NEWSLINK: “Russia’s Hand Is Visible Everywhere in the Middle East; Moscow has used its new-found influence in the Middle East to thwart the U.S. effort to use Saudi Arabia as a pressure point against the Russian economy.” – The National Interest/ Nikolas K. Gvosdev

Middle East Map

“… During the Cold War, the Soviet Union attempted to compete frontally against the United States-and found itself outclassed. Today, Russia is engaged in a more subtle strategy. So far, it appears to be paying dividends.”

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NEWSLINK: “The Russian-Saudi rapprochement and Iran. Would Russia draw closer to Saudi Arabia and risk losing Iran?” – Al Jazeera/ Leonid Issaev

Middle East Map

“… A number of developments in recent months have signalled a possible rapprochement between Russia and Saudi Arabia. The two countries have made a joint effort to push for further cutting of oil production to help bring up prices. Since the beginning of this year, Russian Minister of Energy Alexander Novak and his Saudi counterpart Khalid al-Falih have been seeking to conclude […]

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Interfax: Russia to verify reports on closure of CIA program backing Syrian opposition – Foreign Ministry

Artist's Rendition of U.S. Embassy, Moscow, with the Russian Foreign Ministry in the Background

MOSCOW. July 20 (Interfax) – Russia intends to verify reports by U.S. media outlets on President Donald Trump’s decision to phase out a covert CIA program of providing aid to the Syrian opposition, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said. “We welcome all steps aimed at defusing the situation and strengthening security in the Middle Eastern region. If this is being done […]

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NEWSLINK: “Is Russia’s ‘neutrality’ over Qatar Crisis a sign of its dilemma?” – Al Arabiya English (UAE)/ Orhan Gafarli

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“During the past month, the crisis between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt has attracted global attention. When the Qatari foreign minister visited Moscow on June 11 and held talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, Moscow expressed a positive outlook …. It is interesting that Russia appears to remain neutral, while closely monitoring the situation. It is […]

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Are Russia And The Saudis Planning A Natural Gas Cartel?

Gas Flame file photo

(Oilprice.com – Cyril Widdershoven – June 18, 2017) The fledgling production cut strategy of OPEC (Saudi Arabia) and non-OPEC (Russia and the FSU) shows that a new strategy is needed to counter the ongoing doubts in the markets. At the same time, Russia and Saudi continue to give indications of a possible OPEC 2.0 scenario, in which a possible Russian […]

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NEWSLINK: “How Do America and Russia Avoid a War over Syria? The United States needs to think soberly about its next steps-and not stumble into a clash with Russia that it neither foresees nor desires.” – The National Interest/ Nikolas Gvosdev

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“That it has taken so long since the Russian intervention in Syria began in earnest, a year and a half ago, for an incident to occur that might directly pit Russian and American forces against each other has been nothing short of miraculous. That luck ran out this week, with the downing of a Syrian government warplane accused of carrying […]

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U.S., Russian Generals Communicating More To Avoid Mishaps In Syria

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©2017 RFE/RL, Inc. – rferl.org – article from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, also appeared at https://www.rferl.org/a/us-russian-generals-communicating-more-avoid-mishaps-syria/28507898.html – May 25, 2017 ) Russian and U.S. military generals are increasingly communicating about operations in Syria as both countries wage separate but at times overlapping battles in the country, the Pentagon said on May 24. Air Force Lieutenant General Jeffrey Harrigian, who is in […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia Says Key Goal Is to Bring Global Oil Stocks Down to Five-Year Average” – Reuters

Oil Well file photo

“The main goal of [a] proposed extension of [an] oil output cuts deal is to bring the global commercial oil inventories down to 5-year average and stabilise the market, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Tuesday. … Saudi Arabia and Russia, the world’s top two oil producers, agreed on Monday on the need to extend output cuts for a […]

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Interfax: Lavrov-Trump meeting focused on Syria de-escalation zones

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MOSCOW. May 15 (Interfax) – Syria was high on the agenda of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington DC. “We worked together with [U.S. Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson for about two hours, and then spent less than an hour at the White House to extensively discuss Syria with U.S. President Donald Trump […]

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Interfax: Russian Defense Ministry reports stable situation in de-escalation zones in Syria

