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Related commentary: Europe

NATO: A new need for some old ideas

As NATO marks its first 75 years, its core mission has arguably come full circle: deterrence and territorial defence in Europe. Remembering key lessons from cold war diplomacy could help it to navigate the challenges ahead.

Escalating violence in Nagorno-Karabakh: Local solutions offer the main hope

While details remain scarce, the fighting that has erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan appears to be more intense than the skirmishes that killed at least a dozen people in the summer of 2020. At the time of writing, roughly 100 people, both civilians and military personnel, have been killed since Sunday, and fighting continues. 

Russia’s new Arctic policy document signals continuity rather than change

On 6 March 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin approved the ‘Basic Principles of Russian Federation State Policy in the Arctic to 2035’ (Basic Principles 2035). The new policy document defines Russia’s Arctic interests, goals and mechanisms of implementation for the next 15 years. The document is published at a time where tensions between Russia and its Arctic neighbours are increasing and just ahead of Russia chairing the Arctic Council in 2021.

European Union–Eastern Partnership relations: Future opportunities

In 2019, when the European Union (EU) and six countries to the east of the EU (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) marked the 10th anniversary of their Eastern Partnership (EaP), foreign ministers underlined common work on trade, visa liberalization, economic development and human rights that had been encouraged by (or through) the partnership.

Reducing the risk of naval incidents

This month, 18 countries are participating in a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) naval exercise in the Baltic Sea. The Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) exercise is noteworthy because it will be led by the 2nd Fleet of the United States Navy, which was disbanded in 2011 but reconstituted in 2018 with a wide area of operations from the east coast of the USA to the Barents Sea.

Key actions to reduce nuclear security risk in the Black Sea region

The wider Black Sea region contains both a high degree of nuclear security risk and rich experience in efforts to cooperate on risk reduction. Given that some of the most significant known cases of illicit nuclear trafficking have taken place in the wider Black Sea region, it is important to understand whether recent events, including the conflict in and around Ukraine, have increased existing nuclear security risks or created new ones.

The forgotten science of cooperative threat reduction

The announcement that Russia had completed the destruction of its chemical weapons stockpile was rightly applauded as a milestone in multilateral arms control. However, it was also a reminder of the significant part that international non-proliferation and disarmament assistance played in facilitating the implementation of the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

The EU common defence: Deeper integration on the horizon?

The EU Global Strategy is considered the outcome of a review of the European Security Strategy (ESS) in light of the dramatic changes in the EU’s security environment since 2003, alongside the substantial institutional and legal developments caused by enlargement and the Lisbon Treaty.

SIPRI highlights of 2016

Throughout a turbulent 2016, SIPRI's vision of a world of sustainable peace remained unchanged. Here are some of SIPRI's highlights of 2016.

China and (world) food security

China has seen dramatic domestic growth in agricultural production, but now it must navigate the pressures of a growing food demand and the negative effects of climate change.

Brexit: Bad news for peace

Amidst all the current political and economic uncertainty from the UK vote to leave the EU one thing is clear: Brexit is bad news for peace.

European security. Crisis? What crisis?

The tone of this year’s Munich Security Conference was captured by the Munich Security Report’s theme: ‘Boundless chaos, reckless spoilers, helpless guardians.’

Cities and security

Terrorist attacks in Ankara, Beirut and Paris have triggered tremendous shock and sorrow, but also anxiety and insecurity in other cities in Europe and beyond.

Damage limitation for Vienna document

Last week, Nato's secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg launched the idea of reworking the Vienna Document on Confidence and Security Building Measures.

Small arms control in Europe: time for an integrated strategy

Although small arms control has been an issue on the humanitarian arms control agenda for a long time, small arms manufacturers and civilian consumers have enjoyed a relatively liberal market in large parts of the world. In Europe and the United States, for example, the guiding principle has been to remove barriers for law-abiding adults in good mental health to access weapons for cultural, recreational or self-defence purposes. One could argue that the same principle has been adopted for international transfers of small arms.

Russia and the Arctic: an end to cooperation?

The recent increase in Russia’s military activities in the Arctic have raised concerns over whether the Arctic can continue to be a ‘zone of peace and cooperation’ in the foreseeable future.

Russia as a strategic challenge for the European Union

The current pattern of Russian behaviour has been labelled inconsistent with the norms, values and laws that make up the European security order—to the point where EU leaders stress that relations with Russia cannot be ‘business as usual’.

The European Union’s response to the terrorist attacks in Paris: combining targeted and comprehensive approaches

In the wake of the attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris in January 2015, the European Union and its member states face growing public calls to address internal and external threats, and particularly terrorism. The EU, through its High Representative, should promote political dialogue on comprehensive approaches to conflict and crisis prevention, which can deal with both the symptoms and the causes of these threats.

Reducing risks arising from developments in Ukraine: the role of confidence- and security-building measures

The main role of the arms control agreements reached in Europe in the 1990s—along with associated politically binding confidence- and security-building measures (CSBMs)—is to ensure predictability in military behaviour and promote confidence that armed forces exist only for legitimate defensive purposes. Concern has been expressed about whether they still play that role.

A more inclusive Arctic Council faces new challenges

The Arctic Council's ministerial meeting in Kiruna, Sweden, this week highlighted the global interest in the Arctic region. The fact that six non-Arctic states (China, India, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea and Singapore) were granted permanent observer status indicates an opening up of the Council to the world and signifies a breakthrough that rejects ideas of Arctic isolationism.

Arctic cooperation must become more inclusive

July 2011 saw the lowest extent of Arctic sea ice for that month since satellite measurements began in 1979. An increasingly accessible Arctic, and the economic and other potential benefits it offers, has sparked new interest in the region, not only among those states with territory in the Arctic but also among a range of non-Arctic states and organizations. To date, the Arctic states have sought to deal with Arctic matters among themselves, while keeping non-Arctic countries and organizations at arm’s length.

The role of deterrence in future NATO strategy

Prior to the recent meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Tallinn, the NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that the alliance continues to need a credible nuclear deterrent for ‘as long as there are rogue regimes or terrorist groupings that may pose a nuclear threat to us’. The most recent report from the NATO Parliamentary Assembly also noted that both deterrence and the concept of extended deterrence still play a fundamental role in ensuring stability and preventing conflict in the Euro-Atlantic region.

Coming tests for transatlantic security relations

A renewed atmosphere of friendship and willingness to cooperate is apparent in relations between Europe and the United States. US Vice-President Joe Biden, in his speech at the 2009 Munich Security Conference, set out the USA’s position: ‘We will engage. We will listen. We will consult.