State Duma speaker deems CoE pressure over family violence decriminalization by Russia to be inadmissible

File Photo of Council of Europe Headquarters Building with Flags in Front

MOSCOW. Jan 18 (Interfax) – State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin deems the pressure of Council of Europe (CoE) Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland on Russia in connection with the law decriminalizing family violence to be inadmissible. “This is pressure, and it is inadmissible,” Volodin told the press on Wednesday. The State Duma adopted the amendments in first reading in January, and the […]

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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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RUSSIALINK: “What kind of Russia should the West fear? RD Interview: Dmitri Trenin of the Carnegie Moscow Center explains how current misguided perceptions in both the United States and Russia could lead to a dangerous new geopolitical reality.” – Russia Direct

File Photo of G7 Leaders and other Officials Around Round Table at the Hague, with Flags

“… Russia should not be afraid of the West. A country like Russia can only be defeated by itself. Thus, it should be focused on dealing with its own weaknesses. In my view, NATO’s enlargement doesn’t create an existential threat for Russia and should be dealt with seriously, but calmly. The fear [of the West] is a very bad thing […]

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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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Putin’s New Year

Europe Map

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – January 9, 2017) So 2017 is here. And one thing we can be pretty certain of this year is that Vladimir Putin’s regime will try to push the advantage it gained last year — and intensify its efforts to undermine the liberal world order. And there will be plenty of targets of opportunity. […]

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Lift Russian Sanctions for ‘Positive Developments’ in Ukraine – OSCE Chair

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 9, 2017) Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz has called on European leaders to begin lifting sanctions against Russia in exchange for “any positive development” in the Ukrainian crisis. Kurz, a politician for the Austrian People’s Party, claimed that the change in policy would “send a clear signal to Russia.” “My concept is clear. I […]

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Russian Central Bank Chief Nabiullina Named European Banker of the Year

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 4, 2017) The British finance journal The Banker has named Russian Central Bank Head Elvira Nabiullina as the European Central Bank Chairman of the year. The journal highlighted Nabiullina’s success in controlling Russia’s inflation rate. “The efforts of the Central Bank head has led to the fact that the rate of inflation by the […]

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Russian Foreign Ministry Appeals for NATO Reset

Globe Highlighting NATO Members

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 4, 2017) The Russian Foreign Ministry has unexpectedly spoken out in favor of a reset with NATO. A representative of the Ministry said it denied seeing the NATO alliance as an anachronism, and expressed a desire to restore relations with the military bloc. “We need to build normal relations with NATO and renew what […]

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Rosneft Privatization Deal Closed As Italian Financing Comes Through

File Photo of Rosneft and Russian Flags Next to Rosneft Banner

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 4, 2017) The tumultuous privatization saga of Russia’s largest oil company appears to be drawing to a close. Swiss-British commodities trading firm Glencore and the Qatari Sovereign Wealth Fund have closed a deal to purchase 19.5 percent of state-controlled Rosneft, according to a statement on Glencore’s website. The news was followed by an announcement […]

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EVENT: Reminder: Everyone Loses: The Ukraine Crisis and the Ruinous Contest for Post-Soviet Eurasia | Thursday, January 12th at 9:00am [in Washington D.C.]

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

Subject: Reminder: Everyone Loses: The Ukraine Crisis and the Ruinous Contest for Post-Soviet Eurasia | Thursday, January 12th at 9:00am Date: Wed, 4 Jan 2017 From: Samuel Charap <Charap@iiss.org> The International Institute for Strategic Studies – Americas Everyone Loses: The Ukraine Crisis and the Ruinous Contest for Post-Soviet Eurasia Thursday, January 12, 9:00-10:00am IISS-AMERICAS BOOK LAUNCH 9:00-10:00am Discussion followed by […]

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Debates in the West about Putin Now Recall Those in Europe about Hitler in Mid-1930s, Ikhlov Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, December 15, 2016) There has been a dramatic increase in the influence of pro-#Putin forces in the West in recent months, Yevgeny Ikhlov says; but at the same time, there has also emerged in Western societies a real horror about what the #Kremlin leader is doing in #Syria in general and in […]

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RBTH: Poles apart: Can the divisions between Russia and the West be bridged?

