U.S. sanctions on Russia are hurting budding U.S. allies. The Philippines, for example, is trying to figure out how to circumvent them while still following through with the planned purchase of Russian-made rocket-propelled grenade launchers. India, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia are in a similar situation. The United States wants to develop better defense ties with all these nations, which traditionally purchase cheap weapons from Russia, but defense ties start to lose their value when partners can’t buy weapons. Washington is in a difficult position of needing to work around its own sanctions with third parties that are important to U.S. interests.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces his first no-confidence vote, months after another attempt to bring the vote to the floor failed. Officials from Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party said they expect the vote to go their way. Modi was riding high for years after his initial election, promising to reshape the economy and create a unified India – no easy task, considering how regionalized Indian politics is. The no-confidence vote reminds us that India’s political diversity is one of the biggest obstacles to its emergence as a world power.
We end the work week in the Caucasus, a pot that seems to always be stirring. A spokesman for Russia’s Foreign Ministry trumpeted recent improvements in Georgian-Russian ties. Moscow now has an interest in restoring neighborly ties with Tbilisi, which would be understandably hesitant to forgive and forget all the territory it lost in the 2008 Russo-Georgian War. Next door, Azerbaijan’s ambassador to Turkey expressed an interested in greater defense cooperation with Ankara and vowed to join Turkey’s campaign against Gulenists. Turkey is Azerbaijan’s answer to Russia, the traditional benefactor of rival Armenia.
- The U.S. State Department expressed its support for Iraqis’ right to peaceful protest. It stopped short of criticizing the government in Baghdad.
- Turkey and the U.S. will soon begin joint patrols in the northern Syrian city of Manbij, according to U.S. Central Command.
- Macedonian political parties failed to agree on a roadmap for a referendum on the name-change deal with Greece. Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry canceled Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s planned visit to Greece and vowed to reciprocally expel Greek diplomats.
- The French presidential office started dismissal proceedings against a security aide after a video emerged of him wearing a police visor and assaulting a protester in Paris on May 1. President Emmanuel Macron’s popularity has dipped below 40 percent, and incidents like this won’t help.