This recap originally appeared in The New Atlanticist. Watch the video

Russia’s support for Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria is just the beginning of Moscow’s designs on the wider Middle East, Kathryn Wheelbarger, acting US assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, warned on May 30.

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On March 1st, the Atlantic Council’s Global Business & Economics Program’s EuroGrowth Initiative, together with the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center co-hosted a discussion on the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s (EBRD) efforts to promote ambitious reforms of the Ukrainian economy.

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On September 12, 2018, the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative launched an issue brief, Defining Russian Election Interference: An Analysis of Select 2014 to 2018 Cyber Enabled Incidents. As the extent of foreign interference in domestic elections over the world becomes clear, an essential first step in combatting cyber-enabled interference is developing a common terminology that can then guide strategy going forward.

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Written by Dr. Gal Luft, Silk Road 2.0: US Strategy toward China's Belt and Road Initiative explores how the United States should engage with China's tremendous infrastructure-building project, and recommends the United States pursue a strategy of constructive participation. This strategy is built on five pillars: acknowledge, engage, adjust; articulate red lines; carve a role for the United States; integrate the BRI into the framework of overall US-China Relations; and present America's own vision for infrastructure development.

The discussion focused on two main themes: the geopolitical and strategic reasons why the United States should engage in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and how the United States can do so while maintaining and protecting its interests. Overall, the panelists felt the BRI provides avenues for a constructive and cooperative relationship with China, the United States should want a role in development of underdeveloped regions which also provide US companies the opportunity to compete, and, lastly, China’s accrued influence in the countries where their projects are a success will test other hegemonic powers including Russia and India. One particular area to watch is China’s large investments in long-time ally Pakistan’s development. Ambassador Gray, Dr. Oh, and Dr. Luft all described how engagement with the BRI is in the United States’ interest as it helps create the standards for infrastructure development. The BRI provides private sector businesses with transparency to the contract competition process, providing fair access to capital for proposed BRI projects. The US government should help ensure fair access and transparency to business who wish to enter BRI projects. The overall conclusion is this: the BRI is moving forward with or without the US – the strategy that is proposed in this Atlantic Council Strategy Paper provides a roadmap to supporting China’s interest and investments in international development while maintaining US interests and security by selectively choosing when to endorse and when to rebuff aspects of the BRI.

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Former Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk still believes deeply in the power of international norms to maintain peace.

“Today’s world is based on great principles: sovereignty, territorial integrity, and untouchable borders. And as far as I understand the situation, the United States is the guardian of these principles,” said Kravchuk at an event on November 18, in response to a question about US President-elect Donald Trump’s possible plans to recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

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Wednesday July 13, 2016, the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center hosted a panel of human rights experts to discuss the human rights violation which often accompany international mega sports events. The panelist included: Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch, Sunjeev Bery, advocacy director, Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, David Kramer, senior director for human rights and democracy at the The McCain Institute for International Leadership, and Pedro Abramovay, regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean and Director of the Latin America Program at Open Society Foundations. The event was moderated by Robert Herman, vice president of Emergency Assistance Programs and Multilateral Advocacy at Freedom House.

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On June 21, 2016 the Atlantic Council hosted a private session with James J. Townsend, Jr., Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and NATO Policy at the US Department of Defense. DASD Townsend debriefed the latest NATO Defense Ministerial meeting held on June 14-15, just weeks ahead of the NATO Summit in Warsaw. The event gathered senior experts, former officials, and policymakers to discuss the key deliberations and decisions of the meeting, including those concerning the Alliance's emergent "enhanced forward presence" in Central Europe, the NATO-Ukraine relationship, and NATO's role in addressing the challenges along its southern frontier.

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“People have forgotten that there’s a real humanitarian situation and a real need in a European country,” said Jock Mendoza-Wilson, director of international and investor relations at System Capital Management, during a recent Atlantic Council panel examining the crisis in Ukraine.

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Challenging Putin at the Ballot Box
By Mitch Hulse

In a climate of repression and authoritarianism institutionalized by Russian President Vladimir Putin, opposition parties “must use every opportunity to challenge” the Kremlin even if it means participating in a “flawed and truncated election process,” according to a Russian opposition leader.

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On May 23, 2016, the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center, along with IREX and the Free Russia Foundation, hosted a paneled event discussing the nature of modern Russian propaganda.

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