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

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.
(Read More)

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.
(Read More)

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.”
(Read More)

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.
(Read More)  

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.
(Read More)

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.
(Read More) 

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.
(Read More)

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.
(Read More)

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.
(Read More)

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.
(Read More)

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. 
(Read More)

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.
(Read More)

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.”  
(Read More)

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.  
(Read More) 

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.  
(Read More)

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."
(Read More)

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.
(Read More)

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.
(Read More)

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.
(Read More) 

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.
(Read More)

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.
(Read More)

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.
(Read More

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.
(Read More)  

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.
(Read More

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.  
(Read More) 

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.
(Read More)

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. 
(Read More) 

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.
(Read More

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.”
(Read More) 

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.
(Read More) 

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.
(Read More

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.
(Read More)

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. 
(Read More

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.
(Read More) 

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.
(Read More)

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.
(Read More) 

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.
(Read More)

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.
(Read More

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.
(Read More)

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.
(Read More)

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.
(Read More)

Papering over cracks, EU leaders claim summit victory on migration
29 June 2018 - Reuters

EU leaders have reached a long sought deal on migration, which seems to have appeased all sides. The decision comes as pressure grows on leaders to find a solution to what many European citizens view as a major issue. In particular, German Chancellor Angela Merkel needed to reach a deal to appease the more conservative elements of her ruling coalition, and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte needed to do so in order to fulfil one his key election promises. The leaders agreed to enact more border controls around EU's external borders, set up centers across Europe to process refugee applications, and invest in projects in Africa that would seek to reduce factors in the region compelling people to flee to Europe.
(Read More)

EU to deepen military readiness, raise spending, leaders say
29 June 2018 – Reuters

The leaders of the European Union released a summit declaration stating EU countries “must strengthen its defenses, spend more and be able to act independently of the United States setting the stage for a new military cooperation pact.”  President Trump’s past remarks on NATO and the EU has led European leaders to look inward and increase defense measures within the bloc.
(Read More)

NATO is central to Germany’s defense despite tensions, Merkel
28 June 2018 – Reuters

On Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a speech in the German lower house of parliament and stated that “NATO remains of central importance to Germany’s defense despite tensions within the alliance.”  In May, President Trump stated Germany is not “doing enough to contribute fully to NATO.”  Merkel also stated that their needs to be a dialogue between the U.S. and Europe to stop the trade war.
(Read More) 

EU leaders agree to extend economic sanctions on Russia
28 June 2018 – Reuters

EU leaders agreed this morning to extend economic sanctions on Russia. The sanctions were originally put in place following Russia’s annexation of Crimea. EU leaders cited Russia’s continued support for rebels fighting against the Ukrainian government as justification to extend the penalties. The decision will continue to negatively impact Russia’s economic and energy relationship with the EU.
(Read More) 

Lithuanian leads seven EU countries in forming a cybersecurity response team
28 June 2018 – Computer Business Review

Lithuania will take the lead in initiating the European Cyber Rapid Response Team. With the participation of seven fellow EU members, the response team aims to bolster cyber defense and responses throughout Europe. Officials cited major cyberattacks in multiple nations over the past few years as a wakeup call for all of Europe to begin sharing pertinent information. The response team aims to be more effective than the European Cybersecurity Agency that was established in 2017.
(Read More)

Mattis says U.S. troop commitment to South Korea is “ironclad”
28 June 2018 – Reuters

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis assured South Korea of an “ironclad” commitment to its security, including keeping U.S. troops levels unaltered, even as diplomats seek an agreement with North Korea on denuclearization. During Mattis’ visit to Seoul, he defended President Trump’s decision to halt “war games” with South Korea, but added that U.S. and South Korean forces would remain “united, vigilant and ready.”
(Read More

Trump and Putin will meet July 16 in Helsinki, Washington and Moscow announce
28 June 2018 – The Washington Post

Moscow and Washington announced Thursday that Trump and Putin will meet on July 16 in Helsinki, setting the state for a high-profile attempt to soothe tensions between the United States and Russia. Both Trump and Putin have pursued the meeting in the hope of moving beyond friction over Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and its aggression in Ukraine and elsewhere. The summit date falls after previously planned stops during a trip to Europe by Trump for a NATO summit meeting July 11 and 12 in Brussels, and a visit to Britain on July 13.
(Read More)