File Photo of G7 Leaders and other Officials Around Round Table at the Hague, with Flags

Russian and Western experts recently met in Moscow to discuss sensitive issues related to international politics in which Russia cannot find common ground with the U.S. and Europe: the expansion of NATO, the war in Syria and the conflict in eastern Ukraine. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – OLEG YEGOROV, RBTH – December 8, 2016) Russian and Western international […]

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Sanctions, economic pressure are increasingly used for political pressure – Putin

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

MOSCOW. Dec 7 (Interfax) – Russia should take into account the increase in the use of methods of economic and sanction pressure when working on its long-term economic strategy, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “Economic restrictions, pressure, and sanctions are being increasingly used for political purposes, under the guise of political purposes, often in competition. We should take these tendencies […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Beware: The #Russian bear is getting bolder” – Washington Post

Europe Map

… In #NATO member #Hungary, #Russian agents have been fingered for training with a #neoNazi militia; in … #Monte­negro … on the verge of joining the transatlantic alliance, #Moscow is accused of plotting a violent #coup. … In Hungary … [there was] a gunfight … between police and the leader of the National Front movement …. Police … discovered large […]

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Putin approves Russia’s new foreign policy blueprint

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(RIA Novosti – December 1, 2016) President Vladimir #Putin has signed a decree approving #Russia’s new Foreign Policy Concept, state-owned RIA Novosti news agency reported on 1 December. The key points of the document, according to RIA Novosti, are as follows: USA – The risk of a war, including a nuclear war, between the leading powers is low, but the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “‘We’re OUTBREEDING you!’ Putin taunts West as he unveils drive to boost Russian birth rate” – The Daily Express (UK)

Couple in Hospital with Newborn

… Putin… issued an extraordinary putdown to the West as he boasted that Russia was outbreeding its rivals and unveiled new scientific measures to up the country’s birth rate further still. … plans to roll out 94 “hi-tech” perinatal centres across the country during his annual address to parliament. … Putin pledged a series of measures, from scientific to social, […]

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RUSSIALINK Russia Direct: “Does Putin really intend to restore the Soviet Union? RD Interview: Professor Richard Sakwa from the University of Kent talks about Russia’s foreign policy and explains why Russia is creating alternative regional institutions such as the Eurasian Economic Union.”

File Photo of G7 Leaders and other Officials Around Round Table at the Hague, with Flags

“Despite the deteriorating state of relations between Russia and the West, experts and politicians continue to search for ways out of the crisis. Many blame Russia and President Vladimir Putin for the desire to restore the Soviet Union and pursue an authoritarian path of development. However, as other experts argue, such perceptions stem from a misunderstanding of Russia’s interests, goals […]

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NEWSLINK Irrussianality/Paul Robinson: “DON’T MENTION THE WAR”

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

“… Putin approved a new ‘Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation’. Documents like this are aspirational; they reflect what a government would like to do, not what it is able to do. They are also for public consumption; their purpose is to send certain signals to the policy community, both inside and outside of government. Nevertheless, they are up […]

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How Russian Propaganda Really Works in the West

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – November 28, 2016) Until recently, the phenomenon of Russian government propaganda was only interesting to a small group of Russia experts, news junkies and counter-propaganda fundraisers. It was mainly seen as a tool for keeping Russians supportive of Vladimir Putin. No longer. Thanks to post-U.S. election blame games, and the upcoming election season […]

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RUSSIALINK RT/Russia Today: “Russians warm towards West & favor rapprochement, poll shows”

File Photo of G7 Leaders and other Officials Around Round Table at the Hague, with Flags

“The latest poll has shown that the proportion of Russians who favor warmer and closer relations with Western nations is growing fast and has almost reached the historical maximum registered in 2000. …”

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Russians Want West to Make Up with Them and Don’t See Why Ukraine Should Be an Obstacle, New Poll Suggests

