On my train home last night I listened to an audio podcast from the Economist that pretty much wrapped up all the big issues in Russian-EU relations in eight and a half chunky minutes. It was with Arkady Ostrovsky, the Economist's Moscow correspondent. Here's the audio, and here are the main subjects:
* Merkel ambushing Putin by criticising his crackdown on NGOs, and what it means for relations between Russia and the EU.
* The nexus between Russia, power and money.
* German business scepticism about investing in Russia.
* Why Cyprus shows how much Russia has been disregarded.
* Why it all goes back to US shale gas and how this has loosened Russia's energy grip on Europe.
* Is Berlusconi Putin's only remaining friend?
* Navalny and Pussy Riot.
Anyway, have a listen - 8'34" isn't enough for great depth, but Arkady does a great job of joining the dots between these
This is a book review of The Obamians: the Struggle Inside the White House to Redefine American Power by James Mann. It first appeared in The New Statesman
Shortly after his inauguration as president, Barack Obama was given a briefing by the CIA about the danger of Pakistani nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists. “That’s scary,” said Obama, “but in the meeting I had before this one, the Treasury told me that every bank could fail before the end of the month. Now that’s really scary.” This anecdote shows the central point of James Mann’s book, which tries to paint a portrait of the 44th president’s foreign policy through the prism of his relationships with his closest advisers.
For Obama and the youthful “Obamians”, the world began in 2001 with 9/11, which was followed by the Iraq war and the financial crisis. For them, the events that traumatised most foreign
My interview with Andrew Wilson about his latest book, 'Belarus: the last European dictatorship', has just been published on the New Books Network. Here's the accompanying blog post and the link to the audio.
A couple of weeks ago I took a bus from Warsaw and travelled east across the River Bug. The border took a long time to cross, but then this was no ordinary border – it was the border between the Europe of the modern world, of the EU (with all of its problems) and liberal democracy, and the Europe of the Soviet era and authoritarian rulers. I crossed the border into Belarus.
Belarus has been getting a bad press since the middle of the last decade, when Condoleeza Rice famously labelled President Lukashenka ‘Europe’s last dictator’. Every so often news squeaks out about repression aimed at opposition figures, of currency devaluations and of curiosities like secret pipelines
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I once tried to buy a four-wheel-drive car in Sarajevo. I thought about buying a Serbian-made Lada Riva, a no-frills tractor-like workhorse that could make light work of a ploughed field in a monsoon. “Don’t,” said a wheeler-dealer Bosnian Serb contact of mine, who owned an unlikely restaurant complex on an industrial estate and wore cheap leather jackets. “I thought about it once, but I am married and have enough troubles in my life without a Riva.” He was right.* The Riva was the epitome of Soviet engineering – rugged (because it had to be with Russian roads that turned to quicksand twice a year in the rasputitsa season), fixable with a hammer and a bit of banging, and otherwise actually rather badly built. I was told the petrol gauge was especially faulty, and owners had to get used to estimating how many miles they’d covered on each tank to avoid spluttering to a halt in the
I've written and broadcast about Charles Emmerson's book 'The future history of the Arctic' enough times for it to look as though I'm his agent. I'm not - I just happen to think his book is an excellent treatment of a fascinating subject! Apologies over, I'm going to talk about Charles once again...
I have just started work on a non-ECFR project that touches on ECFR's subject area. I have started presenting audio podcasts for the New Books Network, and the first subject touching on European issues was an in-depth interview with Charles. The interview is here for those interested in the Arctic - and not just those of us Europeans who call Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland or Russia our home.
The book builds up a historical picture of a land that is harsh and difficult to understand yet mystical and promising. The people that it breeds are hardy and self reliant: in one
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A diplomatic strategy for the conflict in Syria
Europeans are losing faith in the EU
Europe can rescue the two-state solution
27 countries in search of a proper security strategy
How Europe can help Egypt
Understanding the influence of the Gulf States
A new era for EU-Georgia relations?
What next for Egypt, Tunisia and Libya?
What does China think about the island dispute?
A comprehensive evaluation of European foreign policy
How the euro crisis has affected politics in 14 EU member states