JRL NEWSWATCH: “Busting Nord Stream 2 myths” – bne Intellinews/Ben Aris

Gas Flame file photo

“The proposed expansion of the capacity of the Nord Stream gas pipeline in Europe’s north, running from Russia’s Yamal gas fields to the German coast, has split Europe …. detractors claim it will make Europe more dependent on Russian gas and give the Kremlin a bigger club … to bully the rest of Europe. … supporters say it will diversify […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s financial authorities are putting the economy on an ‘economic war’ footing as sanctions bite” – bne Intellinews/Vadim Dumes/Ben Aris

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“The sanctions[-]based assault on Russia by the U.S. and its expanding sanctions regime is starting to take its toll as the Russian government and financial authorities [are scrambling] to manage the damage … affecting everything from corporate profits to foreign currency reserves. Earlier this month … The Central Bank of Russia (CBR) said it will stop its regular foreign currency purchases […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Ukraine marks 1,000 days without Russian gas” – Interfax-Ukraine

Gas Flame file photo

“Naftogaz of Ukraine has not been buying natural gas from Russia’s Gazprom for 1,000 days. Since Nov. 26, 2015, the country has been instead importing gas from the West. …  in December 2017, the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce revised the contract between Naftogaz and Gazprom. … rul[ing] that the price of gas for Naftogaz must be […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Taliban Say They Will Attend Afghan Peace Talks in Russia” – New York Times/Rick Gladstone

Afghanistan Map of Ethnicities

“… The Taliban’s acceptance of an invitation by Russia to … Sept. 4 talks planned in Moscow was a reversal for the group, and came after the government of Afghanistan and its main supporter, the United States, declined invitations to attend. … the Taliban said … that the chief of their political office in Qatar would lead a delegation to […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “The U.S. needs to think about the unthinkable on cybersecurity” – Washington Post/Stewart Baker

Electrical Yard file photo

“The United States may have pioneered the idea of fighting wars in cyberspace, but it’s our adversaries who are using cyberattacks most effectively. To deter them, the country needs creative new ways to punish nations if they launch the devastating attacks that are within their grasp …. Russia has allegedly loaded U.S. electrical control systems with tools that could shut […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “The right way to sanction Putin’s Russia” – Reuters/William Courtney

“The United States and … allies are increasingly frustrated over malign activities by Russia. Moscow wages war in Ukraine, abets brutality in Syria, interferes in elections, and poisons opponents. … Washington has imposed sanctions and closed Russian consulates … and vacation estates in Maryland and New York, all believed to be used by … Putin’s government for intelligence purposes. This […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Administrative Mobilization and the Dynamics of Electoral Manipulations on Putin’s Presidential Election” [Excerpt] – PONARS Eurasia /Kirill Rogov

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

[Full text: ponarseurasia.org/memo/administrative-mobilization-dynamics-electoral-manipulations-putins-presidential-election] (PONARS Policy Memo) Vladimir Putin’s new presidential term is shaping up to be the most complicated of his political career. According to the Russian Constitution, he is not allowed to become president again in 2024. Finding a solution for this problem is a major issue for the Kremlin. Either there will be a transition of power or […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s VK announces privacy changes to protect users from arrest” – bne Intellinews

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

“Russia social media site vKontakte (VK) expanded its privacy functions to give its users more tools to protect them from arrest, the company said …. The Kremlin has been cracking down on online criticism of the government. Vedomosti reports that of 182 criminal cases launched in 2017 for social network posts, 138 were based on VK posts, with another four […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “More U.S. Marines to train in Norway, closer to Russia” – Reuters

Map of Norway and Region, with Norway Highlighted, adapted from image at cdc.gov

“The United States will more than double the number of Marines stationed in Norway [from 330 to 700] … the Norwegian defence ministry said …. [That and] and moving some of them closer to the border with Russia … triggered a sharp reaction from Moscow, which called the plans ‘clearly unfriendly.’ … Oslo, increasingly concerned about Russia since the [2014] […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Turkey Shifts Toward Russia as Sanctions Sour U.S. Relations; Foreign ministers slam Western sanctions, as Erdogan plans boycott of U.S. electronic goods” – Wall Street Journal/David Gauthier-Villars

