Putin Aims to Undermine Western Democracies With Election Meddling, Experts Say

U.S. Capitol in Bright Sunlight

(Voice of America – voanews.com – Ken Bredemeier – March 9, 2017) WASHINGTON – Russian President Vladimir Putin is single-handedly trying to undermine democracy in the United States and Europe and rupture their decades-old NATO alliance by meddling in their elections, foreign affairs analysts and Estonia’s former president told a congressional hearing Thursday in Washington. One of the experts, Peter […]

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NEWSWATCH: “A way to get real news to Russia; A U.S. attempt to counter disinformation takes shape in Current Time” – Washington Post

Satellite Dishes

… Current Time television, a product of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Voice of America, is a 24/7 Russian-language television network based in Prague … aimed at audiences inside Russia as well as the borderlands of the former Soviet Union. … intended to provide ‘fair and accurate reporting, serving as a reality check on disinformation that is driving conflict […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Even as #Trump seeks warmer ties with #Russia, U.S. deploys troops across Eastern #Europe” – Washington Post

U.S. Army Tanks in Transport Arriving in Germany, adapted from army.mil

“… major new deployments of tanks and other heavy equipment will fan out to nations on the #Russian frontier … part of the largest infusion of U.S. troops to #Europe since the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union. … the long-planned effort comes at the most unsettled time for U.S.-European relations since World War II, with #Trump questioning old alliances […]

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RUSSIALINK Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “Reply by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova to a media question on the U.S. troop buildup in Europe”

U.S. Army Tanks in Transport Arriving in Germany, adapted from army.mil

“Question: Do you agree with the assertion promulgated by US and European media that the dispatch of US troops to Europe is not of major importance? …”  

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NEWSWATCH: “For 1st time since Cold War, U.S. tanks roll into Russia’s backyard” – CBS

U.S. Army Tanks in Transport Arriving in Germany, adapted from army.mil

“… All the massive hardware of a U.S. combat brigade arrived in Germany over the weekend, and started rolling east toward Poland, where 4,000 American soldiers will be waiting for it. … the first build-up of American troops and weapons in Europe in almost 30 years … meant, in large part, to reassure America’s nervous allies in Europe that the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Thousands of U.S. Troops En Route to Eastern Europe; Hundreds of tanks, fighting vehicles, and attack helicopters to be deployed in unprecedented operation” – Transitions Online

Globe Highlighting NATO Members

“A massive movement of U.S. troops and materiel is underway, headed for Eastern Europe with one goal uppermost: ‘to deter Russian aggression.’ U.S. troops began offloading more than 2,000 pieces of equipment including Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles … [to] equip around 3,500 U.S. troops  … one of the largest movements of American forces in Europe since the end […]

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The Real Threat to the Baltics Isn’t Russia — It’s Depopulation

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

Depopulation—Invisible Threat to Latvia’s Security (Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 13, Issue 132 – Olevs Nikers – July 21, 2016) [Also appeared at Russia Insider, with modified title and introductory capsule: “Between ethnic Russians leaving for #Russia and Balts leaving for the UK the three baltic states are emptying out — Latvia and Lithuania lost 8.3 […]

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War Fever

File Photo of F-22 Fighter and Ground Crew

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Jill Dougherty – July 18, 2016) Jill Dougherty is an expert on Russia and the former Soviet Union. In her three-decade career with CNN she served as Foreign Affairs Correspondent, based in Washington, D.C.,where she covered the State Department and provided analysis on international issues. The Russia File is happy to welcome Jill Dougherty as […]

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Nothing To Fear

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – The Daily Vertical: Brian Whitmore – July 18, 2016) So the big talking point coming out of the Kremlin is that NATO is overreacting to a non-existent Russian threat. According to Moscow, rotating just four combat battalion groups, a total of 4,000 troops, on the alliance’s eastern frontier constitutes a “provocation.” According to Vladimir Putin’s regime, […]

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Kremlin Propaganda Exploiting Five American Vulnerabilities, Kirillova Says

Satellite Dishes

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 13, 2016) Lenin said that Marxism was powerful because it was true; his successors in the Kremlin have been as successful with their propaganda as they have been because they carefully tailor their messages and techniques to whatever audiences they hope to influence. One of the most damning indications of this […]

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NEWSWATCH: “NATO, Russia to Discuss Increased Baltic Tensions. Russia promises troop buildup in response to 4,000-strong Western force” – Wall Street Journal

