Erdogan and Putin Cordially Probe One Another’s Faults and Failures

The meeting in Sochi, Russia, on August 5 between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was more than just another chapter in the long track record of bargaining and testing the limits of mutual patience between the two leaders.

Erdogan and Putin in 2020. Photo: Kremlin.ru / wikimedia commons

Putin’s war in Ukraine has badly damaged Russia’s international positions, and Erdogan can harvest benefits from transactional maneuvering in the margins of Moscow’s confrontation with the West.

The Turkish president has become an indispensable interlocutor for the Russian leader, who has not received a habitual phone call from French President Emmanuel Macron since late May and only rarely is granted the privilege of a conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Erdogan decided not to stay for dinner in Sochi and cancelled the planned joint press conference, which he usually enjoys for dropping a sensationalist remark or two, leaving commentators guessing about the real outcome of the four-hour talks (Kommersant, August 6).Read More

Russia Cherishes Ambitions but Loses Positions in the Middle East

The Ukraine war has generated shockwaves far beyond the Donbas battlefields, and the Middle East has absorbed and returned the variegated impacts and, as a result, has attracted increased attention in recent weeks.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin meeting with Supreme Leader of Iran Ali Khamenei and President of Iran Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran, Iran. July 2022. Photo: Mehr News Agency / Khamenei.ir / Wikimedia Commons

Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to visit Tehran, Iran, on July 19, aiming to counter United States President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel and Saudi Arabia last week.

Biden sought to discharge tensions in the region and encourage cooperation between historic adversaries, and every step in peace promotion narrows Russia’s opportunities to manipulate conflicts in the region. Putin’s agenda is shaped by his vision of the world order’s collapse, accelerated by Russia’s attack on Ukraine, and the Middle East is precisely where Moscow must convincingly demonstrate the erosion of US leadership (Kommersant-FM, July 13).Read More

Should Norway Join the EU? Research on Democracy and Peace Suggests So.

The debate about Norwegian EU membership has gained new life in the wake of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Norway has applied for EU-membership on multiple occasions. Charles de Gaulle blocked two applications in the 60s and the Norwegian population voted NO in referendums in 1972 and 1994 despite a clear YES-stance from the government and most members of parliament. The issue has not been seriously considered in the past 28 years.

Democracy in our most powerful ally and security guarantor has been severely eroded since Donald Trump came to power in 2016. Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Insights from research on democracy and conflict give the YES side some persuasive arguments. Based on this research, one can argue that EU membership would improve Norwegian security and contribute to make the world more democratic and less violent.Read More

War and Food Insecurity: New Survey Evidence from Ukraine

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, food insecurity and food prices have become increasingly concerning. However, the focus has largely been on the consequences of war for the international market and food insecurity abroad, leaving less attention to the lack of food among civilians in Ukraine.

Supermarket in Svetlodarsk, Ukraine. Photo: EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid

Ukrainians have fled their homes, lost their jobs and income, and faced disruptions of food production and supply chains. In a recent survey in Ukraine, we asked a series of questions to explore food insecurity in more detail. The findings paint a grave picture: one in three Ukrainians are currently food insecure. The findings also indicate that those living in the east, those who are more exposed to attacks, and — not surprisingly — those who are the least well off in the first place are the most endangered by food insecurity.Read More

Russian Assault on World Order Falters and Fails

Russia’s attack on Ukraine has clearly lost momentum, but the intensity of its multi-prong confrontation with the West keeps rising.

Russian military command announced an “operational pause” in Donbas after the hard battles for Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, implicitly admitting that a regrouping of battalions, which have not been rotated in four months of fighting, is necessary before the push to Slovyansk (Izvestiya, July 7).

This inability to sustain offensive operations contrasts sharply with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s words that “we have not even started anything in earnest” in Ukraine (RIA Novosti, July 8). Putin’s boasting departs only slightly from the usual assurances that the “special military operation” is going perfectly according to plan, which in retrospect appears strategically incomprehensible (Svoboda.org, July 5).

