War & Peace (Season 1)
War & Peace (Season 1)
Podcast / Europe & Central Asia 14 minutes

War & Peace (Season 1)

In Season 1 of War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Hugh Pope cover issues such as ISIS recruitment in Europe and Central Asia, Moscow’s expanding influence in world affairs and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Episodes from other series of War & Peace can be found here: Season 2 and Season 3.

Episode 22: Energy Policy and Pipeline Politics

To conclude our first season, Olga and Hugh talk energy security with Alissa de Carbonnel, Crisis Group’s Deputy Program Director for Europe and Central Asia. They assess who is dependent on who in the Russia-Europe relationship, the impact of energy on conflicts, what an increasingly assertive U.S. policy will achieve, and how energy prices in a COVID-19 era could affect Russia.

We’ll be back in September with a brand new season. Until then, stay safe!

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Episode 21: Will Protests in the U.S. Bring the Systemic Change Needed?

Last week, for the very first time in Crisis Group's history, we published a statement on the events unfolding in the U.S. The murder of George Floyd, an unarmed African American man, triggered protests across the country against structural inequality. Similar protests have since erupted around the world as many countries reckon with their own histories of entrenched racial discrimination. 

Dan Schneiderman, Crisis Group’s Head of Advocacy and Research for the U.S., joins Hugh and Olga to discuss the meaning of these recent events. They look at the militarisation of the police, the impact the protests will have on the U.S.'s global credibility, and their potential to bring about the systemic change being demanded.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Episode 20: How COVID-19 Makes Afghanistan’s War Still More Deadly

After two decades of conflict in Afghanistan, many hoped that a peace deal between the U.S. and the Taliban, signed on 29 February 2020, would mark the beginning of a peace process between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Instead, the peace process has stalled as the two sides struggle to agree on issues necessary to begin the negotiations. The Taliban has since steadily escalated violence against Afghan security forces, while the U.S. has resumed airstrikes.

In addition to the uptick in violence, Afghanistan’s minister of public health has warned that up to 25 million Afghans could eventually be infected with COVID-19, out of a population of about 36 million. Even with very limited testing, numbers continue to rise. At the same time, the public health crisis may pale compared to severe food insecurity, a shrinking economy, and yet more people who are unable to make money to put food on the table.

Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst for Afghanistan Andrew Watkins talks with Olga and Hugh about sentiment among Afghans suffering under these overlapping crises, which states could serve as neutral negotiators for the peace process, the role of the EU and its member states in Afghanistan’s future and what could happen if the U.S. withdraws its troops without an intra-Afghan peace deal.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Episode 19: The OSCE's Role in a COVID-19 World

As COVID-19 cuts a deadly swathe across the globe, its political impact is only starting to be felt and could last long after the virus is contained. 

George Tsereteli, President of the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly, joins Olga and Hugh to discuss how the 57-nation OSCE is coping in these unprecedented times, what action it is taking to mitigate the effects of the crisis and what the long-term consequences could be. They assess the threat to multilateralism in a post-pandemic world, how populations may be vulnerable in breakaway post-Soviet statelets, the challenges to governance in many democracies, and what it means that key elections are being postponed.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Episode 18: The Russian and European Roles in Ending Ukraine’s War

What will it take to end the war in Ukraine? 

A plan for what happens inside Ukraine is a prerequisite for peace in the six-year civil war. But that will not suffice if the conflict’s broader geostrategic underpinnings are not addressed, explains Olga, our host-turned-guest for this week’s episode. Russia’s intervention on its neighbour’s territory was largely driven by fears of Western encroachment in its sphere of influence. For NATO and EU member states, these actions pose a deep threat to European stability and security. 

Olga and Hugh discuss what can be done to break the impasse and move toward a durable peace. Broader security concerns in both Europe and Russia must be taken into account. “You can’t fix Ukraine without fixing the rest of the problem”. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more information, see our report: Peace in Ukraine I: A European War.