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MOSCOW. May 10 (Interfax) – The situation in the de-escalation zones in Syria is stable, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday. “The situation in the de-escalation zones is assessed as stable,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in its bulletin on the fulfillment of the memorandum on the establishment of de-escalation zones. Russia has registered 12 shooting incidents in the […]

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Putin Meets Erdogan as Russia Pursues Syria Diplomacy Blitz

Turkey and Environs Satellite Image

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Henry Meyer, Ilya Arkhipov – May 3, 2017) Russian President Vladimir Putin continued his diplomatic push for a plan to establish safe zones in Syria backed by peacekeepers as he began talks with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Wednesday. Russia and Turkey can “change the destiny of the […]

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“Crises in the Second Nuclear Age” – Stephen J. Cimbala, Paul Bracken

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

Subject: Crises in the Second Nuclear Age Date: Fri, 21 Apr 2017 From: STEPHEN CIMBALA <sjc2@psu.edu> Crises in the Second Nuclear Age By Stephen J. Cimbala and Paul Bracken Stephen J. Cimbala is Professor of Political Science at Penn State Brandywine. Paul Bracken is Professor of Management and Professor of Political Science at Yale University. Nuclear weapons coincided with the […]

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NEWSLINK: “The Syria Crisis Has Evolved into an International Power Struggle; The prospect of an accidental military confrontation with Russia and its allies have never been greater” – The National Interest/ Robert G. Rabil

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“No doubt, as reflected by many voices in Washington, DC corridors of power and media, the recent American cruise missile strikes against Syria’s al-Shayrat Air Base in response to the Assad regime’s chemical attack on Khan Shaykhun in Idlib Province was hailed as the right thing to do. Moved by horrifying images of children losing their lives to the internationally […]

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Moscow proposes setting up mission under OPCW auspices to investigate Idlib events

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MOSCOW. April 13 (Interfax) – Russia has submitted an initiative during a special session of the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague on Thursday to set up a mission under OPCW auspices to investigate the chemical incident in Syria’s Idlib governorate, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a press conference. […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Is Russia Testing Trump?” – New York Times/ MICHAEL J. MORELL, EVELYN FARKAS

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

“This week Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is making his first diplomatic visit to Russia, where he’s likely to press Moscow on its handling of Syria, which he has called ‘incompetent.’ … Tillerson should recognize that Russia’s involvement in Syria is only one example of the increasingly active, and disruptive, role that … Putin has been playing on the world stage … […]

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NEWSLINK: “SELECTION AND MAINTENANCE OF THE AIM” – Irrussianality/ Paul Robinson

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

“… the first ‘principle of war’ as taught to British and Canadian military officers is ‘selection and maintenance of the aim’. Pick a bad aim, or fail to maintain a good aim and instead get sidetracked into pursuing something else, and failure will almost certainly ensue. …”

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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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NEWSWATCH: “Russia Suspends Syrian Air Operations Accord With U.S. After Airstrikes; The decision poses a new complication for Trump administration’s push against Islamic State” – Wall Street Journal/ Thomas Grove, Nour Malas, Maria Abi-Habib, James Marson

U.S. Naval Vessel Firing Tomahawk Cruise Missile at Night

Moscow swiftly suspended an agreement with Washington for military coordination in Syrian skies on Friday following the U.S. missile attack on a Syrian base …. heightening concerns of more unpredictable reactions from … al-Assad’s backers, in particular Iran, to the U.S. strike, conducted in retaliation for a suspected regime chemical attack on a village. It threatens to derail the delicate alliances that […]

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NEWSLINK: “The Syria Strike: Are the United States and Russia On a Collision Course? How Russia sees Donald Trump’s cruise missile strike.” – The National Interest/ Nikolas Gvosdev

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“After reviewing the evidence and considering the options available to him … Trump ordered a proportionate strike on the Syrian air base where it is believed that the aircraft responsible for the chemical-weapons attack that occurred earlier this week in Idlib Province was based. According to different sources, the United States used its deconfliction channel with the Russian military to inform […]

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NEWSWATCH: “AS TRUMP FUMBLES, #PUTIN QUIETLY PREPARES TO INVADE HIS NEIGHBORS” – Newsweek/ Atlantic Council/ STEPHEN BLANK

