What's New

Streit Council Advisory Board Member John Davenport's latest book - A League of Democracies: Cosmopolitanism, Consolidation Arguments, and Global Public Goods - makes the case that deepening interdependence is far outstripping the governance capacities of nation-states, even when they try to work together through intergovernmental agreements and organized bureaucracies of specialists. This work defends a cosmopolitan approach to global justice by arguing for new ways to combine the strengths of democratic nations in order to prevent mass atrocities and to secure other global public goods. (Read More)

Streit Council Advisory Board Member Stanley R. Sloan's new book, Transatlantic Traumas, examines the connections between external and internal threats that challenge the West and its leading institutions - NATO and the EU. After discussing the meaning of “the West” and examining Russian and Islamist terrorist threats, he assesses the main internal threats: the rise of radical right populist parties, Turkey’s drift away from Western values, the Brexit shock, and the Trump presidency in the United States. He concludes by suggesting that the West can be reinvigorated if political centers in Europe and the United States reassert themselves in an approach of “radical centrist populism.” Sloan is a Visiting Scholar in Political Science at Middlebury College and a Non-resident Senior Fellow in the Scowcroft Center at the Atlantic Council of the United States. (Read More)

What Does a Nuclear North Korea Really Mean for the International System? 
In the last four months, North Korea has transformed the strategic landscape of East Asia, achieving both its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and first thermonuclear weapon. This new reality for the United States, Japan, South Korea – and the wider liberal international order – must be confronted. For decades, like-minded free democracies have invested heavily in collective defense, extended deterrence, and non-proliferation; but now those fundamental pillars of the global system are at risk. If they buckle, it may trigger events that would effectively end the post-Cold War status quo – all without North Korea firing a shot. (Read More)

John Davenport joins the Streit Council's Advisory Board
John Davenport is a Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Peace and Justice Studies Program at Fordham University. Professor Davenport has published and instructed widely on topics in free will and responsibility, existential conceptions of practical identity, virtue ethics, motivation and autonomy, theories of justice, and philosophy of religion. He has published and spoken about the need for a federation of democracies, and is currently working on a book titled A Federation of Democracies: Towards
Universal Basic Rights and the End of Tyranny. He holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame and a B.A. in Philosophy from Yale University.

The European Defense Fund: What Does it Mean for Transatlantic Security?
The European Commission launched the European Defense Fund (EDF) on June 7, 2017. It will provide €590 million through 2020, and at least €1.5 billion per year after 2020, to incentivize collaborative defense research, development and acquisition within the EU. The aims of the fund are to reduce duplication in defense spending, produce more defense capability for every euro spent, and enhance the interoperability of European forces. (Read More)

Transatlantic Relations and Global Governance News

Russian nuclear-capable bomber aircraft fly to Venezuela, angering U.S.
11 December 2018 - Reuters

Two Russian strategic bomber aircraft capable of carrying nuclear weapons have landed in ally Venezuela - a show of support for Venezuela’s socialist government. The TU-160 supersonic bombers landed at Maiquetia airport near capital Caracas on Monday with their deployment coming just days after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, whose left-wing administration is the most significant U.S. foe in Latin America, held talks with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
(Read More

NATO and the EU sign agreement to support good governance
11 December 2018 – NATO
EU and NATO leaders have signed an agreement wherein the EU will contribute funds to the NATO Building Integrity Trust Fund in an effort to promote good governance. The fund aims to support defense ministries and security departments, and will allow countries to increase cooperation on education for civilian and non-civilians.
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Pashinyan:  Armenia does not seek NATO membership
10 December 2018 – News.am
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated this week that his country will not seek membership into the NATO alliance. Currently, Armenia is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and has cooperated with NATO on various missions in Afghanistan, for example, and plans to continue doing so.   
(Read More)

May pulls vote on her divorce deal, thrusting Brexit into the unknown
10 December 2018 – Reuters

British Prime Minister Theresa May abruptly postponed a parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal, throwing Britain’s plan to leave the European Union into chaos after admitting that she faced a rout. May’s move on the eve of the scheduled parliamentary vote opens up an array of possible outcomes, ranging from a disorderly Brexit without a deal to another referendum on EU membership.
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Germany drops long-held EU migrant quota demand
9 December 2018 – Financial Times
According to the Financial Times, an unpublished Franco-German discussion paper indicates that Germany is prepared to drop its longstanding support for the EU’s migrant quota. The paper proposes to retain a “solidarity mechanism” for member states to share responsibility for large numbers of migrants, with an added escape clause for member states. At the same time, Germany seeks to ensure that its contributions to the EU budget are matched by “burden sharing” measures on migration.
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May’s Brexit deal under fire as legal advice stiffens opposition
5 December 2018 - Reuters

As the British government suffers a series of serious defeats in parliament on its proposed EU exit deal, analysts predict that the chances of the UK remaining a part of the EU have increased. Following a recent ECJ ruling, which stated that Britain has the right to legally revoke Article 50 unilaterally, thereby cancelling the withdrawal process, J.P. Morgan economist Malcom Bar predicted that the chances of no Brexit happening rose from 20% to 40%. However, the current British government has rejected the possibility of holding a second referendum.
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NATO remains committed to Afghan war, despite setbacks
5 December 2018 – Voice of America
After a two-day NATO meeting in Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stated the military alliance is committed to peace in Afghanistan. For over a decade, NATO has been at the forefront of providing security in the country but recent attacks on international and Afghan soldiers have made it challenging and peace talks have yet to begin.
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Russia will build missiles if U.S. leaves treaty, Putin warns
5 December 2018 – BBC

Putin warned that Russia will develop missiles banned under the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty if the U.S. exits the pact. Signed in 1987 by the U.S. and USSR, it banned both countries' use of all short and medium-range missiles. On Tuesday, NATO accused Russia of breaking the treaty, after which U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Russia has 60 days to return to compliance with the treaty, after which the U.S. will suspend its own compliance.
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EU finance ministers strike Eurozone reform deal
4 December 2018 – Financial Times

