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I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts about why I felt so underwhelmed by Friday’s announcement that the U.S. and Russia had agreed to terms on the START follow-on treaty. Certainly, the optics work well for both sides. President Barack Obama gets a foreign policy feather to go along with health care reform in his victory cap. And Russian President Dmitry Medvedev gets to show what the good cop in Moscow’s good cop/bad cop routine looks like. And arriving at the upcoming NPT conference with the treaty in hand certainly helps Obama avoid a major embarrassment. But I’m not convinced […]

Some foreign policy analysts believe that President Barack Obama’s legislative victory on health care reform this week will have a positive impact on his ability to make progress in the foreign policy realm as well. Clearly, Obama’s credibility in the eyes of foreign governments would have been severely — perhaps even irreparably — damaged had he failed to pass the flagship legislation of his domestic agenda, despite overwhelming Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress. But the White House is not out of the woods just yet. For the president to build on the momentum he gained from the health […]

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Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton discusses U.S.-Russia relations on a trip to Moscow. Clinton said there has been significant progress on a post START treaty and expects a new agreement to be forthcoming. She also said that the U.S. and Russia have been collaborating on various issues of international import such as a diplomatic solution to Iran and Middle East peace talks.

There is little doubt that as president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych will decisively shift the country’s geopolitical posture, with Kiev once again moving closer to Moscow after its pro-Western and pro-EU turn of 2005. The potential consequences on the EU’s energy future are serious, as 80 percent of Russian natural gas exports to Europe transit through Ukrainian territory. The country has been in repeated price disputes with the Russian state-owned gas monopoly, Gazprom, resulting in interruptions of deliveries to the Ukrainian market in January 2006 and 2009, with supplies to Europe affected both times. Mediation on the part of the […]

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As the push for a new round of sanctions against Iran falters, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the Obama administration’s game plan on Iran policy was long on tactics and short on strategy. We’ve heard a bit about how U.N sanctions are up against a “bad UNSC,” which currently includes Brazil, Turkey and Lebanon as non-permanent members. But that should come as no surprise, and the same goes for those three countries’ predictable resistance to getting vocally on board for stiff sanctions. Now comes word that the administration is trying to carve out an exemption for China in unilateral U.S. […]

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To the extent that Gazprom represents a Russian tool for waging politics by other means, the emerging shift in European attitudes toward the company’s Nord Stream and South Stream pipeline projects signals that when it comes to energy security, the EU has adopted an “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach. Yesterday, during Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to Paris, French energy giant GDF Suez announced it would be taking a 9 percent stake in the Nord Stream project in order to secure increased Russian deliveries from 2015. And today, the EU’s energy commissioner said that the South Stream […]

With the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference around the corner, President Barack Obama is in dire need of a credible arms control and disarmament achievement worthy of the lofty agenda he articulated almost a year ago in Prague. Although Obama’s higher-profile disarmament goals remain out of reach for now, he could still arrive at the upcoming New York meeting with just such an achievement in hand: ridding Europe of U.S. nuclear weapons. But to do so, he will have to reject flawed and outdated arguments that stand in the way. Support for removing the 150 to 200 tactical nuclear weapons […]

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Two noteworthy outcomes of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to Paris: Russia and France confirmed previous reports that the sale of a Mistral-class vessel now involves four ships, with negotiations now focused on where they will be built. (France wants at least two of the vessels built in its shipyards, and specified that it will deliver them without weapons systems.) And as if by coincidence, Medvedev flirted even further with the idea of new sanctions against Iran. There are three things to keep in mind here. First, despite the bad messaging the sale of the Mistral sends to Eastern Europe, […]