Russia and Europe: Stuck on Autopilot
This is a long read which looks at Russia’s relationships with three key European players – Germany, France and the UK. Andrew Weiss of Carnegie argues that at a time when Russia could be exploiting EU and NATO weaknesses to subtly further its foreign policy ambitions, it is acting too bluntly.
Germany has traditionally separated business ties from politics, but there are strong calls for the Nord-Stream 2 project to be cancelled or put on hold. Whilst these are being resisted by Chancellor Merkel and her likely successors, there is clearly a block to any new ventures.
President Macron has continued the French tradition of seeking closer ties with Russia, partly as a demonstration of an alternative view of Europe that does not rely on the USA. Russia has proved less responsive however and continues to undertake projects in Francophone Africa which the Elysee Palace views as treading on its toes. If Russia can have a sphere of influence then whay cannot France?
As for the UK, Russian money is deeply embedded here and the ISC report showed just how close the Conservative party and Kremlin have become. But activities such as the Skripal poisoning led to the UK co-ordinating a global response which Russia did not predict.
Europe’s Longest-Running Conflict Can’t Be Ignored
Another piece about the Armenia/Azerbaijan conflict, this time from Thomas de Waal of Carnegie. Her argues that the conflict cannot be ignored and can only be resolved with Russian assistance.
The Foreign Secretary’s Evidence to the Foreign Affairs Committee: 10 Things We Learned
Sophia Gaston, the director of the British Foreign Policy Group, looks at Dominic Raab’s evidence to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee for clues as to the outcome of the Government’s strategic foreign policy review.
There appears to be a very nuanced stance on China with a desire to keep them in the room and talking whilst also making sure they cannot dominate multilateral institutions while America is focussed elsewhere. There is even talk of a boycott of the forthcoming Beijing Winter Olympics.
However it seems the UK will continue to press the idea of being a champion of democracy and human rights whilst maintianing strong ties to Saudi Arabia and other repressive regimes.
As far as Russia is concerned, there doesn’t appear to be a lot of new policy around the corner. Perhaps sensing that strong action to counter corrupt money housed in London would simply highlight the claims made in the ISC report, Raab downplayed the issue, although he did raise the possibility of Magnitsky type action in the future.
The Challenge of Observing American Democracy
This is a great read for those of us interested or involved in the election observation business.