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Conflict and Peace

Stories related to violent conflicts, diplomatic tensions, and conflict prevention, mediation and resolution.

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News
G7 explores ways to use frozen Russian assets to help Ukraine 

G7 explores ways to use frozen Russian assets to help Ukraine 

The G7 will explore ways to use future revenues from frozen Russian assets to help Ukraine. Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the G7 and its allies froze around $300 billion in Russian assets. "We are making progress in our discussions on potential avenues to bring forward the extraordinary profits stemming from immobilized Russian sovereign assets to the benefit of Ukraine," the draft statement said. G7 negotiators have been discussing for weeks how best to use these assets, which include major currencies and government bonds held mainly in European vaults. The United States (US) has been urging its G7 partners - Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Canada - to support a loan that could provide Kyiv with up to $50 billion in the near term. The cautious language of the statement, lacking figures or specifics, underlines the many legal and technical issues that would need to be resolved before such a loan could be issued. A G7 source indicated that there would be no significant changes to the statement before the final version is released later on Saturday (25 May).

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Commentary
The fate of Central Asia may be decided on the steppes and in the forests of Ukraine

The fate of Central Asia may be decided on the steppes and in the forests of Ukraine

Vladimir Putin was sworn in for another six-year term as the President of Russia on Tuesday, 7 May. With Putin having been the undisputed leader of Russia for decades, continuity, one would have thought, was assured. Yet Putin himself, on Monday (13 May) speaking at a meeting of the Security Council spoke of “a new political cycle” in Russia. Some of the first decisions of the re-elected president give us a sense of what is to come. First, there was the surprise dismissal of Sergei Shoigu as Minister of Defence, and his transfer to be the Secretary of the Security Council. There had been speculation for some time that Shoigu’s time at the Ministry of Defence was up. But what was surprising was the appointment of Andrei Belousov, former Deputy Prime Minister – an efficient technocrat with an economic background to replace him. That the Russian Ministry of Defence has needed a shake-up for some time has been abundantly clear, but Andrei Belousov’s mission seems to be more ambitious than that: He is tasked with transforming the Russian Defence Ministry into a modern institution that can embrace new ideas and techniques, and that has enough flexibility to conduct the sort of hybrid warfare that is likely to be the order of the day going forward. So despite all of Putin’s bravados about the Russian nuclear arsenal, it seems he is putting his faith in a more innovative, agile, and versatile force. Then on Monday, 13 May, Putin held his first meeting of the Security Council since his inauguration. The Kremlin website only referred to one item out of apparently several that were discussed, namely relations with the post-Soviet Republics, a subject much close to the heart of the president. Putin reiterated that this was a priority in foreign policy. Putin said, “we should pay even more attention to this area in the new political cycle in Russia and discuss the way we will organise this work from all points of view, including organisational”. So it appears that there is new thinking in this sphere, details of which is not yet known.
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Editorial
Editorial: COP29 in Baku needs to be also a summit of peace

