Russia

  • What Will Merkel Decide on Nord Stream 2?

    As German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet on Saturday near Berlin, several items will be on the agenda, including the war in Syria, the conflict in east Ukraine, and US tariffs. The most important item, however, will be the Nord Stream 2 pipeline bringing Russian gas to Germany. The Nord Stream 2 project has faced harsh criticism from both partner EU countries and Washington and reflects the continued complexity of the German-Russian relationship. Merkel’s need to balance her interests between her Western allies and Moscow means that her meeting with Putin will likely produce an empty-promise agreement on Nord Stream 2, with Russia saying that it will continue its gas transit via Ukraine even after the pipeline is completed.

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  • A Breakthrough in Berlin? Not So Fast.

    When German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets Russian President Vladimir Putin on August 18, few expect any break-throughs on the intractable differences between Berlin and Moscow in recent years. But their second meeting in just three months may also signal that the two leaders are stepping up their dialogue as both need each other’s support on a number of foreign policy headaches amid an international environment in flux. 

    Officially on the agenda for the meeting are the protracted conflict in eastern Ukraine, the Syrian war, and the refugee situation in the region as well as the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany. For the moment, Merkel seems to have little leverage to affect any major changes in Moscow’s policies. At least in the near term, Putin holds the key to real progress on any of the three items and little suggests his previous positions have shifted significantly since their last meeting in May – or are likely to do so in the immediate future.

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  • How One Family Is Reviving Ukraine’s Pre-Soviet Tradition of Philanthropy

    Since the Euromaidan, we have seen extraordinary acts of volunteerism by Ukrainians. In the initial days of Russia’s invasion, citizen volunteers fought on the Donbas front to shore up the Ukrainian Army, which was on the verge of collapse. These citizen soldiers experienced high casualty rates. Volunteers organized supplies for the war and served as medics and nurses. When 1.6 million displaced fled the Donbas, it was largely the volunteers who fed, clothed, and sheltered them.

    Ukraine’s volunteerism has served as the foundation for the country’s new civic identity. It has also been seen as problematic, establishing a parallel, second state as an antidote to the weakness and ineptitude of the state.

    As the military has rapidly professionalized and attained the capacity to fight and supply the front, the activists of the Euromaidan have moved to fill another critical gap. They are now supporting combat veterans. After four years of war, there is still no systematic provision for Ukraine’s veterans beyond monetary benefits.

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  • Farkas Quoted in the Daily Beast on Russian Oligarchs and US Sanctions


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  • In the EU’s Eastern Partnership, Western Dissension Opens Doors for Putin

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    While the West continues to support efforts to democratize the countries of the Eastern Partnership (EaP), shifting international trends threaten to slow the momentum. Increasing confrontation among Western leaders—evidenced, inter alia, by the outbreak of protectionist trade policies and Donald Trump’s dissociation from G7 positions at the June 2018 summit in Quebec—can have unintended consequences across the EaP region, which needs Western harmony if it is to align with Euro-Atlantic visions of common values and security.

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  • Why Peace in Ukraine Cannot Wait

    The war in eastern Ukraine grinds on, forgotten by many. There’s no obvious way out. The ceasefire agreements have been continuously broken, high-level dialogue between Russia and the United States stopped months ago, and the unarmed OSCE monitors in conflict zone are continuously harassed. Some analysts suspect that Moscow is waiting until March when Ukraine holds its presidential election. The Kremlin wants to see who the next president will be before taking any new steps, and time is on Russia’s side.

    But time is not on Ukraine’s or the European Union’s side.

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  • CAR’s Changing Security Landscape: a Catalyst for UN Policy Change?

    Amid strong pressure from the Trump Administration, the United Nations (UN) voted at the end of June to cut over $600 million from its peacekeeping budget. The majority of these cuts are set to come from key operations in Sub-Saharan Africa, including the UN’s mission in the Central African Republic (CAR), known by its French acronym MINUSCA, which was originally authorized in April 2014.

    While CAR’s military, the Forces Armées Centrafricains, or FACA, is retrained by a European Union (EU) force known as EUTM RCA, MINUSCA acts as CAR’s primary guarantor of security in a country overrun by competing rebel groups.  Unfortunately, these cuts could not come at a worse time. Faced with increasing religious violence, the mission has come under critical strain in recent months according to UN Special Representative Parfait Onanga-Anyanga. 

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  • Fleck Quoted in Newsweek on German-Russia Meeting over Nord Stream 2


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  • Shaffer quoted in Newsweek on Merkel-Putin Meeting and Nord Stream 2 Implications


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  • Fleck Quoted in Newsweek on Merkel-Putin Meeting


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