Don’t Expect Anti-Russian Ardor from Germany; Germans are looking for a rapprochement with Russia. One popular politician wants to ensure they get it.

Map of Germany

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – August 9, 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. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is the darling of Russia hawks because of her steadfast insistence on Ukraine-related sanctions against the Kremlin. But if she wins the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Front Line Drawn Across Russia’s Backyard” – Stratfor

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

“Globalization has changed how we think about time, space and distance, but geography is still the same where it counts: national security. … former Soviet states lining Russia’s border know this better than most … their proximity to the eastern giant renders them more vulnerable to Moscow’s hybrid warfare …. Nations like Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova sit on the front line of […]

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Russia’s Medvedev Says U.S. Sanctions Bill Ends Hope For Better Ties

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Aug. 3, 2017 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/trump-signs-russia-sanctions-bill/28655189.html) Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev sharply denounced the sanctions bill signed into law by U.S. President Donald Trump on August 2, saying it ends hope for improving relations and ignites “an all-out trade war with #Russia.” “The hope for improving our relations […]

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U.S. Sanctions Are Another Gift to Putin; Far from being hurt by them, he finds them useful.

U.S. Capitol in Bright Sunlight

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – July 31, 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. Russian President Vladimir Putin tends to respond to Western sanctions in ways its authors probably didn’t anticipate: by going after those Russians who could most help […]

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Why Russia’s Market Is Rising After Sanctions Bill Approval

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ksenia Galouchko – July 27, 2017) The U.S. House has approved a bill hardening sanctions against Russia, but European resistance to some of its toughest new measures means the impact on companies will be muted, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Deutsche Bank AG. As it stands now, the most negative aspect of the bill […]

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New U.S. sanctions bill on Russia threatens to further erode Minsk agreement; The diplomatic spat over new U.S. Russia sanctions risks eroding common US-EU position on Ukraine conflict.

U.S. Capitol in Bright Sunlight

(opendemocracy.net – Moritz Pieper – July 27, 2017) Moritz Pieper is a Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Salford, UK. He received his PhD from the University of Kent’s Brussels School of International Studies. He has been a visiting Research Fellow at China Foreign Affairs University (CFAU), Beijing, the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), Brussels, […]

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New U.S. Sanctions on Russia Are a Mixed Bag; Europeans are rightly wary that promoting U.S. exports is an ulterior motive.

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – July 24, 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 European Commission is preparing to counteract the new sanctions the U.S. Congress may impose on Russia this week. This may sound as if Europe is […]

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Interfax: Serious Russia-NATO talk about de-escalation in Europe requires restoration of military contacts – Grushko

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BRUSSELS. July 13 (Interfax) – Information briefings even at the level of ambassadors in the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) are not sufficient for a serious talk about de-escalation of the military situation in Europe; what is needed is a restoration of interrupted military contacts, Alexander Grushko, Russia’s Permanent Representative to NATO, said after a NRC meeting on Thursday. “If someone is […]

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Interfax: Russia’s Lavrov “flattered” by election meddling claims

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(Interfax – July 13, 2017) Moscow denies that it is meddling in German elections, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said. “We are, of course, flattered that we are being portrayed as a country which decides the fate of the world, both in the US and Germany,” he said, responding to a question about alleged Russian interference in German elections. […]

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Russian government extends counter-sanctions till end of 2018

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MOSCOW. July 5 (Interfax) – Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has signed a resolution extending the ban on imports of certain types of agricultural products, raw materials and food, the governmental website said in a report on Wednesday. “The ban on imports of certain types of agricultural products, raw materials and food originating from the United States, EU member countries, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “No Thaw Likely at Trump-Putin Meeting” – Wall Street Journal/ Nathan Hodge

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

“Russian officials are cautious about expectations for a fresh start in relations with Washington despite a planned first meeting between … Putin and … Trump next week. … Lavrov expressed hope that ‘pragmatism will prevail.’ But he added that U.S.-Russian relations ‘have become hostage to the internal politics’ inside Washington. * * * Russia continues to chafe under U.S. and Western […]

