A Norwegian artillery observer takes part in NATO’s “Wettiner Heide” joint military exercise, Munster, Germany, May 10, 2022 (DPA photo by Philipp Schulze via AP).

One of the biggest geopolitical questions raised by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is whether it will transform European defense. At first glance, the answer is obviously, yes. After all, Germany declared a zeitenwende, or turning point, announcing it would invest at least 100 billion euros in its military, while also pledging to meet NATO’s goal of spending 2 percent of GDP annually on defense. Other countries around Europe are similarly upping their defense budgets to meet or surpass the NATO goal. And the EU itself has allocated 2 billion euros to support the provision of security assistance to Ukraine. Europe is suddenly taking defense very seriously and […]

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks via remote feed during a meeting of the U.N. Security Council, April 5, 2022 (AP Photo/John Minchillo).

How should one think about the future of the global order and international organizations against the backdrop of Russia’s war on Ukraine? The war has highlighted the limitations of multilateral security institutions at both the global and European levels, as Moscow has blocked or ignored calls from the United Nations and other bodies to cease the hostilities. While some observers believe these organizations are as a result doomed to irrelevance, others have argued that the crisis creates an opportunity to revitalize them. There has been a lot of talk, for example, of changes to the U.N. Charter to stop Russia from using […]

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, May 24, 2022 (AP photo by Markus Schreiber).

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told a gathering at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos this week that Russia is deliberately stoking a global food crisis as a form of “blackmail.” Her remarks underscore Brussels’ fears over an impending global food crisis. Recognizing the high stakes involved in global food security, European Union policymakers are now racing against time to prepare for what they anticipate will be a food security crisis unprecedented in the modern era. Russia’s weaponization of global commodities is not limited to the energy sector, von der Leyen told her audience in Davos. “In Russian-occupied Ukraine, the […]

Russian military vehicles take part in the Victory Day military parade in Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2022 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

At least once at every conference about an international security crisis, in the midst of debate, a participant will suddenly lean back and quote Carl von Clausewitz in a booming voice to underscore a tenuous point. Sometimes, in order to demonstrate that they are not just drawing on conventional wisdom about politics and war, the Clausewitz citation might be followed up by an observation borrowed from Henri Jomini. Every once in a while, there might even be a Sun Tzu quip thrown in for good measure. When it comes to analysis of what the Russo-Ukrainian war tells us about the […]

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks to members of the 82nd Airborne Division at the G2A Arena, March 25, 2022, in Jasionka, Poland (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

Ukraine wasn’t supposed to stand much of a chance in a military conflict with Russia. It was outgunned and outmanned. In the first months of 2022, as the threat of an invasion loomed, the Russian military was expected to quickly and decisively defeat its much weaker neighbor with ease. Many experts were asking not if Russia could win the coming war, but how far its ambitions stretched within and beyond Ukraine. But as the war grinds on for a fourth month, Ukraine has defied expectations. With external assistance, its military has been able to force Russia’s troops to pull back […]

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As of last week, NATO seemed well on its way to expanding, when Finland and Sweden formally submitted their applications for membership. When they officially join, becoming the 31st and 32nd member of the alliance, it could potentially mark the fastest accession process in the alliance’s history. This is reflective of the sudden about-face in the two countries’ foreign policies in the months since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Both went quickly from countries content with a posture of non-alignment marked by occasional cooperation with NATO, to expressing increasing support for the alliance, to applying for full membership. It is not […]

Ukrainian servicemen in a penal colony in Olyonivka, in eastern Ukraine, after leaving the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, May 19, 2022 (Photo by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP Images).

On Wednesday, more than 250 Ukrainian soldiers who were hiding out in a steel plant in Mariupol surrendered to Russian forces and were swiftly detained. Speculation about what will happen to them has been intense, given Russia’s poor adherence to the Geneva Conventions since its troops invaded Ukraine in February. According to Reuters, at least one Russian negotiator involved in talks with Ukraine has called for the prisoners to be executed, an act that is expressly prohibited by the Geneva Conventions. Ukrainian officials, as well as the soldiers’ families, have expressed hopes for a prisoner exchange. Another possibility, though, is […]

European Commission Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager speaks at the EU headquarters in Brussels, May 18, 2022 (SIPA via AP Images).

The European Commission yesterday unveiled a watershed proposal to shore up the European Union’s ability to coordinate military decision-making among the bloc’s member states. The proposal to strengthen the union’s defense coordination powers takes on added significance against the backdrop of Turkey blocking Sweden’s and Finland’s bids to join NATO, underscoring the urgency of an upgraded EU military framework in the interim. The commission’s proposal to analyze and coordinate defense spending among EU member states, including a collective defense acquisition framework similar to its joint vaccines procurement strategy, came in response to a request made by EU national leaders during […]

Police officers detain a protester in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, Feb. 24, 2022 (AP photo by Roman Yarovitsyn).