Turkey and Environs Satellite Image

“… Erdogan … stepped up his attacks on the U.S. … Tuesday, calling for a boycott of Apple … iPhones and other U.S. electronic goods … his foreign minister joined his Russian counterpart … criticizing Western sanctions. Turkey, a longtime [NATO] ally, has been caught between the West and Russia. This week, officials in Ankara were leaning decidedly toward Moscow. […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Why Bloomberg Got It Wrong; Today’s dominant ‘party lines’ are often shaping reporting to a greater extent than the facts” – The National Interest/Paul J. Saunders

File Photo of Jared Kushner adapted from image at defense.gov with photo credit to Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro, adapted by Steven C. Welsh www.stevencwelsh.info :: www.stevencwelsh.com

“George Orwell was never overly impressed with the news media, which he considered often more interested in advancing preferred narratives than reporting the facts. … Today’s dominant ‘party lines’ are likewise often shaping reporting to a greater extent than the facts. … Bloomberg reporters Caleb Melby and David Kocieniewski, who recently sought to insinuate the Center for the National Interest […]

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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: “To advance almost all of our core national security and economic interests, the U.S. does not need Russia. Remember that.” – Michael McFaul/twitter

Ambassador Mike McFaul file photo

(Michael McFaul – Twitter @McFaul – August 12, 2018) “To advance almost all of our core national security and economic interests, the US does not need Russia. Remember that.” [embedded live feed of tweet should load below; or click here for direct link: twitter.com/McFaul/status/1028111350403411968] To advance almost all of our core national security and economic interests, the US does not […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “In Gorky Park, with nuclear worries” – The Hill/Matthew Bunn

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

“… U.S. nuclear weapons are aimed at military targets, from nuclear missile silos to military bases and production facilities. But many of those targets are located not far from cities, and the terrible destructive power of nuclear weapons does not discriminate. … Today, both Russia and the United States are modernizing their nuclear forces to keep these threats robust for […]

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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: “This is not a hoax, and things are not okay” – Washington Post/Joe Scarborough

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

“… Imagine that U.S. military leaders spent most of 1941 warning President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his Democratic Party of a coming Pearl Harbor attack. Then imagine history’s harsh judgment against FDR’s party had it ignored those concerns, voted against efforts to fortify the Pacific fleet and plotted the firing of generals who were working to expose the looming Japanese […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “In Moscow’s Newest Park, All of Russia Comes Together” – New York Times/Roslyn Sulcas

Russia Map

“[The author visits] ….Zaryadye Park, Moscow’s first new green space in 50 years, designed by … American architects Diller Scofidio & Renfro … one of the most ambitious and expensive architectural projects in Russia in decades. … [with] numerous buildings on [a] 35-acre site … tucked under curving, plant and tree-filled slopes. Each … represents an aspect of Russia’s varied […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “U.S. Think Tank’s Tiny Lab Helps Facebook Battle Fake Social Media” – Reuters/New York Times

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

“A day before Facebook announced that it had discovered and disabled a propaganda campaign designed to sow dissension among U.S. voters, it exclusively shared some of the suspicious pages with an online forensics team so busy it hasn’t put a nameplate on the door.  The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab is based in a 12-foot-by-12-foot office in the Washington, […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “In Russia, the Corporate Raiders Are Often Cops; Companies face harassment from law-enforcement officials, according to business owners, lawyers and activists” – Wall Street Journal/James Marson, Thomas Grove

File Photo of Judge and Clerk in Russian Court, with Russian Flag Behind Bench

“… Russian companies routinely face harassment from law-enforcement officials seeking to extort money or expropriate businesses, according to business owners, lawyers and activists. One in six Russian business owners is facing criminal prosecution, according to [a Kremlin-launched agency]. …  Putin’s authoritarian rule relies on security officials and political heavyweights who use their authority not only to squash political opponents but […]

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JRL RUSSIAWATCH: “Russian pollster reports sharp rise in positive views of U.S.” – LevadaRu

United States Map, adapted from image at epa.gov

“The number of Russians liking the U.S. has doubled over the past two months, a poll by the independent public research organisation Levada Centre suggests. Forty-two per cent of those polled in the firm’s July survey said they had a ‘positive’ attitude towards the U.S., as opposed to 20 per cent of those asked about the same issue in May.  […]

