What's New

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)

Streit Council Advisory Board Member Brendan Simms on the Post-Brexit European Order
The challenges facing the United Kingdom over the next two years are numerous and increasing by the day. All of these issues are hugely important and they are closely interconnected. At root, however, they are a question of order, not so much of the “rules-based” global international community, significant though that is, but of the European order around which the world system was originally constructed and that remains – for the UK, at least – the primary pivot. (Read More)

Transatlantic Relations and Global Governance News

Chinese minister warns against seduction of values by Western nations
17 November – CNBC/Reuters

One of China’s senior Communist Party ministers and chief of propaganda, Huang Kunming, publicly warned that countries around the world should unite in not allowing Western countries to export their sociopolitical values and culture. Kunming accused the United States and Europe of using their “dominance” to “peddle so-called ‘universal values.’” He added that such “seduction” and “beautification of the West” would force countries like China to abandon their own identities and cultural traditions. Kunming’s comments come with the implied approval of President Xi, who has repeatedly promoted him over the past few years (even as Xi purged the Community Party from top to bottom) and who now occupies one of the most influential positions in Chinese politics.
(Read More)

Japan’s Abe vows to bolster defense amid North Korea threat
17 November 2017 – Associated Press

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pledged to bolster his country’s defenses, calling the threat from North Korea the gravest security concern Japan has faced since World War II. Abe described North Korea’s nuclear tests and missile launches over Japan as a national crisis, and promised concrete action to respond to “escalating provocations” by North Korea.
(Read More

Turkey pulls troops out of NATO exercise over “enemy” list
17 November 2017 – Reuters

Turkey is pulling 40 soldiers out of a NATO exercise in Norway, President Erdogan said on Friday, after his name appeared on a list of enemies on a poster at the drill - an incident that drew an apology from both the alliance and Oslo. NATO Secterary General Jens Stoltenberg apologized “for the offense that has been caused,” adding “the incidents were the result of an individuals' actions and do not reflect the views of NATO. Turkey is a valued NATO Ally, which makes important contributions to Allied security.”
(Read More

Tusk urges EU states to extend gas rules to Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline
16 November 2017 – Financial Times

In a letter to European heads of state, President of the European Council Donald Tusk called for the extension of gas rules to cover the Nord Stream 2 project – a gas pipeline that would run from Russia to Germany. If the extension is not approved before the project is completed in 2019, Germany could grant the new pipeline an exemption with no oversight from the EU. Many EU members oppose the pipeline, arguing that it would make the EU and Ukraine overly dependent on Russia.
(Read More)

China says “Dual Suspension” proposal still best for North Korea

16 November 2017 – Reuters
High-level Chinese diplomats have continued to reiterate that a policy of “dual suspension” – which refers to a potential settlement in which the U.S. and South Korea would cease major joint military exercises in exchange for North Korea halting its nuclear weapons program – is the best solution to the North Korea crisis. U.S. President Donald Trump, who recently rejected a somewhat similar “freeze for freeze” agreement last week alongside President Xi, has not publicly commented on the “dual suspension” proposal.
(Read More)

Finland and Estonia to start building gas link in 2018
15 November 2017 – Reuters
Finland and Estonia are set to start construction on a gas pipeline linking the two countries in the spring. The pipeline, which is expected to be operational by the end of 2019, will help end Finland’s gas market isolation and 75% of the cost will be borne by the EU. Russia’s Gazprom is currently the sole supplier of gas to Finland.  
(Read More)

EU Parliament hails Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova reforms; eyes Russia pressure
15 November 2017 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

On November 15, European Parliament lawmakers overwhelmingly passed a resolution praising reforms in Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova, and said the three republics could eventually be considered for membership in the European Union. The resolution also vowed to maintain "collective pressure on Russia to resolve the conflicts in eastern Ukraine, the occupied territories" of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and Transdniester. The move comes ahead of the 2017 Eastern Partnership summit, which was created in 2009 to deepen EU ties with six Eastern European partners - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
(Read More)

Russian legislators pass law targeting international media as “foreign agents”
15 November 2017 – Washington Post

On Wednesday, Russian lawmakers voted unanimously to pass legislation allowing authorities to force any foreign media organization to register as a “foreign agent” under penalty of fines or a possible ban on operations in Russia. The legislation, which was drafted hastily and passed 414-0 in retaliation for the registration of English-language Russian news network RT under a similar statute in the United States, is likely to be signed into law by Russian President Vladi­mir Putin by the end of the month.
(Read More)

