Explainer

Ruslan Boshirov

What’s This Unit of Russian Spies That Keeps Getting Outed?

Unit 29155 of the GRU is behind plenty of Russia’s high-profile misadventures abroad—and now, apparently, the bounties on U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Indian protesters burn a poster of Chinese President Xi Jinping along with Chinese items in response to the killing of Indian soldiers by Chinese troops, in Ahmedabad on June 16, 2020.

Why Are India and China Fighting?

Nuclear powers New Delhi and Beijing engage in a skirmish marking the first combat deaths along their border in more than four decades.

Dominic Cummings

Britain Hates Johnson’s Machiavelli

Conservative Party advisor Dominic Cummings has drawn national wrath over a seemingly minor scandal.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron

Are the Germans Edging Closer to True Fiscal Union?

In a striking reversal, Merkel joins with France in recommending a euro fund that could be a timid first step toward greater integration.

An aerial view shows an oil pumpjack at the Huntington Beach oil fields in California on April 20.

Oil Price Nosedive Continues as Trump’s Deal Fails to Deliver

The impact of the coronavirus sends markets into an unprecedented slump, with no end in sight.

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin

Trump’s Big Turnaround: Cash Payments Instead of a Payroll Tax Cut

Parsing the latest economic fixes to the economic devastation being caused by the coronavirus.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by the Kremlin wall to mark the Defender of the Fatherland Day in Moscow on February 23, 2020. (YURI KOCHETKOV/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Will Putin Be Russia’s President For Life?

A series of choreographed moves have set the stage for him to potentially rule until at least 2036.

Containers are transferred to trucks at the Port of Tokyo on Aug. 19, 2019. Japan’s trade surplus with the United States, like that of many other countries, has fueled U.S. President Donald Trump’s ire, though experts say trade balances are a poor metric to use.

What Trump Really Doesn’t Get About Trade

The U.S. president has disrupted the global economy for three years based on misguided notions about trade deficits. Now it’s Europe’s turn.

Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long-Bailey, and Lisa Nandy

Britain’s Labour Party Starts Deciding Its Post-Corbyn Future

Front-runner Keir Starmer is seeking to get past Jeremy Corbyn and return the party to the early glory days of Tony Blair, but whoever the winner is will have to reckon with the party’s hard turn leftward.

Carlos Ghosn

What Really Happened to Carlos Ghosn?

Nissan just filed a lawsuit against its former CEO. Here’s why—and what could happen next.

Sinn Fein supporters sing as they hold an Irish flag during the Dublin City count.

Sinn Fein Just Upended Ireland’s Status Quo. What Comes Next?

Disgruntled Irish voters have made their voices heard, but translating that mandate into a governing coalition won’t be easy.

Angela Merkel and Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer

Why Angela Merkel’s Succession Plan Failed

The German chancellor’s anointed successor says she will no longer seek the country’s top position. Berlin now faces months of political uncertainty.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin (left), Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar (center), and Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald take part in the final TV leaders' debate at the RTE studios.

Will Irish Elections Lead to Unification?

After Saturday’s vote, the nationalist Sinn Fein party could form parts of governments in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland for the first time in history.

Medical staff members, wearing protective clothing to help stop the spread of a deadly virus that began in the city, arrive with a patient at the Wuhan Red Cross Hospital in Wuhan, China, on Jan. 25.

How to Tell What’s Really Happening With the Wuhan Virus

China struggles with a fast-moving outbreak, as the authorities move to cut off unauthorized information.

Medical staff transfer patients to hospital in Wuhan, China, on Jan. 17.

Wuhan’s 11 Million People Face Quarantine as Virus Fears Spread

Trains and flights out of the central Chinese city have been canceled as the toll from a new coronavirus grows.

Technicians work at the Arak heavy water nuclear reactor in Iran on Dec. 23, 2019.

The Iran Deal Is Not Dead Yet, but It’s Getting There

Europe’s decision to start the dispute settlement process may set the clock ticking on the deal’s ultimate demise.

U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the situation with Iran in the Grand Foyer of the White House in Washington on Jan. 8.

Assassination, Extrajudicial Execution, or Targeted Killing—What’s the Difference?

