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

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(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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Shopping Spray: Loutish Russian’s Beer-Biting Patriotism

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Anna Shamanska – August 22, 2015) Stas Baretsky is foaming at the mouth about banned Western goods in Russia. As the food-destruction craze over banned Western goods continues in Russia, the St. Petersburg Orthodox Union of Cossacks and a very large former band member have joined in. The group went to a local store of the […]

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NEWSWATCH Washington Post: Russia used to have a powerful weapon in its energy sector. Not anymore.

Gas Flame file photo

The Washington Post assesses shifts in Russia’s position within the energy sector, and the impact upon Russian coercive pressure on the West. For years, Russia’s ability to choke off energy shipments any time tensions spiked with the West was a potent threat, one that could force much of Europe to shiver during the wintertime. But with energy prices swooning, the […]

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Russia ready to discuss new CFE treaty with NATO – Foreign Ministry

NATO Meeting file photo

(Interfax – Moscow, August 18, 2015) Russia is ready for dialogue with NATO on new parameters of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) if the alliance’s proposal answer present-day realities, Mikhail Ulyanov, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department for Arms Control and Nonproliferation, has said. “In principle, we are ready to discuss the parameters of a […]

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Russians Named Europe’s Least Productive Workers

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 11, 2015) The productivity of the Russian workforce is the lowest among European countries, according to a report issued Monday by the France-based international Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD. In Russia, labor productivity – measured by the gross domestic product valued in U.S. dollars divided by the total number of hours […]

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Abandoned Mistral Deal Still Divides Russian Officials, Analysts

Mistral Class Ship

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner – August 5, 2015) France has agreed to reimburse Russia for the two Mistral-class helicopter carriers purchased under a 2011 contract, ending a months-long dispute over the fate of Russia’s largest foreign arms purchase in the post-Soviet era. But the question of whether Russia really needs such expensive ships other than for mere […]

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Russian Official Lauds Condom Restrictions

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Howard Amos, Anna Dolgov – August 6, 2015) A senior Russian official has praised plans to restrict condom imports as part of a drive to reduce reliance on foreign-made goods, suggesting Wednesday that a dearth of the rubber contraceptives will make people more “disciplined” and boost birth rates. Fewer condoms will make people “more strict […]

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Russians cheesed off as authorities destroy ‘EU’ food

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(Business New Europe – bne.eu – bne IntelliNews- August 6, 2015) Nine tons of presumed EU-made cheese seized after entering Russia from Ukraine were bulldozed into the ground on August 6 as officials enforced Kremlin orders to destroy prohibited Western products, despite protests from citizens struggling with rising food prices. The first batch of hundreds of tons of food earmarked […]

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Russians split over destruction of banned food imports

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

Russian is to destroy confiscated Western food products that fall under the Russian embargo at the border starting from August 6. According to the presidential decree, embargoed foods will be destroyed both at the border and after being seized from stores. However, some observers are calling on the government not to destroy the products, but give them to the needy. […]

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U.S. Sanctions Official: Russia ‘Will Probe With A Bayonet’

State Department Building and U.S. Flag

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Carl Schreck – WASHINGTON, July 31, 2015) A top U.S. diplomat overseeing sanctions policy says punitive economic measures are curtailing Russian “aggression” and testing Western resolve amid Ukraine’s war with Russian-backed separatists. “I think that in true Leninist fashion, the Russian government will probe with a bayonet, so to speak, until it encounters resistance,” Daniel Fried, […]

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Russian Food Prices Stabilize After Months of Racing Inflation

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anastasia Bazenkova – August 3, 2015) After a year of skyrocketing food prices that have forced many Russians to spend less on what they eat, the cost of many categories of food has finally begun to stabilize or fall, official data show. Food price inflation has been one of the harshest consequences for ordinary Russians […]

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Interfax: U.S. should pressure Ukraine into fulfilling Minsk accords – French ambassador to Russia

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

MOSCOW. Aug 1 (Interfax) – France and Russia have urged the United States to put pressure on the Ukrainian authorities in order to make them honor their commitments as part of the Minsk peace agreements for Ukraine, French Ambassador to Moscow Jean-Maurice Ripert has said. “Like us, Foreign Minister of Russia Sergei Lavrov has been holding talks with U.S. Secretary […]

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Five-part blog: THE WORLD WAR IV SERIES