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

Russian officials pushed a new air-safety initiative for the Baltic Sea in a meeting with [NATO] ambassadors … as they continued to criticize [NATO’s] planned buildup in the region. … [a proposal that] would require all planes flying in the Baltic Sea region to operate with their transponders turned on … … allied officials welcomed [the proposal] saying it could […]

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RBTH: NATO moving its troops closer to Russia but wants dialogue with Moscow

Globe Highlighting NATO Members

Russian military experts have summed up NATO’s actions as “they want peace but prepare for war,” adding, however, that Moscow will not be taking retaliatory measures against the alliance following its latest summit in Warsaw. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – NIKOLAI LITOVKIN, ALEXANDRA YELFACHEVA, RBTH – July 12, 2016) The North Atlantic Alliance is to deploy four additional […]

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NEWSWATCH: “NATO Set to Approve Baltic Force at Warsaw Summit; Alliance officials say they are uncertain how Russia’s Putin will respond” – Wall Street Journal

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

As the North Atlantic Treaty Organization prepares to kick off its summit here Friday, allies are casting a wary eye on Russia and its reaction to the expected approval of a new alliance force in the Baltic. … described by some as the most important gathering of NATO since the end of the Cold War … will authorize the presence […]

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Putin, Russian Security Council Discuss Baltic Airspace

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – July 5, 2016) Russian President Vladimir Putin has chaired a meeting with the country’s Security Council to discuss possible “confidence-building” steps in the skies over the Baltic region and details in connection with a NATO summit later this week, a presidential spokesman said. Putin also talked with the council’s permanent members about the situation in Syria, […]

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Interfax: Shoigu: NATO doubled intensity of trainings near Russian borders

Sergei Shoigu file photo

(Interfax – June 29, 2016) NATO has dramatically intensified the number of trainings near the Russian borders, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said. “The intensity of the trainings of the NATO armed forces conducted in direct vicinity of the Russian borders has more than doubled,” he said at a Russian Defense Ministry collegium meeting on June 29. “We do not […]

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Putin Understands West but West Doesn’t Understand Putin, Moscow Hybrid War Specialist Says

Putin and Obama with U.S. and Russian Flags

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 20, 2016) Russia’s power does “not even come close” to that of the US, Andrey Manoylo says; but Moscow has an advantage “right now” because it understands the value of “asymmetric action” and because “the US clearly has difficulties with predicting Russia’s activities,” because of Washington’s overly simplistic models of Russian […]

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In Estonia, we should be careful not to overstate the impact of the information war

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

The Baltic States are now seen as the next frontline in Russia’s hybrid war. But the political preferences of ethnic Russian communities are more complicated than meets the eye. (opendemocracy.net – Vassilis Petsinis – May 30, 2016) Vassilis Petsinis is a political analyst at the European Commission’s representation in Greece. His specialisation is european politics and ethnopolitics with a regional […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The U.S. and Russia Plan for Conflict” – Stratfor

File Photo of F-22 Fighter and Ground Crew

… In critical areas, including … Syria and Ukraine and arms control … both [the United States and Russia] would genuinely like to negotiate viable solutions. Nevertheless … mistrust … runs deep … vast differences of opinion and outright conflicts of interest will continue to undermine efforts …. With little hope of a positive outcome, the strategic decision-makers in Washington […]

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The Futility of Dialogue With Putin

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

(Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 13, Issue 100 – Pavel K. Baev – May 23, 2016) The need to keep the channels of dialogue open with an unpredictable Russia is taken as an absolute imperative by many Western politicians. But they are often surprised when this tactic backfires. The foreign ministers of the member states of […]

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NEWSATCH: “Will Any More European Powers Contribute to NATO’s Eastern Force?” – Wall Street Journal

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

Now that the U.S. is only sending one—not two—battalions for the alliance military force on the eastern flank, there is a big question regarding which country will fill the void. … [NATO] has been working on a plan to step up its deterrence of Russia by creating a force of about 4,000 troops, a battalion for Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and […]

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Warning Of War, Ex-Deputy Commander Says NATO Must Counter ‘Russian Adventurism’ In Baltics

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Eugen Tomiuc – May 22, 2016) A former NATO deputy supreme commander is warning that the alliance could find itself in a full-fledged armed conflict with Russia within a year if it does not strongly step up its presence in the Baltic states. Retired British General Richard Shirreff set out the stark scenario in a book […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Why Russia Resents Us” – Patrick Buchanan