The meeting of G20 foreign ministers in Bali, Indonesia, in early July showed that Moscow has little influence on the world order’s course. Photo: G20

Attempts to pin blame for the war on the collective West also fit the Kremlin’s usually embellished discourse, but the idea that the West-enforced world order has been decisively broken from day one of Russia’s military operation rings more discordant than most harangues about a multipolar world (Kommersant, July 8).Read More

Russia’s War in Ukraine Is a Stress Test of Norway’s Public Debate

What Do We Talk about When We Talk about War?

The public debate on foreign and security policy is facing new challenges following Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. The strength of our democracy depends on our ability to move beyond emotions and moral outrage, to discuss openly, argue logically, and grapple with uncomfortable questions.

How can we ensure stability in Europe and the world beyond? How do we deal with the food crisis, the gas crisis, the climate crises and the horrors of war?

Illustration via Pinterest

Russia’s full-scale war of aggression against Ukraine is dramatic, also for Norway. For three decades, following the end of the Cold War, the public debate on security has been preoccupied with far-away conflicts rather than threats to Norway. The security policy is complicated, characterized simultaneously by enduring path dependencies and great unpredictability. Political choices may have dramatic consequences for the common citizen. This is exactly why a broad political discourse is so important.Read More

Sweden and Finland Entering NATO: Norway Must Now Reconsider the Scope and Mission of Its Armed Forces

Norway is becoming more secure. Not only will the military balance change, but also the geographical situation.

Swedish PM Magdalena Andersson and Finnish PM Sanna Marin. Photo: Finnish Government via Flickr

The Nordic region is now more militarily capable than it has been for centuries. And Russia is in a historically weak position. Norway was in an isolated position during the Cold War: we bordered two neutral nations, a threatening Soviet Union, and the cold Atlantic Ocean. If a war had broken out, Norway would have had to independently keep the Soviet Union at bay while waiting for help. Making sure we actually received such help would have made the task all the more difficult. We therefore invested vast resources to secure our country against a military attack, both money and personnel, up until right after the end of the Cold War.Read More

Steadfast Military Support for Ukraine Is the Route to Peace

In his essay Pacifism and the war, George Orwell wrote that “pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist.”, because “[if] you hamper the war effort of one side, you automatically help that of the other. Nor is there any real way of remaining outside such a war as the present one.” The war that Orwell was talking about in 1942 was, of course, World War II.

This quote has been buzzing in my head over the last week. After more than 100 days of war in Ukraine, while the battle for Donbas is raging at full force with significant Russian gains, we are seeing renewed debate about how far western countries should go in supporting Ukraine.

Photo: Noah Brooks/ Ministry of Defense of Ukraine

Following near unanimous agreement among western countries at the start of the war on providing strong support to Ukraine, we are now seeing a growing ambivalence in public opinion in Europe. France and Russia are signalling that Ukraine must make territorial concessions, a view that finds support among intellectuals on both the right and left of the political spectrum, to take Henry Kissinger and Noam Chomsky as examples.Read More

The UN Security Council Takes Action

The Security Council has played an important function during the war in Ukraine.

There is a general perception that the war in Ukraine has caused an existential crisis for the UN and paralyzed the UN Security Council.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks to the UN Security Council in April 2022. AP Photo / John Minchillo / via Flickr

This perception is incorrect. On the contrary, the Security Council has shown itself to be proactive, flexible and resourceful in the midst of an international crisis involving a war of aggression by Russia – a veto-holding member of the Council – against Ukraine.Read More

Japanese Perspectives on the Ukraine War

Since February 2022, Japan has imposed a series of economic sanctions on Russia, in coordination with allies in the G7, including the freezing of Russian assets and the expulsion of Russian diplomats stationed in Japan.

As the first major war involving European great powers in this century, Japanese security analysts agree that the Ukraine War will influence the international order in the post-WWII period and generate earth-shattering changes to world history.

Many analysts understand the Russian invasion as the destruction of a liberal international order that has enjoyed strong support in Japan. Addressing the Shangri-La Dialogue on 10 June 2022, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stated: “With the very foundations of the international order being shaken by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the international community now stands at a historic crossroads” adding that no country or region in the world can shrug this off as “someone else’s problem”. In short, Japan cannot be a bystander in this situation.

Joint maritime training in 2019 with forces from Japan, Philippines and the United States. Photo credit: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Greg Johnson, US Navy

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