Eurozone finance ministers reached a deal to improve the common currency area’s collective ability to cope with economic shocks. The deal will give the European Stability Mechanism more flexibility in combating and preemptively addressing banking crises, albeit with tough conditions. Despite France’s insistence on the creation of a Eurozone budget, however, no agreement was reached on this question.
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U.S. sees Macedonia in NATO in mid-2020 after name change deal
4 December 2018 – Reuters

According to U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew Palmer, Macedonia will join NATO in mid-2020. One major part of Macedonia’s agreement to become an alliance member was to change its name to the North Republic of Macedonia, in order to end a dispute with Greece. Both the Macedonian and Greek parliaments must ratify the agreement. 
(Read More)

NATO accuses Russia of breaking nuclear missile treaty
4 December 2018 – BBC News

NATO issued a statement after a two-day meeting in Brussels accusing Russia of violating the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Force (INF) Treaty and supporting the U.S. view that Russia is in breach of the treaty. The United States has threatened to withdraw from the treaty. NATO officials have stated that Russia developed a missile system which can strike an allied country in a short amount of time. 
(Read More)

Bosnia set for new move toward NATO membership this week
3 December 2018 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

This week, NATO will vote to activate Bosnia’s Membership Action Plan in a step to move the country closer to membership in the military alliance. In 2010, NATO asked Bosnia to activate its membership plan but declined due to issues revolving around defense properties. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg believes NATO ministers will vote for Bosnia’s membership plan.
(Read More)

Angela Merkel’s apparent successor questions NATO spending targets
2 December 2018 – The Telegraph

Friedrich Merz, who is slated to become the head of German Chancellor’s Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party, stated that he wants to debate German defense spending targets within NATO. Merz believes the target of two percent of GDP set for European nations has been a difficult one and wants a reassessment of it. He also wants the two percent target to include civilian projects, not just military ones.
(Read More)

EU, NATO react coolly to Ukraine’s call for new moves against Russia
30 November 2018 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

European leaders and NATO have reacted coolly to calls by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko for new measures to strengthen defenses and penalize Russia over its capture of Ukrainian ships and crew off Crimea. A NATO spokeswoman said that they have no plans to send warships into the Sea of Azov, as requested by Poroshenko on November 28th. German Chancellor Angela Merkel rebuffed Poroshenko's call for increasing military pressure on Russia, saying "we can only resolve this in talks with one another because there is no military solution to all of these conflicts.”
(Read More)

EU Parliament approves new €13bn European Defense Fund
26 November 2018 – The Parliament Magazine

Members of the European Parliament backed making the new European Defense Fund fully functional.  The European Defense Fund is aimed at strengthening defense ties between European nations and cooperating in areas such as defense research and development. €13bn has been allocated for the program.
(Read More)

NATO convenes emergency meeting with Ukraine over Russia seizure of vessels

26 November 2018 – Reuters
An emergency meeting has been called by NATO in response to Russia’s firing on and capture of Ukrainian ships. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke on the phone about the events. NATO has stated its support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission will take place in Brussels to address events in the region. 
(Read More)

Black Sea standoff intensifies tensions between Ukraine, Russia
26 November 2018 - The Washington Post

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine escalated on Sunday after Russia prevented three Ukrainian ships from entering the Kerch Strait, which links the Azov and Black Seas. According to the Ukrainian navy, Russian border service vessels opened fire on the Ukrainian fleet, injuring six sailors, before seizing two of the ships. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko endorsed the military cabinet’s proposal to instate martial law across the country for 60 days. A vote before parliament is expected to pass on Monday.
(Read More

Brexit terms will allow new UK-U.S. trade deal, PM May’s office says
26 November 2018 – Reuters
British Prime Minister Theresa May refuted U.S. President Donald Trump’s assertion that the Brexit deal will hamper trade between the two countries. “The political declaration we have agreed with the EU is very clear we will have an independent trade policy so that the UK can sign trade deals with countries around the world — including with the US,” a spokeswoman for May said.
(Read More)

EU agrees “best possible” Brexit deal, urges Britons to back May
25 November 2018 - Reuters

On Sunday, European Union leaders warned the British parliament not to wreck Theresa May’s Brexit deal, saying a package agreed with the prime minister on Sunday is the best Britain will get. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told reporters that Britain will not get a better deal if it rejects this newest one. May used a post-summit news conference to pitch for her plan, telling television viewers at home that it is the “only possible deal” offering control of UK borders and budgets while maintaining close cooperation with EU regulations that are good for business and the security of the broader region.
(Read More)

Merkel casts doubt on Brexit summit as Germany says no to new talks
20 November 2018 – Bloomberg

German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that upcoming EU summit on Brexit will fall apart if British Prime Minister Theresa May reopens negotiations on the recent accord. Germany’s Social Democratic party, the junior partner in Merkel’s government, also opposes reopening the agreement. Even though EU leaders are scheduled to formally approve it on Sunday, May returned to Brussels on Wednesday for additional talks.
(Read More)

EU unveils plans for new but limited military projects
20 November 2018 - Financial Times

On Monday, EU foreign and defense ministers announced the second round of projects under the PESCO cooperation initiative launched last year improve Europe’s military capabilities. Greece and Cyprus will lead a project to set up an intelligence training school, while France, Belgium and Cyprus will head a venture to develop a new medium-range missile. Additionally, the council of EU ministers broadly backed a European Commission plan for a European Defense Fund to co-invest in military industrial projects.
(Read More)

Franco-German Eurozone budget plan wins support
19 November 2018 – Financial Times

