U.S. Senators To Try Again With Tougher Russia Sanctions Bill

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

(Article text ©2019 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – February 14, 2019 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/us-senators-press-new-tough-russia-sanctions-bill/29769099.html) A bipartisan group of U.S. senators has introduced a bill that would impose drastic new sanctions on Russia over its meddling in U.S. elections and aggression against Ukraine. The bill, the latest congressional effort to push President Donald Trump […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Senate has uncovered no direct evidence of conspiracy between Trump campaign and Russia” – NBC News/ Ken Dilanian

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

“After two years and 200 interviews, the Senate Intelligence Committee is approaching the end of its investigation into the 2016 election, having uncovered no direct evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, according to both Democrats and Republicans on the committee. … investigators disagree along party lines when it comes to the implications of a pattern of […]

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Diminishing Returns: How Effective Are Sanctions Against Russia?

(PONARS Eurasia – Stacy Closson – January 2019 – ponarseurasia.org/memo/diminishing-returns-how-effective-are-sanctions-against-russia) Stacy Closson is a Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute and a Senior Adjunct Professional Lecturer at American University’s School of International Service. (PONARS Policy Memo) In November 2018, the Trump administration announced another set of sanctions on Russian individuals and entities for supporting Russia’s economic integration […]

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Do Trump’s Afghanistan Claims Mirror Moscow’s Rhetoric?

Afghanistan Map of Ethnicities

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org – RM Staff – January 11, 2019 – russiamatters.org/blog/do-trumps-afghanistan-claims-mirror-moscows-rhetoric) Earlier this month, President Donald Trump offered his take on Soviet Russia’s experiences in Afghanistan as he argued in favor of a huge U.S. troop withdrawal and a larger contribution by Moscow to stabilize the war-racked country. The U.S. president put forward two basic propositions: that the […]

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NEWSLINK: “U.S. Policy on Russia? Trump and His Team Might Give Different Answers” – New York Times/ Peter Baker

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

“President Trump says that he has done more to counter Russian aggression than other recent presidents. But, officials say, Mr. Trump has gone along with such actions reluctantly or under pressure.”  

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NEWSLINK: “The Strange Persistent Troubling Russian Hang-Up of Donald Trump; Trump’s agenda in Europe is Putin’s agenda in Europe. Is that really a coincidence?” – New York Times/ Roger Cohen

New York Times Masthead from 1913 adapted from image at loc.gov

“… The central thrust of Russian foreign policy under President Vladimir Putin is the dismantlement of NATO….”  

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Trump Outlines Broader Missile-Defense Strategy; Plan’s vision includes space-based sensors to detect hostile or accidental launches” – Wall Street Journal/ Gordon Lubold, Courtney McBride

Mssile Defense Control Room

“… Trump called … for … expanded and more sophisticated missile-defense … and said America’s allies must share in future costs …. The missile-defense plan, put forth by … Trump … at the Pentagon, is laid out in a review ordered early in the Trump administration and issued Thursday, the first such review in nine years. … call[ing] for new, […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “The Russia Sanctions Test in the U.S. Senate; A move to block sanctions relief has been defeated, averting a likely spike in global aluminum prices but also spotlighting the tough road ahead for Congress in shaping policy on Russia” – Council on Foreign Relations/ Stephen Sestanovich

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

“Fifty-seven senators … tried unsuccessfully … to keep … Trump … from going forward with sanctions relief for Russia’s largest aluminum producer, Rusal, and its parent companies. … highlight[ing] internal tensions over Russia policy and the difficulty Congress faces …. Sanctions against Russia have enjoyed strong support in Congress since the annexation of Crimea …. The Treasury Department claimed … […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Sorry, but Trump is not ‘tough on Russia’; The administration has taken some tough stances toward Moscow. Why does the president disavow them?” – Washington Post/ Michael McFaul

Ambassador Mike McFaul file photo

“… The Trump administration has a tough policy on Russia, one that I mostly support. But Trump himself does not. For the past two years, he has consistently made it clear that he does not support his own administration’s policy toward Russia. The Trump administration’s National Security Strategy states very bluntly that ‘China and Russia challenge American power, influence, and […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin can’t afford to ditch the dollar” – Reuters/ Steven E. Halliwell

