As the possibility of a Russian invasion of Ukraine grows ever more likely, Berlin’s hesitancy to impose sanctions on Nord Stream 2 and other pressure points, such as SWIFT bank transfer system, erodes deterrence, and may invite Russian aggression.
Nord Stream 2 (NS2), Europe’s most contentious infrastructure project, seems to have survived the Putin-Biden teleconference and is likely to be approved by the German regulator. This outcome may be the purpose of the recent Russian troop mobilization. Europe’s and Germany’s dependence on Russian gas deepens and may appear irreversible, with long-term geo-strategic consequences the U.S. leaders and planners should take into account. Yet, Russia’s clash with the West would incur very high costs on the Kremlin.
Russia is escalating pressure on Ukraine, threatening to drag the U.S. and NATO into their worst confrontation with Moscow since the Cold War. A devastating combination of external and internal threats now imperil Ukraine's security, with energy playing a key part.
The United States recently reaffirmed its intent to support Ukrainian energy security amidst the near-certain completion of Nord Stream 2 (NS2) – Russia’s controversial pipeline, which will pump 55 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas into Germany while increasing Europe’s dependence on Gazprom and entirely circumventing Ukraine. The $11bn project was completed in September and is now awaiting final approval from German regulators.
The 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference ended with hope and skepticism around the globe. Negotiators and national leaders have made pledges and proclamations aplenty — among them a vow to reverse deforestation within the decade — but it is undeniable that no pledge is set in stone, particularly when the signatories can hide behind (often intentionally) vague and non-binding language. Indonesia has already back-pedaled on its deforestation promise through a tweet from its Minister of environment Siti Nurbaya Bakar.
OPEC and its oil-producing partners have rebuffed President Joe Biden’s calls for increased production amidst rising fuel prices, retorting that if the United States believes the world’s economy needs more energy, then it has the capability to increase production itself. The OPEC+ alliance, made up of OPEC members led by Saudi Arabia and non-member top producers guided by Russia, approved an increase in production of 400,000 barrels per day for the month of December.
Ministers from twenty-four developing nations – including China, India, Vietnam, and Pakistan – released a statement ahead of the United Nations Climate Change summit (COP26) denouncing new net-zero standards as discriminatory. The plan asks for all countries to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Climate negotiations have long been shaped by equity concerns; this makes sense. The recognition that different countries have different responsibilities for, and capabilities to, address climate change is at the heart of the U.N. negotiation process. More advanced countries not only have greater resources to devote towards the greening of their economies relative to emerging economies, they also benefitted from unlimited cheap fossil fuels throughout the 20th century to get where they are today. Many argue that is unfair for these advanced economies to “pull the ladder up behind them” now that they have reached a sufficient level of development. Not all countries can afford to make the same expensive energy transitions as their already developed neighbors.
The recently disclosed Pandora Papers—a massive trove of documents disclosing offshore bank accounts, tax evasion and money laundering—revealed massive corruption in numerous European countries. The prime minister of the Czech Republic, the president of Ukraine and many others are allegedly involved. Such corruption corrodes the body politic of U.S. allies, and even threatens their security.
Europe is in the throes of an unprecedented energy crunch. Some call it a crisis, which, if not addressed, may be comparable to the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s – with dire economic, social and political consequences. Brent crude is at a 5 year high of $84 per barrel while spot natural gas prices are up more than 500% year-over-year, forcing highly polluting gas-to-coal switching and putting the brakes on the EU’s green energy transition. Resurgent energy demand post-Covid, extreme weather events (unprecedented heatwaves and prolonged winters), supply chain disruptions, and poor regional and global stockpiling have all contributed to Europe’s current crisis. Russia’s supremo Vladimir Putin may have a reason to pop a champagne bottle in view of the EU’s sanctions on the Kremlin. He says that Europe had created a self-inflicted wound. He may be right.
As an exhausted, internally divided America proclaims its return and promises a new era of diplomatic leadership, its global partners are rightfully skeptical. Year one of the Biden era has seen the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, casting doubts about the president’s foreign policy judgment. So long as the disgraced President Donald J. Trump remains the Republicans’ current frontrunner for 2024, the world cannot expect fidelity and competence to emerge from the loyal opposition. For now, at least, it is on President Biden to provide leadership, course-correct away from the lack of reliability, and contain Chinese aggrandizement before its merry band of fellow autocrats from Moscow to Kabul and from Tehran to Pyongyang supplants the US-led world order. Biden’s recent work to transform Australia into an Indo-Pacific bulwark against China, however, has worryingly offended a critical ally — France — and exposed some serious bungling in the U.S. Government.
