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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

A Ukrainian soldier takes a selfie standing on a destroyed Russian tank after Ukrainian forces overran a Russian position outside Kyiv, Ukraine, March 31, 2022 (AP photo by Vadim Ghirda).

At a time when old certainties have been shaken and the pace of events is overwhelming, it can be difficult to assess what the long-term impact of a geopolitical shock might be for the global order. In the immediate aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the widespread shock that such a calamity could befall millions of people made it difficult to think through the unanticipated consequences of such a profound rupture of the international state system. Yet after five weeks of brutal war triggered by a criminalized Russian state under President Vladimir Putin, there are now a few indicators that […]

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks via remote feed during a meeting of the UN Security Council at United Nations headquarters, April 5, 2022 (AP photo by John Minchillo).

Last week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered an impassioned rebuke to the United Nations Security Council for its failure to prevent Russia’s invasion of his country. “Where is the security that the Security Council needs to guarantee?” he demanded. “It’s not there.” Rather than taking forceful action to arrest or even condemn Russia’s behavior, he said, the body had devolved into a venue for “conversation.” It was obvious to all that “the goals set in San Francisco in 1945 for the creation of a global security organization have not been achieved,” Zelenskyy concluded. Zelenskyy’s indictment, which cited evidence of horrific atrocities committed by Russian forces, […]

U.S. President Joe Biden meets with Ukrainian refugees during a visit to PGE Narodowy Stadium in Warsaw, Poland, March 26, 2022 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

Two weeks ago, the White House announced that the United States would open its doors to 100,000 refugees from Ukraine. To many observers, this was the very least the U.S. could do to protect civilians from a war characterized by displacement, atrocity and siege, and on which the West has largely decided to sit it out. But there are several enormous problems with Biden’s refugee relief plan. The first is that there is no actual plan. The announcement was made in a fact-sheet that has not yet been backed by an Executive Order. In fact, the homepage of the U.S. Embassy in Hungary […]

An anti-government demonstrator sits on a barricade carrying a Peruvian flag during clashes with police in downtown Lima, Peru, April 5, 2022 (AP photo by Aldair Mejia).

Just before midnight on Monday, Peruvian President Pedro Castillo appeared on television to declare an unprecedented state of emergency for Lima, the capital. All the city’s residents, he said, were to stay indoors for 24 hours, beginning just two hours after his announcement. The controversial decision, which would later be rescinded after protesters ignored it, came in response to widespread demonstrations by truck drivers and transportation syndicates against the spike in fuel prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Peru’s new crisis came just after Sri Lanka’s president declared a state of emergency in his own country. The Indian Ocean nation […]

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, third from left, and top military officials attend a military parade to mark Pakistan National Day in Islamabad, Pakistan, March 23, 2022 (AP photo by Anjum Naveed).

Addressing a security forum in Islamabad on Saturday, Pakistan’s army chief of staff, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, condemned Russia’s war in Ukraine in no uncertain terms, describing it as an “invasion” and “aggression against a smaller country that cannot be condoned.” These statements would be uncontroversial had they not contradicted the official position of Pakistan’s civilian government, which is in the midst of a political crisis that also involves the army. Indeed, Pakistan’s ongoing political turmoil—which has seen Prime Minister Imran Khan avoid a vote of no confidence through questionable parliamentary maneuvers, as his coalition and party fracture amid pressure […]

A screens displays the results of a vote on a resolution regarding the war in Ukraine at United Nations headquarters, March 24, 2022 (AP photo by Seth Wenig).

When a state abstains on a vote concerning a crisis at the United Nations, it may look like it is avoiding hard choices about the problem at hand. But U.N. diplomacy is rarely that simple. When diplomats cast an abstention in the Security Council or General Assembly, they are often sending subtler signals about their interests and priorities. In recent weeks, U.N. members from China to Burkina Faso have abstained on a series of votes in U.N. forums on the war in Ukraine, or just not voted on them. What do such ambiguous votes and nonvotes mean? To see how […]

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