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Showing posts from April 10, 2014

NATO Increases Baltic Air Cover

A U.S. F-15C Eagle readies for takeoff at Siauliai Air Base in Lithuania on April 1. (PETRAS MALUKAS/AFP/Getty Images)


Lacking the capability to secure their sovereign airspace, the Baltic states have long relied upon NATO members to provide assistance and support. As Russia continues to assert itself across its Western periphery, the issue of collective defense has become compelling for many former Soviet states. For countries such as Bulgaria, which can only respond to airspace incursions with a small number of aging aircraft, a mission like the Baltic air patrol would solve many problems.


The NATO Baltic Air Policing mission has been ongoing since March 30, 2004, and provides interceptors for the policing of Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian airspace. The Baltic states currently do not have the assets to provide their own airspace security.

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The mission has been carried out in various rotations, typically lasting two to four months, and is part of the NA…

Venezuela: Politics Cloud the Chances of an Energy Sector Revival


The stagnation of Venezuela's energy infrastructure is the backdrop for a social and political struggle that has been building for decades. Protests that have rocked the streets of cities from Caracas to San Cristobal since early February seem to be dying down, for the moment. However, this by no means indicates that Venezuela's troubles are over. The country is defined by its contradictions, and deep divisions exist even within seemingly united political groups. For the Venezuelan energy sector, this means that uncertainty will remain prevalent, limiting the government's ability to address key structural concerns.


Venezuela's unrest had long been simmering due to an increasing scarcity of basic goods, soaring inflation and deteriorating physical security throughout the country. But the current wave of protests truly gained traction on Feb. 12 when far-right opposition group Voluntad Popular attracted hundreds of thousands of people to the street, marking…

Talks With Rebels Have Consequences for Colombia's Oil Sector

FARC Commander Ivan Marquez reads a statement during peace talks in Havana on April 4.(YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)


A recent escalation in militant attacks on oil pipelines in eastern Colombia has taken about 3 percent of Colombia's daily oil production offline, according to government figures. Amid the escalation, Colombian state energy firm Ecopetrol on April 7 declared force majeure on some shipments of crude oil.

The attacks have affected the Bicentenario and Cano Limon-Covenas oil pipelines. The renewed targeting of oil infrastructure is probably tied to the ongoing negotiations between Bogota and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, also known by its Spanish acronym, FARC. The rebel group, likely in conjunction with the smaller National Liberation Army, or ELN, is probably using the attacks as leverage ahead of the country's presidential election on May 25.


FARC and the Colombian government began the 23rd round of peace talks in Havana on April 4 to ne…