NEWSWATCH: “Row over Ukrainian city’s new name” – BBC

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

The BBC covers debates in Ukraine over the jettisoning of names recalling Soviet rule, including the effort to rename Kirovohrad as Inhulsk. Since pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted in 2014, Ukraine has been removing all public vestiges of Soviet rule, from statues of Lenin to street names honouring other Communist luminaries. A parliamentary committee recently decided that Kirovohrad, which […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Seven Key Reforms for Ukraine in 2016” – Atlantic Council/Anders Åslund

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

Anders Åslund covers unfolding conditions in Ukraine, adding recommendations for steps forward in 2016. … It is quite striking how the mood has changed in a positive direction. The 2016 budget and the modified tax code were adopted on December 24. After two weeks of well-deserved rest, there is a sudden realization that Ukraine accomplished many important economic reforms in […]

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NEWSWATCH Vladimir Suchan: “Nuland-Surkov Talks”

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

(Vladimir Suchan – Facebook post – January 17, 2016) Alexander Chalenko, who belongs to the ex-Ukrainian circle of Surkov’s and the Kremlin’s PR horns, published an article… Posted by Vladimir Suchan on Saturday, January 16, 2016

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s current account improves in 2015, capital outflows fall two-thirds” – Reuters

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

Reuters covers Russian financial positions. Russia’s current account surplus improved in 2015 while net capital outflows fell by almost two-thirds, underscoring the role of a weaker rouble in mitigating the impact of a slide in oil prices.  Preliminary balance of payments data published by the central bank on Monday showed the current account surplus increasing to $65.8 billion in 2015 […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian economic crisis drives people to the soup kitchens” – Deutsche Welle

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

Deutsche Welle covers the impact of Russia’s economic crisis. The impact of the economic crisis is now noticeable in everyday life in Russia. Many are now living below the poverty line. The number of people seeking help is rising. Click here for “Russian economic crisis drives people to the soup kitchens” – Deutsche Welle

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NEWSWATCH: “Backed by Russian air power, Syria’s army builds on gains.” – Los Angeles Times

Syria Map

The Los Angeles Times covers unfolding evens in the Syrian civil war, including Russian involvement. … Moscow’s air onslaught appears to be gaining effectiveness as Russian commanders grow more familiar with the conflict and with the capabilities of allied Syrian ground forces, observers say. … Russia’s involvement has also led to a new calculation by Syria’s neighbors …. Click here […]

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NEWSWATCH Wall Street Journal: “Vladimir Putin Warns Government May Cut Budget Over Oil Price Fall. Russian president says peak of crisis is over, sees return to growth next year.”

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

The Wall Street Journal reports on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s December address, and prospects of Russian budget cuts prompted by oil-related economy downturns. … Putin said on Thursday that the government may have to cut the federal budget because of a plunge in oil prices, but tried to reassure Russians that the worst of the economic crisis was over. At […]

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NEWSWATCH Carnegie Endowment for International Peace/Eugene Rumer, Paul Stronski: “Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia at Twenty­Five-A Baseline Assessment”

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace undertakes an overview of former Soviet states two-and-a-half decades following the USSR’s collapse. For nearly twenty-five years following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia, Ukraine, and the rest of the former Soviet lands now collectively referred to as Eurasia defied the best and the worst expectations of students of the region’s history. Unfortunately, […]

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NEWSWATCH Moscow Times/Sergei Alexashenko: “Russia’s Economy Slows Amid Investment Woes”

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

Writing in The Moscow Times, Sergei Alexashenko assesses trends in the Russian economy and some of the factors impacting them. Russia’s economy is faring poorly …. Gross domestic product has swung back to a level last seen in the first of 2008 and the economy has essentially stagnated over the last seven years. * * * The situation in Russia is not […]

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NEWSWATCH AP: “Russians Read Tolstoy’s War and Peace in 60-Hour TV Marathon”

Leo Tolstoy file photo

AP covers a televised reading of War and Peace. More than 1,300 Russians are reading Leo Tolstoy’s notoriously lengthy novel “War and Peace” aloud in a 60-hour marathon on national television. The public readings, pre-recorded at locations all over Russia, from the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg to remote Arctic islands, have been coordinated by Tolstoy’s great-great-granddaughter and feature Russians […]

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NEWSWATCH CNN: “Russia’s middle class: We don’t blame Putin.”