India central to U.S. national security: Pompeo
28 June 2018 – Business Standard

Citing “unavoidable reasons,” U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj agreed to reschedule a bilateral meeting between the two states. Despite the postponement, Pompeo reaffirmed India’s importance under the Trump Administration and both parties aim to set a new date as soon as possible. Various sources believe the postponement may be related to the U.S. recently pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal.  
(Read More)

NATO unveils new joint air power strategy
26 June 2018 – North Atlantic Treaty Organization

NATO released its joint airpower strategy on Tuesday. The strategy outlines the growing impact that “modern air defense systems, cyber and electronic warfare” will have on NATO air operations. Additionally, the strategy stresses the need to increase collaboration within NATO to improve overall effectiveness.
(Read More) 

4 questions with the European Defense Agency chief
26 June 2018 – Defense News

Jorge Domecq, the chief executive of the European Defense Agency, outlined the EUs defense plans during a recent visit to Washington. Domecq expressed the importance of EU-UK relations following Brexit and said that the two powers will continue to work closely together. Additionally, Domecq stated that despite concerns from American officials, cooperation with American subsidiaries are already defined within EU regulations.  
(Read More) 

Foreign defense companies want in on U.S. Army modernization efforts
26 June 2018 – Defense News

As the U.S. Army seeks to modernize six key priorities, foreign companies see an opportunity to enter the U.S. market. Companies throughout Europe attended the European defense conference Eurosatory to pitch their products to U.S. Army officials. As the Army demands companies produce prototypes and procure capabilities at an ever-increasing pace, foreign companies believe this could be their chance to conduct business in a historically U.S. dominated market.
(Read More)

Trump-Putin summit looms but expectations low
26 June 2018 – Financial Times

Efforts are underway to host a summit meeting between President Trump and President Putin. Officials on both sides are currently meeting to construct the agenda for the summit that is expected to take place in mid-July. While expectations for a fruitful meeting are low, the purpose for hosting the summit is believed to be aimed at creating a level of trust between the two world leaders. Should these efforts prove successful, officials are hoping that they can build off of it to arrange more substantial meetings in the future.
(Read More)

China, EU to form group to modernize global trade rules
25 June 2018 – Associated Press

China and the EU have agreed to form a group to update global trade rules and preserve support for international trade amid U.S tariffs. President Trump recently threatened to impose a 10-25 percent tariff up to $450 billion of Chinese goods, and a 25 percent tariff on aluminum and steel from the EU, Canada, and Mexico.
(Read More)

Portugal’s defense minister targets NATO defense spending goals
25 June 2018 – Defense News

The minister of defense for Portugal, José Alberto de Azeredo Lopes, believes NATO needs to address the threats in Western Europe in the upcoming biannual NATO summit. Acknowledging the threat that Russia poses in the east, the defense minister articulated his fears of Russian activities throughout the West and in Africa. Additionally, he expressed his support for the two percent defense contribution, but warned that defense and security issues cannot be solved with money alone.  
(Read More) 

Security and defense cooperation: EU will enhance its capacity to act as a security provider, its strategic autonomy, and its ability to cooperate with partners
25 June 2018 – European Council

Foreign affairs and defense ministers of the European Union met yesterday to enhance cooperation and formulate progressive steps for EU security and defense within the EU Global Strategy. Officials adopted new rules and projects for the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), approved a new program designed to enhance national defense spending plans, and welcomed action plans aimed at increasing military mobility.
(Read More) 

Romania minister says country facing cyberattacks, Russians
25 June 2018 – The Seattle Times

Mihai Fifor, the Romanian defense minister, is working toward transforming Romania into NATO’s main “security provider and early warning outpost” against the Russian threat. Following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Romania has expressed deep concern of Russia’s military build-up within the region. Minister Fifor aims to rebuke Russian advancements by increasing defense spending to two percent of GDP and bolstering army personnel.     
(Read More) 

Secretary General welcomes stronger NATO-EU cooperation
25 June 2018 – NATO
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated he will sign a new Joint Declaration with the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission at the NATO summit next month to strengthen cooperation between EU and NATO. The Secretary General also discussed military mobility issues and potential enlargement.
(Read More)

