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

China loses market-economy trade case in a win for EU and U.S.
18 April 2019 – Bloomberg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The EU will allocate €525 million to fund defense industrial and research projects in 2019 and 2020, including €100 million for the development of the Eurodrone. The EU is stepping up defense cooperation efforts to improve efficiency and effectiveness in military spending, and building toward the proposed €13 billion European Defense Fund which is slated for introduction in 2021.
(Read More)

Trump backs NATO, OECD membership for Brazil
19 March 2019 - Voice of America

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

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

Canada will keep a 200-strong military training mission in Ukraine for another three years to help domestic security forces handle continuing tensions with Russia. The Canadian troops, who first went to Ukraine in September 2015, had been due out at the end of March but will now stay until March 2022. The troops are part of a larger mission that involves the United States, Britain, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden.
(Read More)

EU slaps sanctions on Russians involved in seizing Ukrainian naval vessels, crew
15 March 2019 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

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

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

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

Pence asked Merkel to provoke Russia by sending warship to Crimea
7 March 2019 - Bloomberg

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

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

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

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

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

“Sometimes you have to walk”: Trump scraps North Korea summit deal
27 February 2019 - Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump said he walked away from a nuclear deal at his summit with Kim Jong Un in Vietnam on Thursday because of unacceptable demands from the North Korean leader to lift all U.S.-led sanctions. Trump said the two days of talks in Hanoi had made good progress in building relations and on the key issue of denuclearization, but it was important not to rush into a bad deal.
(Read More)

Politicians launch impeachment proceedings against Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko
27 February 2019 - Euronews

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

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

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

EU officials have agreed to extend the bloc's arms embargo against Belarus for another year, according to several sources. The embargo, which has been extended annually since its introduction in 2011, is expected to be approved by the bloc's ambassadors next week and officially extended just before the February 28th deadline.
(Read More)

Take-off: France & Germany begin project to build new fighter jets
8 February 2019 - Euronews
France and Germany have announced a €65 million contract to design a next-generation stealth fighter jet. The new design will combine manned jet fighters with a swarm of cloud-connected drones. After two years of preparatory work by the companies involved, the program can now being in earnest and is poised to expand to other European countries, with Spain due to join the project in the summer.
(Read More

France recalls ambassador to Italy, revealing strains at Europe’s core
7 February 2019 – New York Times

On Thursday, the French government recalled its ambassador to Italy for the first time since 1940. The row emerged when Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio held a meeting with a leader of France’s Yellow Vest protesters in France. Prior to this, policy disagreements between the two countries centered on migration.
(Read More)

France joins U.S. in questioning gas pipeline backed by Merkel
7 February 2019 – Bloomberg

In a rejection of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, France agreed to back an EU proposal to derail the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany. Many European states and the U.S. oppose the pipeline on the grounds that it would increase Europe’s reliance on Russian gas. Germany seeks to veto the EU proposal.
(Read More)

Ukraine’s parliament passes constitutional amendment to reflect EU/NATO aspirations
7 February 2019 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

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

NATO Chief: Germany must continue to raise defense budget
6 February 2019 - Reuters

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

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

Ukraine ex-pm accuses president of corruption
4 February 2019 - Voice of America

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

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

Macedonia to sign NATO pact this week
2 February 2019 - Politico

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

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States will suspend compliance with the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia on Saturday and formally withdraw in six months if Moscow does not end its alleged violation of the pact. The United States alleges a new Russian cruise missile violates the pact.
(Read More)

European powers launch mechanism for trade with Iran
31 January 2019 - Reuters

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

INF treaty talks between Russia and the U.S. fail at summit
31 January 2019 - NBC News

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

Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban’s ruling Fidesz party will not join a euroskeptic alliance led by Italy in the run up to the European Parliament elections. Instead, a Hungarian official stated, Fidesz will support Hungarian candidates for the European People’s Party. Earlier this month, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Salvini proposed that Italy and Poland form a euroskeptic alliance ahead of the elections.
(Read More)

Ukraine to apply for EU membership in 2024 – Poroshenko
29 January 2019 - UNIAN
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Ukraine will apply for EU membership in 2024 and will receive an Action Plan regarding NATO membership. President Poroshenko also said that the Ukrainian army would be able to act fully in accordance with NATO standards as early as 2020.
(Read More)

NATO, U.S. officials encouraged by Afghan peace talks after “draft framework” agreed
29 January 2019 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and the acting head of the Pentagon, Patrick Shanahan, said they were encouraged by the progress of peace talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan, after the U.S. special envoy announced that American and Taliban negotiators had agreed to a draft framework for a peace deal. Stoltenberg and Shanahan made the comments as Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, said that his five days of talks with Taliban negotiators in Qatar last week were "much better than previous meetings."
(Read More