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Subject: Five-part blog: THE WORLD WAR IV SERIES Date: Wed, 29 Jul 2015 19:39:46 -0400 From: David Law <davidmurraylaw@gmail.com> I have recently written a five-part blog series on what I call World War IV. I think your readers may be interested in this material. At the very least, it should provoke some reflection. David Law — THE WORLD WAR IV […]

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Interfax: Putin hopes Russia will be able to promote dialogue with Europe and U.S. on Ukraine issue

Putin and Obama with U.S. and Russian Flags

(Interfax – July 28, 2015) Russian President Vladimir Putin is hopeful that his country will be able to further promote dialogue with Europe and the United States concerning the fight against radical Islamism and other problems, including the Ukrainian issue. “I see today that the situation has changed. Europe and the U.S. have realized the real threat coming from the […]

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NEWSWATCH Chatham House/James Sherr: To Support Ukraine, West Must Go Beyond Sanctions. Providing critical military assistance to Ukraine would devalue Russia’s advantage in negotiations.

U.S. Military Convoy Headed to Ukraine, On Highway Near Mountains or Cliffs

Writing for Chatham House, James Sherr addresses Western support for Ukraine admidst the Russo-Ukrainian War. … the West has acted on the premise that economic sanctions would induce Russia to modify its actions. But while sanctions do constrain capacity, they do not constrain behaviour. Their immediate impact is bearable … they do nothing to diminish Russia’s most usable and effective form of power: military force. […]

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NEWSLINK Reuters: Bypassing Ukraine Will Be Costly for Russia’s Gazprom – Analysts

Gas Flame file photo

Russia’s plans to drop Ukraine as a route for pumping natural gas to Europe will still leave state-run Gazprom facing about $1 billion in annual transit fees to Slovakia and Bulgaria for years to come, analysts and industry sources say.

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NEWSWATCH Wall Street Journal/Stephen Hadley, Robert Zoellick: Crucial Weapons in the Defense of Ukraine. Without debt reduction and more aid, a young democracy could vanish.

International Monetary Fund Logo Over Ukraine Flag

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Stephen Hadley and Robert Zoellick address the issue of Western assistance for Ukraine amidst the Russo-Ukrainian War, including financial and debt-related assistance. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is an assault on the vision that emerged from the end of the Cold War of a Europe whole, free and at peace. For that vision to be realized, the […]

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Medvedev Upbeat About Russian Economy, Ties With Europe

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(RFE/RL – rferl.org – July 24, 2015) Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said he expects Russia’s recession-hit economy to start growing again at the end of the year, while he hopes for improving economic ties with friendly countries in southeastern Europe. “I think that the economy will return to the path of growth in late 2015, early 2016. It won’t […]

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NEWSWATCH CNN/Matthew Rojansky, Michael Kofman: Isolated Russia has little left to lose

NATO Meeting file photo

Writing for CNN.com, Matthew Rojansky and Michael Kofman address historic shifts in relations between Russia and the West, amidst Western reactions to the Russo-Ukrainian War, the downing of civilian airliner MH-17 and other developments. … MH17 was a turning point, after which many European leaders abandoned their previously held view that Russia could be successfully integrated into Western-led economic, political, or […]

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Gorbachev Urges Renewed Ties With West

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – July 22, 2015) Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev said that problems inherited from previous eras are holding Russia back and urged Western leaders to restore ties with Moscow instead of trying to “provoke” it during a book presentation Tuesday, Russian media reports said. “Many are trying to provoke Russia now,” Gorbachev said […]

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Russia Braces for Longest Recession in Decades With $50 Oil

Oil Wells File Photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas – July 22, 2015) For an economy that lives and dies by crude prices, the latest downturn in the world oil market means Russia’s recession may stretch into next year for the longest slump in two decades. Russia’s first economic slump since 2009 looked like it would plateau as oil gained 40 percent from […]

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Economic Crisis Driving Foreigners Out of Russia – Experts

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – July 21, 2015) Foreigners that used to live and work in Russia are now fleeing en masse, the Federal Migration Service has revealed. Since January 2014, 41 percent of Spanish nationals, 38 percent of British nationals, 36 percent of U.S. nationals and 31 percent of German nationals have left Russia, the Noviye […]

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NEWSWATCH Wall Street Journal/Ariel Cohen: How Russia Could Become a Food Superpower