France and Germany are pursuing the creation of a common Eurozone budget after winning the support of other EU governments. The budget is intended to promote economic convergence in the common currency area to make it more resilient to economic shocks, and could be in place by 2021. It is not clear how large the fund will be, but its formation requires the approval of all EU members and only Eurozone member states would contribute.
(Read More)

Brexit turmoil delays deal on Britain’s EU defense ties
19 November 2018 – Reuters

Brexit negotiations are affecting future of Britain’s defense ties with Europe. Prime Minister Theresa May earlier this year called for a new treaty on defense, but movement toward an agreement has stalled. A decision may be reached later this year.
(Read More)

Hungary sets conditions for Ukraine’s participation in NATO meeting
19 November 2018 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto announced on Monday that Budapest will continue to block meetings of the NATO-Ukraine Commission at the ministerial level, but that Hungary would give its consent to the Ukrainian foreign minister attending a NATO foreign ministers' meeting scheduled for next month if Georgia's top diplomat also participates. Since March 2017, Hungary has blocked all the meetings of the NATO-Ukraine Commission -- the key format for bilateral cooperation between Kyiv and the Western military alliance -- at all levels above that of ambassador.
(Read More)

Russia says no “automatic” return of disputed islands to Japan
19 November 2018 - The Straits Times

One week after Russia and Japan agreed to accelerate talks on the status of four islands known by the Japanese as the Northern Territories, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that upcoming talks would not necessarily result in Moscow relinquishing them. The dispute over the Kuril chain goes back to the end of World War II, when their annexation by the Soviet Union was confirmed in peace treaties between the victorious powers and accepted by Japan. Tokyo claims that some islands were not covered in the agreement and should be returned.   
(Read More)

Russia tightens energy grip on Turkey and Southern Europe
18 November 2018 - Bloomberg

On Monday, Russian and Turkish leaders met to oversee the completion of a 930 kilometer underwater part of the TurkStream dual pipeline, which is set to transport Russian gas across the Black Sea to Turkey starting next year and may even stretch further – to the southern borders of the European Union. TurkStream will help Gazprom achieve two strategic goals: reduce dependence on transit routes via Ukraine and increase its market share in Turkey, a top three buyer of Russian gas.
(Read More)

Trump says U.S. may not impose more tariffs on China
16 November 2018 - Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday that he may not impose more tariffs on Chinese goods after Beijing sent the United States a list of measures it is willing to take to resolve trade tensions, although he added it was unacceptable that some major items were omitted from the list. Trump imposed tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese imports to force concessions from Beijing on the list of demands that would change the terms of trade between the two countries.
(Read More)

EU to sanction five people over Ukraine separatist vote
15 November 2018 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

The European Union is set to sanction five individuals involved in the organization of the weekend elections in the areas controlled by Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, according to sources in Brussels. The bloc’s foreign ministers are due to agree to the move when they meet in the Belgian capital on November 19th, with a formal decision coming later in the month. The five individuals would join 155 other people from Russia and Ukraine who are currently subject to EU asset freezes and travel bans.
(Read More)

U.S. military in “crisis,” could lose a war to Russia and China, report warns
14 November 2018 - NBC News

According to a report issued Wednesday by the National Defense Strategy Commission, the United States faces a "crisis of national security" because its historic military supremacy has eroded drastically, leaving it likely unable to fight more than a single war at a time. The report concludes that the Defense Department could lose a war against China or Russia individually. The commission's co-chairmen, Eric Edelman and retired Adm. Gary Roughead, are scheduled to testify on this topic before both Armed Services committees later this month.
(Read More)

Czechs join other EU states rejecting UN migration pact
14 November 2018 – Reuters

The Czech government’s cabinet has voted not to sign the UN’s Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, joining other EU member states that have done the same. “The Czech Republic has long favored the principle of separating legal and illegal migration….The final text does not reflect [this]” Deputy Prime Minister Richard Brabec said.
(Read More)

EU plan to enable non-dollar Iran trade, oil sales unraveling: diplomats
14 November 2018 - Reuters

A special European Union initiative to protect trade with Iran against new U.S. sanctions faces possible collapse with no EU country willing to host the operation for fear of provoking U.S. punishment. EU diplomats said Germany, France and Britain, would raise pressure on tiny Luxembourg to host the so-called Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) after Austria refused to manage the plan. Iran has warned it could scrap a 2015 accord on curbing its nuclear program reached with world powers, including the big EU trio, if the bloc fails to preserve the deal’s economic benefits against U.S. pressure.
(Read More)

Merkel backs Macron’s call for creation of European army
13 November 2018 - Financial Times

German Chancellor Angela Merkel used a speech to the European Parliament on Tuesday to show her support for French President Emmanuel Macron’s call for the creation of a European army. In her speech she made a passionate appeal for closer defense cooperation between EU member states, noting that she says this in “full awareness of the developments of the last few years” – referring to U.S. President Donald Trumps’ avowed “America First” stance. Merkel’s speech came shortly after Trump re-ignited his row with Macron for pushing for closer EU military integration, tweeting that France should “pay for NATO or not.”
(Read More)

Brexit: UK and EU “agree text” of draft withdrawal agreement
13 November 2018 – BBC

After months of negotiations in Brussels, UK and EU officials have agreed on the draft text of a Brexit agreement. A special cabinet meeting will be held by Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday as she seeks her ministers’ backing, while the EU has said it would “take stock” on Wednesday. Leading Brexiteers, such as Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg, have urged cabinet ministers to reject the draft agreement. They claim it would keep the UK under EU control.
(Read More)

Europe should keep its defense within NATO, says Stoltenberg
12 November 2018 – Deutsche Welle
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated this week the creation of a European army led by France and supported by Germany could increase European capabilities in defense and security but should stay within the confines of NATO. He also warned that a European army might strain U.S.-European relations. 
(Read More)

Trump renews attacks on NATO and trade imbalances
12 November 2018 - The New York Times

