U.S. President Joe Biden and his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, the trans-Atlantic tensions over the nuclear-powered submarine deal between the U.S., the U.K. and Australia show little sign of abating. Last week’s announcement of the so-called AUKUS security partnership completely blindsided European […]

The Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS Missouri departs Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Sept. 1, 2021 (U.S. Navy photo by Spc. Amanda R. Gray via AP).

In the space of a single news cycle last week, the substance behind the news that the United States and Britain had joined forces to sell nuclear submarine technology to Australia came to be overshadowed by the emotions aroused by this development—namely, France’s theatrically indignant response to having its preexisting deal to sell submarines to Canberra canceled without notice. Paris has invoked “treason” and spoken of being stabbed in the back, comparing U.S. President Joe Biden unfavorably to his predecessor, Donald Trump, all while taking the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors from the United States and Australia, something seldom done even […]

President Joe Biden, joined virtually by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, speaks from the East Room of the White House in Washington, Sept. 15, 2021 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

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 Wedenesday. If you’re already a subscriber,  adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. Last Wednesday, the Biden administration unveiled a historic security partnership in the Indo-Pacific region between the U.S., Australia and the U.K., known as AUKUS. As part of the deal’s terms and conditions, the United States and the United Kingdom will help Australia build and deploy nuclear-powered submarines, as […]

The Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Oklahoma City returns to the U.S. Naval Base in Guam, Aug. 19, 2021 (U.S. Navy photo by Naomi Johnson via AP).

The newly minted Australia-U.K.-U.S. security pact, known by its acronym AUKUS, was announced just days after the 70th anniversary of another regional trilateral defense arrangement, the ANZUS treaty, which comprises Australia, New Zealand and the United States. The genesis of both deals was deeply informed by history and geography.  Signed in 1951, ANZUS built on its signatories’ close cooperation in the Pacific theater of World War II and reflected a common sense of identity between the three signatories—all Pacific Ocean-facing, English-speaking democratic societies of the New World. But ANZUS was always a precarious alliance, never including a NATO-like Article 5 […]

President Joe Biden, joined virtually by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, announces the AUKUS agreement from the East Room of the White House, Washington, Sept. 15, 2021 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

The newly announced nuclear-powered submarine deal and trilateral security partnership between the U.S., the U.K. and Australia is remarkable for the sheer range of regional and subject matter experts needed to make sense of it. Like the proverbial three blind men and the elephant, it means something very different depending on where you grab hold of it. Some of issues raised by the sub deal, particularly over the technical specifications and proliferation concerns, remain open questions that will only be answered 18 months from now, when the framework agreement is due to be finalized in an actual contract, although that […]

Turkish security forces apprehend a group of migrants in an operation aimed at stemming the recent influx of migration, in Van, Turkey, Aug. 21, 2021 (AP photo by Emrah Gurel).

In July, British Home Secretary Priti Patel announced that the U.K. had agreed to pay France roughly $72 million to fund border personnel and equipment that would be used to stop asylum-seekers from crossing the English Channel. The deal came amid a dramatic rise in the number of channel crossings. In the first half of 2021, more than 8,000 asylum-seekers completed the voyage to land on England’s southern shore. The deal with France was controversial, including within Patel’s own Conservative Party. Noting that this was the second such payment to France in the past year, Tim Loughton, a leading Conservative […]

A user holds a smartphone with an opened Facebook page in Moscow, Russia, June 10, 2021 (AP photo by Pavel Golovkin).

While Congress debates new online privacy rules and the European Union slaps ever more fines on tech giants, another government has been increasing the pressure on Silicon Valley: Russia. Over the past year or so, Moscow has employed ever more punitive measures against Western technology companies in order to force them to bend to its wide-ranging demands on issues like content censorship, local data storage and market practices. The latest development came last Friday when, in response to pressure from the Russian government, Apple and Google removed an app from its online stores that was meant to encourage users to […]

Three election posters show the top candidates for chancellor in Germany’s upcoming elections: the SPD’s Olaf Scholz, left, the CDU’s Armin Laschet, center, and the Greens’ Annalena Baerbock, in Frankfurt, Sept. 15, 2021 (AP photo by Michael Probst).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, Europe Decoder, which includes a look at the week’s top stories and best reads from and about Europe. Subscribe to receive it by email every Thursday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox.   According to the latest opinion surveys ahead of a general election in Germany scheduled for Sept. 26, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union, or CDU, is on course for its worst performance in the party’s history. Together with its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, or CSU, […]

A child using a laptop computer, March 9, 2017 (file photo by Dominic Lipinski for the Press Association via AP Images).

Editor’s Note: Guest columnist Kate Jones is filling in this week for Emily Taylor. Ask just about any parent about the impact of technology on their children and they’ll tell you they’re worried, even if most find it near-impossible to identify all the risks, let alone work out how to protect tech-savvy children from them. Online concerns for children include the impact of social media on their mental health; the risks of online grooming of minors by sexual predators; the effect that widespread exposure to pornography has on them; the collection and retention of large amounts of their personal data; and the amount of […]

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