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SnapshotsJan 21, 2021 | 22:07 GMT
Spanish newspapers show images of newly sworn-in U.S. President Joe Biden on Jan. 21, 2021, in Madrid, Spain.
The EU Welcomes Biden, But Some Disputes Will Remain
Joe Biden’s presidency portends greater U.S.-EU coordination on areas like climate change, COVID-19 and human rights. But Washington and Brussels will likely still spar over trade, tech policy and defense spending. On the day of Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration, European Council President Charles Michel called for a “founding pact” between the United States and the European Union based on five priorities: boosting multilateral cooperation, fighting against COVID-19, tackling climate change, rebuilding the global economy with a digital transformation, and joining forces on security and peace. Also on Jan. 20, the European Union’s chief diplomat, Joseph Borrell, invited Biden’s new Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, to a meeting with EU foreign ministers in Lisbon, Portugal, on March 4-5 to restart cooperation.
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AssessmentsJan 19, 2021 | 22:45 GMT
Journalists and supporters of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny gather near the police station where Navalny was held after being detained at the Moscow airport on Jan. 18, 2021, in Khimki, Russia.
Navalny’s Jailing Will Solidify Russia’s Standoff With the West
Russian authorities’ attempts to silence opposition leader Alexei Navalny affirm their determination to extinguish dissent, which could complicate Moscow’s foreign policy goals by further deteriorating its relations with the West. On Jan. 18, just a day after Navalny returned home for the first time since being poisoned in a suspected assassination attempt by Russian security services in August, a makeshift Russian court ordered that he be jailed for the next 30 days. Navalny faces a potential three-and-a-half-year prison sentence for allegedly breaching the terms of a suspended sentence related to a 2014 fraud conviction, which he says is politically motivated. A court hearing on the matter is scheduled for Feb. 2.
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AssessmentsJan 18, 2021 | 10:00 GMT
Supporters of the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement chant slogans during a demonstration in Stockholm, Sweden on Aug. 25, 2018.
Russia’s Role in Stoking Right-Wing Extremism in the West
To undermine the West and increase its influence, Russia will continue to promote right-wing extremism in ways that largely stop short of direct support for violence by exploiting existing societal tensions and pro-Russia sentiment in certain circles. The violent siege of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 renewed attention on the increasingly prominent activities of right-wing extremists (RWEs) in the West and the role of foreign influence in peddling the ideologies that have fueled a number of lethal terrorist attacks in recent years. U.S. officials have not accused Russia of being behind the U.S. Capitol insurrection, which was fueled largely by election grievances. However, Moscow’s sustained efforts to undermine U.S. democracy -- most notably through its well-documented interference in the 2016 presidential election -- raise questions about its complicity in indirectly strengthening the RWE movement behind the Capitol takeover.
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SnapshotsJan 5, 2021 | 19:34 GMT
A sign advises people to follow COVID-19 restrictions on Jan. 5, 2021, in Falmouth, the United Kingdom. In a televised address on Jan. 4, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the country was entering its third lockdown since the onset of the pandemic in early 2020.
The Next Wave of COVID-19 Lockdowns Emerges in Europe
The United Kingdom’s decision to tighten its COVID-19 lockdown measures and introduce a new relief package for businesses is a preview of similar decisions that governments in continental Europe will introduce in the coming days. The lockdown measures will result in low, or even negative, economic growth in Europe in the first quarter of 2021, which will worsen governments’ fiscal deficit and sovereign debt levels. On Jan. 4, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced stricter social distancing measures for England and Scotland, respectively, to cope with the rising number of COVID-19 infections. Then, on Jan. 5, the U.K. government announced a 4.6 billion pound ($6.2 billion) aid package for companies hardest hit by the tighter lockdown measures across the country. 
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SITUATION REPORTJan 4, 2021 | 22:05 GMT
Belarus: President Allegedly Approved Foreign Assassinations in 2012
Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko allegedly authorized political killings abroad in 2012, according to an audio recording obtained and published by EUobserver on Jan. 4. The attacks never took place, but the recording purports to reveal the then-chairman of Belarus' intelligence service, Vadim Zaitsev, briefing members of a special task force about killing three opposition leaders living in exile in Germany and a journalist living in Russia.
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Annual ForecastsJan 3, 2021 | 21:37 GMT
An image of the COVID-19 vaccine, President-elect Joe Biden, the Huawei logo, and a stock market sign
2021 Annual Forecast
The geopolitical environment in 2021 will be shaped by two global developments: the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic and the efforts by U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's administration to restore collaborative relationships across the globe.
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AssessmentsDec 30, 2020 | 21:25 GMT
A poster showing six Russian intelligence officers charged with carrying out global cyberattacks is displayed before a news conference at the U.S. Department of Justice on Oct. 19, 2020, in Washington D.C.
SolarWinds Will Spur Biden Into Action on State-Backed Cyber Threats
The recent SolarWinds hack will prompt U.S. President-elect Joe Biden to increase Washington’s cyber resources and, potentially, its offensive capabilities in order to better deter against future cyberattacks by Russia, as well as other state actors. This intensified focus on state-backed cyber threats will likely include more U.S. investments into cyber defense over the next four years. The Biden White House will also continue to deploy sanctions against assailant countries, though such sanctions will likely be narrow in scope for fear of stoking aggressive retaliatory measures against U.S. entities and causing significant economic damage to countries like Russia and China that are essential to the global economy. 
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SITUATION REPORTDec 30, 2020 | 18:59 GMT
EU, U.K.: Brexit Deal Signed by Johnson and EU Leaders, Ratified by U.K. House of Commons 
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel and U.K. Prime Minister, Boris Johnson have signed the EU-U.K. trade and cooperation agreement, the Guardian reported Dec. 30. The U.K. House of Commons ratified the agreement by 521 votes to 73 on Dec. 30.  
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GuidanceDec 24, 2020 | 16:58 GMT
The EU and British flags in front of the European Commission headquarters on Dec. 9, 2020, in Brussels.
The EU and U.K. Reach a Trade Deal, Ending Brexit. What Now?
Five years of economic uncertainty for households and companies that began with the Brexit referendum of 2016 have come to an end. The European Union and the United Kingdom have reached a free trade agreement that covers most goods, but only a limited number of services. This means that manufacturers in the European Union and the United Kingdom will be able to continue trading with each other from Jan. 1, 2021, without any quotas or tariffs, and the heavily disruptive scenario of trade under World Trade Organization tariffs has been avoided. On the contrary, the services sector (which represents around 80% of the British economy) will have limited access to the EU single market.
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AssessmentsDec 23, 2020 | 15:59 GMT
EU flags fly outside the European Commission building in Brussels on Dec. 7, 2020.
The EU Seeks to Update Its Regulation of Big Tech
Sweeping new EU draft rules will increase the pressure on large tech companies, but debates over their proposed requirements and penalties will likely limit their impact on big tech. The legislation's ultimate fate depends in part on how the European Union frames the proposals to the incoming Biden administration because its receptivity to rules that disproportionately affect U.S. firms could prove decisive to their implementation.
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SnapshotsDec 22, 2020 | 17:37 GMT
A British fisherman prepares his boat for the first trawl of the day off the southeast coast of England on Oct. 12, 2020.
As Fishing Rights Hold up a Trade Deal, the U.K. and EU Ponder Alternatives to a Hard Exit
EU-U.K. trade negotiations are currently focusing on the future of the EU fishing rights in British waters, the main remaining obstacle to a deal. As Brussels and London run out of time, a technical extension of Britain's membership in the single market, a provisional implementation of the trade deal or a temporary "managed no deal" are possible.
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