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Kudrin doesn’t rule out Russia – EU free trade zone “in distant future”

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MOSCOW. July 3 (Interfax) – The head of the Center for Strategic Research (CSR), former Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin has called for intensifying trade cooperation with European countries. “We need to reach a new agreement with EU countries in the future, and in the distant future this could be a free trade zone. If we want to be open […]

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Kennan Cable No.24: Russian Foreign Policy in the Arctic: Balancing Cooperation and Competition

Arctic Map

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Stacy R. Closson, Assistant Professor, Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce, University of Kentucky – June 26, 2017) Introduction The Arctic region presents a particularly interesting case study of Russian foreign policy. In a time when Russia is showing renewed aggression on three fronts – the Baltic Sea region, Syria, and Ukraine – and meddling in […]

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Moscow Media Report that West Wants to Dismember Russia Dismissed by Russian Experts

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 26, 2017) On Saturday, a Russian television program featured a claim by an unnamed Russian intelligence officer that NATO viewed the destruction of the USSR as “only the first step” and then planned “to create a Middle Volga Republic” in order to reduce “all of Russia to the size and power […]

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NEWSWATCH: “French Cyber Security Leader: No Trace of Russian Hacking Group in Emmanuel Macron Campaign Leaks” – AP

Eiffel Tower and Tree-Lined Grassy Green, adapted from image at lbl.gov

“[Guillaume Poupard] … head of the French government’s cyber security agency [ANSSI], which investigated leaks from … #Macron’s election campaign, says they found no trace of a notorious #Russian #hacking group …. the Macron campaign hack ‘was so generic and simple that it could have been practically anyone.’ … they found no trace that the Russian hacking group known as #APT28, blamed for other […]

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TRANSCRIPT: Vladimir Putin’s interview with Le Figaro

Eiffel Tower and Tree-Lined Grassy Green, adapted from image at lbl.gov

(Kremlin.ru – May 31, 2017) The interview was recorded on May 29 in Paris during the President’s visit to France. Question (retranslated): A very good afternoon. Thank you very much for agreeing to answer questions from Le Figaro. I would also like to thank you for meeting with us here, in a classroom at the Russian Cultural Centre. Once again, […]

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TRANSCRIPT: Joint news conference with [Putin and] President of France Emmanuel Macron

Eiffel Tower and Tree-Lined Grassy Green, adapted from image at lbl.gov

(Kremlin.ru – May 29, 2017) Following bilateral talks, Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron held a joint news conference. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I would also like to thank President Macron for inviting me to come to this wonderful corner of France, to Versailles, which I have never visited before. It is definitely an impressive […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Snapshot Analysis: Trump, NATO, Russia” – Russia Matters/ Nikolas K. Gvosdev

Globe Highlighting NATO Members

“As predicted … #Trump’s summit with other #NATO leaders … showed a White House focused on meeting its treaty commitments … also determined to see its partners take on primary responsibility for countering threats that affect them, particularly in their own neighborhood. For #Russia, Trump’s public comments sounded like a mixed bag: … the president called Moscow a ‘threat’ and expressed no interest […]

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NEWSLINK: “Best To Assume Russia Sanctions Last Forever” – Forbes/ Kenneth Rapoza

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

“… the G-20 meeting this June … will be the first time [Trump and Putin] meet, and that could give us the official, presidential word on sanctions. …”

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NEWSWATCH: “Macron meets Russia’s Putin near Paris, promising tough talks” – Reuters/ Michel Rose, Denis Dyomkin

Eiffel Tower and Tree-Lined Grassy Green, adapted from image at lbl.gov

“#French President Emmanuel #Macron met #Russia’s Vladimir #Putin near Paris on Monday, promising some frank talking with the Kremlin leader after an election campaign in which his team accused Russian media of trying to interfere. … * * * While Moscow backs [#Syria’s] … al-Assad, France supports rebel groups trying to overthrow him. France has also taken a tough line on […]

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Moscow’s Main Agent Is Hype

Eiffel Tower and Tree-Lined Grassy Green, adapted from image at lbl.gov

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – MAXIM TRUDOLYUBOV – May 12, 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. In an election seen by many in Europe […]

