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

Next EU executive won’t let Poland, Hungary off hook on democracy: diplomats
18 June 2019 – Reuters
The next European Commission, under the presidency of Ursula von der Leyen, intends to maintain pressure on Poland and Hungary for their rule of law deficiencies. One option under discussion is to make disbursements from the EU budget contingent on upholding the rule of law – a move that would financially harm Poland and Hungary as they are major recipients.
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White House kicks Turkey out of fighter jet project
17 July 2019 – UPI
The U.S. removed Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet program after it received a Russian air defense system last week. “The F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities,” the White House press secretary stated. Further action in the form of sanctions may be forthcoming.
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Iran to boost uranium enrichment level “to any amount that we want”
3 July 2019 - France 24

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tehran will increase its enrichment of uranium to "any amount that we want" beginning on Sunday. Authorities on Monday acknowledged Iran broke through a limit placed on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium. An increasing stockpile and higher enrichment closes the estimated one-year window Iran would need to produce enough material for a nuclear bomb, something Iran denies it wants but the nuclear deal sought to prevent.
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China may again buy more advanced Russian jets, ignoring U.S. sanctions
2 July 2019 - Newsweek

According to Russian and Chinese state news, China is considering buying weapons from Russia including additional batches of the Su-35 fighter jets, which is an upgraded version of the Sukhoi Su-27 that Beijing bought two dozen of for about $2.5 billion. China first signed a deal to buy 24 Su-35s in 2015 and the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation reported last April that the delivery was complete. In September, the State Department announced it would sanction the Equipment Development Department of China's Central Military Commission over its acquisition of Russia's "Su-35 combat aircraft and S-400 surface-to-air missile system-related equipment."
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Ukraine, NATO allies conduct Black Sea drills
2 July 2019 - Associated Press

On Monday, a military drill called Sea Breeze 2019 began in the Black Sea using 3,000 troops from 19 countries including Ukraine, the U.S., a dozen NATO allies, and a few other nations. The exercise will involve 32 warships and 24 aircraft, and is being monitored by Russia. Moscow has voiced concern about previous NATO drills near its borders, saying they threaten its security, while NATO allies have expressed worries about Russian military maneuvers.
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EU signs landmark trade deal with Vietnam
30 June 2019 – Guardian

The EU has signed a trade deal with Vietnam that will eliminate nearly all tariffs. The agreement still needs the approval of the European Parliament, which could be jeopardized by Vietnam’s human rights record. The EU is Vietnam’s second largest export market after the United States.
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Trump suspends new tariffs, U.S. and China to restart trade talks
30 June 2019 – CBS

The U.S. and China have agreed to restart trade talks, and President Donald Trump stated additional tariffs on China will not be levied yet. So far, eleven rounds of talks have failed to resolve what Trump has referred to as unfair terms of trade. As a result, the U.S. imposed 25 percent import tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese imports and China responded by placing tariffs on $110 billion of imports from the United States.
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EU, South America sign historic trade deal after decades of talks
29 June 2019 – France 24

After twenty years of talks, the EU and Mercosur signed a trade deal on Friday. The deal would eliminate 99 percent of all agricultural and industrial tariffs, but it has raised concerns from European farmers concerned about unfair competition and NGOs concerned about climate change. The deal still requires the approval of all EU member states.
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Experts fear “snowball effect” as Iran abandons nuclear deal
26 June 2019 - Associated Press

As Iran prepares to surpass limits set by its 2015 nuclear deal, each step it takes narrows the time the country’s leaders would need to have enough highly enriched uranium for an atomic bomb. According to the UN, Iran has so far respected the deal's terms but by Thursday Iran says it will have over 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of low-enriched uranium in its possession, which would break its commitment to the agreement. European countries that are still a part of the nuclear accord face a July 7th deadline imposed by Tehran to offer a better deal and long-promised relief from U.S. sanctions, or Iran will begin enriching its uranium closer to weapons-grade levels.
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Ukraine president's party leads poll ahead of July election
26 June 2019 - Reuters

The Ukrainian Servant of the People party, set up by the new President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, continues to lead in an opinion poll published on Wednesday ahead of a snap parliamentary election due on July 21th. The survey conducted by research group Reiting from June 20 to June 24 showed Zelenskiy’s party had the support of 37.3% of people who said they would vote. Servant of the People, campaigning on a pro-European, anti-corruption ticket, has no lawmakers in parliament, which was dismissed last month after Zelenskiy came to power.
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NATO calls on Russia to destroy new missile, warns of response
25 June 2019 - Reuters

NATO urged Russia on Tuesday to destroy a new missile before an August deadline and save the INF treaty that keeps land-based nuclear warheads out of Europe. NATO defense ministers will discuss their next steps if Moscow keeps the missile system that the United States says would allow short-notice nuclear attacks on Europe. Diplomats said defense ministers will consider responding with more flights over Europe by U.S. warplanes capable of carrying nuclear warheads, more military training, and the repositioning U.S. sea-based missiles.
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Russian lawmakers back Putin on withdrawal from nuclear arms treaty
18 June 2019 - The Hill