Editorial: COP29 in Baku needs to be also a summit of peace

The nexus between “climate change, peace and security” has been at the centre of attention for many years. It is not only about how climate change is exacerbating environmental conditions, increasing the prospects for conflict on owning and sharing resources, and accentuating already existing problems, such as for example water shortage in the Sahel, but it is also about how conflicts are contributing directly to a worsening environmental situation, increasing the gravity of climate change. With major climatic incidents now a regular occurrence across the world, and from which no one is spared, minds have recently become more focused. At COP28 in Dubai in December 2023, the UAE took the initiative to bring the discussion within a COP context. Here again, there was no consensus, with Russia, China and some of the countries in the Global South resisting, But the UAE persisted, and found a way through which they could do three things: insert the theme in the proceedings of COP28; establish a dedicated day during the COP summit where the focus was peace, and push for the adoption, even if not by consensus of the “COP28 declaration on Climate, Relief, Recovery and Peace“. This was a big achievement, but only a start. It is clear that what was achieved in Dubai needs to be consolidated and developed in Baku in November 2024. The Azerbaijan government, host of COP29 was initially reluctant to go too far in the inclusion of the peace agenda in COP29 but they have now warmed up to the idea. Over the weekend, the Presidential Foreign Policy Advisor, Hikmet Haciyev, spoke about the possibility of having a COP truce during the Baku summit. There are more than a hundred ongoing armed conflicts in the world. Securing a cease-fire in even one of them would be positive and welcome, but may be very difficult to achieve. A COP29 cease-fire may be an aspiration, but the focus should be on more tangible objectives, and particularly on building on what has been already achieved in COP28 This can include: Having the theme Climate Change, Peace and Security as a theme of COP29; More specifically in Baku the focus should be on water scarcity; food insecurity and landmine contamination and the linkage between conflict and environmental degradation • Having a dedicated day of peace in the COP29 programme, with the participation of the UN Secretary-General, and a gathering of Nobel Peace Price winners • Adopting a new declaration, building on the one agreed in Dubai in November, which would also have the possibility of signatories presenting packages that could be practical tools for moving forward some of the ideas contained in it. All this is doable. There are then other issues on which work needs to be done, but which are also achievable. Will COP29 be historic also because it would be the first time an Armenian leader visits Baku since the long conflict of the last three decades? Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan does not shy away from difficult decisions. He can very well see the value of this gesture, particularly since in Baku he will not only be welcomed by the leader of Azerbaijan, but by the biggest gathering of world leaders ever to gather in the South Caucasus. President Aliyev and Prime Minister Pashinyan can co-host a special event at the dedicated Peace Day. Imagine the significance of that! All the ingredients exist to make COP29 in Baku a historic summit of peace and it should not be missed. But there is much work to be done yet, and the negativity of the malcontents needs to be overcome.
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News
European Council calls for an integrated and coherent EU response to external crises and conflicts

European Council calls for an integrated and coherent EU response to external crises and conflicts

The European Council approved on Tuesday (7 May) conclusions on the 2023 annual report on the implementation of the European Union’s External Action Instruments in 2022. It commends the steps taken by the EU in the current challenging geopolitical context, marked by Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, conflict in the Middle East and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, among others. The Council welcomes the report’s emphasis on the key support provided by the EU to Ukraine and neighbouring countries affected by Russia’s war of aggression, as well as efforts to address the regional and global consequences and its impact on the most vulnerable groups, in particular with regard to food and energy security. In this context, the Council encourages the Commission to continue highlighting the EU’s support to tackle global challenges. It underlines the necessity to continue working towards an integrated and coherent EU response to external crises and conflicts, including through the EU’s external action instruments. Preventing conflict through timely analysis and early action, supporting peace mediation and dialogue, building peace and resilience, and forging international and regional partnerships in the area of peace, security and defence are key aspects in this regard.
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News
Borrell speaks about global changes and challenges

Borrell speaks about global changes and challenges

EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, delivered an important policy speech on Friday 3 May during which he did a wide tour d'horizon of the current global situation and the challenges it flags up for Europe and for the world. Speaking in an academic setting, delivering the Dahrendorf Lecture at St Antony's College Oxford, Borrell spoke of a world where there is much more confrontation than co-operation, where there is more polarity and less multilateralism, Borrell spoke about the diminishing role of the United States as world hegemon and the rise of China. "We, Europeans, wanted to create in our neighbourhood a ring of friends. Instead of that, what we have today is a ring of fire. A ring of fire coming from the Sahel to the Middle East, the Caucasus and now in the battlefields of Ukraine", the High Representative said: Speaking on Russia, Borrell said  "Under Putin’s leadership, Russia has returned to the imperialist understanding of the world. Imperial Russia from the Tsar times and the Soviet empire times have been rehabilitated by Putin dreaming of a former size and influence." "It was Georgia in 2008. It was Crimea in 2014. We did not see, or we did not want to see, the evolution of Russia under Putin’s watch. Even though Putin himself had warned us at the Munich Security Conference in 2007. It is important to re-read what Putin said in 2007 at the Munich [Security] Conference that I am afraid that nobody wanted to hear or to understand." Borell described Putin as "an existential threat". In his speech Borell dwelt on the wars in Ukraine and in Gaza. "Now, we have two wars. And we, Europeans, are not prepared for the harshness of the world." The High Representative said that the way of living of the Europeans, "this best combination of political freedom, economic prosperity and social cohesion that the humanity has never been able to invent, is certainly in danger. And in order to face these challenges, I think that we have to work on three dimensions: Principles, Cooperation and Strength."
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News
UNDP report highlights devastating effects of the Gaza conflict saying it has set human development in the territory back by about 20 years

