What's New

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)

NATO, Trump, and the Return of the Burden-Sharing Debate
As North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) leaders prepare for a summit meeting in Brussels on May 24-25, they face heightened uncertainty about the future of the Alliance. U.S. President Donald Trump, like his predecessors, has voiced support for NATO while emphasizing the need for a more equitable defense spending burden within the Alliance. Unlike his predecessors, Trump has suggested that the U.S. may not aid NATO allies when attacked if they do not meet the Alliance’s non-binding pledge to spend at least 2% of GDP on defense. (Read More)

Transatlantic Relations and Global Governance News

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.
(Read More)

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.
(Read More)

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.
(Read More

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.”
(Read More)

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.
(Read More)

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.
(Read More)

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. 
(Read More)

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.
(Read More)

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.
(Read More)

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.
(Read More)

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.
(Read More)

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.
(Read More)

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.
(Read More)

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.
(Read More)

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.
(Read More)

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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Europe pushing for euro dominance to fend of Trump, Spain says
14 September 2018 - Bloomberg News

The European Union seeks to strengthen the global role of the euro, in an effort to increase the bloc's resilience to American influence. Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrel suggested a need to "find a way to get around the American threats,” referring to U.S. trade tariffs and threats of sanctions over topics such as the JCPOA and the ICC. By increasing the euro’s use in international trade, the EU would make it easier for global actors to do business beyond the reach of the United States.
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U.S. accuses Russia of covering up breaches of North Korea sanctions
13 September 2018 - Reuters

On Thursday, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley accused Moscow covering up breaches of UN sanctions on North Korea after it pushed for changes to an independent report on sanctions violations. The report, submitted to the Security Council’s North Korea sanctions committee last month, said Pyongyang has not stopped its nuclear and missile programs and is violating UN sanctions on exports.
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EU court upholds EU sanctions vs Russian banks, companies over Ukraine crisis
13 September 2018 - Reuters

The EU’s general court upheld the bloc’s sanctions against Russian banks and oil and gas companies over their involvement in Ukraine. Rosneft, Sberbank, VTB Bank, Gazprom Neft, Vnesheconombank, Prominvestbank and DenizBank challenged the EU sanctions, which restrict their access to some financial transactions, certain sensitive goods and technologies, and capital markets in the EU. They also prohibit the provision of services required for certain oil transactions.
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New York replaces London as world’s top financial center due to Brexit, survey says
12 September 2018 – Independent

As Brexit negotiations continue and banks shift jobs out of London to keep access to the EU market, New York has taken the top spot on the Z/Yen global financial centers index. In Britain, financial services firms account for 12 percent of economic output and pay more tax than any other industry. According to Reuters, Britain is expected to lose out on 5,000 financial services jobs by March.
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EU parliament pushes Hungary sanctions over Orban policies
12 September 2018 - Reuters

The European Parliament voted on Wednesday to sanction Hungary for flouting EU rules on democracy, civil rights and corruption in an unprecedented step that left Prime Minister Viktor Orban isolated from powerful allies. Hungary said it would seek legal ways to challenge the 448-197 vote it described as “petty revenge.” Although the vote has little chance of leading to the ultimate penalty of Hungary’s suspension from EU voting, the 197 votes cast against the parliament’s bid to launch this punitive process highlighted substantial minority opposition.
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Mattis to visit Macedonia as it considers NATO invite
11 September 2018 - The Hill

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis announced on Tuesday that he plans to visit Macedonia this weekend to “make very clear” American stands against Russian aggression as the nation considers its invitation to join NATO. Macedonia, formerly part of Soviet ally Yugoslavia, was formally invited by NATO in July to start accession talks. Moscow officials have said the nation could become “a legitimate target” if relations between NATO and Russia deteriorate further.
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Hungary’s Orban vows to defy EU pressure ahead of unprecedented vote
11 September 2018 - Reuters

As tensions continue to rise between the Prime Minister of Hungary, Victor Orban, and the EU, the European Parliament is voting on Wednesday on whether or not to officially censure Orban for alleged anti-democratic actions. Orban's rule has been defined by pressure he has put on courts, media and NGOs that oppose him, leading to a consolidation of power and wide accusations of democratic backsliding. If the motion passes, the EU could impose sanctions on Orban's government, including the suspension of Hungarian voting rights in the bloc.
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ICC “undeterred” by U.S. sanctions threat
11 September 2018 - BBC

The International Criminal Court stated that it will continue “undeterred” in the face of threats by the United States. After the court revealed it wanted to investigate American servicemen over alleged detainee abuse in Afghanistan, National Security Adviser John Bolton called the court “illegitimate” and warned of possible sanctions if the ICC goes ahead with the investigation. The U.S., which has been critical of the ICC since it was established, is among dozens of nations that have not joined it.  
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U.S. trade talks with EU on course for partial deal in November
10 September 2018 – Financial Times