The Latest: Germany urges Turkey to end state of emergency
25 June 2018 – Associated Press

Germany’s foreign minister, Heiko Maas, is urging Turkey’s President Erdogan to lift the country’s state of emergency following the recent presidential elections. Despite the delayed release of the formal results, it is largely believed that Erdogan has won re-election with 52.6 percent of the vote. He will inherit expanded powers that include those of previous prime ministers. EU officials are hoping that the president’s re-election will result in reforms that will improve relations between Turkey and the EU. 
(Read More)

NATO chief sees July decision on launching Macedonia talks
25 June 2018 – The Washington Post

NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that he expects the leaders of the military alliance to officially launch membership talks with Macedonia next month. This news comes after Greece and Macedonia agreed to end a 27-year long dispute over the latter’s name, which will now change to North Macedonia. The summit will take place on July 11-12 in Brussels.
(Read More)

Turkey election: Erdogan win ushers in new presidential era
25 June 2018 – BBC News

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is assuming extensive new executive powers following his outright election victory in Sunday’s poll. As a result, parliament has been weakened and the post of prime minister abolished, as measures approved in a controversial referendum last year take effect. The constitutional changes were endorsed in a tight referendum last year by 51% of voters and include giving the president new powers to directly appoint top officials (including ministers and vice-presidents), to intervene in the country’s legal system, and to impose a state of emergency. Under the new constitution, Erdogan could stand for a third term when his second finishes in 2023, meaning he could potentially hold power until 2028.
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Outside EU, France launches crisis force with Britain, others
25 June 2018 – Reuters

On Monday, France launched a military force with Britain and other countries outside the framework of the European Union, as Paris tries to keep London close to European defense after Brexit. The new “European Intervention Initiative” aims to bring together a coalition of willing militaries ready to react to crises near Europe’s borders without NATO or the United States. French President Emmanuel Macron proposed the idea in a speech last September, and now Germany, Belgium, Britain, Denmark, Estonia, the Netherlands, Spain, and Portugal have signed onto it.
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If they needed to fend off war with Russia, U.S. military leaders worry they might not get there in time
24 June 2018 – The Washington Post
“Logistical stumbles” are being cited by U.S. commanders as potential contributors to a NATO loss should a sudden military engagement arise with Russia. Troop mobility issues, inadequate infrastructure, and bureaucratic roadblocks are serious problems for military transit to Europe’s eastern borders. NATO leaders are expected to address these critical issues during next month’s summit by increasing funding, constructing new military commands, and by increasing the number of rapid-reaction forces from 5,000 to about 30,000 troops.
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Europe migrants: Italy warns Schengen is “at risk”
24 June 2018 – BBC
Ahead of an EU summit on migration next week, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte called for the creation of migrant “protection centers” in EU countries to relieve the burden on Italy. Italy’s new populist coalition government has taken a hard line on immigration and says it wants to deport half a million undocumented migrants. In the past four years, the country has received over 600,000 migrants.
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Russian airstrikes in southwest Syria signal escalation of regime offensive
24 June 2018 – Deutsche Welle

Russia carried out its first airstrikes in southwest Syria in support of an Assad regime offensive, providing air support for the regime to retake one of the rebel’s last strongholds in the south of Syria. The Assad regime launched a ground and aerial offensive on opposition-held parts of Daraa, Quneitra and Sweida governorates earlier this week, endangering a one-year-old, tri-lateral "de-escalation" agreement guaranteed by Russia, the United States and Jordan. An escalation of fighting in the southwest threatens to destabilize Jordan, displace tens of thousands of civilians and draw in regional and international powers, including raising the specter of a direct confrontation between Israel and Iran.
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U.S. and South Korea agree to suspend upcoming military exercises indefinitely
23 June 2018 – NPR
The U.S. and South Korea are indefinitely suspending “select” military exercises to implement the U.S.-North Korea agreement reached at the recent Singapore Summit. The Pentagon stated that the continuation of the suspension is contingent on North Korea’s efforts to continue to negotiate in good faith.
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EU leaders set to prolong Russia sanctions again
22 June 2018 – Reuters

