New Atlanticist

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has multiple dimensions, and the energy dimension is one that has been underestimated. Russia has sought to make Ukraine dependent on its abundant energy since 2006. The reason is simple: Russia wants economic and political control over Ukraine and it wants to enmesh Ukraine's government and elites in a web of energy-based state-sponsored corruption that will only perpetuate that dependence. Russian oil and gas—perhaps the most critical day-to-day weapon in Russia's foreign policy arsenal—passes through Ukraine to Southern, Eastern, and Central Europe, which ties both sides into an unhappy yet hitherto inescapable marriage.

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Kremlin Targets Sleepy Corner of Europe with Hybrid Tactics

No part of Europe is too obscure for the Kremlin's machinations. On April 6 in Odessa, a group claiming to represent ethnic minorities in southwestern Ukraine founded the National Council of Bessarabia (NRB). Released on a Russian-registered website, the NRB's manifesto decrying "discrimination" and calling for greater autonomy was eerily similar to demands made in Donetsk and Luhansk before those regions sought independence last year.

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The European Union has rolled out its long-awaited plan to forge a digital single market (DSM) among the EU’s 28 member nations—an ambitious but controversial proposal that aims to tear down regulatory walls and boost Europe’s share of the online economy.

On May 6, the same day European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker unveiled the plan in Brussels, top US and EU officials debated its objectives at a panel in Washington sponsored by the Atlantic Council’s Global Business & Economics Program.

David O’Sullivan, the EU’s Ambassador to the United States, said the 16-point proposal could pump $470 billion (€415 billion) a year into Europe’s generally stagnant economy while creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs from Amsterdam to Zagreb.

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Masoud Barzani

Kurdish leader says region will hold referendum after ISIS has been defeated

Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) will hold a referendum on Kurdish independence once Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) extremists have been defeated, KRG President Masoud Barzani said May 6 at the Atlantic Council.

Barzani couldn’t predict when an independent Kurdistan would be born, but added: “Certainly an independent Kurdistan is coming.”

The Kurdistan region has long sought independence from Iraq. Barzani said getting to that goal is a “continuing process.”

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Controversial surveillance rules unlike the 'knee-jerk' US law passed after 9/11, says Atlantic Council’s Dungan

Controversial surveillance rules passed May 5 by France’s lower house of Parliament are quite unlike the “knee-jerk” US Patriot Act that followed al-Qaeda’s terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, said Atlantic Council analyst Nicholas Dungan.

Dungan, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Transatlantic Relations Program, said the legislation essentially updates a law that has been untouched since the 1990s.

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NATO’s top military commander says Russia set on ‘strategic competition’ with West

A "revanchist Russia" would use violence to alter international norms, boundaries, and institutions and poses a threat to the United States' transatlantic allies and partners, NATO's top military commander US Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove said April 30.

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Russia's track record in the long-simmering conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan is consistent with Russian efforts in Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine, and Russian President Vladimir Putin's calls for a Novorossiya: No war, no peace—but always a place at the table for Russia.

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Ukraine's economy is in crisis. Experts warn that the country's gross domestic product could shrink by 6 to 12 percent and inflation could exceed 40 percent in 2015, although one prominent economist put that figure in triple digits already. The war in eastern Ukraine has throttled the country's industrial capacity. To prevent the country from default, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) stepped in with a $40 billion international rescue package in March.

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‘It is not important that Britain is not important,’ says Atlantic Council’s Dungan

If one thing is nearly certain about Britain’s general elections May 7, it is that they will produce no clear victor and, as a result, could lead to another coalition government—or even a hung Parliament.

British Prime Minister David Cameron is leading his Conservative Party (the Tories) in a tough battle against the Labour Party’s Ed Miliband. Cameron’s coalition ally for the past five years, Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats (the LibDems), haven’t decided whether they want to stay in their political marriage of convenience with the Tories.

Meanwhile, third parties such as Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party (SNP) and Nigel Farage’s UK Independence Party (UKIP) have steadily eroded support for both the Tories and Labour. This is especially true for Labour, which is likely to lose a majority of its seats in Scotland—its traditional stronghold—to the SNP.

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The US ban on crude oil exports was a prominent topic of discussion when industry leaders and high-ranking government officials from across the globe convened in Houston in April for IHS CERAWeek, one of the energy industry’s largest annual conferences.

Indeed, over the past year the longstanding ban has emerged as one of the hottest issues in the debate on US energy policy.

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