Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban waves after his annual state of the nation speech in Varkert Bazaar conference hall, Budapest, Hungary, Feb. 12, 2022 (AP photo by Anna Szilagyi).

Many observers in Brussels will be keeping a close eye on this Sunday’s general election in Hungary for an early indication of how much European far right leaders’ ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin could affect their domestic political fortunes. But they are under no illusion about the seemingly united opposition’s slim odds of wresting power from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has manipulated the political landscape and electoral process to his benefit. After 12 years of playing themselves off against each other, Hungary’s six opposition parties have united behind a single candidate in this election for the first […]

People wave Polisario Front flags while taking part in a demonstration in support of the Polisario Front and a free Western Sahara, Pamplona, Spain, March 23, 2022 (AP photo by Alvaro Barrientos).

In mid-March, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez sent a letter to Moroccan King Mohamed VI, supporting Rabat’s plan to grant Western Sahara autonomy over its internal affairs, while remaining under Moroccan sovereignty. The move appeared to be an abrupt departure for Spain, which has maintained a position of careful neutrality over its former colony’s efforts to gain independence from Morocco for nearly 47 years. When the Moroccan Foreign Ministry eventually made Sanchez’s support public, it provoked an uproar in Spain centered around two primary questions. First, Does this really constitute a major policy change for Spain, given that it has never explicitly ruled out the Moroccan autonomy […]

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Since Feb. 24, the eyes of the world have been fixed on Eastern Europe. But the events unfolding in and around Ukraine portend great changes for another region: the Arctic. Commonly viewed as a “territory of dialogue,” the Arctic has over the past three decades won a reputation as a “zone of peace” marked by exceptionally calm and collaborative security dynamics. Indeed, this is what former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev envisioned back in October 1987, when he launched a series of policy initiatives aimed at lowering the level of military confrontation in the Arctic by facilitating cooperation among the eight […]

Then-President Ronald Reagan shakes hands with then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev after the two leaders signed the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in the White House East Room in Washington, Dec. 8, 1987 (AP photo by Bob Daugherty).

The Cold War was bookended by two signal developments—one scientific and technical, the other political and diplomatic—that opened and seemingly closed a terrible parenthesis in the history of the 20th century, but also of humankind. The first was the invention of nuclear weapons. The second was the process by which the U.S. and Russia gradually but methodically rolled back the threat of nuclear war in Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union. When the U.S. reduced Hiroshima and then Nagasaki to rubble with just one atomic bomb apiece in the final days of World War II, military strategists and […]

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson looks toward U.S. President Joe Biden at a group photo during an extraordinary summit at NATO headquarters, Brussels, March 24, 2022 (AP photo by Thibault Camus).

European Union and NATO leaders gathered in Brussels today for a mammoth day of three major summits, all with overlapping guest lists. The first was a combined assembly of national leaders from NATO and the EU’s member states, which took place this morning at NATO’s headquarters in the city’s northeast. After that meeting, six of the NATO leaders were then joined by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida as well as the presidents of the European Council and European Commission for a G-7 summit that was also held at NATO’s headquarters. The final gathering featured 22 of the 30 NATO leaders, including U.S. President Joe Biden, […]

Russian RS-24 Yars ballistic missiles roll in Moscow.

From the very start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the risk of it escalating into a nuclear conflict has been a feature of much commentary about the war. From explicit as well as thinly veiled mentions of it by Russian President Vladimir Putin to the warnings of Western observers about the dangers of any direct confrontation between NATO and Russian forces, the nuclear dimension to this war has never been far from the surface. While the risk of Russia using nuclear weapons, even absent NATO’s involvement in Ukraine, does exist, it is in all likelihood minimal. Nevertheless, the war […]

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrives for a visit of the German armed forces’ Joint Operations Command in Schwielowsee, Germany, on March 4, 2022 (AP photo by Michael Sohn).

On Feb. 27, nothing less than a revolution took place in Germany. In a 30-minute speech to parliament, Chancellor Olaf Scholz overturned all the old certainties that have dominated German security policy for over 30 years. He replaced them with an ambitious agenda that had defense, a topic with which Germany normally only reluctantly engages, at its core. Since the end of the Cold War, Germany has not felt threatened militarily. As a result, Berlin has felt little urgency to invest in its military and was reluctant to engage in the various military operations of the post-Cold War period. Where […]

Refugees fleeing conflict in neighboring Ukraine arrive at Przemysl, Poland, Feb. 26, 2022 (AP photo by Petr David Josek).

In last week’s Wrap-Up, I noted that the war in Ukraine was entering a new phase, one in which the human costs of Russia’s brutal siege tactics will become more evident, even as whatever political objectives Russian President Vladimir Putin initially sought to accomplish through the invasion become increasingly unachievable. The course of the fighting in the week since then has only reinforced that conclusion. While both sides are engaged in negotiations to end the war, the prospects for a compromise agreement seem dim, and even if some deal is reached, it’s hard to see how it could be durable […]

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On March 2, the European Union announced that the Russian state-sponsored channels Sputnik and RT would be banned from broadcasting within the union, citing the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the Kremlin’s “systematic, international campaign of disinformation, information manipulation and distortion of facts.” And British media regulator Ofcom announced today that it was taking RT off the air after an investigation found it was “not fit and proper to hold a license in the UK.” The dangers of the propaganda spouted by RT and Sputnik are considerable. These outlets sow divisions, cleave societies, threaten free and fair elections—and, now, shield […]

Czech volunteer Lukas Saranga cooks soup in a giant pot for refugees fleeing Ukraine at the train station at the border crossing of Medyka, Poland, March 8, 2022 (AP photo by Visar Kryeziu).

