A protester covered by an EU flag takes part in a demonstration to call on the European Union to stop buying Russian oil and gas, outside EU headquarters in Brussels, April 29, 2022 (AP photo by Virginia Mayo).

Editor’s note: This will be Candace Rondeaux’s final weekly column for World Politics Review. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Candace for her sharp analysis, compelling prose and passionate commitment to putting people at the heart of international security commentary. It’s been a pleasure offering her work to WPR’s readers for the past three years. We wish her the best of luck in her multiple endeavors moving forward. Russia’s move this week to cut off natural gas deliveries to Poland and Bulgaria, combined with growing fears that Moldova could be drawn into President Vladimir Putin’s militaristic machinations, invites a thought experiment: What […]

Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa, left, speaks during a press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, prior to their working lunch at the Elysee palace in Paris, April 29, 2021 (AP photo by Lewis Joly).

As the world held its breath for the results of France’s presidential election on Sunday, another pivotal vote took place elsewhere in the European Union. Voters in Slovenia chose a new government, and there, as in France, the result was a harsh blow to the far right. An election in Slovenia, a small country of just 2 million people, may seem like a minor sideshow on the geopolitical stage, but its significance should not be underestimated. It’s undeniable that a far-right victory in France could have proven calamitous for the EU and for the prospects of democracy around the world. […]

President of the European Council Charles Michel, left, French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen arrive for a press conference in Versailles, March 11, 2022 (AP photo by Michel Euler).

Many in Brussels are breathing a sigh of relief this week following French President Emmanuel Macron’s reelection in Sunday’s presidential runoff. But now that fears of a Marine Le Pen presidency can be put to rest, eyes are quickly turning to the French legislative elections scheduled for June. The result of those polls will determine just how powerful Macron will be at the European Union level over the next five years. But one thing is clear: The French president currently faces little competition for the title of the EU’s most influential leader. Since France took over the EU’s six-month rotating […]

A woman holds up a banner during a protest against Tunisian President Kais Saied, in Tunis, Tunisia, April 10, 2022 (AP photo by Hassene Dridi).

In the fall of 2012, as Syria plunged into civil war and the Eurozone crisis generated panic across global markets, a parliamentary election in Ukraine signaled trouble ahead to those who were paying attention. The results that trickled out on Oct. 28, 2012, indicated that then-President Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions had secured a strong position through dubious constitutional maneuvers and ballot manipulation. In the aftermath of the elections, Yanukovych’s corrupt and Russia-friendly clique tried to bend Ukraine to their whims. The simmering discontent among large parts of the population over Yanukovych’s power grab was the first escalation in political […]

A demonstrator holds a poster reading “Peace for Ukraine” during a protest against the Russian invasion, Almaty, Kazakhstan, March 6, 2022 (AP photo by Vladimir Tretyakov).

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is upending the geopolitical calculations of states around the world. The fallout is especially complex for the post-Soviet states of Central Asia, which maintain extensive economic, political, cultural and other ties to both Russia and Ukraine. While Central Asia is far from the front lines of the ongoing war, and therefore less directly impacted than states like Moldova or Georgia, its leaders also face difficult decisions. Independent for three decades, the Central Asian states remain dependent to varying degrees on Russia as a security provider and economic partner, and as a source of political support. Their […]

Rwandan President Paul Kagame speaks in Nairobi, Kenya, Feb. 11, 2020 (AP photo by John Muchucha).

The government of Rwanda announced earlier this month what it described as a “migration and economic development partnership” with the United Kingdom, in which the U.K. claims it would send migrants who had reached British territory to Rwanda for processing of their asylum claims for possible settlement in the U.K. But in practical terms, the asylum seekers will be transported to Rwanda permanently. Almost immediately after the agreement was announced, it came under fire, with critics calling London’s role in it a legally dubious violation of international humanitarian norms that treats human beings like commodities, all to help the U.K. “outsource its refugee problems.” But […]

A ripped electoral poster of French President Emmanuel Macron is displayed in Lyon, France, April 22, 2022 (AP photo by Laurent Cipriani).

Unlike European Union directives, which must be published in the languages of all the bloc’s member states, the sighs of relief heard across much of Europe at the outcome of yesterday’s French presidential election needed no translation. The suspense had already receded in the two weeks since the first-round ballot, as polls showed French President Emmanuel Macron widening his lead over far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. But with Macron’s reelection now sealed, the sense of having dodged a bullet in Brussels, the capitals of Europe, Washington and of course Paris is no less palpable. The implications of a Le Pen victory […]

Displaced Ukrainian refugees have lunch cooked by volunteers, at a restaurant that was transformed into a shelter for those who are fleeing the war from eastern region of the country, in Dnipro, Ukraine, April 20, 2022 (AP photo by Leo Correa).

Amid the horror that has befallen Ukraine and its people, one rare uplifting aspect of the tragedy is the remarkably warm and generous reception that Ukrainian refugees fleeing the carnage have received from European nations. Not only have governments across the continent rushed to develop the legal and logistical infrastructure to help, but individuals outside of Ukraine scrambled almost immediately after the bombs started falling, opening their homes and their wallets to the millions seeking to escape the Russian invasion. It’s an inspiring, heartwarming story. But it’s also one that stands in sharp contrast to the callous way much of Europe, including […]

Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX, introduces the SpaceX Dragon V2 spaceship at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif. (AP photo by Jae C. Hong).