File Photo of Russian Tanks in Military Parade

Recent #Russian actions suggest a new stage of the Russian threat to #Ukraine – and potentially to the #Caucasus, #Belarus or the #Baltic states as well-that could presage a new large-scale #military operation. … in 2016, Russia created 25 division formations and 15 brigades, while raising manpower by only 10,000 men. … Russia may aim to wage protracted large-scale war using the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Did St. Petersburg bombing bring Russia’s Syria intervention back home?” – Christian Science Monitor/ Fred Weir

St. Petersburg

“Though #Russia has been dealing with #terrorism for many years, it has mostly been rooted in domestic conflicts in the Caucasus. But Monday’s deadly bombing of a St. Petersburg metro seems likely linked to Russia’s involvement in Syria’s civil war. … analysts say that the identification of the bomber as Kyrgyz-born Akbarzhon Dzhalilov, from the turbulent central Asian city of […]

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NEWSWATCH: “How Russia Became the Jihadists’ No. 1 Target; Monday’s bombing in St. Petersburg might be only the beginning of a new terrorist wave” – Politico/COLIN P. CLARKE

Map of Middle East and North Africa with Inset Map of Holy Land

“… too soon to say who is responsible for the bombing … in St. Petersburg … it wouldn’t be surprising if international terrorists were responsible. Russia is fast replacing the United States as the No. 1 enemy of al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other Sunni jihadist groups …. recent Russian actions in the Middle East … escalating intervention in Syria and its […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Why Russia does not want to join OPEC; Russia sees oil club as a competitor, though they share tactical interests”

Oil Well file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – MARIA KUTUZOVA, SPECIAL TO RBTH) Russia is not considering joining OPEC, Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak has told a U.S. conference. Speaking during the CERAWeek Oil Conference in Houston, Texas early March Novak added: “But our cooperation with the oil exporting countries has proven to be necessary and useful.” He has often spoken […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Will the U.S. and Russia dance or duel? Why Russia is playing a more muscular role in the world and how that may prevent closer ties between Trump and Putin.” – Christian Science Monitor/Peter Ford

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

“Twenty years ago, Russia was a member of the Group of Eight industrialized democracies, a NATO partner, and a fledgling but enthusiastic new recruit to a budding ‘new world order.’ Today, Russia has been kicked out of the G8, NATO has suspended all cooperation with Moscow, and … Putin says his nation is engaged in a ‘civilizational’ battle with the West […]

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VIDEO: “Russia: Rival or Partner, or Both?” – Council on Foreign Relations event featuring Charles A. Kupchan, Stephen Sestanovich, Angela E. Stent, Evelyn N. Farkas

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

[The Council on Foreign Relations, on Feb. 27, 2017, hosted an event, “Russia: Rival or Partner, or Both?”, featuring Charles A. Kupchan, Stephen Sestanovich, Angela E. Stent and Evelyn N. Farkas in a mock government meeting, followed by a question-and-answer session. click here for event page: http://www.cfr.org/russian-federation/russia-rival-partner-both/p38860] “… Experts discuss U.S. policy options toward Russia including continued sanctions, possible cooperation […]

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Russia Tries to Salvage Syria Peace Bid as Iran Dispute Flares

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(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Henry Meyer – February 28, 2017) Russia is struggling to salvage its bid to secure a deal to end six years of civil war in Syria as deepening differences with Iran risk a repeat of previous failed peace efforts led by the U.S. “Things aren’t going as smoothly as we would want” in the Geneva talks, […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with Northern Fleet service members

File Photo of Deck of Russian Aircraft Carrier Admiral Kuznetsov

(Kremlin.ru – February 23, 2017) Vladimir Putin met with Northern Fleet officers who distinguished themselves in service and combat missions in the Mediterranean, off the coast of the Syrian Arab Republic. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Comrade officers, First of all, today, February 23, I would like to congratulate you on the Defender of the Fatherland Day. I want to […]

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NEWSLINK: “The ‘Russia Scare’ Coalition: ISIL’s ‘Useful Idiots’? Victory by the ‘Russia scare’ coalition will limit America’s ability to fight ISIL, complicate efforts to win UNSC support for tough enforcement of the Iran nuclear deal and give China more leverage over both Moscow and Washington.” – The National Interest editorial