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

CNN reports on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s political standing and the reaction by the Russian citizenry to the impact of sanctions, embargoes and economic downturn. Russia’s middle class has had a tough time recently, but they aren’t blaming … Putin for it. [In addition to restrictions on certain travel and imports] … The ruble has lost more than half its […]

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NEWSWATCH New York Times: “Russia’s Fury Over Montenegro and NATO”

File Photo of Montenegro Coastal City Kotor with Portion of Old Fortress, Town in Distance, Mountain

The New York Times comments upon Russia’s reaction to the prospect of Montenegro joining NATO. It is a measure of how cold the West’s relations with Russia have become that NATO’s membership invitation to Montenegro — a small, poor Balkan state with a military force of 2,000 and no strategic significance save putting the last bit of Europe’s Mediterranean coastline […]

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NEWSWATCH Moscow Times/Mark Galeotti: “Moscow Must Avoid Shadow War With Ankara”

Turkey and Environs Satellite Image

Writing in The Moscow Times, Mark Galeotti considers Russia’s potential reactions to Turkey’s shoot-down of a Russian military aircraft. Moscow is sanctioning Turkish goods and holidays, something that will have a distinct impact on an economy which earns $6.5 billion a year from Russian tourists, but is this enough to assuage President Vladimir Putin’s evident fury at the shooting down […]

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New York Times/Anatol Lieven: “The Key to Crushing ISIS”

Middle East Map

Writing in The New York Times, Anatol Lieven addresses the fight against ISIL. Since the latest terrorist attacks in Paris, President Obama and a range of other Western leaders have agreed that ISIS must be crushed, Syria and Iraq stabilized, and the flow of refugees reversed. If ISIS, Al Qaeda and their supporters are the greatest enemies of the West, […]

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NEWSWATCH The Hill: “Former Pentagon chief: US shares blame for poor relations with Russia.”

Stylized Russian and U.S. Flags with Number 200, 1807-2007

The Hill covers comments by former U.S. official William Perry on U.S.-Russian relations, recalling scenarios dating back to the 1990’s. ‘It’s as much our fault as it is the fault of the Russians, at least originally,’ said William Perry, who served as Defense secretary from 1994 to 1997. ‘And it began when I was secretary.’ Perry, who was speaking to […]

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NEWSWATCH Intellinews/Ben Aris: “Terrorism, bread and babies in Russia’s sights for 2016, Putin tells nation”

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

Ben Aris comments upon Russian President Vladimir Putin’s 2015 State of the Nation speech. In a tight one-hour speech to more than 1,200 state officials and dignitaries gathered in the Moscow Kremlin, the Russian leader urged the international community to unite in ‘one mighty fist’ against the terrorist scourge, while leaving no doubt as to whom he blamed for its […]

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NEWSWATCH AP: “Chechnya Holds Classes to Counter IS Propaganda”

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

AP covers Chechnya’s difficulties with Islamic terrorist recruiting. Authorities in Russia’s predominantly Muslim republic of Chechnya have organized classes to stave off Islamic State recruitment. Thousands … have joined IS in Syria … some have taken senior positions. Islamic militancy has engulfed Russia’s North Caucasus … nearly 1,000 people are believed to have left Dagestan from Syria, the number of […]

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NEWSWATCH Wall Street Journal: “Talks With Russia on EU-Ukraine Trade Deal Fail to Reach Compromise. Moscow makes new demands over bilateral accord set for Jan. 1”

EU Map

The Wall Street Journal covers efforts by the EU and Ukraine to consult with Russia over an upcoming EU-Ukrainian trade deal. Russia laid out a long list of demands for amending a sweeping trade deal between Ukraine and the European Union a month before the pact is due to be fully implemented…. at a fresh round of discussions among the […]

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NEWSWATCH AP: “UN: Polio Outbreak in Ukraine Is a State of Emergency”

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

The AP covers the WHO’s reaction to public health issues in war-torn Ukraine. The World Health Organization is urging Ukraine’s health ministry to declare a state of emergency due to a polio outbreak … In September, Ukraine announced two polio cases — the first in Europe since 2010. * * * Half of Ukraine’s children have not been vaccinated against […]

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NEWSWATCH Reuters: “Grim reality sets in for Ukraine wheat crop”

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

Reuters covers Ukrainian agricultural production following some unfavorable weather conditions earlier in the year. Ukraine’s 2016 wheat crop is … sailing into uncharted waters given both the significantly missed planting target and a record percentage of crops in poor condition. … the world’s sixth-largest wheat exporter[] has faced one of the most challenging winter planting campaigns this year than ever […]

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NEWSWATCH Wall Street Journal: “NATO Ministers Discuss Measures to Defend Turkish Airspace. Meeting of NATO foreign ministers follows last week’s shooting down of Russian jet.”