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Russian Opposition Leader Navalny Lands in Barcelona for Treatment

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings, adapted from image at lanl.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 8, 2017) Russian opposition leader and presidential candidate Alexei Navalny landed in Barcelona Sunday to receive medical treatment, the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper reported, citing unidentified sources. On May 4, Navalny said he had received a passport for foreign travel. But his lawyer later Tweeted that a probation officer had informed Navalny that he shouldn’t […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Macron’s Razor: If it looks like the Russians, it’s probably the Russians.” – Ian Bremmer, @ianbremmer

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(Ian Bremmer – @ianbremmer – Twitter – May 6, 2017) Macron’s Razor: If it looks like the Russians, it’s probably the Russians. [embedded live tweet should load below; tweet also can be viewed at: twitter.com/ianbremmer/status/860990114109022209] Macron’s Razor: If it looks like the Russians, it’s probably the Russians. — ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) May 6, 2017

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NEWSWATCH: “Despite Sanctions, Russia’s Oil Industry Powers On” – Wall Street Journal/ Bradley Olson, Jay Solomon

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“Exxon Mobil … is suffering from sanctions on Russia. The same can’t be said for other big Western energy companies, or for Russia’s oil production. … sanctions, put in place by the U.S. and European Union in 2014 after Russia’s annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine, were meant to limit Russia’s pursuit of new technology for extracting more crude oil […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Western sanctions and languid Russian economy; Stringent international sanctions imposed on Russia for its role in the Ukraine conflict have sucked the momentum out of the Russian economy over the past couple of years. The nation’s growth prospects remain lethargic.” – Deutsche Welle/ Srinivas Mazumdaru

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Talks between … #Merkel and … #Putin … focused mainly on geopolitical and security problems, such as … #Ukraine and #Syria. … [they] did not explicitly bring up … #sanctions at the press conference … with the #German chancellor simply saying she hoped some of the sanctions could be lifted if Moscow helped make significant progress in implementing the Minsk peace plan. * * * The sanctions […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin and Merkel] Press statements and answers to media questions following meeting with Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel

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(Kremlin.ru – Sochi, May 2, 2017) President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to begin by thanking the Federal Chancellor for coming to Sochi and for the opportunity to have a meaningful conversation on preparations for the upcoming July G20 meeting in Hamburg, and review urgent matters on the bilateral agenda, as well as […]

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NEWSLINK: “The Kremlin turns its electoral meddling to Western Europe; Russia’s next targets are moderates in France and Germany” – Washington Post editorial

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

“… it should be clear that the new normal of Russian conduct on the international stage includes tampering with elections in Western democracies to boost candidates the Kremlin believes likely to do its bidding and to harass those who won’t …”

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NEWSLINK: “Why the New Cold War Is More Dangerous Than the Preceding One; Questionable but orthodox Cold War narratives make actual war with Russia more likely than during its 40-year predecessor.” – The Nation/Stephen F. Cohen

Berlin Wall, Fencing, Barbed Wire, Women

“Nation contributing editor Stephen F. Cohen and radio-show host John Batchelor continue their weekly discussions of the new US-Russian Cold War. …”

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NEWSLINK: “Syria crisis: G7 leaders couldn’t change Vladimir Putin’s mind on backing Assad – even if they wanted to. Russia now relies on Syria for its new status as a great world power – and the West knows the risks of leaving a power vacuum in the Middle East.” – The Independent (UK)/ Patrick Cockburn

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

“It is very unlikely that Russia will change its support for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, despite calls to do so from foreign ministers from the G7 nations gathered in Italy in the aftermath of the use of poison gas in Syria and the US missile strikes. Russia owes its return to great power status in the eyes of much of the […]

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NEWSLINK: “How the Tumultuous ’90s Paved the Way for Putin’s Russia” [Book Review of “WHO LOST RUSSIA? How the World Entered a New Cold War”] – New York Times/ Rajon Menon

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

“… So who lost Russia? Russia’s leaders, primarily Putin, who neither built democracy nor made Russia a partner of the West? Or the West, which was never serious about respecting Russia’s interests, let alone a partnership? Conradi doesn’t provide a clear-cut answer to his question. Given the complexities he grapples with, who can blame him?”

