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

U.S. ambassador urges Britain to ditch support for Iran nuclear deal
13 August 2018 - Reuters

The United States again called on Britain to follow its lead and withdraw from the Iran Nuclear Deal. The U.S. Ambassador to Britain, Woody Johnson, accused Tehran of using its assets to fund "proxy wars and malign activities" instead of supporting its own economy; to this end, he has suggested America will increase the economic and political pressure it is putting on Iran, and requested Britain to join it. But last week Britain’s Middle East Minister, Alistair Burt, ruled out the possibility of Britain forgoing its support for the deal to support America's position.
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Trump puts Turkey alliance on the line with standoff over pastor
11 August 2018 – Bloomberg
Last Friday, President Trump increased tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum in response to the arrest and detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson. As a result, Turkey’s economy has been hit hard and the use of the U.S. military base in Incirlik could be in jeopardy, causing major tension within NATO.
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Russia denounces new U.S. sanctions as illegal, mulls retaliation
9 August 2018 – Reuters

Moscow has deemed the new round of U.S. sanctions as illegal, pointing to the contrast between the positive bilateral meeting between Trump and Putin, and the “unprovoked” issuing of new sanctions. The Russian ruble hit a two-year low following the announcement of sanctions, and Russian officials vow retaliation will match any losses they are forced to endure.
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U.S. unveils plans for space force to counter Russia, China “threat”
9 August 2018 - Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

The Trump Administration cited the growing sophistication of China and Russia’s “on-orbit activities,” with the potential of damaging U.S. satellites, as justification to create a sixth branch of the military. President Trump declared that the U.S. must have “American dominance in space, so we will.” His administration is working closely with Congress to approve $8 billion over five years to create the force.
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Turkey turmoil rocks world stock markets, euro falls
9 August 2018 – Reuters

President Trump’s decision to double U.S. tariffs on metal imports from Turkey has seemingly sent global markets into a tail-spin. As Turkish policymakers hesitated to act, the Turkish lira plummeted to its worst day since the country’s economic crisis in 2001. Fears of a new economic crisis have impacted Europe and emerging markets as the euro fell to its lowest point in over a year, along with decreasing bank shares in Italy, Spain, France and Germany.
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Trump Administration and EU build momentum toward hashing out a trade deal
9 August 2018 – CNBC

Two weeks after agreeing to do so, the U.S. and EU are working toward a trade deal. Both sides are preparing for meetings in the coming weeks, and a senior EU trade official is scheduled to visit Washington on August 20 to “flesh out ideas that are being exchanged.” Topics of discussion include expanding U.S. natural gas exports to Europe.
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After soybeans, EU touts U.S. LNG imports to woo Trump on trade
9 August 2018 - Reuters

The European Union highlighted its increasing imports of U.S. natural gas as one of the main measures agreed on in talks between the two that sought to deescalate their trade dispute. It did however call on Washington to make its natural gas prices more competitive. European imports of American natural gas doubled between 2016 and 2017. Similarly, European imports of soybeans surged in the last year, in response to a price drop following plummeting Chinese imports of the product.
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Pakistan, Russia sign rare military cooperation pact
8 August 2018 – Voice of America
Russia aims to fill the gap vacated by American military forces by replacing them in military exchange programs with Pakistan. Russian security ties with Pakistan have strengthened over the past few years as American cooperation with Pakistan appears to be headed in the opposite direction. Russian authorities met with Pakistani officials over a two-day summit, which yielded an agreement for the Russian military to begin training Pakistani army officers.
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EU acts to counteract sanctions as Trump warns against doing business with Iran
7 August 2018 – Euronews

Hours after the EU’s “blocking law” was reactivated to counter the economic threat posed by U.S. sanctions on Iran, Trump said that “anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States.” European officials condemned the renewed sanctions as illegal and in violation of a UN Security Council resolution, vowing to counter the U.S. measures and save the Iran nuclear accord. European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini says the EU is encouraging investors to maintain business ties with Iran to preserve the nuclear deal, despite the U.S. withdrawal.
(Read More)

Singapore minister: Major cyberattack may be state-linked
6 August 2018 - The Washington Post
A cyberattack that breached 1.5 million health records in Singapore has been attributed to sophisticated attackers who may be state-linked according to S. Iswaran, the minister for communications and information. Speaking to parliament, Iswaran said detailed analysis found that the attack was the work of an “advanced persistent threat” group that normally are state-linked and “who conduct extended, carefully planned cyber campaigns, to steal information or disrupt operations.”
(Read More)

U.S. restores some Iran sanctions lifted under nuclear deal
6 August 2018 – The Washington Post

On Monday, the United States re-imposed the first round of Iran trade sanctions that were suspended under the 2015 nuclear agreement, distancing itself from every other country that signed the agreement and putting the accord’s future in jeopardy. Administration officials say the sanctions, which had been waived for the past two and a half years, will be snapped back officially on Tuesday morning at one minute past midnight. In a background call to reporters, senior administration officials said the goal is to prod Iran to renegotiate the nuclear agreement so it also addresses Iran’s ballistic missile tests and adventuresome activities in the region.
(Read More)

Measure to shield EU firms from Iran curbs starts on Tuesday - Germany
6 August 2018 – Reuters

