Can Nato survive US President Donald Trump?

  • 11 July 2018
  • From the section Europe
US soldiers stand by Abrams Battle Tanks bearing the US flag prior to the opening ceremony of the joint multinational military exercise "Noble Partner 2017" Image copyright Getty Images

This is a Nato summit like no other. The difference is in large part due to one man - Donald Trump. Under his watch, periodic tensions between the US and many of its allies have turned into fault-lines that could, if allowed to widen, place a question mark over the future of the alliance itself.

What is Nato for?

From its inception, Nato was a defensive military alliance intended to deter any attack by the then Soviet Union.

Once the Cold War was over, Nato set about what it saw as its new tasks: an attempt to spread stability across Europe by welcoming in new members, by establishing a wide range of partnerships with other countries but also by using force on occasion - notably in the Balkans - to prevent aggression and genocide.

But the alliance has always been more than just a military organisation.

It is one of the central institutions of "the West", part of a whole range of international bodies through which the US and its allies sought to regulate the world that emerged from the defeat of Nazism in 1945.

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Chemical weapons: New watchdog powers an important step

  • 27 June 2018
  • From the section Europe
A UN chemical weapons expert, wearing a gas mask, holds samples from one of the sites of an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria in 2013 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The findings of inspectors can now include who carried out the attacks

This is an important step forward for arms control.

It strengthens the unravelling consensus against the use of chemical weapons. It marks a victory for the rules-based international order, which itself is under increasing strain given the rise of populists and nationalism in many countries.

Read full article Chemical weapons: New watchdog powers an important step

Trump Kim summit: What did it actually achieve?

US President Donald Trump (R) and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (L) walk toward one another at the start of their historic US-North Korea summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore on 12 June 2018. Image copyright AFP

Now that the dust has settled on the Trump-Kim summit, it is worth taking a moment to assess what, if anything, was achieved. President Trump certainly does diplomacy differently.

This was his event - in his view, his success - and as far as he is concerned, the North Korean nuclear problem is well on the way to resolution.

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Nato's painful homecoming

  • 7 June 2018
  • From the section Europe
Nato's new headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. Photo: May 2018 Image copyright EPA
Image caption Nato's new headquarters in Brussels looks like several giant launch ramps

Past civilisations erected great monuments to show their power and influence, and in a sense Nato's brand new glass and steel headquarters building in Brussels is similarly intended to send a signal of the alliance's potency and relevance as tensions with a resurgent Russia once again dominate its agenda.

The building's sweeping lines - it looks like several giant launch-ramps or ski-jumps fused together - sends out a clinical message of modernity and efficiency.

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Is Israel driving a wedge between Russia and Iran?

Israeli tanks on occupied Golan Heights (May 2018) Image copyright AFP
Image caption Israel has bolstered its defences on the occupied Golan Heights - its front with Syria

Earlier this month the long-running battle between Israel and Iran in Syria reached a dramatic crescendo. What is believed to have been Iranian rocket-fire against Israeli army positions on the occupied Golan Heights (itself a response to earlier Israeli air attacks against an Iranian base in the country) prompted a major Israeli offensive.

Israeli warplanes struck some 50 Iranian targets in Syria, virtually every known Iranian base or installation, according to analysts, setting back Iran's military build-up for months if not years.

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Trump and North Korea: What cancelled summit reveals about US foreign policy

US President Donald J. Trump speaks about his cancelling the summit in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, USA on 24 May 2018. Image copyright EPA
Image caption Mr Trump has made a number of controversial decisions around complicated global issues recently

The decision to pull out of the summit with North Korea rounds off a momentous six weeks for US foreign policy.

It has provided a window on President Trump's approach to foreign affairs; one that may worry friends and potential enemies alike.

Read full article Trump and North Korea: What cancelled summit reveals about US foreign policy

Russia v the West: Is this a new Cold War?

  • 1 April 2018
  • From the section Europe
Vladimir Putin watching military parade Image copyright Getty Images

Relations between Russia and the West are at a new low. But how should we describe the current situation?

There's a lot of loose talk about a new "Cold War" - a comparison of present-day tensions to the bitter ideological and military rivalry that existed between the Soviet Union and the West from the 1950s to the end of the 1980s.

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Spy poisoning: What the diplomat expulsions mean for Russia

  • 26 March 2018
  • From the section Europe
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Media captionThe war of words between the UK and Russia

This is building into the most serious diplomatic crisis between Russia and the West since Moscow's seizure of the Crimea.

Whatever the denials, Britain's allies have clearly accepted London's view - that the use of a military grade nerve agent in an assassination attempt in a British city was "highly likely" to be the work of the Russian state.

Read full article Spy poisoning: What the diplomat expulsions mean for Russia

Russian spy: Skripal case highlights UK's Russia dilemma

  • 6 March 2018
  • From the section Europe
Sergei Skripal in Moscow court. Photo: August 2006 Image copyright Moscow District Military Court/TASS
Image caption Col Skripal was convicted of "high treason in the form of espionage" by Moscow's military court in August 2006

The mystery illness that has afflicted former Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter has prompted UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to note that the case has "echoes" of the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko who was poisoned with radioactive material in London in 2006.

A British public inquiry concluded in 2016 that Russian agents had murdered Litvinenko and that Russian President Vladimir Putin himself "probably approved" the operation.

Read full article Russian spy: Skripal case highlights UK's Russia dilemma

Putin's nuclear slideshow echoes Cold War

  • 2 March 2018
  • From the section Europe
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Media captionPresident Putin introduced video of a missile launch

Fact or fantasy? Real world weapons or simply technologies that are under development? A message to the US or largely to his own domestic constituency? President Putin's presentation of Russia's new nuclear arsenal was all these things and more.

Above all it was a signal that there is going to be no thaw in US-Russia relations any time soon. Mr Putin appears largely to have given up on any hopes of a close understanding with the mercurial Donald Trump.

Read full article Putin's nuclear slideshow echoes Cold War