Two penguins at the shore with a ship in the background and a boat that has people with orange jackets on it.
Danco Island, Antarctica: The small island is a landing spot for tourists and home to a Gentoo penguin colony. | Photo: Derek Oyen via Unsplash

Is Antarctica Still Exceptional? The Case for “Co-opetition” at the South Pole

Antarctic diplomacy has famously shielded the continent of peace, science, and environmental protection from outside conflict and war. This “exceptionalism” is now being tested by Russia’s war against Ukraine and the belief that international strategic competition between great powers is spilling over into the Antarctic. In order to keep the Antarctic exceptional, however, it would be wise to refocus on what has made Antarctic diplomacy so successful in the first place: cooperation in order to compete, or “co-opetition.”


White wall with crack
Decoupling is a process that is fraught with tensions. | Photo: AYOUB AALLAGUI, Unsplash

Decoupling and the “New Cold War”: Cautionary Lessons from the Past

An emerging “new Cold War” appears to pit democracies, led by the US, against autocracies, led by Russia and China. But the analogy between today’s regime competition and that of the “old” Cold War is deceptive. China and Russia today are much more closely intertwined with Western democracies than the Soviet Union ever was. These linkages will complicate the conflict considerably. There is already growing pressure to engage in “decoupling”, that is, to break these interdependencies. Research on past instances of decoupling shows that such processes often exacerbate conflict. This research offers four lessons about the general dynamics of decoupling – and little cause for optimism about today’s disengagement processes.


Putin and Xi at their meeting in Moscow
The Sino-Russian partnership differs significantly from the Western community of nations. | Photo: via wikimedia commons | CC BY 4.0

Xi and Putin’s Strategic Tango: Unpacking the Complexities of Russia-China Relations After the 2023 Moscow Summit

The March 2023 state visit of Chinese president Xi Jinping to Russia has attracted significant attention, and has been described as symbolic of growing cooperation between authoritarian states opposed to the current world order. However, as we argue in a recently-published article based on a review of Russian and Chinese expert statements, this partnership should best be understood as a limited, strategically motivated cooperation against shared threat perceptions. Meanwhile, there is much less agreement on normative questions, let alone a shared vision of an alternative world order.


Bombed homes in Borodyanka, Ukraine, and a damaged statue.
Russia exploited the “nuclear shadow” when it started its war against Ukraine. | Photo: Mikael Colville-Andersen via flickr | CC BY-NC 2.0

War against Ukraine: How to Make Deterrence and Arms Control Work

One year after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, experts from the United States, Ukraine, Germany, Turkey, and France discussed the consequences of the war for the nuclear world order in a workshop organized by PRIF’s French partner organization “Fondation pour la recherche stratégique” (FRS) and the “Odesa Center for Nonproliferation” (OdCNP). The focus was on the importance and limits of nuclear deterrence policy and arms control, disarmament, and nonproliferation.


Einzelne Demonstrant:innen auf dem Bonner Ostermarsch 2021
Ostermarsch 2021 in Bonn | Foto: friekoop via flickr | CC BY-NC 2.0

Die Ostermärsche 2023 und der Überfall auf die Ukraine: Nur wenige Aufrufe fordern Russlands Rückzug

Die Ostermärsche schauen auf eine jahrzehntelange Geschichte zurück. Zu ihren Hochzeiten konnten sie Hunderttausende Menschen auf die Straße bringen. Welche Themen und Appelle dabei im Zentrum standen, hing vom jeweiligen Konfliktgeschehen in Europa und der ganzen Welt ab. In diesem Jahr stehen die Aufrufe im Zeichen des russischen Angriffskrieges gegen die Ukraine. Während zahlreiche von ihnen Waffenlieferungen an die Ukraine kritisieren, verlangt nur eine kleine Minderheit den Rückzug der russischen Truppen.