The European Union announced that on Tuesday it will implement a measure to protect its businesses operating in Iran from American sanctions, which are due to go into effect at that time. The move, which is intended to protect both European sanctions in the region and the JCPOA, is based on a 1996 regulation that bans European companies from complying with U.S. sanctions and refuses to recognize any court rulings that seek to enforce relevant US penalties. The EU has affirmed it will protect European firms caught up in any resulting disputes.
(Read More)

Putin signs measure to raise Russia’s VAT
4 August 2018 - Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Russian citizens will be subjected to a two percent VAT increase beginning on the first of the new year. President Putin continues to decline in popularity polling following his approval to increase Russia’s value-added tax from 18 to 20 percent and due to his plan to increase the retirement age. Putin’s United Russia party has fallen 16 percentage points since the announcements while his main opposition, the Communist Party, has recently received a 15.6 percentage increase.
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NATO to modernize air base in Albania
4 August 2018 – The Seattle Times

NATO has decided to invest $58 million “to modernize the air base in Kucove,” located approximately fifty miles outside the Albanian capital. Albania continues to upgrade its outdated weaponry since joining NATO in 2009. The financial investment will also serve as support for NATO in “supply operations, logistics support, air policing, training and exercising.”
(Read More) 

U.S. envoy to UN accuses Russia of violating North Korea sanctions
3 August 2018 – Reuters

Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, accused Russia of violating UN sanctions against North Korea by allowing North Korean laborers to enter and work within Russia. Haley cites “credible reports” that despite any public condemnation made by Russia within the UN Security Council, Russian officials are violating those commitments by granting new work permits to North Korean workers.
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Pompeo says North Korea weapons work counter to denuclearization pledge
3 August 2018 – Reuters

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo returned to North Korea to address worrying activity that appears to be inconsistent with the pledge of denuclearization. Pompeo and U.S. officials have accused Pyongyang of continuing to make bomb fuel, new missiles, and “one or two new liquid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missiles at the research facility.” The United States has been coordinating with the UN, China and ASEAN to facilitate denuclearizing the peninsula.
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Turkey threatens to retaliate over U.S. sanctions in escalating dispute between NATO allies
2 August 2018 - Telegraph

The U.S. has placed sanctions on two Turkish government ministers in response to an American pastor being placed under house arrest for alleged terrorism changes.  The sanctions are specifically directed toward Turkish Justice Minister Abdlhamit Gul and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, who led in the arrest of the pastor.
(Read More

Trump national security teams says Russia behind effort to meddle in U.S. elections
2 August 2018 – Reuters

The president’s national security team has veered from Trump’s narrative, stating on Thursday that Russia is responsible for “pervasive” acts of meddling in the upcoming elections. Officials believe that the aggressive efforts are connected to the Kremlin, but they argue that Russian interference does not favor one party over another. Instead, “this is about exploiting the fault lines that exist in our society and building on what was done in 2016.”
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Sharp increase in positive views of U.S. among Russians after Trump-Putin summit, poll finds
2 August 2018 – The Washington Post

Russian perspectives toward the West appear to be changing for the first time in four years. Polling conducted by The Levada Center shows that more Russians view the United States positively for the first time since 2014, in large part due to the recent bilateral meeting in Helsinki. Additionally, polling shows similar results for the European Union, with 42 percent in favor as opposed to 38 percent against. Finally, polling found a 13 percent drop in approval ratings for President Putin.  
(Read More)

Italy’s populist leader stakes claim to be Trump’s man in Europe
31 July 2018 - Bloomberg News 

U.S. President Donald Trump met with Italian Prime Minister Mario Conte in Washington this week. Trump complemented Conte’s approach to Russia, defense spending, and migration. Conte appeared to be attempting to position himself as Trump’s go-to ally in Europe, as he is one of the only leaders of a major European country who is sympathetic to Trump’s nationalistic and unilateralist worldview. 
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In Soviet echo, Putin gives Russian army a political wing
31 July 2018 – Reuters

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin published a presidential decree which will create a new directorate inside the Russian army to promote patriotism – a move that evokes memories of a Soviet directorate that worked to ensure the army stayed loyal to the then ruling Communist party, where soldiers were taught the precepts of Marxism and Leninism by political commissars. The decree will affect Russia’s one million active military service personnel and appears designed to ensure soldiers’ loyalty at a time when Moscow is locked in a geopolitical standoff with the West
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U.S. sides with Russia in WTO national security case against Ukraine
31 July 2018 – Politico

The United States is siding with Russia in a potential landmark WTO case over what actions countries can take in the name of national security, even if it means violating their WTO commitments. The case stems from transit restrictions that the Russian government imposed on Ukraine that cut off key markets in Central Asia in January 2016. As of now, Ukraine can only access those markets via Russian roads. Although the United States reportedly backs the Ukrainian government in the larger conflict, the Trump Administration and the Russian government agree that the WTO has no right to interfere in the case Ukraine brought against Moscow’s transit restrictions.
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Trump says collusion is not a crime as first Russia probe trial begins
31 July 2018 – Reuters

President Trump reiterated his account that there was “no collusion” from his campaign with Russian officials during the 2016 elections. Additionally, the president claims that it is irrelevant because “collusion is not a crime.” Robert Mueller’s special investigation continues to hang over the Trump Administration as Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, begins his trial this week for tax and bank fraud charges.
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Japan, U.S. and Australia plan infrastructure push to counter China in Indo-Pacific
31 July 2018 – The Japan Times

