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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"We brought down some Lenins in people's heads," says organizer Yuriy Didula

Days after Ukrainian forces retook the city of Kramatorsk on July 5, 2014, Yuriy Didula and two colleagues from western Ukraine piled into a car and drove building materials into the city.

"People in the east felt abandoned by the state," Didula said in a June 25 interview. The 25-year-old manages the Lviv Education Foundation's eastern Ukraine portfolio.

As a student at Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, Didula and his colleagues developed an exchange program that brought young people from eastern to western Ukraine for Christmas and Easter. Later, as part of Lviv Education Foundation, they organized a summer leadership camp for Kramatorsk youth. Having established long-lasting friendships with students in eastern Ukraine, Kramatorsk was a natural place to pitch in.

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Russia must return to compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty or face unspecified consequences from the United States, a top Pentagon official warned June 25 in a keynote address to the Atlantic Council.

Brian P. McKeon, Principal Deputy Secretary for Policy at the Department of Defense, denied a continuing charge by the Kremlin that the Pentagon's $2.3 billion Aegis Ashore network —the land-based component of its Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system—violates the INF Treaty.

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Africans generally love the United States, as do most of India's 1.3 billion people, but Russians aren't thrilled with US foreign policy, and Israelis—although they consider America their strongest ally—simply don't trust President Barack Obama very much.

People worldwide, however, generally support US military efforts against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), even if they disagree with the harsh US interrogation methods used against terror suspects in the years since the September 11, 2001, attacks.

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New dangers abound, from Russia to Iran to Asia-Pacific, warns Gen. James Cartwright

Growing technological sophistication by countries and terrorist groups hostile to the United States are forcing the Pentagon to change long-held views about missile defense, said Gen. James E. Cartwright, Former Vice Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“The landscape has changed from pure ballistic activity to one that is far more difficult and far more precise. Therefore, the threat has increased,” Cartwright warned June 25 in a speech kicking off the Atlantic Council’s conference, “The United States and Global Missile Defense 2015.”

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Retired Brigadier Arun Sahgal, one of India’s top experts on nuclear policy, reasserted his country’s “no first use” doctrine in a June 23 presentation to the Atlantic Council.

Sahgal, Director of the New Delhi-based Forum for Strategic Initiative, doesn’t represent official thinking, but he spoke from thirty-six years of experience in the Indian Army.

“India’s no first use posture is written in cement,” he said. “The bottom line is, India shall not attack first, but shall respond if attacked—and retaliation will be massive and designed to inflict unacceptable damage.”

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Photo by Larry Luxner
With US lawmakers on the verge of granting the White House fast-track authority to negotiate complex free-trade accords, diplomats representing four of Washington’s eleven allies in the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership—Chile, Japan, Peru, and Singapore—gathered June 23 at the Atlantic Council to discuss TPP’s implications.

The event, sponsored by the council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, began less than an hour after the US Senate narrowly voted, sixty to thirty-seven, to end debate on Trade Promotion Authority. The House last week approved TPA, which allows lawmakers to vote for or against trade agreements but not amend or filibuster them.

Final Senate passage needs only fifty-one votes and is expected any day, clearing the way for final approval of TPP, which will eventually link 40 percent of the world’s economy in a trade bloc that includes all major Pacific Rim nations except China.

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