Europe Map

… a Russian SU-27 did a barrel roll over a U.S. RC-135 over the Baltic, the second time in two weeks. … the U.S. destroyer Donald Cook, off Russia’s Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad, was twice buzzed by Russian planes. … Putin’s message: Keep your spy planes and ships a respectable distance away from us. Apparently, we have not received it. […]

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NEWSLINK Russia Direct: “Conventional arms race draws the world closer to state of brinkmanship. With NATO’s military buildup near Russian borders and signs of instability from the Middle East to East Asia, it’s no longer inconceivable that the great powers could find themselves involved in a conventional war.”

File Photo of F-22 Fighter and Ground Crew » Read more

NEWSWATCH: “The West needs to stop panicking about Russia’s “hybrid” warfare” – Vox/Mark Galeotti

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

… The fact is that Russian security discussions are dominated by an awareness of the country’s vulnerabilities to a stronger, richer, larger, more advanced West. Up to now, though, we have not let ourselves acknowledge our strengths. The greatest risk for the West is, after all, not its weakness of means but a perception of its weakness of will, both […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Lawmakers look to get tough on Russia” – The Hill

U.S. Capitol in Bright Sunlight

Russian aggression will be high on lawmakers’ minds when the House Armed Services Committee meets Wednesday to mark up its annual defense policy bill. … the Russians have buzzed a U.S. Navy destroyer, barrel rolled over a U.S. reconnaissance plane and warned the United States to steer clear of its territory. … committee members say there will be plenty in […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Perpetual Geopolitics. Putin Returns to the Historical Pattern.” – Foreign Affairs/Stephen Kotkin

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

For half a millennium, Russian foreign policy has been characterized by soaring ambitions that have exceeded the country’s capabilities. Beginning with … Ivan the Terrible … Russia managed to expand at an average rate of 50 square miles per day for hundreds of years, eventually covering one-sixth of the earth’s landmass. * * *  Throughout, the country has been haunted […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Baltic Elves Taking on Pro-Russian Trolls; What at first looked like as a social media grudge match could be a precursor to invasion, war, and resistance in the Baltics” – TheDailyBeast.com

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

Mindaugas is an unassuming, thirtysomething advertising agency director by day … ferocious cyber-warrior by night. He started a phenomenon … in Lithuania … countering Kremlin propaganda and disinformation …. ‘We needed to call our group something. … we were fighting trolls. … I said, “Let’s be elves.”‘ There were 20 or 30 at first, when the trolls began … leaving […]

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RBTH: NATO vs. Russia: Why all the recent talk of World War III?

File Photo of British Parliament Building, Big Ben, Thames, adapted from image at loc.gov

British military exercises that may have been carried out with potential deployment in eastern Ukraine in mind, recent comments by NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg and a BBC film depicting a Russia-NATO nuclear conflict following a pro-Russian uprising in Latvia are all doing their part to further stoke tensions between Moscow and the Atlantic Alliance, when a more measured approach is […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Reinforcing Deterrence on NATO’s Eastern Flank Wargaming the Defense of the Baltics” – RAND

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

RAND addresses the military dynamic in the Baltics in the event of a hypothetical prospective Russian attack. Russia’s recent aggression against Ukraine has disrupted nearly a generation of relative peace and stability between Moscow and its Western neighbors and raised concerns about its larger intentions. From the perspective of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the threat to the three […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia could overrun Baltics in 3 days. NATO forces would face severe casualties.” – Washington Times

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

The Washington Times covers a recent RAND report about the military dynamic that could exist in the Baltics in the event of a hypothetical Russian attack. On the same day the Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, announced new resources being sought to strengthen Eastern European defenses from any possible Russian aggression, a report from the RAND corporation was released and […]

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Number of troops in NATO contingent in Baltic republics, Poland, Romania grows 23-fold, number of planes up 8-fold over past year – Shoigu

Sergei Shoigu file photo

MOSCOW. Dec 11 (Interfax) – The number of troops deployed in the Baltic republics and Central Europe has grown manifold over the past year, and modernization of U.S. nuclear air bombs is pending. “Over the past year alone, the NATO contingent in the Baltic countries, Poland and Romania has grown eight-fold in terms of planes and 23-fold by the number […]

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The Year Of The Troll

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – December 10, 2015) For much of the year, Russian bombers, warships, and submarines played chicken with NATO with provocative incursions into member states’ sea and airspace. And as the year drew to a close, Moscow finally got burned when Turkey’s air force shot down a Su-24 warplane. The incident, which has led to […]

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NEWSWATCH Deutsche Welle: “Activists or Kremlin agents – who protects Russian-speakers in the Baltics? Moscow has been financing Russian-language NGOs in the Baltic states for years. Security authorities there are suspicious of the organizations, but the NGOs deny there is any cause for concern.”