Russian lawmakers on Tuesday voted to back President Vladimir Putin's exit from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. Putin signed an executive order exiting the nuclear arms deal in March, and Tuesday's overwhelming vote in the State Duma confirmed that decree. Russia's exit from the 1987 arms treaty follows the U.S. notice on February 1st that it would stop complying with the treaty in six months.
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U.S. to send $250 Million in lethal aid to Ukraine
18 June 2019 - U.S. News and World Report

The U.S. Defense Department confirmed Tuesday that the Trump Administration will deploy $250 million worth of military aid and equipment, some of it lethal, to Ukraine's armed forces as it seeks to deter Russian aggression amid a recent spike in hostile acts. The new equipment will include sniper rifles for Ukraine's special operations forces, as well as grenade launchers, counter-artillery radars, and equipment to detect and protect against electronic warfare. The U.S. will also increase its support to the Ukrainian navy and maritime troops, following last year's crisis at the Kerch Strait.
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EU ministers strike compromise on Macron-backed Eurozone budget
14 June 2019 – France 24

EU ministers have agreed to the broad outline of a Eurozone budget as pushed by France, despite opposition from the Netherlands. The budget, which is officially called the Budgetary Instrument for Competitiveness and Convergence (BICC), will be used to support reforms in Eurozone members. Two sources stated that the fund will amount to 17 billion euros and be tied to the overall EU budget.
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EU steps up pressure over Italy debt, flags stability concerns
13 June 2019 – Reuters

The EU is hardening its stance on Italy’s growing debt, noting its failure to meet budget deficit targets that were already made more lenient. Although Italy’s prime minister and finance minister said they want to comply with EU fiscal rules, the leaders of parties that make up the ruling coalition seek large tax cuts and have called the rules obsolete. The EU could ultimately impose fines on Italy.
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Germany’s far-right AFD becomes strongest party in regional poll
13 June 2019 – Bloomberg
The far-right AFD is now the most popular party in the German region of Saxony, a recent poll published by Bild shows. It now holds 25% support, up from the 9.7% it had in the last election there in 2014. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU fell from 39.4% to 24%. The AFD has drawn most of its support from less economically prosperous East German states.
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Putin backs Moldova’s new government amid political turmoil
13 June 2019 – Washington Post

President Putin gave his support on Thursday to Moldova’s new coalition government, which has been locked in a power struggle with a rival administration in the former Soviet republic. The Russian leader also lashed out at the previous Moldovan government, which has refused to cede power to the new authorities. The new coalition government in Moldova, only announced at the weekend, includes the pro-Russia party of Igor Dodon, the country’s president since late 2016, and the pro-Europe ACUM group.
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Two oil tankers hit by explosion in Gulf of Oman; U.S. blames Iran
13 June 2019 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Two commercial oil tankers were hit by explosions and caught fire in the Gulf of Oman, prompting the evacuation and rescue of dozens of crew members. In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran, citing the type of explosives used and what he said was the sophistication of the attacks, asserting it was part of a campaign to escalate tensions in the region. Earlier at the United Nations Security Council, the U.S. ambassador condemned the attacks and added that Washington was providing assistance.
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Russia staging “significant” military buildup in Crimea: report
12 June 2019 – The Hill

U.S. intelligence officials say that Russian forces are undergoing a "significant" military buildup in the contested Crimean Peninsula, including around Soviet-era military installations. One U.S. official told Defense One on Wednesday that satellite imagery of Russian positions in the region depicted “a deliberate and systematic buildup of their forces on the peninsula,” adding that Russia's buildup meant that the country's ability to strike targets in Eastern Europe now extend as far as the Black Sea.
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Trump says he’s sending 1,000 more U.S. troops to ally Poland
12 June 2019 - AP News

During a White House news conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda, President Donald Trump announced that he will send 1,000 more U.S. service members to Poland as part of his broadening security and economic alliance. Trump said the Polish government will pay for the infrastructure to support the additional troops, and praised Poland for increased defense spending to meeting its NATO commitments.
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U.S. gives Turkey ultimatum on Russian missiles
9 June 2019 - BBC News

In a letter sent to Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan set a deadline of the end of July for Turkey to choose between buying the U.S. F-35 advanced fighter jet or the Russian S-400 missile defense system. The Pentagon believes that if Turkey were to acquire both this state-of-the-art F-35 fighter and Russia's formidable S-400 missile defense system, then Russian technicians would be able to assess the plane's vulnerabilities. The Turkish government has held for months that it will not back down from the S-400 purchase.
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End of May, Britain's PM steps down as Conservative leader
7 June 2019 – Reuters

