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Afghanistan may have reached a critical turning point this weekend with the announcement of Ashraf Ghani as the country's next president under a power-sharing agreement with his rival, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah.

But it may be a long, slow turn, unless the candidates' followers also support the idea that a mixed government can dovetail the various factions. Secretary of State John Kerry can take pride in having pulled off a near-miracle after making nearly thirty phone calls to both sides and two visits to Afghanistan since the bitterly disputed runoff election in June.

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Like Poroshenko’s Reception in Congress, It’s a Morale Boost—But Ukraine Is Fighting on Its Own


Yesterday's images from Moscow could hardly be more welcome for Ukrainians: thousands of Russians marching in their capital to condemn their government’s war against Ukraine. The protest was fueled partly by the spreading news in Russia that scores, perhaps hundreds, of Russian infantry, armored and artillery troops have been killed in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and secretively buried.

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With today’s edition, the Atlantic Council’s UkraineAlert newsletter is six months old. Readers will notice that it arrives in a new package: concise and colorful. Its content will remain much the same, although we’re always working to improve it.

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Russia’s Assault Threatens Not Just Ukraine, but Europe and Eurasia


Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko delivered a stark but necessary message in Washington September 18.  Addressing a Joint Session of Congress, he noted that:

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Exploring space firsthand seems more elusive now than ever before with waning public interest and the termination of more than twenty NASA human space exploration programs in the last twenty-five years.

Despite these setbacks, efforts are underway to build a more sustainable space exploration program as stated by the recently released US National Research Council study assessing the goals, capabilities, and future trajectory of NASA's endeavor. In addition, the advent of cheaper, advanced technologies and private sector innovation are leading to more globalized approaches to space exploration. Now is the time to catalyze international cooperation and reclaim our aspirations to discover the far reaches of space, our final frontier.

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The ‘Islamic State’ Cannot Be Destroyed with Syria’s Assad in Power, Fred Hof Says 


As the United States opens a campaign of airstrikes against the brutal militants of ISIS, Atlantic Council Senior Fellow Fred Hof says the US aim of destroying the group will require the overthrow of Syria’s also-brutal president, Bashar al-Assad. Removing the threat of ISIS (also called the “Islamic State”) additionally will require the establishment of legitimate governments in Syria and Iraq, which now are failed states.

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Could Ukraine’s parliamentary elections in six weeks produce representatives from eastern Ukraine who might provide a clear alternative voice for that region, distinct from those of the thuggish, Kremlin-sponsored “people’s republics?” If so, that could offer President Petro Poroshenko a set of credible, more moderate interlocutors to bring into negotiations to come over the east’s political future within Ukraine.

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Petro Poroshenko Will Ask Congress' Support in Getting US Weapons


President Petro Poroshenko arrives in Washington this week at the most perilous moment in the history of independent Ukraine. After the Kremlin’s months of attacking Ukraine with its proxy militias, it directly invaded southeast Ukraine last month with thousands of regular Russian army troops, thus halting the Ukrainian forces’ advances in regaining control over the region. NATO's reluctance at its summit this month to respond to President Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine (and his threat to eastern members of the Alliance) forced Poroshenko to accept reluctantly a cease-fire that leaves Moscow’s forces in control of much of the Donbas region and positions them to move deeper into Ukraine.

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Hayden: Plan Is a Step Forward, But US Should Know ‘We Are Putting Americans in Harm’s Way’


President Barack Obama’s new strategy for confronting the explosive growth of the ISIS militant movement in Iraq and Syria puts the United States “in a better place than we have been,” said General Michael Hayden, Atlantic Council board director and former CIA director. But it will involve more US troops deployed into the region than Obama’s September 10 speech indicated, he said.  Hayden spoke this morning in a conference call with Council members and journalists.

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A Strategic City Prepares Its Defense; But if Truce Fails, Its Fate Will be Uncertain


Amid the war between Russia and Ukraine, no city is watching the viability of the fragile cease-fire with more apprehension than Ukraine’s second-largest seaport, Mariupol. That is because the city, home to steel mills and, normally, a half-million residents, will likely become an immediate and intense battleground if the fighting resumes. Russian troops and their allied militias in southeastern Ukraine’s Donetsk province launched an offensive toward the city last week just before the truce was declared.

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