CEPA

Russia may now be in an era of irreversible decline. That anyway is what the long-term trends indicate.  

Russia’s once-vaunted military is being mauled in Ukraine. It will either lose outright, or remain to fight a hopeless war for years to come. Despite September’s rigged referendums, its attempt to legalize its seizure of Ukrainian territory not only generated derision but was swiftly challenged in the most profound way — by the Ukrainian armed forces liberating swaths of land from the Russian invader. 

These defeats have reverberated wide and deep into Eurasia. In Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Russia’s critical link to the region, is worried about the Kremlin’s intentions. Its Russian-populated northern regions could easily turn into Kremlin’s next geopolitical adventure if the war in Ukraine ends with some semblance of Russian success. This encourages its leaders to play its Chinese card; Xi Jinping obliged during a visit on September 14, noting rather tartly that “we will continue to resolutely support Kazakhstan in protecting its independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.”  

But perhaps the biggest changes are taking place in the South Caucasus, where Armenia and Azerbaijan, two long-time rivals, are adjusting to the new reality created by a wounded and diminished Russia even as they seek to navigate the continuing repercussions of the Second Nagorno-Karabakh war of 2020. Azerbaijan sees Russia’s preoccupation with Ukraine and sought to take the maximum advantage. Armenia, which was refused Russian military aid during the recent fighting, has been under fierce Azeri pressure to recognize its territorial integrity, thus de jure renouncing its hope that Nagorno-Karabakh might be a separate entity.  

Negotiations between the two sides have been encouraged by the European Union (EU), but the signing of a peace treaty remains elusive and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. The EU lacks the clout to force it through, while Russia is not yet sufficiently enfeebled to be ignored. From this flows an ambiguity that is dangerous for South Caucasus states. As peace efforts stumble, Armenia and Azerbaijan are preparing for a new round of competition, and the possibility of more fighting.  

Armenia was the loser in 2020 and it is still badly bruised by the defeat, has just announced a 47% military budget increase for next year. There is little detail on the systems it seeks and the total of $1.2bn is still dwarfed by Azerbaijan’s $2.6bn billion defense budget, yet the trajectory is clear. As Russia is unable to prevent future escalations in the South Caucasus, Armenia has to become more self-reliant in preparation for future clashes. 

The Russian inability or unwillingness to influence events is also pushing Armenia to search for a new arms supplier. It has little choice given that arms deliveries from Russia to Armenia have been delayed by nearly a year — another indication of inadequate military industrial capacity.  

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So step forward India. The two countries have signed an agreement worth some $245m for the purchase of Indian artillery systems and anti-tank rockets. India’s involvement might be surprising to many, but the rivalry with Pakistan, which supports Azerbaijan (and has not even recognized Armenia’s existence) is now silently spilling over into the South Caucasus. 

Moreover, Armenian analysts and even politicians are now more vocal in their criticism of Russia, emphasizing the need to reconsider Armenia’s basic strategy. The Russia of 2022 is not the Russia of the 1990s, when major treaties were agreed between the two countries. were signed. It is now increasingly clear to the Armenian leadership that a defeated Russia could be a serious liability. At the heart of this reassessment is the role of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which failed to intervene when Armenia was under threat, and the Russian military bases on Armenian soil. Both pillars of supposed Armenian security are now crumbling. 

Quite apart from Russia’s current military weakness, deficiencies in Russian efforts are also related to the Kremlin’s disingenuousness in the South Caucasus. Chaos is what Russia feeds on. Manageable chaos is even better.  

Russia’s influence was flagging even before its all-out invasion of Ukraine. Turkey’s entrance into the region’s affairs is a major factor, while the EU’s re-emergence as a negotiating force has also hit Russian prestige — every summit of Armenian-Azerbaijani leadership this year has been held under Brussels’ auspices and none took place in Moscow. 

Russia is losing. It has increasingly fewer levers of influence even with its allies. And while Ukraine consumes all attention, the South Caucasus and Central Asia could be seen as a real gauge of how the Kremlin’s power is fading in the depths of Eurasia. 

Emil Avdaliani is a professor at European University and the Director of Middle East Studies at the Georgian think-tank, Geocase. 

The EU has proposed new rules to govern data use, artificial intelligence, social media content, and online marketplaces. Brussels has already approved major legislation on privacy and competition policy. Meanwhile, Washington lags far behind.

CEPA’s Digital Innovation Initiative (DII) is tracking major developments in transatlantic tech policy below. Major updates are highlighted in red.

2022

October 4  Privacy and Digital Rights

The Biden administration released its blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights, outlining five principles seeking to ensure accountability for automated systems. Critics say it is a non-binding white paper that will have little influence.

October 3  Privacy and Digital Rights

The US and UK’s “Access to Electronic Data for the Purpose of Countering Serious Crime” agreement entered into force, streamlining the process for law enforcement in each country to request and send data for criminal investigations.

September 29  Infrastructure and Telecommunications

The US’s Doreen Bogdan-Martin defeated a Russian candidate in an election to lead the UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for the next four years. The election pitted a Western vision of a democratic, open internet against authoritarian countries’ government-controlled approach. 

September 28 Regulation

The European Commission proposed new liability rules which would allow victims of artificial intelligence-powered software and products to sue for compensation.

September 19 Hardware

The European Commission proposed an emergency tool to protect supply chains in times of crisis, including requiring the stockpiling of critical materials to develop electronics, including rare earth minerals and semiconductors.

September 16 Privacy and Digital Rights

The European Commission proposed a Media Freedom act to protect media companies from authoritarian governments. But some press groups expressed concern that the new rules could give regulators too much power to meddle in the free press.

September 14 Antitrust

The State of California sued Amazon, accusing the company of anticompetitive business practices. This lawsuit marks the most significant legal challenge the company has faced in the United States, building upon existing legal pressure from European regulators.

September 14 Competition

A European Union court upheld a record EUR 4.34 billion fine against Google for illegally using its Android mobile phone operating system to secure the dominance of its search engine. The victory came after a pair of stinging court losses in antitrust cases against Intel and Qualcomm.

