NEWSWATCH: “Why Russia Resents Us” – Patrick Buchanan

Europe Map

… a Russian SU-27 did a barrel roll over a U.S. RC-135 over the Baltic, the second time in two weeks. … the U.S. destroyer Donald Cook, off Russia’s Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad, was twice buzzed by Russian planes. … Putin’s message: Keep your spy planes and ships a respectable distance away from us. Apparently, we have not received it. […]

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NEWSWATCH: “No, Putin did not call Donald Trump ‘a genius'” – Washington Post/Glenn Kessler

Donald Trump

“‘I think he [Russian President Vladimir Putin] said some really nice things. He called me a genius. He said Trump’s a genius. Okay. So, you know, that’s nice.’” Click here for Washington Post/Glenn Kessler: “No, Putin did not call Donald Trump ‘a genius’”

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NEWSWATCH: “As Russians Struggle to Pay Bills, Debt Collectors Mimic the Mob” – New York Times

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

They have stripped and sexually abused a woman, severely burned a toddler by firebombing a house and broken a woman’s pinkie as a warning. Gang members, bandits, mobsters? … These are debt collectors, a peculiarly Russian variety … flourishing amid the country’s economic turmoil. … With unpaid debts mushrooming, collection has turned into something of a blood sport reminiscent of […]

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NEWSWATCH: “NATO’s Breedlove Calls for Sharper Focus on Russia Ahead of Departure. Gen. Philip Breedlove says U.S. needs more reconnaissance satellites amid Russian threat.” – Wall Street Journal

Philip Breedlove file photo

The U.S. has too few intelligence assets focused on the threat from Russia and should concentrate its technical capabilities on Moscow’s growing military might, NATO’s departing supreme allied commander said. The U.S. has begun to build up the number of intelligence analysts examining Russia, which stood at 13,000 at the height of the Cold War before dipping to a low […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Economic Pain Reveals Limits to Putin’s Power” – New York Times

Vladimir Putin

Pikalevo, about three hours east of St. Petersburg, and the rest of Russia are now mired in the country’s longest recession since … Putin came to power at the end of 1999, with the World Bank warning … that the nation’s poverty rate would increase this year to 14.2 percent of the population, “undoing nearly a decade’s worth of gains.” […]

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NEWSWATCH: “KPIs For The Public Service Sector: A Fig Leaf Of A Real Change.” – Moscow Times/Oleg Buklemishev

Kremlin and River

… It has been announced that … Putin would himself be heading a special commission on government reform …. his commission, initially the idea of … Medvedev, will be tasked with developing new work approaches and key performance indicators (KPIs) for the Russian public sector. … in 2004, the authorities also tried to eliminate inefficiencies in the work of state agencies, develop performance benchmarks, and redistribute powers between federal, state and local […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Lawmakers look to get tough on Russia” – The Hill

U.S. Capitol in Bright Sunlight

Russian aggression will be high on lawmakers’ minds when the House Armed Services Committee meets Wednesday to mark up its annual defense policy bill. … the Russians have buzzed a U.S. Navy destroyer, barrel rolled over a U.S. reconnaissance plane and warned the United States to steer clear of its territory. … committee members say there will be plenty in […]

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AUDIO & NEWSWATCH Foreign Affairs: “Putin’s Russia: Down But Not Out, Part 2” – Gideon Rose, Stephen Kotkin, and Dmitri Trenin [“We’re looking at the history of Russian aggression”]

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

In part two of our Foreign Affairs Unedited series on Russia under Putin, we’re looking at the history of Russian aggression and the country’s recent military reform. Featuring Gideon Rose, Stephen Kotkin, and Demetri Trenin. * * * ROSE: Back in 1939, Winston Churchill said about Russia or at that point the Soviet Union, it is a riddle wrapped in […]

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NEWSWATCH Brookings/Steven Pifer, Will Ukraine dash its hopes for Western support?