The U.S., Japan, and Australia have agreed to invest in the Indo-Pacific region via energy, transportation, tourism, and technology infrastructure. Mike Pompeo announced the U.S. alone will be investing $113 million in the trilateral partnership. Representatives of all three nations vehemently denied accusations that the projects are aimed at countering Chinese influence in the region.
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Germany’s anti-Trump strategy beings to take shape
30 July 2018 - Die Spiegel

On a visit to Japan, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has proposed that Germany should form an "alliance of the multilateralists” composed of "globally oriented states...that closely coordinates its foreign, trade and climate policies." This proposed bloc has been suggested as an actor on the world stage that could inherit the role of global influence that the USA is seemingly seeking to withdraw from. Along with German and Japan, the group could include South Korea, Mexico, Canada, South Africa, Australia and Argentina.
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Canada to give Ukraine $50 million annually for 5 years
29 July 2018 - Kyiv Post

The Ukrainian Ambassador to Canada, Andriy Shevchenko, has announced that the government of Canada will give Ukraine $50 million over the next five years. Of those funds, $35 million will go to technical assistance, $5 million for humanitarian aid, and $10-12 million for security sector operations. This new aid does not take into account the large military mission UNIFIER, which is funded from the budget of the Canadian Defense Ministry.
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European Union backs eastern natural gas axis, increased LNG supplies
29 July 2018 – Forbes

At an energy summit in Lisbon this past Friday, the European Union agreed to support liquefied natural gas (LNG) being supplied by North America along with the leaders of Spain, Portugal and France. The EU has sought to increase LNG imports due to an increase in consumption and a decrease in production within Europe. 
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Trump seeks to revive “Arab NATO” to confront Iran
27 July 2018 – Reuters

According to U.S. and Arab officials, the Trump Administration is quietly pushing ahead with a bid to create a new security and political alliance with six Gulf Arab states, Egypt and Jordan, in part to counter Iran’s expansion in the region. The plan to forge what officials in the White House and Middle East have called an “Arab NATO” of Sunni Muslim allies will likely raise tensions between the United States and Shi’ite Iran. The administration's hope is that the effort might be discussed at a summit provisionally scheduled for Washington on October 12-13.
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Putin says no plans to reject dollar but risks should be stemmed
27 July 2018 – Reuters

President Putin appears to be shifting to the Chinese yuan for the role of Russia’s reserve currency. In the wake of increased American sanctions against Russia, Putin’s government has increasingly bought gold and Chinese yuan. Despite denying Russian plans to decrease their holdings of the U.S. dollar, Putin did admit to “understand(ing) such risks and we are trying to minimize them,” referring to the negative effects of U.S. sanctions on the Russian economy.
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France, Iberia aim for more energy cooperation
27 July 2018 – Reuters

In a trilateral summit last week, leaders of France, Spain, and Portugal pledged to increase investment and consumption in alternative energy sources and routes. The pledge comes amid European efforts to pivot their reliance from Russia as a source of gas. The three nations could look towards North Africa or the U.S. as a serious substitute for their energy supply.
(Read More)

Russia's Putin says he invited Trump to Moscow

27 July 2018 – Reuters
On Friday, Russian President Putin said he invited U.S. President Donald Trump to Moscow and that both of them are ready for further summits, though the conditions need to be right for a meeting to take place. Speaking to reporters at a summit of BRICS countries in South Africa, Putin said telephone calls between Moscow and Washington were insufficient and that both sides needed to meet to talk about issues like the Iran nuclear deal, conflicts in the Middle East, and arms control treaties.
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Bipartisan bill would prevent Trump from exiting NATO without Senate consent
26 July 2018 – The Washington Post

On Thursday, a new bill was set forth by Senators Cory Gardner, Time Kaine, John McCain and Jack Reed to stop President Trump from withdrawing from NATO without Senate approval.  The Senate has the role of consent when the U.S. enters into a treaty but the U.S. Constitution does not explain how the U.S. withdraws from one.
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Trump threatens sanctions against Turkey over American pastor
26 July 2018 – Reuters

Turkey’s financial market suffered a limited downturn following U.S. threats to impose sanctions against the country. Both President Trump and Vice President Pence have threatened a harsh retaliation against Turkey should it fail to release Sam Brownback. Brownback is currently under house arrest after serving 21 months in a Turkish detention facility. He is being charged by the Turkish government with participating in the military coup of 2016, and could face up to 35 years in jail if found guilty.  
(Read More)

White House postpones proposed visit by Putin, citing Russia “witch hunt”

25 July 2018 – NPR
The White House announced Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin will not visit the United States this year, following an earlier invitation by President Trump after their recent summit in Helsinki. It was not immediately clear whether the Kremlin had formally turned down the White House behind the scenes or the U.S. decided to back away from its offer before getting an official answer from Moscow.
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U.S. issues “Crimea Declaration” reaffirming rejection of Russia’s annexation
26 July 2018 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a formal policy reaffirming its rejection of Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula. In his announcement, Pompeo referenced the Welles Declaration of 1940. That act was a decision by the United States not to recognize the Soviet annexation of the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. That policy lasted fifty years and outlasted the Soviet Union.
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For Russian business, Putin’s summit win over Trump turns sour
25 July 2018 – Reuters

Despite the perception among many Russians that Putin largely benefited from his bilateral summit with Trump, Russian businesses fear he made a political error by stoking fear in the U.S. The ruble fell 1.2 percent on Tuesday following U.S. Congressmen declaring the possibility of enacting new sanctions against Russia. There is bipartisan support to push for new legislation against Russia, leading Russian businesses to believe that Russian finances “are now hostage to geopolitics.”   
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Trump, EU leader pledge to cut trade barriers, hold off on further tariffs
25 July 2018 – Reuters

President Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker met on Tuesday in an attempt open dialogue on transatlantic trade. After the start of a “trade war” between the U.S. and EU, the two sides reversed course and agreed to assemble a high-level working group to negotiate tariff, subsidy, and non-tariff barrier reductions
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Congress blocks F-35 fighter shipments to Turkey
24 July 2018 – The Washington Times

Congressional defense lawmakers officially barred deliveries of the fifth-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to Turkish forces, inserting the ban into the final version of the Pentagon’s budget blueprint for the upcoming fiscal year. The legislation prohibits shipments of the advanced, multi-role jet fighter to Ankara until the Pentagon delivers “an assessment of a significant change in Turkish participation in the F-35 program, including the potential elimination of such participation.” The bill is now headed to the White House for President Trump’s signature.
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Russian defense minister threatens response if Sweden and Finland join NATO
24 July 2018 – Newsweek
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu stated that Sweden and Finland drawing closer to NATO will result in a response from Russia. Shoigu cited a treaty that was signed this past May for Sweden and Finland to participate in military exercises within the alliance.
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Kremlin, coy on new summit idea, says Putin and Trump can meet at G20
24 July 2018 – Reuters

Russia has yet to accept President Trump’s invitation to visit Washington, citing negative feedback emanating from the American media. Following their bilateral summit in Helsinki, both leaders agreed that the meeting was a success, but Putin is reluctant to meet with the American leader. Instead, Russian politicians have suggested they meet at “other international events which Trump and Putin will take part in.”
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Defense bill offers harsh words for Russia and China
24 July 2018 – CNN

Congress recently passed a $717 billion defense bill for 2019 that “prohibits military-to-military cooperation with Russia.” Congress agreed to include the Trump Administration’s request to fund lower yield ballistic missile warheads and lethal defensive aid to Ukraine, and granted funding to strengthen U.S. presence in the European Deterrence Initiative. Additionally, Trump will now have the ability to waive sanctions aimed at countries that purchase military equipment from Russia.
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Juncker in last-ditch bid to end Trump trade war
24 July 2018 - Business Times

European Commission head Jean Claude Junker is due to head to Washington on Wednesday to hold talks with U.S. President Donald Trump to discuss trade relations. Trump enacted steep import tariffs on European steel and aluminum headed to the U.S., and he is now threatening to enact similar tariffs on European cars exported to America. The EU responded to the first round of tariffs with its own tariffs, and has laid out potential retaliatory tariffs for the threatened car tariffs.
(Read More) 

Russian hackers penetrated networks of U.S. electric utilities: WSJ
23 July 2018 – Reuters
According to U.S. federal officials, Russian hackers gained access to U.S. electric utilities in 2017. By accessing these networks, the hackers gained the ability to cause blackouts throughout the United States. While the Department of Homeland Security continues to investigate the breach, it is unclear if the hackers are preparing to conduct a larger scaled attack using similar methods in the future.
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Most Germans think Europe can defend itself without U.S. help: poll
23 July 2018 - Reuters

A recent poll found that over half of German citizens believe that Europe can defend itself without relying on military support from America. This compares to only 37% of respondents who believe such support would be required. The poll comes not long after U.S. President Donald Trump called into question his willingness to support European NATO members in the event of invasion, and his suggestion that support would instead be contingent on higher military spending in member states. Last week, he also implied that he may not support Montenegro, NATO's newest member, in the event of a conflict with Russia.
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State actors likely behind Singapore cyberattack: experts
22 July 2018 – The Japan Times

Security experts believe state actors were behind Singapore’s largest-ever cyberattack. The attack, which occurred between June 27 and July 4, illegally accessed 1.5 million Singaporeans health records. Although experts would not speculate on the identity of the criminals, they believe Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was specifically targeted in the attack.
(Read More)

Ukraine crisis: U.S. to give Kiev $200m in defense support
21 July 2018 – BBC

The Pentagon has announced that the U.S. will help fund Ukrainian defense capabilities, including training, communications, medical, and other non-lethal operational needs. As of 2014, the U.S. government has aided Ukraine with more than $1 billion in defense support. The Pentagon’s statement comes a few days following President Trump’s bilateral summit with President Putin.
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Russian diplomat calls for the release of suspected foreign agent Maria Butina
21 July 2018 – Time

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called the charges against Maria Butina “fabricated.” In a recent telephone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, Lavrov demanded the “prompt release” of Butina, who is accused of conspiring to establish a back channel between Russian and American politicians. She is also being charged with failing to register as a foreign agent. Additionally, the two officials discussed possible avenues for cooperation on Syria and North Korea.
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U.S. oil industry lobbies against tighter sanctions on Russia
20 July 2018 – Reuters

The U.S. Senate is expected to pass a new bill called “DETER” with bipartisan support. DETER would allow Congress to quickly enact new sanctions upon Russia if found guilty of meddling in future U.S. elections. Despite bipartisan support, lawmakers are expected to face opposition from U.S. energy companies that claim they are unfairly penalized for Russian interference.
(Read More)

Europe must spend more wisely by consolidating weapons systems, Merkel says
20 July 2018 – Reuters