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“Paul Manafort, while managing Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign, is accused of passing private polling data to his Russia business partner, a man with alleged ties to Russian intelligence. … revealed in an unsealed court filing … likely to stoke the case in Congress for increased sanctions …. [T]he reverberations will be felt in Moscow, where anger and frustration over […]

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NEWSLINK: “Anti-Trump Frenzy Threatens to End Superpower Diplomacy; Baseless Russiagate allegations continue to risk war with Russia” – The Nation/ Stephen F. Cohen

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

“… This commentary is based on the most recent of [Cohen] weekly discussions of the new US-Russian Cold War with the host of the John Batchelor radio show. …”  

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NEWSLINK: “The Trump-Putin revelations tell us what we knew all along” – Washington Post/ Anne Applebaum

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

“… The compulsion to get beneath the surface of things lies at the heart of what makes some people scholars or scientists. It’s also at the heart of what makes some people conspiracy theorists. More to the point, it explains why so many are excited by recent ‘revelations’ about President Trump and his relationship with Vladimir Putin, even though they […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Strobe Talbott: It’s Already Collusion; We don’t need news reports to tell us that Trump is giving Putin what he wants. Take it from this longtime Russia hand: It’s staring us in the face” – Politico/ Strobe Talbott

Strobe Talbott file photo, adapted from image at state.gov

“… We already know that that the Kremlin helped put Trump into the White House and played him for a sucker. Or put it this way: Trump has been colluding with a hostile Russia throughout his presidency. We’ll see if it started before that. … Strobe Talbott … distinguished fellow in the foreign policy program at the Brookings Institution … […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Trump Confronts the Prospect of a ‘Nonstop Political War’ for Survival” – New York Times/ Peter Baker

New York Times Masthead from 1913 adapted from image at loc.gov

“WASHINGTON – So it has come to this: The president of the United States was asked over the weekend whether he is a Russian agent. And he refused to directly answer. The question, which came from a friendly interviewer, not one of the ‘fake media’ journalists he disparages, was “the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked,” he declared.  But […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: @Anders_Aslund tweet re: Trump and Putin

Twitter Logo and Faint World Map

(Anders Aslund – Twitter @anders_aslund – January 13, 2019) [Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council] “Everything suggests that #Trump is #Putin’s agent: secret meetings, persistent public praise, undermining US foreign policy interests & alliances. The actual Kremlin payment can easily be done #offshore in anonymous companies as the #SteeleDossier suggested.” [embedded live feed of tweet should load below:] Everything suggests […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “The Steele dossier was planned as Hillary’s insurance policy” – Washington Times/ Larry O’Connor

FBI Headquarters File Photo

“… highly damaging text messages between FBI agent Peter Strzok and his paramour, FBI lawyer Lisa Page … [revealed] petty, vitriolic political diatribes while making decisions on the most sensitive investigations of the 2016 political season. Their hatred toward then-candidate … Trump … [and] contempt for his supporters gave reasonable observers every reason to question whether the Hillary Clinton email […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “America’s exposure to Russian information warfare; U.S. democracy remains inexcusably vulnerable to hijack” – Financial Times (UK) Editorial

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

“Some now call it an ‘information world war.’ Whether Russia tipped the 2016 election to Donald Trump is unknowable. But it is no longer possible to deny that the Kremlin is waging a multi-pronged form of information warfare on western democracies. The problem is by no means confined to the U.S. Other democracies, including the UK, the Netherlands and Italy, […]

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NEWSLINK: “Trump’s weakness begets Russian aggression” – Washington Post/ Jennifer Rubin

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

     

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Top Russian envoy warns U.S. on missile deployment after treaty exit; Stationing new weapons in Europe could spark ‘dramatic events’, says Vladimir Chizhov” – Financial Times/ Michael Peel

EU Map

“…. Trump’s decision last month to pull out of the [INF Treaty] [reportedly came] because Russia has allegedly long breached it – an accusation Moscow denies. U.S. officials have been visiting European capitals to discuss next steps … rul[ing] out the deployment of new nuclear weapons on the continent and [saying] there were no plans to add any conventional missiles […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “U.S. midterms make Putin’s rocky road to Trump even rockier” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

“Americans weren’t the only ones closely watching U.S. midterm results. Much of the world was too, including Russia. A Democratic House will complicate Vladimir Putin’s efforts to cut deals with President Trump.” “A lot has changed since [Trump and Putin] last met in Helsinki in July – and not in Russia’s favor, according to much of Russia’s foreign policy community. […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Trump’s plans to scrap a nuclear pact with Russia could heighten tensions in Asia” – CNBC/Nyshka Chandran

