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Backgrounder: The Russian Military

November 17, 2014 Comments off

Backgrounder: The Russian Military
Source: Council on Foreign Relations

The Russian military suffered years of neglect after the Soviet collapse and no longer casts the shadow of a global superpower. However, the Russian armed forces are in the midst of a historic overhaul with significant consequences for Eurasian politics and security. Russian officials say the reforms are necessary to bring a Cold War-era military into the twenty-first century, but many Western analysts fear they will enable Moscow to pursue a more aggressive foreign policy, often relying on force to coerce its weaker neighbors. Some say Russian interventions in Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014—both former Soviet republics seeking closer ties to the West—demonstrate that President Vladimir Putin is prepared to use military force to reestablish Russian hegemony in its near abroad.

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New Comparative Law Report — Approval of Medical Devices

November 14, 2014 Comments off

Approval of Medical Devices (PDF)
Source: Law Library of Congress

This report describes the approval process for medical devices in the European Union and fifteen countries, and also indicates whether or not an expedited approval procedure is available. Many of the countries reference EU law, including France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. Israel more readily approves devices with a CE mark (indicating approval in the EU) or an indication that they are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In many nations, particularly those influenced by the EU, part of the review process is conducted not by the government but by private, independent organizations called “notified bodies.” These organizations are designated by EU Member States.

In most of the countries in the survey, medical devices are categorized based on the risks associated with their use, and the approval process varies by category. For example, in the United Kingdom, manufacturers of low-risk devices may register with the government agency and simply declare that the devices meet the requirements to be approved. Devices classed as higher risk must undergo more detailed review, by a notified body.

On the question of an expedited approval process, Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Spain, and Switzerland permit some sort of rapid review in particular cases, often when a device is required for an individual patient and no substitute is available. Mexico has provided for more rapid approval of devices if they have already been approved in either Canada or the United States. No such procedure exists at present in Brazil, France, Israel, the Russian Federation, or the United Kingdom. The Russian Federation did have a rapid approval system in place prior to August 2014. Germany provides for temporary approval of devices in limited circumstances. South Africa is now considering draft legislation that would include expedited procedures in specified situations.

2014 Global Automotive Consumer Study: Exploring European consumer mobility choices

November 14, 2014 Comments off

2014 Global Automotive Consumer Study: Exploring European consumer mobility choices
Source: Deloitte

This report highlights the key findings for the eight European countries covered in the 2014 Global Automotive Consumer Study by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited’s Global Manufacturing Industry group. The report provides perspectives on consumer mobility trends with a focus on the Gen Y market segment. Countries include Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Turkey, and United Kingdom.

Generation Y (“Gen Y”) consumers in Europe are interested in owning or leasing vehicles with around 75 percent planning to buy or lease a vehicle within the next five years. The study draws automakers’ attention to the changing mobility needs and buying behavior of Gen Y consumers, a group estimated to reach 106 million people in Europe by 2020.

The U.S.-Turkey-Israel Triangle

November 7, 2014 Comments off

The U.S.-Turkey-Israel Triangle
Source: Brookings Institution

The confrontation between Israel and Hamas during the summer of 2014 deepened tensions between Israel and Turkey. Now, in the fall of 2014, U.S.-Turkish relations are strained over Turkey’s role in the fight against ISIS, while gaps between the United States and Israel over policies on Iran and Palestine serve as points of friction in the relationship. Clearly the U.S.-Turkey-Israel triangle has suffered many setbacks in recent years on all sides, but the Turkish-Israeli relationship has suffered the most, as it has been in a state of semi-paralysis for the last four years.

Russia Economic Report 32: Policy Uncertainty Clouds Medium-Term Prospects

October 29, 2014 Comments off

Russia Economic Report 32: Policy Uncertainty Clouds Medium-Term Prospects
Source: World Bank

Russia’s economy is stagnating. Increasing uncertainty has impacted investor and consumer decisions. There are substantial risks to Russia’s medium-term outlook. Economic recovery will need a predictable policy environment and a new model of diversified development. Prospects for further poverty reduction and shared prosperity are limited.

Spillover from the Conflict in Syria: An Assessment of the Factors that Aid and Impede the Spread of Violence

September 25, 2014 Comments off

Spillover from the Conflict in Syria: An Assessment of the Factors that Aid and Impede the Spread of Violence
Source: RAND Corporation

All roads lead to Damascus and then back out again, but in different directions. The financial and military aid flowing into Syria from patrons and neighbors is intended to determine the outcome of the conflict between a loose confederation of rebel factions and the regime in Damascus. Instead, this outside support has the potential to perpetuate the existing civil war and to ignite larger regional hostilities between Sunni and Shia areas that could reshape the political geography of the Middle East. This report examines the main factors that are likely to contribute to or impede the spread of violence from civil war and insurgency in Syria, and then examines how they apply to Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan.

Russia’s Compliance with the INF Treaty, CRS Insights (September 18, 2014)

September 24, 2014 Comments off

Russia’s Compliance with the INF Treaty, CRS Insights (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The Obama Administration, in its recently released 2014 report on arms control compliance, has stated that Russia has violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Specifically, the Administration claims that Russia has tested a land-based cruise missile with a range greater than 500 kilometers. The United States has raised its concerns with Russia several times over the past year, including in a meeting that occurred in Moscow on September 11, 2014. While the State Department reports that the two sides had a “useful exchange of views,” Russia’s response did not “assuage” U.S. concerns. Russia, for its part, claimed that the United States did not offer any details to back up its accusation and failed to address Russian concerns about U.S. compliance with the treaty.

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