Japan, ASEAN leaders meet to discuss “free and open” regional order
15 November – The Japan Times

The annual Japan-ASEAN Summit launched this week in Manila, during which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that Japan, alongside the Southeast Asian bloc, can take the lead in developing a “free and open international order.” Abe even went so far as to say that ASEAN provided a blueprint for expanding the liberal order, contending that, “[w]ith ASEAN having become a main actor in the world, in which democracy, the rule of law, and market economics have taken root – it is important to extend ASEAN’s success to the entire Indo-Pacific region to bring out this region’s potential.” Japan and ASEAN also discussed the demilitarization of the South China Sea, and diplomatic efforts with China to ensure a more open Pacific Ocean. In a key show of unity, Japan and all ASEAN member states joined together in officially condemning North Korea’s nuclear program.
(Read More)

Turkey has completed its purchase of Russia's advanced missile system, and relations with NATO are still tense
15 November – Business Insider

Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli announced that Turkey has officially purchased the Russian S-400 missile system. As a NATO member, Turkey would typically buy weapons that are interoperable with the alliance’s weapons systems, but Ankara sought out new options after several NATO countries declined to renew their deployments of Patriot missile defense systems in Turkey. But Turkey is also currently pursuing an agreement with Eurosam, a French-Italian consortium developing anti-aircraft defense systems.
(Read More

Theresa May accuses Vladimir Putin of election meddling
14 November 2017 – BBC

British Prime Minister Theresa May stated that Russia is trying to “undermine free societies” and “sow discord in the West.” While the UK does not want “perpetual confrontation” with Russia, May said it would protect its interests and that Russia could only be a valuable partner if it “plays by the rules.” She accused Russia of violating the national airspace of several countries, conducting cyber espionage, and meddling in elections. The British Electoral Commission is currently investigating claims that Russia used social media to meddle in the Brexit referendum.
(Read More

Syria providing ground for closer Turkey-Russia relations
13 November 2017 – Washington Post

Russian President Putin and Turkish President Erdoğan held “very productive” discussions on their next steps in Syria on Monday that underlined the close coordination between the two countries that have played key but opposing roles in the Syrian conflict. This was the sixth meeting between the two leaders this year and followed a statement made this weekend approved by Putin and President Trump that affirmed the use of de-escalation zones and included a commitment to a peaceful solution governed by a Geneva peace process.
(Read More)

EU signs defense pact in decades-long quest
13 November 2017 – Reuters

With Britain no longer standing in the way, France and Germany edged towards achieving a 60-year old ambition of integrating European defenses on Monday, signing a pact with 21 other EU governments to fund, develop, and deploy armed forces. For the first time, those governments are legally binding themselves to joint projects and pledging to increase defense spending and contribute to rapid deployments. The pact includes all EU governments except Britain, which is leaving the bloc, Denmark, which has opted out of defense matters, Ireland, Portugal and Malta.
(Read more

China’s Silk Road revival hits the buffers
12 November – Agence France Presse
Despite China recently enshrining President Xi Jinping’s “One Belt One Road” initiative into the Communist Party’s official constitution, problems with the project are beginning to arise. Political instability, local insurgencies, civil wars, differing legal systems, and corrupt governments all fall along Xi’s “new silk road,” and China has yet to put forward a cohesive solution to these roadblocks. China won the first high-speed rail contract in Indonesia’s history in 2015 as an early part of the “One Belt One Road” initiative – but no actual construction has started with 2018 only months away. Similar issues with contracts China has won but failed to launch are slowly beginning to span the continent – with Singapore, Thailand, Pakistan and others souring on Beijing due to empty promises.
(Read More)

Trump offers to mediate in protracted South China Sea feud
12 November 2017 – CBS News

On Sunday, President Donald Trump offered to mediate or arbitrate the South China Sea disputes while in Vietnam’s capital of Hanoi, before flying to Manila for the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Both Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke separately about the territorial rifts in the South China Sea; both the U.S. and China have called for a peaceful resolution but have opposing positions on most other aspects of the conflict. The U.S., unlike China, is not a claimant but has declared that it has a national interest in ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight. 
(Read more)

NATO Ministers boost troops for Afghan training mission
9 November 2017 - NATO

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed today that NATO will increase its support for Afghanistan as part of its Resolute Support Mission. The U.S. and 27 other countries said they will increase their troop numbers in the coming months. As a result, the Resolute Support Mission will increase from around 13,000 to around 16,000 troops. Defense ministers from NATO allies and partners also confirmed they will continue to fund Afghan security forces until at least 2020.
(Read more