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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: “Russians ready to protest pension reform, ratings of ruling United Russia drop” – bne Intellinews

File Photo of Putin Sitting at Desk, Looking Down, Writing, During Call-In Show, adapted from screenshot of video at kremlin.ru

“… discontent over controversial pension reform … keeps on snowballing … the readiness of Russians for mass protests over economic policies has risen from a record low to top 40% for the first time since 2009 …. approval indicators for the government have fallen across the board. Putin’s … personal popularity … underpin[g] the stability of the Russian political system, […]

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JRL RUSSIAWATCH: “Putin’s approval rating falls to five-year low, poll suggests” – LevadaRu

File Photo of Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin with Heads Bowed Over Microphone

“… Putin’s approval rating has hit a five-year low of 67 per cent, the latest survey by independent pollster Levada Centre suggests [published July 31]. The last time the Russian leader’s rating was below 70 per cent was in July 2013 [when it hit] 65 per cent …. Putin’s approval rating dropped 12 percentage points since … May. … Medvedev’s […]

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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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JRL NEWSWATCH: “What Are the FBI and CIA Hiding? The agency might have led the bureau down a rabbit hole in the 2016 Trump counterintelligence probe” – Wall Street Journal/Thomas J. Baker

FBI Headquarters File Photo

“Although the FBI’s case officially began July 31, 2016, there had been investigative activity before that …. John Brennan’s CIA might have directed activity in Britain … [problematic considering] longstanding agreements that the U.S. will not conduct intelligence operations there. It would explain why the FBI continues to stonewall Congress … Further, what we know about the case’s origin does […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia dumped 84% of its American debt. What that means” – CNN/Matt Egan

Portion of U.S. Treasury Department Building Facade, North Side, with Sculpture of Alexander Hamilton

“… Between March and May, Russia’s holdings of US Treasury bonds plummeted by $81 billion, representing 84% of its total US debt holdings. … Maybe Russia just wanted to diversify its portfolio, as the central bank stated. Or perhaps Russia was seeking revenge for Washington’s crippling sanctions on aluminum maker Rusal. …. Even at Russia’s recent peak of $105.7 billion in […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russian Orthodox Church a ‘national security threat’ to Ukraine, says president; Petro Poroshenko said the Russian church was separated from the state ‘only on paper.'” – PoliticoEU/KAIT BOLONGARO

Petro Poroshenko file photo, with additional men in background, adapted from image at state.gov

“… At a ceremony marking [Ukraine’s] conversion to Christianity 1,030 years ago … [Poroshenko] said that the Russian [Orthodox] [C]hurch’s sway among Ukrainian believers is a ‘direct threat to the national security of Ukraine.’ … ‘this obliges us to act.’ There are two branches of the Orthodox Church active in Ukraine: the Russian church and its Ukrainian cousin. The former, […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Novichok Was in a Perfume Bottle, U.K. Victim Says” – New York Times/Michael Schwirtz, Eric Schmitt

Artist Rendition of Barrel with Poison Symbol on It, Oozing Green Material

“… The latest poisoning raised the prospect that in their haste to flee the area, the would-be assassins simply tossed aside a top secret, Soviet-designed weapon that the British authorities, despite a cleanup operation that lasted weeks, failed to discover. …” Click here for: “Novichok Was in a Perfume Bottle, U.K. Victim Says” – New York Times/Michael Schwirtz, Eric Schmitt […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russian Communists push for a national referendum against raising the retirement age” – Meduza

Arm and Torso of Person in Brown Sweater Placing Paper Ballot into Ballot Box

“Russia’s Central Election Commission has received a notice from the Communist Party about possibly holding a national referendum on raising the country’s retirement age …. [asking] ‘Do you agree that the age in the Russian Federation at which citizens are entitled to old-age social insurance should not increase?’ … the State Duma [has] passed the first reading of draft legislation […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Surprise, Maryland – your election contractor has ties to Russia” – Washington Post Editorial

Baltimore Inner Harbor and Skline file photo, adapted from image at epa.gov by Steven C. Welsh, www.stevencwelsh.com :: www.stevencwelsh.info