Russia secretly offered North Korea a nuclear power plant, officials say
29 January 2019 - The Washington Post

U.S. intelligence officials revealed that last fall, Russian officials made a secret proposal to North Korea aimed at resolving deadlocked negotiations with the Trump Administration over the North’s nuclear weapons program. In exchange for North Korea dismantling its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, Moscow offered the country a nuclear power plant. As part of the deal, the Russian government would operate the plant and transfer all byproducts and waste back to Russia, reducing the risk that North Korea would use the power plant to build nuclear weapons while providing the impoverished country a new energy source.
(Read More)

Russia’s trust in Vladimir Putin falls to at least 13-year low
21 January 2019 - Financial Times

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

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday rejected legislation to keep sanctions on companies linked to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, including aluminum firm Rusal. A similar measure will be brought up for a vote on Thursday in the House of Representatives. To keep the administration from lifting the sanctions, the measure must pass both the House and Senate and muster the two-thirds majority needed in both chambers to override an expected Trump veto.
(Read More 

Brexit bedlam: May's EU withdrawal deal crushed by 230 votes in parliament
15 January 2019 - Reuters

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

U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grennell recently warned that European companies “operating in the Russian energy export pipeline sector” could face U.S. sanctions. Nord Stream 2 and Turkstream, he argued, would remove a constraint on Russian aggression in Ukraine. The EU remains divided over the pipelines.
(Read More) 

EU, NATO should agree on joint position towards Huawei: Poland
13 January 2019 - Reuters

Poland’s internal affairs minister, Joachim Brudzinski, said Saturday that the European Union and NATO should work on a joint position on whether to exclude Chinese telecommunications equipment maker Huawei from their markets. Poland arrested a Chinese employee of Huawei and a former Polish security official on spying allegations.
(Read More)

Putin, Merkel agree to coordinate Syria peace efforts amid U.S. troop pullout
10 January 2019 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have agreed to coordinate efforts to work toward peace in Syria, the Kremlin says. Merkel and Putin also discussed the formation of a constitutional committee for Syria. The latest conversation comes amid confusion over U.S. plans for its troops in Syria, where they have been assisting a Syrian Arab and Kurdish alliance fight against Islamic State terrorists.
(Read More)

France, Germany approve extension of reconciliation treaty to shore up EU
9 January 2019 - Reuters

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

Ukrainian Orthodox Christians formally break from Russia
6 January 2018 - The New York Times

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

Russia’s Putin hails Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria
20 December 2018 – USA Today

Russian President Vladimir Putin praised U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria during a televised news conference. He stated the presence of U.S. troops in Syria has not been approved by the United Nations or the Syrian government. Putin also questioned whether the U.S. would actually leave Syria and other countries such as Afghanistan.
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State Department approves $3.5B Patriot missile sales to Turkey amid tensions
19 December 2018 - The Hill

The State Department has approved a possible deal to sell Turkey a Patriot air and missile defense system, potentially worth up to $3.5 billion. The sale, if approved and signed, could lead to Turkey scrapping intentions to buy the Russian-made S-400 long-range air-defense system. Turkey has said since last December it intended to buy the S-400, a sale that worried NATO members because the system is not interoperable with its defense systems, including the F-35.
(Read More

Ukraine to send warships back to Azov despite Russian capture
19 December 2018 – Reuters

Ukrainian officials have stated they will return warships back to the Azov Sea after an incident with Russia last month. Relations between Ukraine and Russia have been tense since the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea, but the incident last month when Russia seized three Ukrainian naval warships has increased tensions between the countries.
(Read More)

New Russian barracks on disputed islands draws protest from Japan
18 December 2018 - Reuters

Russia’s Ministry of Defense said on Monday it had built new barracks for troops on a disputed chain of islands near Japan and would build more facilities for armored vehicles, prompting a diplomatic protest from Tokyo. Japan’s defense ministry claims 3,500 Russian troops are already deployed on the two larger islands as part of a military buildup. The news came after the Kremlin said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe might visit Russia on January 21st as the two countries step up efforts to defuse a territorial dispute that has prevented them from signing a World War II peace treaty.
(Read More)

Ukraine wins new IMF support as tensions rise with Russia
18 December 2018 - The New York Times

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced that Ukraine has won a new lending commitment from the International Monetary Fund. Without the new support, it was unclear how the government would pay internal and external debt and finance a budget deficit, as the IMF had suspended an earlier bailout over worries about corruption. Before the new loan was announced, Ukraine had seemed headed toward default with $11 billion in debt coming due within two years. The new line of credit is worth $3.9 billion.
(Read More)