WARSAW, Poland—Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, war refugees have been flooding across the country’s western border into Poland, greeted by local Poles, international volunteers and a few small NGOs operating in the country. How is this effort going three weeks into Europe’s biggest refugee crisis since World War II? In Poland this week, I asked these questions of journalists, aid workers and Polish citizens. The reality is, almost as unprecedented as the refugee flows is the absence of most of the big NGOs that Americans think of—and are most likely to donate money to—when it comes to a refugee […]

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a meeting with the prime ministers of Slovenia, Czech Republic and Poland in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 15, 2022 (photo by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP).

Diplomats in Brussels breathed a sigh of relief yesterday following the safe return of three leaders from the European Union’s eastern bloc who made a surprise visit to Ukraine earlier this week. The prime ministers of Poland, Slovenia and the Czech Republic met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on Tuesday evening. Their visit was cheered across Europe as a brave gesture of support and solidarity for Ukraine. But for EU diplomats, the unilateral initiative was nonetheless alarming news that does not bode well for the continental and trans-Atlantic unity on display within the EU and NATO since Russia’s invasion three weeks […]

U.S. President Harry S. Truman, standing at podium, addresses a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber in Washington, D.C., March 12, 1947 (AP Photo).

Almost exactly 75 years ago, on March 12, 1947, then-President Harry S. Truman, alarmed by Soviet aggression in the Eastern Mediterranean and its efforts to undermine war-ravaged democracies in Western Europe, announced a dramatic reorientation of the United States’ national security policy. Addressing a joint session of Congress, he committed the U.S. to a new global mission to contain the Soviet Union by “support[ing] free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or outside pressures.” The speech set off a 15-week frenzy of diplomatic activity that culminated on June 5 with the proposal of the Marshall Plan. This new grand strategy—now known as […]

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks with European Council President Charles Michel as they walk to a group photo in Versailles, March 10, 2022 (AP photo by Michel Euler).

The European Union’s 27 leaders are in Versailles today for a summit that could prove to be historic. They are expected to sign the “Versailles Declaration,” intended to formalize the far-reaching but ad hoc policy changes the EU has implemented in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which is now entering its third week. The measures under discussion would strengthen the union’s existing military, economic and border control capabilities, while also giving the bloc new powers in those areas that will push it further down the path toward federalism. The symbolism of the decision to sign the declaration at the Palace […]

Women look at a screen displaying exchange rates at a currency exchange office in St. Petersburg, Russia, March 1, 2022 (AP photo by Dmitri Lovetsky).

Just over a week since it began, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine resembles a tale of two wars. For Russian President Vladimir Putin, the past week can hardly have been reassuring. Between the poor performance of the Russian military on the ground and the existential shock of Western sanctions on the Russian economy, it seems to be proof that he suffered from a severe case of war optimism. For the West, the story is quite the reverse. Despite the outrage over Russian attacks on Ukrainian civilian targets, the surprisingly tenacious fight put up by Ukraine’s outgunned military has become a cause […]

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Russian President Vladimir Putin attend an official welcome ceremony prior to their talks in Belgrade, Serbia, Jan. 17, 2019 (AP photo by Darko Vojinovic).

The European Union has spent much of the past decade divided and impotent, as it flailed its way through a series of seemingly never-ending crises. But Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine last week appears to have reenergized the bloc, leading to the emergence of a newly assertive EU bound together by a common enemy. European politics suddenly appear to have become the art of endless possibility, and regardless of how the war in Ukraine eventually plays out, the ripple effects of the past week’s events are likely to have a profoundly transformative impact on the continent. Few countries, however, are […]

European Council President Charles Michel greets Moldovan President Maia Sandu prior to a meeting in Brussels, Belgium, Dec. 15, 2021 (AP photo by Kenzo Tribouillard).

As the war in Ukraine enters its second week, the continent’s eyes are already turning toward neighboring Moldova. The European Union’s foreign affairs chief, Josep Borrell, made an emergency visit there yesterday, while European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen made a last-minute visit next door to Romania. The main reason given for the pair of visits was to discuss the large wave of Ukrainian refugees pouring into Moldova, a tiny country with limited resources. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR, 1 million refugees have fled Ukraine in the past week, and almost 10 percent […]

Refugees from Ukraine arrive at the railway station in Przemysl, Poland, Feb. 27, 2022 (AP photo by Czarek Sokolowski).

As the uncertainties surrounding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continue to multiply, one thing seems clear: Europe is poised to experience a level of population upheaval not seen on the continent since the 1940s. Exactly a week has passed since the war began, and already more than 1 million Ukrainians have fled to neighboring Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Moldova. European Union and United Nations officials are warning that the number seeking refuge in the EU could soon exceed 7 million. Such a figure, which would vault Ukrainians into being the world’s largest refugee group, may well prove an underestimate. Russia’s […]

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