Successive presidents have tried to shape new terminology for political killings. But they’re still mostly illegal.

Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex

Harry and Meghan Are Leaving the Job but Keeping the Salary

Blame the British press and Buckingham Palace staff for the royal Brexit.

The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi

Is Iran Abandoning the 2015 Nuclear Agreement?

Not quite. But by saying it’s no longer bound by any nuclear restrictions, Tehran has come one big step closer to scrapping the deal.

Hong Kong lawmaker Regina Ip

What Just Happened in Hong Kong’s Elections?

Hong Kongers turned out in droves to defeat pro-Beijing candidates.

Workers fill sacks with lithium carbonate at the state-owned lithium extraction complex in the southern zone of the Uyuni Salt Flat, Bolivia.

Bolivia’s Lithium Isn’t The New Oil

A popular theory around Evo Morales’s removal is completely mistaken.

Police fire tear gas to disperse protesters in Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s Violence Will Get Worse

Police brutality has pushed protesters to extremes.

A Lebanese protester chants slogans during ongoing anti-government demonstrations in Lebanon's capital Beirut on Oct. 31.

Why Protesters in Lebanon Are Taking to the Streets

The protests combine political and economic grievances and could bring down the country’s sect-based political order.

Ilham Tohti lectures in a classroom in Beijing on June 12, 2010.

Ilham Tohti’s Sakharov Prize Will Drive Beijing Crazy

The imprisoned Uighur economist represents an entire people under attack by China.

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan shake hands.

How Turkey and Russia Carved Up Northern Syria

The pact cements Ankara’s annexation of a significant chunk of formerly Kurdish-held land.

Kurdish female troops from the Syrian Democratic Forces overlook the front line.

Why Is Turkey Fighting Syria’s Kurds?

Turkey’s president says Syrian Kurdish fighters are terrorists—but he’s a very unreliable narrator.

U.S. President Donald Trump exits after speaking at the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York on Sept. 24.

Why Ukrainegate Is Nothing Like Russiagate 

U.S. President Donald Trump has a far more damaging scandal on his hands.

A picture taken on Sept. 15 shows an Aramco oil facility at the edge of the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

What You Need to Know About the Attacks on Saudi Oil Facilities

So far, attacks attributed to Iran haven’t resulted in a military confrontation with the United States.

Queen Elizabeth II welcomes the newly elected leader of the Conservative party, Boris Johnson on July 24, 2019 in London, England.

The Queen Can’t Do Anything About Brexit

The suspension of Parliament is outrageous—but it’s all Boris Johnson’s fault.

A woman places flowers beside a makeshift memorial outside the Cielo Vista Mall Wal-Mart where a shooting left 20 people dead in El Paso, Texas, on August 4, 2019.

How Does Online Racism Spawn Mass Shooters?

White nationalist terrorism is becoming normalized through internet forums.

Protesters face off with police during a rally against a controversial extradition law proposal outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong on June 12, 2019.

Why Is Hong Kong Erupting?

Hong Kongers are fighting for their city's unique status under the shadow of Beijing.

Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President Ronald Reagan sign a landmark treaty eliminating U.S. and Soviet intermediate-range and shorter-range nuke missiles in Washington in December 1987.

What Does the Demise of the INF Treaty Mean for Nuclear Arms Control?

Trump’s exit from the U.S.-Russia treaty, which officially takes effect Friday, raises questions about whether the era of arms control is ending—or being reinvented.

Special counsel Robert Mueller leaves after a closed meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the Capitol in Washington on June 21, 2017. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

How to Read Between the Lines of the Mueller Report

Here’s what to expect from the long-awaited—and now heavily redacted—probe into Trump’s Russia ties.

An Indonesian election commission worker arranges ballot boxes in preparation for the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in Surabaya on March 18. (Juni Kriswanto/AFP/Getty Images)

What’s at Stake in Indonesia’s Elections?

The world’s third-largest democracy goes to the polls.

Julian Assange gestures to the media from a police vehicle on his arrival at Westminster Magistrates court in London on April 11. (Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Julian Assange’s Legal Trouble, Explained

The WikiLeaks founder is in British custody and faces extradition to the United States.

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