The geopolitical landscape has transformed dramatically since NATO was established in 1949. As a transatlantic alliance that seeks to safeguard democratic values and the rule of law, how well has it adapted through the years and what should its priorities be going forward? Who better to dive into these questions with than Rose Gottemoeller? The former NATO Deputy Secretary-General (2016-2019) was the organization’s most senior woman official to date. She was previously the chief U.S. negotiator on arms control and is today a distinguished lecturer at Stanford University and research fellow at the Hoover Institution. She joins Olga and Hugh to share her thoughts on the challenges of rebuilding the transatlantic relationship, responding to emerging threats outside of NATO’s traditional mandate, and preserving its core principles in an ever-changing world.
The prospect of a Biden administration brings new opportunities for European security and foreign policy, but many challenges remain. Joining Olga and Hugh to discuss the evolution of U.S.-Europe relations and its impact on the world is Nathalie Tocci, Director of the Istituto Affari Internazionali and Special Adviser to EU High Representative Josep Borrell. The EU is tethered in some ways to U.S. leadership, but not entirely, says Nathalie. Developing its internal strengths will be key to a greater impact on the conflicts and crises unfolding within its sphere of influence. A steady decline in the American-centred liberal world order has meanwhile made way for competing visions of the values and principles that underpin global politics. Where does this leave European hopes that a Biden administration will strengthen multilateralism? Tune in to find out!
2020 marks two decades since the formal integration of gender into the UN’s mandate of conflict prevention and resolution. According to Aleksandra Dier, Gender Coordinator at the UN Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), the inclusion of gender-sensitive analysis has lagged far behind in the global effort to understand and fight terrorism. She joins Olga Oliker and Hugh Pope for a wide-ranging conversation on the value of gender as a cross-cutting lens in the counter-terrorism field, touching on how extremist groups across the ideological spectrum exploit gender dynamics and norms in their recruitment strategies, the gendered impact of counter-terrorism measures and how well legislation at the national level is keeping up with these insights. For more information, see the UN Analytical Brief on the prosecution of ISIL-linked women at https://www.un.org/sc/ctc/ and explore Crisis Group’s Gender & Conflict (https://www.crisisgroup.org/gender-and-conflict) page.
Hugh and Olga are joined this week by Oleg Shakirov, Senior Expert at the Center for Advanced Governance and Consultant at the Moscow-based PIR Center, for a discussion on how Russian foreign policy and diplomacy have evolved in the 21st century. Oleg describes Russia’s launch into the digital age over a decade ago, and the ways it has since harnessed these new platforms to project its desired self-image into the public sphere. By asserting its place in the virtual realms of real-time politics and competing narratives on disinformation, Russia has joined its Western counterparts in transforming the status quo of international relations. Has Moscow managed to tilt the balance of power in its favour? Tune in to find out! For more information on Oleg’s research into Russian humanitarian aid during the COVID-19 pandemic: https://cpur.ru/russian-anti-covid-aid-2020-map/
Why have ceasefire agreements repeatedly fallen apart since the war in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region erupted six years ago? And how has this political inertia shaped the lives of civilian populations divided by the line of separation? Drawing on the two latest installments in our Peace in Ukraine series, Katharine unpacks these questions with Olga and Hugh. Fighting between government troops and Russian-backed separatists persists at a slow simmer, says Katharine, a result of the failure to achieve a lasting ceasefire at the front line. European leaders have met with both sides over the years to broker peace, but agreements have faltered in the face of unwillingness on either side to compromise on their respective narratives of the broader conflict. A sense of urgency over securing a political solution has been lost with the advent of COVID-19, and it remains to be seen how long the current truce will hold. In the meantime, the dynamics of the war have altered the socio-economic landscape of frontier villages beyond recognition, a double-edged phenomenon, Katharine explains. Breaking the deadlock will require a fundamental rethinking of who stands to benefit from establishing zones of disengagement and a recentring of the humanitarian imperative in future negotiations. The question of whether the Ukrainian government envisions the eventual reintegration of separatist-held areas will be ever more critical as the years go by. Tune in to find out more! For more information, see our reports: Peace in Ukraine (II): A New Approach to Disengagement (https://www.crisisgroup.org/europe-central-asia/eastern-europe/ukraine/260-peace-ukraine-ii-new-approach-disengagement) and Peace in Ukraine (III): The Costs of War in Donbas (https://www.crisisgroup.org/europe-central-asia/eastern-europe/ukraine/261-peace-ukraine-iii-costs-war-donbas)
As the end of the transitional period and negotiations for Britain to leave the EU draws near, a ‘no-deal’ or a very limited deal is increasingly likely. Even if a deal is reached, it will be far from a comprehensive framework on how to integrate the two trading systems and contentious issues are likely going to be kicked into next year. Future negotiations could spill over into important areas such as defence and security. Lord Mark Malloch-Brown joins Olga and Hugh for the first episode of a new season to discuss what both a ‘no-deal’ and a limited deal would mean for the future relationship between the UK and the EU, as well as their respective relationships with other actors such as the U.S., NATO and Russia. They also discuss Malloch-Brown’s work as chair for the Best for Britain campaign to keep Britain in Europe, what Brexit tells us about the state of global politics and what must change to better address the concerns of today.
To conclude our first season, Olga and Hugh talk energy security with Alissa de Carbonnel, Crisis Group’s Deputy Program Director for Europe and Central Asia. They assess who is dependent on who in the Russia-Europe relationship, the impact of energy on conflicts, what an increasingly assertive U.S. policy will achieve, and how energy prices in a COVID-19 era could affect Russia. We’ll be back in September with a brand new season. Until then, stay safe!
Last week, for the very first time in Crisis Group's history, we published a statement on the events unfolding in the U.S. The murder of George Floyd, an unarmed African American man, triggered protests across the country against structural inequality. Similar protests have since erupted around the world as many countries reckon with their own histories of entrenched racial discrimination. Dan Schneiderman, Crisis Group’s Head of Advocacy and Research for the U.S., joins Hugh and Olga to discuss the meaning of these recent events. They look at the militarisation of the police, the impact the protests will have on the U.S.'s global credibility, and their potential to bring about the systemic change being demanded.
After two decades of conflict in Afghanistan, many hoped that a peace deal between the U.S. and the Taliban, signed on 29 February 2020, would mark the beginning of a peace process between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Instead, the peace process has stalled as the two sides struggle to agree on issues necessary to begin the negotiations. The Taliban has since steadily escalated violence against Afghan security forces, while the U.S. has resumed airstrikes. In addition to the uptick in violence, Afghanistan’s minister of public health has warned that up to 25 million Afghans could eventually be infected with COVID-19, out of a population of about 36 million. Even with very limited testing, numbers continue to rise. At the same time, the public health crisis may pale compared to severe food insecurity, a shrinking economy, and yet more people who are unable to make money to put food on the table. Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst for Afghanistan Andrew Watkins talks with Olga and Hugh about sentiment among Afghans suffering under these overlapping crises, which states could serve as neutral negotiators for the peace process, the role of the EU and its member states in Afghanistan’s future and what could happen if the U.S. withdraws its troops without an intra-Afghan peace deal.
As COVID-19 cuts a deadly swathe across the globe, its political impact is only starting to be felt and could last long after the virus is contained. George Tsereteli, President of the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly, joins Olga and Hugh to discuss how the 57-nation OSCE is coping in these unprecedented times, what action it is taking to mitigate the effects of the crisis and what the long-term consequences could be. They assess the threat to multilateralism in a post-pandemic world, how populations may be vulnerable in breakaway post-Soviet statelets, the challenges to governance in many democracies, and what it means that key elections are being postponed.