Next week, European Union leaders will extend economic sanctions on Russia until the end of January 2019. The curbs on Russia’s energy, defense and financial sectors have been prolonged every six months since first implemented in mid-2014 after Moscow annexed the peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine and backed rebels fighting government troops in east Ukraine. The EU is also at odds with Russia over its role in the war in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East, as well as the Kremlin’s track record on human rights.
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EU tariffs on U.S. goods come into force
22 June 2018 - BBC News
The European Union has enacted tariffs on American imports, in retaliation to the ongoing protectionist trade policies of the American government. The tariffs apply to around £2.4 of goods imported from the USA, which range from orange juice to bourbon. In response, U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to impose a 20% tariff on all European cars imported to the U.S.; the ongoing tit-for-measures mean the two close allies and major trading partners are now in effect undergoing a trade war. 
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France says Trump’s wavering is forcing Europe to deepen defense ties
21 June 2018 – The Local.fr
European allies are worried about President’s Trump commitment to the NATO alliance.  As a result, they are looking inward and bolstering efforts to forge a common defense policy, according to France’s defense minister. The defense minister stated the issue of burden sharing would be a topic President Trump will advocate strongly for at the NATO summit next month.
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Ukraine's Rada adopts bill on establishing High Anti-Corruption Court
21 June 2018 – UNIAN

Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, adopted presidential draft law No. 8497 on the establishment of the High Anti-Corruption Court (HACC). According to the document, the HACC location, territorial jurisdiction, and status are determined by the law “On the High Anti-Corruption Court,” and stipulates that the HACC is a permanently acting high specialized court that is part of Ukraine’s judicial system. Earlier, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde praised the adoption of the anti-corruption court law, stressing that the law on its formal establishment needs to be passed.
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EU states to form rapid response teams against cyberattacks: Lithuania
21 June 2018 – AFP

Lithuanian Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis announced that nine European Union states will create rapid response teams to counter cyberattacks within the framework of a new EU defense pact known as PESCO. Defense ministers from Croatia, Estonia, the Netherlands, and Romania will join Lithuania by signing the agreement on Monday, while Finland, France, Poland, and Spain will join later this year. The cyber force will be among the first joint projects launched under PESCO, and it is expected that the EU will allocate funds for software and other equipment. Teams will be formed by pooling experts on a rotational basis who will be ready to help national authorities tackle cyberattacks.
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Eurozone to link payout of 4.8 billion euros to continued Greek reforms
21 June 2018 – Reuters

Eurozone finance ministers plan to link payouts to Greece of 1.2 billion euros a year until 2022 to the continued implementation of reforms agreed under its bailout agreements. A document prepared for the finance ministers, describes the “Enhanced Surveillance” that Greece will be subject to after it exits its third bailout and shows that Greece will have to commit to keeping a primary surplus – the budget balance before debt serving costs - at 3.5% of GDP until 2022. It would also have to commit to a list of actions in six policy areas: fiscal and fiscal-structural, social welfare, financial stability, labor and product markets, privatization, and the modernization of the public administration. If the review is positive, Greece would get 1.2 billion euros in June of every year.
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Franco-German compromise sets tone for upcoming EU summit
21 June 2018 - New Europe

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have reached a compromise deal on a wide range of matters important to the EU, ahead of a whole-bloc summit next week. The deal covers matters such as a joint EU Budget, bilateral coordination of the nations' corporate tax rates, an overhaul of the European Stability Mechanism, and a restatement of the nations' joint approach to immigration. However, France also wants Germany to go further in facilitating European economic integration, pushing it to agree to the idea of creating a single European corporate tax rate.
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Trump and Putin plan to meet in mid-July
21 June 2018 – CNN

According to two diplomatic officials, presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are planning to meet around the time of Trump’s trip to the UK and the NATO summit in mid-July. Although no official announcements have been made, Vienna is expected to be the meeting location and it has been announced that White House National Security Adviser John Bolton plans to visit Moscow shortly. Speaking in London, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the potential meeting, calling dialog between the two leaders "important" and adding that a meeting "is not in any way contradicting NATO policies."
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U.S. identifies North Korea missile test site it says Kim committed to destroy
20 June 2018 – Reuters

