Efforts by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to influence Australian politics have made headlines since 2017. In recent months, similar attempts have been at the centre of German debates.
While geographically distant, Australia and Germany are well suited to address this challenge jointly,
Russia’s Navy is a highly visible and generally well-understood instrument of Moscow’s military power that has been on a slow process of re-equipment from its 1990s nadir. It now wields a fairly impressive range of capabilities, from new medium-sized ships, such as corvettes
“Believe me, I would never have imagined that a German Foreign Minister would ever have to say such a thing.”
So confessed Heiko Maas in a remarkable speech delivered in Berlin last week. His subject was nothing less than the demise of the “world order that we once knew”, in
In February last year, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made a startling comment at the 2017 Munich Security Conference. He asserted that “the post–Cold War order” had come to an end, and called instead on “leaders with a sense of responsibility” to
On 26 May, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in Moscow for what was their 21st bilateral meeting. For the most part, the outcomes of that meeting paint a sorry picture for the Abe administration.
No meaningful progress was made at the meeting on core
Ireland is about to vote in a referendum on whether to repeal what is commonly known as the Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution, and legislate to permit abortion. Much like the 2015 Irish referendum that legalised same-sex marriage, this vote will address changing social attitudes that
The attempted assassination of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in early March saw a global response sterner than many expected. More than 150 Russian diplomats were expelled from embassies worldwide.
Yet despite global condemnation, the assassinations appear to have continued. Russian
Heckles, shrieks, denunciations, and counter-accusations: the nineteenth German Bundestag casts a vastly different impression to the staid, somnolent proceedings of yesteryear. Armed with a tactic of “permanent provocation”, the sudden appearance of nearly 100 representatives from the far-
Trump finally did it: in perhaps one of the most ridiculous moves of his presidency (although competition on that front is fierce), he announced that his administration would remove the US from the Iran deal and reimpose all nuclear-related sanctions on Iran.
This is not only a gross violation of
Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan has been ousted only six days into his term, and protests have been voluntarily suspended while the National Assembly decides on his successor.
But political uncertainty in Armenia jeopardises a fragile ceasefire with Azerbaijan over an
French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Australia was a frank success, although some observers were puzzled after he raised the idea of a “Paris–New Delhi–Canberra” diamond within an Indo-Pacific axis.
Yet this proposal is clarified by French national objectives
The way in which the European Union and its member states responded to recent strikes by the US, France, and the UK on Syrian chemical weapons targets very clearly exposes the strengths and weaknesses of European power.
One or two Europeans are movers, but most are shakers.
When it came down to
It’s not every day that a former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, America’s premier law-enforcement body, calls the sitting president of the US “morally unfit” to hold office. Yet that is what James Comey did on Sunday in a wide-ranging interview with ABC News
President Donald Trump is under enormous pressure to respond militarily to the latest provocation by the Assad regime, but he would do so against all of his instincts and earlier pronouncements to end US military involvement in the Syrian war.
Just days before the chemical attacks in Douma,
The overwhelming victory of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party in Hungary’s 8 April elections is yet another sign that nationalist and populist parties are alive and kicking in Europe.
Fidesz won 49% of the vote, about the same percentage as the seven largest opposition parties
In the wake of the attempt on the life of Sergei Skripal, the ex-Russian spy, and his daughter Yulia in Britain, practically all Western countries joined to expel select Russian diplomats. This, however, was not the case with Japan and South Korea.
Perhaps more than any other countries, Japan and
It appears a new regional security order is encircling Syria as the civil war grinds into its seventh year. This shift was visible last week, when the leaders of Turkey, Iran, and Russia met in Ankara to discuss solutions to the Syrian crisis. The detailed talks covered de-escalation zones
The “bitter split among Australia academics” (reported in the Financial Times) with regard to attitudes towards China, and the Skripal poisoning incident that prompted an unprecedented number of European countries to take highly symbolic measures against Russia, have a common denominator
In February, in his last formal speech as foreign affairs minister of Germany, China’s biggest European trade partner, Sigmar Gabriel repeated an earlier warning. China’s new Silk Road Initiative, he said, is part of its efforts to establish an alternative world system
On Tuesday, the head of Britain’s Porton Down laboratory caused a stir when he admitted that his scientists had not identified the “precise source” of the Novichok nerve agent used to poison former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, and Skripal’s daughter Yulia, on 4 March. The comment
Australia, the US, and several EU nations joined forces with Britain this week to expel Russian diplomats from their nations. The decision is based on the widespread view that the Russian regime of Vladimir Putin is responsible for the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England earlier
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Myanmar recently in a clear display of Moscow’s pragmatism.
Many Western observers, especially from the US, present Vladimir Putin as either a Machiavellian mixer with almost superhuman abilities – he who put Donald Trump in the White House and
Upon receiving confirmation that the UK had formally accused Moscow of poisoning Sergei Skripal, the former spy, as well as his daughter and 21 others, then US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said it was almost beyond comprehension that a state would act this way.
