Jack Matlock: Current tension in U.S.-Russia relations is result of political mistakes on both sides

Jack Matlock file photo, adapted from image at usembassy.gov

(Interfax – November 7, 2017) Famous diplomat and political analyst, last U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union Jack Matlock has given an interview to Interfax in which he speaks about the first year of U.S. President Donald Trump in power and relations between Russia and the United States. Question: Mr. Ambassador, you have been following Russia-U.S. relations for almost 60 […]

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Trump was ‘Russia’s Friend’ in Russian Media for Only a Very Brief Period, New Study Says

File Photo of Donald Trump Waving Before Large Crowd with Trump Signs, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, December 7, 2017) Many assume that Donald Trump was portrayed in the Russian media as Russia’s friend until last summer when it became clear that he would not be willing or at least able to deliver any improvement in Russian-American relations; but that view is incorrect, according to two scholars at Moscow’s […]

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NEWSLINK: “Flynn Flipped. Who’s Next?” – New York Times editorial

Michael Flynn file photo

“… Flynn pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the F.B.I. about his communications with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, during the transition period in December 2016. … The president has repeatedly denied that he or his campaign had any involvement with Russia, and he has mocked the investigation as a ‘witch hunt.’ …”

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NEWSLINK: “BOOK REVIEW: COLLUSION [re Luke Harding]” – Irrussaianality/ Paul Robinson

FBI Headquarters File Photo

“… evidence of direct collusion between Trump and the Russians is looking a little thin, to say the least. Now, into this maelstrom steps Guardian reporter Luke Harding … * * *  I wish I could say that this book was a joke. If you were going to write a parody of the collusion story, this is perhaps what it would look like. […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Red mist; How the Russia investigation looks from Moscow; Hyperventilating about Vladimir Putin infuriates Russian liberals, but it has led to a better Russia policy” – The Economist

Vladirmir Putin and Donald Trump Sitting in Chairs with Flags Behind, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

“Buzzfeed recently broke an explosive story about Russia’s meddling in America’s elections. On August 3rd 2016, it reported, just as the presidential race was entering its final phase, the Russian foreign ministry wired nearly $30,000 through a Kremlin-backed bank to its embassy in Washington, DC, with a remarkable description attached: ‘To finance election campaign of 2016’. … only one of 60 […]

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NEWSWATCH: “For Some Russian Oligarchs, Sanctions Risk Makes Putin Awkward to Know” – Reuters

“The threat of new U.S. sanctions has spread anxiety among Russia’s wealthiest people that their association with … Putin could land them on a U.S. government blacklist …. drawn up by early next year … part of a sanctions bill passed overwhelmingly by Congress …. Although those included on the list would not automatically be sanctioned, six people … part of the […]

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Putin’s Meddling in US Elections Backfiring on His Own Allies at Home and on Americans Who Helped Them, Shevtsova Says

Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sergei Lavrov, Seated With Flags

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 16, 2017) The Kremlin’s effort to affect the outcome of the 2016 US presidential elections has provoked one consequence Moscow has long wanted – the demoralization of the American elite – but it is having other less welcome ones on both that elite and the Russian one, something only becoming clear, Liliya […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Bonfire of the Prosecutors; Political animosities are pushing the U.S. toward a significant political crisis” – Wall Street Journal/ Daniel Henninger

Department of Justice Headquarters Building file photo, adapted from image at justice.gov

“… Attorney General Jeff Sessions, responding to … House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte … asked the Justice Department’s career lawyers to look into the possibility of … a second special prosecutor, to investigate Hillary Clinton. * * * The people who brought us the Trump-Russia collusion narrative are now weeping crocodile tears that the appointment of a second prosecutor would mean […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Latest U.S.-Russian Effort on Syria: Good for Preventing Accidents, So-So for Everything Else” – Russia Matters/ Nikolas K. Gvosdev

