Macedonia: A new front in Russia-West tensions
Macedonia is moving forward with changing its name and securing membership in the EU and NATO, even though a referendum to approve these steps failed to meet minimum turnout requirement. But the damage has already been done. Russia, which does not want to see another Balkan country absorbed into Western institutions, has gained clout and could potentially scupper the process. That would leave Macedonia in limbo, creating further instability in this already volatile region.
Russia’s ground forces: No return to large tank armies
Moscow’s propaganda touting the scale of its military maneuvers notwithstanding, the country does not command nearly enough ground forces to defeat NATO or China in a protracted open conflict. The Russian Federation also does not have the demographics to expand its armies significantly. Its military planners, however, have been demonstrating an impressive dexterity in finding ways to address the changing defense needs of the Eurasian colossus.
U.S. defense spending: A bellwether for Trump’s security policy
The Trump administration has signaled its plan to maintain “peace through strength” with significant increases in defense expenditures for 2018 and 2019. However, to sustain its readiness, the U.S. military says it needs much more. The White House faces a difficult political landscape, one that will likely resist further rises in defense spending. That means President Donald Trump’s plan to rebuild the military could stall.
Regional integration at the Three Seas summit
With the third summit of the Three Seas Initiative, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe are trying to come together on issues like energy and infrastructure. The effort comes after several failed attempts at regional integration in the 20th century, and this one remains mostly on paper. If the European Union and outside investors will buy into the idea, several proposed projects could help lift all boats.
Russian airpower on trial
Russia’s air force has come a long way from its inept performance during the 2008 war with Georgia. In terms of command and control, logistics and sortie rates during its expeditionary campaign in Syria, it has far surpassed expectations. But that still tells us very little about how it would stack up against a more sophisticated enemy, and especially against the U.S. Air Force.
Is the U.S. going back to the Western Balkans?
The United States is increasing its engagement with the Western Balkans on issues including security, energy and good governance. The administration is trying to reduce instability in the region, improve economic development and counter outside influence from countries like Russia and China. If these efforts are successful, U.S. capital investment will increase and the Balkans will move closer toward NATO membership.
GIS Dossier: Europe as a global player – looking east
Europe is politically diffuse and poorly armed for a great power at a geopolitical crossroads. Yet it has proved deceptively capable of leveraging the NATO alliance and its enormous economic “soft power” to expand eastward. Now its mettle is being tested as Russia – and, to a lesser extent, Turkey – push back.
Border conflicts in the Balkans
Nearly three decades after the breakup of Yugoslavia, the borders in the Balkans are still up for debate. Eight unresolved border disputes are dividing countries in the region, pitting European Union and NATO members against each other and threatening the integration of several EU candidates. Some of these disputes will likely last for years to come, as the enmity of past conflicts gets in the way of negotiations.
The Visegrad Group and Europe’s security system: a story to watch
NATO and the EU are the leading actors shaping European security, but there are also smaller players performing important roles. The Visegrad Group is one of them. Its member governments, though, are increasingly perceived in some European capitals as euroskeptic. Under adverse scenarios, this could lead to political and security problems for the EU. This report reviews how the V4 has contributed to Europe’s security system and what role it may play in the future.
The impact of the Greece-Macedonia accord
The deal between Greece and what may soon be called the Republic of North Macedonia is about much more than a name. The bilateral agreement finally opens the door for North Macedonia’s integration into the EU and NATO, and could make Greece a serious regional player. However, political challenges could easily derail or delay the two-year implementation process.