File Photo of Nuclear Weapon, B61 Gravity Bomb

“If the U.S. exits the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia, Washington will be free to develop and install weapons on its military bases around Asia. That’s unlikely to sit well with China, who may look to compete with the U.S. Any reaction from China to U.S. provocation, however, could spill over into India and Pakistan.” “Washington’s plans to withdraw […]

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Putin Deepens Confusion About Russian Nuclear Policy

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org – Abigail Stowe-Thurston, Matt Korda and Hans M. Kristensen – October 25, 2018) Abigail Stowe-Thurston is a research assistant for the Defense Posture Project at the Federation of American Scientists. Previously, she was a fellow at the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), where she lobbied on nuclear weapons policy and Pentagon spending. Matt Korda is […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Putin, Trump to compare notes on many issues – Peskov” – Interfax

Dmitry Peskov file photo adapted from image at kremlin.ru/wikimedia commons

MOSCOW. Oct 29 (Interfax) – The primary objective of the upcoming meeting between the presidents of Russia and the United States, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, is to “compare notes” on issues related to strategic stability, especially in the context of the United States’ intention to quit the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov said. “The […]

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RUSSIALINK: “A New Nuclear Arms Race Has Begun; President Trump says he plans to withdraw from a nonproliferation treaty that I signed with Ronald Reagan. It’s just the latest victim in the militarization of world affairs” – Mikhail Gorbachev/ New York Times

File Photo of Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan at Table Signing Documents

“Over 30 years ago, President Ronald Reagan and I signed in Washington the United States-Soviet Treaty on the elimination of intermediate- and shorter-range missiles. For the first time in history, two classes of nuclear weapons were to be eliminated and destroyed. …”

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NEWSLINK: “Russian Studies in the Era of Trump” – Ohio State University Slavic and East European Journal

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

“… Russian Studies in the Era of Trump: A SEEB Series Organized by Ani Kokobobo: Researching Russian Conspiracy Theories in the Age of Trump by Eliot Borenstein … Making Russian Great Again: Language, Dissent, and Critical Pedagogy by Thomas Jesús Garza … Teaching Chekhov in the Time of Trump by Anne Lounsbery … Redefining the Russian Civilization and Culture Survey […]

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NEWSLINK: “A GOP spin on the Russia probe reads like a noir thriller – but doesn’t add up; All of the Steele dossier can’t be discredited just because the contacts between private investigators and government officials were sometimes incestuous” – Washington Post/ David Ignatius

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

“…The GOP’s evidence does reveal some puzzling interconnections among major players in the Russia probe. The FBI and the Justice Department were sometimes conducting negotiations with the same people they were also investigating for possible wrongdoing. The contacts between private investigators and government officials were occasionally incestuous. The most intriguing example of overlapping relationships involves three key players who were […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia Oil Production Jumps to a New Post-Soviet Record” – Bloomberg/Elena Mazneva

Oil Well file photo

“Russia’s crude production has jumped to a new post-Soviet record, boosting … budget revenue as it prepares for talks with OPEC+ on further cooperation, according to a [Russian] government official. … currently fluctuating between 1.54 million and 1.55 million tons a day — driven mainly … Rosneft … 11.29 million to 11.36 million barrels a day, beating the previous record […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “The Air Has Seeped Out of the Russia/Collusion Balloon” – Washington Examiner/Michael Barone

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

“‘I did not, and of course I looked for it, looked for it hard.’ That was Bob Woodward … replying to … Hugh Hewitt’s question, ‘Did you, Bob Woodward, hear anything in your research, in your interviews, that sounded like espionage or collusion?’…. [And] none of Mueller’s indictments and guilty pleas point toward confirmation …. [I]t appears that, beyond a […]

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NEWSLINK: “The Plot to Subvert an Election; Unraveling the Russia Story So Far” – New York Times/SCOTT SHANE, MARK MAZZETTI

New York Times Masthead from 1913 adapted from image at loc.gov

“For two years, Americans have tried to absorb the details of the 2016 attack -hacked emails, social media fraud, suspected spies – and President Trump’s claims that it’s all a hoax. The Times explores what we know and what it means.”

