NATO summits are filled with Georgian expectations. The Warsaw Summit in July of 2016 is no exception. Since the Bucharest Summit (2008), Georgia’s engagement with NATO has seemed to gravitate around the theme of a Membership Action Plan (MAP) as a prelude to NATO membership. The discussion itself is perhaps too focused on Georgia, when the broader question at hand relates to European and Euro-Atlantic security from the wider Black Sea/Caspian area to the Baltics, i.e., the vast space bordering Russia.

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The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has a long reach, but can it reach across the wide expanse of Central Asia? The thought of Central Asians fighting for the caliphate— particularly in Uzbekistan, the most populous of Central Asian countries—makes US policymakers and Eurasia watchers uneasy, but the complex relationship between Islam and the governments in Central Asian countries is rarely fully explained in the many articles on the topic today. Despite fears to the contrary, ISIS is unlikely to succeed in gaining popularity in Uzbekistan because of the state’s institutionalized cooptation of Islam and President Islam Karimov’s ruthless squashing of dissent.

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The United States must expand the scope of its sanctions well beyond Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle if this effort—a response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine—is to have any real impact, says a Russian lawmaker.

“The [US] government machine is doing what it can do, but it is doing … more harm than good,” Ilya Ponomarev, a member of the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, said in an August 26 interview with the New Atlanticist in Washington.

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In recent years we have witnessed significant changes in Europe’s eastern and southern neighborhood that have had a profoundly negative impact on our security.

The threat from the East, whose nature could be described as traditional or conventional, stems from Russia’s aggressive posture. The illegal annexation of Crimea and the armed intervention in the eastern provinces of Ukraine constitute an assault on the post-Cold War international order. In addition, Moscow’s efforts to regain control over countries that once belonged to the Soviet Union are a direct danger to the security of some NATO and European Union (EU) member states.

Meanwhile, the threat from the South is asymmetrical. Jihadist organizations obviously cannot directly challenge the West militarily, but they can deal painful blows through terrorist attacks on European soil or disruption of energy supply. We are arguably better prepared to deal with this kind of threat as it has been present since 9/11. Currently, however, the scale of the danger seems much larger and likely to grow. The area of instability in the Middle East and North Africa, which is a breeding ground for terrorism, continues to enlarge, while the recent attack in Tunisia is a painful reminder that even in countries considered to be relatively stable, political transition is extremely fragile.

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The minority of Russians who have not been zombified by official propaganda and who still have any clue about what is really going on in the world—rather than just on television—already know Russia is hurtling toward full-blown catastrophe, though the details might be up for debate. Will the collapse come next month, or more like 2024? How will it happen? A coup d’état by radical fascists, or a provincial revolt whose instigators first see Russian President Vladimir Putin as their savior but later turn against him? Or perhaps year after year of economic stagnation, resulting in complete disintegration. History shows that authoritarian systems can change without bloodshed, but only if a regime’s key players help the forces seeking to replace that regime. This is a prerequisite for non-violent reform or the transfer of power to a reformer.

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Today Ukraine received great news. Private owners of $19 billion of Ukraine's Eurobonds have agreed to a substantial debt restructuring that will give Ukraine much-needed relief. The high bond yields have been sharply reduced, the bonds' maturities have been prolonged, and the face value of the bonds has been reduced by 20 percent.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), this agreement has reduced Ukraine's financing needs for the next four years by no less than $15 billion. This is a huge achievement for Ukraine's government, and Kyiv managed to accomplish this without having to impose a moratorium on debt repayment.

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International community must keep up pressure to ensure this agreement sticks, says Atlantic Council’s J. Peter Pham

The international community must keep up its pressure on rival sides in South Sudan if it wants to ensure the success of a peace agreement President Salva Kiir reluctantly signed August 26, says the Atlantic Council’s J. Peter Pham.

Kiir and his former Vice President, Riek Machar, have signed more than half a dozen peace deals since a falling out that has plunged the world’s youngest nation into a civil war for the past twenty months. Each and every time the ceasefire has fallen apart faster than it took to put together.

On August 26, Kiir signed the latest peace agreement, but in a sign that does not bode well for the future of the deal complained that he has reservations about its terms. He had earlier refused to sign the deal, while Machar did so by the August 17 deadline set by international mediators.

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The nuclear agreement concluded between the EU+3 and Iran, if implemented, would buy ten years for the international community to devise a more sustainable solution to the security dilemma Iran’s nuclear program presents, after which the agreement’s safeguards would begin to expire. There is, in principle, no reason why the agreement could not be extended but whether Iran would recognize it as in its best interest to accept this or whether other countries in the region could be dissuaded from acquiring matching capabilities are open questions.

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This month, Russia stepped up military pressure on Ukraine, concentrating about fifty thousand troops along its border with Ukraine, using its proxy militias to shell Ukrainian government positions in the Donbas, and threatening Kyiv with "a big war."

The current escalation indicates Russian discontent with Ukraine's refusal to make unilateral concessions such as allowing the creation of a demilitarized zone in Shyrokyne near the city of Mariupol without reliable guarantees that Russian-backed separatists won't take back this area after Ukrainian forces withdraw.

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As Ukraine fights Russian-backed separatists in the Donbas, the government is simultaneously engaged in a battle with its foreign creditors for the debt relief it desperately needs to prevent a full-scale economic collapse. Private investors hold about $19 billion of Ukrainian debt.

To stave off disaster, the International Monetary Fund and other western donors agreed to a $40 billion rescue package for Kyiv earlier this year. The IMF expects $15 billion of it to come from the restructuring of Ukraine's international bonds—meaning that Kyiv must cajole its foreign creditors into taking a loss on their investments.

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