The first space race, between the United States and the Soviet Union, was a geopolitical and ideological struggle between superpowers. Now five decades in the past, it pushed the limits of technology to extremes and realized some long-held dreams of humanity, like putting a human on the moon. But after the enormous gains of the 1950s and 60s, space exploration advanced more gradually. More countries developed space programs, but between 1961 and 2000, only the Soviet Union, the United States and China put humans into space. After the U.S.’s Apollo program came to an end, humans never returned to the […]

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen arrives at a television recording studio for a debate with President Emmanuel Macron in La Plaine-Saint-Denis, outside Paris, April 20, 2022 (AP photo by Francois Mori).

Many in Brussels continue to anxiously observe events in France in anticipation of what this Sunday’s presidential runoff election will bring. President Emmanuel Macron has widened his lead over his far-right challenger, Marine Le Pen, since the first round earlier this month, with the latest polls showing him with a 10-point lead. But this gap is considered too close for comfort and is a smaller margin than Macron’s 33-point victory over Le Pen in 2017. A Le Pen victory on Sunday would undoubtedly present an existential crisis for the European Union, a notion highlighted by Macron in last night’s presidential debate, in which […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin listens as German Chancellor Angela Merkel answers a question during the news conference at the Russia-EU Summit in Volzhsky Utyos, May 18, 2007 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

Usually, parents don’t congratulate their children for ending up in detention at school. But for my Ukrainian mom in early-1990s Germany, there were some things that mattered more than what my teachers thought. Having opted to learn Russian at my high school in the city of Hanover, I quickly discovered that the version of history my teachers embraced did not square with what I had experienced growing up in the Ukrainian tradition. My Russian teachers espoused a deep commitment to promoting reconciliation between Germany and the Russian people, having embraced the idea that all of German society shared a collective […]

A man walks past a wall with posters depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Warsaw, Poland, March 24, 2022 (AP Photo by Petr David Josek).

Today’s standoff between Russia and the West over Ukraine can be traced back to 2004, a little more than a decade after the end of the Cold War. At the time, Russian President Vladimir Putin was just embarking on his second term, and he began nurturing a cult of personality, voicing grievances about perceived threats on Russia’s security perimeter, and positioning himself as the defender of Russia’s great power status. By some accounts, Putin’s sense that Russia is under threat goes back to historic invasions of Russia: Batu Khan’s in the 13th century, Karl the XII’s in the 18th, Napoleon’s […]

Pipes at the landfall facilities of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in Lubmin, Germany, Feb. 15, 2022 (AP photo by Michael Sohn).

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has upended the foundations of Europe’s security order, but also its economic order. The sanctions imposed on Russia by the European Union and its Western partners suggest that an economic decoupling has begun. The implications of such a decoupling in the context of an integrated global economy are significant, but also murky and complex. Clearly, the war highlights a weakness in the logic that had long underpinned globalization as an economic but also a normative project: that economic interdependence among states would make the costs of conflict prohibitive. Longstanding dissatisfaction with China’s unfair trade practices, combined […]

The words “No Money for Murderers, Stop the Oil and Gas Trade” are projected by activists onto the Russian consulate in Frankfurt, Germany, April 4, 2022 (AP photo by Michael Probst).

In banning Russian coal imports from August onward, the European Union has finally broken the “energy taboo” that had beset its discussions of punitive sanctions against Russia for the war in Ukraine. Yet, the coal ban is not going to hit Russia’s economy very hard. With the clock now ticking as Russia prepares its next offensive in eastern Ukraine, Europe should press ahead and move swiftly toward measures that target Russian oil imports. Western sanctions adopted against Russia since the start of the war in Ukraine have been unprecedented in both scale and scope. They have also been insufficient. Russia’s […]

British Home Secretary Priti Patel shakes hands with Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs Vincent Biruta after signing what the two countries called an “economic development partnership” in Kigali, Rwanda, April 14, 2022 (AP Photo by Muhizi Olivier).

Rwanda has announced an agreement with the United Kingdom to take in some asylum-seekers for processing in the East African country. Having pledged to control the country’s borders during the successful “Brexit” campaign to leave the European Union, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday announced a crackdown on migrant crossings via routes across the English Channel, saying that migrants who do not meet strict asylum criteria will be flown more than 4,000 miles to Rwanda for processing and possible resettlement there. British Home Secretary Priti Patel traveled to Kigali, the capital, to sign the deal, which includes £120 million—approximately $160 million—in aid to […]

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban gestures while delivering a speech during his final pre-election rally, Szekesfehervar, Hungary, April 1, 2022 (AP photo by Petr David Josek).

He’s been called Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest ally in the European Union and accused of “eliminating democracy,” and he’s become the poster child of the global hard right. Now Viktor Orban has won a fourth consecutive term as Hungarian prime minister in a landslide. In parliamentary elections on April 3, Orban’s Fidesz and its small satellite party KDNP took more than 50 percent of the vote, with the opposition coalition United for Hungary winning just 35 percent. The new far-right Our Homeland Movement also entered parliament with around 6 percent. The result will give the Fidesz-KDNP coalition 135 seats […]

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin at a joint press conference in Stockholm, Sweden, April 13, 2022 (SIPA photo via AP Images).

Sweden and Finland both took a major step toward joining NATO this week. Finland will make its decision on whether to apply for membership in “weeks rather than months,” Prime Minister Sanna Marin said yesterday in a joint press conference in Stockholm alongside her Swedish counterpart, Magdalena Andersson. Sweden will reportedly wait until after Finland makes a final decision, but Swedish media are reporting that Andersson’s Social Democrats are already sold on the idea and have decided to push for Sweden’s NATO membership. The bombshell announcement makes for yet another groundbreaking development in European security policy since Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized the invasion of Ukraine in February. Finland has historically steered […]

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