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Woodward: No Evidence Of Trump-Russia Collusion, I Searched For Two Years” -RealClearPolitics/ Ian Schwartz

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

“… Bob Woodward said that in his two years of investigating for his new book, ‘Fear,’ he found no evidence of collusion or espionage between Trump and Russia. Woodward said he looked for it ‘hard’ and yet turned up nothing. ‘…. Did you, Bob Woodward, hear anything in your research in your interviews that sounded like espionage or collusion?’ Hugh […]

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[Re:] American Intelligence [… Trump, Ukraine, Russia … “Fear: Trump in the White House/Woodward” … Politico ]

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

Fear: Trump in the White House Bob Woodward – p.230 “McMaster (National Security Adviser) said that, at 6:03 a.m., Trump had tweeted:

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NEWSLINK: “The Mueller Investigation Is Sending People to Jail – but Not for Collusion; The belief that George Papadopoulos, Michael Cohen, and Paul Manafort would turn over evidence of collusion with Russia got ahead of reality” – The Nation/Aaron Maté

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

“… Last week, Papadopoulos was sentenced to 14 days in prison for lying to the FBI about the timing of his contacts with a Maltese professor, Joseph Mifsud. According to Papadopoulos, Mifsud claimed to have connections to Russia and information that the Kremlin had obtained Hillary Clinton’s stolen e-mails. In May 2016, Papadopoulos relayed vague details about his conversation with […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “What Bruce Ohr Told Congress; He warned the FBI that Steele had credibility problems. The bureau forged ahead anyhow.” – Wall Street Journal/Kimberley A. Strassel

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

“… Justice Department lawyer Bruce Ohr … [on] Tuesday confirm[ed] for Congress its worst suspicions about … [FBI] abuse of its surveillance and sourcing rules. … Over the past year, congressional investigators found out that … Ohr’s wife, Nellie, worked for Fusion GPS, the opposition-research firm that gave its infamous dossier, funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign, to the FBI. […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “A thickening web; America’s escalating Russian sanctions; Despite Donald Trump, Russia is being hit harder and harder” – The Economist

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

“… In August alone, America has slapped penalties on Russian shipping firms accused of trading oil with North Korea; imposed restrictions on the arms trade in connection with the poisoning of … Skripal …; and begun congressional hearings on … legislation designed to punish Russia for its interference in elections. Further Skripal-linked measures may follow in three months’ …. Markets […]

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NEWSLINK: “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire; Kiev officials are scrambling to make amends with the president-elect after quietly working to boost Clinton” – Politico/Kenneth P. Vogel, David Stern

“… Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers, a Politico investigation […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “A Dossier Debunking; His lawyer says the Steele claims about Michael Cohen are false” – Wall Street Journal Editorial

Maps of Czech Republic and Environs, adapted from images at CIA.gov by Steven C. Welsh :: stevencwelsh.com :: stevencwelsh.info

“Michael Cohen’s accusations have replaced Russian collusion as Washington’s reason-du-jour to impeach Donald Trump …. Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, confirmed last week that Cohen has never been to Prague in the Czech Republic. … the Steele dossier … commissioned by oppo-research firm Fusion GPS, paid for by the Clinton campaign and used by the FBI in its Trump investigation. … […]

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NEWSLINK: “China – Not Russia – Elected Trump; China’s economic attack on America caused U.S. voters to turn to Trump” – The National Interest/James Walker

Asia Map

“… attention should be sharply focused instead on the role of China in electing Trump. It is that concern that should inform American action today. China’s long-standing predatory trading policies have eaten America’s lunch, impacting most severely those who carry lunch buckets to work in America’s heartland. …”    

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Moody’s says effect of recent sanctions will be limited” – Bear Market Brief BMB Russia

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“A new Moody’s report says … U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia … in response to the Skripal poisoning will have little effect [on] the economy. New sanctions to come in the fall, however, could aggravate the structural limitations of Russian growth and lead to problems with bank financing. … Loose monetary policy will likely to be the first casualty, with […]

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JRL NEWSBLOG: “Kushner Foreign Policy Role Grew After Kissinger Lunch” – Bloomberg/Caleb Melby, David Kocieniewski, Gerry Smith

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

“… Henry Kissinger, the center’s honorary chairman … gave a talk that included analyzing U.S.-Russia relations for a small group of attendees. [Trump son-in-law Jared] Kushner … introduced himself to Kissinger …. [and] met Dimitri Simes … long-time president of the center and publisher of its magazine, The National Interest. Questions have … been raised about the center for its […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Newest U.S. Sanctions Against Russia Hit an Economic Nerve” – AP