Syria Map

“The one concrete result to emerge from … Trump and … Putin’s informal meetings on the sidelines of … APEC … has been the Nov. 11 U.S.-Russia Joint Statement on Syria. … [which] has elicited some official optimism, but what does it amount to really? … a promising step forward to end the strife in that war-torn land and ‘save tremendous numbers of lives,’ as Trump […]

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NEWSLINK: “Trump and Putin: What Comes Next? Will a future, formal Trump-Putin summit be a game changer?” – The National Interest/ Nikolas K. Gvosdev

Vladirmir Putin and Donald Trump Sitting in Chairs with Flags Behind, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

“… Keeping the tenor of the encounters between the two presidents at Da Nang informal precluded the chance of any intense bargaining sessions on the sidelines. But for the Russian side, it also raises questions – of whether Trump is in fact inclined to bargain with the Kremlin, or whether he has the clout to carry through any agreement in […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting wrapped up in Vietnam; [Putin meeting with Russian and foreign journalists]” – KremlinRu

Map of Asia-Pacific Highlighting APEC Member States

(kremlin.ru – Nov. 11, 2017) The 25th APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting ended in Danang. On the second day of the Meeting, the APEC leaders reviewed the prospects for the global economy with Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde. During the business breakfast, a discussion was held on establishing an Asia-Pacific free trade zone and a possible expansion […]

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NEWSLINK: “Let Trump be Trump; Ronald Reagan was Ronald Reagan” – Washington Times/ Edward Lozansky

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

“It is common knowledge that the reason Ronald Reagan fired his first 1980 campaign manager, John Sears, was his loss to George H.W. Bush in the Iowa caucuses straw poll. Mr. Sears was replaced by William Casey, with Edwin Meese and Michael Deaver getting more involved in the campaign, and all of them urging to let ‘Reagan be Reagan.’ This […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia, Trump, and the 2016 U.S. Election; Charges of foreign power interference in the U.S. presidential election have raised grave national security concerns and touched off multiple federal inquiries that could drag on for months” – Council on Foreign Relations/ Jonathan Masters

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NEWSWATCH: “The Manafort Indictment; Mueller’s charges relate to money-laundering cash from Ukraine” – Wall Street Journal Editorial

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia file photo, adapted from image at dc.uscourts.gov

“… Mueller indicted former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort for tax fraud …. [accusing] Manafort (and business partner Richard Gates) of funneling money from a pro-Russia party in Ukraine into offshore shell companies and bank accounts. They … allegedly used these accounts to fund their spending habits, neglecting to declare the money to the IRS. The indictment also accuses … Manafort of […]

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NEWSLINK: “Former Clinton, DNC aides largely silent on funding of Trump-Russia dossier” – Washington Post/ Tom Hamburger, Rosalind S. Helderman, Adam Entous, Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

“Hillary Clinton and top officials of her presidential campaign were largely silent Wednesday in response to the revelation that the campaign and the Democratic National Committee had paid for research that resulted in a dossier alleging Russian interference on behalf of Donald Trump in the 2016 election. Neither Clinton nor her campaign manager, Robby Mook, responded …. Campaign chair John […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Clinton campaign, DNC paid for research that led to Russia dossier” – Washington Post/ Adam Entous, Devlin Barrett, Rosalind S. Helderman, Julie Tate

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

“The … Clinton campaign and … Democratic National Committee helped fund research … result[ing] … in a now-famous dossier … alleg[ing] … Trump[] connections to Russia and possible coordination between his campaign and the Kremlin …. [T]he Clinton campaign and the DNC[] retained Fusion GPS [with the help of law firm Perkins Coie] … to conduct the research. … [Fusions GPS] hired dossier author Christopher Steele, a former British […]

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NEWSWATCH: “A Visit to Russia: Can Relations Be Improved? If the administration wants to work with Moscow, it will find a willing though admittedly difficult partner” – The National Interest/ Paul J. Saunders

Vladirmir Putin and Donald Trump Sitting in Chairs with Flags Behind, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