U.S. has “frank” exchange on South China Sea during Trump visit
9 November 2017 – Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated that during his and President Trump’s visit to Beijing, they “had a frank exchange here in China on maritime security issues and the South China Sea. The U.S. position remains unchanged. We insist on upholding freedom of navigation, that claimants be consistent with international law and that claimants should stop construction and militarization of outposts in order to maximize prospects for successful diplomacy.” The issue is likely to feature prominently at two regional summits starting this week - one in Vietnam and one in the Philippines.
(Read more)

Britain will lose NATO clout if defense cuts continue, warns top U.S. General
8 November 2017 – The Telegraph

America’s top general in the European theatre issued a warning that the United Kingdom risks losing its unofficial status as primus inter pares in NATO if it continues to cut down on defense spending and commitments. Gen. Ben Hodges, Commander of U.S. Army Europe, called the UK a key “leader in the alliance,” but posited that if Britain fails to meet commitments to its allies it might “risk going into a different sort of category.” The comments from Hodges come amid a fierce national debate in Westminster over military spending, and raising contributions above the NATO-mandated 2% of GDP on defense.
(Read more)

Turkey, France and Italy to strengthen cooperation on missile defense: sources
8 November 2017 – Reuters

Turkish defense ministry sources said that Turkey signed a letter of intent with France and Italy on Wednesday to strengthen cooperation on joint defense projects, including air and missile defense systems. The Franco-Italian EUROSAM consortium and Turkish companies will look into a system based on the EUROSAM’s SAMP-T missile system to determine the common needs of the three countries. Although Turkey recently announced it plans to buy the Russian S-400 system, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said last month that Turkey was looking to buy air defense systems from France and Italy as well.
(Read more

Philippines, seeking to appease Beijing, halts construction in South China Sea
8 November 2017 – New York Times
The Philippines’ Defense Secretary, Delfin Lorenzana, said on Wednesday that President Duterte ordered military officials to stop construction work on a sandbar in a disputed area of the South China Sea after China protested. Duterte’s decision to stop construction signals an effort to improve ties with China before a regional summit meeting in Vietnam this weekend. Beijing invoked an agreement between the Chinese and Philippine foreign ministers to maintain the status quo in the area. In the past, the Philippines contested many of China’s claims, but since assuming office last year President Duterte has taken a more conciliatory stance.
(Read more)

In Japan, Trump and Abe offer alternative to China’s “Belt and Road”
7 November 2017 – The Diplomat

Tokyo and Washington have joined together in pushing back against China’s expansive infrastructure project known as “One Belt One Road,” offering their own alternatives to nations across the globe. Addressing China indirectly, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said back in October that America must provide countries in the Asia-Pacific with “alternatives when it comes to infrastructure investment programs and financing schemes.” Yesterday, those options began to take shape, as President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe presented several new initiatives at a joint press conference. Two agreements between OPIC and Japanese partners were signed that will, “offer high-quality United States-Japan infrastructure investment alternatives in the Indo-Pacific region.” Both the U.S. and Japan also highlighted their new Japan-United States Strategic Energy Partnership, which seeks to provide access to reliable energy services across Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Other agreements, like memoranda of understanding between the USTDA and Japan’s Ministry of Economy will also, “support international best practices in public procurement for infrastructure in third-world countries and emerging markets.”
(Read more)

Trump seeks $4 billion to counter North Korea missiles
7 November 2017 – CNN

President Donald Trump formally requested that Congress approve an additional $6 billion in defense spending – on top of the original Department of Defense budget authorization which was accepted last month. Most of that new funding – $4 billion – has been requested specifically for “urgent missile defeat and defense enhancements to counter the threat from North Korea.” Trump has also asked Congress for another $700 million for repairs to U.S. Navy ships involved in a recent spate of collisions, and roughly $1.2 billion to support the White House’s “South Asia strategy.”
(Read more)

Echoes of Cold War as NATO mulls new North Atlantic command
6 November 2017 - Reuters

General Petr Pavel, the head of NATO’s military committee, said on Monday that he will present a case this week to allied defense ministers for a new planning and strategy base to be chosen in the North Atlantic with the goal of keeping Atlantic shipping lanes safe from enemy submarines. This would be the next step in a military build-up which is reminiscent of the Cold War and would be the first such expansion since NATO sharply cut back its commands in 2011. If approved, the new North Atlantic Command would survey a vast area, and if a conflict with Russia were to occur, it would have the task of making sea lanes safe for U.S. reinforcements to Europe.
(Read more

