What's New

Streit Council Advisory Board Member Kenneth Weisbrode, with former Ambassador James Goodby, provide a blueprint for improving U.S.-Russia relations. "What’s missing here is not the capacity to talk but a political consensus on both sides to reaffirm why both countries still need to cooperate and how to go about finding it." Given the stalling of the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission, nuclear arms control talks, and other formal arrangements, Weisbrode and Goodby advocate an informal route to forging a new consensus. (Read More)

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)

Transatlantic Relations and Global Governance News

Brexit failure forces British Prime Minister Theresa May to announce resignation
24 May 2019 – CNN

UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced her resignation on Friday, giving in to the intense political pressure over her failure to secure Britain's withdrawal from the European Union. May said she would quit as leader of the Conservative Party on June 7th, but will stay on as Prime Minister until a successor is chosen. That process will be completed by the end of July, her party said. In her speech, May said she had done everything she could to convince Members of Parliament to back her thrice-rejected Brexit deal, but acknowledged that she had failed.
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UN Security Council rejects Russian request for Ukraine meeting
21 May 2019 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

The UN Security Council has rejected a Russian request to hold a meeting on a new language law in Ukraine. Jonathan Cohen, the acting U.S. ambassador, called Moscow's request "a clear attempt by Russia to distract from the peaceful, democratic transfer of power happening today in Ukraine," as the vote was held the same day that Ukraine's new President was sworn in. The law Russia is concerned about was passed in April, and under it Ukrainian-language TV and radio programming is increased and all citizens are obligated to speak Ukrainian, which is compulsory for civil servants, doctors, teachers, and lawyers, under the threat of fines.
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Ukraine’s new leader gets sworn in, dissolves parliament
20 May 2019 - Associated Press

Minutes after being sworn in as President, Ukrainian TV star Volodymyr Zelenskiy sought to capitalize on his popularity by dissolving the country’s parliament. The move followed the failure of a majority of lawmakers to use parliamentary ruses to hamper Zelenskiy’s plans. With most of the parliament loyal to former President Petro Poroshenko, new elections in two months will allow for more of Zelenskiy's supporters to be voted in.
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Council of Europe to allow Russia to vote again
17 May 2019 - Voice of America

The Council of Europe adopted a declaration Friday that allows Russia to start voting again at the continent's main human rights body following a spat related to its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. Foreign ministers from the council's 47 member states voted overwhelmingly to support a declaration that says that all members should be "entitled to participate" in the council's two main organs "on an equal basis." Russia will now have to accredit a delegation to the Council of Europe before it can start voting on motions.
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With eye on China, Trump escalates cybersecurity battle with executive order
15 May 2019 - NBC News

President Donald Trump on Wednesday effectively banned Chinese technology giant Huawei from doing business in the U.S., a move that comes amid growing tensions with China and some of its major technology and telecommunications companies. In a two-part move, Trump declared a national emergency over foreign threats to U.S. communications infrastructure and services, issuing an executive order that gave the secretary of commerce the ability to block companies deemed a national security threat. Shortly thereafter, the Huawei ban was announced.
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Montenegro jails “Russian coup plot” leaders
9 May 2019 - BBC News

A court in Montenegro handed five-year jail terms to two pro-Russian opposition politicians for trying to topple the government in October 2016, in addition to finding 12 others guilty, including two Russians - alleged secret agents - tried in absentia. Prosecutors said the plotters had Kremlin support to assassinate then-Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic and block NATO accession. Russia denounced the coup inquiry as absurd.
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China defends rejigged “Belt and Road” initiative against EU criticism
6 May 2019 – Euractiv

China’s ambassador to the EU recently called on European countries to join its Belt and Road infrastructure program. Chinese officials have implied that cooperating with the EU through this mechanism could offset unilateral and protectionist moves by the United States, “preserv[ing] the WTO.” EU businesses, however, are skeptical that China’s promise for a more transparent, open, and better-regulated Belt and Road initiative will materialize.
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North Macedonia answers name row by voting NATO envoy president
5 May 2019 - Bloomberg