As Ukrainian society faced the shock of Russia’s seizure of Crimea in March 2014, separatist protests coordinated by Russian intelligence services in Donetsk and Luhansk generated mockery across much of Ukrainian social media. With every escalation of tensions around the Donbas region in the months that followed, demands from Russian President Vladimir Putin for a so-called federalization of Ukraine triggered a torrent of angry memes from Ukrainian social media users satirizing proposals that would have meant the de facto partition of the Ukrainian state. One such image was a map proposing the partition of Russia into a dozen self-governing regions that applied […]

Migrants cross into the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, near the border of Morocco and Spain, May 19, 2021 (AP photo by Bernat Armangue).

Nearly three months after Russia invaded Ukraine, the crisis continues to dominate, if not quite monopolize, the attention of policymakers and pundits in Europe and the U.S. It is the cause of weekly and even daily debates and ructions over everything from how much aid to Ukraine is enough and how much is too much, to which European leader has done the most to support Kyiv in its hour of need and which the least. In addition to upending Europe’s security landscape, the war has also transformed Europe as an economic and political space. Finland and Sweden are clamoring to […]

U.S. President Joe Biden meets with business leaders in the White House to discuss the Bipartisan Innovation Act and its provisions for increasing U.S. semiconductor manufacturing, Washington, March 9, 2022 (SIPA photo by Yuri Gripas).

Semiconductors, the tiny chips that power everything from Apple iPhones to F-35 fighter jets, are a true product of globalization. Their technological sophistication is matched only by the logistical complexity of their supply chains, which stretch across the planet. It should be no surprise, then, that these chips are feeling the impact of accelerating deglobalization. Over the past several years, manufacturers of everything from shoes to home appliances have moved to reshore production, encouraged by protectionist governments erecting trade barriers to protect domestic economies from geopolitical forces. Gradually, the “just-in-time” supply chains of the globalized world, which outsourced aspects of […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin, with then-French President Jacques Chirac and then-German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, briefs the media in Svetlogorsk, near Kaliningrad, July 3, 2005 (AP photo by Markus Schreiber).

On a warm summer evening in July 2005, Russian President Vladimir Putin, together with the German chancellor and French president at the time, Gerhard Schroder and Jacques Chirac, looked on as a lavish fireworks display entertained a vast crowd in the Baltic city of Kaliningrad. In commemoration of the 750-year anniversary of the founding of what had once been the Prussian city of Konigsberg, the Russian government that had inherited Kaliningrad after its conquest by the Soviet Union during World War II had put on elaborate festivities to celebrate its complex history.  For Putin, Kaliningrad was of both personal and […]

A sign at a rally for Ukraine at the White House shows Russian President Vladimir Putin in prison and calls for him to be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (NurPhoto by Allison Bailey via AP).

Terrible stories are emerging from Ukraine about the mass rape of civilian women by Russian soldiers. Among the most notorious reports is one involving a group of teenage girls who were held captive in a basement in Bucha. Nine of them are now pregnant after multiple gang rapes. According to Ukraine’s ombudsman for human rights, Lyudmyla Denisova, “Russian soldiers told [the victims] they would rape them to the point where they wouldn’t want sexual contact with any man, to prevent them from having Ukrainian children.” Currently, these are reports from officials of a nation at war, and must therefore be verified by independent […]

A protester holds a sign as she 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).

Energy analysts in Brussels have been burning the candle at both ends this week to determine the full extent of the disruption and economic fallout from the European Union’s impending ban on oil imports from Russia. But though Germany has dropped its opposition, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is still intent on vetoing the oil embargo. Any delay may spell trouble for the EU’s plan to cut off Russian oil, as opposition to the embargo among EU leaders may be growing rather than shrinking. The embargo proposal unveiled yesterday by the European Commission was already designed to be a phased-in […]

A Ukrainian soldier smokes a cigarette outside Kharkiv, Ukraine, Feb. 26, 2022  (AP photo by Andrew Marienko).

A recent investigative report by Reuters detailed the close ties between Philip Morris International and Igor Kesaev, the founder and until recently board chairman of Russia’s largest cigarette distributor, TC Megapolis. Relationships between Big Tobacco companies and wholesale distributors tend to raise eyebrows in the industry-watching community, given their long history of involvement in smuggling. But what sparked Reuters’ interest in Kesaev is that he also happens to own a company that produces arms for the Russian military, for which he was sanctioned by the European Union on April 8 and the United Kingdom on April 13. That, too, is […]

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It has not even been three months since Russia invaded Ukraine, and it remains far from clear as to when and how this conflict will end. Nevertheless, a robust discussion is already underway over the potential impact of Moscow’s aggression on U.S. foreign policy toward China as well as on Washington’s broader strategic outlook. In the short term, it seems likely that the war will undercut U.S. efforts to rebalance its focus to the Asia-Pacific and strategic competition with China—ironically, because Ukrainian forces have performed far better than expected. Given the vast imbalance between Russia’s conventional military capabilities and those […]

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, right, and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, attend a news conference after their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, April 28, 2022 (AP photo by Efrem Lukatsky).

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its conduct in the course of the war presents a serious threat not only to the Ukrainian state and its population, but to the humanitarian principles and restraints that are the bedrock of the modern international system. There are serious risks that Russia’s war will weaken international institutions and norms in ways that reduce their ability to maintain peace, prevent civilian harm and deal with collective challenges around peace and security going forward. However, this need not be so. It is still possible for the international system to come out of this crisis not only intact, […]