Editors: Sławomir Dębski (PISM Director), Bartosz Wiśniewski (Head of Research Office), Rafał Tarnogórski (Managing Editor), Karolina Borońska-Hryniewiecka, Anna Maria Dyner, Aleksandra Gawlikowska-Fyk, Sebastian Płóciennik, Patrycja Sasnal, Justyna Szczudlik, Marcin Terlikowski, Tomasz Żornaczuk
On 15 February in Ankara, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. The visit was meant to reduce tensions in Turkish-American relations and showed that both sides are interested in normalisation.
On 24 January, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the adoption of the State Armament Programme for 2018–2027. The Russians plan to spend RUB 20 trillion (more than $355 million) to modernise its armed forces. The priority will be spending on nuclear forces, which indicates that Russia will focus primarily on maintaining its deterrence capabilities.
On 17 January, a manifesto signed by 14 leading German and French economists was published. The document contains—as the title indicates—a “constructive proposal for the reform of the euro area,” and its most important points refer to the stabilisation of the banking sector, public finances, and crisis prevention. This is another important voice in an increasingly intense discussion about the future of European integration.
On 20 January, the Turkish military began an operation in the Syrian province of Afrin. It is directed against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which control the province. The pretext for launching the offensive were reports that the U.S. plans to establish a border force in the north of Syria that would include, among others, the YPG.
On 12 January, U.S. President Donald Trump announced demands regarding the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). They were directed to the U.S. Congress and other powers-signatories to this agreement. If they are not met by May 2018, the U.S. might withdraw from JCPOA. Trump also stressed that this was the third and final time he would waive implementation of older American sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme. At the same time, Trump introduced some new U.S. sanctions in response to Iran’s suppression of recent protests in the country.
On 11 January, the Russian Ministry of Defence announced the remobilisation of the 689th fighter aircraft regiment in Kaliningrad. The unit will be equipped with modern Su-35 and upgraded Su-27 fighter jets. Following the decision to deploy Iskander-M systems to the oblast, this is another demonstration of Russia’s strengthened military presence in the Baltic Sea basin, which is changing the balance of power in the region.
On 8–10 January, British Prime Minister Theresa May reshuffled her government. Changes in the ministerial team are meant to prepare for the second stage of the Brexit negotiations, which are to begin in March.
On 9 January, North and South Korea held official talks for the first time in more than two years. The main themes of the meeting that took place in Panmunjom were the North’s participation in the XXIII Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang in February and reducing tensions on the Korean Peninsula. The talks could contribute to a short-term improvement of the situation in the region, but it is very unlikely that the North Korean nuclear programme will be discussed in this format.