After a meeting on Monday, U.S. and EU trade representatives stated that there could be “an early harvest in the area of technical barriers to trade” as early as November. The reduction of regulatory barriers to trade had been the subject of negotiations for a transatlantic trade agreement under the Obama Administration. While tariff reductions in politically-sensitive sectors such as agriculture and financial services remain far off, the move could at least reduce the likelihood of renewed transatlantic trade tensions.
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Japan’s Abe says talks with Putin moving towards peace treaty
10 September 2018 - Reuters

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday that talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Vladivostok are moving toward a peace treaty. Russia and Japan have not signed a peace treaty since World War II because of a dispute about Pacific islands known in Russia as the Kuriles and in Japan as the Northern Territories. After the meeting, Abe added that the head of Japan’s self-defense forces would visit Russia in October.
(Read More

U.S. preparing for second Trump meeting with North Korea’s leader
10 September 2018 - The Wall Street Journal

On Monday, the White House said it was working to arrange a second meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, signaling an attempt to revive the stalled diplomatic efforts between the two countries. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed that Kim had sent a “very warm” and “very positive” letter requesting to meet with Trump for a second time. Sanders said the White House would not release the letter unless North Korea agrees to do so, but described it as a “further evidence of progress” in the relationship between the two leaders.
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Lithuania commits to spending 2.5 pct of GDP on defense by 2030
10 September 2018 – Reuters

Lithuanian officials have been worried about Russian actions beginning with its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. That has prompted Lithuania’s political parties to state they want to rebuild the country’s military and increase defense spending with the goal of 2.5 percent of gross domestic product by 2030. This year, Lithuania is slated to spend two percent of GDP on defense.
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EU leaders aim to hold special Brexit summit in mid-November
10 September 2018 - Reuters

European Union leaders have announced plans to hold a mid-November summit to sign off on the terms of a final Brexit deal. There are major issues that need be resolved, such as the Irish border question, and some EU officials predict that a final deal may not be reached until December or January. However, any delay beyond this date would imperil the planned date of actual withdrawal from the EU, scheduled for March 29, 2019. The general consensus within the EU is that Britain should be out of the bloc before the European Parliamentary elections in May 2019.
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Sweden faces political gridlock as far right makes gains
10 September 2018 – France24

The nationalist Sweden Democrats party made significant gains in the country’s latest parliamentary election. The party, which aims to take Sweden out of the EU and freeze immigration, gained nearly five percentage points in total votes and 14 seats since the last election four years ago. In 2015, Sweden accepted 163,000 asylum seekers.
(Read More)

We must face China together, new U.S. envoy to Brussels tells EU
7 September 2018 - Reuters

Gordon Sondland, the new U.S. Ambassador to the EU, called on both sides to overcome their trade disputes and together stand up to China's "economic aggression." Sondland argued that the U.S. and EU need to build off the positive momentum gained from a July agreement, which saw both sides manage to ward off U.S. tariffs on EU car exports. Citing concerns about Chinese overproduction, unfair state subsidies, and intellectual property theft, Sondland suggested coordinated pressure from both parties could lead to China choosing to operate closer to the normative rules of international trade.
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Trump is losing the trade war, according to his favorite measure
6 September 2018 - Business Insider

Recent data shows that U.S. President Donald Trump's protectionist measures may be having effects opposite to what was intended. The American trade deficit with the EU and China seems to have risen to its highest level since February - by 9.6% in the month of July, due to a 1% decrease in overall American exports. Nevertheless, few experts believe these developments will dissuade Trump from his protectionist trade policies. 
(Read More) 

We are ready to welcome you, NATO’s Stoltenberg tells Macedonia
6 September 2018 – EuroNews

NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg urged voters in Macedonia to join the alliance and support a change of the country’s name. Voters will cast their ballots on September 30 on whether they will join the military alliance. Macedonia will have to accept some constitutional changes before its membership is finalized.
(Read More)

UK charges two Russians for attempted murder of Skripals, blames Moscow
5 September 2018 - Reuters

The UK has charged two Russians with the attempted murder of a former Russian spy and his daughter, describing the suspects as military intelligence officers almost certainly acting on behalf of the Russian state. British police revealed images of the two men they said had flown to Britain for a weekend in March to kill former spy Sergei Skripal with Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent. Prime Minister Theresa May lay the blame clearly with the Russian state.
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Britain would now vote to stay in the EU, new poll shows
5 September 2018 - Reuters

In a recent survey conducted by research bodies NatCen and The UK in a Changing Europe, 59% of respondents would now vote to remain in the EU if given the option. The results will likely contribute to a growing debate over whether the British government should hold a second referendum, to confirm that Britain does still want to leave the EU, amid concerns that the initial referendum was marred by misinformation, poorly informed voting decisions, and potential foreign interference.(Read More)

Ukraine-NATO joint military exercises begin in Lviv region
3 September 2018 – Radio Free Europe

On September 3, joint military exercises with NATO and Ukraine began in the region of Lviv in western Ukraine. The exercises include ten NATO countries, and over two thousand troops are participating. The exercises will last until September 15. For the first time, Ukraine’s Border Guard Service and National Guard troops are expected to take part in the drills.
(Read More

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