Ahead of election, Putin seeks wider mandate for Russian National Guard
6 November 2017 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed legislation which would widen the responsibility of the National Guard to include protecting regional governors. The entity, which was created last year, is headed by Putin’s former chief bodyguard and reports directly to the president. The proposed change could enhance Putin’s ability to crack down on dissent and impose order if there is unrest in Russia’s far-flung regions. The initiative also comes months before the March 18th election in which Putin is expected to seek and secure a new six-year term.
(Read more)

Trump: Japan could shoot down North Korean missiles
6 November 2017 - BBC News

On Monday, in a press conference with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, President Trump said that Abe was “going to purchase massive amounts of military equipment” from the U.S. He also said that Japan could shoot North Korean missiles “out of the sky” with the purchased military equipment. Abe added that he is looking into the deal as Japan must “qualitatively and quantitatively” enhance its defense capability given the “very tough” North Korean situation.
(Read more) 

Germany seeks to calm Poland's outrage over minister's call for "resistance"
4 November 2017 - Reuters

Over the weekend, Germany sought to defuse a diplomatic row with Poland over German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen’s call to support “the healthy democratic resistance of the young generation” in Poland. The Polish government, whose judiciary reform has been met with youth protests and legal action from the EU, accused Germany of interference. A spokeswoman for the defense minister said that the comments were misinterpreted, stating that the minister’s intent was to praise Poland’s achievements since the fall of communism and call for a more inclusive approach to European integration.
(Read more)

Secretary General stresses value of NATO partnerships in visit to Republic of Korea
3 November 2017 – NATO

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg concluded his weeklong visit to East Asia today with a trip to South Korea and the Demilitarized Zone. In addition to attending a briefing on North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile threats, he visited the UN Command Center in Panmunjom, and met privately with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Stoltenberg and Moon also introduced new plans for NATO and South Korea to cooperate more intensely on non-proliferation, counterterrorism, and cyberwarfare. Stoltenberg also delivered remarks praising South Korea’s global leadership, calling the country one of NATO’s “most valued partners.”
(Read more)

Climate change “will create world’s biggest refugee crisis”
2 November 2017 – The Guardian
A recent report by the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) finds that climate change will drive an unprecedented refugee crisis in the coming decades. Europe is projected to be the destination for 10-20 million refugees. The study calls for a new legal framework to protect climate refugees and urges leaders to do more to meet the targets set out in the Paris climate agreement.
(Read more)

China is said to have practiced bombing attacks against Guam
1 November 2017 – CNBC/Newsweek/AP

U.S. Defense officials announced yesterday that Chinese H-6K Badger bombers have conducted multiple drills simulating attack runs against American military installations on Guam. Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, responding to rising tensions between the United States and China in the region, said that, “Our message is that we are a Pacific power. We intend to stay in the Pacific. Our future economic prosperity is inextricably linked to our security and political relationships in the region.” Dunford also commented that America’s most important interests in Asia are “based on a rules-based international order.” The Chinese bombers have flown closer to Guam with each practice sortie, and these drills also coincide with frequent Chinese patrol flights near Hawaii.
(Read more 1, 2)

Abe re-elected prime minister
1 November 2017 – Japan Today

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was re-elected prime minister on Wednesday after his ruling bloc’s election win last month and just days ahead of a visit by U.S. President Donald Trump that is expected to focus on concerns over a volatile North Korea. Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party-led coalition retained its two-thirds “super majority” in parliament’s lower house in the October 22nd election, re-energizing his push to revise the post-war, pacifist constitution.
(Read more

EU to declare cyberattacks “act of war”
1 November 2017 – Infosecurity Magazine

European Union member states have drafted a document which states that serious cyber-attacks by foreign nations could be construed as an act of war. The document, which is said to have been developed as a deterrent to provocations by Russia and North Korea, will state that member states may respond to online attacks with conventional weapons “in the gravest circumstances.”
(Read more)

Bank of England believes Brexit could cost 75,000 finance jobs
31 October 2017 – BBC

The Bank of England estimates that under a “reasonable scenario,” 75,000 financial services jobs would be lost within 5 years of a hard Brexit. In this event, many of those jobs would relocate to the continent. Even if this occurs, Britain would remain the largest financial center in Europe with over 1 million employed in the sector.
(Read more)

Beijing seen poised for fresh South China Sea assertiveness
31 October 2017 – Reuters