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

“The turmoil surrounding Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s resignation and wider allegations of links between President Donald Trump, his campaign and Russia seems to have made a strong impression in Moscow. Many there had already calibrated initially unrealistic expectations after Mr. Trump’s initial weeks in office; recent events have tempered even these more limited ambitions. Hopes have long faded that Washington […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Trump Administration Looks at Driving Wedge Between Russia and Iran” – Wall Street Journal

Iran Map and Flag

“… Trump … is exploring ways to break Russia’s military and diplomatic alliance with Iran in a bid to both end the Syrian conflict and bolster the fight against Islamic State …. The emerging strategy seeks to reconcile … Trump’s seemingly contradictory vows to improve relations with … Putin and to aggressively challenge the military presence of Iran – one […]

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Israeli Envoy Praises Russian Efforts to Reconcile Palestinians

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(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Stepan Kravchenko, Henry Meyer – January 26, 2017) Israel’s ambassador to Russia praised the Kremlin for its efforts to broker reconciliation between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party and the militant Islamist group Hamas, saying a successful deal could have far-reaching, positive consequences. Fatah and Hamas discussed forming a unity government and holding elections during […]

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Trump Team Aims to Test Russia’s Alliance With Iran

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(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Eli Lake – January 24, 2017) Eli Lake is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the senior national security correspondent for the Daily Beast and covered national security and intelligence for the Washington Times, the New York Sun and UPI. As the #Trump administration begins planning its outreach to #Moscow, one question for the new president […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: Russia to build full-fledged naval base in Syria

File Photo of Deck of Russian Aircraft Carrier Admiral Kuznetsov

#Russia and #Syria signed an agreement to transform the naval repair and docking facility in #Tartus into a full-fledged naval base. Up to 11 Russian warships will be deployed in the eastern Mediterranean within the next few years. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – NIKOLAI LITOVKIN, RBTH – January 23, 2017) On Jan. 20 Moscow and Damascus signed a […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

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(Kremlin.ru – December 29, 2016) Mr Shoigu and Mr Lavrov briefed the President on work to resolve the Syrian crisis, in particular, agreements reached between the Syrian government and the opposition on a ceasefire and readiness to begin peace talks. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, The news has just come in that this morning, a few hours ago, an […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian Campaign in Syria Exposes Moscow’s Defense Gaps; Deployment of warships to assist Assad regime lays bare weaknesses in Russian military’s naval aviation and carrier operations” – Wall Street Journal

File Photo of Deck of Russian Aircraft Carrier Admiral Kuznetsov

“A flotilla of Russian warships in the Mediterranean … provid[es] a high-profile show of force in support of the Syrian regime. But … also throw[s] into sharp relief the limits of Moscow’s conventional military. … the quarter-century-old Kuznetsov lacks the kind of powerful catapult system … featured on U.S. carriers, forcing Russian planes to carry lighter payloads and less fuel […]

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Russia to use all existing channels to work on Syria with incumbent, future U.S. administration – diplomat

Sergei Ryabkov file photo

MOSCOW. Nov 10 (Interfax) – Russia will continue to work with the incumbent U.S. administration on Syria through bilateral and multilateral channels, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday. “Work is continuing via bilateral channels at different levels, special groups are continuing to work in a broader format in Geneva, and possible new documents on Syria are being […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia Makes U-Turn After Evicting Amnesty From Moscow Office” – Reuters

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

… Amnesty International can return to the Moscow office it was evicted from this week, a Kremlin human rights adviser said on Thursday …. Amnesty has been a vocal critic of Russia over its bombing campaign in Syria and had said it believed the eviction might be part of an official crackdown on civil society groups. … Kremlin officials have […]

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TRANSCRIPT: Dmitry Medvedev’s interview with Channel 2 Israel

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Government.ru – November 5, 2016) Ahead of his upcoming visit to the State of Israel, the Prime Minister gave an interview to Yonit Levi, host of the Israeli Channel 2 News. Yonit Levi (via interpreter): Prime Minister, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. I have several questions for you. In your opinion, what could Russia and Israel […]

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Russians Are Growing Uneasy About the Kremlin’s War in Syria, New Poll Shows

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ola Cichowlas – November 3, 2016) Despite Russia’s lack of independent news coverage on Syria and the heavily controlled nature of television, a new poll by the Levada Center suggests that the public is beginning to worry about Moscow’s conflict with the West in Aleppo spinning out of control. “On the whole, most people are […]