NATO members drive fastest increase in global defense spending for a decade
18 December 2018 – Associated Press

A new report by IHS Markit states that global defense spending increased by 4.9 percent this year.  Total NATO defense spending will surpass one trillion U.S. dollars next year. NATO alliance members have increased spending to deal with various threats, and U.S. defense spending in 2018 was $702.5 billion – a significant increase since 2008.
(Read More

Poland reverses supreme court purge, retreating from conflict with EU
18 December 2018 - New York Times

In a move many are hailing as a victory for the EU, Poland's government has rescinded a law that would have forced the retirement of many of Poland's Supreme Court judges. The move, which was ostensibly aimed at removing the last traces of Poland's communist past from its government institutions, was seen by many outside of the country as a move by the governing PiS party as a means to exert undue control over the judicial system.
(Read More)

U.S., Ukraine press Europe to increase Russia sanctions
17 December 2018 - The Wall Street Journal

On Monday, U.S. and Ukrainian officials called for tougher measures against Russia over its seizing of three Ukrainian naval vessels in the Black Sea. The U.S. special representative for Ukraine, Kurt Volker, advocated for targeted sanctions against certain Russian officials at a minimum while Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman backed combining those measures with broader economic sanctions. The EU has yet to take action on the incident, but European diplomats say their focus is on the release of Ukraine's sailors and easing tensions.
(Read More)

U.S. backs NATO membership for Bosnia, dismisses Serb opposition
17 December 2018 – Reuters

The United States is backing Bosnia’s ambition to join NATO, despite strong objections from Bosnian Serbs. NATO has asked Bosnia to begin its work on the Membership Action Plan (MAP), which has come under strong opposition from the Serbs for almost ten years. Russia has also stated its opposition to Bosnia’s membership into NATO. 
(Read More)

EU's Tusk says no more Brexit negotiations
14 December 2018 - Reuters

European Council President Donald Tusk said on Friday he has no mandate to reopen Brexit negotiations with Britain, while the head of the bloc’s executive, Jean-Claude Juncker, said he “admired” Prime Minister Theresa May. “I have no mandate to organize any further negotiations. We have to exclude any further opening of the withdrawal agreement,” Tusk said. “But of course, we are staying here in Brussels and I’m always at the PM’s disposal.”
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No Trump-Putin meeting while Russia holds Ukraine ships: Bolton
13 December 2018 - Reuters

On Thursday, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said that there will be no meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin while Russia still holds Ukrainian ships and sailors seized near Crimea.
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NATO pledges support for Ukraine over Sea of Azov incident
13 December 2018 – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
NATO stated this week that it supports Ukraine after an incident between Russia and Ukraine over the Sea of Azov almost two weeks ago. During a meeting between NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Stoltenberg stated the alliance supports Ukraine and has been assisting the country’s defense in areas such as naval capabilities and defense against cyberattacks.
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EU parliament approves Japan trade deal, dubbed world’s largest
13 December 2018 – AFP

The European Parliament has approved a trade deal with Japan, which covers a third of the world’s GDP. Lawmakers backed the deal, which had been under discussion since 2013, in a vote of 474 to 152. The deal covers 99 percent of bilateral trade and is expected to be of particular benefit to European agriculture and Japanese carmakers.
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U.S. urges Hungary not to block Ukraine’s NATO engagement
13 December 2018 – Reuters

The U.S. wants relations between Hungary and Ukraine to improve and does not want Hungary to disrupt Ukraine’s cooperation with NATO. Hungary is at odds with Ukraine over how its Hungarian minority has been treated, and as a result is threatening to block any increased cooperation between Ukraine and NATO as well as the European Union. 
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Theresa May to face a no-confidence vote, throwing her job and Brexit into doubt
12 December 2018 - The Washington Post

Lawmakers in Britain’s Conservative Party on Wednesday triggered a no-confidence vote against Prime Minister Theresa May, threatening her leadership as she struggles to secure a deal for Britain to leave the European Union. May responded that she will not resign, pledging to carry on her vision for Brexit. If May is toppled as party leader, replacing the prime minister could take weeks.
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Russian nuclear-capable bomber aircraft fly to Venezuela, angering U.S.
11 December 2018 - Reuters