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Trump Lacks Room to Move on Sanctions on Russia, Economists Say

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Andre Tartar, Anna Andrianova – April 3, 2017) What a difference three months can make. Donald Trump dropped enough hints during the campaign and in the run-up to his inauguration as U.S. president to turn most economists into believers in an imminent easing of sanctions imposed against Russia over the crisis in Ukraine. But as scandals […]

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Our Man in Washington

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

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Andrei Babitsky – March 29, 2017) Andrey Babitsky, an independent journalist, columnist at Vedomosti Daily and contributor to the opinion platform InLiberty, has been covering Russian economy, politics and the country’s tech industry for the past 10 years. He has served as deputy editor-in-chief at Esquire magazine and headed opinion pages at Forbes Russia. There […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia cannot live with the west – or without it; Technological backwardness increases its dependence on liberal democracies” – Financial Times/Lilia Shevtsova

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

“Great power status and the desire for external domination have long been central components of the Russian system of personalised power. … With diminishing resources, the Kremlin has increasingly resorted to intimidating … liberal democracies into accepting Russia’s grand ambitions. At the same time, the country has to wrestle with … how to preserve its role as a global power without […]

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NEWSLINK: “Dearth of young diplomatic talent in Moscow sparks concern; ‘Old boys’ network’ steers Russia through worst stand-off with west since cold war” – Financial Times/Kathrin Hille

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“… The Kremlin’s hesitation over … Ushakov throws a spotlight on the bureaucracy steering Moscow through its most serious stand-off with the west since the cold war and engineering the push to restore Russia’s global power status. It is an apparatus built under the Soviet Union and staffed by people whose skills were honed in the Soviet era. Russian diplomatic […]

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

U.S. Capitol in Bright Sunlight

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

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Will Russia rejoice if the EU falls apart? Unlikely”

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“The European Union’s persistent instability during the last two years has been exacerbated by the big unknown by the name of Trump. Today, there are five official scenarios for the EU’s future. With the EU reform effort in serious doubt, does Moscow have an opportunity, or challenge?”

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Putin’s Russia Seen Dominating European Gas for Two Decades

Gas Flame file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Elena Mazneva, Anna Shiryaevskaya – March 1, 2017) Europe has wanted to wean itself from Russian natural gas ever since supplies from its eastern neighbor dropped during freezing weather in 2009. Almost a decade later, the region has never been more dependent. Gazprom PJSC, Russia’s state-run export monopoly, shipped a record amount of gas to the […]

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NEWSLINK: “Handling Russia Should Not Be So Difficult for the West; Western countries are still struggling to develop a long-term strategy to address the increasing problems that Russia poses for their security” – Chatham House/John Lough

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

“… it is time for Western leaders to recognize that the scale of the Russian challenge is directly proportionate to the level of effort they invest to address it. The lack of focus on how to respond to Russia’s increasingly dangerous and disruptive behaviour has made the problem worse. It has encouraged #Moscow to think that it is more powerful […]

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NEWSLINK: “Mutual Assured Deterrence” – Project-Syndicate/Sergei Karaganov

Globe Highlighting NATO Members

“… Relations between Russia and the European Union, and with the EU’s close ally the United States, are increasingly fragile. There has been an effort to cope with shifting power dynamics in Europe by restoring the military-political divide between NATO and Russia – this time, some 600 miles (965 kilometers) east of where it was during the Cold War. But […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Study looks at free-trade-with-Russia scenario. Free trade between the EU and Russia could bring enormous benefits for both sides, a study by the Munich-based Ifo economic research institute suggests. Only, the Ukraine conflict still stands in the way.” – Deutsche Welle

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A free trade area for the European Union, Russia and other states would have economic advantages for all sides involved, according to model-based calculations by the Ifo research institute. … The study admits that a free trade agreement of this kind is barely conceivable as long as the Ukraine conflict remains unsettled and Western sanctions against Russia are in place. […]