A U.S. official revealed that the missile engine test site which North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had committed to destroy is a major facility in the western part of the country. The site, known as the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground, has been used to “test liquid-propellant engines for its long-range ballistic missiles,” which Pyongyang claims can reach the United States. There is no immediate word on the exact timetable for destroying the site, and North Korea has not publicly confirmed that Kim made such a commitment.
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EU to launch counter-tariffs against U.S. on Friday
20 June 2018 – BBC News

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom confirmed that the European Union will launch a raft of retaliatory tariffs against U.S. exports on Friday, targeting such items as blue jeans, motorbikes, and bourbon whiskey. This move comes after U.S. President Donald Trump imposed steep duties on steel and aluminum earlier this month. She reiterated that the bloc “did not want to be in this position,” but that “the unilateral and unjustified decision of the U.S. to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on the EU means that we are left with no other choice.”
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Brexit Bulletin: Michel Barnier dashes UK’s European Arrest Warrant hope
19 June 2018 – The Telegraph

In a speech this week, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier stated the security relationship between the UK and EU has changed since the UK has decided to leave the EU. Being a part of the European Arrest Warrant will not take place since the UK is now considered to be a third country “outside Schengen and outside the EU’s legal order.”
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Merkel and Macron agree on Eurozone budget
19 June 2018 – EU Observer
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron have agreed to pursue the creation of a Eurozone budget to boost investment and increase convergence in the common currency area. Merkel said, however, that a reduction in banking risk is needed before the banking union can be deepened. The budget could be in place by 2021.

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Trump escalates China trade war, threatens tariffs on $200 billion in products
19 June 2018 – Washington Post

On Monday, President Trump threatened to levy tariffs of 10 percent on nearly all Chinese products exported to the United States. Trump is demanding that China narrow its trade deficit with the U.S. and change its industrial policies. If implemented, the tariffs would increase the cost of a wide range of consumer items in the United States. They will not take effect until the end of 60-day public comment period.
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EU executive “confident” of migration deal but many beg to differ
19 June 2018 – Reuters

The European Commission stated that it is "confident" a new deal on the handling of migrants and refugees will be reached at a summit held from June 28 to June 29. The issue has come to a head again with the election of a populist government in Italy, and with an ultimatum being issued to German Chancellor Angela Merkel by a junior coalition partner in her government. Countries on the Mediterranean, such as Italy and Greece, are requesting more assistance with the influx of refugees landing on their shores. However, countries from Central and Eastern Europe, notably Poland and Hungary, have refused to take in more refugees.
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U.S. expected to withdraw from UN human rights council
19 June 2018 – Politico
The United States is expected to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council, according to rights advocates with contacts in the Trump administration. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley are scheduled to publicly discuss the decision. The U.S. has long accused the HRC of being biased against Israel and giving a platform to rights-abusing governments, but this announcement would come one day after the UNʼs human rights chief criticized President Donald Trumpʼs immigration policy decisions.
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Pentagon greenlights Cyber Command to go on offensive: report
18 June 2018 - The Hill
The Pentagon has quietly allowed U.S. Cyber Command to go on the offensive to defend the U.S. from cyberattacks. In the past, Cyber Command has worked defensively and focused on repelling attacks on the U.S. In the spring, the Pentagon raised the commandʼs status and gave it the ability to raid foreign networks almost daily, the New York Times reports. The Pentagon hopes such preemptive measures will allow Cyber Command to disable cyberweapons before they can be used.
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Brussels heads for showdown with Poland over rule of law
17 June 2018 – Financial Times

European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans will hold talks with the Polish government ahead of an EU hearing on Poland’s observance of the rule of law. This could lead the EU to attempt to impose sanctions on Poland, including the suspension of voting rights. Such measures would require EU unanimity, and Hungary has already stated that it is ready to veto them. The outcome of this tension is likely to influence how willing other EU members are to move away from fundamental governing principles.
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UK seeks “closest possible” security pact with EU after Brexit - minister
16 June 2018 - Reuters

