The re-election of Angela Merkel as German chancellor in a grand coalition government means the return of Frank-Walter Steinmeier to the Foreign Ministry in Berlin. Among his main challenges is the need to recalibrate Germany’s – and, by extension, Europe’s – foreign policy towards Russia.
A suicide bombing in the Russian city of Volgograd on October 21 raised the specter of Islamic radical-inspired violence at the Sochi Winter Olympic Games. Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin can be counted on to use a heavy hand to keep a lid on trouble during the showcase event.
There is a general assumption that Afghanistan is a notorious exporter of violence and that the pullout of US and NATO troops in 2014 from the country portends trouble for the neighboring states of Central Asia. Yet this assumption rests on shaky evidence.
President Lee Myung-bak’s administration in South Korea is making a risky bet on Uzbekistan. Seoul is ramping up its investments in the Central Asian state, but given that Uzbekistan is home to one of the most world’s most repressive and arbitrary regimes, South Korean deals stand a higher than usual chance of souring.