State Counsellor of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi poses with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken following a meeting in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, Jan. 18, 2016 (AP photo by Aung Shine Oo).

A civilian population comes under brutal attack by a heavily armed military force. What is the world to do? Amid Russia’s ongoing onslaught against Ukraine, this question has dominated the agendas of policymakers, monopolized headlines and taken over discussions on social media. But when Myanmar’s military, a perennial human rights violator, unleashed a scorched-earth campaign against the country’s Rohingya minority in 2016, the crisis was a secondary matter for most of the world. Now, six years later—and one year after Myanmar’s military, known as the Tatmadaw, overthrew the country’s incipient democracy—the United States has finally formally designated that 2016-2017 campaign […]

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 […]

Yoon Suk Yeol speaks during the presidential election campaign in Seoul, South Korea, March 8, 2022 (AP photo by Lee Jin-man).

On March 9, after a long campaign and an even longer election night, South Korea finally elected a new president: Yoon Suk Yeol, of the conservative People Power Party. The 61-year-old career prosecutor, who won by less than 1 percent of the vote, may not have the strongest electoral mandate to work with. But he is nevertheless expected to make dramatic changes to the country’s foreign policy once he enters office on May 10. Since Yoon is new to politics, it’s hard to know what to expect of him once he takes over. That’s all the more true because public […]

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, […]

U.S. President Joe Biden meets virtually from the Situation Room at the White House with Chinese President Xi Jinping, March 18, 2022, Washington (White House photo via AP).

A two-hour virtual meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, failed to yield progress on efforts to halt the war in Ukraine, while leaving relations between Washington and Beijing locked in a stalemate. A month into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Biden administration has proven unable to convince Beijing to end its diplomatic tap dance around the conflict. But Beijing views its long-term rivalry with Washington as its chief geopolitical concern, making it unlikely to abandon Moscow, its new strategic partner, over the war. Xi spoke to Biden on Friday at the latter’s request, following a […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping is seen on a live broadcast of the opening ceremony for the National People’s Congress, March 5, 2022, Beijing (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

Not long after the commencement of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, I wrote that for China, binding itself tightly to Moscow would do harm to Beijing’s long-term interests. That is because, I wrote, an alliance between a superpower like China and a far less dynamic country like Russia, whose economy is a small fraction of the former’s size, is not much of an alliance. This would especially hold true if Beijing’s support for Russian President Vladimir Putin deepened European wariness of China and caused Europe and the United States to grow even closer, both of which now seem almost certain. Some object that […]

Police detain a journalist with a poster that reads “Journalism is not a crime” in Moscow, Russia, Aug. 21, 2021 (AP photo by Denis Kaminev).

Earlier this month, the Duma, Russia’s parliament, passed a law introducing punishments of up to 15 years in prison for disseminating “false information” about the Russian armed forces’ activities in Ukraine. The law requires that the Russian invasion of Ukraine be described as a “special military operation,” and applies to news media, journalists, bloggers and ordinary people alike. Though not technically a law regulating the media, it has already radically changed the country’s media landscape, essentially introducing military censorship in Russia. Shortly after the new law was passed, Roskomnadzor, the Russian federal communications regulator, began blocking independent media outlets en […]

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell appears on a monitor at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, March 17, 2022 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

One of the more concerning things about the virus that causes COVID-19 is the potential for its symptoms to linger long after the initial infection has waned. No one knows exactly what is causing “Long COVID,” as the disease is now known, but we do know that dealing with it will impose costs on societies for years to come. Not dissimilar are the pandemic’s economic and financial impacts. The initial symptoms of the crisis were acutely painful—economic downturns, business closures and supply chain disruptions. But now, as governments reopen their societies, they are realizing that some of the pandemic’s challenges may not […]

An aerial view of destroyed buildings and shops in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq, Nov. 15, 2017 (AP photo by Felipe Dana).

MOSUL, Iraq—On both sides of the Atlantic, the war in Ukraine and its direct impacts on regional security and the international order  continue to be the focus of policymaking attention. By contrast, because Iraq is physically distant to the conflict, the country continues to remain embroiled in its own affairs. Six months after parliamentary elections held last October, Iraq’s political class remains stuck in a protracted negotiation over government formation that is slowly morphing into a governance crisis, with all the ingredients of state failure. Meanwhile, Iran and the United States continue to jostle for influence in the country, confronting each other […]

A little girl runs past soldier with his weapon drawn, during a surprise operation in the City of God slum of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Feb. 7, 2018 (AP photo by Leo Correa).

It has now been nearly a month since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. Though the shockwaves of this invasion will continue to be felt for years to come, the world has slowly started to process the crisis and to examine the rapid developments in Ukraine more analytically. One clear pattern in particular has emerged from close observation of Russia’s military tactics, Ukraine’s defensive strategies and the international system’s response: The main battlegrounds in this conflict are Ukraine’s cities.  As of March 16, Russian forces were attempting to surround Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital city, from multiple angles, while simultaneously targeting its second-largest […]

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 […]

Russian servicemen ride a military vehicle along a road near the border with Ukraine, in Crimea, Russia (Sputnik photo by Konstantin Mihalchevskiy via AP).

News headlines this week warned that Russia is recruiting mercenaries to scale up its operations in Ukraine. Some 16,000 fighters from Syria and other Arab states have already volunteered, joining the hundreds of Russian mercenaries that were already reportedly operating in Ukraine. The whiff of guns-for-hire was seen as a sign that an even more ruthless phase of the conflict may be ahead. But considering how states have used privatized force in the past, it seems unlikely that mercenaries will introduce any risk factors that could make the conflict much worse than it already is. That says something both about the current state […]

A woman walks past the World Bank building in Washington, April 5, 2021 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

In mid-February, the World Bank issued a warning: Many low-income countries hit hardest by the pandemic are now on the brink of serious debt crisis, complicating the global economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. While worries about the accumulated burden of sovereign debt and the possibility of a debt crisis have been present for years, the pandemic has exacerbated an already precarious situation for many low-income countries, revealing fundamental flaws in the current architecture for sovereign debt restructuring. These flaws are likely to become more evident in 2022, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine contributes to higher global energy and food prices, […]

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 […]

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat speak at the State Department, Washington, March 11, 2022 (AP photo by Balce Ceneta).

The war in Ukraine might be distant from the African continent, but its effects are proving to be far-reaching. From skyrocketing fuel prices to disruptions in food supply chains, Africans are feeling the real-life consequences of a conflict many of them regard as peripheral to their concerns and believe has little to do with them. But in addition to exacerbating the myriad difficulties African populations are grappling with, the war is also threatening to hobble the international collaborations their governments are trying to develop to address those challenges. That dynamic was on display at last week’s eighth annual high-level dialogue between the […]

A gas station shows record fuel prices in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, March 7, 2022 (AP photo by Martin Meissner).

In the aftermath of U.S. President Joe Biden’s announcement last week that he was banning Russian oil imports in the U.S., global markets delivered a stark message to Russia’s leading energy giants: No one wants to buy what they’re selling. No one, that is, other than India, which is the only country that has so far offered to buy Russian crude despite the new round of U.S. sanctions and the European Union’s commitment to decrease its reliance on Russian energy imports. India’s move to buy a one-off shipment of 15 million barrels of oil from Russia is sure to rankle some in Washington, but before the […]

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 […]

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