The person coordinating North Macedonia’s upcoming NATO membership, Stevo Pendarovski, won the country’s presidential election, defeating a candidate who opposed a name change. The vote was a test for efforts to join NATO and the EU, which are caught in a tug-of-war for influence between Russia and the West. While the post is mostly ceremonial, the president grants government-forming mandates and can veto laws – powers that can either ease or obstruct the country’s efforts to build deeper ties with richer EU states.
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Pentagon warns on risk of Chinese submarines in Arctic
2 May 2019 - Reuters

In a report released by the Pentagon on Thursday, the Department of Defense warned that escalating Chinese activity in the Arctic region could pave the way for a strengthened military presence, including the deployment of submarines to act as deterrents against nuclear attack. China, despite being a non-Arctic state, is increasingly active in the polar region and became an observer member of the Arctic Council in 2013. That has prompted concerns from Arctic states over Beijing’s long-term strategic objectives, including possible military deployments.
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Putin signs law to create an independent Russian internet
1 May 2019 - CNN

Putin has signed into law new measures that would enable the creation of a national internet network, able to operate separately from the rest of the world, according to documents posted on a government portal on Wednesday. For now, the network remains largely theoretical, with few practical details disclosed. In concept, the new law aims to protect Russia from foreign online restrictions by creating what the Kremlin calls a "sustainable, secure and fully functioning" local internet; the legislation takes effect in November.
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Russia drops out of top 5 global military spenders while U.S. and China up the ante
29 April 2019 - CNBC

According to new data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Russia has dropped out of the top five countries with the highest defense spending for the first time since 2006. Total world military expenditure rose to $1.8 trillion in 2018, according to the SIPRI data, marking an increase of 2.6% from 2017 and the highest total spending since 1988. The five biggest spenders in 2018 were the U.S., China, Saudi Arabia, India and France, which together accounted for 60% of global military spending.
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Trump, Erdogan discuss working group on Russian S-400 missile system
29 April 2019 - Reuters

In a phone call on Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan discussed a Turkish proposal to create a joint working group on its planned purchase of a Russian S-400 missile defense system. The two countries have argued for months over Turkey’s order for the missile defense system, which the United States says is incompatible with NATO’s defense network and could compromise its F-35 fighter jets. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and several U.S. senators have warned Turkey it will face penalties for buying S-400s under a law that calls for sanctions against countries procuring military equipment from Russia.
(Read More

Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelenskiy offers Russians citizenship
28 April 2019 - Deutsche Welle

Responding to Putin’s move to offer Ukrainians citizenship last week, President-elect Volodymyr Zelenskiy has offered Ukrainian citizenship to Russians, but combined the proposal with criticism of the Kremlin. "We will provide Ukrainian citizenship to representatives of all peoples who suffer from authoritarian and corrupt regimes. In the first place — the Russians, who today suffer probably the most," Zelenskiy wrote on Facebook on Sunday.
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New missile gap leaves U.S. scrambling to counter China
25 April 2019 – Reuters

China’s military is making strides toward replacing the United States as the supreme military power in Asia. A sustained period of budget increases and rapid technical improvement enabled it to construct an arsenal of advanced missiles, some of which are specifically designed to attack aircraft carriers and bases that form the backbone of U.S. military dominance in the region. According to current and former United States military officers, as well as Taiwanese and Chinese military analysts, these missiles rival or outperform their U.S. counterparts.
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Political newcomer Volodymyr Zelensky celebrates victory in Ukraine's presidential elections
21 April 2019 – CNN