September 9 Competition

European Commissioner Thierry Breton announced a consultation on whether large US tech companies should pay a special tax to European telecom companies for use of their networks.

September 8 Competition

The White House released a set of “Principles for Enhancing Competition and Tech Platform Accountability” designed to reform the US’ key intermediary liability law Section 230. But Congress looks unlikely to enact them into legislation.

September 1 Privacy

The California State legislature passed the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act requiring platforms to vet their products for potential threats to child privacy before rolling them out.

September 1 Competition

The UK opened an antitrust investigation into Microsoft’s planned purchase of video game studio Activision Blizzard.

August 24 Regulation

California voted to ban the sale of gasoline-powered cars from 2035.

August 23 Cybersecurity

Twitter deceived regulators about “deficiencies” in its defenses against hackers and spam, according to a whistleblower complaint from its former security chief.

August 22 – Privacy

Noways’ data authority recommends fining Meta for continuing transatlantic data transfers after a European court ruling outlawing them. The US and EU are continuing negotiations for a replacement of Privacy Shield, the now annulled data sharing agreement across the Atlantic.

August 19 – Cybersecurity

Estonia repelled a major cyberattack launched by Russia-aligned hackers, showing how much progress it has made since a similar attack in 2007 paralyzed some of its public institutions.

August 7 – Hardware

The US Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 dedicating almost $400 billion over ten years to promote technology fighting climate change, encouraging consumers to buy electric vehicles and jolting utilities to use wind and solar renewables.

August 3 Competition

The UK’s competition authority approved an $8.6 billion merger between the United States NortonLifeLock and the Czech Republic’s Avast, two leading cybersecurity firms. Significant competition remains in the cybersecurity market, with Microsoft increasing its offerings and McAfee and other small players present, the authorities explained.

August 1 Privacy

In a ruling that increases the danger of a transatlantic split over abortion data, the European Court of Justice found that data that can be used to reveal a person’s sexual orientation or identity is protected under the continent’s GDPR privacy rules.

July 29 Hardware

After the Senate, the US House of Representatives passes the Chips and Science Act of 2022, providing $39 billion for semiconductor manufacturing and billions more in tech research. It’s the first major tech policy initiative of the Biden Administration and a rare show of bipartisan consensus.

July 29 Competition

As investors ponder the depth of a tech slowdown,  US tech firms present their second-term earnings, with both Alphabet, Microsoft, and Meta missing estimates. But the results are better than expected and their stocks rise.

July 29 Competition

US Big Tech firms present their earnings for the second quarter this week. Netflix and Snap had already announced their results, with the former losing subscribers, but fewer than expected, and the latter not “satisfied” with its results. Both Alphabet and Microsoft miss their estimates, but the damage isn’t as bad as many estimators feared. Meta Platforms also share disappointing earnings.

July 28 Privacy and Digital Rights

The European Commission publishes its annual Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), showing the Nordics still leading but countries such as Greece and Poland catching up.

July 28 Competition

The European Commission announces plans to open a new tech office in San Francisco, designed to dialogue with Silicon Valley about compliance with the new Digital Services and Markets Regulations. 

July 27 Competition

The Federal Trade Commission filed suit to block Meta’s acquisition of a small virtual reality company Within, marking Commissioner Lina Kahn’s first major action and a move that pushes the boundaries of antitrust action.

July 21 Privacy and Digital Rights

The UK and the US sign a law enforcement data pact, with the UK becoming the first European country to enter into such an agreement with the US.

July 18 – Competition

The European Council approves the Digital Markets Act (DMA), marking the final step to passage. It goes into effect in six months.

July 7 – Privacy and Digital Rights

Ireland’s data protection authority orders Meta to stop sending user data from the EU to the US. While data transfers won’t stop immediately, the decision will trigger a vote among European data protection authorities. The announcement comes four months after the EU and the US agreed to a new Privacy Shield, designed to address the concerns around transatlantic data flows.

July 6 – Competition

Germany designates Amazon as “paramount significance for competition,” making it the third large US tech company after Alphabet and Meta to be subject to new German national antitrust rules, which show that national authorities will continue to push their own cases even before the DMA enters into force. Amazon will now be required to share more information with its third-party merchants using its platform, among other obligations.

July 5 – Digital Markets Act / Digital Services Act

The European Parliament formally adopts the landmark Digital Markets Act targeting the largest tech companies, and the Digital Services Act, increasing responsibilities for tech to fight illegal content. The acts will come into force in 2023.

June 30 – Online Commerce

The EU agrees on new rules to regulate cryptocurrencies, with the goal of eliminating their use for money laundering.

June 23 – Privacy and Digital Rights

Italy becomes the third European country after Austria and France to prohibit Google Analytics,  judging that it unlawfully transfers data to the United States. The decision underlines the continued uncertainty of transatlantic data flows despite the announcement of a new Privacy Shield deal earlier this spring.

June 21 – Competition

France’s national competition authority approves Google’s proposed commitments to press publishers under the EU’s new copyright rules. The decision comes a year after France’s competition authorities fined the search engine EUR 500 million.

June 16 – Privacy and Digital Rights

The European Commission updates its Code of Practice on Disinformation, requiring social media networks, among other voluntary commitments, to increase cooperation with fact-checkers and allow researchers access to their data.

June 7 – Online Commerce

Two key US Senators propose a bipartisan bill to regulate cryptocurrencies, eliminating taxes on small scare purchases, and opening the way to treating crypto like a regular currency. The full Congress still needs to approve.

June 7 – Privacy and Digital Rights

The European Union’s terrorist content regulation enters into force, requiring social media and other online content platforms to take down content that authorities identify as glorifying or promoting terrorism. In some cases, platforms must act within an hour to remove the content or face a fine.

June 7 – Hardware

The European Union agrees that smartphones and tablets sold in the EU must use a common USB-C charging port, starting in the fall of 2024. Apple sought to keep using its proprietary Lightning charging port.

June 3 – Privacy and Digital Rights

US Congressional leaders released a draft of the American Data Privacy and Protection Act, a bipartisan proposal to create a federal privacy standard. The draft proposal, if successful, would end more than 50 years of deadlock on US privacy rights.

