Remember how the noble hero of “Game of Thrones,” Lord Eddard Stark, personally executes a deserter in the first season because “the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword”? It looks as if image-makers for Russian President Vladimir Putin have taken a page from Stark’s code of conduct.
The ruble plunged to new lows today, exceeding 80 to the U.S. dollar for the first time ever. The slump in oil prices – now at $28 per barrel compared with over $100 two years ago – has dragged Russia’s currency down with it. Russia’s government depends on oil earnings for about half of its tax revenue, and commodities constitute the vast majority of the nation’s exports.
On New Year’s Eve, large groups of men – alleged to be of Northern African provenience – harassed women and stole cell phones and other valuables around the Central Station in Cologne. The incidents were not confined to one place, as similar episodes were reported across other German cities and in a few other European countries.
WASHINGTON—Angela Merkel was not a born Atlanticist, having come of age in East Germany under a Communist regime. While she did not grow up in the deep networks that underpin German-American relations, this formative experience taught her the central importance of open and liberal societies and this meant giving priority to Germany’s relationship with the United States.
Nord Stream 2 is an expansion of the existing gas pipeline between Vyborg in Russia and Greifswald in Germany through the Baltic Sea. The consortium which will build the expansion consists of Russian Gazprom (50%), German E.ON (10%) and BASF/Wintershall (10%), Royal Dutch Shell (10%), Austrian OMV (10%) and French ENGIE (10%).
WASHINGTON—Today’s headlines about Syria obscure a major triumph for Western policy. Ukraine seems to be heading toward an informal settlement largely on European and U.S. terms. Yet this success could threaten the very Western unity that brought it about.
The refugee crisis is a drama. But it is also an opportunity. It could provoke the European Union (EU) member countries to face reality, to accept that migration – and especially refugee – policies are no longer a competence single states can handle efficiently and to agree on a new common EU migration and refugee policy management.