Turkey and Environs Satellite Image

The Wall Street Journal covers NATO plans to bolster allied support of Turkish air defense, with heightened focus after the Turkish shoot-down of a Russian military aircraft. Allies have been discussing how to help Turkey defend its airspace for years, but the talks gained new urgency after the downing of the Russian plane that NATO says briefly entered Turkish airspace. […]

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NEWSWATCH New York Times: “Discord Between Turkey and Russia Is Fueled by Leaders’ Similarities”

The New York Times considers Turkish-Russian relations in the aftermath of Turkey’s shoot-down of a Russian military aircraft, in the light of the two nation’s leaders, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Both men are often described as combative, uncompromising, nationalistic and authoritarian. Mr. Putin changed jobs to keep running his country, switching between the post of prime minister and […]

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Why we should be confident that Putin is genuinely popular in Russia

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

(Professor Joshua Tucker of NYU – PONARS – IERES – Nov. 24, 2015) (WP) Tuesday brings yet another dramatic development in the story of Russia’s relationship with the West. Monday, it was the possibility of improving relations in the wake of French President Francois Hollande’s decision to visit Moscow to seek solidarity in the fight against the Islamic State. Tuesday, it is the specter of renewed conflict […]

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NEWSWATCH Wall Street Journal: “Russians Seeking Winter Retreat Are Stopped Cold. Moscow’s travel bans to Egypt, Turkey amid diplomatic crises force tens of thousands to adjust or cancel vacations”

The Wall Street Journal covers disruptions to Russian travel plans, amidst travel bans imposed by the Kremlin following Turkey’s shoot-down of a Russian military jet and a suspected terrorist downing of a Russian airliner in Egypt. Turkey and Egypt were popular destinations, offering hotels and services far better than Russian equivalents at a reasonable price. Six million Russians visited Turkey […]

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NEWSWATCH Reuters: “Khodorkovsky says Putin is leading Russia towards stagnation, collapse”

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

Reuters covers remarks by former Russian oil tycoon, former prison inmate, political activist Mikhail Khodorkovsky. President Vladimir Putin will survive Western sanctions and lower oil prices but the Kremlin chief has brought such stagnation that Russia could eventually collapse, former tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky said …. Russia’s richest man, who was arrested in 2003 after falling foul of Putin and released […]

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NEWSWATCH Moscow Times/Kevin Ryan: “Turkish Shootdown Shows Importance of NATO-Russia Dialogue”

NATO Meeting file photo

In the aftermath of Turkey’s shoot-down of a Russian military aircraft, Retired Brigadier General Kevin Ryan addresses the need for greater dialogue between NATO and Russia. It is important to recognize how serious the situation has become between Russia and NATO over the last two years. In response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its activities in Ukraine, almost all operational communications between the militaries of NATO and Russia have been suspended. […]

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NEWSWATCH Deutsche Welle: “Dark days on Crimea: Russia and Ukraine rattle sabers. Electricity cables cut, no trade between Ukraine proper and the Crimean Peninsula, no gas supply: Once again Ukraine and Russia seem headed for confrontation. The US and Europe fear for the future of the Minsk Protocol”

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

Deutsche Welle covers unfolding events in occupied Crimea, including a power outage. Crimea has recently experienced its darkest hours in memory – literally. The peninsula, annexed by Russia in 2014, was left in a state of emergency, deprived since November 22 of electricity from the Ukrainian mainland after persons unknown blew up a number of electricity pylons in southern Ukraine. […]

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NEWSWATCH Wall Street Journal: “Russia Takes Aim at Turkish Economy Amid Fighter-Jet Spat. Turkish officials reject Vladimir Putin’s call for an apology.”

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

The Wall Street Journal covers Russia’s response to Turkey’s shoot-down of a Russian military jet. Russia has reacted with fury to the incident and vowed to retaliate by clamping down on trade and business ties. … Turkish President … Erdogan dismissed Mr. Putin’s demands that Ankara apologize or offer compensation …. Turkey has provided evidence that it gave repeated warnings […]

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NEWSWATCH Washington Post: “How Turkey confounded Putin’s favorite narratives”

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

The Washington Post covers Russian rhetoric in the aftermath of Turkey’s shoot-down of a Russian military jet. On Monday, two Turkish F-16s shot down a Russian plane which Turkey said had crossed into its airspace. Various interpretations could in theory be placed upon this event. Depending on one’s point of view, it could be described as an act of self-defense […]