May 31 – Competition

The US Supreme Court suspends a law introduced by the Texas state government which would have prevented social media platforms from removing user content based on political views.

May 17 – Cybersecurity

The Justice Department announces a revised policy that creates an exception for good-faith security researchers to not be prosecuted under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986.

May 16 – Trade and Technology Council

EU and US officials conclude the second Trade and Technology Council meeting in Paris. This forum was initially positioned transatlantic counterweight to China but has shifted a clear focus to combat Russia. Read the final statement here.

May 13 – Cybersecurity

EU bodies agree on the details of the Network and Information Security Directive (NIS2 Directive), a new law forcing critical industries to improve their cyber resilience.

May 11 – Privacy and Digital Rights

The European Commission publishes its draft proposal to combat child sexual abuse online through widespread obligations on major tech platforms to find, report, and remove such content. However, tech executives and some MEPs fear that the Act would strip away basic privacy protections.

May 3 – Privacy and Digital Rights

The European Commission publishes its proposed European Health Data Space, a regulation that would align health data sharing practices across the bloc. Proponents claim it will expand healthcare and innovation and unlock €11 billion in economic gains while critics fear that technical and political challenges will limit its benefits.

May 2 – Competition

German competition authorities designate Meta as a “digital firm of paramount significance,” lowering the threshold for the future anti-trust action.

April 28 – Privacy and Digital Rights

The US, European Commission, and 54 other governments endorse the Declaration for the Future of the Internet, a non-binding pledge to ensure internet freedom, protect privacy rights, and avoid the use of algorithms and mis/disinformation to infringe on civil liberties.

April 26 – Online Commerce

The EU’s top court rules against the Polish government’s effort to strike down a core component of the 2019 Copyright Directive that forces major platforms to check user uploads for pirated content.

April 23 – Digital Services Act

Europe finalizes its signature legislation forcing social media platforms to combat misinformation and restrict certain online ads or face billions in fines.

April 6 – Data Governance Act

The European Parliament approves the rules aimed at increasing data sharing within Europe, paving the way for formal adoption.

April 4 – Cybersecurity

The State Department launches its Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy tasked with negotiating international cybersecurity partnerships.

March 30 – Online Commerce

The European Commission proposes new ecodesign rules, its latest move in an effort to increase the responsibility of online platforms to ensure that products sold online minimize their impact on the environment.  

March 29 – Competition

A French court fines Google €2 million for engaging in abusive commercial practices by imposing unfair clauses on independent app developers.

March 25 – Privacy Shield

US President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen strike an agreement in principle on a revamped “Privacy Shield” data transfer agreement. Details are left to be filled in by the end of the year. Privacy campaigner Max Shrems derides it as “lipstick on a pig.” 

March 24 – Digital Markets Act

Europe finalizes its signature legislation to corral what it calls gatekeepers, large US companies such as Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft. All will face extensive new obligations and restrictions – and risk fines up to 20% of their worldwide turnover. 

March 11 – Competition

The European Commission opens a case against Google and Facebook for anticompetitive behavior in display advertising.

March 9 – Privacy and Digital Rights

Italy’s data protection authority fines Clearview AI €20 million for privacy violations, orders it to delete all data processed from Italian citizens, and bans it from collecting any facial biometrics.

February 23 – Data Act

The European Commission proposes new rules about transferring data between businesses, governments, and consumers. It aims to ease access to data collected by tech companies. But critics fear increased security risks and building new barriers to reducing competition between major technology firms. 

February 10 – Privacy and Digital Rights

The US Senate Judiciary Committee passes the EARN IT Act that would require the scanning of digital devices for Child Sexual Abuse material. Supporters argue that children must be protected, but critics worry about compromising security, encryption, and privacy.

February 8 – European Chips Act

In one of the most ambitious state-funded industrial schemes, the European Commission proposes to spend €43 billion subsidizing the European production of semiconductors.  

January 26 – Competition

Intel wins its appeal against a $1.2 billion fine issued by the European Commission in 2009 for anti-competitive behavior, in a major loss for EU competition authorities. The Luxembourg-based General Court which granted the appeal found that the Commission failed to prove that Intel’s actions produced anticompetitive effects.

January 20 – Digital Services Act

The European Parliament approves its version, which goes beyond the original proposal. Parliament wants a ban on dark patterns and introduces strict restrictions on services targeting minors. But it backs away from making Internet Platforms filter their sites or make them liable for products and services offered by third parties.  

January 13 – Privacy and Digital Rights

Austria’s data protection authority rules that Google Analytics violates the European privacy GDPR rules, opening the door for similar action by other EU countries.

January 10 – Privacy and Digital Rights

Europe’s data watchdog orders Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency, to remove all data for individuals unaffiliated with criminal activity, finding that the law enforcement agency’s data policies violate European privacy law.

January 5 – Competition

German competition authorities rule that Google benefits from “paramount significance across markets,” a move to impose restrictions on the search engine.

2021

December 14 – Digital Services Act

The European Parliament’s Internal Market Committee adopts the Act, paving the way for a final Parliamentary vote. The committee version expands on the original proposal by introducing more robust transparency obligations, new provisions against dark patterns, and banning micro-targeting for minors. 

December 10 – Data Governance Act

EU official reach an agreement on the Data Governance Act, aimed at easing the reuse of public sector data. 

December 9 – Competition

Italy’s competition authority fines Amazon almost €1.13 billion for abusing its dominant position to force third-party merchants to use its warehouse and delivery services.

December 9 – Online Commerce

The European Commission proposes requiring Uber, Deliveroo, and other platforms to treat most gig workers as employees.  

December 4 – Digital Markets Act

US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo lashes out against Europe’s proposed legislation, criticizing its  “disproportionate” impact on US tech companies.  

November 29 – Privacy and Digital Rights/Competition

Italy’s competition authority fines Google and Apple €10 million each for “aggressive practices” in their commercial use of user data.

November 23 – Competition

Italy’s competition authority fines Amazon €68.7 million and Apple €134.5 million for colluding to restrict the resale of Apple products on Amazon.