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NEWSLINK: “BOOK REVIEW: SHOULD WE FEAR RUSSIA? [re: Dmitri Trenin]” – Paul Robinson/Irrussianality

Kremlin and River

“… Trenin’s answer to the question posed by his book is a bit of a ‘no’ and a bit of a ‘yes’. Russia isn’t a ‘threat’, he says, but its policies do pose a ‘challenge’ to the West, and are likely to keep doing so for the foreseeable future. ‘While most fears need to be put to rest’, he concludes, […]

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NEWSLINK: “Ensuring Euro-Atlantic Security” – Project-Syndicate/ Des Browne, Wolfgang Ischinger, Igor Ivanov, Sam Nunn

Globe Highlighting NATO Members

“… We must reduce the danger of a #nuclear weapon being used. … We must reduce the risks associated with keeping nuclear forces on ‘prompt-launch’ status. … We must reduce the threat of nuclear and radiological materials falling into the wrong hands. … We must reduce the risks of a military confrontation by improving military-to-military communication through a new #NATO-#Russia […]

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NEWSWATCH: “As Trump re-evaluates NATO, NATO must rethink Russia; With tensions running high in NATO, it seems the alliance is in sore need of a fresh course on Russia and a new deal on security. A former US ambassador to Moscow and an ex-German envoy to NATO gave their takes to DW.” – Deutsche Welle/Darko Janjevic

NATO Meeting file photo

… In addition to calling NATO ‘obsolete,’ Trump has pressured … members to increase … defense spending and signaled a more isolationist foreign policy …. * * * Unlike Trump, Matlock believes … boosting defense spending would be a step in the wrong direction. * * * … With the United States changing its stance, European powers will need to […]

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Ten Years Ago Today, Putin Declared War

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – February 10, 2017) Ten years ago today, a cold wind blew in Munich. A decade ago today, Vladimir Putin telegraphed his intentions. On February 10, 2007, the Kremlin leader threw down the gauntlet to the West. On that day, Putin stunned the Munich Security Conference with a bellicose speech in which he railed […]

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NEWSLINK: “German intelligence finds no evidence of Russian meddling; But authorities warned Russia has been on a ‘confrontational path’ since 2014 and its media is ‘hostile.'” – PoliticoEU/ESTHER KING

Map of Germany

“A year-long investigation into potential Russian interference with German politics has failed to uncover evidence of Kremlin-backed meddling, Süddeutsche Zeitung reported Monday. German intelligence authorities found no concrete proof of disinformation campaigns targeting the government and have decided against publishing the 50-page report to avoid further straining relations with Moscow, according to SZ. …”

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NEWSLINK: “TODAY’S FEAR-MONGERING” – Irrussianality/Paul Robinson

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“Doug Saunders of the Globe and Mail newspaper writes some good op-eds. But like a lot of commentators he seems to go completely off the rails when the subject of Russia comes up. His latest piece entitled ‘Is Putin scoring political goals on an empty net?’ had me spluttering over my breakfast cereal this morning, and merits a detailed response.”

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NEWSWATCH: “Toward a New Equilibrium in U.S.-Russian Relations; The new administration must understand how Russia relates to American goals” – Thomas E. Graham/The National Interest

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

… Trump will face no more urgent foreign-policy task than developing a Russia policy. … The Russia We Face: The starting point for a new strategy is a clear understanding of how Russia relates to American goals. Its nuclear arsenal, vast natural resources and proximity to regions of undisputed strategic value …. Relations will focus on security matters …. The […]

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

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

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

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NEWSWATCH: “The sanctions on Russia are working, Mr. President: Don’t lift them prematurely” – The Hill/Alexander Vershbow

Alexander Vershbow file photo

“… I have seen many U.S. presidents seek to engage … Russia. While it has never been easy, it was possible to find areas of common ground that increased the security of both sides — as long as the U.S. set clear objectives and stuck with them. … The sanctions are working. … Russia is interested in having sanctions removed. […]

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