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

Deutsche Welle covers Russian government financing of NGO activity in the Baltics. Authorities have long had these NGOs in their sights. In its annual report, Latvian police stated that the Russia-backed organizations are tasked with the distribution of “biased and distorted information” on domestic procedures in Latvia. According to Estonian and Latvian authorities, the violation of the rights of Russian […]

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Brussels Break-In Shines Light on Putin’s European Mischief

EU Map

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Henry Meyer, Jeremy Hodges – August 23, 2015) It was an unusual delivery at the European Parliament by a pair of native Russians. They broke into the third-floor mailroom and deposited for the 751 legislators English-language copies of “Red Dalia,” a scathing biography of Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, according to a parliamentary probe. The book, published […]

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NEWSLINK Washington Post: Russia’s summer of intrigue: Political trials take center stage.

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night » Read more

NEWSWATCH Christian Science Monitor: Living on Prussia’s ruins, Kaliningraders embrace Germanic past

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

The Christian Science Monitor covers some of the interplay in Kaliningrad between Germanic cultural history and more recent Russian control, amidst Russia’s tensions with the West over Ukraine. … a growing movement of mainly younger Kaliningraders – supported by local government – … are working to roll back the Soviet-imposed amnesia that convinced generations of people who grew up on this ancient territory […]

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NEWSWATCH New York Times: NATO Returns Its Attention to an Old Foe, Russia

NATO Meeting file photo

The New York Times covers NATO exercises and policies towards Russia. After years of facing threats far beyond its borders, NATO is now reinvigorating plans to confront a much larger and more aggressive threat from its past: Moscow. This seismic shift has been apparent in military training exercises in this former Soviet republic [Latvia], which is now a NATO member […]

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NEWSLINK Wall Street Journal/Edward Lucas: Buttressing the Front Line Against Putin. The U.S. must compel Nordic and Baltic states to put aside old prejudices and link arms against the Russian threat.

Europe Map

  Russia is waging a new cold war in the Baltic region, breaching international law and the conventions that govern civilized behavior among nations. The Kremlin provokes and intimidates its neighbors with aggressive espionage, corruption of political elites, propaganda onslaughts, cyberattacks, economic sanctions, coercive energy policies, surprise military exercises, and violations of airspace, territorial waters and even national borders, as […]

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NEWSWATCH: NATO and Russia Are Playing a Risky Game

NATO Meeting file photo

Writing in The Moscow Times, NYU professor Mark Galeotti comments on recent military exercises by NATO and Russia. Both Russia and the West continue to stage all kind of major military exercises and demonstrations, even while both accuse the other of provocation and aggressive intent. Are the drums of war beating? No, they’re not — but we need to understand […]

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U.S. Readying Plan to Put Tanks on Putin’s Doorstep

NATO Meeting File Photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – David Lerman, Marta Waldoch – June 14, 2015) The U.S. may announce agreements later this month to station tanks and fighting vehicles in eastern European and Baltic countries, a U.S. defense official said. The Pentagon is trying to finalize plans to station equipment for as many as 5,000 soldiers in about a half-dozen countries as the […]

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NEWSLINK Foreign Affairs: Paper Tiger Putin; The Failure of Russia’s Anachronistic Antagonism

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

Russian President Vladimir Putin is not as strong as he might seem, or, more important, as he might hope. Although Russia supports fighters in Ukraine, invaded Georgia in 2008, sold missile systems to Iran, and recently threatened Denmark and Lithuania with nuclear war, it is, in reality, a muted and restrained power operating in a system that no longer supports […]

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Putin gives the world his geography lesson: ‘All the former USSR is Russia’

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – April 28, 2015) The 150-minute film “The President” about Vladimir Putin is mostly boring and predictable in that it insists that “without Vladimir Vladimirovich nothing in the country will work,” Kseniya Kirillova notes. But she points out that there are three “lessons” contained in the film that must not be ignored. First, she argues, […]

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