November 23 – Digital Market Act

The European Parliament’s Internal Market Committee adopts the Act, paving the way for a full parliamentary vote. Compared to the European Commission’s initial proposal, this version reduces the number of gatekeepers while increasing the list of digital markets subject to regulation.  

November 10 – Digital Markets Act

Ambassadors from the EU’s Member States adopt their position on the Act, paving the way for trialogue negotiations. Their version reduces the time for designating gatekeepers and expands upon the role of national courts and regulatory authorities.   

November 10 – Competition

Google loses an appeal against a €2.8 billion antitrust decision, a major win for Europe’s competition chief, who accused the search engine of leveraging its own price comparison shopping service to gain an unfair advantage over smaller European rivals.

October 21 – Competition

The US reaches a compromise with five European countries after a dispute over taxes on American tech giants.  

October 8 – Competition

Governments around the globe agree on a sweeping overhaul of global corporate tax rules, signaling a new approach to tackling the taxation of digital companies in countries where they sell their products.  If successful, Europe agrees to drop its plans for a digital levy.  

October 1 – Data Governance Act

EU’s Member States adopt their position. They expand on the original Commission proposal by removing references to cloud service providers, adding codes of conduct for “data altruism,” empowering national authorities to share public-held data, and setting moderate penalties for non-compliance. 

September 29 – Trade and Technology Council

Europe and the US leaders meet in Pittsburgh and launch a new initiative designed to facilitate transatlantic cooperation. The next meeting is scheduled for May 2022 in Paris. 

September 2 – Privacy and Digital Rights

Ireland’s data protection authority fines WhatsApp €225 million over the app’s lack of transparency surrounding its data sharing practices with other Meta companies.

July 22 – Data Governance Act

The European Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy Committee adopts the Data Act, calling for the establishment of a Data Innovation Advisory Council, expanding the initially proposed oversight body to include academics, private industry, and civil society. 

July 1 – Online Commerce

New Value-Added Tax (VAT) rules for online shopping enter into force, requiring marketplaces to collect the tax on behalf of their merchants. Consumers receive extra charges to receive packages.  

June 20 – Online Commerce

The European Commission proposes a new regulation that would increase responsibilities for e-commerce marketplaces to ensure that no dangerous products are sold on their platform.  

June 3 – Privacy and Digital Rights

The European Commission proposes new rules to ease digital identification across its 27 member states.  

June 1 – Digital Markets Act

Lead Rapporteur, MEP Andreas Schwab, submits his draft report on the proposed Act to the European Parliament’s Internal Market Committee. He proposes narrowing the definition of “gatekeepers” to target major US tech firms (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft).

June 1 – Privacy and Digital Rights

Europe’s new copyright law comes into effect, increasing pressure on digital platforms to pay rightsholders to link to their content.  

May 28 – Digital Services Act

Lead Rapporteur, MEP Christel Schaldemose, submits her draft report on the proposed Act to the European Parliament’s Internal Market Committee. She calls for making online marketplaces liable for all products listed for sale.  

May 12 – Competition

Europe’s General Court dismisses the Commission’s antitrust case against Amazon on the basis that it received preferential tax treatment in Luxembourg, in a blow to Brussel’s antitrust agenda.

May 6 – Privacy and Digital Rights

Microsoft announces that it will store and process EU data within the EU as a result of continued fallout from the Schrems II decision on transatlantic data flows.

April 23 – Infrastructure and Telecommunications

Germany, one of the last holdouts, joins most other European countries in labeling the Chinese telecommunications company a security risk.  

April 21 – AI Act

The European Commission publishes its draft proposal to regulate Artificial intelligence. It would designate various types of programming as high and low risk and impose restrictions on “high-risk” AI applications, such as facial recognition. 

February 12 – Privacy and Digital Rights

Sweden’s data protection authority issues a €250,000 to police authorities for their use of Clearview AI facial recognition technologies in violation of national data laws.

2020

December 16 – Cybersecurity

The European Commission proposes cybersecurity rules to toughen the bloc’s defenses of critical infrastructure. But a planned certification system proves controversial, with critics fearing it could undermine security.  

December 15 – Digital Services Act

The European Commission publishes its draft proposal to oblige platforms to combat illegal content, non-transparent advertising practices, and disinformation. Non-compliant platforms would face fines of up to 6% of annual revenue. 

December 15 – Digital Markets Act

The European Commission publishes its draft proposal to monitor and prevent major platforms from engaging in anti-competitive behavior. The proposed Act would ban, among other practices, digital “gatekeepers” from self-preferencing.  Platforms could face fines of up to 10% of annual global revenue. 

December 10 – Privacy and Digital Rights

France’s data protection authority hands out its largest fines to date, issuing penalties of €100 million to Google and €35 million to Amazon Web Services for failing to obtain user consent to collect personal data.

November 25 – Data Governance Act

The European Commission publishes its draft proposal to facilitate the sharing of non-personal and industrial data across the EU. 

October 15 – Infrastructure and Telecommunications

European MEPs label Chinese telecommunications company Huawei a security threat.  

October 14 – Privacy and Digital Rights

French courts rule that Microsoft could not transfer personal health data outside of the EU, even though the government had contracted it to host the information.

July 16 – Competition

The European General Court rules in favor of Apple, finding that the US tech firm did not unlawfully benefit from Ireland’s corporate tax laws, denying the European Commission a claim of €13 billion in back taxes.

July 15 – Privacy Shield

The European Court of Justice invalidates the EU-US Privacy Shield agreement, saying that US surveillance violates European privacy rights established under the Europe’s GDPR privacy law. This ruling threatens transatlantic data flows.

June 23 – Online Commerce

Germany’s Federal Supreme Court orders Facebook to stop sharing data across WhatsApp and Instagram.

June 23 – Online Commerce

Norway’s Supreme Court rules in favor of Apple that independent firms violated trademark rules by using cheaper repair parts, in a move condemned by “right to repair” groups.

February 4 – Privacy and Digital Rights

The Irish Data Protection Commission launches a formal investigation into Google over how the company processes user location data.

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine rages on, Belarusian President Aliaksandr Lukashenka has found himself in a predicament. Domestically, he has cracked down on his political opposition, with police officers arresting and torturing scholars, journalists, political prisoners, and protestors. International organizations have recorded numerous human rights violations by the Belarusian government, and the international community has imposed sanctions on Lukashenka and his cronies. Regardless, the political oppression continues. 

Meanwhile, the Belarusian opposition remains strong. While Lukashenka continues to imprison the innocent, exiled opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya has called on citizens to continue peaceful demonstrations against the Lukashenka regime. She has also been consulting with Western leaders and other bodies to discuss the fate of her country. Last month, Tsikhanouskaya met with US President Joe Biden, as well as the Council of Europe. During these sessions, the participants exchanged ideas on how to empower democratization and civil society in Belarus. It would be strange if they did not also discuss what might happen if the regime suddenly collapsed. 

The campaigns of Lukashenka and Tsikhanouskaya could not be more different. But eventually, something will have to give. As Russia’s failing attempt to erase Ukrainian statehood continues, time will favor Tsikhanouskaya and the opposition movement.  

Throughout his 28-year tenure as Belarusian leader, Lukashenka has relied heavily on Russian President Vladimir Putin. Belarus’s economy is highly dependent on Russia. The Russian Federation is its largest trading partner, Putin has provided various billion-dollar loans and in return, Belarus has aided Russia with its imperial ambitions in Ukraine. While the international community is providing a variety of aid to Ukraine as it fends off the ongoing Russian invasion, Lukashenka has allowed Russia to use his country as a staging area for Russian troops and as a launch pad for aggression against its neighbor. In short, the Lukashenka regime has isolated itself from the international community. 

This decision has also seen him lose additional domestic support. While Lukashenka aids Putin’s war, several Belarusian military officers have resigned in protest, while former service personnel has volunteered to fight alongside the Ukrainian army. These events suggest that Lukashenka may have problems within the ranks of his own military, something hinted at by the most recent polling showing only a quarter of the population would support soldiers fighting or following orders if deployed in Putin’s war. 

Realizing this, the Belarusian dictator has decided against ordering his troops to invade Ukraine. Lukashenka’s key concern has always been to remain in power and it’s therefore unlikely he would do anything to risk it. 

Yet even his choice to offer less than wholehearted support to Russia has allowed the Belarusian opposition to grow. Lukashenka failed to eradicate the opposition movement when it first emerged in the summer of 2020 after they protested the rigged results of the presidential election. While many opposition figures were forced into exile, it also allowed these leaders to develop and extend relationships with the democratic world, making them better known to international audiences through television and radio appearances, and writing analytical pieces in major Western publications. They are technologically and politically savvy, and this has allowed them to spread their message more easily. 

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The Belarusian opposition has staunchly supported Ukraine throughout the war. When the invasion began, railroad workers risked their lives to sabotage Russian military movements, and some joined Ukrainians on the streets as they protested the war. Members of the Belarusian diaspora have sent humanitarian aid to Ukraine. Finally, these communities are working hard to ensure that Russia does not succeed in its war. 

“When Ukrainians win, it means that Putin and Lukashenka will be weaker,” Tsikhanouskaya said while attending the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly. “The war in Ukraine is a chance for Belarus to gain [its real] independence,” she added

Russia’s failure in Ukraine is now quite apparent. Given Lukashenka’s heavy reliance on Putin, and the uncertainty for his regime in the light of a worsening defeat, means it’s very possible that he would be left to fend for himself.  

A weakened Lukashenka regime would allow the opposition to challenge the current Belarusian government. This, in turn, could see Tsikhanouskaya emerge as a post-revolutionary, democratic leader.  

There is much uncertainty for the future, but Putin’s defeat would be certain to ripple into Belarus and the opposition will need to be ready. 

Lukashenka must be worried. And he should be. 

Mark Temnycky is an accredited freelance journalist covering Eastern Europe and a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center. He can be found on Twitter @MTemnycky 

The bill must cover at least the damage done since 2014, although many Ukrainians would quite reasonably argue that the calculations should include the enormous depredations of the past century, which cost millions of Ukrainian lives.  

Ukraine’s friends in the West plan to organize a huge program of reconstruction, and much — probably most — of the costs should be paid by Russia. Estimates for rebuilding Ukraine’s infrastructure range from a few hundred billion dollars to $1 trillion or more. The longer the fighting continues, the greater the bill for rebuilding — especially if the effort is to “build back better” (greener with modern technology).   

How many Ukrainians have Russians killed under Communist rule and under Vladimir Putin? If we assigned a dollar value to them, what would be the bill? 

The answer is multiple billions of dollars. 

From 2014-2021, around 22,000 Ukrainian soldiers and civilians are estimated to have died as a result of Russian aggression. In addition, Putin’s all-out invasion on February 24 may ultimately cost the lives of another 100,000 (or more) soldiers and civilians; — 22,000 died in Mariupol alone. 

After Russian forces withdrew from Bucha, a town near Kyiv, and from Izyum near Kharkiv, mass graves were found in each location with more than 400 corpses, many showing signs of torture and execution-style killings. The laws of war prohibit willful and indiscriminate killing, torture, enforced disappearances, and inhumane treatment of captured combatants and civilians in custody. Pillage or looting is also prohibited.  

Anyone who orders or deliberately commits such acts, or aids and abets them, is responsible for war crimes. Commanders of forces who knew or had reason to know about such crimes, but did not attempt to stop them or punish those responsible, are criminally liable for war crimes as a matter of command responsibility. 

How much should Russia pay for each Ukrainian killed in Putin’s unprovoked war? Sociologists at Russia’s National Research University Higher School of Economics reported in 2014 that the average value of a statistical life in Russia was about 50 million rubles, or some $1.6 million — a value comparable to that of some developing Asian countries, “The value of a human life in Russia is significantly underestimated,” the Russian scholars concluded in 2014. 

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The reality is that such estimates vary depending on their methodology and sources. Russia’s national insurance agency in 2015 valued a single life at $72,000.  

Another way to see how the Kremlin values life is to see what it pays the families of soldiers killed in Ukraine in 2022. The official sum is the ruble equivalent of $126,000. In practice, however, compensation is much less. A family in Moscow receives three times more than in Buryat or other remote areas that contribute less to GDP and where living costs are lower. For each dead soldier, some regions (federal subjects) get the equivalent of $51,000 per dead soldier; others just $17,000. So long as a soldier is reported missing in action, the family gets nothing.  

Let’s take a set of low, low numbers to get a sense of the bill since 2014. Assume the war continues through December 2022 and takes the lives of 100,000 Ukrainians. To that number add the 22,000 killed between 2014 and February 2022. Add in reimbursement for those wounded and those displaced internally and abroad. (Ask nothing for the 9 million Ukrainians killed under Lenin and Stalin from 1917 to 1953.) 

Note that the bill will not include grief, PTSD, loss of education, earnings, or of simple human fun. 

The Kremlin should also pay its own subjects for the 80,000 or more soldiers killed or wounded in this senseless war.

Russia could compensate Ukraine as Iraq has done to pay for the $352bn material and human losses caused by its invasion of Kuwait in 1990-1991 — by a tax of at least 5% on its fossil fuel sales. As happened with Iraq, these revenues would be directed to a UN agency set up to receive and distribute these sums.  

For this to happen, however, the Kremlin would have to be managed by a government that recognized Russia’s obligations to compensate those it has harmed. 

Walter Clemens is writing a book Putin and Xi Jinping: How to Deal with Bad Guys. To be published next year.

Until the unprovoked Russian all-out attack on Ukraine on 24 February, there was an understanding that economic ties and trade would keep aggression, conflict, and war at bay, as economic interests were thought in most cases to override military interests.   

President Vladimir Putin of Russia taught the world otherwise. He launched a war to subjugate a country he thought should never have gained independence with the fall of the Soviet regime, an action many Western countries thought implausible, if not impossible. In obvious shock, the West reacted swiftly and in concert with unprecedented economic sanctions on Russia. In preparing the eighth batch of sanctions, the West hopes to contain any possibility of the war in Ukraine escalating into NATO territory.  

Russia’s aggression has been described as following the logic of a traditional, old-fashioned imperial war. The conflict the Kremlin envisaged would last for three days did not go according to plan and as the losses and deficiencies of the Russian army have become apparent, the war has taken a turn towards unconventional forms of hybrid warfare. Russia, at first restricted energy exports to Europe in May, followed by ending gas exports altogether in August, and continued with the suspected sabotage of the gas pipelines of Nord Stream 1 and 2 in late September. Gas prices have surged across Europe and left its energy markets in disarray, with potentially grave consequences for the security and defense of Europe.   

It is true that European energy markets were showing signs of unease before February; the price of gas increased during the fall of 2021, and by January the German utility company Uniper, the largest distributor of gas to German homes, was in serious trouble. The majority owner of Uniper, the Finnish utility company Fortum, which is majority state owned, came to Uniper’s rescue with an €8bn ($8.16bn) of what was effectively Finnish taxpayers’ money.  

After Russia’s all-out invasion, there was little thought that Russia might disrupt supplies given its clear need for export revenue. That was wrong — there have been severe problems. Putin closed down Nord Stream 1, and by July Uniper was again on the brink of bankruptcy. Emergency meetings between the German government, Uniper, and Fortum followed, with the background involvement of the Finnish government, resulting in an increased German state stake in Uniper, and a dilution for Fortum. Worse was to come.   

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European energy markets continued to plunge throughout August, with Uniper losing €100m a day and Fortum suffering severe cash flow problems from surging collateral costs. In early September, Fortum was forced to seek another bailout by the Finnish government through two multi-billion euro loan packages, while the German government finally acted to nationalize Uniper on 21 September with a total injection of €30bn. In the deal struck between the Germans and Finns, Fortum will lose a significant portion of its assets in Sweden on water and nuclear energy held by Uniper, but has received some of its loans to the company. The total loss has been €5.5bn. These sums are huge, particularly given that Finland’s entire state budget is €64.8bn.  

But the broader lesson is the illumination of a hitherto neglected aspect of national security —the critical importance of protecting critical infrastructure and of energy security, which are so central to the functioning of modern, high-tech societies. Linked to this is the need for close allies such as Finland and Germany to stick together and reject Russian pressure.   

Although Russia has succeeded in creating a pan-European energy crisis of a magnitude not seen since the early 1970s — at enormous cost, as Uniper and Fortum show — it has not deterred Europe from making hard decisions to swiftly sever its energy dependence on Russia and strengthen its strategic autonomy. The European Union (EU), usually at its best under extreme pressure, has forged agreements on energy consumption limits, on price caps, and on windfall taxes for utility companies. European countries have cushioned their citizens and companies from soaring energy prices with €500bn of aid, and shown impressive resilience and determination to meet the Russian challenge.   

Europe will suffer serious economic strain for some time to come, but the long-term economic losses to Russia are far greater than Putin’s regime might have grasped. A previously loyal energy client, Europe will very soon be able to sever its energy ties to Russia, perhaps permanently. The disturbances brought about by Russia’s hybrid actions directed at critical infrastructure (such as its suspected sabotage of the twin North Stream pipelines), have merely spurred Northern Europe to heighten preparedness and protection of critical infrastructure.   

The Nordic countries are prepared for energy disruption during the coming winter, employing their strong whole-of-government model on preparedness, involving all sectors in society facing hybrid, cyber and conventional threats.  

They are prepared for what we might call Europe’s Energy Winter War.    

Charlotta Collén is a Senior Fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) and is a former senior official at the Finnish Ministry of Defense.

Preserving civil rights should be a key concern in any tech reform, Damon Hewitt told a virtual meeting organized by the White House. President Biden’s team was receptive, he says.

Hewitt is the President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. He spoke with CEPA after the meeting. The transcript below has been edited for clarity.

What happened at the listening session? What was your perception of it? What do you think of the principles that came out of it, and how did the Lawyers’ Committee influence that work?

Civil rights should not abate just because you enter an online environment. Rights that apply in in-person interactions should also apply online. That is our basic principle.

At the White House, I lifted up a couple of pieces. The first is that we believe privacy rights are civil rights. In recent years, we have seen too many actual instances of people of color being surveilled, whether it be by the state, white supremacists, or anti-abortion protestors. The Internet, and certain tech platforms, in particular, function as a virtual “superhighway” for connecting, transferring, and spreading white supremacist ideology.

An internal memorandum shows how Facebook (Meta) understands that its own platforms cause a problem by using algorithms to connect people with white supremacist ideology. We also know that Google, which owns YouTube, is known to be a haven for white supremacist content. Platforms must stop being a superhighway for connecting white supremacists with each other and connecting others to their racist ideology.

How were these messages received? What do you think is the evolving perception of the Biden administration on these issues?

I was the only civil rights voice in the room. There were people from big tech, but forward-looking big tech, as well as other experts and advocates.

Number one, I sensed a real curiosity in understanding and diagnosing problems. I was able to lift up some of the commonly reported things we’ve seen like crime prediction software algorithms that overpredict the “dangerousness” of Black and Latinx people and underpredicts that of white people – it’s like magnifying and weaponizing private biases and stereotypes, even if it’s unintentional. They were also interested in what the policy prescriptions could be, and I referenced the American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA) currently being debated in Congress.

We were very pleased with the principles that came out of the session. There was a strong emphasis on privacy, and while the ADPPA was not explicitly named, administration representatives mentioned that there is strong bipartisan interest in privacy legislation.

A few days later at the White House’s United We Stand Summit, President Biden’s remarks went exactly where we want to hear him go. He talked about tech platform accountability as critical to not only a whole-of-government response, but a whole-of-society response to stopping white supremacist ideology.

The question is can we get past the tipping point and get to meaningful policy adoption and implementation of said policy. It is a test of political will and muscle, at a time when the nation and Congress are polarized – a time in which there is nearly bipartisan consensus but there is still relative stalemate because of so many competing priorities.

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How would you reform the Section 230 rules which give tech companies broad liability freedom?

Section 230 as it stands does not – and should not – shield tech platforms from all accountability. We believe that decisions that the platforms themselves makes, such as which ads to put in an algorithm and which content to amplify, are not protected by Section 230. It only provides a shield to liability when it’s for the actions of a third party that its being held liable.

As far as the SAFE TECH Act and the elimination and abrogation of 230, I know it’s a complicated thing. The Act is seeking to bar platforms from evading responsibility for claims made online that result in real-world harms. Some have raised fears that Black Lives Matter activists could somehow find themselves subject to liability if the Act passes.

What is important is to balance the interests. In my view, freedom and privacy are not inherently fraught with tension. The right to free speech should not trump civil rights. We need to strike a balance between freedom and privacy, but the balance doesn’t mean 50/50. That balance, to me, means that anyone’s speech – individuals, civil society, corporations – cannot trump civil rights and liberties.

In Europe, there are similar concerns such as moderating hate speech in Germany and the Digital Services Act removing some forms of intermediary liability. Are you taking inspiration from them?

There should be a multilateral approach because the Internet knows no international borders. Nor does hate. If the US has been bombarded by Russian bots to influence racial justice movements as well as elections, the sources of racially targeted content are not always domestic.

We are growing in appreciation for the parallels. I have been interested in looking at how, after Brexit, the EU standard for GDPR may not track the UK standard.

I’m interested in what the iterations and variations may be, because if there can be some common baselines globally, that is to everyone’s benefit.

Do you have one last message for US policymakers?

If you believe that our democracy is under attack or at stake from things like voter suppression, the January 6th insurrection, and mass shootings, you should also be worried about what is happening on the Internet and at least be open to more regulation and clear guard rails.

Damon T. Hewitt is the President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Hewitt has more than 20 years of civil rights litigation and policy experience in the fight for racial justice, including prior leadership roles in the nonprofit, philanthropic, and public sectors.

Vladimir Putin cannot win. But Ukraine can. The only questions are when, at what cost, to what extent — and what happens next. That is the verdict after seven months of the bloodiest and most destructive war Europe has suffered since 1945. Ukraine’s army is already bigger and more effective than Russia’s. It gets stronger every day. The Kremlin’s armed forces are disintegrating before our eyes, demoralized (literally) by their bad leadership, botched planning, and poor logistics.

Don’t take my word for it. Look at Russian talk shows, the sounding boards for the Kremlin propaganda machine. Nobody now believes this is just a “special military operation”. The word “war” — once taboo — is spoken regularly. Recent military setbacks are discussed openly too. Asked to explain the loss of the logistics hub of Lyman, Andrey Gurulyov, the once-bombastic former deputy commander of Russia’s southern military district, blamed “constant lying”, from the bottom to the top. Seconds later, his Skype connection dropped. Maxim Yusin, a political editor on state television, said: “It’s hard to argue with dreamers who live in their own world”. That sounds like a barely veiled attack on Putin’s delusionary bombast. As military practicalities and political aims diverge, the Russian leader has scored a geopolitical first. He is claiming to have annexed territory from which his forces are in headlong retreat. 

Amid all this, the immediate priority is to support Ukraine. Russia can and will still inflict yet more horrible damage on its people and infrastructure. But I discussed with my old friend Anne Applebaum at an event in London this weekend, the answer is clear: in the words of Warren Zevon, “send money, guns, and lawyers”. Cash will stabilize Ukraine’s economy. Weapons will bring victory. And lawsuits will cripple the Kremlin’s war machine. We know what to do. We have, just have, to do it.

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The much harder question is what comes next. Putin may not survive defeat on the battlefield. But Russia’s kleptocratic, imperialist regime is far more durable than any individual. My big worry is that a post-Putin junta fools the West, offering a “reset” in relations in return for a ceasefire in Ukraine and a resumption of gas supplies. The right answer will be a firm “no”. The only acceptable peace must involve reparations, war-crimes trials, unchallenged NATO membership for Ukraine, and the return of occupied territories. If Ukraine’s leadership wants something different, that is their prerogative. But there should be no Western arm-twisting to accept Russia’s agenda. 

Centring Western strategy on the needs and concerns of our frontline allies is long overdue. For three decades, decision-makers in Washington DC, Brussels, Berlin, and elsewhere have spent far too much time worrying about Russia and Russians, and far too little time thinking about the countries that know their giant neighbor best and have suffered from its depredations most. Ukrainians (and Chechens, Georgians, and others) have paid a grievous price for the colossal failure of the West’s Russia strategy since 1991. It wasn’t a democracy, even a pretend one. It really was an empire.

Now we need a new strategy. It must be ready to deal with many eventualities. They include:

I don’t know the answers (though I’m working on them). But the key should be humility about our ability to predict or determine developments inside Russia, and resolve in defending our allies.

For more than a year, lawyers across Italy waited to learn the results of a competition for coveted jobs in the finance, health, and environment ministries. Just before this month’s elections, hundreds received notices that they had won. They were summoned to Rome to implement as much of outgoing Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s COVID-19 recovery plan as possible — including its ambitious digital agenda — before a new center-right government takes over.

The winner of Sunday’s snap elections, Giorgia Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia, wants to revisit the country’s recovery plan and reassert the country’s tech sovereignty. These will be tough goals to achieve. Political infighting and strong momentum behind Draghi’s recovery plan, which will bring billions of euros of EU funds into the country, will limit Meloni’s room for maneuver.

Fratelli d’Italia preaches tech nationalism. In an interview with CEPA’s partner, news site Formiche.net, FdI’s Alessio Butti said the party’s goal was to support local companies. Reversing current government policy, he sees China and the U.S. as equal threats to Italian tech sovereignty.

“Europe needs to find its own path,” Butti said. “It’s not worth considering whether we should be friendlier with one or the other, or if we should trust one more than the other. Sovereignty means developing our own companies, supporting research, creating jobs and innovation skills.”

Telephone infrastructure and the cloud will represent key tests. Butti suggested he was open to working with Chinese suppliers to build a 5G network. At the same time, he criticized the current government for working with American tech giants to build a new National Strategic Hub, an EU-funded recovery plan project that will host 75% of the country’s public administration data by 2026. The project has been entrusted to a consortium of Italian companies that will partner with an American cloud provider.  

“For the cloud, the government’s mantra for months was: ‘We are behind and therefore we are forced to work with those who have the technology,’” Butti said. “This principle is unfounded. When it comes to the cloud, there are small Italian companies that operate at high levels.”

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If so, they are too small to carry out the giant plan to host public data. When first announced, the government aimed for its strategic hub to be “located in Italy and controlled by Italians,” but it proved impossible to rely on Italian technological know-how, Italy’s outgoing Minister for Technological Innovation and the Digital Transition Vittorio Colao said. Draghi’s government has prioritized Italian companies for recovery fund projects in sectors where they do excel, such as infrastructure, so there’s no reason to think it would turn down viable Italian cloud computing suppliers.  

Political realities further limit the incoming government’s room for maneuver. Fratelli d’Italia must partner with Lega and Forza Italia, which received 8.85% and 8.27% of the vote, respectively. Political jockeying will be fierce, with intense rivalries already developing even within the center-right coalition. There are also questions about whether Meloni will be able to recruit a competent cabinet capable of carrying out her agenda.

Draghi, meanwhile, has been preparing for the new government’s arrival. Since his government collapsed over the summer, he has been taking steps to ensure his pandemic recovery efforts outlive his time in office. Italy received the largest share of the EU’s coronavirus pandemic recovery funds, or €195.1 billion ($186.3 billion). Under the National Recovery and Resilience Plan approved last year, about a fifth of the money, or €40.29 billion, will go to “digitalization and innovation.” About €15 billion of the digital funds had already been earmarked as of July, digital minister Calao said.

Draghi has moved up ministerial timelines for the recovery plan. With their new recruits, ministries must meet 11 of the plan’s goals in September — instead of just three as originally planned. Under the current timeline, more than half of this year’s program will be implemented before a new government is seated, creating enough momentum to avoid renegotiating key policies. Any changes would also need to be approved by the EU. On September 27, the European Commission announced that Italy had made enough progress on implementing its plan to receive the next disbursements of funds, worth €21 billion.

Meloni may still try to halt tech reform to cater to her nationalist leanings. The new Prime Minister could attempt to restart tech cooperation with China. But the rest of Europe, which holds the pocketbook to pay for the country’s digital modernization, will be watching.

Janna Brancolini is a non-resident Fellow with the Digital Innovation Initiative at the Center for European Policy Analysis. She is an independent journalist based in Milan covering business, technology and sustainability for Bloomberg and the Los Angeles Times.

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When Russia invaded, Ukrainian soldiers not only beat its tanks. They defeated Russa’s cyber soldiers, too, two experts said on the final day of the CEPA Forum.

At the beginning of the war, Russia managed to disable Ukraine’s satellite communications. But the Ukrainians managed to restore it quickly, says Dimitri Alperovitch, chairman of Silverado Policy Accelerator, a geopolitics think-tank in Washington, DC, and a co-founder and former chief technology officer of a cybersecurity company Crowstrike. The country’s energy networks, banks, and other vulnerable targets continued to run.

“The Ukrainians showed resilience,” Alperovitch said. “They quickly build networks when they went down, to enhance their defense and to mitigate and block” Russian cyber intrusions.

Akey to this success was keeping much data outside of the country.  When servers inside Ukraine went down, far-off replacements sprung into action.

Ukraine demonstrates the value of “dispersing and distributing services outside one’s borders,” says Merle Maigre, a Senior Cyber Security Expert at Estonia’s e-Governance Academy and a non-resident CEPA Fellow.  Effective “cyberdefense depends on a coalition of countries and companies.”

The cyberwar is turning to the battlefield, Alperovitch predicts. Until recently, “tech-free” Soviet arms dominated Ukraine’s arsenal. As Ukraine adopts Western weapons that are Internet-connected and vulnerable to cyber attacks, it runs new risks.  But Alperovitch “believes it will take many months” for the Russian military to crack Ukraine’s new connected weapons.

Bill Echikson is the Acting Director of CEPA’s Digital Innovation Initiative and editor of Bandwidth.

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