President Trump has renewed his criticism of European states, stating that United States pays “for LARGE portions” of other countries’ military protection to the amount of hundreds of billions, while losing hundreds of billions of dollars on trade with those same countries. His comments come as Europe’s chief trade negotiator, Cecilia Malmstrom, heads to Washington this week to meet with Robert E. Lighthizer, the U.S. trade representative. The U.S. and Europe have been engaged in a tit-for-tat tariff war, and hopes that the two will quickly make substantive progress to resolve disputes on industrial goods, steel tariffs, or cars have largely evaporated.
(Read More)

Macron wants Europe to buy its own military hardware
12 November 2018 – Politico

French President Emmanuel Macron wants European countries to increase military spending and have funding go to European companies and not American ones. Macron also wants European countries to create their own defense capabilities and buy more European made equipment. One of the largest defense manufacturing industries in Europe is located in France.  
(Read More)

U.S., EU call election in pro-Russian E. Ukraine a sham
12 November 2018 - Voice of America

Voters in the Kremlin-backed Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine cast ballots Sunday for local government leaders in what Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called a "fake election." Denis Pushilin, the 37-year-old acting leader of Donetsk, was elected with over 61 percent of the vote with almost all ballots counted, and Leonid Pasechnik, the acting leader of Luhansk, took 68 percent of the vote. The United States and the European Union denounced the election as illegal and a deterrent to a negotiated settlement.
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Finland to probe reports of Russia disrupting GPS during NATO drill
12 November 2018 - Deutsche Welle

Pilots in Finland and Norway lost GPS navigation signals during NATO's recent large-scale Trident Juncture exercise near Russia's western border. Speaking to Finland's public broadcaster Yle on Sunday, Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila said that Moscow was likely to blame for the jamming. Sipila, who is also an experienced pilot, said that the incident would be treated as a breach of Finnish airspace and added that the goal of the alleged Russian interference was "to demonstrate the capabilities for such actions.”
(Read More)

PM May says Britain open to “different relationship” with Russia
11 November 2018 – Reuters

On Monday, Prime Minister Theresa May will use her speech at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet to say that Britain is “open to a different relationship” with Russia if Moscow takes a new path and stops “attacks” that undermine international treaties and security. Last year, May used her annual speech at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet to accuse Moscow of military aggression and of meddling in elections, some of her strongest criticism even before the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Salisbury. This year, her speech shows her saying that the actions taken since - including the largest ever coordinated expulsion of Russian intelligence officers - has deepened her belief in a “collective response” to such threats.
(Read More)

Poland, Baltic states host their biggest-ever NATO military drills
8 November 2018 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

NATO soldiers from ten countries have been taking part in a large military exercise this week being held in Poland. Approximately 17,000 soldiers are participating and it is the largest military drill Poland has ever had with around 12,000 Polish troops involved. Other NATO countries taking part include Lithuania and Latvia. The exercise will last until the second week of November.
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U.S. energy secretary warns sanctions still possible over Nord Stream 2 project
8 November 2018 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Speaking during a visit to Warsaw, U.S. energy secretary Rick Perry said that Washington may still impose sanctions over the construction of Nord Stream 2, an underwater natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany through the Baltic Sea. The United States and Poland, along with the Baltic states and several other EU countries, have expressed the concern that the pipeline would increase Europe's energy dependence on Russia.
(Read More)

European defense coalition launched in Paris
8 November 2018 – Channel News Asia

Ten countries have joined French President Emmanuel Macron’s call for a European army. The European Intervention Initiative was first introduced by President Macron last year, who stated it would not conflict with NATO’s mission.
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France's Macron pushes for “true European army”
6 November 2018 – BBC

French President Emmanuel Macron warned that Europeans cannot be protected without a "true, European army" as he marks the centenary of the World War I Armistice. On a visit to the former Western Front in Verdun, he said Russia had shown it could be a threat and Europe had to be able "to defend itself better alone." Macron previously warned that Europeans can no longer rely on the U.S. to defend them, and he revived the theme on Tuesday in response to President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of a 1987 nuclear treaty with Russia.
(Read More)

U.S. intends more sanctions on Russia over chemical weapons: spokeswoman
6 November 2018 - Reuters

The U.S. intends to place new sanctions on Russia for failing to adhere to an international chemical weapons law after a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in March. The State Department informed Congress it cannot certify that Russia meets the conditions required by the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991.
(Read More)

Eurozone ministers line up behind EU in Italy budget dispute
5 November 2018 – The Guardian

Eurozone finance ministers urged Italy to reconsider its impending breach of the euro area’s budget rules, warning that it could endanger the common currency area. The European Commission rejected Italy’s proposed budget last month, and asked it to submit a new plan by November 13th. The Commission’s assessment of all Eurozone members’ budgets is set for November 21st.
(Read More)

Trump, Kremlin say substantive meeting “unlikely” in Paris
5 November 2018 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Both U.S. President Donald Trump and the Kremlin now say that Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are unlikely to hold a substantive meeting in Paris on November 11th. Trump said he will meet Putin at a G20 summit in Argentina on from November 30th to December 1st.
(Read More)

EU-Japan trade deal clears EU lawmaker committee hurdle
5 November 2018 - Reuters

European Union and Japanese plans to form the world’s largest free trade area cleared a significant hurdle on Monday when EU lawmakers backed a deal that could enter into force next year. An agreement would bind two economies accounting for about a third of global gross domestic product and also signal their rejection of protectionism. Both have faced trade tensions with Washington and remain subject to tariffs imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump on imports of steel and aluminum.
(Read More)

NATO general:  Europe not moving fast enough on military mobility
1 November 2018 – Defense News

Lieutenant General Jan Broeks, director general of NATO’s International Military Staff, stated this week that European countries need to fix their logistical issues in order to be able to deter a potential aggressor. Logistical issues include the use of roads that can sustain the weight of heavy military equipment and ports as well legal ones such as using a country’s airspace.
(Read More)