Political newcomer and television comedian Volodymyr Zelensky declared victory in Ukraine's presidential elections after exit polls showed he was on track for a landslide win against incumbent and chocolate magnate Petro Poroshenko. Early projections put Zelensky at 73.2%, giving him a significant lead over Poroshenko, who won 25.3%. Zelensky’s support came from an electorate tired of economic turmoil, militant rhetoric and escalating tensions with Russia. In a barbed comment, Poroshenko tweeted he believed the Russian government would be happy about the election of a "new inexperienced" president of Ukraine who could be returned to Russia's orbit of influence.
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China loses market-economy trade case in a win for EU and U.S.
18 April 2019 – Bloomberg

The WTO has ruled that China did not automatically qualify for market-economy status in 2016, as Beijing asserted, opening the possibility that other member states will impose duties on low-cost Chinese goods “dumped” onto their markets. The EU and U.S. argue that China has not completed its transition to a market economy, and therefore cannot export large amounts of low-cost goods without consequence. The decision is likely to loom large in U.S.-China trade talks.
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Ukrainian presidential front-runner pledges to hold referendum on NATO
18 April 2019 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Ukrainian presidential front-runner Volodymyr Zelenskiy has pledged to hold a referendum on whether or not Kyiv should join NATO if he is elected president. Although Zelensky said Ukraine has “clearly chosen our path to Europe,” he added it would be critical to build a nationwide consensus on joining the alliance. Zelenskiy added that he would work to convince people in the mostly Russian-speaking eastern parts of Ukraine to overcome their negative view of NATO.
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Russia bans exports of oil products to Ukraine
18 April 2019 - Kyiv Post

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has signed a government resolution that expands bans on both exports and imports with Ukraine. Starting on June 1st, Russia will ban the export of crude oil, oil products and coal to Ukraine, as well as the import of certain Ukrainian goods. He added that a special authorization will be required in order to export any good falling into this newly extended list.
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EU envoys give green light to U.S. trade talks
11 April 2019 – Bloomberg

EU leaders have approved a mandate for negotiating a free trade agreement with the United States. The mandate was agreed to after France received concessions on wording related to the environment and a previous plan for a transatlantic commercial deal. The EU is reportedly rushing to begin deliberations to prevent the U.S. from imposing automotive tariffs. This week, the Trump Administration announced a plan to impose $11 billion in tariffs on European goods because of alleged subsidies to plane maker Airbus.
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Nord Stream 2 delay “trump card” in Russia-Ukraine gas talks
11 April 2019 – Reuters

A senior European Commission energy official stated the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany will not meet its construction deadlines, and will be delayed for years, forcing Russia to negotiate with Ukraine for the transit of gas westward. The U.S., Eastern European, and Nordic countries oppose the pipeline as it would increase the EU’s reliance on Russian gas.
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Turkey says it will go to Russia if US won't sell it military equipment
10 April 2019 - The Hill

Turkish leaders said they will look to Russia for fighter jets and air defense systems if the United States does not sell Ankara the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the Patriot anti-missile system. Turkish President Erdoğan, who spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow this week, told reporters on his return trip from Russia that his government is under constant pressure to give up the S-400 deal and hinted that its delivery could be accelerated.
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Macron: EU “will not be hostage to Brexit crisis”
2 April 2019 – BBC

In a meeting with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, French President Emmanuel Macron said the EU will not abandon Ireland as Britain prepares to leave the union. Varadkar added that any request by Britain for an extension on its departure from the EU would come with conditions, including the requirement that Britain participate in European elections on May 23rd.
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Erdogan's AK Party “loses” major Turkey cities in local elections
2 April 2019 - Al Jazeera

The ruling Justice and Development (AK Party) lost mayoral elections in the country's three largest cities - Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir - in an election setback for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to unofficial results published by state-run Anadolu Agency on Monday. The official results will be released after the country's election board looks into objections by political parties that have three days to file their complaints.
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U.S. halts F-35 equipment to Turkey, protests its plans to buy from Russia
1 April 2019 - Reuters