“… Beyond Russia’s interference, of course, U.S. and Russian officials would have to develop workable and sustainable solutions to at least some of the issues that now divide them. Setting aside the 2016 presidential election, the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine is probably the most difficult of these. U.S.-Russian differences in Syria – while significant – are simpler. In both […]

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RUSSIALINK: “[Putin at] Russian Energy Week Forum plenary session” – KremlinRu

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

[This excerpt includes only the comments by Putin] [Click here for Q&A and video with English interpretation: en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/55767] Vladimir Putin attended a plenary session of the first Russian Energy Week (REW) Energy Efficiency and Energy Development International Forum. Following the plenary session, Vladimir Putin had a brief meeting with foreign guests of the Russian Energy Week who arrived in Moscow to […]

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The Best Quotes From Putin at the Russian Energy Week Forum

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 4, 2017) President Vladimir Putin took part in the Russian Energy Week forum in Moscow on Wednesday, where he spoke about North Korea, his relationship with U.S. President Donald Trump and electric cars. Here are some of the highlights: On the elections next year – “I haven’t decided whether I’m going to run at […]

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NEWSWATCH: “White House Must Extend New START Arms Control Treaty with Russia; Statement by Lisbeth Gronlund, Global Security Program” – Union of Concerned Scientists

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

“… New START – gives the United States and Russia until February 2018 to reduce their deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550. It is set to expire in early 2021, but can be extended for another five years …. Trump suggested he would scrap it because he believed it favored Moscow. But … administration officials said last week that the White House […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Senate Confirms Huntsman as US Ambassador to Russia” – AP

File Photo of John Huntsman, Men in Military Uniforms and Others, adapted from image at army.mil

“Jon Huntsman … former Utah governor … won easy confirmation Thursday as U.S. ambassador to Russia …. by voice vote. He breezed through his confirmation hearing last week as Republicans and Democrats praised his qualifications …. Huntsman has twice served before as a U.S. ambassador. … to Singapore under President George H.W. Bush and … to China under President Barack Obama before returning […]

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TRANSCRIPT: Statement of Jon Huntsman, Nominee to be U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation, Before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

American Flag and Partial View of U.S. Capitol Dome, adapted from image at aoc.gov

Statement of Jon Huntsman, Nominee to be U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation Senate Committee on Foreign Relations September 19, 2017 Chairman Corker, Ranking Member Cardin, and Members of the Committee, It is an honor to appear before you today as President Trump’s nominee to be the United States Ambassador to the Russian Federation. I want to thank the President […]

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NEWSLINK: “AP Interview: Lavrov hints U.S.-Russia ‘tit-for-tat’ could end” – ASSOCIATED PRESS/ JOHN DANISZEWSKI

Sergei Lavrov file photo

“Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told The Associated Press in an interview that he heard positive news in President Donald Trump’s United Nations address: ‘that the U.S. would not impose its way of life on others.’ … Lavrov blamed the Obama administration for the collapse in relations between Moscow and Washington. …”

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NEWSWATCH: “U.S. Senate approves $500 million military aid, lethal weapons for Ukraine”

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

“The … Senate passed … the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, authorizing the provision to Ukraine of $500 million worth of military aid, including lethal defensive weapons. … approved 89 to 8 votes, [the bill] will now go to the president’s desk … [it passed] the House … on July 14. * * * The executive summary … [says] that half of the $500 million … will be withheld until […]

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Leonid Bershidsky: Trump’s Business Record in Russia Is Humiliating; He never had what it takes to negotiate with Moscow.