Episode 17: Turkey in the Time of COVID-19

Turkey’s many paradoxes and its place on a global crossroads come into focus in a discussion about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic with Aslı Aydıntaşbaş, Senior Policy Fellow at the European Council of Foreign Relations. She joins Olga and Hugh for this episode of War & Peace from her home in Istanbul to talk about a faltering economy, Ankara’s “lone wolf” foreign policy, some opportunities missed by the government, and overall, an often heart-warming popular response.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Episode 16: Libya’s Battle for Tripoli

Libya has been in a near constant state of war since Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was toppled back in 2011, morphing into local conflicts between pro- and anti-Islamists. On 4 April last year, forces commanded by General Haftar laid siege to Tripoli, the home of the internationally recognised government. Fighting on the city’s outskirts has been terribly destructive. Meanwhile weapons continue to flow into the country from foreign backers.

The onset of COVID-19 has not broken the diplomatic paralysis that pervades the conflict. UN Security Council members are divided, NATO countries support different sides and the EU’s focus on migration has hampered its ability to develop any coordinated, effective response. The UN call for a global ceasefire to mobilise against the pandemic was followed by an upsurge of fighting around Tripoli.

Claudia Gazzini joins Hugh and Olga on War & Peace this week to discuss realities on the ground, the role of foreign powers and much more. Tune in now!

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Episode 15: Getting EU-Turkey Relations Back on Track

One hour after 34 Turkish soldiers were killed in Idlib, Syria’s last rebel-held bastion, Turkey opened its borders to Greece, prompting thousands of migrants to head for the frontier in the hope of crossing into Europe. 

Berkay Mandıracı, Crisis Group’s Turkey expert and our guest on War & Peace, sheds light on what triggered Ankara’s decision, what implications it could have on the fragile 2016 migration deal with the EU and what can be done at this critical moment to strengthen rapidly declining EU-Turkey relations.

One thing is clear: as the humanitarian situation on the Turkey-Greece border and in Idlib deteriorates and the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic grows, cooperation between the EU and Turkey is growing ever more urgent. Joint work to help refugees and migrants is the most promising place to restart it.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more information, see Berkay’s recent commentary: Sharing the Burden: Revisiting the EU-Turkey Migration Deal.

Episode 14: Deconstructing Islamic State’s Appeal in Central Asia

The conflicts in Syria and Iraq drew between 12,000 and 15,000 fighters from Central Asia. Noah Tucker, expert on Central Asian issues and our guest on War & Peace this week, helps us understand why. 

No overwhelming single factor accounts for such a huge number of people going to fight with the Islamic State. “For every 10 people who join, there are 10 different life stories, and often 10 different reasons”, Noah explains.

But the deep inequalities found in Central Asian countries can help explain. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Central Asia underwent rapid modernisation and radical economic changes. While not unique to the region, the additional challenge of constructing a political system from scratch produced clear winners and losers while whole sections of society were left behind with no mechanism for changing the balance. The Islamic State offered a different path to addressing these injustices, an alternative theory on how to construct a government and distribute resources more fairly.

Noah, Olga and Hugh go on to examine the gendered element, the role of ethno-nationalism as state ideology and much more on this week’s episode. Tune in now! 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Episode 13: Bringing Home Europe’s ISIS-affiliated Women and Children

Over 13,500 foreign nationals who went to fight for ISIS are currently detained in Syria, among them women and children living in abhorrent humanitarian conditions. Western governments have largely failed to repatriate their citizens, afraid of the potential domestic political pushback. 

For Crisis Group’s Gender Director Azadeh Moaveni, these governments should start by bringing home the children and women formerly associated with the group. She urges European leaders to do more to shift public rhetoric from being hostile and dehumanising, explaining to Olga and Hugh how this group is far from monolithic. For her, working on gender in conflict means ensuring that women are not just seen as passive victims or inherent peacebuilders, that their full agency is explored, and that the structural conditions that first encouraged them to join militant groups are understood. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more on this, see our report: Women and Children First: Repatriating the Westerners Affiliated with ISIS.

Episode 12: Of Nightclub Bouncers and Arms Control

“Policies today are geared toward power, strength and pushing back. They are not geared toward talking to each other, and that is the prerequisite for arms control”. 

