United States of America

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American Leadership in NATO: A Rocky Return but a Firm Future

Although America is ‘back’ at NATO, Europe remains unsettled about the credibility and longevity of US commitments to the alliance. A cloud of uncertainty hangs over the alliance’s next Strategic Concept and how the two sides will craft a common agenda to endure the coming decade. The Biden administration, despite a few recent transatlantic missteps, recognises the gravity of this moment and has come prepared with a focused set of priorities for NATO’s future.

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Donat Sorokin/TASS via REUTERS/Scanpix

China-Russia Alliance – Lessons from Japan’s Failed “Detachment” Strategy

After the Ukraine crisis, Moscow has learnt that narratives on a potent “China-Russia alliance” can be weaponised to influence the decision-making of its targets and leverage concessions from countries alarmed by China’s rise. Thus, this narrative has been often purposefully advanced by Vladimir Putin and instrumentalised by agents of influence, such as those of the Valdai Discussion Club, as a pretext to return to “business as usual” with Moscow.

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Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban's deputy leader and negotiator, and other delegation members attend the Afghan peace conference in Moscow, Russia in March 2021.

Can the Kremlin Exploit the Taliban Victory?

Support for the Taliban regime appears to be unprecedented in Russian foreign policy, as it calls into question the official doctrine that, always and everywhere, Moscow stands up only for legitimate governments and condemns any illegitimate overthrow of them.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with US President Joe Biden prior to the US-Russia summit at the Villa La Grange, in Geneva on June 16, 2021.

The Biden-Putin Summit: No Rolling Over, No Rolling Back

‘I did what I came here to do’ is exactly what Ronald Reagan might have said. But whilst Reagan had a talent for making toughness sound affable, the challenge for Joseph Biden after his two and a half hour summit with Vladimir Putin on 16 June 2021 will be to persuade his home base, and Putin himself, that he will show toughness through deeds and substance. When he told the State Department on 5 February that ‘the days of the United States rolling over in the face of Russia’s aggressive actions are over’, he faced no such challenge. But Biden now has a credibility problem in both Washington and Moscow.

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Dialogue with Russia. Russia Needs to Reset Relations with the West.

Moscow’s resurgent foreign policy and the undemocratic rule of President Vladimir Putin ended the relatively friendly relations that had been possible between Russia and the West in the 1990s. In the seven years since Russia annexed Crimea and started a war of attrition against Ukraine, the security situation in the transatlantic region has continuously deteriorated. The Kremlin has demonstrated hostility towards the West, crises and security issues have continued to multiply instead of being resolved, and the risk of outright conflict has come close to Cold War peaks. There is an obvious and urgent need to lower tensions, but Moscow prefers to demonstrate its readiness to escalate.

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Russian forces landing a shore during a military drill along the Opuk training ground not far from the town of Kerch, on the Kerch Peninsula in the east of the occupied Crimea. The announcement by Russia’s Defence Minister, Sergey Shoygu, on 22 April that Russia would be withdrawing the forces it had assembled for the ‘snap exercises’ launched on 7 April has been met by as much confusion as relief.

Ukraine: A Crisis Recedes, a Fog of Ambiguity Descends

The announcement by Russia’s Defence Minister, Sergey Shoygu, on 22 April that Russia would be withdrawing the forces it had assembled for the ‘snap exercises’ launched on 7 April has been met by as much confusion as relief. In the time that has passed since that announcement, statements by the Biden administration and the proposed Biden-Putin summit have increased confusion rather than dispelled it.

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