At first glance the year 2013 seems to have been a highly successful year for Russian foreign policy. Only one year after the US labelled Russia a “secondary power”, Vladimir Putin has been able to vindicate his claim to be a key player in world politics, as witnessed in both negotiations over Syria and talks with the new Iranian president Hassan Rohani.
In the struggle with the EU over the common neighbourhood, Putin’s strategy of carefully applied pressure succeeded in integrating Armenia into the Russian-led Customs Union. He also played a major role in preventing the Association Agreement between the EU and the Ukraine being signed. Further still, Putin has managed to frame the tug-of-war over the region in such a way that the EU now interprets it as a geopolitical conflict - and has begun to talk accordingly. This plays into Putin’s hands: he is well aware that, as a result of
Drones are now a fact of military (and civilian) life, but are the norms and laws of warfare able to cope with their use? In recent months three important studies on the subject have been published: "Drones and targeted Killing: defining a European position" by ECFR's Anthony Dworkin; "Between a Drone and Al Qaeda" by Letta Tayler of Human Rights Watch; and "Will I be next?" by Mustafa Qadri of Amnesty International.
A recent ECFR event heard from all three authors, with Letta concentrating on Yemen, Mustafa on Pakistan, and Anthony chairing. You can hear the entire audio from the event here:
We've also just published a shorter podcast with part of the presentations given by both Letta and Mustafa:
When they meet this week, the European Union heads of state and government will be hard-pressed to thrash out agreements on pressing topics such as the banking union to keep the euro alive and European defence given the impending demilitarisation of Europe. In passing, they might even devote a few thoughts on a global strategy to stem Europe's geopolitical decline. It is no wonder that enlargement falls at the very bottom of the issues for this European Council, to the point that one can hardly find it in the agenda. Potentially relevant decisions are expected, such as a candidate (or pre-candidate status, to be confirmed in 2014) to Albania and a date for starting Serbia’s accession talks.
Member states are logically distracted by sexier geopolitical themes, such as Iran or Syria. Enlargement, once a shared European foreign policy, nowadays suffers from three factors: poisoned
The story in Ukraine moves on. After almost a month of demonstrations, ‘stalemate’ seems the most appropriate word. But in fact, the country is being sheered by contradictions between foreign policy, economic policy and domestic politics. The authorities and the protestors are even further apart.
The authorities’ foreign policy game has been sussed. They have been trying to leverage all sides with questionable figures and geopolitical blackmail. The EU has put a stop to talks on that basis, rather than to talks as such. So the authorities either had to change tactics or make the only possible deal, with Russia. But they are weaker with Russia too – Moscow is perfectly used to such tactics, but now knows the current authorities have nowhere else to go.
So the deal cut with Russia on Tuesday was aptly summarised by opposition leader Arseniy Yatseniuk: “the only place with free
As policy makers in Europe, Moscow and Washington wind down for the festive season, millions of Syrians are struggling to survive in their snow-covered shelters. Given Syria's on-going quandary, this is a period in which the Muslim world should really reflect and be acting on their own foreign policy. In light of recent developments in the Iranian nuclear debate, this is an apt moment for Iran and Saudi Arabia to strategically review their operations in Syria in advance of the Geneva Peace talks scheduled in January. It is urgent that Iran and Saudi Arabia engage in bilateral talks, if necessary outside of the Geneva process, in order to reach an agreement of their own before there can be any hope of a ceasefire solution in Syria.
Direct deliberation on regional hegemony between Saudis and Iranians is unlikely to be had at the Geneva peace talks. If Iran agrees to the
Formal rules and arbitrary power
Towards a new EU foreign policy
Why Europe needs a new Asia strategy
How sectarian agendas shape the politics of the Middle East
What are China's interests in the Middle East?
How to rebuild the Palestinian national movement
Germany will not provide clear leadership for Europe
More intergovernmentalism, more differentiation
How regional actors shape the conflict in Syria
The politics of China's most powerful man
What Europe needs to do