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

Ukraine has gone through a lot the past 30 months. Despite formidable challenges, it has made important progress, both in containing Russian-backed separatism in the Donbas and in beginning needed reforms. Ukrainians deserve credit …. The United States and Europe should support Ukraine, whose success or failure will have major implications for the future of Europe and the European security […]

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NEWSWATCH Carnegie Moscow Center/Kevin Rudd: “Asia’s Rise, Russia, and the Future of the Global Order”

Asia Map

The Asia-Pacific region contains dynamic twenty-first century global economies in the midst of a positively nineteenth-century set of security policy arrangements. Unresolved territorial disputes litter the region, including the Korean peninsula, the East China Sea, Taiwan, the South China Sea, the Sino-Indian border, and the continuing problem of Kashmir. … unresolved territorial disputes have given rise to multiple fractious security […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Iran and Russia Move Closer but Their Alliance Has Limits” – Reuters

Iran Map and Flag

When Iran took delivery of the first parts of an advanced Russian air defense system this month, it paraded the anti-aircraft missile launchers … to mark Army Day. … the Kremlin’s decision a year ago to press ahead with the stalled sale of the S-300 system was the first clear evidence of a growing partnership between Russia and Iran that […]

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NEWSWATCH Reuters: “Russia Grants Ukraine’s Request to Delay Eurobond Case Defense”

International Monetary Fund Logo Over Ukraine Flag

Russia has agreed to allow Ukraine extra time to file its defence with a British court … Russia filed a lawsuit … demanding repayment of the $3 billion Eurobond …. Ukraine insists Russia must accept restructuring terms agreed with other foreign creditors. … Ukraine had until March 19 to file its defence although it was granted an extension until April […]

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NEWSWATCH New York Times: “Chernobyl’s Silent Exclusion Zone (Except for the Logging)”

Chernobyl File Photo

  … on Ukraine’s dirtiest patch of land, Stop Corruption says, … under-the-table dealings of the bureaucrats who manage the area are flourishing … the group says, the Exclusion Zone Management Agency has turned a blind eye to … Chernobyl logging. The Zone of Alienation, as it is also known, is a rough circle with an 18-mile radius, fenced off […]

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NEWSWATCH Carnegie Endowment for International Peace/Alazs Jabarik, Mihkail Minakov: “Ukraine’s Hybrid State. Ukraine has new institutions and a vibrant civil society, but a culture of corruption erodes state legitimacy. The state has been captured by enemies within.

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

With no end in sight to the slow-motion hybrid war in Donbas, the impetus to reform the Ukrainian state has moved in fits and starts. Attempts to carry out a series of fundamental reforms have fallen far short of expectations. These efforts have produced what some observers have described as a hybrid Ukrainian state. The country boasts new institutions and […]

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NEWSWATCH: “New Russian Security Force Will Answer to Vladimir Putin. The Russian Guard is being formed ahead of coming parliamentary elections.” – Wall Street Journal

Vladimir Putin

The Kremlin is creating a new internal security force that answers directly to … Putin, ahead of parliamentary elections. … the new force … the Russian Guard, will be headed by Viktor Zolotov, who served as Mr. Putin’s personal bodyguard for 13 years. … Putin directed the creation of the force … through an executive order … under review by […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Will the Putin Regime Crumble? Foreign Affairs’ Brain Trust Weighs In.”- Foreign Affairs

Putin Descending a Staircase

… the May/June 2016 issue of Foreign Affairs … deals with Russia’s future. … we approached dozens of authorities with deep specialized expertise relevant to the question at hand, together with a few leading generalists …. Participants were asked to state whether they agreed or disagreed with a proposition and to rate their confidence level …. : Vladimir Putin will […]

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NEWSWATCH: “‘But I love Russia, and I love Russians’; Former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul speaks to Meduza”

Ambassador Mike McFaul file photo

First … it is true that the United States … from the very beginning, has had allies that are autocratic regimes. Our first … was France, a monarchy and a dictatorship. … Without the French, we would have lost the war against the British. … then there was the French Revolution, and there was a debate … about whether we […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Perpetual Geopolitics. Putin Returns to the Historical Pattern.” – Foreign Affairs/Stephen Kotkin

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

For half a millennium, Russian foreign policy has been characterized by soaring ambitions that have exceeded the country’s capabilities. Beginning with … Ivan the Terrible … Russia managed to expand at an average rate of 50 square miles per day for hundreds of years, eventually covering one-sixth of the earth’s landmass. * * *  Throughout, the country has been haunted […]

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NEWSWATCH: “An Earful for Vladimir Putin in Latest ‘Direct Line’ Call-In Show” – Wall Street Journal/Stephen Sestanovich

Kremlin and River

The discussion had a darker undercurrent. The system is rigged, many said, and those who have power abuse it. … Putin was asked why more political parties aren’t permitted so that United Russia faces some meaningful competition, and why … Kadyrov, Chechnya’s strongman leader, whom … Putin supports, is allowed to threaten political opponents with assassination. … Putin heard how […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s Russia. Down But Not Out. Part I.” – Foreign Affairs/Maria Lipman, Sergei Guriev, Daniel Treisman, Katie Allawala