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – August 29, 2017) Leonid Bershidsky is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru. The latest Trump-Russia revelations — this time concerning a Moscow real estate project scuttled in early 2016 — fit in well with the comical history of […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Despite New U.S. Sanctions, Russian Oil Traders Say It’s Business as Usual” – Reuters

Oil Well file photo

“Russian oil companies will quickly find ways to work around tighter restrictions imposed this month by the United States on the foreign finance they can use, multiple Russian oil industry sources told Reuters. … new restrictions cut the period that U.S.-based entities can provide finance to Russian energy firms from 90 to 60 days … part of a fresh package of U.S. […]

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NEWSLINK: “Washington and Moscow Must Embrace Détente – Despite Trump. Sober realism about U.S. policy towards Russia has seldom been more imperative and less evident” – The National Interest/ Katrina vanden Heuvel

Vladirmir Putin and Donald Trump Sitting in Chairs with Flags Behind, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

“U.S.-Russia relations are in a perilous state. Any wisp of hope coming from Donald Trump’s ‘summit’ with President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 was dispelled by breaking news on potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, this time implicating Donald Trump Jr., among others. William Perry, a former secretary of defense under Bill Clinton, terms the situation “worse than […]

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NEWSWATCH: “‘Russia’s propaganda machine amplifies alt-right;’ Fred Weir: ‘I find this quite extraordinary. The suggestion that Russia is behind the pandemonium that currently reigns in Washington strikes me as beyond preposterous. …'”

File Image of Laptop Computer, Tables and Mobile Device, adapted from image at energy.gov

(Fred Weir – Facebook – August 28, 2017 – facebook.com/fred.weir/posts/10213101665152439) “[‘Russia’s propaganda machine amplifies alt-right’] I find this quite extraordinary. The suggestion that Russia is behind the pandemonium that currently reigns in Washington strikes me as beyond preposterous. That Russian media might exploit fissures and factional battles in US politics — maybe with a certain discernible tone of glee — […]

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Fascism Remains a Greater Threat in Russia than in the U.S., Mitrokhin Says

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 14, 2017) The clashes in Charlottesville have raised the specter of the rise of fascism in the United States, but Yabloko leader Sergey Mitrokhin says that while Donald Trump has unleashed these forces and Vladimir Putin currently is trying to control them, fascism remains a far greater threat in Russia than […]

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Moscow Ponders Trump’s Fire and Fury

North Korea Map and Flag, adapted from .gov image

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – MAXIM TRUDOLYUBOV – August 11, 2017) Maxim Trudolyubov, Senior Fellow with the Kennan Institute and editor-at-large with Vedomosti, has been following Russian economy and politics since the late 1990s. He has served as an opinion page editor for Vedomosti and editor and correspondent for the newspaper Kapital. As North Korea’s nuclear missile program advances, U.S. […]

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The One Big Problem With New Russia Sanctions; Congress won’t let Trump waive penalties, which gives Moscow no reason to change its behavior.

American Flag and Partial View of U.S. Capitol Dome, adapted from image at aoc.gov

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Meghan L. O’Sullivan – August 10, 2017) Meghan L. O’Sullivan is a Bloomberg columnist and the Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School. She served on the National Security Council from 2004 to 2007, and was deputy national security adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan. The latest round of congressional […]

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NEWSLINK: “Factbox: What Do the New U.S. Sanctions on Russia Target?” – Reuters

U.S. Capitol in Bright Sunlight

“… * The law establishes a review process that allows #Congress to block any effort by #Trump to ease or lift sanctions on #Russia. Lawmakers passed the bill to punish Russia over its alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region and its involvement in Syria’s civil war. * Trump, or any U.S. president, […]

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Will New U.S. Sanctions Regime Finally Hit Putin and Those Closest to Him?

