Brussels Sprouts

Small bites on Transatlantic Security, NATO, the EU, Russia, and all things Europe. Hosted by Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim Townsend at the Center for a New American Security.

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Episodes

17 hours ago

On 14 May Georgia’s parliament passed a controversial law that requires media and nonprofit groups to register as “pursuing the interests of a foreign power” if they receive more than 20% of their funding from abroad. The law mirrors a similar law introduced in Russia in 2012, which has been used to crack down on NGOs and other organizations deemed critical of the Kremlin. Many in Georgia view this law as a similar attempt to restrict freedom of speech and reduce the space for civil society. In the weeks following May 14, Georgians took part in mass protests in Tbilisi, and relations between the Georgian government and the EU and US further deteriorated. Moreover, despite Georgian president Salome Zurbishvili’s veto of the controversial “foreign agent” law on May 18, lawmakers overrode this decision on May 28, putting it back on the table. To help us understand what is happening in Georgia and the wider implications of recent events for Georgian democracy and their EU ambitions Giorgi Baramidze and Laura Thornton join Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim Townsend on this week’s episode of Brussels Sprouts.  
Giorgi Baramidze is the political secretary of the United National Movement, the largest opposition party in Georgia. Previously he was the State Minister for Euro-Atlantic Integration (2004-2012), and the Minister of Defense (2004).
Laura Thornton is the senior vice president of democracy at the German Marshall Fund. She oversees the Alliance for Securing Democracy, and works with GMF’s transatlantic trusts which support civil society organizations and actors in Central and Eastern Europe, the Western Balkans and the Caucuses.

7 days ago

As Russia’s war in Ukraine progresses into its third year, there are questions in some parts of the NATO alliance about how long the West can sustain its support for Kyiv and how the war will actually end. Simultaneously, China and other countries like North Korea and Iran continue to provide support to Russia, and Russia is stepping up hybrid attacks on our societies – everything from disinformation ahead of the European elections to arson, sabotage, and GPS jamming. All of this comes against the backdrop of the upcoming 75th anniversary NATO Summit in Washington, D.C., where there are still looming questions about what exactly will be delivered. To discuss how we should be thinking about and responding to these questions, Pål Jonson, Sweden’s Minister of Defense, and Hanno Pevkur, the Minister of Defense of Estonia, join Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Kate Johnston live at the Lennart Meri Conference in Tallinn, Estonia.  
Pål Jonson has held the position of Sweden’s Minister of Defense since 2022. He previously served as Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Defense, and Secretary General of the Swedish Atlantic Council.  
Hanno Pevkur assumed office as the minister of defense of Estonia in 2022. Prior to this, he held several positions in the government including Minister of the Interior, Minister of Justice, and Minister of Social Affairs.  

Friday May 17, 2024

On April 25th, French President Emmanuel Macron gave a nearly two-hour-long speech at the Sorbonne that outlined his vision for Europe. In the context of major challenges such as Russia’s war against Ukraine, intensifying economic pressures, and more, Macron warned that “Europe today is mortal” and that “it can die” if Europeans fail to take united and decisive action. This speech came at a time when Europe is gearing up for multiple major events in the coming months, including both the European Parliament elections in June and the 75th anniversary NATO summit in July. Looking ahead to these milestones, what are the most significant challenges and opportunities facing Europe in the years to come? To help us take stock of the present and anticipate the future, Constanze Stelzenmüller and Nathalie Tocci join Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim Townsend on this week’s episode of Brussels Sprouts.  
Constanze Stelzenmüller is the director of the Center on the United States and Europe and the inaugural holder of the Fritz Stern Chair on Germany and trans-Atlantic Relations at the Brookings Institution. 
Nathalie Tocci is the director of the Italian Institute for International Affairs. In her previous capacity as Special Advisor to EU High Representatives Federica Mogherini and Josep Borrell, she wrote and worked on the implementation of the European Global Strategy.  

Friday May 10, 2024

While the world’s attention has been focused on Russia’s military operation in Ukraine over the past two years, Moscow has continued its attempts to use other, nonmilitary tools to pursue its aggressive foreign policy objectives. Western democracies have been an important target of Russian malign influence. Particularly as both the European Union and the United States gear up for key elections later this year, there is mounting evidence of the Kremlin’s efforts to elevate pro-Russian talking points, politicians, and political parties. What lies behind these attempts to undermine Western democracy, and how concerned should we be about Russia’s chances of success? To discuss all of this and more, David Salvo and Brady Hills Join Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim Townsend on this week’s episode of Brussels Sprouts.  
David Salvo is a senior fellow and managing director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund. An expert in Russian affairs, Salvo has been analyzing the Kremlin’s authoritarian toolkit to undermine democracy at home and abroad throughout his career. 
Brady Hills is a senior analysis and the Head of the Brussels Office of the International Republican Institute (IRI). As a member of IRI’s Beacon Project team, he focuses on countering hybrid threats to democracy, outreach to European policymakers, and discussing support for Ukraine, and EU and NATO enlargement. 

Friday May 03, 2024

On Sunday, May 5th, Chinese President Xi Jinping will begin his first trip to Europe in five years. On this trip, Xi will make a high-profile two-day visit to France, where he is likely to encourage President Emmanuel Macron to continue pursuing an independent path from the United States regarding relations with Beijing. Xi will also make stops in Hungary and Serbia, which have cultivated close ties with China in recent years despite calls for de-risking from U.S. and other European leaders. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently returned from a visit to China, during which he met with Xi and other senior Chinese officials amidst the context of persistent simmering tensions between Washington and Beijing. What should we make of these two international trips, and what can they tell us about the current state of the relationships between China, Europe, and the United States? To discuss all of this and more, Noah Barkin and Bonnie Glaser join Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim Townsend on this week’s episode of Brussels Sprouts.   
Noah Barkin is a Senior Advisor with Rhodium Group's China practice, focusing on Europe-China relations and transatlantic China policy. 
Bonnie Glaser is managing director of the German Marshall Fund’s Indo-Pacific program.  