File Photo of G7 Leaders and other Officials Around Round Table at the Hague, with Flags

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 29, 2016) In presenting the latest Levada Center poll on Russian attitudes toward the West, the center’s Aleksey Grazhdankin says that a majority of Russians think that the initiative for improving East-West ties should come from the West and “do not understand why the actions of their country in Ukraine” have […]

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Big Western Companies Are Pumping Cash Into Russia

File Photo of Ikea Store with Russian Language Facade and Shopping Carts

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ilya Khrennikov – November 22, 2016) [Charts here bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-23/bouncing-back-putin-s-shrunken-economy-lures-foreign-investors] Even before the U.S. presidential election raised hopes of warmer ties with the Kremlin, some big Western companies were betting Russia’s economy will soon come out of the deep freeze. Big retailers like Sweden’s Ikea Group and France’s Leroy Merlin SA have begun pumping billions of dollars […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Replies to media questions following APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting

Map of Asia-Pacific Highlighting APEC Member States

(Kremlin.ru – November 21, 2016) Vladimir Putin answered media questions following the working sessions of the economic leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon. Or good evening. Or good night already in Moscow. Let us get straight to your questions, without any introductory remarks. Please. Question: There was fear on the meeting’s sidelines […]

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Putinism a Greater Threat to the West than Soviet Communism Was

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 18, 2016) Putinism, as ideology and practice, is now a greater threat to the West than Soviet communism ever was, a reality few in Western countries now recognize precisely because the Kremlin leader is making use, in the best tradition of the judo master he is, values and methods that are […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian Opposition Leader Navalny’s Case Sent for Retrial” – AP

Alexei Navalny file photo

Russia’s Supreme Court on Wednesday scrapped a criminal conviction and sent the case of opposition leader Alexei Navalny for retrial, opening the door for his potential run for office.  … convicted in 2013 of embezzling timber …. Following unsuccessful appeals in Russia, Navalny, a trained lawyer, turned to the European Court of Human Rights which ruled in February that Russia […]

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Russia’s Strategic Calculus: Threat Perceptions and Military Doctrine

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(PONARS Policy Memo – PONARS Eurasia – ponarseurasia.org – Dmitry Gorenburg – November 11, 2016) Dmitry Gorenburg is Senior Research Scientist at CNA Corporation and Associate at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University. Russian foreign policy is driven by the political elites’ search for a new basis for national self-esteem after the collapse of the […]

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Putin Weaponizes Democracy

Europe Map

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – November 14, 2016) [RFE/RL budget: $108.414 million (FY2016)] Don’t look now but Russia just picked up two more allies in Europe. Don’t look now, but pro-Moscow candidates just won the presidencies of Moldova and Bulgaria. Don’t look now, but Vladimir Putin appears to be on a roll. The Kremlin leader is no democrat. […]

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NEWSLINK Reuters: “Pro-Russian Candidate Wins First Round of Bulgarian Election”

Bulgaria Map, adapted from image at cia.gov

“Socialist-backed candidate Rumen Radev, who has called for an end to European Union sanctions against Russia, has won the first round of Bulgaria’s presidential election, partial official results showed on Monday. Radev’s close-fought victory over ruling party candidate Tsetska Tsacheva makes the former air force commander favorite to win a run-off on Sunday, a result that could push the Black […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia Aims to Disrupt Other Western Elections, U.S. Officials Say; Electoral chaos in West being sowed to safeguard Putin’s hold on power, Kremlin watchers say” – Wall Street Journal/Alan Cullison

Stylized Artist's Depiction of Shadowy Figures in Dark Coats and Dark Hats, One Carrying a Briefcase

… Russian-backed hacking … that has rocked the presidential campaign may peak on Election Day, but is likely to continue next year and into 2018 as Moscow seeks to influence U.S. politics and key elections in Europe … administration officials warn. Russian meddling … may become more potent in Europe than in the U.S., White House officials and other experts […]

