A Bolivian military policeman watches a tanker enter Brazil’s Petrobras refinery a day after then-President Evo Morales ordered soldiers to occupy Bolivia’s natural gas fields, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, May 2, 2006 (AP photo by Victor R. Caivano).

LA PAZ, Bolivia—In the past 15 years, the Bolivian economy tripled in size and poverty was cut in half, achievements built in large part on state spending fueled by the income from natural gas exports. But since 2013 those exports have dwindled, leaving a hole in Bolivia’s public finances that challenges the sustainability of its economic model. On May 1, 2006, then-President Evo Morales marched troops into Bolivia’s gas fields, declaring, “The plunder has ended.” He had recently led the Movement Toward Socialism, or MAS, to power, campaigning on a platform to wrest control of the country’s resources from foreign interests and to spread the wealth […]

Former U.S. President Donald Trump, right, meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 7, 2017 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

With Russian troops now deep inside Ukraine, and with NATO and the United Nations Security Council caught up in a series of emergency sessions in order to respond to the conflict, it may seem a bit glib to fixate on the question of how the Russian invasion will shape domestic politics in the United States. Still, it is important to also acknowledge what this moment in history means for the future trajectory of the U.S., and, in turn, what shifting attitudes in Washington might mean for U.S.-Russia relations. It must be acknowledged upfront: Thousands if not millions of Ukrainians could be […]

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 […]

Abortion-rights activists protest outside the Constitutional Court during a proceeding on the decriminalization of abortion in Bogota, Colombia, Feb. 21, 2022 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

BOGOTA, Colombia—This week, thousands of demonstrators clad in green, a color that has become the symbol of South America’s pro-choice movements, celebrated in the streets of Bogota as the Constitutional Court struck down laws criminalizing abortion in Colombia. The verdict was the culmination of a legal battle waged since September 2020 by a collection of over 80 women’s organizations calling themselves the “Just Cause Movement” that slowly wound its way to the nation’s highest court. Colombia joins Mexico and Argentina to become the third country in Latin America to decriminalize or legalize abortion in just over a year. A regional […]

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya addresses the United Nations Security Council, Jan. 31, 2022 (AP photo by Richard Drew).

There has been no shortage of analyses of what has motivated Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine. Many of these arguments seem to implicitly assume that Russia is putting its geostrategic interests ahead of adherence to Article 2 of the United Nations Charter, which prohibits the use of armed conflict to resolve disputes absent self-defense or authorization from the Security Council. Similar arguments—that Russia is brazenly flouting and even threatening U.N. Charter norms—are being made in political speeches by leaders and representatives of the Western powers and U.N. member states. It is absolutely true that nothing less than the normative basis […]

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 […]

Thai activists and Greenpeace activists stand in front of plastic and electronic waste at Foreign Ministry in Bangkok, Thailand, June 20, 2019 (AP photo by Sakchai Lalit).

Plastics, e-waste and other hazardous waste are routinely traded across borders in what amounts to an “out of sight, out of mind” approach for the rich countries that produce them. The story is more complicated for the communities that receive and dispose of the waste. Hazardous waste poses risks to the health of local communities and the environment, spurring attempts to ban its movement across borders. But in countries like Turkey, Vietnam and Ghana, waste is often processed to extract its residual value. The important source of income it provides explains why those efforts have been of limited success and […]

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 […]

Former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, center in chains, is shown to the press at the Police Headquarters in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Feb. 15, 2022 (AP photo by Elmer Martinez).

On Feb. 14, the U.S. Department of Justice requested the extradition of former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez on drug trafficking and weapons charges. Hernandez was arrested the following day, just two weeks after he left office and a mere week after Washington had revoked his visa. Hernandez was led away from his home in handcuffs and a bullet-proof vest, and he will likely remain detained in the military headquarters of Honduras’ special forces until his extradition hearing, which is set to take place on March 16.  Hernandez’s arrest and the outcome of the extradition hearing signal a watershed moment […]

The Brandenburg Gate is illuminated in the colors of the Ukrainian flag to show solidarity with the country, Berlin, Germany, Feb. 23, 2022 (AP photo by Markus Schreiber).