The United States has halted delivery of equipment related to the F-35 fighter aircraft to Turkey, marking the first concrete U.S. step to block the delivery of the jet in light of Ankara’s planned purchase of the S-400 Russian missile defense system. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has refused to back down on the purchase of the S-400 system, which the U.S. said would compromise the security of F-35 aircraft.
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Tusk urges European Parliament to consider long Brexit delay
27 March 2019 - Reuters

Head of the European Council Donald Tusk urged the European Parliament on Wednesday to be open to a long Brexit extension and not to ignore the “increasing majority” of British people who want to remain in the European Union. EU leaders granted Britain a short extension to the March 29th Brexit day last week, saying if Britain’s parliament does not back the divorce deal agreed to with Prime Minister Theresa May this week, then the British government would have to indicate what it wished to do before April 12th.
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Stoltenberg: Georgia Will Join NATO, And Russia Can Do Nothing About It
25 March 2019 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

During a visit to Georgia on March 25th to oversee joint NATO-Georgia military exercises, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg again said that the South Caucasus country will eventually join the Western military alliance, despite the Kremlin's fierce opposition. At a 2008 summit in Bucharest, NATO agreed that Georgia will eventually become a member, but no firm date has been set. The NATO chief also reiterated the allies’ support for Georgia's territorial integrity and sovereignty.
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NATO confirms plans for U.S. military storage in Poland
23 March 2019 - France 24

On Saturday, NATO confirmed it is planning for a storage facility for U.S. military equipment in Poland as the alliance steps up its defenses in the face of increased Russian assertiveness. The Wall Street Journal reported that the $260 million facility will be located in Powidz, some 200 km (120 miles) west of Warsaw, and will house armored vehicles, ammunition and weapons for a brigade. This act of pre-positioning equipment in strategic locations is aimed at making it easier to deploy resources quickly in a crisis.
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Ukraine introduces new sanctions against Russia
20 March 2019 - The Washington Post

On Wednesday, President Poroshenko of Ukraine ordered new sanctions against Russian companies and individuals involved in construction and other activities in Crimea. Top Russian lawmakers are among the people potentially affected by the decree, which targets those involved in building a bridge from Russia to Crimea and a November incident on the Black Sea in which Russia seized Ukrainian navy vessels and their crews. Individuals involved in staging local elections in areas of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russia separatists were also targeted.
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EU allocates €525 million for defense projects including Eurodrone
19 March 2019 - The Defense Post

The EU will allocate €525 million to fund defense industrial and research projects in 2019 and 2020, including €100 million for the development of the Eurodrone. The EU is stepping up defense cooperation efforts to improve efficiency and effectiveness in military spending, and building toward the proposed €13 billion European Defense Fund which is slated for introduction in 2021.
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Trump backs NATO, OECD membership for Brazil
19 March 2019 - Voice of America

At a joint news conference between U.S. President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Trump suggested that Brazil join NATO, and pledged American support for Brazil to join the 36-member OECD, which includes most of the highly-developed economies. The two leaders also discussed their mutual support for Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has been recognized as Venezuela's legitimate leader by most Western countries, including the United States and Brazil. Additionally, the United States and Brazil signed an agreement to support American space launches from Brazil.
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Norway says it proved Russian GPS interference during NATO exercises
19 March 2019 – Reuters

Norway has electronic proof that Russian forces disrupted global positioning system (GPS) signals during recent NATO war games, and demanded an explanation from its eastern neighbor. Both Finland and Norway said in November that Russia may have intentionally disrupted GPS signals before and during Western military exercises, which also affected the navigation of civilian air traffic in the Arctic.
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Canada to extend military training missions in Ukraine, Iraq
18 March 2019 – Reuters

Canada will keep a 200-strong military training mission in Ukraine for another three years to help domestic security forces handle continuing tensions with Russia. The Canadian troops, who first went to Ukraine in September 2015, had been due out at the end of March but will now stay until March 2022. The troops are part of a larger mission that involves the United States, Britain, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden.
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EU slaps sanctions on Russians involved in seizing Ukrainian naval vessels, crew
15 March 2019 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