Friday Apr 19, 2024

As the war in Ukraine continues into its third year, the mood has become increasingly dark. While territorial changes continue to be minor, Russia’s slow but steady advances along the front lines could become large losses for Ukraine. This is especially likely if Kyiv is unable to overcome worsening shortages of both material and personnel. As military aid continues to be stalled in Congress, the head of U.S. European Command has warned that Ukraine may be in danger of losing the war unless it soon receives additional ammunition from Washington. Amidst all this apparent doom and gloom, how concerned should we be about the trajectory of the war, and what glimmers of hope may still lie on the horizon? To discuss all of this and more, Mike Kofman joins Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim Townsend on this week’s episode of Brussels Sprouts.
Mike Kofman is a senior fellow in the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he focuses on the Russian military and Eurasian security issues.

Friday Apr 12, 2024

Just under a year ago, Turkish President Erdogan won another five years in power in the Turkish presidential election. Last week, however, local election results in Turkey delivered a harsh blow to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Although the gap at the national level wasn’t huge, the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) won about 38 percent of the vote and Erdogan’s AKP garnered approximately 35 percent, in major Turkish cities such as Istanbul and Ankara the gulf was significant. Following disappointing results for the CHP during last year’s general election, this significant defeat, the largest since the AKP's founding in 2001, proved a surprise. To discuss how we should interpret these election results and their implications for Turkish democracy, Asli Aydintaşbaş and Steven Cook join Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim Townsend on this week’s episode of Brussels Sprouts.
Steven A. Cook is the Eni Enrico Mattei Senior Fellow for Middle East and Africa Studies and Director of the International Affairs Fellowship for Tenured International Relations Scholars at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the author of numerous books, including his most recent work, The End of Ambition: America’s Past, Present, and Future in the Middle East, which is set to be released on June 3, 2024. 
Asli Aydintaşbaş is a visiting fellow in the Center on the United States and Europe at Brookings, as well as a former Global Opinions columnist at The Washington Post and a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR).

Friday Apr 05, 2024

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, there has been a notable evolution in France’s approach toward Moscow. In the initial months following the invasion, French President Emmanuel Macron continued to engage diplomatically with Vladimir Putin, controversially insisting that the West must not humiliate Moscow, prompting harsh criticism from France’s NATO allies. After apologizing last year for France’s previous failure to listen to the warning of its Central and Eastern European allies about Russian intentions, however, the French President notably pushed last month for greater Western strategic ambiguity regarding the war, stating that he had not ruled out the possibility of sending French troops to Ukraine. This once again prompted an outcry from NATO allies wary of escalation, such as Germany and the United States. To discuss how to interpret this apparent shift in French thinking and its possible implications going forward, Tara Varma and Bruno Tertrais join Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim Townsend on Brussels Sprouts.  
Tara Varma is a visiting fellow in the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution.  
Bruno Tertrais is the Deputy Director of the Foundation for Strategic Research, a leading French think-tank on international security issues.  

Friday Mar 22, 2024

This past weekend, Russians went to the polls for the country’s presidential election. To the surprise of no one, Vladimir Putin emerged victorious with a record-high 87 percent of the vote—or so the Kremlin claims. In the wake of the death of Alexey Navalny and Putin’s bans on attempts of alternative candidates, such as Boris Nadezhdin, to compete in the elections, political opposition was limited to an informal agreement among thousands of voters to go to the polls at noon to express their discontent. Yet regardless of the fraudulent nature of the election, Putin is likely to take this result as evidence of a popular mandate to continue his policies of aggression abroad and repression at home. As we look ahead to Putin’s fifth term in office, how should we expect Russian domestic politics and foreign policy to evolve in the years to come? To discuss all this and more, Angela Stent and Joshua Yaffa join Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim Townsend on this week’s episode of Brussels Sprouts.
Angela Stent is senior adviser to the Center for Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies and professor emerita of government and foreign service at Georgetown University. She is also a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-chairs its Hewett Forum on Post- Soviet Affairs. Stent is additionally the author of Putin’s World: Russia Against the West and With the Rest (2019).
Joshua Yaffa is a contributing writer for The New Yorker. He is also the author of Between Two Fires: Truth, Ambition, and Compromise in Putin’s Russia, published in January 2020 by Tim Duggan Books, which won the Orwell Prize in 2021.

Friday Mar 08, 2024

Last week, French President Emmanuel Macon made waves when he said that he had not ruled out sending ground troops to fight in Ukraine. This statement prompted a strong reaction from Russian President Vladimir Putin, and for many of France’s NATO allies to distance themselves from Macron’s statement and potential escalation. One of the most notable instances of this came from German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who asserted that soldiers from NATO countries should not “actively participate in war events.” This latest Franco-German spat fits within a larger trend of disagreements between Paris and Berlin and comes at a time when unified European leadership is desperately needed to aid Kyiv. To discuss the implications of these recent events for the future of Western support to Ukraine, Camille Grand and Claudia Major join Andrea Kendall- Taylor and Jim Townsend on Brussels Sprouts.
Camille Grand is a Distinguished Policy Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. He leads the organization’s work on defense and disruptive technologies in European security.
Claudia Major is head of the International Security Division at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin. Her research focuses on European and transatlantic security and defense policy.

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