European Ambassadors see “erosion” of sanctions regime if US Congress is viewed as cause of deal’s failure

Failure to secure a deal that limits Iran’s nuclear program in return for phased sanctions relief could unravel a crippling sanctions regime on the Islamic Republic if that outcome is perceived to be the West’s fault, two European diplomats said May 26.

“If we were to walk away, or if the [US] Congress were to make it impossible for the agreement to be implemented, then the international community would be pretty reluctant, frankly, to contemplate a ratcheting up further of the sanctions against Iran,” Sir Peter Westmacott, the United Kingdom’s Ambassador to the United States, said at the Atlantic Council.

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The European Union's Summit on the Eastern Partnership, held May 21-22 in Riga, was a disaster for Ukraine. For friends of democracy, the rule of law, and Ukraine, it would have been better had this EU summit never taken place and its joint declaration never written.

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For most of the 20th century, Ukraine was the victim of two equally malevolent empires—Germany and Russia. Germany's contribution to Ukraine's devastation was the two World Wars; Russia's was the imposition of Soviet rule and the concomitant destruction of Ukraine's peasantry and elites. Unsurprisingly, one of the most constant images in 20th-century Ukrainian commentary is that of their country being caught between a hammer and an anvil.

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In Russia this April, a Baptist pastor was jailed for professing his faith. Pavel Pilipchuk's five-day detention was brief, but excessive. It followed his refusal to pay a heavy fine for organizing street evangelism in the city of Oryol, around 200 miles south of Moscow. By not informing city officials of his plans, a local court ruled the pastor had violated Russia's law regulating public demonstrations. Pilipchuk's plea that "Christian hymns and conversation are not demonstrations" fell on deaf ears. So did his appeal to Russia's constitutional guarantees of religious freedom.

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Instability arcs along Europe’s periphery from the Middle East and North Africa up the Black Sea and into the Arctic, while transnational security challenges (climate change, cyber threats, etc.) challenge our future. At the same time, the bonds of Cold War transatlantic solidarity have weakened as new generations arise and isolationist/nativist movements reemerge on both continents. Yet now is exactly the wrong moment for the United States and Europe—particularly Germany—to turn inward or mistrust each other. Today’s crises require transatlantic leadership and solidarity as revanchist-minded powers such as Russia and China stand ready to take advantage of any retrenchment to set new terms for the 21st century order.

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"To those from outside, [the fighting in Ukraine] may seem like a regional conflict, but that's really not the case," said Archbishop Zoria Yevstratiy of Chernihiv of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church's Kyiv Patriarchate. 

In an interview at the Atlantic Council on May 19, Yevstratiy described the situation in Ukraine as unique and of global significance.

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Analysts and journalists have begun to ask where the Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine will go next now that the second ceasefire agreement has failed. Skirmishes on the frontline in Shyrokyne, less than ten miles from Mariupol's city limits, have raised concerns that Mariupol will be the next target. Geographically and commercially speaking, Mariupol makes sense. It's the busiest commercial marine hub on the Azov Sea and considered a must-have for Russia if a land corridor to Crimea is ever to be realized. Mariupol would also be a symbolic coup for the separatists. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko named the city the provisional capital of the Donetsk region in 2014. The separatists have also threatened to take the city. Alexander Zakharchenko, head of the Donetsk People's Republic, warned that separatists will take Mariupol if Ukrainian forces continue their "aggression."

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Analysts discuss the humanitarian, security, and political crises emanating from a country in chaos

 The chaos in Libya that has prevailed since the ouster of Moammar Gadhafi in 2011 has placed both a humanitarian as well as a security crisis on Europe’s doorstep.

Libya today has two governments—one in Tripoli and the other in Tobruk. Only the latter is internationally recognized. Its borders are porous. Its security in the hands of groups that often have no more than local control.

An illicit network of traffickers has thrived amid this chaos. Thousands of migrants daily risk deadly voyages across the Mediterranean Sea to flee desperate conditions in their homes in Africa and the Middle East.

The traffickers are not the only ones exploiting the instability. The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), also known as the Islamic State (IS), has put down roots in Libya prompting concern that the terrorists are now at striking distance from Europe.

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Ukraine bleeds, but reforms impressively, while the West ignores it. The Minsk ceasefire agreement does not hold, though the intensity of the fighting has faded. In mid-March, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) doubled Ukraine's international reserves, but the country's finances remain fragile. Europe's central banks should provide a large swap credit with minimum risks to shore up Ukraine's economy.

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Head of US Southern Command says terrorists could one day use criminal networks

A demand in the United States for drugs—specifically cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines—is devastating communities across Latin America, says Marine Corps Gen John F. Kelly, Commander of US Southern Command.

Illegal trafficking networks pose not just a security threat, they also have corrosive effects on governance and the rule of law countries in which they operate. In fact, cocaine-related corruption is a significant problem in the police and judiciaries in Central America, Kelly said at the Atlantic Council May 19.

“The reason these countries have these problems is because of drug consumption in the United States,” he said. In every drug deal “there are hundreds of people who have lost their lives in the process of that cocaine being … dealt into the United States.”

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