“Crush treason ruthlessly, crush it mercilessly.”Modest Mussorgsky, Boris Godunov (1874), Act IV, Scene 2
In theory, Russia prohibits capital punishment – even mass murderers are jailed for life. But in practice, some Russians accused of treason or seen as a threat to the state, or to its
It’s been almost a year since the United Kingdom formally notified the European Union of its intention to leave the EU. Since then, the UK and EU have been engaged in intense negotiations about the mechanics of Brexit, all with a view to the UK’s formal departure on 29 March 2019. In
During his presidential address on 1 March, Vladimir Putin revealed additional information on six major new Russian weapons systems, some unveiled for the first time. Four of the weapons, discussed below, are principally relevant in a strategic nuclear sense; that is, they carry atomic warheads and
After five frustrating and tedious months, Germany finally has a government. On Sunday morning, representatives of the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) announced that its membership had voted in favour of returning to power as the junior party to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Conservative
The recent UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution for a 30-day ceasefire in Syria was arguably a vital step towards the delivery of much-needed humanitarian aid to 5.6 million Syrians deemed in “acute need”. Yet shortly after the resolution was unanimously adopted, the Syrian Government
During a trip to Australia this month, UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced that HMS Sutherland, a British frigate currently deployed to Australia and the Western Pacific, would return from its tour via the South China Sea, “making it clear our navy has a right to do that”. Williamson
True to his pledge made during the French election campaign last year, President Emmanuel Macron last week put forward a proposal for a substantial and welcome increase in France’s defence budget.
This move follows at least a decade of reductions in French defence spending. Macron’s election
The downing of a Russian Su-25 aircraft this week marks the second aircraft lost to MANPADS surface-to-air missiles in six weeks. At the end of December, militants shot down a Syrian L-39 aircraft near Hama.
Russia’s response has been swift and severe, conducting multiple
The heads of the three main political groups contesting the Italian elections in March appear to have taken inspiration from opera buffa, or Italian comic opera. Should Italy turn a shade of populist or nationalist, will we see yet another crisis in Europe?
Cosi fan tutti (All do it), said
China has made a significant foray into the Arctic with the creation of a data “silk road”. Strongly supported by a newfound closeness with Russia, preliminary planning of a Chinese and Finnish–led trans-Arctic cable along the Arctic’s Northeast Passage in partnership with Japan and Norway
Vladimir Putin’s election to a fourth term as President of Russia on 18 March is a foregone conclusion. Nobody can remotely consider Russia’s presidential election to be democratic, whatever Putin and his defenders might say.
Seeing as it is obviously a sham and a travesty, one might ask why
Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) is having a political nightmare from which it is unable to awake.
Wounded by the experience of four years as junior governing party to Angela Merkel’s conservative Union, in September the party limped to a meagre 20.5% of the vote: their
Recently the Lowy Institute’s Aaron Connelly argued that there is not much Britain can do in Asia because British power is diminishing. This is unsurprising.
One of the biggest challenges in international relations is ascertaining a given state’s place in the international system.
During French President Emmanuel Macron's visit to China, which concluded last week, his choice to gift China's Xi Jinping with a horse was apparently prompted by Xi's words of admiration during a 2014 trip to Paris. On that visit, Xi was greeted by a guard of honour from the Garde Ré
Politicians have a track record of declaring military victory before it is achieved. Think the 'Mission Accomplished' banner unfurled behind George W. Bush aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln on 1 May 2003, after which the war in Iraq continued for another eight years, claiming
Austria’s far right Freedom Party (FPÖ) who was sworn-in just before Christmas as part of the Austrian government issued from legislative elections last October, is very right wing. Steeped in a brown past, it makes no bones about authoritarian leaning, anti-immigrant positions.
In the European
Russian President Vladimir Putin was reported this week to have ordered Russian military chiefs to redeploy ‘most’ of Russia’s Syria contingent back home. Exactly what constitutes ‘most', though, is anyone’s guess.
There are reports that Russia
Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang's visit to Hungary for the sixth China-Central and Eastern Europe Countries (CEEC) Summit last week demonstrates that China has become an increasingly important player in the post-Soviet space. Its presence in Central Asia is now an undeniable fact, but less well-
Truth and Russian affairs do not sit comfortably together. Churchill observed in 1939 that Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, and we find ourselves today struggling with this intrigue amid persistent claims about Donald Trump and links to Russia.
This struggle also speaks to
Since the beginning of Germany's election campaign a few months ago, Christian Lindner has demanded his role on centre stage. His slightly dishevelled face stared out in black and white from every brochure, billboard and advert for the Free Democratic Party (FDP), shamelessly transforming the proud
Having vanquished Syria’s rebels militarily, Russia now faces the challenge of reconstructing a durable Syrian state. To convert military victory into a lasting political settlement that benefits it and its allies in Syria, Bashar Assad’s government and Iran, Moscow has moved quickly to
French President Emmanuel Macron is considering a visit to Tehran in early 2018. Macron would be the first French President to visit Iran since Valéry Giscard d'Estaing in 1976, and given the tensions between Washington and Europe over the nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of
A brief recapitulation of what has happened in Europe in recent weeks, with Austria first. The parliamentary election will likely bring 31 year-old Sebastian Kurz to power, easily beating out, age-wise, France’s Macron and Canada’s Trudeau in the new class of millennial prime ministers who have
To discuss what's driving Russia's Korea policy, we need a framework within which we can begin to understand Moscow’s motives regarding North Korea’s nuclearisation and the ensuing international crisis.
First, peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and more broadly in
In the last few days, the British press and social media have been rife with reports that the Royal Marines are to be reduced by 1000 from their present establishment of 6500. In addition, the amphibious fleet may be similarly reduced with the decommissioning of the landing platform dock (LPD) that
The German far-right AfD has entered the Federal Republic’s parliament, while Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU and Martin Schulz’s Social Democrats suffered heavy losses.
The 87% of Germans who did not vote for the ‘Alternative für Deutschland’, along with their elected leaders in government and