Thursday 30 Jun 2022 | 11:24 | SYDNEY
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Europe

Merkel and beyond

She was wading through debris left by catastrophic floods in the west of Germany. Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel had, last week, come to assess the damage and promise help to survivors. So, too, had all three candidates in the race to succeed Germany’s long-serving leader after the federal

Russia’s National Security Strategy: Same book, new cover

“The weak get beaten,” declared Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2004 after the Beslan tragedy. Russia’s recently-unveiled new National Security Strategy bears the stamp of Putin’s world view. It is not a revolutionary document, but builds on familiar themes identified in its 2015

Ukraine: Balancing China and the rest

Ukraine is attempting to improve its relations with China after the nation’s authorities, allegedly pressured by the United States, decided to halt the takeover of a local aircraft engine manufacturer by a Chinese company. Ukraine is typically seen as country inside a Western sphere of

Macron’s right-wing gamble

On a recent Saturday afternoon in Paris, thousands of protesters gathered at the Place de Clichy in the north west of the city in one of 140 so-called “Liberty Marches” across France that day in a statement against a perceived lurch to the right by mainstream politicians, especially President

Australia sweeps the table in the UK trade deal

Australian trade negotiators often enter talks with difficult demands and a comparatively weak hand. Agriculture, where they seek concessions from the other side, is politically sensitive meaning they are asking their counterparts to do what is hard. In exchange, they have little to offer because

Believing Biden

At the conclusion of US President Joe Biden’s one-week visit across the continent and to the United Kingdom, Europeans appear to believe in the need to push back against the authoritarian China of Xi Jinping – a faith evident despite their mutual economic interests with Beijing along with a fear

Economic diplomacy: Trade deals for a fast-growing family

Worker vs worker vs student Almost five million Kiwis have always been at least cousins. And Scott Morrison’s distinctive contribution to regional security has been his embrace of about 10 million other islanders as “our Pacific family”. But in a week of rhetoric about international

Biden-Putin summit: Managing expectations

The United States and Russia are both carefully managing down expectations of any dramatic breakthroughs when US President Joe Biden meets his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Geneva on 16 June – their first face-to-face contact since Biden took office. This is understandable and sensible.

New Caledonia eyes final vote on independence

France is showing signs of frustration as it exerts all efforts to underline the real consequences of independence for those long-standing New Caledonian residents who will vote in a third and final referendum before the 1998 Noumea Accord ends next year. French Minister for Overseas Territories

London and Hong Kong: Financial centres in parallel peril

There is a curious parallel between Hong Kong and London as financial centres in potential decline due to the recent loss of a unique position. Historically both cities were crucial nodes in the global network of the British Empire. More recently both functioned at a critical junction between the

Russia–China: An Unholy Alliance?

Russia and China’s verbal sparring with the US over competing visions of multilateralism last week in the UN Security Council exemplified the closer ties forged over recent years between Moscow and Beijing. The burgeoning relationship undoubtedly offers mutual advantage for both countries –

Sticks and carrots in Biden’s Russia strategy

The Biden administration’s recent comprehensive package of sanctions against Russian individuals and organisations is probably the clearest indication yet of a US decision to use sticks to moderate Moscow’s adventurism. But do these measures go far enough, and what will the US need to do next if

Russia’s Asia diplomacy

Russia’s long-serving Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov shuttled between Beijing, New Delhi and Islamabad in recent weeks, putting on a diplomatic display that could be described as admirably adroit as much as it was divisive. From China and India, Lavrov fulminated against a hostile America’s

Covid vaccines: Charity begins at home

There has – rightly – been a strong reaction in Australia and more broadly to the Italian government decision, endorsed by the European Union and some of its leaders, not to permit AstraZeneca to export 250,000 contracted doses of its Covid vaccine to Australia. Italian Foreign Minister Luigi

Cracks beginning to appear in the Russia-India relationship

India’s annual summit with Russia was cancelled last year for the first time since its inception – the official reason, as was commonly blamed for many abandoned events, Covid-19. The summit’s cancellation was a rare hiccup in what has otherwise been a traditionally close partnership. Moscow

India must be realistic about Russia relations

The visit to Moscow by India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla on 17–18 February was his first overseas trip outside South Asia during the corona crisis, underscoring the importance India attaches to its strategic partnership with Russia. But it is a relationship where New Delhi must also be

Palaces and protests: Where to next for Russia?

Large street protests swept more than a hundred Russian cities in late January. The rallies were sparked by the arrest and jailing of prominent Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and the release of his widely viewed “Putin’s Palace” corruption exposé video on YouTube. Unsurprisingly, security

Russia vs the EU

European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell visited Moscow this month intending to lodge a strong protest against the treatment of dissident Alexei Navalny and his supporters in Russia. Not surprisingly, this was forcefully rebutted by Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei

Germany’s ordinary new world

In extraordinary times, ordinariness can be a virtue. That, in any case, is the hope of Armin Laschet, who was elected as the new leader of Germany’s largest party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), on 22 January. A moderate Catholic from Aachen, Germany’s westernmost city, Laschet

The Donbass conflict: Waiting for escalation

Europe’s “forgotten war” between the Western-backed Ukraine and the Russian-sponsored, self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic over the energy-rich Donbass region of eastern Ukraine has been “on hold” for six years. Despite the formal truce declared in

The ageing of the guard in Putin’s Russia

Vladimir Putin, who rose to power more than 20 years ago as symbol of youth, strength and vitality, is today confronting an uncomfortable truth. In short, his previously rock-solid regime is starting to look a bit tired. The Russian government’s recent violent crackdowns against protesters

The US and the next leader of the OECD

Although it may not regularly make headlines, the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is an important multilateral institution. With its standard-setting capability, the organisation’s 300 committees and 3300-member secretariat have carved unique policy niches on trade,

A very British crisis

Returning to the country of one’s birth is a common experience for many Australians. In the more than 45 years since I first arrived in Australia, though, I have never been more astounded and appalled by what has happened to Britain in my absence, or more grateful that I no longer live there. I

She won’t be right with “Australian-style” Brexit

As if 2020 has not been challenging enough, the United Kingdom is currently facing the prospect of ending its Brexit transition period on 31 December without a trade deal with the European Union. As post-Brexit negotiations on a UK–EU deal have continued without a breakthrough, the claim that the

Learning from an island in a pandemic

Through a quirk in circumstances, I presently find myself sheltering from the pandemic in Iceland. I wouldn’t consider myself stranded like other overseas Australians. I am here due to personal necessity and because the country is a relatively safe place. While the recent success of my home city

Russia and China team up on the Indian Ocean

Two recent naval exercises demonstrate the potential for Russia-China cooperation in the Indian Ocean, and how the two present a much greater threat to a continued US role and influence in the region than either would individually. Last year, South Africa hosted a maritime exercise with

Artefacts paving France’s return to Africa

In November, the French Senate unanimously voted to return a small selection of pre-colonial African artefacts to Benin and Senegal that were looted by colonial forces. Benin will receive 26 artefacts from the former Kingdom of Dahomey, while Senegal will receive a sword and scabbard belonging to a

The UK’s unwelcome foreign aid cut

The recent move to cut billions of pounds from the United Kingdom’s foreign aid budget was long feared by advocates. As result, one minister has flagged her resignation, and others have made threats to cross the floor. The reduction of the UK’s aid spend from 0.7% to 0.5% of gross national

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