So You're Having Trouble with the Americans? Merkel and Putin Meet

Just last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that with American protection of Europe no longer assured, it was time for Europe to craft its own foreign policy. Today, she will get her first shot at showing what that might look like when she meets Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi.


Merkel’s relationship with Putin has been a mercurial one over the past 15 years. Their shared upbringing behind the Iron Curtain and fluency in each other’s languages gave them a special bond early on, but they broke over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014, and things haven’t been the same since.

Now Trump’s loveless treatment of Europe has pushed Merkel to seek out renewed possibilities with Russia. Their meeting will likely focus on…

  • salvaging the Iran deal without the US, because neither Merkel nor Putin wants Iran to bolt from the deal now and foment a regional nuclear arms race, but she is particularly concerned about the fate of German companies now potentially exposed to renewed US sanctions on Iran.
  • exploring peace options for Syria — Merkel has drawn closer to Moscow on this recently, calling for European-Russian cooperation to broker a solution to the civil war and pointedly sitting out the US-led airstrikes on Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons facilities last month. This gives Merkel more credibility as an interlocutor with Moscow on this issue than any other European leader.
  • energy ties — the $10 billion Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project would increase flows of Russian gas to Germany, already one of the largest energy relationships in the world. The US government, which opposes the project, said this week that scrapping the pipeline was one way for Germany to win permanent exemptions from the Trump administration’s steel and aluminum tariffs.

It was inevitable that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would make India's elections a referendum on Narendra Modi, and now that the vast majority of 600 million votes cast have been counted, it's clear he made the right call.

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Among the 23 men and women now seeking the Democratic Party's nomination to take on Donald Trump in next year's election, the frontrunner, at least for now, has spent half a century in politics. Former Vice President Joe Biden, first elected to the US Senate in 1972, is the very epitome of the American political establishment.

Yet, the dominant political trend in many democracies today is public rejection of traditional candidates and parties of the center-right and center-left in favor of new movements, voices, and messages. Consider the evidence from some recent elections:

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It's Friday, and Signal readers deserve at least one entirely upbeat news story.

José Obdulio Gaviria, a Colombian senator for the rightwing Democratic Center party, is an outspoken opponent of government attempts to make peace with the FARC rebel group after 50 years of conflict.

On his way into a meeting earlier this week, Gaviria collapsed. It was later reported that he had fainted as a result of low blood pressure probably caused by complications following recent open heart surgery.

A political rival, Senator Julian Gallo, quickly came to his rescue and revived him using resuscitation skills he learned as—irony alert—a FARC guerrilla. CPR applied by Gallo helped Gaviria regain consciousness, before another senator, who is also professional doctor, took over. Gaviria was taken to hospital and appears to have recovered.

Because some things will always be more important than politics.