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This is not a new Cold War

Putin and Obama with U.S. and Russian Flags

Fresh talk of a new Cold War between Russia and the west relies on outdated thinking and ignores new realities. (opendemocracy.net – Anton Shekhovtsov – November 3, 2016) Anton Shekhovtsov is a visiting fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences, Austria and editor of the Explorations of the Far Right book series at ibidem-Verlag. Against the background of worsening relations […]

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Moldova’s Pro-Moscow Presidential Front-Runner Says Open To EU Partnership

Moldova Map and Flag

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – November 1, 2016) Igor Dodon, who won the first round of Moldova’s presidential election and is seen as having strong leanings toward Russia, says he will seek to maintain good relations with both Brussels and Moscow if elected. “I believe that we must and we will have good relations with the European Union,” the Socialist Party […]

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The Beginning Of The End For Europe’s Natural Gas War

Gas Facility file photo

(Oilprice.com – Nick Cunningham – October 27, 2016) Russia’s Gazprom is on the verge of striking a deal with EU regulators to settle a half-decade old dispute over natural gas pricing, and the resolution could change the way Gazprom does business and lead to lower gas prices for much of Eastern Europe. The conflict began back in 2011 when EU […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Moldovan Presidental Election Goes to Runoff” – AP

Moldova Map and Flag

Moldova’s presidential election will go to a runoff after a pro-Russian candidate narrowly missed winning a majority … Igor Dodon won 48.26 percent, while pro-European rival Maia Sandu scored 38.42 percent. … Moldovans, angry about high-level corruption, were divided about whether to seek closer integration into Europe or rekindle ties with Moscow. Click here for AP: “Moldovan Presidental Election Goes […]

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NEWSLINK Carnegie Moscow/Fyodor Lukyanov, René Nyberg, Angela Stent: “Three Dimensions: Is the Break Between the Kremlin and the West Permanent?”

File Photo of G7 Leaders and other Officials Around Round Table at the Hague, with Flags

As the U.S. presidential election approaches on November 8, Carnegie.ru asked three experts, one in Russia, one in the United States, and one in Europe, to comment on the question: “Is the break between the Putin administration and the West permanent?”  

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Containment 2.0

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – October 31, 2016) And so, I’m back. And while I may not have been visible in this space over the past couple weeks, I have in fact been pretty busy thinking and talking about Russian affairs in various venues in the United States and in Europe. And now is as good a time […]

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RUSSIALINK TASS: “TASS: Lavrov discusses Russia’s relations with US, EU with Valdai club experts”

Sergei Lavrov file photo

According to Zlobin, the Russian top diplomat rather thoroughly dwelled on Russia’s relations with the United States “in various aspects, both on direct relations and on contacts in the context of third countries.” Another major topic was relations between Russia and the European Union. “It was stressed that NATO’s eastwards expansion has spoiled the idea of promoting a strong and […]

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New Cold War Chills Annual Kremlin Gathering of Foreign Experts

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Valdai Club 2013 Meeting, Adapted from Screenshot of Valdai Club Video at youtube.com

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Marc Champion – October 26, 2016) The new Cold War is starting to look a lot like the old one, and Russian and U.S. foreign-policy experts at an annual gathering with Kremlin officials this week appear out of ideas on how to even start defusing it. The risk that the world’s two nuclear superpowers might “sleepwalk” […]

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Kasparov Says Confrontation With West Putin’s ‘No. 1 Goal’

Garry Kasparov file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Mikhail Sokolov, Antoine Blua – October 25, 2016) #Kremlin foe Garry Kasparov says President Vladimir Putin is resorting to “external aggression” and increased confrontation with the West to bolster his image as Russia’s leader and maintain a “dictatorship” in the country. Talking to RFE/RL’s Russian Service correspondent Mikhail Sokolov on the sidelines of a forum in […]

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NEWSLINK Irrussianality/Paul Robinson: “BOOK REVIEW: THE NEW POLITICS OF RUSSIA [re: Andrew Monaghan]”

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

“… He analyzes the reasons why Western observers have continually been surprised by Russian actions and finishes by laying out his own model of how the Russian political system works. His book challenges Russian ‘experts’ to reconsider their assumptions. …”

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NEWSLINK Washington Post: “Please pass the Russian Parmesan: Cheesemakers celebrate sanctions, and hope they continue.”