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

Over the past decade and a half, Vladimir Putin’s Russia has been an economic dynamo and a basket case, an imperfect democracy and a tightening tyranny, a constructive diplomatic actor and a serial military aggressor—sometimes all at once. The only constant has been surprise, as the zigging and zagging has left outside observers, and even many Russians, scratching their heads. […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s Russia: Down But Not Out.” – Foreign Affairs [issue table of contents with links]

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

Foreign Affairs foreignaffairs.com May/June 2016 issue Putin’s Russia Down But Not Out https://www.foreignaffairs.com/issues/2016/95/3 [There is limited access to free articles] Russia’s Perpetual Geopolitics Putin Returns to the Historical Pattern Stephen Kotkin Russian Politics Under Putin The System Will Outlast the Master Gleb Pavlovsky Russia’s Constrained Economy How the Kremlin Can Spur Growth Sergei Guriev The Revival of the Russian Military […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian shopping mall activity continues 2016 recovery” – Intellinews.com

File Photo of Cash Register with Drawer Open and Hands of Cashier

Following a shaky start to the year – three of the first four weeks in 2016 saw annual decreases in footfall – activity in Russian shopping malls appears to have turned the corner, with the positive data of February continuing into March …. Click here for Intellinews.com: Russian shopping mall activity continues 2016 recovery [featured image is file photo, not […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Investors Starting to Show Interest in Russia Again: Credit Suisse.” – Reuters

File Photo of Outdoor Electronic Sign with Russian Exchange Data

Investors are starting to look at Russia again after cutting off exposure amid geopolitical tensions two years ago, the head of Credit Suisse’s $60 million Russian Equity Fund said. There are no big inflows yet but a rebound in Russian stock markets in the past few months as the oil price and the rouble have picked up is encouraging interest […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Mikhail Lesin’s Strange Death in U.S. Follows a Fall From Russia’s Elite” – New York Times

U.S. Capitol at Twilight With Washington Monument, National Mall, Washington, D.C., Environs and Sunset in Background

It took more than four months for the city’s medical examiner to announce the cause of death … not a heart attack … but rather ‘blunt force injuries.’ But the autopsy left the manner of death undetermined. … fuel[ing] speculation … Lesin might have been murdered, presumably by a financial or political rival …. *** police … continue to treat […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin associates had $2 billion in offshore accounts, report says” – Washington Post

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

An international collection of journalists published a report Sunday on the financial activities of a dozen current and former world leaders that said associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin have moved as much as $2 billion through offshore accounts. …  based on a data leak of 11.5 million records for 214,488 entities connected to people in more than 200 countries or territories. […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Three Rules of Kremlin Power” – New York Times/Maxim Trudolyubov

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

… Stalin and … Putin … are very different leaders living in very different times. I just cannot help noticing that they seem to follow the same playbook for being a successful autocrat. … Rule No. 1 calls for attributing all victories to oneself — regardless of who or what contributed to the perceived success. … Rule No. 2: Failures […]

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NEWSWATCH AP: “The Latest: Russian media keep mum on offshore scandal”

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

Russian media are keeping mum about the $2 billion found in offshore accounts linked to close friends of President Vladimir Putin. … an international coalition of more than 100 media outlets … details how politicians use banks, law firms and offshore shell companies to hide their assets. Putin’s close friends including a cellist from St. Petersburg were shown to be […]

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NEWSWATCH Kyiv Post: “Protester who tore up Poroshenko’s photo gets 4.5 years in jail”

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

A court in Vinnytsia, a city 270 kilometers southwest from Kyiv, sentenced local activist Yuriy Pavlenko to 4.5 years in prison for hooliganism with a use of a weapon. Pavlenko denies the charges, saying that he is being punished for publicly tearing up the portrait of Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko during a protest action. … activists protested to stop the […]

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NEWSWATCH Reuters: “Risk of nuclear war in Europe growing, warns Russian ex-minister [Igor Ivanov]”

Iskander Missile with Launch file photo

The East-West standoff over the Ukraine crisis has brought the threat of nuclear war in Europe closer than at any time since the 1980s…. said Igor Ivanov, Russia’s foreign minister from 1998 to 2004 and now head of a Moscow-based think-tank founded by the Russian government. … Russia and the United States have cut their nuclear arsenals [but] the pace […]

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NEWSWATCH: “How long will Putin stay in power?” – Washington Post/Nelli Babayan

