Five Washington-based foreign ambassadors shared the stage with US officials June 29 to discuss the 2015 Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR)—a report that deals with complex issues such as the rise of non-state actors.

Thomas Perriello, QDDR Special Representative since his February 2014 appointment by Secretary of State John Kerry, unveiled the study at an event moderated by Barry Pavel, Director of the Atlantic Council's Brent Scrowcroft Center on International Security.

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After US Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to Sochi on May 12, a barrage of articles urged Western leaders to provide Russian President Vladimir Putin with an off-ramp for his various Ukrainian adventures. Even more disheartening than the volume was the growing diversity of reasons for giving Putin a pass. At least three arguments were made.

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Amid multiple signs of an impending battle in Ukraine, NATO and Ukraine have stepped up their response. But so has Russia. Ukrainian officials claim to have 60,000 troops in the field against an estimated 54,000 Russian forces in the Donbas. A large-scale conventional theater in the Donbas is a real danger this summer. But Moscow is not merely focused on Ukraine. Russia has made numerous nuclear threats, buzzed US and NATO ships in the Black Sea, moved Iskander missiles to Crimea and Kaliningrad, built up a formidable anti-access and area-denial (A2AD) force along the Russian border, conducted major Arctic exercises, and continued its probes against northern European and US targets.

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Listen to the proclamations of Ukraine's political leaders and you might think the country is in the midst of rapid change. On June 4, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko declared that "reforms are the key word...The countdown of the period of reforms has started."

There is much talk of reform, but the reality is less impressive. No one doubts that the country's institutions desperately need restructuring. Even before Russian forces annexed Crimea and invaded the Donbas, the country stood on the brink of bankruptcy. After a painful currency devaluation, it is now the poorest in Europe. It is also the most corrupt. The parliament is controlled by oligarchs, and the police are as crooked as the mafia.

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The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, second-smallest member of the European Union (EU) in population but by far its wealthiest, officially takes over the EU Council's rotating presidency from Latvia at midnight July 1.

The handover, to be marked by celebrations and a huge "European picnic" in the capital city's Place d'Armes, comes just as debt-ridden Greece prepares for a referendum on its future in the nineteen-member Eurozone—and its possible exit from the EU altogether.

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As the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 powers continue on past the June 30 deadline, the focus remains on the details of an agreement and whether the negotiators can come to a final resolution. But even as these details continue to be debated, it is important to consider the bigger picture – whether or not an agreement with Iran is reached. While geopolitical contexts and insular political dynamics limit the degree to which different countries' nuclear developments can be analogized, in looking at nuclear capacity and national security on a broad scale, Ukraine and Pakistan provide two divergent models to consider.

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As Greece—its banks shuttered for the next week—counts down to a July 5 referendum on whether to accept or reject creditors' demands, leaders of the European Union warn that a "no" vote would mean Greece's expulsion from the nineteen-member Eurozone.

Andrea Montanino, Director of the Atlantic Council's Global Business and Economics Program, hopes it won't come to that. But if it does, he warned June 29, the ensuing economic meltdown could spark a Greek humanitarian crisis that would linger for years.

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European leaders have just spent another summer weekend working on the elusive task of finding a way out of the Greek financial crisis. It is a story of ever receding deadlines and intense European politics, pitting Greek public opinion against German financial rectitude.

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Editor's note: Ambassador John B. Emerson gave the opening remarks at "Exposing Russian Disinformation in the 21st Century," a conference sponsored by the Atlantic Council, the European Council on Foreign Relations, and the Heinrich Böll Foundation on June 25, 2015 in Berlin. Emerson's remarks have been shortened below. The full version is available here.

Guten Morgen. It's a pleasure to be here and see so many familiar faces in the audience. Today's conference in many respects represents the essence of the democratic process. Today we want to discuss a problem that we have been struggling to resolve ever since the "little green men" showed up in February 2014 to invade Crimea: countering Kremlin disinformation. I will offer a few thoughts that I hope will stimulate discussion and lead to some specific ideas about how we can expand our network and work together to keep the information space free; and to ensure that our public has the facts and not propaganda.

All of us are here today because we are champions of free speech – one of the core values of the transatlantic relationship. We are here because the Russian government, and the media that it controls, are trying to prevent the publication of information that doesn't conform to Russia's aims, and are manipulating the presentation of information to cloak Russia's actions. The Kremlin's disinformation campaign goes far beyond controlling its own media. It is aimed at nothing less than presenting a parallel version of reality and disseminating it as if it were news. The Kremlin's goal is to make people question the value of media at all; to reject the idea of an absolute truth; and to persuade the public that "reality" is relative.

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The unity and strategic viability of the transatlantic alliance and the US major non-NATO democratic allies, including Japan, South Korea, Australia, Israel, the Philippines, and others, will be severely tested in the years to come. As always, freedom is not free, and its price is constant vigilance.

The United States and its allies face significant global threats, starting with Russia's aggression in Ukraine. Also on the list: China, Iran, and the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).

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