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RUSSIAN FOREIGN POLICY IN THE MIDDLE EAST 2015-2016: PUSHING ON AN OPEN DOOR

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(Robert O. Freedman, Johns Hopkins University – 31 October 2016) There is no question but that Russia has been very active in the Middle East over the last year, especially in Syria. There is a question however as to whether Moscow has been able to transform this activity into actual influence in the region. I would argue that the answer […]

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Russia Urges New U.S. President to Avoid Escalation Over Syria

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(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Albertina Torsoli, Henry Meyer – November 2, 2016) A senior Russian diplomat urged the incoming U.S. president to work with his country to resolve the war in Syria and avoid escalation, as he defended the Kremlin’s military intervention in the conflict as a fight against terrorism. Alexei Borodavkin, who’s represented Russia at Syria peace talks as […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Poll: Nearly half of Russians fear World War III over Syria”

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According to a survey by the Levada Center polling agency, almost half of Russians (48 percent) are afraid that the breakdown in relations between Russia and the West over Syria could lead to a third world war. Another 31 percent of respondents were not particularly concerned and 11 percent did not fear a possible deterioration of the current situation.

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Why the U.S. thinks it could vanquish Russia in Syria without a fight”

File Photo of F-22 Fighter and Ground Crew

“Despite the signs that the U.S. and Russia are on the verge of a military confrontation in Syria, Washington is counting on Moscow to back down in the event that it decides to intervene. However, this betrays a lack of understanding both of the significance of Syria for the Kremlin and of the way public opinion is formed in Russia. […]

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NEWSLINK RBTH: “Russia to establish a permanent naval base in Syria”

File Photo of Deck of Russian Aircraft Carrier Admiral Kuznetsov

“The Russian naval facility in the city of Tartus will be upgraded into a permanent naval base. Military experts believe that the Russian Defense Ministry may set up a detachment of ships in the Mediterranean armed with Kalibr-NK cruise missiles and headed by the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier.”

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NEWSLINK RBTH: “Russia: We will shoot down U.S. jets in Syria that threaten our servicemen”

File Photo of F-22 Fighter and Ground Crew

“… Russian air defense and anti-missile systems in Syria are ready to shoot down ‘any unidentified flying object’ if air strikes are carried out on Syrian government positions, according to Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov. …”

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Others Cease, Russia Fires

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(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – October 4, 2016) Should we really be that surprised that Russia has opted to flat out ignore the cease-fire it agreed to in Syria? Should we really be all that shocked by the all-out assault on Aleppo? Probably not. In Moscow, the definition of a cease-fire appears to be that the other side […]

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Russia’s Syria Campaign Seen Purely as Bid to Prop Up Assad

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(Voice of America – voanews.com – Victor Vladimirov – MOSCOW – September 30, 2016) The Russian air force’s bombing campaign in Syria marked its first anniversary Friday, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying there was no “time frame” for the operation. The Kremlin has officially declared the main objectives of its air campaign in Syria to be eliminating radical Islamic […]

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Washington’s latest statements may cause Russia to increase support for Syrian president – Russian expert

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MOSCOW. Oct 4 (Interfax) – The U.S. decision to unilaterally suspend interaction with Russia on the truce in Syria may cause the Russian Aerospace Forces’ operation in the country to last longer, Middle East expert and senior teacher at the Higher School of Economics Leonid Isayev said. “I think that this will result in Russia getting more actively involved in […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Aligned with Russia in Syria, Pentagon awkwardly treads on new terrain” – Reuters

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… the reactions of U.S. military officials range from caution to outright skepticism over a Geneva-based ‘joint integration center’ that may soon bring together American and Russian militaries to discuss shared targets for the first time since World War Two. … U.S. officials past and present voiced concerns about the initiative, underscoring the Pentagon’s long-public criticism about the way Russia […]

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Putin Says Russia and U.S. Close to Breakthrough Deal on Syria

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(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – September 2, 2016) Vladimir Putin said #Russia and the U.S. are close to striking a deal on fighting terrorists in Syria, potentially a major step toward ending a civil war that’s flooded Europe with refugees and helped give rise to Islamic State. “We’re gradually, gradually heading in the right direction,” the Russian president said in an […]

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