File Photo of U.S. Dairy Cows

“… When Russian President Vladimir Putin banned most food imports from Europe in 2014 in response to Western sanctions, Russian dairy farmers rejoiced as deliveries of French and Italian cheeses ceased. Now, they believed, they could compete. Since then, they have tried to duplicate all sorts of famous varieties, from Camembert to Emmenthal. But one global delicacy remains largely beyond […]

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NEWSWATCH: “What Clinton and Trump need to know about Putin’s Russia” – The Hill/Ariel Cohen

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

When Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump address security challenges … Putin’s Russia will loom large. This is no longer post-communist Russia attempting the transition to a market-based democracy and looking up to the West. That transformation was an epic failure. In Putin’s words, ‘Russia is rising from its knees’. … therein lies the threat. … The next American president will […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The scary truth about what Putin really wants (and Obama’s willful ignorance)” – Fox News/Judith Miller

File Photo of G7 Leaders and other Officials Around Round Table at the Hague, with Flags

What is Vladimir Putin up to? Evidence of Russian ambition seems to mount by the day. Seizing its neighbor’s territory. Russian bomber overflights of NATO member states. Sophisticated cyberattacks aimed at influencing America’s presidential election. Missiles fired at civilian aircraft. Devastating air strikes on hospitals and relief convoys in Aleppo as the ink dries on a U.S.-Russian cease-fire agreement for […]

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Putin Making the Same Mistake Hitler Did, Piontkovsky Says

File Photo of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler Riding in Convertible

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, October 4, 2016) After meeting with the leaders of Britain and France, Adolf Hitler concluded that he was dealing with non-entities and that he couldn’t possibly lose a war against them, forgetting not only that these countries could and would change leaders but also that the outcome of conflicts reflects not just […]

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Russian Officials Dig In On MH17, As Critics Decry ‘Politics Of Denial’

Ukraine Air Crash Scene with Uniformed Security Personnel, Flames, Smoke

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – September 29, 2016) MOSCOW — A series of denials by Russian officials and state-media allegations of bias and foul play present a view that is starkly discrepant with international criminal investigators’ findings, announced this week, over the downing of a Malaysian airliner over eastern Ukraine in 2014. The Joint Investigation Team’s (JIT) interim […]

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NEWSWATCH: “A Powerful Russian Weapon: The Spread of False Stories” – New York Times

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

The New York Times addresses concerns about Russian disinformation campaigns, including Russia’s reputed involvement with a rash of misleading material on social media disrupting NATO-related debate in Sweden. With a vigorous national debate underway on whether Sweden should enter a military partnership with NATO, officials in Stockholm suddenly encountered an unsettling problem: a flood of distorted and outright false information on […]

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Russia Understanders” in Europe (excerpt)

Europe Map

(PONARS Eurasia – Andrey Makarychev, Stefano Braghirolil, University of Tartu (Estonia) – August 16, 2016) [Full text here http://www.ponarseurasia.org/sites/default/files/policy-memos-pdf/Pepm435_Makarychev-Braghiroli_August2016.pdf] The Ukraine conflict reinforced the desire of Kremlin policymakers to establish connections with a range of anti-status-quo groups in Europe. Moscow’s broad aim is to catalyze support for and legitimize Russian sovereignty (and hegemony) and, perhaps, even the dissolution of the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “While the world is distracted, Putin escalates his war in Ukraine” – Washington Post

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

… The … FSB, claimed … one of its officers was killed … near the de facto border between Crimea and Ukraine. Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine in early 2014, then backed a violent uprising in … Donetsk and Luhansk. … According to the FSB … a second attempt occurred … with support from Ukrainian artillery, killing a Russian … […]

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