British Prime Minister Theresa May steps down as leader of the governing Conservatives on Friday, officially triggering a contest to replace her that could see her party embrace a tougher stance on Brexit. She will continue to work as prime minister until her party elects a new leader – a crowded race that will be defined by Brexit and competing approaches on how to deliver Britain’s biggest policy shift in more than 40 years.
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Russian and U.S. warships almost collide in East China Sea
7 June 2019 – BBC

A Russian warship and a U.S. warship have come close to colliding in the western Pacific Ocean, with each side blaming the other for the incident. U.S. Seventh Fleet Commander Clayton Doss called the Russians "unsafe and unprofessional," saying their destroyer "made an unsafe maneuver against USS Chancellorsville" in the Philippine Sea. The Russian Pacific Fleet meanwhile said the incident took place in the southeast of the East China Sea, and added they had sent a message of protest to the U.S. ship's commanders.
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Ukraine’s president promises NATO referendum as part of path to West
5 June 2019 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has promised to hold a referendum on NATO membership, a move strongly opposed by Moscow, as the country embarks on a path of Euro-Atlantic integration. Speaking in Brussels, Zelenskiy said Ukraine and its people had the right as a sovereign nation to choose the alliances they desire, regardless of outside opinions. A day earlier, Zelenskiy said that Ukraine's "strategic course to achieve full-fledged membership in the EU and NATO" remained unchanged from the goal of his predecessor, Petro Poroshenko.
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Acting Pentagon chief says no need to restore suspended U.S.-South Korea military drills
2 June 2019 - Reuters

Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said on Sunday that it is not necessary to resume major joint military exercises with South Korea that were suspended in the last year to support diplomatic efforts with North Korea. Shanahan said he had been told by senior military leaders that troops on the Korean peninsula had the required military readiness despite the suspension of the exercises. He added that he would have more to say after discussions in South Korea on Monday.
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UN court to hear arguments in Crimea occupation case
2 June 2019 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is set to hold public hearings this week in Kyiv’s case over Russia’s seizure of Ukraine's Crimea region and its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine. Ukraine filed the case at the ICJ in January 2017, accusing Russia of violating the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
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Inside Europe: The European Parliament election results
31 May 2019 – Deutsche Welle

The European Parliament elections resulted in losses for dominant conservative and center-left parties, but Greens, liberals, and euroskeptics gained seats. In this audio clip, Politico Europe’s Politcal Editor, Ryan Heath, summarizes the key results.

China tariff retaliation kicks in as trade war ratchets up
31 May 2019 – Bloomberg

In response to U.S. tariffs on $200 billion of imports from China, China raised tariffs on tens of billions of goods imported from the United States. The escalation comes after the U.S. also blocked Chinese company Huawei from purchasing U.S. products or doing business. China has threatened to restrict the export of rare earth elements and is assembling a list of “unreliable” entities to target foreign firms that have damaged its companies.
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Trump says U.S. will impose 5% tariff on all Mexican imports from June 10
30 May 2019 – CNBC

The U.S. plans to impose a 5% tariff on Mexican imports from June 10th, and up to 25% will be added in the coming months if Mexico does not reduce the number of illegal aliens crossing into the United States. According to USTR, in 2018 the U.S. imported $346.5 billion from Mexico. Mexican President Andres Lopez said he does not seek confrontation and wants officials from both sides to meet on May 31st.
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Putin moves to leave weapons treaty as U.S. accuses Russia of nuclear violations
30 May 2019 – CNN

On Thursday, Putin submitted a bill to parliament to withdraw Russia from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the arms control framework curbing a U.S.-Russian arms race. This follows the Trump Administration's February announcement that it would pull out of the pact because Russia has violated it since 2014, which Moscow denies.
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EU commission calls for start of North Macedonia, Albania accession talks
29 May 2019 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

On May 20th, the European Commission recommended the launch of EU accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania as soon as possible, saying the two Balkan countries have "delivered on reforms.” The recommendation was part of an annual report by the EU's executive on the progress of six membership hopefuls – including Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, and Turkey – toward meeting EU requirements. EU foreign ministers are due to discuss the matter in Luxembourg on June 18th.
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Georgia ex-leader Saakashvili has Ukrainian citizenship restored
28 May 2019 - BBC News

Ukraine's new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has given citizenship back to former Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili almost two years after it was removed. His predecessor, Petro Poroshenko, appointed Saakashvili as governor of Ukraine's Odessa region in 2015, but after relations soured the former Georgian president was deported and had his citizenship taken away.
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Serbian troops on full alert after Kosovo police arrests
28 May 2019 - The Washington Post

Serbia put its troops on full alert Tuesday after heavily armed Kosovo police entered Serb-dominated northern Kosovo, firing tear gas and arresting about two dozen people. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said he has ordered soldiers near the border to be on “combat alert” to protect Serbs if tensions escalate. Serbian state TV reported movements of Serb troops stationed near the border. Any Serbian armed incursion into Kosovo would mean a direct clash with NATO-led peacekeepers there.
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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.
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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.
(Read More)

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