Ukrainian soldiers take positions in downtown Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb. 25, 2022 (AP photo by Emilio Morenatti).

Much of what we do at WPR from week to week and year to year is to keep tabs on the many mundane stories around the world so that we can inform you about the trends and developments that gradually and in combination shape history. But on occasion, we find ourselves face to face with moments that make history, suddenly and singly. The war in Ukraine is one of those moments. As I wrote Thursday as the first Russian attacks began, we will look back on it as a “before and after” event, one that will have enormous implications for […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and Senegal President Macky Sall shake hands prior to their meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, July 26, 2018 (Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool).

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the Democratic Republic of Congo and Senegal this week, returning to the African continent just months after his most recent four-day, three-nation tour last October, as well as the Third Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit, which was held in December in Istanbul. The Turkish leader, who has visited more than 30 African countries since becoming prime minister and then president, has devoted considerable effort to cultivating relations with his African counterparts and expanding his country’s presence across the continent. In a WPR article written after Erdogan’s October tour of Angola, Nigeria and Togo, I noted the steps Ankara has […]

NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg participates in a media conference with European Commission President von der Leyen and European Council President Michel, Brussels, Feb 24, 2022 (AP photo by Virginia Mayo).

European Union leaders are converging on Brussels today for yet another emergency summit on Ukraine, the second in a week. European Council President Charles Michel called for the meeting yesterday in order to get the bloc’s leaders on the same page ahead of a new round of EU sanctions against Russia. And overnight, Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine made further sanctions a certainty. A first round of sanctions against Moscow had already been officially adopted yesterday in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s deployment of troops into two breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine earlier this week. The first round of […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin talk to each other during their meeting in Beijing, China, Feb. 4, 2022 (Photo by Alexei Druzhinin for Sputnik via AP).

Countries around the world are watching intensely to see if Russia will further escalate its ongoing standoff with Ukraine, after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree Monday recognizing the independence of the breakaway Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk and subsequently deployed Russian troops to both to carry out what he referred to as a “peacekeeping mission.” At the same time, however, there is considerable attention on China’s response to the crisis, amid fears that Beijing could lend diplomatic support to Moscow, in light of their warming ties and converging interests. But even though Beijing has stopped short of condemning Russia […]

Ursula von der Leyen, Macky Sall, Emmanuel Macron, Charles Michel and AU Commission Chairperson Mahamat Moussa Faki pose for a photo in Brussels, Feb. 18, 2022 (AP photo by John Thys).

African leaders have assembled in Brussels, Belgium, this week to meet with their European counterparts for the sixth edition of the African Union-European Union summit. The two-day gathering, which kicked off yesterday, is taking place against the backdrop of deepening tensions between Africa and Europe, in large part due to Europe’s responses to the coronavirus pandemic, including the EU’s discriminatory travel bans slapped on South Africa and its neighbors after the initial identification by South African researchers of the omicron variant, as well as what several African Union leaders have referred to as “vaccine apartheid.” The summit also comes as established […]

Members of Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, train close to Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb. 5, 2022 (AP photo by Efrem Lukatsky).

The latest developments in Ukraine indicate that Russia is now in the final stages of preparing the groundwork for an invasion. Having spent weeks dismissing Western warnings of imminent war as mere hysteria, the Kremlin and its proxies in eastern Ukraine have begun spreading patently false accusations of genocide in Donbass at the hands of the Ukrainian military, while calling for mass evacuations of civilians to Russia. It suggests a chilling coda is close at hand to the months of debates among Western policymakers and analysts over whether Russian President Vladimir Putin was intent on invading Ukraine, whether he was […]

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrives for an EU-AU summit at the European Council building in Brussels, Feb. 17, 2022 (AP photo by Geert Vanden Wijngaert).

Seventy presidents and prime ministers from Europe and Africa are gathered today in Brussels for a long-awaited European Union-African Union summit, the sixth such summit between the two blocs. But ahead of that gathering, Europe’s 27 leaders huddled together for an emergency meeting to discuss the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. The emergency meeting was called by European Council President Charles Michel to brief the bloc’s leaders on the latest developments in the crisis, including a reported shelling of a kindergarten in eastern Ukraine, which occurred as the meeting of EU leaders was taking place. The EU leaders also heard a presentation […]

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks in a joint press conference with Fiji’s acting Prime Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Nadi, Fiji, Feb. 12, 2022 (AP photo by Kevin Lamarque).

With the first visit in four decades by a U.S. secretary of state to Fiji and plans to open an embassy in the Solomon Islands reportedly in the works, Washington officially announced its “return” to the Pacific Islands this past weekend. “It is about building a free and open Indo-Pacific, defending it with democratic institutions, with transparency, with commitment to a rules-based order that we share,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a joint press conference with Acting Fijian Prime Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum on Feb. 12. Blinken spoke after a virtual meeting with 18 Pacific Island leaders meant to […]

Anthony Shadid during a talk at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum in Oklahoma City, April 7, 2011 (AP photo by Sue Ogrocki).