The British government affirmed its desire to pursue the "closest possible security agreement" with the EU after leaving the bloc in 2019. Britain has long been one of the most capable military powers in Europe, but consistently blocked EU military reform and integration. The European Commission largely welcomed the move, though the EU position is not to grant Britain special treatment in their future bilateral relationship.
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France’s Macron seeks common ground with Italy on immigration
15 June 2018 - Reuters

French President Emmanuel Macron declared his intention to work with the new populist Italian government on EU immigration reform. The move comes as France seeks to paper over cracks in the relationship caused by Italy's refusal to take in a vessel of refugees earlier this week; there is a fear that the new Italian government could work with conservative central European states to form an "anti-immigration axis." Immigration has polled as the lead concern among EU voters.(Read More) 

Transatlantic rift fuels cry to make European weapons great again
14 June 2018 – Defense News

European defense industry leaders want to focus on “strengthening their domestic arms market due to the rift between the U.S. and EU over trade.” Europe has been an importer of American military weaponry for many decades and now seeks to focus on closing the export imbalance with the U.S., and to develop and manufacture weapons in Europe.
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Germany’s Merkel calls for unified European approach on migration
14 June 2018 - Reuters

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for European leaders to decide on a shared approach to immigration into the bloc – a matter that has long been serious point of contention within the Union. She emphasized that any joint approach would need to address the relevant interests of each country, highlighting as an example Italy's ongoing complaint that it is receiving insufficient support from the rest of the bloc as it takes in many refugees that cross the Mediterranean. She did however go on to warn against any member states taking unilateral actions. Her comment comes as Germany faces growing rifts within its political parties over its attitude to migration.
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EU legislature says European Army should be “complementary” to NATO
13 June 2018 – Defense News

The European Parliament released a report addressing “U.S. commitment to NATO and European security, Brexit, Russia, and defense spending.”  The report states the EU’s need to “ensure a close security and defense relationship with the United Kingdom after Brexit.”  It further argued that a potential European Army should be “complementary” and not duplicate NATO’s duties.
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Poland lays out plan for referendum to address EU relationship

12 June 2018 – Financial Times
Polish President Andrezj Duda has laid out plans for a constitutional referendum, which will include two questions on the country’s membership in the EU. One asks whether or not Poland’s membership should be guaranteed in the constitution. The other asks whether the primacy of the Polish constitution over international and European law should be guaranteed.
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What does America’s ambassador to NATO see for the alliance’s future?
12 June 2018 – Defense News
The current U.S. Ambassador to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchison, recently discussed topics that will addressed at the forthcoming biannual NATO summit in July.  These include plans to finalize two new command structures, Russia, counterterrorism and the goal of “alliance members spending of 2 percent GDP on defense.”
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Macedonia and Greece: Deal after 27-year row over a name
12 June 2018 – BBC

Greece and Macedonia agreed on Tuesday to a historic deal that will change the official name of the latter to North Macedonia after 27 years of disagreement. The name change will also be recognized internationally. Settling the dispute with Greece, which has repeatedly vetoed NATO membership for Macedonia, will open up a new opportunity for North Macedonia to seek membership in the Alliance.
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Historic Trump-Kim summit ends with promise, light on substance
11 June 2018 – Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pledged to move toward complete denuclearization, while the U.S. promised security guarantees and agreed to stop military exercises with South Korea. Trump and Kim gave few other specifics in a joint statement signed at the end of their summit in Singapore, and analysts cast doubt on how effective the agreement would prove to be at getting North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons. Trump later told a news conference he expected the denuclearization process to start “very, very quickly” and would be verified by “having a lot of people in North Korea.”
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At arm’s length:  Inside the push to keep EU-UK defense ties alive
11 June 2018 – Defense News
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator on Brexit, stated the “UK will no longer be involved in decision-making, nor in planning our defense and security instruments.”  The UK could get involved in the European Defense Industrial Development Program aimed at investing in military research and equipment but will be excluded from other EU-financed projects.
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U.S. sanctions Russians over military, intelligence hacking
11 June 2018 – Reuters

The U.S. Department of Treasury has imposed sanctions on three more Russian individuals and five companies, stating that these entities have conducted and collaborated with Russian agencies that performed cyberattacks against the U.S. and its allies in recent years. The sanctions block all property of the affected entities that are subject to U.S. jurisdiction and prevents American citizens from conducting business transactions with them.
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EU will act against U.S. tariffs on steel, aluminum: Merkel
10 June 2018 - Reuters