Recent satellite images show that China has quietly undertaken more construction and reclamation in the South China Sea and is likely to more powerfully assert its claims region according to regional diplomats and military officials. With global attention focused on North Korea and Beijing engrossed in its Party Congress, tensions have in the South China Sea have slipped from headlines while China continued to develop facilities on the contested Paracel islands. Some expect China to land its first deployments of jet fighters onto its runways in the Spratly islands in the coming months.
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Facebook estimates 126 million people were served content from Russia-linked pages
31 October 2017 – CNN

Facebook will inform lawmakers this week that roughly 126 million Americans, more than half of the total U.S. voting population, may have been exposed to content generated on its platform by the Russian government-linked troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency between June 2015 and August 2017. This estimate offers a new understanding of the scope of Russia’s use of social media to meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and in American society.
(Read more

Separatist Catalans retreat as Spanish authorities quash bid for independence

30 October 2017 – Washington Post
Less than a week after Catalonia’s leaders declared the region independent from Spain, they appeared to retreat as the region’s president fled to Belgium and local government employees bowed to direct rule from Madrid. Spanish authorities have announced charges against secessionist Catalan leaders.
(Read more)

China to U.S.: Stay out of South China Sea
30 October 2017 – Associated Press/ABC
China’s Ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, warned America to stay away from the South China Sea today in prepared remarks. Tiankai stressed that the U.S. has no territorial claims in the South China Sea, and should allow regional parties directly tied to the disputes to settle them in a “friendly and effective way.” He also addressed U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ comment last week that China pursues predatory economic policies, saying other countries “[should] look into the mirror, [because] they might be describing themselves.” America is continuing to court allies in ASEAN amid efforts between China and the Southeast Asian bloc to reach agreements on an official “Code of Conduct” for maritime law and operations in the South China Sea.
(Read more)

Spain sacks Catalan government after independence declaration

27 October 2017 – Reuters
On Friday, Catalonia’s government declared the region an independent nation, marking an escalation in its confrontation with the Spanish national government. In response, Madrid formally imposed direct rule, sacking Catalonia’s president dismissing its president. A new regional election is scheduled for December 21st.
(Read more)

Britain says North Korea was behind cyberattack on health service
27 October 2017 – The New York Times

British Security Minister Ben Wallace announced today that North Korean cyberwarfare units were behind the bitcoin ransomware attack that targeted Britain’s National Health Service last summer. The attack, known as “WannaCry,” spread to more than 150 countries and impacted roughly 19,000 patient appointments. Wallace also stated that Britain had to dramatically improve its cybersecurity capacity, noting that the attacks were a “salient lesson for us all – that all of us – from individuals, to governments, to large organizations, have a role to play in maintaining the security of our networks.” While conventional wisdom in the West considers North Korea to be a “low-tech” country, the DPRK’s hackers are among the most advanced in the world, with first rate capabilities and a track record of attacks against the U.S. and Europe.
(Read more)

Putin oversees test-fire of four nuclear-capable ballistic missiles
27 October 2017 – CNBC

Russian President Vladimir Putin directly oversaw test launches for several Topol intercontinental ballistic missiles in Plesetsk on Friday, which successfully hit targets thousands of miles away along the Kamchatka Peninsula. Additional naval tests for submarine launched ballistic missiles in the Okhotsk Sea and Barents Sea were also conducted. The testing correlates with heightening tensions in Northeast Asia, as the U.S. and North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un continue to exchange threats.
(Read more)

Twitter bans ads from Russian state media, citing election interference efforts
26 October 2017 - NPR

Twitter announced on Thursday that a pair of Russian state media organizations, Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik, will no longer be able to advertise on the social media platform. The move is a direct response to their role in Russian interference in the 2016 election. The announcement took place less than one week before a much-anticipated hearing on Capitol Hill where representatives from Facebook, Twitter, and Google are expected to be grilled about how Russia used their platforms as part of its influence campaign in the U.S.
(Read more)

NATO chief says allies concerned about Russian phone jamming
26 October 2017 - The Washington Post

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday that NATO allies have raised concerns about what they call Russia’s use of a kind of electronic warfare during military exercises last month that jammed some phone networks in Latvia, Norway, and Sweden’s Oeland islands. Stoltenberg said this concern highlights the need for Russia to be more transparent with war games, “to make sure there are no miscalculations, misunderstandings, because these kinds of activities can have serious effects.”
(Read more)

Japan to propose strategic dialogue with U.S., India, and Australia: Nikkei
26 October 2017 – Reuters