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NEWSWATCH Washington Post: “Russian provocations led to the downing of its fighter jet by Turkey”

Turkey map

The Washington Post comments on Turkey’s downing of a Russian military jet, laying the blame squarely upon the Kremlin. Following Turkey’s shoot-down of a Russian military jet Tuesday, Western leaders rightly addressed themselves to heading off an escalation between Moscow and a NATO member. In the process, they were not as clear as they could have been about where responsibility […]

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NEWSWATCH Reuters: “Surviving Crew Member of Russian Jet Says No Warning From Turkey”

Turkey map

Reuters covers Turkey’s shoot-down of a Russian military plane. Turkey shot down the Russian plane near the Syrian border on Tuesday, saying it had violated its air space, in one of the most serious publicly acknowledged clashes between a NATO member country and Russia for half a century. Turkey and Russia are disputing details of the incident. Ankara has said […]

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NEWSWATCH Wall Street Journal: “Russian Corporate Bonds’ Unlikely Winning Ways. They are the best performing in the emerging markets in 2015, Citigroup says.”

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

The Wall Street Journal reports on the performance of Russian corporate bonds. From adversity comes opportunity. But given the degree of adversity facing Russia at the end of 2014—sanctions over Ukraine, plummeting oil prices, a collapsing currency—it is surprising quite how much of an investment opportunity it has turned out to be this year. Russian corporate bonds are the best […]

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NEWSWATCH Reuters: “Russian media take climate cue from skeptical Putin”

Reuters covers Russian media coverage of climate issues. … the Russian public heard little mention of climate change, because media coverage across state-controlled television stations and print media all but ignored it. On national TV, the villains were locals who routinely but carelessly burn off tall grasses every year, and the sometimes incompetent crews struggling to put the fires out. […]

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NEWSWATCH Stars and Stripes: “Army chief: Russia threat demands review of Europe force posture”

Aerial Photo of Pentagon and Environs

Stars and Stripes reports on U.S. Army review of its European force posture in light of issues posed by Russia. The U.S. Army is reviewing its force structure in Europe, measuring everything from crisis-response capabilities to its mix of armor and infantrymen, as the service adapts to counter a revanchist Russia, the Army chief of staff said. Gen. Mark Milley, […]

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NEWSWATCH Stratfor: “A Grand Bargain remains elusive in Ukraine”

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

Stratfor covers the Russo-Ukrainian War and prospects for a political and diplomatic solution.  While arguing that there are some signs of lessening conflict, a broader settlement does not seem imminent. After a year of slow-burning conflict in eastern Ukraine, the relationship between Kiev and Moscow seems to finally be improving. Fighting on the ground has dissipated, there have been positive […]

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NEWSWATCH New York Times: “Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 Most Likely Hit by Russian-Made Missile, Inquiry Says”

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

October 13, 2015 The New York Times covers the Dutch investigation of the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over an area of Ukraine controlled by Russia-backed rebels. A 15-month inquiry into the disintegration of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in the skies over eastern Ukraine has concluded that the aircraft was most likely attacked from the ground by a Russian-made […]

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NEWSWATCH Washington Post: “Did U.S. weapons supplied to Syrian rebels draw Russia into the conflict?”

File Photo of U.S. Soldier Training Lithuanian Soldier with TOW Anti-Tank Missile

October 12, 2015 The Washington Post covers Russia’s entry in the Syrian Civil War and the impact of U.S. military transfers to some Syrian rebel groups. American antitank missiles supplied to Syrian rebels are playing an unexpectedly prominent role in shaping the Syrian battlefield, giving the conflict the semblance of a proxy war between the United States and Russia … […]

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NEWSWATCH Interfax-Ukraine: “PGO verifying info on shooting of Maidan activists from Hotel Ukraine”

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

October 13, 2015 Interfax-Ukraine covers Ukrainian investigations into shootings during the Euromaidan protests. The Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine (PGO) is verifying information about the shooting of Maidan activists from Hotel Ukraine in February 2014. … chief of the PGO department on special investigations Serhiy Horbatiuk said at a briefing in Kyiv on Tuesday. He added that he cannot disclose […]

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NEWSWATCH Washington Post: Petro Poroshenko interview: ‘Ukraine is fighting….for global democracy and freedom’

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

The Washington Post features an interview of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko conducted by Lally Weymouth, prior to Poroshenko’s recent address before the United Nations. [Poroshenko:] ‘… we have a very dangerous conflict in the center of Europe with the participation of thousands of Russian troops. We are doing our best to block Putin with political and financial support. We have […]

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NEWSWATCH Reuters: When Kremlin candidate loses election, even voters are surprised.