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 2, 2017) Western sanctions on Russia up to now have hit the ordinary people of that country, although not as hard as the countersanctions the Kremlin itself has imposed. But the Western actions have done less to affect those closest to Vladimir Putin who, unlike the Russian people, may be in […]

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NEWSWATCH: “President Trump signs Russia sanctions bill” – ABC

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

“… Trump today signed a bill aimed at punishing Russia for its interference in the 2016 election despite his reservations … passed with rare and overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress …. The bill limits the president’s ability to lift or waive sanctions against Russia and keeps in place sanctions the Obama administration imposed …. It also allows the U.S. to deny […]

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NEWSLINK: “Latest Diplomatic Rift Places US, Russia on Edge of ‘Tipping Point'” – Russia Matters/ Paul Saunders

File Photo of U.S. Embassy Moscow, with Russian Foreign Ministry Building in Distance

“The Russian government’s recent announcement of its decision to eject American diplomats and block access to two diplomatic properties may signal an approaching tipping point in the United States-Russia relationship. Trump administration officials and members of Congress should consider very carefully how to proceed. While the Russian Foreign Ministry’s official announcement of Moscow’s latest moves focused primarily on Russia’s complaints […]

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NEWSLINK: “The Russians Were Involved. But It Wasn’t About Collusion” – New York Times/ DANIEL HOFFMAN

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

“… Having long considered the United States its main enemy, the Kremlin deploys a full quiver of intelligence weapons against America and its national security agencies, political parties and defense contractors. Its intelligence services, though best known for clandestine operations to recruit spies, also run covert ‘influence operations’ that often use disinformation to try to affect decisions or events in […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russian propaganda has flooded U.S. airwaves. How about some reciprocity?” – Washington Post editorial

Historic Washington Post Masthead, adapted from image at nlrb.gov

  “… The asymmetry is a problem. … Putin’s government, intent on undermining liberal democracies by casting doubt on the very notion of truth, and sowing division and doubt about basic Western institutions, has become increasingly adept at weaponizing information. U.S. intelligence agencies have called attention to Moscow’s fake news campaign, as have U.S. allies in Europe. … The wild […]

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NEWSWATCH: “What Did Trump and Putin Tell Each Other?” – New York Times editorial

File Photo of Country Flags Outside 2017 G20 Meeting in Hamburg, adapted from image at state.gov

“…  Trump initiated the conversation without the benefit of his own interpreter or the participation of any of his national security advisers. Only … Putin’s interpreter was on hand. … Putin, after all, is an adversary, not an ally. … Spicer told reporters the dinner discussion involved ‘pleasantries and small talk.’ … Trump [said that] the two men discussed ‘Russian adoptions’ … … Lavrov told […]

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Russia Turns Up the Heat on Trump Over Seized Property

Vladirmir Putin and Donald Trump Sitting in Chairs with Flags Behind, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ilya Arkhipov – July 17, 2017) Russia stepped up pressure on the U.S. to return seized diplomatic compounds in one of the first tests of whether Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin can convert the personal rapport of their initial meeting into improved relations. The country houses outside New York and Washington must be returned unconditionally after […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Visit to Lebedinsky GOK. (excerpts)

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Podium Gesturing

(Kremlin.ru – July 14, 2017) [Complete transcript here http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/55052] On the eve of Steelworker Day, Vladimir Putin visited the Lebedinsky GOK ore dressing plant that is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and watched the launch of the third sponge iron production shop. The President visited the viewing platform of Lebedinsky GOK, learned about the production process and observed the launch of […]

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NEWSLINK: “Do the US and Russia need clearer rules of engagement? Trump and Putin’s recent attempt at rapprochement already appears to be falling apart. And even as relations seethe, Washington and Moscow lack shared understanding of what is permissible in the diplomacy, cyber, and political spheres.” – Christian Science Monitor/ Fred Weir

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

“… Russian cold war veterans say that efforts to maintain positive diplomatic dialogue have always been hostage to daily headlines and adverse geopolitical events. But today, they say, channels of communication appear woefully inadequate and there is no preexisting set of rules to fall back on – straining basic, practical communication between the US and Russia. … The mood in […]

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Trump’s Low-Level Russian Connection; The lawyer who met Donald Trump Jr. was no Kremlin power broker.

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – July 11, 2017) Leonid Bershidsky is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru. In stories about her meeting with Donald Trump Jr., Natalia Veselnitskaya, the unlikely celebrity in the latest installment of the Trump-Russia story, is often described as […]

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