The EU will implement counter-measures against the U.S. tariffs against Europe and Canada. U.S. President Trump's Twitter remarks, which were aimed at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, came after the U.S. pulled out of the G7 joint communique and derailed the trade consensus that was agreed upon previously. Canada will also begin prepping counter-measures and review its trade ties with the U.S.
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NATO eastern flank members pledge closer ties, citing Russia
8 June 2018 - Associated Press

On Friday, nine eastern European NATO members pledged to work more closely with each other in to counter Russian conventional forces and hybrid warfare. The countries form the Bucharest Nine, which were all countries formerly under Soviet control. Stating that geographic distances no longer offer protection from attack, the group argued it must work together to defend and deter any future Russian aggression. 
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UK's May: welcomes G7 agreeing to maintain Russia sanctions
9 June 2018 - Reuters

At the G7 Summit, the group continued to recognize the importance of maintaining sanctions on Russia for its actions in Crimea and Ukraine. The G7 agreed even after U.S. President Donald Trump suggested allowing Russia back into the group.
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Trump calls for Russia to be reinstated to G-7, threatens allies on trade
8 June 2018 – The Washington Post

On Friday, President Trump insisted that Russia should be readmitted to the G-7 leading economies, breaking with other world leaders who insist that Moscow remain ostracized following its 2014 annexation of Crimea. Trump added that although he has “been Russia’s worst nightmare,” Russia should be at the table because “we have a world to run.” These comments, made just hours before arriving in Canada for the annual G-7 summit, have the potential to further upend talks with other leaders who are already fuming about the U.S. leader’s protectionist trade policies.
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Italy to ask NATO to help deal with migrant flows: Salvini
8 June 2018 – Reuters

Italy’s new government is seeking the help of NATO to protect its shores from incoming migrants. It has seen the majority of migrants and asylum seekers over the last several years, as the civil war in Syria and humanitarian crises in Africa have pushed refugees toward Europe. As a result, the government's anti-immigration agenda has resonated with Italians and it has advocated stricter border measures. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is expected to visit Rome next week.
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Three Allies establish Special Forces Command
7 June 2018 – NATO

Belgium, Denmark, and the Netherlands have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to create a tri-national Special Forces Command on the sidelines of the NATO Defense Ministers meeting this week. The Special Forces Command will participate in NATO's Response Force as well as various multinational operations.
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Sweden approves Nordstream 2 pipeline application
7 June 2018 – Reuters

Sweden approved Nord Stream 2's application for the construction of two gas pipelines through its maritime economic zone in the Baltic Sea. The pipelines will supply Russian gas to Europe, circumnavigating the old Ukraine pipelines. The U.S., the Baltic states, and Ukraine have been protesting the agreement, arguing that it will undermine the energy security in Europe by forcing countries to rely more on Russian gas.
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Divided by Trump, NATO finds unity in deterring Russia
7 June 2018 – Reuters

NATO defense ministers met on Thursday to confirm steps to deter and defend against increased Russian military movement in Europe. The Alliance pledged to protect the North Atlantic against an expansion of Russian naval activity while increasing the readiness of NATO troops. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg mentioned recent divisions between the U.S. and Europe, but insisted that every member state is fully committed collective defense.
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Putin says Russia not planning to withdraw from Syria yet
7 June 2018 – Reuters

On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia was not planning to withdraw its forces from Syria for now, and will keep them there for as long as needed. He also said that Russia is not building long-term facilities in Syria, and could withdraw troops fairly quickly without material losses. In December, Putin flew to Syria and declared Russia’s mission accomplished, ordering a “significant part” of its contingent to start withdrawing. But no significant Russian withdrawal has occurred.
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NATO trumpets resolve over Russia, plays down divisions
7 June 2018 – Associated Press
At a NATO meeting of defense ministers, a U.S.-led plan was unveiled to increase military readiness in the event of a European crisis. An increase included a “deployment of 30 troops battalions, 30 squadrons of aircraft and 30 warships” as well as increasing NATO staffing level to 1,200. Topics also discussed included tariffs and burden sharing – specifically, whether or not NATO allies are meeting their target of spending two percent of GDP on defense.
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Ukraine passes corruption law in bid for more IMF aid
7 June 2018