Japan plans to launch a strategic dialogue alongside the United States, Australia, and India to contest the expansionism of China’s far-reaching “One Belt One Road” initiative. Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono announced the dialogue, and said he hopes the four countries can band together to increase trade and security cooperation, and “maintain free and open ocean[s].” With China’s influence in Asia growing by the day, and North Korea destabilizing the region, Kono also argued that the time has come for “Japan to exert itself diplomatically.” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump will discuss the plan in meetings next month.
(Read more)

Romania set to take delivery of new missile defense system
25 October 2017 - Euronews

Romania has signed a 3.9 billion euro deal for a new missile defense system with the U.S. defense firm Raytheon, allowing it to acquire Patriot missiles the end of the year. The agreement is regarded as necessary for Romania’s security and a strategic move that will strengthen NATO’s eastern border.
(Read more)

North Korean official: Take hydrogen bomb test threat “literally”
25 October 2017 – CNN

In an interview with American media, North Korean official Ri Yong Pil stated that earlier DPRK threats to carry out an atmospheric nuclear test in the Pacific Ocean should be taken “literally.” Under international legal precedent in the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (PTBT) and later Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), such a detonation would be unlawful – and also mark the first above-ground nuclear test in decades. While North Korea is currently experiencing its longest gap in missile testing under Kim Jong Un’s rulership, most military analysts expect DPRK testing to resume early next year.
(Read more)

Moldova: Parliament appoints new defense minister, after suspending the President
24 October 2017 - Stratfor

After a 10-month deadlock, on October 24th Moldova’s Parliament formally approved a new defense minister: Eugen Sturza. The deadlock was a result of a standoff between the pro-Russian president and the pro-West parliament, which temporarily suspended President Igor Dodon after he twice refused to appoint Sturza. Dodon is fully expected to be reinstated as president, but the broader conflict between the presidency and the parliament remains.
(Read more

U.S. lifts travel restrictions on British businessman targeted by Vladimir Putin
24 October 2017 - Washington Post

The Department of Homeland Security has restored British businessman Bill Browder’s ability to enter the U.S. after temporarily blocking him when Russia placed his name on an Interpol arrest list. The Kremlin was retaliating for Browder’s long-running international campaign against Russia and Putin over the killing of Browder’s Moscow tax attorney, friend and whistleblower, Sergei Magnitsky. Members of Congress expressed outrage that he was stopped from flying to Newark last week because of the Interpol listing.
(Read more)

EU ministers agree to tighten rules on migrant workers
23 October 2017 – Financial Times

On Monday, EU ministers agreed to back a France-led initiative to impose a 12-month limit on the “posting” of workers, where companies send employees from low to high wage member states without abiding by all local labor laws. The move halves the amount of time workers can be posted, and was sought by French President Emmanuel Macron.
(Read more) 

Lawmakers want immediate review of travel restriction on Putin critic
23 October 2017 - The Hill

Fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and crusader for the Magnitsky Act, Bill Browder, has been blocked from traveling to the United States after Russia placed him on the Interpol wanted list in pursuit of his arrest. Senators John McCain and Ben Cardin said in a joint statement on Monday that “the Department of Homeland Security should expedite an immediate review of the decision to revoke Mr. Browder’s visa,” saying it “would be unfortunate if the U.S. decided to bar him based on a decision by those same Russian officials who have been targeted by this important legislation.”
(Read more

Japan's Abe to push pacifist constitution reform after strong election win
23 October 2017 - Reuters

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, supported by a huge election win for lawmakers who favor revising Japan’s postwar pacifist constitution, is likely to push toward his long-held goal of reforming the document. Parties in favor of amending the charter won nearly 80% of the seats in Sunday’s lower house election. Amending the constitution would be a huge victory for Abe, whose conservative agenda of restoring traditional values, stressing obligations to the state over individual rights, and loosening constraints on the military, centers on revising the constitution.
(Read more)

Catalonia says it will defy orders from Spanish government when it imposes direct rule
23 October 2017 – Independent

The Spanish government awaits a vote in the national senate, scheduled for Friday, to implement direct rule over the Catalonia region. The move will lead to the firing of the regional government and force an election to counter the region’s independence drive. Secessionist leaders warn that imposing direct rule could provoke mass civil disobedience.
(Read more)

Japan: North Korea threat imminent
23 October 2017 – The Hill

Japan’s defense minister Itsunori Onodera reportedly said on Monday that the threat from North Korea is both “unprecedented” and “imminent,” and pushed for “different responses” as he spoke to U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis and South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo.
(Read more)


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