Putin Descending a Staircase

How long can Putin last? … former Swedish prime minister … Bildt gave him five to 10 years. Some Russian analysts predict the Putin regime will falter as early as mid-2016. Putin will not remain in power indefinitely. But he won’t be out anytime soon. * * * Putin, with his KGB history, has a specific and rather homogenous entourage […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Baltic Elves Taking on Pro-Russian Trolls; What at first looked like as a social media grudge match could be a precursor to invasion, war, and resistance in the Baltics” – TheDailyBeast.com

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

Mindaugas is an unassuming, thirtysomething advertising agency director by day … ferocious cyber-warrior by night. He started a phenomenon … in Lithuania … countering Kremlin propaganda and disinformation …. ‘We needed to call our group something. … we were fighting trolls. … I said, “Let’s be elves.”‘ There were 20 or 30 at first, when the trolls began … leaving […]

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NEWSWATCH Newsweek/Damien Sharkov: “Gorbachev wanted to Preserve the Soviet Union”

File Photo of Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan at Table Signing Documents

… Gorbachev told Russian radio RSN that he was among those who voted for the Soviet Union not to be dissolved and instead seek internal reform. ‘I was of the position that the union should be democratised,’ Gorbachev said …. ‘Centralised government was in the way of everything that was going on in each republic. It was necessary to give […]

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NEWSWATCH: “How Putin Could Make Russia Great Again” – Newsweek.com/William Courtney, Donald Jensen

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

After Russia annexed Crimea … Obama dismissed it as a regional power that acts ‘out of weakness.’ [ ] Russia is more … but a penchant for zero-sum statecraft and coercing neighbors lessens its stature. By cooperating more in the international arena, Russia could become a greater power.  … Putin’s announcement of a military drawdown in Syria hints that Russia […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Mikhail Khodorkovsky Is Putin’s Most Powerful Enemy (in Exile). Russia may not be ready for the ex-billionaire to return, but his arguments are gaining ground.”

Mikhail Khodorkovsky file photo

… the Open Russia Foundation …. basically represents the brains and money behind the Russian opposition [and recently] held an event at its headquarters … in London. … predictions for Russia’s future seemed to grow darker by the minute.  * * * On the back row of the rather thin audience, the foundation’s sponsor, exiled Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovksy – […]

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NEWSWATCH: “What is the best way to describe Vladimir Putin’s Russia?” – Reuters/John Lloyd

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

In January of this year, a British judge, Robert Owen, said … Putin … was ‘probably’ a murderer. * * * Litvinenko’s widow, Marina … called on Prime Minister David Cameron to expel all Russian spies … and for a range of … sanctions … on several figures close to the murder … includ[ing Putin] himself. * * * In […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Meldonium Ban Hits Russian Athletes Hard” – New York Times

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

The fallout from Maria Sharapova’s failed drug test has ensnared her native Russia as it becomes clear that the banned substance found in her system is creating wider problems for Russian sports. … she … tested positive for meldonium during the Australian Open in January, shocking the tennis world …. in Russia, meldonium, also known as mildronate, was a common […]

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NEWSWATCH “Ukraine will not join EU, NATO for another 20-25 years, Juncker says” – DPA

EU Map

The push for closer ties between Ukraine and the EU lies at the heart of the current crisis … triggered by protests in 2013 over a failed attempt to finalize … EU-Ukraine free trade …. The agreement has since been signed and implemented, while the EU is paving the way for Ukrainian citizens to be able to visit the bloc […]

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NEWSWATCH: “In Ukraine Towns Ravaged by War, Evangelical Missionaries Find Fertile Ground” – New York Times

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

Maryinka, a Ukrainian-held town of apartment blocks and one-story homes outside … Donetsk, has become a hot spot … for fighting … also for saving souls. … Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists carry on an almost forgotten fight in half-deserted towns like this one … several well-organized evangelical groups are staging a campaign of their own. Based on their accounts […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia Thinks It Has Solved the Oil-Price Crisis; But it may just be more wishful thinking” – Fortune.com

Oil Well file photo

The world’s major oil exporting economies have been putting together an agreement to freeze oil production levels, and Russia’s energy minister is optimistic that it will be effective in finally stopping the slide in oil prices ….  * * * The news seemed to buoy the oil market…. But there’s plenty of reason to doubt that the action will bring […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia Achieves Tactical Success in the Middle East, But No Strategic Victory; Russia needs good ties with the West more than short-term gains in Ukraine and Syria” – Thomas Graham/YaleGlobal Online

