Turkey’s Purchase of a Russian Missile System, Explained

Russia sent Turkey a seventh batch of components for the S-400 missile defense system over the weekend. According to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, all S-400 missiles will be deployed by April 2020.

Erdoğan has also said he is planning to send specialists to Russia for training on how to operate the S-400s.

The deal has met stiff resistance from NATO allies, who are threatening to kick Turkey out of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. So why is it going ahead with the purchase? Read more “Turkey’s Purchase of a Russian Missile System, Explained”

Russian Missile Treaty Violation Is a Wake-up Call for Europe

Edgars Rinkēvičs Jens Stoltenberg
Latvian foreign minister Edgars Rinkēvičs speaks with NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels, April 4 (NATO)

Last month, NATO allies issued a warning to Russia, urging it to destroy a new missile system that could threaten Europe or face a “defensive” response.

The warning is a final opportunity for Russia to respect the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which banned land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers. If it doesn’t — and Russia claims the system in question has a range of only 480 kilometers — it will be another wake-up call for Europe. Read more “Russian Missile Treaty Violation Is a Wake-up Call for Europe”

Vladimir Putin Is Not Your Conservative Hero

Vladimir Putin
Russian president Vladimir Putin looks out a window in Budapest, Hungary, February 17, 2015 (Facebook/Viktor Orbán)

In an interview with the Financial Times, Vladimir Putin claims “the liberal idea” has “outlived its purpose” and seeks to position himself at the head of a global reactionary movement against immigration, open borders and multiculturalism.

The Financial Times knows that Putin’s evisceration of liberalism chimes with anti-establishment leaders from American president Donald Trump to Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, Matteo Salvini in Italy and the Brexit insurgency in the UK.

But true believes ought to take a closer look at the Russian leader. He may sound like an ally, but he’s really not interested in your cause. Read more “Vladimir Putin Is Not Your Conservative Hero”

Different Player, Same Game

Donald Trump Giuseppe Conte
American president Donald Trump and Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte arrive to a NATO summit in Brussels, July 12, 2018 (NATO)

Donald Trump has not exactly shied away from advocating for better American relations with Russia. During his presidential campaign, he argued that “Russia and the United States should be able to work well with each other toward defeating terrorism and restoring world peace.” He has repeatedly praised Vladimir Putin and accepted his denials of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

But even Trump’s Russophilia is no match for geopolitical reality. Read more “Different Player, Same Game”

Estonia’s President Sends Wrong Message Meeting Putin

For the past decade, the Baltic states have maintained a strict policy toward Russia: no official state visits by presidents, prime ministers or other high-ranking officials.

That changed last week, when Estonian president Kersti Kaljulaid visited a newly renovated embassy in Moscow and stopped by the Kremlin for a cup of tea with Vladimir Putin.

In itself, the meeting does not carry much weight, as nothing crucial was said or done. But it sent the wrong message. Read more “Estonia’s President Sends Wrong Message Meeting Putin”

Nord Stream Climbdown Should Put Ostpolitik to Rest

Vladimir Putin Angela Merkel
Russian president Vladimir Putin and German chancellor Angela Merkel attend a conference in Moscow, November 16, 2012 (Bundesregierung)

Frederick Studemann argues in the Financial Times that Germany’s Ostpolitik breathes its last in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline controversy.

Germany’s allies in Central European and North America have for years argued against the extension of the Baltic Sea pipeline, arguing — correctly — that it is a political project for Moscow. It doesn’t need the extra capacity. It wants to cut its dependence on Russia-wary transit states in Eastern Europe, most notably Ukraine. Read more “Nord Stream Climbdown Should Put Ostpolitik to Rest”

Why Greek-Russian Relations Haven’t Improved

When the far-left Syriza party took power in Greece in 2015, there were fears (including here) that it might trade the country’s Western alliance for an entente with Moscow.

The party had called for a “refoundation of Europe” away from Cold War divisions and its leader and the new prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, suggested Greece could serve as a “bridge” between East and West.

Three years later, nothing has come of it. Read more “Why Greek-Russian Relations Haven’t Improved”

Trump Believes Summit with Putin Has Reset Relations. He’s Wrong

Donald Trump Vladimir Putin
Presidents Donald Trump of the United States and Vladimir Putin of Russia answer questions from reporters in Helsinki, Finland, July 16 (Office of the President of the Republic of Finland/Juhani Kandell)

Two years on the job, Donald Trump still doesn’t understand foreign policy.

After meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday, the American said relations between their two countries had “never been worse.”

“However,” he added, “that changed as of about four hours ago.”

As if a single meeting of two leaders could change the fate of nations. Read more “Trump Believes Summit with Putin Has Reset Relations. He’s Wrong”

Fetishizing Victimhood: From Poland to America

Poland’s ruling nationalist party has coined the awkward term “Polocaust” to describe the country’s suffering in World War II. At least one minister wants to dedicate a separate museum to the 1.9 million non-Jewish Poles who lost their lives in the conflict.

This comes after the government criminalized blaming Poles for the Holocaust and referenced its 123 years of partition by Austria, Germany and Russia when called out by the EU for illiberal judicial reforms.

Poland, according to the Law and Justice party, has only ever been a victim — until it came to power and restored Polish pride.

It is no coincidence that Law and Justice is popular in the eastern and more rural half of the country, where people have long felt marginalized by the Western-oriented liberal elite.

Nor is the party’s victim-mongering unique. Read more “Fetishizing Victimhood: From Poland to America”

Please Don’t Worry About World War III

American EA-18G Growler jet
An American EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft prepares to launch from the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush on deployment in the Mediterranean Sea, June 9, 2017 (USN/Matt Matlage)

It’s been a while.

As balances become clearer, life is better sorted and all that jazz, I find myself pulled, like the United States in the Middle East, back to the fray.

As it happens, I’ve found I can — and in some ways, must — do an update there and again on Geopolitics Made Super. The point of this blog remains the same — to take something in the headlines, something that is oft-Googled, and break it down to the basic geopolitical building blocks what creates behavior. If you want the hardcore angle, please do see my work over at Stratfor — who does not, by the way, represent or endorse what I write here. This remains a personal blog, in which I hope that those who stumble upon it are given the basics necessary to understand the world just beyond the headlines. The rest of you nerds who come by, I hope you have a good time.

So what have I been up to? Well, being part of the concerted push this week against the notion that we are going to fight World War III has been a big part of it.

We’re not. Not over Syria. I mean, it’s possible. But so is a meteor. So is the Second Coming. And since you probably don’t spend much time worrying about those, you shouldn’t worry about World War III either. But let’s delve into why. Read more “Please Don’t Worry About World War III”