The CSS Blog Network

Democracy in Peril: Ten Elections to Watch in 2018

Image courtesy of David Drexler/Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

This article was originally published by Political Violence @ a Glance on 11 January 2018.

Democracy’s resilience into the 21st century is rightly questioned. In 2017, a host of countries worldwide saw threats to civil and political liberties, popular participation, and fundamental human rights.  Corruption and state capture by predatory political elites led the news in old and new democracies alike. Verbal and physical attacks on civil society, the press, and minorities were reported in virtually all world regions.  And new virulent, nationalist ideologies threaten human rights and the carefully crafted post-World War II international liberal order.

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Russia Used a Two-Year-Old Video and an ‘Alternative’ Swedish Group to Discredit Reports of Syria Gas Attack

Courtesy of flikr/Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

This article was published by the World Policy Institute on 18 May 2017.

A video that Moscow used as key piece of evidence that its ally President Bashar al-Assad had nothing to do with the chemical attack in Idlib which killed more than 80 people, including many children and women one month ago, was in fact released two years ago and first cited a month before the attack actually took place.

The video was pushed out across Russian state-controlled airwaves and on social media shortly after President Donald J. Trump launched the first direct U.S. military strike on Syrian government forces.

It showed what looks like a makeshift emergency room: doctors working frantically around the small bodies of limp, half-naked children, their eyes rolling back and noses foaming. A girl in pink underwear lies on top of an elderly woman who seems to have already died. One bed over, a doctor injects a long needle deep into a small child’s chest.

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The Swedish Counter-Intelligence Report on Hostile Russian Activities in the Region in a Comparative Context

IBM Blade Center with two HS22 and twelve HS21 Blade servers installed. Courtesy Bob Mical/Flickr

This article was originally published by PISM on 24 March 2016.

The Swedish counter-intelligence service’s latest annual assessments highlight the growing interest of Russian intelligence in Sweden’s national security issues. Soon after the publication of the unclassified version of the report, a series of cyberattacks on Swedish media took place. The increase in hostile Russian intelligence activities has been seen as connected to a public debate about the prospects for closer relations between Sweden and NATO. The U.S. perception of the Russian threats presented by Sweden’s counter-intelligence services does not deviate from public assessments by other Scandinavian countries’ assessments. This might suggest that the increased Russian activities are part of some broader strategy concerning Northern Europe.

On 17 March 2016, the Swedish Security Service (Säkerhetspolisen, or SÄPO) published an unclassified version of its annual assessment of intelligence and terrorist threats. The chapter on Russian disinformation and psychological operations stirred public interest and was followed by a series of coordinated and massive cyberattacks (DDoS-style, or “distributed denial of service”) on a number of websites in Sweden. A DDoS attack on 19 March resulted in seven of the main Swedish newspapers’ internet portals being unavailable.

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The Bildt-Sikorski-Effect

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorsi. Image: Platforma Obywatelska RP/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by European Geostrategy on 12 October 2014.

The departure of Carl Bildt and Radoslaw Sikorski as foreign ministers of Sweden and Poland respectively is an interesting development for European foreign policy. The timing is awful. At a moment when Europe is faced with crises in the east and the south, Europe can ill afford to lose either its most experienced statesmen or the vision they bring to the table. Both leaders simultaneously believe in the strategic necessity of the EU and they are as comfortable in Washington as they are at home in Warsaw or Stockholm. With Bildt and Sikorski gone, the EU is also lacking any obvious hardliners on Russia. This may satisfy some in the EU but surely Vladimir Putin must be pleased with their replacements. » More

Arctic: What Place for Scandinavian Solidarity?

"This is our territory:" Polar bears on the starboard bow of a submarine. Picture: Wikipedia Commons.

It has been an exciting New Year for High North policy in the Scandinavian countries. In the annual Foreign Policy Declaration last Tuesday, Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt reiterated the government’s intent to push its new Arctic Strategy as one of its core foreign policies. To the west, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Garh Störe announced Oslo’s new project of drilling for petroleum (together with Russia) in the northern parts of the Barents Sea. In the south, Denmark’s Foreign Minister Villy Søvndal appointed the country’s first Arctic Ambassador, Klavs A. Holm, previously an emissary to London, Singapore and the EU.

The Arctic is the new buzz word in Scandinavian corridors of power. All three states have now drawn up comprehensive strategies articulating their vision for the region. But are their visions compatible?  While Scandinavian states are often considered politically indistinguishable (and have pledged themselves, as signatories of the “Nordic Declaration of Solidarity,” to govern in respect of their common heritage) their geographical differences could bring them into competition over the Arctic.

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