China’s and Russia’s Aggressive Foreign Policies: Historical Legacy or Geopolitical Ambitions?

Beijing and Moscow are among the states across the world pursuing aggressive foreign policies, including towards their neighbours. Beyond mere threats, Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine demonstrated that deterrence could fail, with catastrophic consequences. How is Russia’s war against Ukraine perceived in Taiwan and in the wider Indo-Pacific region? What are the long-standing strategic goals of the Kremlin and the CCP, and what role do Ukraine and Taiwan play in them?

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The Practice, Promise and Peril of EU Lawfare

Power generates law and its interpretation, irrespective of whether it serves the cause of international justice. Despite its many shortcomings, the rules-based international order (RBIO) tries to advance that cause. But as a concept, the RBIO is now being rejected by China, Russia and parts of the so-called “Global South” for what they claim is the Western hegemonism and liberal values that underpin it.

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A Failure of Personalised Services: Prioritising Regime Security over Public Safety 

Despite its vigilant security apparatus with extensive surveillance networks, Russia was unable to prevent the terrorist attack on the concert hall close to its capital. The question is why it failed. Why is the Federal Security Service (FSB), tasked with combating terrorism, now downplaying the involvement of the Islamic State? What effect will this tragedy have on Putin’s regime? To address these questions, it is essential to understand Russia’s distinctive approach to counterterrorism.

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Putin’s Henchmen: the Russian National Guard in the Invasion of Ukraine

As the Russian National Guard (Rosgvardiya) poured into Ukraine alongside Moscow’s regular troops on 24 February 2022, President Vladimir Putin’s key assumptions about the war became evident: the so-called “special military operation” had to result in Kyiv’s rapid capitulation, with the Russian National Guard performing key occupation duties and quelling any Ukrainian protests against the new authorities. As this plan failed, National Guard units would suddenly find themselves in a conventional war they had neither the training nor the equipment to fight.

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The Newest Allies: Finland and Sweden in NATO

Sweden’s flag was raised at NATO headquarters at midday on 11 March 2024, ceremonially marking one of the most surprising outcomes of Russia’s war in Ukraine. In the face of Russia’s aggression and the risks it presented to their own security, Finland, which joined NATO in April 2023, and Sweden had abandoned decades-long policies of neutrality and non-alignment to become the Alliance’s 31st and 32nd member states. Our report examines the consequences of these changes, largely from the perspective of the defence of the Baltic states.

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