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

Reuters covers a recent Russian regional election in which the ruling United Russia party suffered defeat. When Communist Sergei Levchenko beat the incumbent from President Vladimir Putin’s party to become governor of Irkutsk region in Siberia on Sunday, even the voters who backed him were surprised: the Kremlin doesn’t lose elections. The result is said to raise questions about the […]

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VIDEO: NEWSWATCH CBS News/60 Minutes: “All eyes on Putin: At a time of icy relations with the U.S., Russian President Vladimir Putin gives a rare — and surprising — interview to 60 Minutes”

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

(CBS News – September 27, 2015) Charlie Rose interviews Russian President Vladimir Putin for 60 Minutes on CBS. Click here for CBS News transcript – “All eyes on Putin: At a time of icy relations with the U.S., Russian President Vladimir Putin gives a rare — and surprising — interview to 60 Minutes.” Embedded video below. View More: Newsmakers News|60 […]

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NEWSWATCH Washington Post/Daniel Treisman: “Searching for the roots of Russia’s aggression”

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

Writing in The Washington Post, Daniel Treisman of UCLA, and the Russian Political Insight project, considers the roots and contours of Russian aggression.  In part, he draws upon and reviews several new books, by Marvin Kalb, Walter Laqueur and Steven Lee Myers. A generation after the Cold War ended, Russian fighter jets are again probing NATO’s defenses in the skies […]

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NEWSWATCH Kyiv Post: Yatsenyuk fires back at Russia, oligarchs and those who thwart reform

Arseniy Yatsenyuk file photo

The Kiev Post covers Sept. 16 remarks by Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk addressing multiple challenges facing Ukraine, including a goal of European integration in the face of Russian opposition. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk hardly left anyone out during a televised government meeting on Sept. 16. He charged at Russia, parliament, government coalition partners, local authorities and the customs […]

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NEWSWATCH TASS Interview: Victoria Nuland: We do want to be able to communicate clearly with Russia

File Photo of Victoria Nuland Testifying

In an interview with TASS, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Ambassador Victoria Nuland reportedly focused upon U.S.-Russia relations, Ukraine, Iran’s nuclear program and visa problems for Russian Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko. I would argue that since the breakup of the Warsaw pact, since the breakup of the Soviet Union the entire orientation of US policy, […]

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NEWSWATCH The Daily Caller: “McCain On Putin: ‘He Wants To Restore The Russian Empire'”

John McCain at hearing; adapted from defense.gov image

The Daily Caller covers recent remarks by U.S. Senator John McCain suggesting imperialistic ambitions are evidenced by Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin. … McCain said Wednesday during his trip to Sweden that Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to “restore the Russian Empire.” The purpose of the trip, made along with Sens. John Barrasso and Sheldon Whitehouse, is to […]

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NEWSWATCH Washington Times: “East Ukraine could be annexed soon”

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

The Washington Times reports on the Russo-Ukrainian conflict and prospects for Russian annexation of eastern Ukraine. … increased violence in East Ukraine between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russia rebels of the Donetsk People’s Republic … comes with reports of an increased Russian military presence on the border … * * * … Xinhau, the Chinese state news agency, reported that […]

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NEWSWATCH Ottawa Citizen: “The coming war with Russia”

File Photo of Russian Tanks in Military Parade

The Ottawa Citizen reports on concerns over the prospects for open military conflict between NATO and Russia. A couple of months before he retired in July, the head of Canada’s air force provided a blunt assessment of what might emerge from the current military mission to Ukraine. “We pray that our ongoing NATO mission isn’t accompanied by the escalation of […]

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NEWSWATCH Moscow Times/Peter Pomerantsev: West Needs to Up the Ante in Infowar

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

Writing in The Moscow Times, Peter Pomerantsev addresses the heft of the Kremlin media machine and the U.S. response. The West is finally coming to a belated comprehension of the power of the Kremlin media machine. The Soviet Union is no more, but the Kremlin holds a media hegemony over 142 million citizens of Russia and 93 million residents of […]

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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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NEWSWATCH Moscow Times/Chris Weafer: No End in Sight to the Ruble’s Downward Slide

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

Writing in The Moscow Times, Chris Weafer considers trends in the Russian economy, with a focus on the ruble. … More than anything else the ruble is very much like the single bolt which holds a hang-glider together. If it breaks then the glider will fall to earth and the pilot very likely killed. * * * The reason why the ruble has that critical role is because, […]

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