The European Union has added eight Russian officials to its sanctions list for their involvement in the seizure of three Ukrainian naval vessels and their 24 crew members near the Kerch Strait in November 2018. The EU imposed sanctions after Russia seized control of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in March 2014 and shortly thereafter begin supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine with arms and other means in a conflict that has left some 13,000 people dead since April 2014. The EU sanctions list now includes 170 individuals and 44 entities.
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NATO edges toward Trump's spending demands, Germany lags
14 March 2019 - Reuters

NATO's 2018 annual report shows that more European allies in NATO increased defense spending in 2018, with sharp rises in the Baltics, Poland and the Netherlands. But only six governments met a target sought by the United States - while Germany lagged and Canadian outlays fell. European allies have tried to deflect demands from U.S. President Donald Trump, who last year asked countries double NATO’s defense spending goal of two percent of economic output.
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U.S. bulks up Ukraine’s navy to thwart Russia
11 March 2019 - The Wall Street Journal

The U.S., which has helped strengthen Ukraine’s army in its five-year conflict with Russia, has focused its efforts now on bulking up Ukraine’s navy in order to counter Russian efforts to choke its neighbor’s economy and destabilize its pro-Western government by blocking access to ports. The U.S. is currently transferring two Coast Guard cutters to Kiev and plans to send coastal radars to Ukraine and three Black Sea neighbors. The U.S. is also helping to construct a maritime operations center for Ukraine near Odessa and is sending naval ships on port visits. Additionally, NATO is preparing a package of measures to strengthen its posture in the Black Sea.
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Pence asked Merkel to provoke Russia by sending warship to Crimea
7 March 2019 - Bloomberg

At a February 16th meeting at the Munich Security Conference, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence urged Merkel to send German warships through a narrow channel between the Crimean peninsula and mainland Russia to show Putin that Western powers will not surrender their access to those waters, according to the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. Merkel refused, citing reservations from Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. France also refused.
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Erdogan says no intention of backing out of S-400 missile deal with Russia
7 March 2019 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Despite a warning from the U.S. State Department, Turkish President Erdogan said he is determined to go through with a deal for the Russian S-400 missiles. The United States had agreed to sell 100 of its latest, fifth-generation F-35 fighters to Turkey, but has so far delivered only two of the aircraft. Congress last year ordered a delay in future deliveries. Ankara said it has already paid the bulk of the price for the S-400s and that they are expected to arrive in November.
(Read More)

U.S. officials issue sanctions warnings to Europe over Russian gas
6 March 2019 – Voice of America

U.S. officials say they will take punitive action against European companies building the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany. The U.S. argues the pipeline will increase Western Europe’s reliance on Russian gas, giving Russia another tool to blackmail governments in the region. Central European states are particularly alarmed by the project, but Germany remains supportive of it.
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Macron issues plea for Europe ahead of EU elections
4 March 2019 - Deutsche Welle

French President Emmanuel Macron published an editorial on Tuesday in leading newspapers in every EU country, outlining his vision for fundamental reform of the European Union. His call for a “European Renaissance” comes amid unease about a continued upswing in support for far-right, nationalist parties in the EU elections in May. Some of his recommendations include the creation of a new agency to protect European democracies and their electoral processes from cyberattacks and fake news, the creation of a joint border police force, a ban on companies that threaten European strategic interests, and a new European defense and security treaty to define the obligations of EU member states in coordination with NATO.
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“Sometimes you have to walk”: Trump scraps North Korea summit deal
27 February 2019 - Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump said he walked away from a nuclear deal at his summit with Kim Jong Un in Vietnam on Thursday because of unacceptable demands from the North Korean leader to lift all U.S.-led sanctions. Trump said the two days of talks in Hanoi had made good progress in building relations and on the key issue of denuclearization, but it was important not to rush into a bad deal.
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Politicians launch impeachment proceedings against Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko
27 February 2019 - Euronews