The Russian invasion of Ukraine this morning ends several months of doubt and debate over the purpose of Moscow’s military buildup at the two countries’ border. Washington’s repeated warnings of an imminent military operation proved not to be the hysteria that Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed them as. In the end, Putin’s manufactured crisis was not an attempt at coercive diplomacy, or if it was, it was a failed one. War and conflict have rarely been absent from the European continent, even during the past 30 years of ostensible peace and prosperity. But a war of choice and aggression by […]

The Spanish word for “murderer” covers a mural of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, as part of anti-government protests demanding his resignation in Managua, Nicaragua, May 26, 2018 (AP photo by Esteban Felix).

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega surprised precisely no one last year when he won yet another term in an election so farcical it verged on grotesque. After securing victory by imprisoning opponents and silencing critics, one might have expected Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, to relax a bit, having dealt a punishing blow to the opposition. Sadly, that’s not what happened. Since winning his fourth consecutive term as president—his fifth overall—Ortega has only intensified his campaign of repression, and he is now dragging his imprisoned opponents through a series of sham trials in Managua, the capital. It’s the […]

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a welcome ceremony ahead of their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb. 3, 2022 (AP photo by Efrem Lukatsky).

As the threat of war between Russia and Ukraine looms ever larger, Turkey finds itself between a rock and a hard place. It does not want to antagonize Russia, with which it shares strategically vital interests, but it also needs to show its support for Ukraine and its NATO allies in the face of the greatest threat to European security in the post-Cold War era. This has forced Turkey to walk a finely calibrated diplomatic tightrope over the past month. During his visit to Kyiv on Feb. 3, Turkish President Recep Tayiip Erdogan proclaimed his support for Ukrainian sovereignty, reiterated […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks via video call during a news conference in Moscow, Russia, Dec. 17, 2020 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

Over the past several weeks, there has been nearly as much speculation about the nature and objectives of the Biden administration’s highly vocal approach to warning about the imminence of a Russian invasion of Ukraine as there has been about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intentions in the current crisis. The most prominent strain of analysis, by now distilled into broadly held, conventional wisdom, is that by providing detailed, near-daily updates about Russian troop deployments around Ukraine’s borders, including highly specific intelligence and tactical analysis, the Biden administration has been seeking to “get inside Putin’s head,” thereby giving him pause or […]

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 […]

Former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga arrives at a rally of his supporters to declare his 2022 presidential bid, Nairobi, Kenya, Dec. 10, 2021 (Sipa photo by Donwilson Odhiambo via AP Images).

Over the course of the next two and a half years, voters in several of Africa’s largest and most populous countries will be going to the polls, with a lot riding on the outcomes. This year, Kenya and Angola will both elect a president and national legislature to five-year terms. In 2023, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, two of Africa’s four most-populous countries, are scheduled to hold general elections that include keenly anticipated presidential races, as are Zimbabwe and Madagascar. The following year, Egyptians, Rwandans and South Africans will cast ballots in elections that will ostensibly determine the […]

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen discusses the EU Chips Act at a press conference, Brussels, Feb. 8, 2022 (AP pool photo by Virginia Mayo).

Brussels is getting in on the microchip action, with a wide-ranging draft regulation known as the European Union Chips Act that promises to transform the bloc into a global player in semiconductor markets, while also supporting EU digital sovereignty, strategic autonomy and democratic values. That’s a lot of baggage to place on such a miniature component. The pandemic has underscored modern societies’ dependence on semiconductor chips, with supply chain disruptions and other factors combining to create a global shortage. But after creating a shock akin to that of a sudden air-raid siren, the shortage has evolved into something more like […]

Ukrainian armed forces conduct exercises in the abandoned city of Pripyat, Ukraine, Feb.4, 2022 (AP photo by Mykola Tymche).

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bellicose speech yesterday, in which he announced that Russia had recognized the independence of two separatist regions of Ukraine and would deploy military forces there as “peacekeepers,” suggests that after months of military posturing and diplomacy, a full-scale invasion may well be at hand. But while it is still impossible to know for sure how the crisis will play out, one consequence of it is already certain: There is no more use in dancing around reality using terms like “strategic competition” or “great power tensions” to describe relations between the West and Russia. We are in […]

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