Russia imposes financial sanctions on Ukraine's political elite
1 November 2018 – Reuters

On Thursday, Russia imposed financial sanctions on Ukraine’s political elite, freezing the Russian assets of hundreds of politicians and officials along with dozens of businesses owned by Ukrainian businessmen. The sanctions were set out in a decree signed by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and were described as counter-sanctions drawn up in response to similar Ukrainian measures against Russian citizens and companies. The decree said 322 individuals and 68 businesses were targeted, and that targeted individuals and firms would have their financial and property assets frozen in Russia.
(Read More)

OSCE mission’s drone shot down after spotting Russian missile system in Eastern Ukraine
1 November 2018 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Germany and France say Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine likely shot down a drone being used by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) monitoring mission, demanding that those responsible be held accountable. Berlin and Paris also noted in a joint statement that in recent weeks the drone had observed convoys entering Ukrainian territory across a nonofficial border crossing from Russia on "multiple occasions" and spotted a surface-to-air missile system before the loss of communication. It said evidence assembled by the SMM “suggests Russia and the separatists it backs bear responsibility” for the downing of the unmanned aerial vehicle. 
(Read More)

Trump, Erdogan discuss northern Syria: Turkish presidency
1 November 2018 - Reuters

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. President Donald Trump jointly expressed a desire to rebuild bilateral relations in a call on Thursday, according to the office of the Turkish President. The call mainly focused on the Northern Syrian regions of Manbij and Idlib, but also saw both leaders express said aspirations to increase Turkish-American bilateral cooperation. Both sides recently began a joint military patrol in the Manbij region, an important development in an area that has seen the two allies divided on how to deal with an ongoing situation there.
(Read More)

Deal on Brexit is possible by November 21 – Irish foreign minister
31 October 2018 - Reuters

British Foreign minister Jeremy Hunt announced that an exit deal between Britain and the European Union could be finalized by as early as November 21st, should negotiations continue at their current pace. His announcement comes not long after Brexit Minister Dominic Raab made a similar claim. Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney agreed that such a timeline was feasible, but would require British negotiators to step up their efforts. However, the spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May declined to comment on whether or not such a claim is attainable, simply stating that the British government wanted to get a deal as soon as possible. 
(Read More)

Russia, western powers clash at UN over elections in Eastern Ukraine
31 October 2018 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Russia clashed with the United States and European powers at the United Nations over the legality of elections in areas of eastern Ukraine held by Moscow-backed separatists. During debate on the planned elections in Donetsk and Luhansk on November 11th, the UN's political chief said she backed the Western view that the votes would violate the 2015 Minsk accord laying out steps for settling the conflict in eastern Ukraine. A joint statement from France, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Italy, Belgium, and Germany was read outside the council chamber condemning "the illegitimate 'elections' planned for November 11.”
(Read More)

End of era beckons as Merkel says she will give up CDU party chair
29 October 2018 – Reuters

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she will not seek re-election as party chairwoman and that her fourth term as chancellor would be her last. Merkel, 64, has been chairwoman of her conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) since 2000 and chancellor since 2005. Stepping down as CDU chairwoman undermines Merkel’s authority, which was dented this year by two regional election setbacks and a close ally losing his role as leader of her conservatives’ parliamentary group.
(Read More)

Japan, India leaders build ties amid trade, security worries
28 October 2018 – Associated Press
The leaders of Japan and India are meeting to reaffirm ties amid uncertainty about the future of international trade and Chinese foreign policy. "The India-Japan partnership has been fundamentally transformed and it has been strengthened as a 'special strategic and global partnership,'" said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The two countries are scheduled to hold their first joint military exercises next month.
(Read More)

Bahrain announces “Arab NATO” to be formed by next year
28 October 2018 – Daily Sabah
Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa stated over the weekend that a new military alliance will be formed against Iran, and is to include Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The idea of an Arab NATO emerged in 2017 and the Trump Administration has moved forward with the idea to bolster regional security and counter Iranian aggression.
(Read More)

As winter comes, NATO kicks off largest maneuvers since Cold War
25 October 2018 - Reuters

Forces representing the militaries of 31 NATO member states have started the alliances' largest military exercise in decades. The Trident Juncture exercise, being held in the Arctic, is deployed from the Baltic Sea to Iceland and made up of some 50,000 soldiers, 250 aircraft and 10,000 vehicles; for this reason, many see it as a response to Russia's recent Vostok-2018 exercise, which was the latter's largest military exercise since 1981 and included 300,000 troops. Trident Juncture will see NATO forces practicing joint operations to increase efficiency, but many have also seen it as an attempt to show that NATO is still to be taken seriously.
(Read More)

NATO chief sees new U.S. missile deployments in Europe as unlikely
24 October 2018 - Reuters

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg ruled out the prospect of new deployments of U.S. missiles to Europe. But Stoltenberg agreed with the American assessment that Russia has been violating the terms of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. NATO members are due to meet on Thursday to hear the U.S. government's defense of its plans to withdraw from the INF Treaty – an agreement which still has the support of most of Europe.
(Read More)

Trump says will probably meet with Russia's Putin next month
23 October 2018 - Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he will probably meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin next month, when both leaders will be in Paris for the centenary of the end of World War I. After a meeting in Moscow between Putin and Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton, officials on both sides said a preliminary agreement on a November 11th meeting in had been reached, and that detailed arrangements are underway.
(Read More)

Researchers link cyberattack on Saudi petrochemical plant to Russia
23 October 2018 - The Wall Street Journal

Malicious computer code used in a cyberattack against a petrochemical plant in Saudi Arabia has been linked by U.S. researchers to a research institute owned by the Russian government. The malware used in the intrusion, which gains control over a safety shut-off system, was widely suspected to be built by a state actor when it emerged publicly last year. The new research, published Tuesday by FireEye Inc., is the first to link the attack to Russia.
(Read More)