UNDP report highlights devastating effects of the Gaza conflict saying it has set human development in the territory back by about 20 years

The war on Gaza has depleted much of the physical and human capital in the enclave and severely affected the rest of the occupied territories in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to a newly published UN report. It warns that in addition to the thousands of lives already lost, and the many people injured or maimed for life, the risk of “future lost generations is real.” The report by the UN Development Program, titled “War in Gaza: Expected Socioeconomic Impacts on the State of Palestine,” highlights the widespread damage caused by the conflict, including: the destruction of about 80,000 homes, resulting in significant, and possibly long-lasting, displacement and homelessness among the population; the depletion and pollution of natural resources; and the destruction of infrastructure such as water and sanitation systems, educational institutions and health care facilities. It said human development in Gaza has been set back to the extent it could take 20 years to return to prewar levels, and recovery seems unlikely in the absence of a functioning economy, adequate institutional capacities, and the ability to trade. “With 37 million tons of debris, compared to 2.4 million tons of debris in the 2014 war, and 72 percent of all housing in Gaza destroyed, and 90 percent of commercial and all other buildings destroyed, this is unprecedented.” The report analyzes the devastating effects the ongoing war in Gaza has had on the Palestinian people, their economy and human development in the territory, and predicts the possible consequences based on scenarios that assume a further one to three months of conflict. Based on official figures, by April 12 this year, at least 33,207 Palestinians had been killed in Gaza, an estimated 7,000 were missing, and 80,683 had been injured. About 70 percent of the dead were women and children. Many of the injured are likely to suffer long-term consequences, including disabilities. These figures reveal that at least 5 percent of the population of Gaza has been killed, maimed or injured. In addition, about 500 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since the beginning of the war. “No other armed conflict in the 21st century has caused such a devastating impact on a population in such a short time frame,” the report notes. It states the number of people in Gaza living in poverty has risen to 1.67 million in the six months since the conflict between Israel and Hamas began in October last year.
Editor's choice
Opinion
Opinion: Russian withdrawal from Karabakh allows Azerbaijan to strengthen its ties with its Turkic "family"

Opinion: Russian withdrawal from Karabakh allows Azerbaijan to strengthen its ties with its Turkic "family"

The geopolitics of the South Caucasus is as unpredictable as ever. Even as recently as the beginning of April, few, if any, would have imagined that Russia may withdraw its peacekeeping contingent from the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan anytime soon. Many observers were even skeptical about the possibility of their withdrawal in November 2025 – the date which was stipulated in the November 2020 trilateral statement as the potential but not fixed date for the ending of the peacekeeping mission of Russia. This skepticism was grounded in the understanding that for Russia, Karabakh holds paramount importance in the broader context of the South Caucasus. In the wake of Russia’s unexpected withdrawal of its peacekeeping mission from the Karabakh region, the South Caucasus enters a new geopolitical dynamic. This historic development not only signifies Azerbaijan's attainment of complete sovereignty over its territories but also heralds the definitive end of the Karabakh conflict. President Ilham Aliyev's adept diplomatic maneuvers have secured Azerbaijan's territorial integrity and positioned Baku as a confident actor on the regional stage. The withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers marks a pivotal moment, shaping the future landscape of Azerbaijan-Russia relations and regional geopolitics. As Azerbaijan charts its course forward, its commitment to regional integration remains, however, steadfast, with a focus on strengthening ties within the Turkic world.
Editor's choice
Opinion
Opinion: Civil society should actively support Armenia-Azerbaijan border demarcation

Opinion: Civil society should actively support Armenia-Azerbaijan border demarcation

The announcement of the return of the four non-enclave villages of Baghanis Ayrim, Ashagi Askipara, Kheyrimli, and Gizilhajili comes as a welcome development. That is not to say that there won’t be problems as the physical process of delimitation/demarcation takes place, and military forces are replaced by border guards, and nor does it ignore the distinct lack of trust between Yerevan and Baku, but it does highlight the need for more focused work in order to build confidence between the sides. Pashinyan has already hinted at the idea of trade between the two communities at some point in an albeit distant future but this is also a region that has experienced significant cross-border incidents for over 30 years. The task won’t be simple, but civil society in both countries could and should play an important role alongside the work of the two governments.