German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated this week that Europe must consolidate its various weapons systems to streamline budgets and assist military contractors. She stated that United States has “less than 50” weapons systems versus Europe’s “178 weapon systems,” which need to be consolidated to be more affordable.
(Read More)

Trump slams EU over $5 billion fine on Google
19 July 2018 – Reuters

On Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump criticized the European Union and said the bloc is taking advantage of the United States, pointing to the record $5 billion fine European antitrust regulators imposed on Google. On Wednesday, EU officials also ordered Google to stop using its popular Android mobile operating system to block its rivals, adding to trade tensions between Washington and Brussels.
(Read More)

Putin accuses U.S. forces of trying to ruin Trump summit outcome
19 July 2018 – Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin accused forces in the United States of trying to undermine the success of his first summit with Trump, but said the two began to improve ties anyway. The Russian President also warned of the dangers of Moscow and Washington failing to continue to mend ties, saying the New START strategic arms reduction treaty would expire soon unless both countries take action.
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Tensions escalate between Greece and Russia, with Macedonia in the middle
19 July 2018 – The New York Times

Tensions escalated between Russia and Greece on Thursday as Russia’s foreign minister reportedly canceled a trip to Greece over a decision by Athens to expel two diplomats accused of trying to stoke opposition to an agreement that would clear the way for Macedonia to join NATO. Greek officials said last week that Athens told Moscow on July 6 that it would expel two diplomats, and bar two other Russian citizens from entering the country, because of “irrefutable evidence” that Russia was trying to meddle in the Macedonia deal.
(Read More)

Undaunted by criticism, Trump looks to next Putin meeting
19 July 2018 – Reuters

Presidents Trump and Putin agreed that their bilateral meeting was a success, and both blamed internal forces within America for attempting to spin the meeting as a failure. Trump lashed out against the media as “the real enemy of the people,” while Putin seemed to reference American politicians’ personal ambitions as the root cause of the terrible coverage. Trump stated that he looks forward to a second meeting.
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Putin Warns NATO Against Pursuing Closer Ties with Ukraine and Georgia 
19 July 2018 - Reuters 

Russian president Vladimir Putin publicly warned NATO not to pursue closer relations with Ukraine and Georgia, claiming such an effort would have consequences for the alliance bloc. The two countries pose a difficult geopolitical quandary for Putin; despite being formerly close allies of Russia, in 2008 both pledged to one day join NATO. Since then, Russia has engaged in military actions with both nations, supporting separatist factions and directly invading their territories. 
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Nearly half of Americans link defense of NATO to allies’ spending:  Reuters/Ipsos poll
18 July 2018 – Reuters
A Reuters/Ipsos poll found that around fifty percent of Americans want defense spending to be linked to whether the U.S. defends its NATO allies. The NATO alliance’s fundamental tenant is Article Five, which states that an attack on one NATO country is an attack against all allies. 
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Trump backs off siding with Russia over U.S. intelligence
18 July 2018 – Chicago Tribune

President Trump attempted to walk back comments he made during his press conference with President Putin. Trump accepted the American intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia did in fact meddle in the 2016 elections but also stated “It could be other people also.” The president has received bipartisan condemnation for his comments, forcing GOP leaders to assess the possibility of issuing new sanctions against Russia.
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Germany seeks to calm Trump’s Nord Stream concerns by protecting Ukraine gas route
17 July 2018 – Forbes
Germany is hosting a meeting with Russian and Ukrainian officials to quell criticism President Trump made at the recent NATO summit in Brussels about Germany’s dependence on Russian natural gas.  Germany believes Nord Stream 2 will assist the European Union’s overall energy security strategy.
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Trump says Putin summit “even better” than NATO meeting
17 July 2018 – Reuters

In an attempt to defend his actions, President Trump tweeted “While I had a great meeting with NATO, raising vast amounts of money, I had an even better meeting with Vladimir Putin of Russia.” After receiving criticism for his comments during the summit with Putin, Trump claimed that the increased funding for NATO is “only because of me.”
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Britain unveils fighter jet model to rival Franco-German program
16 July 2018 – Reuters
The Tempest is the latest fighter jet introduced by Britain this week at the Franborough Airshow, and $2.7 billion will be needed in order to finance the program. Germany and France are creating their own jets and European defense insiders want both programs to eventually be combined so the European defense market is unified. 
(Read More)

Trump meets Putin after denouncing “stupidity” of U.S. policy on Russia
16 July 2018 - Reuters

Presidents Trump and Putin met one-on-one Monday behind closed doors, in a long-awaited summit. Trump called the private talks with the Kremlin leader a “good start," and said it was a longstanding goal of his to improve U.S.- Russia relations. In his public remarks at the outset, Trump mentioned none of the issues that have lately brought U.S.-Russian relations to the lowest point since the Cold War: Moscow’s annexation of territory from Ukraine, its support for Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, British accusations that it poisoned a spy, as well as meddling in both U.S. and European elections.
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European leaders hit back after Trump calls EU “a foe”
16 July 2018 - The Independent

European leaders responded to controversial comments made by U.S. President Donald Trump, in which he labelled the EU a "foe" of America. During an interview held during his visit to the UK, Trump stated that he believed "the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade [sic.]." His comments were however largely rejected by European leaders, with Donald Tusk, the President of the European Commission, arguing that Europe and America were still "best friends." Trump's comments come not long after he encouraged British Prime Minister Teresa May to stop negotiating with the EU over arrangements for its departure from the bloc. 
(Read More