For Ulrich Kuehn, our guest on War & Peace this week, we have entered an age of regression of predictability in the international military balance. States are gradually dismantling many of the treaties won in hard negotiations during and after the end of the Cold War, arguing that they have become obsolete.

What does this mean for those countries who depend on cooperative mechanisms, but who have little say in what happens to them? And what are the implications for Europe? Does it have the political and military strength to be an autonomous arms control actor?

Tune in now to find out more, including why it’s sometimes useful to think of deterrence in terms of how nightclubs view their bouncers. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Episode 11: A 2020 Peace Agenda for the EU

Europe is closer than global powers like the U.S., China and Russia to many of the decades-old wars and new crises threatening peace and security around the world. As the old multilateral order fragments, European leadership is urgently needed to prevent and mitigate deadly conflict.

Crisis Group’s EU experts Giuseppe Famà and Lisa Musiol join Olga and Hugh in the studio this week to discuss the crises where Josep Borrell, the EU’s recently appointed Vice President and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, can help the EU and its member states rise to the challenge.

Click here to listen on Apple PodcastsSpotify or Europod.

For more see Crisis Group’s recent briefing and upcoming EU Watch List 2020.

Episode 10: Ground Reality in Nagorno-Karabakh 

The dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh is the longest-running conflict that accompanied the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991. War over the territory broke out in 1992 between Armenians and Azerbaijanis.  A ceasefire was brokered in 1994, but decades of negotiations have failed to resolve the conflict.

Our guest this week is Olesya Vartanyan, Crisis Group’s Analyst for Europe’s Eastern Neighbourhood. She explains that grievances and tensions had existed long before the conflict erupted, and that recent calm only papers over years of stalemate that have entrenched positions and isolated Armenians and Azerbaijanis from one another. 

Does Olesya see a way out of the current deadlock? Have a listen to find out.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more information on this conflict, see our recent report: Digging out of Deadlock in Nagorno-Karabakh and our Visual Explainer, which features a uniquely detailed map of the front lines and interactive data charts on reports of casualties and on the use of heavy weaponry, drones and special operations in the conflict zone. 

Episode 9: Russia in 2020

2019 was a good year for Russia. The country rejoined the Council of Europe, the first case of sanctions being lightened since its 2014 annexation of Crimea. It confirmed the country’s commitment to the Paris climate agreement. It welcomed close to fifty African leaders to the inaugural Russia-Africa summit in Sochi. Moscow even made progress with Kyiv, although less as a result of Russian diplomacy than the efforts of Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy. 

Andrey Kortunov, Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council, joined Olga and Hugh to reflect on 2019 and discuss what 2020 might bring. They weigh in on everything from Syrian reconstruction to arms control to who President Putin might want to win the U.S. presidential election.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Episode 8: Bridging the EU-Russia Divide

Russia’s relationship with the European Union has been mired in tension and mistrust since Moscow's annexation of Crimea in 2014. But while relations at a political level are strained, in Russian society there is an appetite for more engagement. 

Sabine Fischer is Team Leader for the Public Diplomacy EU and Russia Project, which seeks to build engagement between the EU and Russian civil society on bilateral and global issues and to strengthen mutual understanding where possible. She talks to Olga and Hugh about the project, Western perceptions of Russian foreign policy, how the new European Commission should engage Russia, and how the West can balance its rejection of the Crimea annexation with its broader policies toward Russia.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Episode 7: Holding the EU Flag High

The European Union has invested more in its eastern neighbourhood than in any other region around the world. In the Balkans, for example, huge financial, political and security resources have been mobilised, often behind the flagship policy of offering EU membership to qualifying countries. The wars of the 1990s and the economic hardships that followed have been largely overcome, but enlargement has stalled and the region’s uncertainties continue. The logic of EU enlargement is in even greater trouble further east in Turkey. Here media freedoms have shrunk, relations have strained over Turkey’s incursion into north-east Syria and the two sides are struggling to find a common policy on helping almost four million Syrian refugees in the country. 

