The war in eastern Ukraine is a Kremlin-manufactured conflict. The arrival of "little green men" in Crimea in February 2014 transformed the conflict from a domestic altercation between citizens and their government to an international crisis. Russian President Vladimir Putin publicly acknowledged in a government-sponsored documentary that he carefully planned and orchestrated the military takeover of the Crimean peninsula. No such admissions have been made about the war in the Donbas. From the outbreak of fighting in the east, the official Kremlin narrative has framed the Ukrainian crisis as a civil war between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian separatists. In reality, for the first six months of the conflict, from March to August 2014, the Ukrainian civil war was a myth concocted by Russian state-sponsored media, reiterated by Russian officials, and then picked up by Western media outlets eager for objectivity and balance. But with the continued influx of Russian weapons, soldiers, and Russian recruitment and training of local Ukrainian forces, that myth is swiftly becoming a reality.

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On July 20, the Stars and Stripes will rise over a US Embassy in Havana for the first time in fifty-four years—and the Cuban flag will flutter over the newly reconstituted Cuban Embassy in Washington.

If all goes according to plan, US Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Havana to witness the historic event. That follows President Barack Obama's July 1 announcement that embassies would re-open in each other's capitals after half a century of hostilities.

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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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