• The Growing Russian Challenge and What Should Be Done About It

    All around the world, Russia is increasingly asserting itself, propping up dictators, and, in some instances, posing a direct challenge to US interests. Russian President Vladimir Putin held his first-ever meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Vladivostok on April 25. Kim’s visit to Russia, an old ally, came as diplomacy with US President Donald J. Trump has faltered.

    Trump and Putin spoke on the phone for over an hour on May 3. Venezuela and North Korea were among the topics the two leaders discussed.

    We take a look at some areas of confrontation, what is driving Russian interests, and how the United States is responding to this challenge.

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  • Juan Guaidó’s Operation Freedom Gives Venezuela a Shot at Democracy

    At dawn in Caracas on April 30, security personnel carried out two bold moves in support of the interim government—and in defiance of Nicolás Maduro’s regime. These developments mark the best chance yet for Venezuelans to begin the next wave of reclaiming democracy and ending years of suffering.

    Opposition politician Leopoldo López was released from house arrest—nearly two years after being placed under house arrest and more than five years after being detained—by agents of the Venezuelan intelligence service who had been guarding his home. Move one in defiance of Maduro.

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  • US Envoy Sees a Role for Chavismo in a Democratic Venezuela

    Supporters of the late Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, should have a place at the table in a democratic Venezuela, US Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams said at the Atlantic Council in Washington on April 25.

    Nicolás Maduro currently leads the party founded by Chavez—the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). While the United States and more than fifty other countries recognize National Assembly President Juan Guaidó as the interim president of Venezuela, Abrams said PSUV should not be excluded from participating in a future Venezuelan democracy.

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  • Spotlight: Next Steps with Venezuela

    Despite increased, coordinated international pressure on Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro, he continues to cling to power. Maduro’s staying power has outlasted the Trump administration’s optimistic timeline, but, in this case, the stated goal of regime change is one worthy of perseverance. The need for a timely solution is exacerbated by the extreme humanitarian crisis – created by years of Maduro regime mismanagement – that has already prompted 3.7 million Venezuelans to flee. In order to achieve its policy objective, the Trump administration’s strategy should be broadened beyond sanctions.

    Sanctions are a useful tool when incorporated into a broader strategy, but rarely can sanctions—particularly primarily unilateral sanctions as in the case of Venezuela—fully achieve their stated objective. Even less likely a result from the application of unilateral sanctions is a timely outcome. The Trump administration is nearing the limits of what it can achieve in Venezuela through sanctions alone and a reconsideration of the current strategy is warranted.

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  • Russia’s Venezuela Challenge

    The first major showdown of our new era of great power competition, unfolding with accelerating speed over the past ten weeks in Venezuela, has entered a dangerous new phase. That is true, most of all, for the Venezuelan people, but also for Latin American democracies and for vital US interests in the Western Hemisphere.

    How this drama turns out may mark the most significant test yet of the Trump administration's credibility, following a highest-level chorus this week of President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton, who all declared – in one way or another – that Russia had to get out of the country.

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  • Russia Ups the Ante in Venezuela

    With the arrival of its troops and military advisers in Caracas this past weekend, Russia has upped the ante with the United States over how to deal with the crisis in Venezuela.

    While the United States — along with dozens of other countries — recognizes Juan Guaidó as the interim president of Venezuela, Russia has thrown its lot behind Nicolás Maduro.

    And so it was that two Russian military aircraft carrying advisers and troops — as many as 100 troops according to some accounts — arrived in Caracas on March 23.

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  • Venezuela’s Interim Government Unveils Reconstruction Plan

    Representatives of Venezuela’s interim government, at the Atlantic Council in Washington on March 14, unveiled their plan for the reconstruction of their country, which has for months been mired in a worsening humanitarian, political, and economic crisis.

    Daniel Sierra, a public policy adviser for Venezuela’s interim government, said that the plan—Plan País—will focus on resolving five key challenges: the humanitarian crisis, rebuilding the economy, regaining security and the rule of law, restoring public services and utilities, and strengthening the institutional capacity of the state after years of political purges by the regimes of Nicolás Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chavez.

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  • Plan País: Building the New Venezuela - A Roadmap for Reconstruction

    On Thursday, March 14, 2019, the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center convened distinguished experts and international leaders to discuss the crisis in Venezuela, as well as next steps in rebuilding the country’s economy, infrastructure, and institutions. The event served as the official unveiling of Plan País—the Venezuelan National Assembly’s detailed plan for reconstruction—on the international stage.

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  • Trump’s New Cuba Policy Threatens to Reignite Historic Disagreement With Key Allies

    The Trump administration broke another policy precedent with its March 4 decision to activate a decades-old US law on Cuba, ostensibly to punish Cuba for propping up Nicolás Maduro’s regime in Venezuela and for its ongoing suppression of human rights, as well as to put additional pressure on Maduro to step down. The unilateral policy decision threatens to further antagonize key US allies, particularly the European Union (EU) and Canada—both of whom have otherwise been largely consistent with the Trump administration on Venezuela policy—while likely stopping short of achieving the desired impacts on Havana and Caracas.

    For the first time since enactment of the 1996 Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act, the Trump administration is allowing lawsuits to be brought in US courts under Title III of this law. Title III allows US nationals whose property in Cuba was confiscated by the Castro regime following the 1959 Cuban revolution to bring federal court actions against foreign entities “trafficking” in (i.e. using) those properties. Title III has never been used, as every president since the law’s passage has suspended it. The main rationale for this consistently bipartisan approach was that it would have negative repercussions on allies and partners.

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  • Wald joins Bloomberg Radio to discuss oil markets, Venezuela, and Saudi Aramco

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