Belgium reportedly picks F-35 for future fighter jet
23 October 2018 - Defense News

Belgium appears poised to select Lockheed Martin’s F-35 over the Eurofighter Typhoon as its next-generation fighter jet, with government sources on October 22nd telling national news outlet Belga that an F-35 victory has already been decided. A win by the F-35 would further solidify the joint strike fighter’s dominance among U.S. allies in Europe and deal a heavy blow to Franco-German ambitions for a prominent role in building Europe's next-generation defense capabilities. Both Rafale and Eurofighter had pitched extensive industrial packages to Belgium in the hope of bolstering their offers.
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Italy defies EU, sticks to budget proposal
22 October 2018 - Deutsche Welle

Italian Economy Minister Giovanni Tria told the European Commission that Italy will raise its deficit to 2.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), defying Eurozone budget rules. In a letter sent to Brussels in response to a formal warning from the EU, Tria said he was aware that Italy's 2019 budget is not in line with the EU Stability and Growth Pact, but argued that deficit spending is necessary to boost the economy. The Commission will discuss and decide what the next steps are in the procedure for assessing Italy’s 2019 draft budget.
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Putin signs decree on “special economic measures” against Ukraine
22 October 2018 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree setting the stage for “special economic measures” in response to what the document calls Ukraine’s “unfriendly actions” against Russian citizens and companies. In the decree, Putin instructs the government to draft a list of Ukrainian firms and individuals to be targeted for economic sanctions. The sanctions could be cancelled if Ukraine lifts all restrictions it has imposed against Russian citizens and companies.
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People’s vote march: Hundreds of thousands attend London protest
22 October 2018 - BBC News

Hundreds of thousands of protesters marched through London this week in support of the "People's Vote" campaign. The campaign seeks a national referendum on whether the population accepts the final terms of the ongoing Brexit negotiations, with a possibility of Brexit ultimately being rejected and Britain remaining in the EU. Organizers estimate that around 700,000 people attended the march, far outstripping a simultaneous pro-Brexit march organized by former UKIP leader Nigel Farage. However, British Prime Minister Theresa May has in the past ruled out the possibility of a second referendum on Brexit, a viewpoint which thus far seems unlikely to change. 
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U.S. to end cold war-era nuclear arms treaty with Russia, Trump says
21 October 2018 - NPR

President Trump said the U.S. will withdraw from a decades-old treaty with Russia that eliminated a class of nuclear weapons after he accused Russia of violating the treaty. Signed by President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty banned the U.S. and Soviet Union from having "ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers," and required the destruction of the missiles, launchers and "associated support structures and support equipment." Trump national security adviser John Bolton is traveling to Moscow this week and will reportedly tell Russian President Vladimir Putin that the U.S. plans to leave the treaty.
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EU's Barnier says Brexit deal 90 percent done, but Ireland issue could derail it
19 October 2018 - Reuters

European Union negotiator Michel Barnier stated that a Brexit deal with the United Kingdom is 90 percent done, but there is still a chance no accord will be reached due to ongoing stumbling blocks over the Irish border. British Prime Minister Theresa May previously signaled that she would consider extending a so-called transition period “for a matter of months” after Britain leaves the EU in March.
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Putin says Russia rules out launching preemptive nuclear strikes
19 October 2018 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

At an international policy forum on October 18th, Putin ruled preemptive nuclear strikes and said Moscow would only use nuclear weapons if early warning systems spot nuclear missiles heading toward Russia. The Russian leader also claimed that Russia’s new hypersonic missiles give it a military edge.
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Rome rebuked by Brussels for breaking EU budget rules
18 October 2018 – Financial Times

The EU has issued a formal rebuke of Italy’s draft budget. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte dismissed the EU’s concerns about the budget, which would open a deficit three times higher than the EU target. Italy’s total debt is the second highest in the Eurozone.
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Formal Accession Talks with Skopje begin at NATO Headquarters
18 October 2018 – NATO

Macedonia’s formal accession talks with NATO began this week in Brussels. Topics discussed ranged from military to political issues. Macedonia has assisted NATO on important missions from Kosovo to Afghanistan.
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Hackers linked to Russia infect three companies in Ukraine, Poland: cybersecurity firm
17 October 2018 - The Hill

Cybersercurity firm ESET revealed on Wednesday that hackers with alleged ties to Russia infected three companies in Eastern Europe with sophisticated malware attacks. Researchers say they have uncovered a new cyber espionage group named GreyEnergy, which allegedly infected three unidentified energy and transport companies in Ukraine and Poland. GreyEnergy, according to ESET, is the successor to another group known as BlackEnergy, which it says caused serious damage to Ukraine's critical infrastructure in 2015.
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Putin, Egyptian leader sign “strategic” partnership treaty
17 October 2018 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Meeting in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi, the Russian and Egyptian presidents signed what officials describes as a strategic cooperation treaty designed to increase trade, military, and other ties between the two nations. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who was completing a three-day visit to Russia, hailed his talks with Russia's Vladimir Putin on October 17th and the cooperation agreement as opening a "new chapter in the history” of the countries’ bilateral relations.
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May seeks to reassure leaders on Brexit deal
17 October 2018 - Reuters

British Prime Minister Theresa May has been meeting with European leaders as discussions for Britain's planned withdrawal from the EU reached an impasse over how to resolve the Irish border issue. May insists a Brexit deal is still possible within the allocated time, but European expressed skepticism.
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NATO cyber command to be fully operational in 2023
16 October 2018 – Reuters

A new NATO cyber center will possibly be staffed by 2023 in an attempt to stop cyberattacks from countries such as Russia. Currently, NATO does not have weapons to deal with cyberattacks. Countries from Estonia to the U.S. have made their cyber capabilities available for use by the alliance. 
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Two Koreas, UN Command wrap up first talks on disarming border
15 October 2018 - Reuters