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

… From the beginning of its military operation in Syria, Moscow has operated on the now indisputable proposition that … rampant unrest in the Middle East and … mounting challenges to the unity of the European Union are inextricably linked. The wager was that Europe would eventually seize an offer of cooperation in Syria to constrict the migrant flow and […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Public support for Putin to serve another term hits highest level in four years: poll” – Reuters

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

Public support for … Putin to serve another term as president has hit its highest level in four years, a survey by a state-run pollster showed …. Seventy-four percent of Russians would vote to re-elect Putin as president, according to … VTsIOM. Putin dominates state media … and is widely expected to contest the next presidential election in 2018 …. […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Over 2,600 Ukrainian servicemen killed, around 9,000 wounded since Feb 2014” – Interfax-Ukraine

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

Over 2,600 Ukrainian servicemen were killed and over 9,000 were wounded since the beginning of the Russian aggression in February 2014, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said. * * * … Russia-formed, equipped and financed army in a number of 40,000 under the command of Russian officers during their aggression against Donbas. * * * The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry also noted that […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Ukrainian Jews Flee To Israel Amid Anti-Semitic Attacks in War-Torn Ukraine” – The Jewish Press (New York)/Tazpit News Agency

Torah Scrolls

Over 100 Ukrainian Jews fled war-torn Ukraine and arrived in Israel on Tuesday, February 23. Many Ukrainian Jews have been leaving their country of birth due to violence and frequent anti-Semitic attacks. They were assisted by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), which has been spearheading a project of bringing Jews to Israel from countries engulfed by war. […]

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NEWSWATCH TASS: “Kremlin comments on Chechen leader’s plans to step down”

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo

Russian-controlled TASS reported on Kremlin statements about Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov’s announced plans to step down. The Kremlin will be guided by results of Ramzan Kadyrov’s work rather than his statements, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters …. ‘We should wait for the time [when Chechen leader’s term expires and the president’s decision],’ he said …. Kadyrov, 39, who […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Trump being advised by ex-U.S. Lieutenant General who favors closer Russia ties [Lieutenant General Michael Flynn]” – Reuters

Donald Trump

Donald Trump is receiving foreign policy advice from a former U.S. military intelligence chief who wants the United States to work more closely with Russia to resolve global security issues … three sources … former foreign policy officials in past administrations, said retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, who was chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency under … Obama … 2012-2014, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Truce Unravels as Fighting Picks Up in Ukraine” – New York Times

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

… overshadowed by the war in Syria, fighting in eastern Ukraine has picked up sharply in recent weeks … The resumption of hostilities in Ukraine, with exchanges of machine gun and mortar fire across the front line up to levels not seen since last summer, suggests a willingness by Russia, which supports the rebels in eastern Ukraine, to sustain two […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Violence rages in Syria as Kerry and Lavrov reach provisional deal on ceasefire” – Reuters

Syria Map

… John Kerry said on Sunday he and … Sergei Lavrov … reached a provisional agreement on terms of a cessation of hostilities in Syria …. violence continued to rage …. Multiple bomb blasts in a southern district of Damascus … and twin car bombs … in Homs …. Russian air strikes launched in September against rebels fighting … al-Assad […]

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AUDIO & NEWSWATCH: “For Russian Farmers, Climate Change Is Nyet So Great.” – National Public Radio

Eurasia Map Showing Temperature Ranges

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says last month was the warmest January on record. That sets off alarm bells for climate scientists, but for the average person living in a northern climate, it might not sound so bad. * * * The problem … is that while warmer weather might open up more land in cold regions such as […]

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NEWSWATCH AP: “UN Says Conflict in Ukraine Has Affected 580,000 Children”

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

The conflict in Ukraine has ‘deeply affected’ 580,000 children close to the front lines and in areas in the volatile east not under government control, the U.N. children’s agency said … Ukraine remains locked in conflict with Moscow, which annexed the Crimean Peninsula and has supported a pro-Russian insurgency in the east. Fighting there has killed more than 9,000 people […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia government mulls five percent cut in defense procurement spending: sources” – Reuters

File Photo of Russian Tanks in Military Parade

Russia’s government is considering cutting spending on defense procurement this year by 5 percent … a move that would extend the budget squeeze to a sector that up to now has been immune …. The proposal has support across several ministries and in other state institutions, enough for it to go forward for discussion at a cabinet meeting, the sources […]

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