File Photo of Wheat Field in Kenya, adapted from image at usda.gov

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Ariel Cohen addresses historical shifts in Russian agriculture, and what the future might hold. Russia could be a food superpower, given its vast soil and water resources. It still may become one, but the question is whether the food will be Western or Chinese. Since the beginning of the Ukrainian conflict, the Russian economy has […]

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NEWSWATCH New York Times/Andrei Kozyrev: Russia’s Coming Regime Change

Tower and Building Inside Kremlin

Writing in The New York Times, former Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev addresses the future of Russian governance in the face of multiple economic, political and international challenges. The firmness of the West in protecting the sovereignty of Ukraine and restoring its territorial integrity is a prerequisite not only to rein in the Kremlin’s aggressive impulses, but also to engage […]

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Are The E.U. And Asia Turning A Blind Eye To Russian Sanctions?

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(Oilprice.com – Robert Berke – July 8, 2015) In a previous article on Oilprice, I questioned whether western sanctions imposed on Russia were being regularly breached by E.U. and Asian companies, noting that sanctions only work if all countries unite behind them. In June, the Financial Times reported that only one year after being imposed, the sanctions are eroding. It […]

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What Does Greece’s ‘No’ Vote Mean for Russia?

Ancient Temple Ruins in Greece with Tourists

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anastasia Bazenkova, Delphine d’Amora – July 7, 2015) As EU leaders gather Tuesday to seek an answer to Greece’s sweeping rejection of international bailout terms, Russia -the EU’s third-largest trading partner – is quietly waiting to see where the chips fall. Hailed as a victory for democracy by Greece’s new far-left leaders, the resounding “no” […]

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Ruble’s Top Forecaster Sees Deeper Rout as Companies Repay Debt

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ksenia Galouchko – July 2, 2015) Sanctions are once again catching up on the ruble. While still the best performer in the world this year, no emerging-market currency has fallen more in the past month as the effect of rebounding oil prices faded. Approaching foreign-debt payments and a shrinking economy probably mean it has a further […]

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Ukraine cancels gas supplies from Russia in pricing row

Gas Flame file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – bne IntelliNews – July 2, 2015) Ukraine suspended Russian natural gas purchases on July 1, citing its inability to secure from Gazprom a heavily discounted price for the third quarter of the year. Henceforth, the country’s state-owned monopoly Naftogaz will rely on supplies from the European Union, and claims that volumes bought from EU […]

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Russia gripes to WTO about EU gas market laws

Gas Flame file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Iana Dreyer in Brussels – June 24, 2015) Russia has formally requested that a dispute settlement panel be established at the World Trade Organization to rule on its complaints against EU energy market laws. From a legal and geopoliticial perspective, this is perhaps one of the most interesting cases the WTO will have to […]

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VIDEO & TRANSCRIPT: Conversation: The Standoff Between Russia and the West Over Ukraine

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

(Stratfor.com – June 23, 2015) Conversation: The Standoff Between Russia and the West Over Ukraine is republished with permission of Stratfor; article also appeared at stratfor.com/video/conversation-standoff-between-russia-and-west-over-ukraine. Transcript follows below video. Video Transcript Lauren Goodrich: Hello, my name is Lauren Goodrich, and I’m the senior Eurasia analyst here at Stratfor. I’m joined by Sim Tack, our military analyst, and today we’re going to […]

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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.

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  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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NEWSLINK Foreign Policy/John Hudson: The Undiplomatic Diplomat.

File Photo of Victoria Nuland Testifying

Russia hawks on Capitol Hill love Victoria Nuland, the State Department’s point person for Ukraine. Many Europeans can’t stand her. http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/06/18/the-undiplomatic-diplomat/

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EU’s Belarus dilemma

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(Business New Europe – bne.eu – MINSK BLOG: Sergei Kuznetsov in Minsk – June 16, 2015) Minsk’s recent efforts to shepherd peace talks between the EU, Russia and Ukraine have borne fruit – Brussels has shown that it is ready to renew its dialogue with Belarus, a country that has been a pariah in recent years. However, this process will […]

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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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Poll: Russians Dislike West About as Much as Westerners Dislike Russia

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – June 11, 2015) A staggering majority of Russians view the West negatively, and the feeling is mutual, a poll conducted by the U.S.-based Pew Research Center revealed Wednesday. According to the poll, 81% of Russians have unfavorable opinions of the United States, and 80% feel similarly about NATO. The European Union fared […]