Politicians in Ukraine say impeachment proceedings have been launched against President Petro Poroshenko following a media expose linking him to a corruption scandal that involves Russia. Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is a frontrunner for next month's presidential election, made the announcement on Tuesday in Ukraine's parliament, saying the president had committed "high treason."
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Ukraine president signs amendment on NATO, EU membership
20 February 2019 - The Washington Post

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine signed a constitutional amendment on Tuesday committing to join NATO and the European Union, acknowledging that the nation still has a long way to go to meet the membership criteria, while adding that he sees securing Ukraine’s membership in the EU and NATO as his “strategic mission.” Poroshenko, who is running for a second five-year term in the March 31st election, told parliament that he aims to make a formal bid to join the EU by 2023 and negotiate a detailed action plan for joining NATO.
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Germany's Angela Merkel makes arms export pact with France
19 February 2019 - Deutsche Welle

According to an internal strategy paper obtained by Der Spiegel magazine, Germany is working to loosen its arms export control rules to make it easier to continue joint weapons projects with France. Der Spiegel described the paper as a "secret" adjunct to the Aachen friendship treaty, signed in January, which pledged cooperation on a host of future projects. The apparently innocuous pledge contained a potential political collision, since France is one of the main suppliers of arms to Saudi Arabia, while Germany has officially stopped all exports to Riyadh in reaction to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
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Sources say EU set to extend Belarus arms embargo
15 February 2019 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

EU officials have agreed to extend the bloc's arms embargo against Belarus for another year, according to several sources. The embargo, which has been extended annually since its introduction in 2011, is expected to be approved by the bloc's ambassadors next week and officially extended just before the February 28th deadline.
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Take-off: France & Germany begin project to build new fighter jets
8 February 2019 - Euronews
France and Germany have announced a €65 million contract to design a next-generation stealth fighter jet. The new design will combine manned jet fighters with a swarm of cloud-connected drones. After two years of preparatory work by the companies involved, the program can now being in earnest and is poised to expand to other European countries, with Spain due to join the project in the summer.
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France recalls ambassador to Italy, revealing strains at Europe’s core
7 February 2019 – New York Times

On Thursday, the French government recalled its ambassador to Italy for the first time since 1940. The row emerged when Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio held a meeting with a leader of France’s Yellow Vest protesters in France. Prior to this, policy disagreements between the two countries centered on migration.
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France joins U.S. in questioning gas pipeline backed by Merkel
7 February 2019 – Bloomberg

In a rejection of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, France agreed to back an EU proposal to derail the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany. Many European states and the U.S. oppose the pipeline on the grounds that it would increase Europe’s reliance on Russian gas. Germany seeks to veto the EU proposal.
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Ukraine’s parliament passes constitutional amendment to reflect EU/NATO aspirations
7 February 2019 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Ukraine’s parliament has approved a constitutional amendment that reflects the country's strategic goal of becoming a member of NATO and the European Union, passing by a 334-17 vote. Poroshenko said Russia was able to launch an attack against Ukraine because certain Ukrainian politicians had been promoting neutrality. But joining the EU or NATO requires support from all existing members, and many are wary of taking in Ukraine or believe it will not be ready to join soon.
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NATO Chief: Germany must continue to raise defense budget
6 February 2019 - Reuters

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that Germany must continue to increase its defense spending after a government document on Monday showed tax revenues are likely to rise less than expected in coming years. The German government has assured NATO that it will stick to its aim of boosting defense spending to 1.5 percent of its gross domestic product by 2024, despite the reduced revenue.
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Germany vows to keep troops in Lithuania, invest more in barracks
4 February 2019 - Reuters

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen announced that Germany will invest a total of 110 million euros until 2021 in improving military bases in Lithuania, underlining Berlin’s continued commitment to the defense of its NATO allies in the Baltic region. Germany leads a NATO force of 1,200 troops from ten countries sent to Lithuania two years ago as part of NATO’s effort to beef up defenses along Eastern Europe’s borders with Russia after its 2014 annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine.
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Ukraine ex-pm accuses president of corruption
4 February 2019 - Voice of America