Angelina Eichhorst, Deputy Managing Director for Europe and Central Asia, and Director of Western Europe, Western Balkans and Turkey at the European External Action Service, joins Hugh and Olga this week to discuss how the EU and its eastern neighbours can navigate periods of more strained relations and why continued engagement and dialogue is crucial for long-term stability and prosperity.

“We must shape our interests together. We cannot do this by sitting at different tables.”

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Episode 6: Defeating Populism

“Populism attaches itself to whatever issue provokes fear and outrage [and] hate speech leads to hate crime.”

Populist parties have risen up across Europe and beyond, galvanising electorates and threatening the multilateral institutions needed to address transnational challenges like globalisation, deadly conflict, digital transformations and the climate emergency.

Heather Grabbe, Policy Director for Open Society European Policy Institute, joins Olga and Hugh on this week’s episode of War & Peace to discuss how populism works, why its appeal has grown in recent years, and the threat it poses to European democracy. From its ideological adaptability and the role of digital media in amplifying its message to its role in fuelling deadly conflict, they examine what can be done to address the grievances that these parties feed off. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Episode 5: Russia's Winning Streak

Russia’s role on the international stage is rapidly expanding. It is taking over Washington’s monopoly as the Middle East’s power broker, building its influence in Africa and deepening military ties with China. 

In some places, Russia is moving into a vacuum left by U.S. retrenchment. But it is also doing well globally because it is pragmatic about what success means. Its priority is positioning itself to be in the strongest possible place as the new global order shakes out. 

This week, Olga and Hugh discuss what Russia’s winning streak means for arms control, Ukraine, Turkey, the Middle East and a rising China.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Episode 4: Europe’s Hidden Strengths

The turmoil since the United Kingdom’s 2016 referendum on leaving the European Union has exposed deep fissures not just within British society, but also problems within Europe as a whole. Indeed, a tide of nationalist parties has swept through the continent on an anti-EU platform, triggering heated debate about the union’s true value. 

Jeremy Shapiro, Research Director at the European Council on Foreign Relations, is Olga and Hugh’s guest to discuss these shifting dynamics in the War & Peace studio. Together they reflect on the meaning of European sovereignty, the EU’s relationship with the U.S. under an antagonistic president and the need for a common policy toward their Russian neighbour. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Episode 3: Ukraine’s Zelensky Revolution

Anna Kovalenko had just completed a diploma in theatre studies in 2013 when the people of Ukraine gathered on the streets of Kyiv to demonstrate against the government’s reneging on an agreement with the European Union. Anna became one of the leaders of these protests, later known as the Euromaidan Revolution. 

Five years on, the country is locked in a protracted conflict with Russia-backed separatists and its relationship with the EU has suffered due to corruption and failed political reform. Many challenges lie ahead for recently elected President Zelensky, a former actor who is now also embroiled in a scandal regarding a July telephone call with U.S. President Trump. 

Anna, Deputy Head of the President’s Office, joins Hugh and Olga to discuss security sector reform, reaching a peace deal with Russia and much more. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

This podcast was recorded on 30 August 2019.

Episode 2: Europe in the World

“We have failed to export stability, to the extent that we are now importing instability.” 

Europe’s security outlook has shifted dramatically in the last few years. Russia has broken out of the “Cold War consensus”, the Middle East is “on fire” and North Africa is “in chains”. Surrounded by this dangerous instability, Europe is facing a number of its own internal challenges, from migration to the internal debates polarising its citizens, especially in Britain. 

Bert Koenders, a former Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, a UN envoy and a Crisis Group Trustee, joins Olga Oliker and Hugh Pope this week to explore these issues and discuss ways forward. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

This podcast was recorded on 10 July 2019.

Episode 1: Europe and Iran 

What was so significant about the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, and how important was Europe’s contribution to it? Why has U.S. President Trump’s ripping up of the accord and subsequent “maximum pressure” strategy not worked? Amid the ongoing standoff between the U.S. and Iran, what role can the EU and Russia play in salvaging the deal and averting a military confrontation?

Rob Malley, a negotiator of the Iran deal, joins Olya and Hugh to explore these questions. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

This podcast series was produced by Bulle Media

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