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Putin Is No James Bond Villain

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – June 9, 2015) Despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars on foreign-language propaganda, all that President Vladimir Putin has achieved outside Russia is the status of a Bond movie villain. He may enjoy it, especially since there’s no 007 in sight to tackle him, but his variety of pop stardom is growing into […]

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Putin: Russia has no relations with G7 but ready to cooperate with its members bilaterally

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

(Interfax – June 10, 2015) Russia currently does not maintain any relationship with the G7, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “We have no relations with the G7, what relations could there be?” Putin told journalists following negotiations with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on June 10. At the same time, “if our partners want it, we will be developing active […]

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World’s economic centre of gravity continues shift east

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(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Ben Aris in Moscow – June 9, 2015) [Charts here http://www.bne.eu/content/story/bnechart-worlds-economic-centre-gravity-continues-shift-east] The leaders of the G7 industrialised nations met in Berlin on June 7, but their decisions are becoming less and less relevant to the rest of the world as the centre of global economic gravity moves relentlessly east. In 1990, the centre of […]

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Ukraine defending Europe, world order, says Yatsenyuk

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

(Interfax – June 9, 2015) Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has called for unity of the European Union and the United States needed “to defeat the aggressor.” He made the statement at a forum of the American Jewish Committee during a working visit to Washington DC, the Ukrainian government press service has reported. “We are positive that we can regain […]

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RIA Novosti: Russia sets out what it wants from USA, NATO, EU in new foreign policy document

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(RIA Novosti – June 8, 2015) Russia reserves the right to respond to any unfriendly steps towards it taken by the USA, says the document containing a review of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s performance in 2014 and medium-term objectives, as reported by RIA Novosti (part of the state-owned International News Agency Rossiya Segodnya) on 8 June. “In constructing our engagement […]

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Interfax: Russians like Belarus and China, have aversion to U.S., EU and Ukraine – poll

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(Interfax – June 8, 2015) Most Russians speak ill of the United States, the European Union and Ukraine and see Belarus, China and Kazakhstan as friends, the Levada Center has told Interfax. Seventy-three percent of 1,700 respondents polled in 134 populated localities on May 22-25 expressed negative feelings for the U.S., 15 percent said the opposite, and 12 percent were […]

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Putin: ‘We Have Never Viewed Europe as a Mistress’

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber – June 8, 2015) President Vladimir Putin insisted that the West should not view Russia as a threat in an interview published Saturday in Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera ahead of an official visit to Italy that kicks off this week. “I think that only an insane person – and only in a […]

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To Thomas Graham: We Should Understand Russian History Differently

Balaklava harbour, the cattle pier, Crimea, Ukraine, 1855; adapted from image at loc.gov; Fenton, Roger, 1819-1869, photographer;

(PONARS Eurasia – ponarseurasia.org – Ivan Kurilla, Professor of History Volgograd State University – June 5, 2015) In a recent Financial Times op-ed (“Europe’s Problem is with Russia, not Putin”) Thomas Graham, a managing director at Kissinger Associates and former senior director for Russia on the US National Security Council, makes far-reaching conclusions about contemporary Russia and international security by drawing on the position Russia […]

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NEWSLINK Reuters: Sink or sell? Russia spat leaves France with warships to spare

Mistral Class Ship

Tensions between the West and Russia over Ukraine have blocked a deal in which Moscow was to buy the ships, leaving Paris trying to negotiate a face-saving compromise and work out CAwhat to do with two unwanted warships.

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NEWSLINK New York Times: Disenchanted With Europe, Moldovans Shift Their Focus to Russia

Moldova Map and Flag

Daniela Morari, a Foreign Ministry official who has been traveling her country trying to nudge Moldovans toward the European Union, has heard it all. People are worried that “if you join the E.U., everyone becomes gay” and that Brussels bureaucrats “won’t let you keep animals around your houses,” an alarming prospect in a largely rural country.

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The Riga summit of disappointment

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(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Ben Aris in Moscow – May 21, 2015) Several plucky countries of Emerging Europe have put their necks on the block by defying Russian bullying to join its Customs Union, turning instead to the EU and its promise of a better life. But most of these countries are likely to be disappointed, or could […]

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