Former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is running for president in next month's election, accused President Poroshenko of using his position to enrich himself, alleging that his associates have engaged in a sprawling effort to bribe voters to ensure his re-election in the March 31st presidential vote. Poroshenko’s office has rejected these claims as lies in a presidential race that is heating up.
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INF nuclear treaty: Russia follows U.S. in suspending pact
2 February 2019 - BBC News

Russia has suspended its involvement in the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) following a similar decision by the U.S., with President Vladimir Putin saying that Russia would start developing new missiles. Putin added, however, that Moscow would not get dragged into an expensive arms race, and would not deploy short- and medium-range missiles unless U.S. weapons are deployed first.
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Macedonia to sign NATO pact this week
2 February 2019 - Politico

North Macedonia will on begin the process to join NATO, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced on Saturday. The move comes after the Balkan state agreed to change its name to North Macedonia to settle a decades-long dispute with Greece. The accession protocol must be signed off by all 29 NATO member parliaments, which could take up to one year, but as soon as North Macedonia signs the accession protocol, it will have a seat at the table.
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U.S. suspends compliance on weapons treaty with Russia, may withdraw in six months
1 February 2019 - Reuters

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States will suspend compliance with the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia on Saturday and formally withdraw in six months if Moscow does not end its alleged violation of the pact. The United States alleges a new Russian cruise missile violates the pact.
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European powers launch mechanism for trade with Iran
31 January 2019 - Reuters

France, Germany and Britain have set up a European mechanism for non-dollar trade with Iran to avert U.S. sanctions, although diplomats acknowledged it is unlikely to yield the big commercial transactions Tehran says it needs to keep a nuclear deal afloat. Iran has threatened to pull out of the deal unless European governments make it possible for it to receive economic benefits. European officials have promised to help companies do business with Iran as long as it abides by the deal.
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INF treaty talks between Russia and the U.S. fail at summit
31 January 2019 - NBC News

The United States and Russia announced on Thursday that they had failed to reconcile their differences over a Cold War-era nuclear pact, something some experts warn could spark a new arms race in Europe. Both sides met at a summit in Beijing, but Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on Thursday said the talks had failed; his U.S. counterpart, Andrea Thompson, under-secretary of state for arms control and international security affairs, said Washington will likely announce the suspension of the INF Treaty in the coming days.
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Hungary to shun Italian-led euroskeptic alliance, stick with allies
30 January 2019 – Reuters

Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban’s ruling Fidesz party will not join a euroskeptic alliance led by Italy in the run up to the European Parliament elections. Instead, a Hungarian official stated, Fidesz will support Hungarian candidates for the European People’s Party. Earlier this month, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Salvini proposed that Italy and Poland form a euroskeptic alliance ahead of the elections.
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Ukraine to apply for EU membership in 2024 – Poroshenko
29 January 2019 - UNIAN
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Ukraine will apply for EU membership in 2024 and will receive an Action Plan regarding NATO membership. President Poroshenko also said that the Ukrainian army would be able to act fully in accordance with NATO standards as early as 2020.
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NATO, U.S. officials encouraged by Afghan peace talks after “draft framework” agreed
29 January 2019 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and the acting head of the Pentagon, Patrick Shanahan, said they were encouraged by the progress of peace talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan, after the U.S. special envoy announced that American and Taliban negotiators had agreed to a draft framework for a peace deal. Stoltenberg and Shanahan made the comments as Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, said that his five days of talks with Taliban negotiators in Qatar last week were "much better than previous meetings."
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Russia secretly offered North Korea a nuclear power plant, officials say
29 January 2019 - The Washington Post

