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Showing posts from July 17, 2014

Political Divisions and Financial Fears Return to Europe

The heads of state and government of the European Union met July 16 to discuss two of the most important issues on the bloc's agenda: the EU-Russian standoff and the designation of officials for some of the most important portfolios in the EU Commission. In recent months, these issues have been troublesome for the European Union as countries struggled to find consensus. Wednesday's meeting was no different.

Since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis in late 2013, and particularly since Russia's annexation of Crimea early this year, the debate on how to react to Moscow's moves has generated substantial tension within the European Union, because it highlights the deep differences in strategic interests within the bloc. Central and Eastern European countries such as Poland and Lithuania, which historically have been invaded or annexed by Russia, demand a tougher stance against Moscow, while countries in Western Europe such as Germany and Italy are interested in preserving t…

Nigeria: Opting Out of an Insurgency

Summary


Editor's Note: This is the third installment in a three-part series on militant activity in Nigeria.

In some ways, the future of northern Nigeria's counterinsurgency rests in the hands of Nigerian voters. If President Goodluck Jonathan is elected for another term, the Boko Haram campaign will intensify. If Jonathan loses, the presidency would go to a northerner, who would be better suited to developing the political, social and economic relationships needed to wage an effective counterinsurgency.

Analysis


Of course, the presidential election is a national contest, not a regional one, and so the consequences stretch far beyond northern Nigeria. Though Boko Haram has captured the attention of international media, it is not the only militant group with which Abuja contends, nor is it the only group that has a vested interest in the election's outcome. If Jonathan is not re-elected and Niger Delta militants lose their political patronage, they will probably attack oil inf…

In the Ukraine Conflict, Kiev's Gains Risk Escalation

A Ukrainian soldier carries defused RPG round near the eastern city of Slovyansk in the Donetsk region on July 14.(GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


The conflict in Ukraine has evolved significantly in recent weeks. Ukrainian security forces have made progress against the pro-Russia rebellion that has plagued the country since March. Central to Kiev's efforts was the takeover of Slovyansk, which had been a rebel stronghold, by the Ukrainian military over the weekend of July 4-6. The rebels fled their bases and checkpoints in Slovyansk and the surrounding areas, but rather than cross the border into Russia, many instead joined forces with pro-Russian separatists in and around Donetsk to continue fighting.

Analysis


Because the rebels have lingered in the country, Kiev must now focus its military operations in Donetsk and Luhansk, the two major strongholds of pro-Russian separatists. With the fall of Slovyansk, Ukrainian forces have enhanced their ability to move fuel and equipment…

New Sanctions Against Russia Have Added Bite

U.S. President Barack Obama formally announces new sanctions against Russia on July 16. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Analysis


On July 16, the U.S. Treasury released the next round of sanctions against Russian, Crimean and Ukrainian groups and individuals. Previous sanctions from the United States against Russian people and entities were widely criticized for not being severe enough.

The new sanctions appear to add potency to previous rulings, with many Russian military firms falling under the "Specially Designated Nationals," or SDN, sanction list. This means that corporations in the United States cannot do business with these companies, which range from military industrial suppliers to credit providers. The new sanctions also prevent providing financing for deals with companies on the revised list. It is worth noting, however, that Russia does not supply much military equipment to the United States. The only deals to be affected thus far have involved the import of Kalash…