On Thursday, Ukraine's parliament passed a law to create a special court to specifically try corruption cases. This law comes amid rising corruption concerns in Ukraine from outside observers as Finance Minister Oleksandr Kanylyuk was fired just hours after the law passed in the wake of a falling out with the Ukrainian Prime Minister. The special court is a crucial step for Kiev to secure aid from Western Europe, but the IMF must first assess whether the law actually guarantees an independent court before aid is given.
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EU “shooting itself in foot” by excluding UK from Galileo – Davis Davis
6 June 2018 – BBC.com
The UK will no longer be a part of the Galileo satellite navigation system due to the EU stating there are “legal issues sharing sensitive information with a non-member country.” The British government responded by demanding the return of one billion pounds from the EU and stating that the creation of European Defense Fund is at risk as well.
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In Europe, Mattis is in a familiar spot – calming U.S. allies

6 June 2018 – Reuters
U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis is departing for a tour of European allies. An anonymous U.S. official said "Mattis is going to be looking to reassure allies, try to strengthen relationships and continue to press the need for them to live up to their 2 percent commitment." Though the trip is fairly routine, it comes amid the U.S. imposition of tariffs.
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Secretary General previews meeting of NATO Defense Ministers
6 June 2018 – NATO
On Thursday and Friday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is expected to discuss plans for NATO military readiness, a training mission in Iraq, and progress on defense spending. The defense ministers are expected to agree to the 30-30-30-30 plan, which allows increases the military readiness of NATO. The Alliance will also discuss plans to launch a training mission in Iraq at the NATO Summit next month, and building defense capacities for Jordan. Stoltenberg stated that all NATO allies have stopped defense budget cuts and have started to increase, but emphasized that more can be done.
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EU plans to hit U.S. imports with duties from July
6 June 2018 – Reuters

The European Union announced on Wednesday that it expects to hit U.S. imports with additional duties from July, ratcheting up a transatlantic trade conflict after Washington imposed its own tariffs on incoming EU steel and aluminum. EU members have given broad support to a European Commission plan to set 25 percent duties on up to 2.8 billion euros ($3.3 billion) of U.S. exports in response to what is sees as illegal U.S. action. The plan for duties on U.S. imports also includes duties of between 10 and 50 percent on a further 3.6 billion euros of U.S. imports in March 2021 or potentially sooner if the World Trade Organization has ruled the U.S. measures illegal.
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UK military secondments to EU to cease after Brexit
6 June 2018 – Financial Times

The EU told UK military staff that they will not have their secondments to Brussels renewed after Brexit, in the latest setback to the increasingly fraught negotiations over defense and security collaboration after Britain leaves the bloc. While both sides say they are seeking an ambitious agreement on security and defense cooperation, talks have proved much harder than expected, with only limited progress made to date. According to the UK Ministry of Defense, secondments are now being considered on a case-by-case basis to ensure no conflict of interest.
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U.S. pushes NATO to ready more forces to deter Russian threat
5 June 2018 – Reuters

Officials say that the United States is pressing its European allies to acquire more NATO battalions, ships, and planes ready for combat, in a new move to shore up NATO’s deterrence against any Russian attack. On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis will seek broad agreement for the plan in Brussels when alliance defense ministers meet, laying the ground for endorsement by NATO leaders at a summit in July. Known as 30-30-30-30, the plan would require NATO to have 30 land battalions, 30 air fighter squadrons and 30 ships ready to deploy within 30 days of being put on alert. One U.S. official said the initiative is primarily aimed at countering Russia and fits with the Pentagon’s 2018 National Defense Strategy.
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Putin says Russia not aiming to divide EU
5 June 2018 – BBC

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Austria's ORF television that he supports a politically and economically unified EU. While the EU targeted sanctions over Moscow's involvement in Ukraine and Crimea are hurting Russia economically, Putin insists that it is harming EU countries as well. He will visit Vienna on Tuesday, his first visit to Western Europe in almost a year.
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