Starting from different points of departure, the Nordic countries are coming closer together regarding their outlook on security, due to a perceived Russian threat and lack of American leadership. Multilateral forums like NATO, the EU and the UN remain their best chance of contributing to defining and addressing threats to their own and global stability.
This article was originally published by The Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM) on 12 September 2018.
Implementation of the NATO Brussels Summit decisions will enhance deterrence and defence on the Alliance’s Eastern Flank, especially through an improvement of the ability to mobilise and deploy larger reinforcements. At the same time, NATO members’ different threat perceptions, including their view of Russia, remain a challenge. Maintaining the U.S. in the lead role will be key to further adaptation but this position could be weakened by growing transatlantic tensions and dissonance in the American administration.
- There will be broad continuity in Russian foreign policy over the course of Vladimir Putin’s current presidential term. Any policy changes will be stylistic, not transformative.
- The Kremlin is committed to asserting Russia as a global power, although it will be tactically flexible in pursuing this ambition.
- Putin will present different faces to the West: sometimes accommodating, at other times assertive and even confrontational. But there will be no compromise on core principles.
In recent months, many observers of the still-smoldering civil war in Syria have concluded that Bashar al-Assad’s triumph, once unthinkable, now appears inevitable. How did the Syrian regime accomplish such a come-from-behind victory?
Most analysts emphasize how Assad benefited from extensive international support from Russia and Iran, as well as non-state militias like Hezbollah. They also credit Assad’s deft deployment of a divide-and-rule strategy, in which he sought modus vivendis with some opponents—ISIS and Kurdish rebel groups carving out autonomous spaces far from Damascus—while unleashing the full weight of his military strength on moderate Western-backed rebel factions. Yet the most important factor in Assad’s victory was neither his international support nor his wartime strategies; rather, Assad triumphed because Syria’s armed domestic opposition was hopelessly fragmented from the beginning to the closing stages of the conflict.