In this video series, Dr. Ariel Cohen discusses current events happening around the world. This video discusses the U.S. at the U.N. General Assembly, as well as the U.S.'s ability to lead in the future. Dr. Cohen gives his analysis in an interview with Cheddar News.
In this video series, Dr. Ariel Cohen discusses current events happening around the world. This video will continue the discussion on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, signaling the end of the longest war in U.S. history. Dr. Cohen gives his analysis in an interview with BBC News.
In this video series, Dr. Ariel Cohen discusses current events happening around the world. This video will continue the discussion on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, signaling the end of the longest war in U.S. history. Dr. Cohen gives his analysis in an interview with Sky News.
In this video series, Dr. Ariel Cohen discusses current events happening around the world. This video will cover the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, signaling the end of the longest war in U.S. history. Dr. Cohen gives his analysis in an interview with CNN's the First Move.
The Taliban and its allies have won their war of attrition in Afghanistan. With President Ashraf Ghani escaping to the UAE, U.S. diplomats fleeing the embassy, Afghan National Army troops bribed to surrender en masse and Afghan civilians mobbing the Kabul airport, President Joe Biden has inscribed himself in the history books with his rush to proceed with the August 31 deadline for troop pullout set earlier this year. The planned departure quickly turned into America's rout.
The U.S. defeat in Afghanistan threatens to undermine already limited U.S. credibility and geostrategic leverage. With the ascendance of the Taliban, the energy infrastructure and natural resources of the region are now more in jeopardy than ever since 2001, the year the U.S. chased out the Taliban regime.
After months of negotiation, the Senate voted in a filibuster-proof 69-30 to approve a $1 trillion infrastructure framework. The bill orders repairs to crumbling physical infrastructure such as roads and bridges, expansions to broadband internet access, replacement of lead water pipes, financial support for clean energy projects, and improving the weatherization and cybersecurity of vulnerable infrastructure.
As U.S. forces pull out of Afghanistan, the Taliban are making dramatic territorial gains in a new, tragic phase of the war. The Taliban’s rapid offensive is not merely a function of dwindling U.S. combat and logistical support, but a concerted push by their patron Pakistan to establish a foothold in the war-torn country. Afghanistan has been at its ‘forever war’ since the Soviet invasion in December 1979. It may stay in that state for years to come. The discord between the great powers: U.S., China, Russia, India, and others doesn’t help.
Thousands across Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Lebanon are fleeing their homes as historic wildfires whip through the region. This is climate change in its manic phase. And it is getting worse.
On Tuesday, August 3, the Panama-flagged tanker Asphalt Princess was reportedly seized in the Gulf of Oman by Iranian-backed forces, maritime sources said, and is now being towed into Iranian waters. The story is still developing.
General Motors (GM) recently announced a strategic partnership with California-based Controlled Thermal Resources (CRT) to secure “local and low-cost lithium,” for its Ultium battery packs. GM’s Ultium is a modular system wherein cells can be stacked vertically or horizontally, allowing up to 400 miles + range in its vehicles regardless of chassis design.
Record-breaking floods have devastated Western Europe, leaving at least 170 people dead and over 1,300 unaccounted for. This catastrophe will have long-lasting implications on European – and global – politics and policies, including an impact on the forthcoming German general elections in September, and the rollout of the EU radical energy policy package that was unveiled on July 14. This includes commitments to be the first carbon-neutral continent by 2050.
Just as natural gas has competed with coal as the prime fuel for electricity in the last decades, renewables are putting pressure on the blue, clean-burning source of energy. The competition is fierce and will likely get worse. Yet, it is still too early to discount gas. This was the message at the 36th International Gas Congress in Croatia, where I spoke on Joe Biden’s plan to stop drilling on federal lands.
Soviet dominance left Central Asia’s environment in shambles. From hundreds of nuclear blasts in the testing grounds of Semey (Semipalatinsk) in Kazakhstan to barbaric destruction of water management in the drying-up Aral Sea, these environmental disasters left the land-locked five countries to deal with destroyed human lives, ruined ecosystems, and pollution.
When Joe Biden confronts the strongman of Russia on June 16th, the global balance of power will be at stake, for the remainder of his presidency and beyond. The responsibility on Biden's shoulders will be tremendous. The forecast? Grim.