North and South Korea held their first three-way talks with the United Nations Command (UNC) on Tuesday to discuss ways to demilitarize the border as the neighbors push for peace, South Korea’s defense ministry said. The two Koreas agreed this week to begin reconnecting rail and road links, in spite of U.S. concerns that a rapid thaw in relations could undermine efforts to press North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.
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Pompeo meets Saudi king on Khashoggi case, Turks study “toxic materials”
15 October 2018 - Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Saudi Arabia’s king and crown prince to discuss the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Tuesday, and Turkey’s foreign minister said the envoy would bring information about the case to Ankara. Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and leading critic of the Saudi crown prince, vanished after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2nd. Turkish officials say they believe the Saudi journalist was murdered there and his body removed, which the Saudis strongly deny.  
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Kremlin foe Aleksei Navalny released after serving 50 days in jail
14 October 2018 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny has been released from jail after serving 50 days for organizing anti-government protests. A vocal foe of President Vladimir Putin, the often-jailed Navalny has organized large street protests on several occasions and published a series of reports alleging corruption in Russia's ruling elite. Navalny has said his jail sentence was designed by the authorities to prevent him from leading protests against unpopular pension reforms.
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Turkey orders release of U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson
12 October 2018 – The New York Times

On Friday, a Turkish court ordered the release of American pastor Andrew Brunson from house arrest, a move that will end his 24-month imprisonment and allow him to fly home. The Trump Administration had pressed for the release of Brunson, who was one of two dozen Americans detained in the aftermath of a failed coup in 2016 and was charged with aiding terrorist groups and espionage – charges he denies. Brunson’s prolonged detention and trial significantly raised tensions between the United States and Turkey.
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Five Eyes intelligence alliance building coalition to counter China
12 October 2018 - Reuters

The "Five Eyes" group, an intelligence sharing alliance of Canada, New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, has reportedly been working with allies to build a coalition of likeminded allies to counter China's foreign activities. The project, which has been allegedly been operating since the start of this year, also includes allies such as Germany and Japan. While the focus has been on China, the project allegedly counters Russia.
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Brexit aside, British troops test ability to reinforce Europe
10 October 2018 - Reuters

British troops are being deployed to Norway via the Netherlands, as part of a NATO exercise designed to test the alliance's ability to rapidly deploy its troops to its borders in the event of a conflict or crisis. Britain's role in the exercise is also noted as a demonstration that, despite the ongoing Brexit arrangements, it remains committed to its role in European security. The exercise, named "Trident Juncture,” will see 45,000 soldiers from 29 NATO countries, as well as Sweden and Finland, deployed across the Arctic from October 25th. The scale of the exercise is in part a response to increased security concerns about Russian intentions since it annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014.
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Ukraine's state fiscal service disrupted by cyberattack
9 October 2018 - Reuters

A cyberattack has affected the internet services of Ukraine’s state fiscal service since Monday evening, disrupting programs used by millions of people for procedures such as filing taxes. According to a statement on the organization’s website, it “has been identified as a denial-of-service attack and an attack protection mechanism has been implemented.” In recent years, Ukraine has been the target of cyberattacks against its critical infrastructure and institutions.
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Latest poll shows Putin popularity decreasing sharply
8 October 2018 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

A survey released on October 8th shows the number of Russians who regard President Vladimir Putin as Russia’s most trusted politician has fallen significantly over the past year. Though Putin was listed as the politician respondents trusted the most, the survey found that trust in Putin fell more than 20 percentage points since November, and nine percentage points since June. Last week, Putin signed an extremely unpopular bill into law that will gradually increase the state retirement age to 60 for women and 65 for men.
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NATO to launch exercises in Europe’s north as Russia tensions grow
4 October 2018 – Euractiv
NATO will conduct one of its biggest military exercises at the end of October in Norway. The exercise, called the Trident Juncture 2018, will include approximately 45,000 soldiers from 31 NATO countries. The exercise is aimed at “simulating NATO’s collective response to an attack against one ally.”
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Mattis says U.S.-France in talks about loosening export limits on cruise missile
3 October 2018 - Defense News

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, in his first trip to France as secretary, said that U.S. defense officials are in detailed talks with French counterparts on a request for the sale of American components built into French cruise missiles. The two issues to be resolved center on “certain technologies” that the United States only shares with its closest allies, including France, whether that technology can be further transferred, and how France can protect that technology.
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U.S. to let NATO use its cyber defense skills
3 October 2018 - France 24

At a NATO meeting of defense ministers in Brussels on Thursday, the United States is expected to make its offensive cyber warfare capabilities available to NATO as the alliance seeks to strengthen its defenses against Russian electronic attacks. Alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg said cyberattacks on NATO countries were becoming "more frequent... more sophisticated... more coercive" and any contribution of cyber capabilities is welcome. The three Baltic states - Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia - say they come under near-daily cyber assault.
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UK finds Russian military intelligence behind cyberattacks
3 October 2018 - The Hill

The United Kingdom on Wednesday blamed the Russian military intelligence group, the GRU, for a series of "reckless" cyberattacks in recent years. The British National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said with “high confidence” that it believes GRU was “almost certainly responsible” for a number of high profile cyberattacks. They cited the 2017 BadRabbit ransomware attack in Europe, the 2016 Democratic National Committee (DNC) hack and a summer 2015 hack of emails from a UK-based TV station as examples of GRU attacks carried out under other names.
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UK and U.S. will be allowed to join some EU military projects
2 October 2018 – Politico

According to a confidential document seen by Politico, EU military cooperation via permanent structured cooperation (PESCO) will be open external countries such as the U.S. and the UK on a case-by-case basis. This represents a compromise between countries enthusiastic for outside involvement in EU military projects and those worried that opening up the pact would give outsiders the chance to grab lucrative defense contracts. The Council’s final decision is not expected until next month, but it is unlikely that the compromise formula will change substantially.
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Seoul: North Korea estimated to have 20-60 nuclear weapons
2 October 2018 - The Associated Press