The nature of Anthony Shadid’s work is sometimes misunderstood. After his death 10 years ago this week, he was celebrated as one of the greatest journalists of his era, which he most certainly was. On multiple occasions he was recognized as one of the best at his craft, but he was so much more. Better understanding what Anthony did in his lifetime can help those of us who are still endeavoring to make narrative sense of a world in constant flux. Anthony was a brilliant thinker, reporter, writer and storyteller who, during a critical decade of history from 9/11 to […]

African heads of state gather for a group photograph at the 35th Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Feb. 5, 2022 (AP photo).

The African Union leaders’ summit took place last weekend at the AU’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The two-day gathering, which kicked off Feb. 5, was held against the backdrop of the continent’s ongoing struggles with the adverse effects of the coronavirus pandemic—including its persistently low vaccination rates—as well as growing fears of democratic erosion amid a spate of military coups. The summit also marked the passing of the AU’s rotating leadership baton, with Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi handing over the ceremonial chair to his Senegalese counterpart, Macky Sall. Setting out his priorities for the coming year in his inaugural […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron after their talks in Moscow, Feb. 7, 2022 (AP photo by Thibault Camus).

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in Brussels today for a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg about the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. Their meeting follows a busy diplomatic week full of high-level meetings aimed at preventing the outbreak of war near the European Union’s borders. But with the week drawing to a close, it remains to be seen how much closer to a peaceful resolution of the crisis the parties have come. The diplomatic flurry began Monday, when French President Emmanuel Macron met with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in Moscow. Even before he sat down with Putin, Macron’s talking points raised […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping exchange documents during a signing ceremony following their talks in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, June 5, 2019 (AP file photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

With the Winter Olympics now underway, all eyes are fixed on the competing athletes as they take to the ice and snow. But amid the dazzling displays of athletic prowess, significant developments have simultaneously taken place on the diplomatic sidelines of the Games. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who arrived in Beijing last Friday ahead of the opening ceremony of the Winter Games, met his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, marking their first in-person encounter in two years, ostensibly due to Xi’s self-imposed travel restriction amid the coronavirus pandemic. The talks, described by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng as “very successful,” ended […]

Syrian Democratic Forces soldiers hold a position in Hassakeh, northeast Syria, Jan. 27, 2022 (AP photo by Baderkhan Ahmad).

The Islamic State, or ISIS, made global headlines recently on account of two significant developments in Syria: a prison uprising in Hasakeh in late January and the raid by U.S. special operations forces a week later, on Feb. 3, that resulted in the death of ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi. Both events have focused attention on the Islamic State’s capacity to wage insurgency and mobilize militants in its former territory. But another factor that is potentially more important in assessing the group’s future prospects is the large number of ISIS members and sympathizers languishing in detention nearly four years […]

Entertainers perform during the opening ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics, Feb. 4, 2022, Beijing (AP photo by Bernat Armangue).

This year’s Winter Olympics, which got underway in China on Friday, offer a fascinating prism through which to view the current geopolitical landscape, as well as to contrast it on multiple levels with the recent and more distant past. Most immediately, this year’s affair offers a benchmark against which to measure China’s advances in power and influence since the last time it hosted the Games just 14 years ago. The 2008 Summer Games were in many ways China’s “coming out party,” a chance to demonstrate its domestic transformation and modernized infrastructure to a global audience that still largely saw it […]

Guinea-Bissau's president Umaro Sissoco Embalo addresses the 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly, Sept. 22, 2021 (AP photo by Eduardo Munoz).

Guinea-Bissau has launched a commission of inquiry into an armed attack widely believed to be a failed attempt to overthrow President Umaro Sissoco Embalo. Heavily armed men wielding assault rifles and machine guns surrounded and attacked government buildings Tuesday in the capital, Bissau, where Embalo was attending a Cabinet meeting along with Prime Minister Nuno Gomes Nabiam. The assault was followed by an hours-long siege at the complex that houses the prime minister’s residence as well as national ministries. Eleven deaths have been reported by a government spokesperson, a figure that reportedly includes members of the presidential guard.  Embalo later […]

French forces deployed as part of Operation Barkhane patrol the streets of Timbuktu, Mali, Sept. 29, 2021 (AP photo by Moulaye Sayah).

As Europeans wait with bated breath to see whether Russian President Vladimir Putin authorizes an invasion of Ukraine, another military conflict is causing apprehension in Paris and Brussels, this one in Mali. Tensions between Paris and the military junta currently running the West African country have been simmering for months. But they reached a boil this week, when the junta expelled the French ambassador to Bamako. Paris now says it will consult with its European partners engaged in the European Union’s Takuba Task Force, which was launched by Brussels to compensate for the gradual drawdown of French troops from its […]

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen talks during an online press conference at the European Council building in Brussels, Sept. 14, 2020 (AP photo by Yves Herman).

The European Union has launched a case at the World Trade Organization against China over what Brussels describes as Beijing’s “discriminatory trade practices” toward Lithuania. By doing so, the bloc joins a growing list of countries, including Australia and the United States, seeking to hold China accountable via the multilateral trading system. But with the WTO’s dispute settlement system in disarray due to longstanding procedural obstacles put in place by the Trump administration, the WTO currently lacks the ability to resolve commercial disputes in the absence of a spirit of compromise among the parties involved. So the EU’s move in some ways resembles […]

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