May calls on Britons to back her plan, or risk no Brexit
15 July 2018 – Bloomberg

British Prime Minister Theresa May faces rising opposition from euroskeptics in her Conservative Party over Brexit policy after the resignation of two cabinet members. May’s Brexit plan calls for a new trade deal with the EU, but critics argue this would sign Britain up to EU rules and remove its ability to strike trade deals with third parties. U.S. President Donald Trump recently criticized May’s approach, saying that excessive British regulatory alignment with the EU would “kill” the prospect of a U.S.-UK trade deal.
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U.S. will not push for “deliverables” at Russia summit: Bolton
15 July 2018 – Reuters

The U.S. national security adviser claims that the summit between President Trump and President Putin will be “unstructured.” The two leaders are scheduled to sit down with one another upon arrival in a “one-on-one” meeting in which following discussion will be “determined by the two parties.” U.S. officials believe President Trump will raise the topics of nuclear proliferation, the conflict in Syria, and Russia’s meddling in the 2016 elections.
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What Trump’s NATO defense plan would mean for the U.S.
15 July 2018 – The Hill

Critics are growing weary over President Trump’s proclamation that all NATO members should increase their defense spending to four percent of their GDP. Officials across Washington are contemplating whether following precedent by setting defense targets relative to overall government spending would prove more efficient. Additionally, officials within Congress are concerned about the amount of debt the spending would place on the American government.
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U.S. asks UN to cut off oil products to North Korea
13 July 2018 – Agence France Presse

According to documents seen by the AFP on Thursday, the United States is asking the UN Security Council to order an immediate halt of all deliveries of refined oil products to North Korea after finding that Pyongyang violated restrictions on those imports. The illegal supplies were provided through ship-to-ship transfers at sea using North Korean tankers that have called in port at least 89 times "likely to deliver" the shipments. The committee is expected to take five days to consider the request, which China and Russia will most likely block.
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Trump in the UK: The President and Theresa May strive for unity
13 July 2018 – The New York Times

President Trump and Prime Minister Theresa May worked to avoid a political crisis after a bombshell interview on Thursday in which Trump criticized May on several fronts, most notably her approach to the British withdrawal from the European Union. On Friday, the two worked together to repair the damage left by the interview, with Trump saying that the ties between the two countries were  at the “highest level of special” and adding that “this incredible woman right here is doing a fantastic job.” This is in stark contrast to his comments in the interview, where he castigated May for her approach to Brexit and hinted that it could jeopardize a much-sought trade deal for Britain.
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France’s Macron says NATO allies stuck to spending commitments
12 July 2018 – AFP
President Macron of France stated during the NATO summit this week commitments to increase defense spending would stay the same even though President Trump insisted allies immediately meet the 2% of GDP of defense spending and increase it to 4%. Macron stated the official communiqué from the summit reiterated allies spend 2% of GDP by 2024.
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NATO reaffirms support for Ukraine and Georgia
12 July 2018 – Euro News

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reaffirmed this week that “Georgia will become a member of NATO.” Stopping short of proclaiming the same promises for Ukraine, Stoltenberg urged Ukraine to continue its reforms in order to strengthen their criteria to join in the near future. NATO did reaffirm its support for Ukrainian sovereignty and reaffirmed Russia’s annexation of Crimea as illegal. 
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Trump calls Germany “captive” of Russia; demands higher defense spending
11 July 2018 – Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump accused Germany on Wednesday of being a “captive” of Russia due to its energy reliance - just before a NATO summit where he pressed allies to more than double defense spending. Having previously called out NATO members for failing to reach a target spending of 2% of GDP on defense, Trump told fellow leaders he would prefer of goal of 4%, similar to U.S. levels. This change would represent a massive upheaval of budgetary priorities in Europe, where Germany and many others had only pledged to reach 2% by 2024 or later.
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UK welcomes Trump-Putin meeting, says it must address Russian “malign activity”
11 July 2018 – Reuters

Ahead of a bilateral meeting with President Trump, British Prime Minister Theresa May promoted ongoing communication with Russia. The prime minister urged President Trump to address Russian cyberattacks and the use of nerve agents in Britain during his meeting with Putin. NATO leaders confirmed their support for the meeting but were hopeful Trump would engage with Russia from “a position of strength, underpinned by a strong transatlantic alliance.”  
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Greece “orders expulsion of two Russian diplomats”
11 July 2018 – BBC News

Greece has expelled two Russian diplomats in what they claim was an attempt by the Russians to attain sensitive material that could be used to bribe Greek state officials in the future. Greece has been suspicious of Russian activity lately, stemming from Greece’s recent negotiations with Macedonia to rename the country. Russia said it will take “reciprocal measures” against Greece.  
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Trump slams Germany at NATO summit:  It’s “totally controlled by Russia”

11 July 2018 – CNBC
At the NATO summit in Brussels, President Trump criticized Germany’s participation in the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline that connects natural gas resources from Russia to Germany. He also criticized NATO allies for falling short of the two percent target on defense spending. Only five of 29 alliance members have reached that goal.  
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EU urges further reforms condemns Russian “aggression” at summit with Ukraine
10 July 2018 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

