Atlantic Council’s James L. Jones, Jr. recommends a toolkit that includes economic, political, and security components

The United States must develop a three-pronged approach that includes economic, political, and security components to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “retrograde ambitions in favor of the peaceful and progressive order the transatlantic community and the world had envisioned at the opening of the 21st century,” retired Gen. James L. Jones, Jr., a former National Security Advisor, said October 8.

Putin’s “strategic objective is to reassert Russian power and prestige on his terms without regard to international principles and norms,” Jones, who is Chairman of the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, said in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The Russian leader is willing to use force to achieve his objectives, including disregarding state sovereignty, as was evident from the annexation of Crimea in March 2014, he added.

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Swapping stories about their experiences in an East Germany that was shut off from the West by the Berlin Wall, US Secretary of State John Kerry and German President Joachim Gauck on October 7 commemorated the arrival of a section of the barrier at the State Department in Washington.

The Atlantic Council provided this segment of the wall through an agreement with the German company Verbundnetz Gas. It will be displayed in the US Diplomacy Center, which is set to open in 2017.

Kerry described the section of the Berlin Wall as a “very tangible… and very large piece of history.”

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For a brief moment, it felt like déjà vu. As an officer with the Canadian Armed Forces, I visited several hot spots, witnessing my share of misery and destruction. Now I am in the Donbas, the war-torn region of eastern Ukraine.

Since its independence in 1991, Ukraine has struggled to shed its Soviet colonial past and the remaining vestiges of Russian domination. It seeks to join Europe and the world of free nations. The Euromaidan's Revolution of Dignity transformed the country by removing a corrupt dictator and bringing to power a government committed to anchoring Ukraine firmly within the Euro-Atlantic community. Russia responded by resorting to war. It officially annexed Crimea, and then de facto invaded portions of eastern Ukraine. Eighteen months later, entire villages and cities have been destroyed, almost 8,000 lives have been lost, and another 30,000 have been wounded. More than 1.5 million internal refugees have been displaced.

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The past six months have been highly eventful for British politics. After the elections in May, which saw the re-election of the Conservatives and the disastrous defeats of the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties, the country encountered yet another political surprise in September with the election of the Labour party’s new leader: Jeremy Corbyn. A veteran of the backbenches and a relative outsider, Corbyn won the contest with a majority of almost 60 percent. His vision of a kinder, fairer, and more inclusive form of politics has sparked far broader interest than anyone expected, and his campaign (and subsequent election) has brought in thousands of new members. While this new buzz around the left of British politics means a shake-up domestically, it also has international implications.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin is pivoting and wants to withdraw from the Donbas but keep Crimea, according to Iegor Soboliev, the head of the Ukrainian parliament's anti-corruption committee.

"He wants to give it back to us right now. He doesn't need the Donbas," he said in an interview on October 5.

"Unfortunately, he will try to keep Crimea. He announced the occupation as a big historical victory for Russia so now it's impossible to return the Crimea because many Russians would see it as a political defeat."

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Since it was signed in 1996, the Panrusgáz contract with Russia has dictated the structure of Hungary’s natural gas market. While this contract’s expiration will be delayed until closer to 2018, it is clear that a new agreement will be negotiated on entirely different terms than before.

Like other Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries, Hungary has benefited from the rising tide of interconnectivity and hub-based trading across Europe. With demand unlikely to rebound to pre-2008 levels in the medium term, and more competitive import capacity than ever before, Hungary must consider how a new arrangement with the Russian energy giant Gazprom will reshape its domestic market.

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What Russia hoped would be a small, victorious war has turned into the "geostrategic disaster of a new cold war," writes Volodymyr Horbulin, a respected foreign policy analyst currently advising Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

In an article in Dzerkalo Tyzhnia, Horbulin argues that the main participants in the war have exhausted themselves. The Donbas has become a black hole from which Russia, its creator, cannot escape.

Hybrid war succeeded in Crimea, but it failed in the Donbas. Ukraine's economic blockade of the occupied territories has strained Russia financially. Separatist leaders in Donetsk and Luhansk are incompetent, forcing Moscow to augment its military advisers with administrators. Returning Russian "volunteers" are a problem for Moscow, which has already asked rebels to create a border force to prevent former fighters from coming home to make trouble.

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Portugal’s recent elections revealed that harsh reforms can have a payoff for serious political parties.

Incumbent center-right coalition Portugal Ahead, formed by the People’s Party (CDS) and the Social Democrats (PSD), received the largest share of the vote in the Oct. 4 legislative election, despite not winning enough seats to form a majority government.

This result is noteworthy for a government that, from 2011 to 2014, had to implement more than 200 reforms and legislative amendments as part of its Memorandum of Understanding with the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission.

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The demonizing of Ukrainian oligarchs as major impediments to democratization and reform has become a shared mantra of Western and domestic pundits alike. Whenever explaining the slow pace of Ukraine's changes after the Euromaidan, analysts argue that oligarchs only gained influence and that by controlling whole chunks of the state apparatus, mass media, and economy, they are capable of halting reforms whenever their financial interests are at stake.

But instead of blaming the omnipresent bogeymen—the oligarchs—let's acknowledge that this view is just too simple to be true. Ukraine's government is often unprepared to kill the beast of underperforming post-Soviet institutions. Parliamentary support of reforms is similarly weak due to internal political rivalries and contradictions within the ruling coalition. The so-called "new professional faces" who got Cabinet posts on the basis of unjustified quotas were neither "new" nor "professional," while civil-society activists—despite their frenzied efforts to advocate change—are often disunited and too inexperienced to replace the government in the strenuous and intellectually demanding process of political reform.

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The October 2 Paris Summit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President François Hollande, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, and Russian President Vladimir Putin produced no breakthrough for peace in Ukraine. But it provided additional proof that, for the moment, Putin wants to lower tensions in the region. The parties spoke about three issues: the withdrawal of armaments, the timing and conditions of elections, and OSCE monitoring of the region controlled by Putin's proxies in eastern Ukraine. The handling of these issues puts most of the onus on Moscow and its agents, and the Kremlin's follow-through should be seen as a test of Putin's intentions.

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