South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon told parliament on Monday that North Korea is estimated to have up to 60 nuclear weapons, in Seoul’s first public comment about the size of the North’s secrecy-clouded weapons arsenal. He stated that the information came from intelligence sources.
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U.S. reaches trade deal with Canada and Mexico, providing Trump a crucial win
1 October 2018 - Politico

Trade ministers representing Canada, the U.S. and Mexico announced that they have concluded negotiations for a reformed trilateral trade agreement, which is intended to serve as a successor to NAFTA. The new deal, which is to be named the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, is seen by many as a major victory for U.S. President Donald Trump. In substance, the deal seems to have changed little from the original terms of trade for Canada and Mexico, as laid out in NAFTA. Furthermore, a vote on accepting the terms of this agreement still needs to pass the legislatures of all three nations.
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European cohesion, multilateral order under threat: Merkel
27 September 2018 - Reuters

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that nationalism and a "winner-take-all attitude" threaten European cohesion. Speaking at an event in Berlin, she suggested that Europe faces "attacks from the outside and the inside" and said she saw a similar conflict of "different systems" emerging between the U.S. and China. In response to the growing divisions, Merkel called for greater political dialogue and compromise. 
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Turkey's Erdogan says court will decide fate of detained U.S. pastor
26 September 2018 – Reuters

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said a Turkish court, not politicians, will decide the fate of an American pastor whose detention on terrorism charges has hit relations between Ankara and Washington. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday he was hopeful Turkey would release Brunson by the end of this month. Brunson’s detention prompted Trump to authorize a doubling of duties on aluminum and steel imported from Turkey in August.
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Donald Trump hails South Korea trade deal
24 September 2018 – BBC

U.S. President Donald Trump recently signed a revised trade pact with South Korea, aimed at expanding opportunities for U.S. carmakers and pharmaceutical companies. This marks the first such agreement finalized by the president, who previously promised to overhaul his country's trade relationships.
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U.S. imposes sanctions on China for buying Russian weapons
21 September 2018 – BBC

The U.S. has imposed sanctions on the Chinese military over its purchase of Russian military jets and surface-to-air missiles, saying that such purchases contravene U.S. sanctions on Moscow introduced over Russian actions in Ukraine and alleged interference in U.S. politics. Beijing has not joined in the sanctions imposed on Moscow by the U.S. and its Western allies since 2014, but its recent purchase of 10 Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets and S-400 missiles was enough to trigger them.
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Donald Tusk: Theresa May’s Brexit trade plan won’t work
20 September 2018 - BBC News

In a significant blow to the British government, the EU has rejected the British government’s Chequers Plan for Brexit. The head of the European Council, Donald Tusk, stated that the plan simply "will not work." The plan is also opposed by a significant share of the British Prime Minister Theresa May's own party and the opposition Labour Party. These developments comes just under a month before the next European Council meeting in October, by which time far more progress had been expected to have been made on Brexit negotiations.
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Mogherini unveils EU response to New Silk Road
19 September 2018 – Euractiv

EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini announced the European Commission’s vision for greater connectivity between Europe and Asia. The plan, which she said will be based on international rules and regulation that promote sustainable political and economic ties, is seen by some as an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
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U.S. considers “Fort Trump” military base in Poland
19 September 2018 – France24
Polish President Andrzej Duda is concerned about Russian aggression and has asked President Trump to consider a permanent military base in his country. Trump is considering Poland’s request and Duda has stated he would name the base “Fort Trump.”  Russia is concerned about Poland’s request and believes stability in Europe will be compromised as a result.
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Orban says Hungary to appeal Article 7 in defiant message to Brussels
19 September 2018 - Euronews

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban issued a defiant message to Brussels on Tuesday, saying he will appeal the EU's decision to trigger Article 7 procedures against the country and prove that the Sargentini report is based on “absurdities.” The European Parliament backed the launch of Article 7 after Dutch MEP Judith Sargentini wrote in a report that Hungary had breached various EU values, citing migrant abuse, restrictions on press freedom, corruption and conflicts of interest as well as "stereotypical attitudes" toward women.
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California and the EU cement their climate alliance, bypassing Washington
18 September 2018 – Forbes
The EU has signed a deal with California which aims to coordinate responses to climate change, and facilitate cooperation on measures such as carbon taxes. The move comes in response to the apathy demonstrated toward issues related to climate change by the Trump Administration, notably through its decision to withdraw from the 2016 Paris Climate Accord. The agreement signed seeks to link the EU’s 13-year-old Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) with California’s five-year-old cap and trade scheme.
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U.S. warns of Russian interference in Macedonia’s NATO bid
17 September 2018 - The Wall Street Journal

While visiting Macedonia on Monday, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned that Russia is actively working against a referendum in Macedonia that would clear the way for the Balkan nation to join NATO. U.S. officials believe Russia is attempting to influence Macedonian voters, who will decide in the referendum whether to change the country’s name to “North Macedonia,” a step toward NATO membership. Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said he has no evidence or indication of Russian involvement.
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Thousands march in Macedonia in favor of name change, NATO, EU membership
16 September 2018 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Thousands of Macedonians marched in Skopje on Sunday in support of a move to change the country’s name and for eventual NATO and EU membership. The demonstrators urged a “yes” vote on the September 30 referendum that will ask Macedonians to change the name of the country to North Macedonia, thereby ending a decades-long dispute with neighboring Greece over the country’s name. Greece, an EU and NATO member, cited the dispute to veto Macedonia's bid to join the two organizations. The official referendum question will be: "Are you for EU and NATO membership by accepting the agreement between the Republic of Macedonia and the Republic of Greece?"
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