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

“… The Trump administration announcement of export restrictions in response to accusations Moscow used a nerve agent to poison a former Russian spy in Britain sent the ruble tumbling to a two-year low and drew a stern warning from [Medvedev]. While the initial sanctions may have a limited impact, a second batch expected within months could hit the Russian economy […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Misery” – Irrussianality/Paul Robinson

New York Times Masthead from 1913 adapted from image at loc.gov

“… If the only American media you consumed was the New York Times, you’d come to the inevitable conclusions that a) Americans are united in their obsessive hatred of their president, and b) it’s all the fault of those horrible Russians who colluded with Trump to get him elected. But judging by the bestseller list, it’s not the New York […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “The Administration Gets Tough on Russia – Despite Trump; The president holds chummy meetings with Vladimir Putin, while his administration imposes new sanctions.” – New York Times Editorial

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

“… [N]ew sanctions imposed on Russia … [feature] a ban on export of anything with a potential military use, announced by the State Department …. Putin’s Russia is asking for punishment when his agents use a chemical weapon against a double agent, brazenly meddle in Western elections, cheat in international sports, ruthlessly ravage Ukrainian territory or violate human rights. … […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “U.S. to impose ‘crushing’ set of sanctions on Russia’s debt and oil” – bne Intellinews/Ben Aris

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

“A proposed ‘crushing’ bipartisan bill introduced by the … Senate … will not be debated until … autumn and many … harsh terms could be considerably watered down, Luis Saenz, … co-head of equities at BCS Global Markets said …. [The] bill … targets Russian debt and energy companies, designed to punish Russia for interfering in the U.S. presidential election, […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Trump Can’t Split Russia From China – Yet; As Beijing gets stronger, there may be hope for a Kissingerian maneuver” – Bloomberg/Hal Brands

Asia Map

“… In the long term, China represents the larger threat to U.S. interests, as a result of its vast economic and military potential. Yet in the near term … Putin has proved himself to be the more dangerous and disruptive actor. The Russian leader has launched three major military interventions over the last decade – in Georgia, Ukraine and Syria […]

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Optics, Then Disappointment: Trump Can’t Deliver Much to Putin

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Anna Arutunyan – July 30, 2018) Anna Arutunyan is a Senior Analyst for Russia at International Crisis Group. A former Kennan Institute fellow and a former journalist, her work has appeared in USA Today, ECFR, Foreign Policy, and The Moscow News. She has authored several books on Russia, including The Putin Mystique. [Text with links […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia to play minor role, if any, in Paul Manafort trial” – AP

File Photo of Federal Courthouse in Alexandria, Va., adapted from image at uscourts.gov by Steven C. Welsh, www.stevencwelsh.com :: ww.stevencwelsh.info

“The trial of President Donald Trump’s onetime campaign chairman will open … with tales of lavish spending, secret shell companies and millions of dollars of Ukrainian money flowing through offshore bank accounts and into the political consultant’s pocket. What’s likely to be missing: answers about whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential election, or really […]

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Trump Bump and Trump Filter Bubble: How the media’s obsession with Trump may encourage the Russian propaganda machine

Satellite Dishes

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Andrey Miroshnichenko, Sergei Samoilenko – July 27, 2018) Andrey Miroshnichenko, is a Ph.D. student in communication and culture at York University, Toronto. Sergei Samoilenko is professor in the Communication department at George Mason University. [Text with links: kennan-russiafile.org/2018/07/27/trump-bump-and-trump-filter-bubble-how-the-medias-obsession-with-trump-may-encourage-the-russian-propaganda-machine/] The recent Helsinki summit put U.S.- Russia relations back in the headlines. The critical coverage of the […]

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NEWSLINK: “The Elite Fixation With Russiagate; Does a broader public share this sense of crisis?” – The Nation/Aaron Maté

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

“… But does the American public at large share the prevailing elite assessment [of Trump and U.S.-Russian relations and the Helsinki Summit]? Save for a White House vigil led by two longtime Hillary Clinton staffers and a few scattered rallies-and in stark contrast to mass protests over Trump’s misogyny, Muslim ban, and zero-tolerance immigration policy-Americans have not poured into the […]

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