On Monday, Ukraine and the European Union held their first summit since an Association Agreement between the European Union and Ukraine came into force in September. A joint statement released on July 9 mentioned Kyiv’s troubled efforts to crack down on rampant corruption and efforts to improve the country's business climate, saying the EU and Ukraine "agreed on the importance of continuing and accelerating reform efforts, in particular in the fight against corruption," and on "the need for continued efforts in the reform of the judiciary and prosecution to strengthen the rule of law in Ukraine."
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China says will hit back after U.S. proposes fresh tariffs on $200 billion in goods
10 July 2018 – Reuters
One day after U.S. officials issued a list of thousands of Chinese imports worth $200 billion that the Trump Administration wants to hit with new 10% tariffs, Beijing said it would hit back against Washington through “qualitative measures.” China accused the United States of bullying, called the new tariffs “completely unacceptable,” and warned it would complain to the World Trade Organization. The measures could result in anything from stepped-up inspections to delays in investment approvals and even consumer boycotts. However, the $200 billion far exceeds the total value of goods China imports from the United States.
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Switzerland launches WTO action over U.S. steel, aluminum tariffs
10 July 2018 – Reuters

Switzerland is now the seventh WTO member to launch a complaint against U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum. “From Switzerland’s point of view, the additional duties, which according to the U.S. have been introduced to protect national security, are unjustified,” the Swiss economy ministry stated. The U.S. has 60 days to settle the issue, and if it does not Switzerland could escalate the dispute by asking the WTO to adjudicate.
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The issues on the table when Trump and Putin meet
9 July 2018 – Reuters

Foreign relations experts have highlighted six key areas President Trump will likely discuss with President Putin during their summit on July 16. A few of those vital issues include the arms race rhetoric between the two leaders, easing U.S.-led sanctions on Russia, and addressing NATOs increased military presence in Central and Eastern Europe.
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Wary Ukraine wins U.S. assurances ahead of Trump-Putin summit
9 July 2018 – Reuters
A Ukrainian diplomat claims that President Trump will back Ukraine during his meeting with President Putin on July 16. The United States has increased its diplomatic, financial, and military aid to Ukraine since Trump took office. The private confirmation appears to have eased Ukrainian fears that President Trump will renege on U.S. support while meeting with President Putin behind closed doors.
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Russia plans $80 Billion debt spree despite sanctions scare
9 July 2018 – Bloomberg
Russia’s finance ministry plans to borrow $80 billion (5 trillion rubles) domestically over the next three years. Despite the renewal of U.S. sanctions and warnings signs over global debt, Russia will move forward with its new policy to force the country into a primary budget deficit during that period.  The Russian government is expected to invest the funds primarily into infrastructure and national security.
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German interior minister says conflict with chancellor is "history"
8 June 2018 - Associated Press

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer stated that his conflict over migration with Chancellor Angela Merkel is "history." The conflict nearly led Seehofer to resign his position, which could have toppled Chancellor Merkel's fragile coalition government and empowered the euroskeptic Alternative for Germany (AFD) party. However, with this disagreement resolved, Seehofer seems confident that the government can begin to win back support it previously lost to the AFD.
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Turkey fires more than 18,000 state employees in new decree
8 July 2018 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

On July 8, Turkey issued a decree dismissing more than 18,000 civil servants – half of which were from the police force – over suspected links to groups that “act against national security.” The decree shut down 12 associations across the country as well as three newspapers and a television channel. The move comes ahead of this month’s expected lifting of a two-year-old state of emergency imposed after an attempted coup in July 2016.
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Trump NATO pressure paying dividends in Europe, U.S. envoy says
8 July 2018 – Bloomberg

In an interview on Fox News Sunday, U.S. NATO Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison stated President Trump’s push for NATO allies to increase defense spending has been working. Recently, President Trump wrote to several European leaders and stated that the two percent defense target must be met.
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Arms race: U.S. and Europe go head to head over defense deals in Romania
8 July 2018 – Business Review

Romania has embarked on a military modernization and expansion plan that has increased their military spending by over 50 percent in the last two years. The government has allocated an estimated two percent of the country’s GDP to military spending, investing in advanced military technology and equipment. This has resulted in the biggest military budget increase in the world over the past two years, leading U.S. and European firms to compete for the rights to Romania’s military contracts.  
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Angela Merkel: NATO must refocus on Russia threat
7 July 2018 – Politico

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for NATO to increase its presence in Central and Eastern Europe to address growing concerns over Russia. The chancellor acknowledged that dialogue must continue with their Russian counterparts, but she also stressed that NATO “has to show determination to protect us.” Chancellor Merkel’s statement comes a few days prior to the NATO summit scheduled for July 11.
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U.S.-Iran tensions rise over oil route as EU tries to save nuclear deal
6 July 2018 - Reuters

The European Union has been working to secure a deal with Iran to salvage the JCPOA after America's withdrawal. However, their overtures come amid heightened tensions, as Iran’s Revolutionary Guard threatened to shut off the geopolitically crucial Straits of Hormuz to oil shipments. In response, the U.S. threatened to respond with naval action. The dispute comes as Iran rejected a Franco-German package of economic measures to keep Iran in the JCPOA. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani stated that the package did not go far enough to mitigate the economic impact of the American withdrawal. 
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UK police in protective suits investigate latest Novichok poisoning
6 July 2018 – Reuters

Two people in Salisbury, England were recently exposed to Novichok – a nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union. The development comes after the same agent was used against Russian ex-spy Sergey Skripal and his daughter earlier this year, which the British government believes was conducted by Russia. Police say the investigation could take months to complete.
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8 NATO countries to hit defense spending target
5 July 2018 – Politico