U.S. intelligence officials revealed that last fall, Russian officials made a secret proposal to North Korea aimed at resolving deadlocked negotiations with the Trump Administration over the North’s nuclear weapons program. In exchange for North Korea dismantling its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, Moscow offered the country a nuclear power plant. As part of the deal, the Russian government would operate the plant and transfer all byproducts and waste back to Russia, reducing the risk that North Korea would use the power plant to build nuclear weapons while providing the impoverished country a new energy source.
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Russia’s trust in Vladimir Putin falls to at least 13-year low
21 January 2019 - Financial Times

According to the state-owned Russian Public Opinion Research Center, Russia’s trust in President Vladimir Putin has fallen to a 13-year low. The fall in confidence extends a steady decline in Putin’s ratings since the beginning of his fourth term last May, as economic woes overshadow a more aggressive foreign policy that propped up his popularity in recent years.
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Bid to keep U.S. sanctions on Russia's Rusal fails in Senate
16 January 2019 - Reuters

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday rejected legislation to keep sanctions on companies linked to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, including aluminum firm Rusal. A similar measure will be brought up for a vote on Thursday in the House of Representatives. To keep the administration from lifting the sanctions, the measure must pass both the House and Senate and muster the two-thirds majority needed in both chambers to override an expected Trump veto.
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Brexit bedlam: May's EU withdrawal deal crushed by 230 votes in parliament
15 January 2019 - Reuters

British lawmakers defeated Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit divorce deal by a crushing margin on Tuesday, triggering political chaos that could lead to a disorderly exit from the EU or even to a reversal of the 2016 decision to leave. After parliament voted 432-202 against her deal, opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn promptly called a vote of no confidence in May’s government, to be held on Wednesday. More than 100 of May’s own Conservative lawmakers joined forces to vote down the deal, leading to the worst parliamentary defeat for a government in recent British history.
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U.S. threatens EU companies with sanctions over Nord Stream 2, Turkish Stream
14 January 2019 – Euractiv

U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grennell recently warned that European companies “operating in the Russian energy export pipeline sector” could face U.S. sanctions. Nord Stream 2 and Turkstream, he argued, would remove a constraint on Russian aggression in Ukraine. The EU remains divided over the pipelines.
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EU, NATO should agree on joint position towards Huawei: Poland
13 January 2019 - Reuters

Poland’s internal affairs minister, Joachim Brudzinski, said Saturday that the European Union and NATO should work on a joint position on whether to exclude Chinese telecommunications equipment maker Huawei from their markets. Poland arrested a Chinese employee of Huawei and a former Polish security official on spying allegations.
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Putin, Merkel agree to coordinate Syria peace efforts amid U.S. troop pullout
10 January 2019 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have agreed to coordinate efforts to work toward peace in Syria, the Kremlin says. Merkel and Putin also discussed the formation of a constitutional committee for Syria. The latest conversation comes amid confusion over U.S. plans for its troops in Syria, where they have been assisting a Syrian Arab and Kurdish alliance fight against Islamic State terrorists.
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France, Germany approve extension of reconciliation treaty to shore up EU
9 January 2019 - Reuters

France and Germany have agreed to deepen a 1963 treaty of postwar reconciliation in a bid to show that the European Union’s main axis is able to counter growing euroskeptic nationalism in some other members. The extension to the Elysee Treaty will be signed by Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron in the German border city of Aachen, on January 22nd. The treaty extension, negotiated in the past year though short on details, stipulates that it will be a priority of German-French diplomacy to gain Germany a permanent United Nations Security Council seat.
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Ukrainian Orthodox Christians formally break from Russia
6 January 2018 - The New York Times

The spiritual leader of Eastern Orthodox Christians worldwide recognized the independence of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine in a four hour ceremony in Istanbul on Sunday, formalizing a split with the Russian church to which it had been tied for more than four centuries. The independence effort outraged political and religious leaders in Russia, but for Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko the occasion was an affirmation of independence from Russian influence in his embattled country and a boost ahead of elections in March.
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