BGR experts discuss: What a no-fly zone over Ukraine would mean for the U.S. and NATO

PBS Newshour

There have been growing calls in recent days for the United States and NATO to establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine. Ukrainian President Zelensky reiterated the plea on Monday, but what is a no-fly zone and how would it work? For that we turn to two former U.S. ambassadors to NATO. Retired Army Lt. General Doug Lute and Kurt Volker join Judy Woodruff to discuss.


BGR’s Amb. Volker on defending against “a dictator on the prowl”

As Europe faces the most brutal conflict on the continent since World War II, it’s clear the impact from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war will not be contained within Ukraine’s borders. CBS News’ Margaret Brennan talks with the former U.S. envoy to Ukraine, Ambassador Kurt Volker, about the strength of the Western alliance, and the limits of diplomacy.



SEASICK NO LONGER: The Black Sea Region Should Focus on Its Own Interests — and Development


June 26, 2020

The Kremlin wants the rest of the world to believe that it has a special role and set of rights in the Black Sea. Too many Western policymakers fall for this. In truth, the political, economic, and security development of the region is important in its own right.

Russia’s push on the Black Sea dates from the Tsarist era. During the Cold War, all littoral territory apart from Turkey was part of either the Soviet Union or its Warsaw Pact allies. Now Russia has a legal claim to only 10 percent of the Black Sea coast. The other littoral states, with a population of 150m, are independent, democratic, and seeking their own economic development and security. Three are NATO allies and the others are NATO partners. These countries are emerging democracies. They need to strengthen democratic institutions and fight corruption, boost growth, enhance energy security, and improve connectivity.

The first pillar of Western policy should be supporting democracy. Growing the zone of stable, law-governed political freedom in Europe is a strategic interest. Successful development in Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova also sends a signal to the Russian people about the cost of kleptocracy.

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Building the Post-Pandemic World

The National Interest

May 24, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has set the stage for the greatest upheaval in the global order since World War Two. China, Russia, Iran and other adversaries of America are positioning themselves to take advantage of the post-pandemic environment and may have significant advantages in doing so.

The United States cannot afford to ignore this reality and concentrate solely on spurring a domestic recovery. Washington must lead an international effort of like-minded democracies—including Allies and friends in Europe, Asia, South Asia and the Middle East—to shape the world emerging from coronavirus in a way that favors freedom, prosperity, and global security.

The “West”— the idea, not the place—remains the most visionary, powerful, resourceful, inspiring, and sustainable hope for humanity. Our leaders must marshal these strengths now to build a post-pandemic world that will benefit future generations.

Much of the world remains focused on repairing the local damage done by the coronavirus and taking international steps to improve preparedness for future pandemics. These are important and necessary efforts. But it is not too soon to begin thinking through the geopolitical impact of the virus and designing strategies for advancing western values and interests.

This is not the first time the West has faced a brave new world and needed to put together a vision and strategy for the future.

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Coronavirus: What Comes Next?

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April 27, 2020

To gain insights on longer-term issues tied to the coronavirus pandemic, RCW Editor-at-Large and BGR Senior International Advisor Kurt Volker spoke with former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt. A full transcript follows:

Kurt Volker:  So Carl:  You have been Prime Minister, you have been Foreign Minister, you’re a senior European statesman, and I just thought it would be interesting for people on this side of the Atlantic to get a perspective on what you’re seeing.   

What is it like in Sweden now?  It has been in the news a lot.  Some people here are saying, Oh, Sweden is doing this herd immunity thing, and that’s the right thing, because it has kept the economy going.  Others have said, “No, no, no they’re going to get higher deaths now. and it’s going to be worse.  How do you see it living there, and stepping out from there, how do you see Sweden comparing with the rest of Europe?

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Ukraine’s Moment of Truth


April 8, 2020

Ukraine’s Parliament will face a moment of truth when it meets on April 10. As the novel coronavirus increasingly impacts the country, the Rada must finally pass the banking legislation necessary to free up $8 billion in IMF funding, and a further $1.5 billion from other sources.

It is easy to forget that 2019 was a year of euphoria in Ukraine. Building on solid reforms implemented since the 2014 Revolution of Dignity, in 2019 Ukraine dramatically improved its finances and borrowing costs, advanced stalled reforms, repositioned itself in the eyes of foreign investors, and laid the foundations for rapid growth. Ukraine was outpacing global markets for the first time since achieving independence in 1991. With a GDP per capita among the lowest in Europe — but also with a talented workforce and vast natural resources — Ukraine has the greatest upward economic potential on the continent. The election of Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who promised far-reaching reform and a renewed push for peace, buoyed both international markets and the national mood.

By contrast, 2020 has become a year of dire challenge. The coronavirus has hit Ukraine. As in the United States, a shortage of testing kits means the virus is probably more widespread than official numbers can confirm. Available healthcare services may become over-stretched. Government financial resources will be insufficient.

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