“… an Internet technology company with which [Maryland] contracts to hold electronic voting information is connected to a Russian oligarch … ‘very close’ to … Putin. Maryland leaders did not know about the connection until the FBI told them. Maryland[] … chose a company to keep electronic information on voter registration, election results and other … data. … [a] company […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “The Helsinki Summit: A Good Idea Turns Bad; Mitigating the dangers of a U.S.-Russian escalatory spiral will be difficult” – The National Interest/George Beebe

“George Beebe is director of the Center for the National Interest’s intelligence program. He formerly served as chief of Russia analysis at the CIA, and as special advisor to Vice President Cheney on Russia and the former Soviet Union.” “… the United States and Russia … managed to sail their listing bilateral ship directly into the rocks of the Russian […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin Tells Diplomats He Made Trump a New Offer on Ukraine at Their Summit” – Bloomberg/Ilya Arkhipov

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

“… Putin told Russian diplomats that he made a proposal to … Trump at their summit … to hold a referendum to help resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine …. White House officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. … Leaders of so-called people’s republics in Donetsk and Luhansk held referendums in May 2014 that declared independence. The votes […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Pension reform” – BMB Russia/Aaron Schwartzbaum

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

“… Russian authorities have been dithering on the pension system literally for year. … [R]egardless of the character of a loss of benefits, pension reform is exactly that: a loss of benefits. … [T[here is another center-periphery dynamic at play …. The average life expectancy has … increased on average … predominantly [for] … middle-class or wealthy urban dwellers. The […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Achilles heel: Putin still falling short on master plan for aging oil economy” CNBC/Ashleigh Garrison, Kelly Song

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

Russian President Vladimir Putin has displayed geopolitical intelligence and military strength, but he falls short when it comes to mastering the Russian economy. The Russian market is still largely dependent on rising oil prices and the lack of innovation is a major economic weakness. GDP is growing, but slowly, and critical foreign investment remains low due to Putin’s provocations and […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia Open to Second Trump-Putin Summit; Officials in Moscow remain surprised by firestorm over recent meeting” – Wall Street Journal/Thomas Grove

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

“The Russian government signaled Friday its openness to a possible second summit between … Putin and … Trump …. The summit earlier this week was broadly perceived in Moscow as a possible, positive step forward in Russia-U. S. ties, but Russian officials have been surprised by the persistent criticism against … Trump ….” Click here for: “Russia Open to Second […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH VIDEO: “Joint News Conference by Trump and Putin: Full Video and [Link to] Transcript” – New York Times/Federal News Service

“After meeting privately in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday, President Trump and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia held a joint news conference. ….”  [embedded video and link to transcript follow below] “Mr. Putin (through an interpreter): … negotiations with the president of the United States, Donald Trump, took place in a frank and businesslike atmosphere. I think we can call […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russian pundit says migration policy needs to be ‘more open'” – Izvestia/Sergei Ryazantsev

Russian Migrant Workers file photo

In Izvestia, Sergei Ryazantsev argues: “… The United Nations rates [Russia] third after the United States and Germany in terms of number of immigrants. … in 2015 … the US population born overseas amounted to 46.6m; 12m went to Germany, 11.6m to Russia. Uzbeks, Tajiks, Kyrgyz, Armenians, Azerbaijanis, and representatives of other republics of the former USSR began to come […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “U.S.-Russia Relations are Stuck on Repeat; Both Trump and Putin are now locked into narratives about what did (or did not) happen that prevent this issue from being dealt with-and this holds the entire rest of the bilateral agenda hostage” – The National Interest/Nikolas K. Gvosdev

“… the United States has not altered its position that Crimea remains a part of Ukraine and continues to deny any recognition that … annexation … [by Russia] was legal. … the United States has not, as a result of the Helsinki meeting, agreed to stop providing Ukraine with weapons or to cease the training of the Ukrainian military. … […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “International order for 4 centuries has been based on non-interference in the internal affairs of others and respect for sovereignty. Russia has violated this norm by seizing Crimea and by interfering in the 2016 US election. We must deal w Putin’s Russia as the rogue state it is.” – @RichardHaass

Richard Haass file photo, adapted from image at state.gov by Steven C. Welsh, www.stevencwelsh.info and www.stevencwelsh.com

(Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations – Twitter – @RichardHaass – July 15, 2018) “International order for 4 centuries has been based on non-interference in the internal affairs of others and respect for sovereignty. Russia has violated this norm by seizing Crimea and by interfering in the 2016 US election. We must deal w Putin’s Russia as […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Pussy Riot claims on-field protest at World Cup final” – AP

File Image of Soccer Ball, Field, Stadium with Lights, adapted from image at fbi.gov

“… Pussy Riot has claimed responsibility for four people who ran onto the field and disrupted the World Cup final. … [tweeting] that the disruption was a protest.  … four people … charged onto the field in the 52nd minute … in what appeared to be old-fashioned police uniforms … [They] were tackled to the ground by stewards. … ‘Hello […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Iran Role in Syria Key Item at Trump-Putin Summit” – AP

Syria Map

“As fighting wanes after seven years of war, the U.S. has made curtailing Iran’s influence in post-war Syria a strategic objective – one strongly backed by Israel. … officials from the U.S. and Russia have signaled that a broad framework for such a deal is likely to be the main outcome. But any agreement is likely to be carefully phrased […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Trump, Putin May Agree to Resume Stalled Arms Control Talks” – Reuters

Russian Nuclear Submarine

“… When [Trump and Putin] meet in Helsinki … they are likely to touch on whether to extend the “New START” agreement to 2026 and what to do about … the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) …. Historically, arms control has been an area where Washington and Moscow have been able to talk to one another even when their broader […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “These Are the High Stakes of the NATO and Trump-Putin Summits; Trump and America’s allies must stand firm while also not sleep-walking into war” – The National Interest/Peter Zwack

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

“… The Russian meeting is preceded by Trump’s fraught attendance at the … NATO[] summit and a next-day visit to an uneasy United Kingdom. … Every foreign power – not least, China – will watch closely. * * * This is a crisis, and it’s time for both sides of America’s domestic political scene to display unity. The United States […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Trump Says He Can’t Say if Putin Is Friend or Foe” – Reuters

Europe Map

“… Trump [embarks upon] a tour of Europe … [featuring] a NATO meeting and a visit to Britain. … Trump repeated his criticism of NATO allies for not spending enough on … defense and pointed to [British] political tensions … over … Brexit …. ‘So I have NATO, I have the UK which is in somewhat turmoil, and I have […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia Is Building $320 Million Icebreakers to Carve New Arctic Routes; The 1,000-foot-long vessels for hauling liquefied natural gas can cut through ice up to 7 feet thick” – Bloomberg/Eric Roston

Arctic Map

“… there’s no less hospitable an industrial workplace than Yamal LNG, a $27 billion liquid natural gas plant … in Russian territory 375 miles north of the Arctic Circle. In the winter, when there’s zero sun for more than two months, temperatures reach -13F on land and -58F in the blinding fog out at sea. … [T]here’s a lot of […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Ukraine’s army advances slowly at Russian front” – Kyiv Post/Illia Ponomarenko, Volodymyr Petrov

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

“For the Ukrainian military, this heavy strike by Russian-led forces, who hold ground just three kilometers to the south, came as no surprise. Despite dozens of cease-fires having been agreed at the negotiating table in Minsk (the latest one was supposed to start on July 1), the relentless stalemated warfare in the Donbas still drags on, with exchanges of fire […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Does Vladimir Putin Speak for the Russian People?” – New York Times Book Review/Daniel Beer

File Photo of Michael McFaul Standing and Barack Hussein Obama Sitting at Desk, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

“… Putin turned directly to McFaul and berated him for trying to ruin United States-Russia relations. * * * … McFaul concluded that [Putin] was ‘paranoid,’ a man of ‘fixed and flawed views’ who ‘saw us as the enemy,’ … that so long as he ruled Russia, ‘strategic partnership was impossible.’ … [But McFaul’s] relentless focus on Putin’s individual role […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin Says World Cup Has Broken Stereotypes About Russia” – Reuters

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

“… Russia’s host nation status had been met with resistance by some in the West … suggest[ing] the tournament could be unsafe and play into the hands of Putin … accused by Washington of conducting ‘malign activities’ around the world. … the month-long tournament … has so far been without major security incidents. Concerns about racism and hooligan violence … […]

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