Two Russian strategic bomber aircraft capable of carrying nuclear weapons have landed in ally Venezuela - a show of support for Venezuela’s socialist government. The TU-160 supersonic bombers landed at Maiquetia airport near capital Caracas on Monday with their deployment coming just days after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, whose left-wing administration is the most significant U.S. foe in Latin America, held talks with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
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NATO and the EU sign agreement to support good governance
11 December 2018 – NATO
EU and NATO leaders have signed an agreement wherein the EU will contribute funds to the NATO Building Integrity Trust Fund in an effort to promote good governance. The fund aims to support defense ministries and security departments, and will allow countries to increase cooperation on education for civilian and non-civilians.
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Pashinyan:  Armenia does not seek NATO membership
10 December 2018 – News.am
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated this week that his country will not seek membership into the NATO alliance. Currently, Armenia is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and has cooperated with NATO on various missions in Afghanistan, for example, and plans to continue doing so.   
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May pulls vote on her divorce deal, thrusting Brexit into the unknown
10 December 2018 – Reuters

British Prime Minister Theresa May abruptly postponed a parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal, throwing Britain’s plan to leave the European Union into chaos after admitting that she faced a rout. May’s move on the eve of the scheduled parliamentary vote opens up an array of possible outcomes, ranging from a disorderly Brexit without a deal to another referendum on EU membership.
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Germany drops long-held EU migrant quota demand
9 December 2018 – Financial Times
According to the Financial Times, an unpublished Franco-German discussion paper indicates that Germany is prepared to drop its longstanding support for the EU’s migrant quota. The paper proposes to retain a “solidarity mechanism” for member states to share responsibility for large numbers of migrants, with an added escape clause for member states. At the same time, Germany seeks to ensure that its contributions to the EU budget are matched by “burden sharing” measures on migration.
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May’s Brexit deal under fire as legal advice stiffens opposition
5 December 2018 - Reuters

As the British government suffers a series of serious defeats in parliament on its proposed EU exit deal, analysts predict that the chances of the UK remaining a part of the EU have increased. Following a recent ECJ ruling, which stated that Britain has the right to legally revoke Article 50 unilaterally, thereby cancelling the withdrawal process, J.P. Morgan economist Malcom Bar predicted that the chances of no Brexit happening rose from 20% to 40%. However, the current British government has rejected the possibility of holding a second referendum.
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NATO remains committed to Afghan war, despite setbacks
5 December 2018 – Voice of America
After a two-day NATO meeting in Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stated the military alliance is committed to peace in Afghanistan. For over a decade, NATO has been at the forefront of providing security in the country but recent attacks on international and Afghan soldiers have made it challenging and peace talks have yet to begin.
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Russia will build missiles if U.S. leaves treaty, Putin warns
5 December 2018 – BBC

Putin warned that Russia will develop missiles banned under the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty if the U.S. exits the pact. Signed in 1987 by the U.S. and USSR, it banned both countries' use of all short and medium-range missiles. On Tuesday, NATO accused Russia of breaking the treaty, after which U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Russia has 60 days to return to compliance with the treaty, after which the U.S. will suspend its own compliance.
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EU finance ministers strike Eurozone reform deal
4 December 2018 – Financial Times

Eurozone finance ministers reached a deal to improve the common currency area’s collective ability to cope with economic shocks. The deal will give the European Stability Mechanism more flexibility in combating and preemptively addressing banking crises, albeit with tough conditions. Despite France’s insistence on the creation of a Eurozone budget, however, no agreement was reached on this question.
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U.S. sees Macedonia in NATO in mid-2020 after name change deal
4 December 2018 – Reuters

According to U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew Palmer, Macedonia will join NATO in mid-2020. One major part of Macedonia’s agreement to become an alliance member was to change its name to the North Republic of Macedonia, in order to end a dispute with Greece. Both the Macedonian and Greek parliaments must ratify the agreement. 
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NATO accuses Russia of breaking nuclear missile treaty
4 December 2018 – BBC News

NATO issued a statement after a two-day meeting in Brussels accusing Russia of violating the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Force (INF) Treaty and supporting the U.S. view that Russia is in breach of the treaty. The United States has threatened to withdraw from the treaty. NATO officials have stated that Russia developed a missile system which can strike an allied country in a short amount of time. 
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Bosnia set for new move toward NATO membership this week
3 December 2018 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

This week, NATO will vote to activate Bosnia’s Membership Action Plan in a step to move the country closer to membership in the military alliance. In 2010, NATO asked Bosnia to activate its membership plan but declined due to issues revolving around defense properties. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg believes NATO ministers will vote for Bosnia’s membership plan.
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Angela Merkel’s apparent successor questions NATO spending targets
2 December 2018 – The Telegraph

Friedrich Merz, who is slated to become the head of German Chancellor’s Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party, stated that he wants to debate German defense spending targets within NATO. Merz believes the target of two percent of GDP set for European nations has been a difficult one and wants a reassessment of it. He also wants the two percent target to include civilian projects, not just military ones.
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