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said a total of eight member states will meet their pledge to spend two percent of GDP on defense in 2018. Stoltenberg highlighted both the increase from 2014, when only three allies met the pledge, and how NATO allies “gave themselves a decade to hit the pledge back in 2014.”
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Withdrawal of U.S. troops from Germany is not being discussed, U.S. ambassador to NATO says
5 July 2018 - The Washington Post

In a briefing before the NATO summit scheduled for July 11-12, U.S. ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchinson stated the topic of removing U.S. troops in Germany is not taking place. The ambassador argued that NATO allies need to increase their defense spending while recognizing that many alliance members are on target to achieve the goal of spending two percent of their GDPs on defense by 2024.
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Trump’s trade war against China is officially underway
5 July 2018 - The New York Times

On Friday morning, a trade war between the world’s two largest economies began as the Trump Administration followed through with its threat to impose tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese products, a significant escalation of a fight that could hurt companies and consumers in both the United States and China. The penalties prompted quick retaliation by Beijing, which said it immediately put its own similarly sized tariffs on American goods. The escalation of the trade war from threat to reality is expected to ripple through global supply chains, raise costs for businesses, and consumers and roil global stock markets.
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Ukraine passes IMF-backed law to make banks more independent
5 July 2018 - Reuters

Ukraine’s parliament has passed a law requiring state-run banks to appoint a majority of independent members to their supervisory boards, a commitment made to the backers of its $17.5 billion bailout. This law aims to bring corporate governance at the banks into line with international standards as well as help the lenders resist political pressure. The IMF, which has propped up Ukraine’s war-scarred economy with an aid program since 2015, has pressed the government to reform its financial sector where non-performing loans make up more than 60% of portfolios in state banks as a result of risky and opaque lending practices.
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NATO allies defend their military spending in the face of President Trump’s criticism
4 July 2018 – Time

President Trump sent letters to NATO members “Norway, other European allies and Canada” urging them to increase their defence spending before the NATO summit scheduled for July 11-12 in Brussels. The defense ministers of Norway and Germany have defended their commitment to NATO and believe the two percent of GDP defense spending target is achievable. 
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Senate intelligence committee agrees that Putin meddled to help Trump
3 July 2018 – Bloomberg

After an extensive investigation, the Senate Intelligence Committee supports the findings by U.S. intelligence agencies that President Putin meddled in the 2016 presidential elections. Accepted as a bipartisan investigation, the panel found that the president of Russia personally directed a campaign to interfere in the U.S. elections. The Senate Intelligence panel will continue to investigate whether anyone collusion took place with the Russians.
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Ukraine will attend NATO summit despite Hungarian objection
4 July 2018 – VOA News

The Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a letter to NATO Secretary General Jen Stoltenberg vowing to veto proposals brought forth by members of NATO following officially scheduled meetings with Ukraine and Georgia. Despite NATO formally inviting President Petro Poroshenko to the upcoming summit, Hungary threatens to reverse its recent decision to support NATO-Ukrainian ties.
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Abe plans to visit NATO to deliver speech during Europe tour
2 July 2018 – Japan Today

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is scheduled to visit NATO headquarters in Belgium in mid-July. Abe plans to strengthen Japan’s partnership with NATO during his upcoming European and Middle Eastern tour. The Prime Minister aims to hold talks with both Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and President Trump to strengthen their partnership on regional security issues.
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Mexico president-elect wants to remain in NAFTA, friendly U.S. ties
2 July 2018 – Reuters

The landslide winner of Mexico’s presidential election, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, said on Monday that he will aim to keep Mexico in the NAFTA trade pact and seek a frank dialogue and friendly ties with the United States. The first leftist president elected in Mexico’s modern history said in his first post-election interview after Sunday’s vote that he will also stick with the pick for finance minister he named during the campaign.
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Pentagon:  UK military capabilities at risk of erosion without cash boost
2 July 2018 – The Guardian

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sent a letter to the UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson stating that “the special relationship could be under strain unless the UK boost[s] its defense capability.”  The U.S. wants the UK to increase its military spending and is “concerned” that the UK’s military power and diplomatic influence is “at risk of erosion.” Mattis further stated that France could replace the UK as America’s main military ally in Europe.
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North Korea satellite images show missile plant construction, analysts say
2 July 2018 – CNN

According to analysis of satellite imagery by researchers in the United States, North Korea appears to be finalizing the expansion of a key ballistic missile manufacturing site. This news comes as leaked reports from U.S. intelligence officials appear to cast doubt on North Korea’s willingness to abandon its nuclear weapons program – something Kim Jong Un agreed to do when he met with U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore last month.
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EU warns of $300bn hit to U.S. over car import tariffs
1 July 2018 – Financial Times
A leaked memo authored by the European Commission warns that President Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on car imports could prompt a global retaliation against $300 billion in U.S. products. This week, automakers around the world warned that tariffs on car imports could increase the price of imported vehicles by $6,000 per car. The interconnectedness of the auto industry also suggests that the cost of locally manufactured cars would increase.
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Trump signals sanctions on EU companies over Iran
1 July 2018 – Financial Times

President Trump warned the EU that he will not exempt European companies from Iran-related sanctions. European leaders were hopeful that the Trump Administration would provide waivers for EU companies that violated those sanctions. EU efforts to salvage the Iran nuclear deal seem to continually be ignored by key officials within the administration.
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