International Criminal Court Building in The Hague
Es bleibt abzuwarten, wie die Mitgliedsstaaten mit dem Haftbefehl verfahren werden. | Photo: OSeveno via wikimedia commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

Der Haftbefehl des Internationalen Strafgerichtshofs gegen Putin – Eine völkerrechtliche Einordnung

Am 17. März 2023 hat der Internationale Strafgerichtshof (IStGH) Haftbefehle gegen Vladimir Putin und eine Präsidialbeamtin erlassen. Diese Entscheidung hat große Teile der Fachwelt überrascht und wirft einige Fragen auf: Auf welcher Basis kann der IStGH Putin verfolgen? Was wird ihm und der Präsidialbeamtin vorgeworfen? Ist er als amtierender Präsident vor Verfolgung besonders geschützt? Welche Staaten sind verpflichtet, den Haftbefehl umzusetzen? Was sind die politischen Folgen für Putin, das Gericht und das Völkerrecht? Der Blogbeitrag geht auf diese Fragen vor allem aus völkerrechtlicher Sicht ein.


President Ilham Aliyev sitting with Prime Minister Benyamin Netanjahu with flags of Azerbaijan and Israel.
The alliance between Israel and Azerbaijan recently celebrated 30 years of diplomatic ties. | Photo:, wikimedia commons | CC BY 4.0

Why Israel Backs Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: It’s Not About Armenia

Amidst the devastation caused by the recent earthquakes in Turkey on 6 February, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian made a strong statement warning against the threat posed by the Zionist regime to peace and stability in the region. Specifically, he pointed to Israel’s involvement in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, where Azerbaijan emerged victorious with significant support from Israel in the form of technology and arms. But why did Israel get involved in a conflict thousands of miles away, with no direct interests? In this post, we’ll take a closer look at Israel’s strategic partnerships with Azerbaijan and Turkey, and how they tie into its involvement in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.


Drei F16-Kampfflugzeuge auf einem Flugplatz
Die notwendige Infrastruktur für den Betrieb von U.S.-amerikanischen F-16-Kampfflugzeugen könnte in der Ukraine wohl erst nach einem Waffenstillstand errichtet werden. | Photo: U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Matthew Plew via flickr | Public Domain

Kampfflugzeuge für die Ukraine und das Risiko der Eskalation: Ein Realitätscheck

Nachdem mehrere NATO-Staaten der Ukraine nach monatelangem Ringen die Lieferungen von Panzern zugesagt haben, intensiviert die ukrainische Regierung ihre Forderungen nach Kampfflugzeugen westlicher Bauart. Allerdings wäre die Ukraine auch mit einigen westlichen Jets kaum in der Lage, die leistungsfähigen russischen Flugabwehrsysteme zu zerstören. Darüber hinaus, und wichtiger, stellen westliche Kampfflugzeuge enorme Anforderungen an Infrastruktur und Ausbildung. Eine Lieferentscheidung wäre in erster Linie ein politisches Signal für die langfristige Unterstützung des Landes. Auswirkungen auf dem Schlachtfeld hätte sie zum jetzigen Zeitpunkt nicht.


Russian Ambassador sits at the Security Council, holding a printed page with images up in the air.
Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia speaks at Security Council meeting in New York, accusing Ukraine of developing biological weapons under the tutelage of the United States. | Photo: © picture alliance / Pacific Press | Lev Radin

Muddying the Waters: Official Russian Disinformation on Chemical and Biologial Weapons

In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, chemical and biological weapons have once again attracted international attention due to disinformation efforts on the part of Russian officials. International forums which oversee the ban on these weapons are being used to accuse Ukraine and its allies of violating their legal obligations. Many of Russia’s accusations regarding chemical weapons resemble the patterns of deception observed in the past, while disinformation on biological weapons is displaying somewhat novel characteristics. Yet, there are tangible ways of counteracting such disinformation, thereby protecting the ban on chemical and biological weapons.


A painting by British street artist Banksy is seen on a building destroyed by fighting in Borodyanka, Kyiv region, Ukraine. The painting shows a woman doing a handstand, apparently on the wreckage.
A painting by British street artist Banksy on a building destroyed by fighting in Borodyanka, Ukraine. | Photo: © AP Photo/Andrew Kravchenko

Gender Equality in Times of a Full-Scale War on Ukraine: A Hope for a Better Future?

The work on promoting gender equality in Ukraine continues even in the time of full-scale war, proving that the times of crisis could be used as an opportunity for a positive transformation. Tireless efforts of civil society and its prominent allies in politics have already had some fruits in keeping the topic in the public discourse, updating the National Action Plan (NAP) on UNSCR 1325 ‚Women, Peace and Security’ (WPS), and the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention).