Sergei Lavrov

By Gideon Rachman
Any western leader negotiating over the fate of smaller countries in central or eastern Europe does so in the shadow of two bitter historical experiences: the Munich agreement of 1938 and the Yalta agreement of 1945. At Munich, the British and the French agreed to Adolf Hitler’s demands for the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia – without the participation of the Czech government, which was not represented at the talks. At Yalta, the British and the Americans made a deal with Josef Stalin that, de facto, accepted Soviet domination over postwar Poland and other countries under Russian occupation – again, without the participation of those concerned.

By David Gallerano
♦ Somaliland works to be the gateway to a landlocked Ethiopia and to secure long –awaited international recognition.
♦ Communal violence rises in the highly Christian-populated cities of Southern Egypt.
♦ Quartz reports on how the Iran government retained control of a skyscraper in Manhattan for 35 years.
♦ The New York Times profiles the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov: “One of the most knowledgeable and respected foreign policy actors in the global village”, a veteran diplomat who enjoys whiskey and cigars, Lavrov is the advocate of an international system based on state sovereignty and status quo stability.
♦ Nonetheless, he is no stranger to the use of questionable sources, and few days ago he used a video analysis by a Lebanese nun to contradict claims that Assad has employed chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict.
Turkey becomes Somalia’s largest non-OECD donor while Somalia returns the favour by granting concessions on key national infrastructures.
♦ A new book claims that Hollywood studios collaborated with Hitler and helped to finance the German war machine. Read more >>

ALEXEY DRUZHININ/AFP/Getty Images

By Catherine Contiguglia and David Gallerano
Russia has been the talk of the town since the announcement by foreign minister Sergei Lavrov of a diplomatic initiative to get Syria to turn over chemical weapons. Then all eyes turned to Russian president Vladimir Putin when his New York Times op-ed appeared, arguing that air strikes could “could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.”

Here are some of the best articles on the man who has managed to keep a grip on Russian power for over a decade, and his maneuverings around the Syria crisis and beyond. Read more >>

UN arms expert collects samples for investigation into suspected chemical weapons strike (Ammar al-Arbini/AFP/Getty Images)

By Catherine Contiguglia and David Gallerano

The build up to a US military intervention in Syria was suspended when Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov announced a diplomatic initiative to place Syria’s chemical weapons under international supervision. This is something of a reprieve for US president Barack Obama, who was facing mounting pressure to live up to a promised intervention that has little public support and has yet to be approved by either the United Nations or Congress.

Here are some of the best articles from the FT and elsewhere about chemical weapons and their regulation, and what the Russian plan means for the Syria conflict. Read more >>

Gideon Rachman

Sergei Lavrov (Getty)

Anybody offered a gift by Sergei Lavrov would do well to inspect it rather carefully before unwrapping it. The Russian foreign minister is a tough nationalist who is not in the habit of doing the US any favours. Nonetheless, the Lavrov proposal that Syria’s chemical weapons should be placed under international supervision should be grabbed by the Obama administration for several reasons. Read more >>

♦ In cities like Istanbul and Ankara, opposition to Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government is strong. Elsewhere, however, the AKP retains a significant amount of support and people are very suspicious of the demonstrators and their motives.
♦ China’s government and Chinese activists were even more active than usual on the Tiananmen anniversary.
♦ Susan Glasser, Foreign Policy’s editor-in-chief, interviews Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister.
♦ When Xi Jinping meets Barack Obama on Friday, look out for Wang Huning, head of the Communist party’s central policy research office. The former university professor is one of the most influential figures in China today.
Venice is drowning in conflicting interests.
♦ Cristina Fernández has a crazy plan to save Argentina’s economy.

♦Want to know what it’s like to be in Taksim Square now? Take a look at Paul Mason’s montage. Read more >>