JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia-Saudi Plans for Super-OPEC Could Reshape Global Oil Order” – Bloomberg/Will Kennedy, Elena Mazneva, Wael Mahdi

File Photo of King Salman of Saudi Arabia Seated Next to Saudi Flag and Gesturing, adapted from image at defense.gov

“… the group overseeing the so-called OPEC+ deal met last night [with] proceedings … dominated by … Saudi Arabia and Russia. … probably a snapshot of the oil market’s future.  Beyond … this week’s diplomatic efforts to agree to an increase in oil production, the more significant longer-term development may be moves to make Russia’s role in managing global supply […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Russian Gordian Knot begins to unravel” – Asia Times/Norman A. Bailey

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“… Putin said two completely unexpected things: first … Iran should evacuate its forces from Syria and stop interfering with events in the northern Arab arc (Iraq, Syria, Lebanon). Second … Israel has a right to defend its borders, whether in the north or in the south (Hezbollah and Hamas territories respectively). … within a few days of a meeting […]

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NEWSLINK: “Top Russian pundit calls for Palestine talks in Moscow” – Asia Times/M.K. BHADRAKUMAR

Map of Israel, Palestine, Holy Land

“In an interview with the influential Russian daily Izvestiya, the well-known ‘Orientalist’ scholar and establishment figure, Vitaly Naumkin, has floated the startling idea that Moscow must play a role in resolving the Palestinian problem. He said, ‘Moscow has long urged for [organizing] a top-level meeting between Palestinians and Israelis in Russia, on a Moscow platform. It is necessary to turn […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Israel and Russia Agree to Remove Iranian Forces From Syrian Border, Report Says; Israel reportedly gets ‘green light’ to strike Iranian targets as long as it does not endanger Syrian regime. Report follows call between Netanyahu and Putin, meeting between Israel’s defense chief and Russian counterpart” – Haaretz (Israel)/

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“Israel and Russia have reached an understanding on pulling Iranian forces out of southern Syria, the London-based Asharq al-Awsat reported …. reached after … Netanyahu spoke to … Putin … [by] telephone, while Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman had held talks with his Russian counterpart. … the sides [reportedly] agreed it was necessary to remove Iranian forces from southern Syria and […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s Endgame in Syria Has Arrived; It’s not an Assad victory – it’s a frozen conflict” – Foreign Policy Magazine/Jonathan Spyer

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“Syria increasingly seems to be moving toward de facto partition accompanied by ongoing low-level military conflict and a functional, but sluggish politics – a so-called frozen conflict. This may have been the goal all along for … Putin, who has initiated and managed such conflicts elsewhere, including in Georgia and Ukraine. * * *  Russia has … preserved the integrity […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia Flexes Its Soft Power Muscles; Extending output cuts deepens its role in global affairs” – Bloomberg/Julian Lee

File Photo of King Salman of Saudi Arabia Seated Next to Saudi Flag and Gesturing, adapted from image at defense.gov

“Oil has … [surpassed] $80 a barrel for the first time since November 2014. OPEC’s inventory target for output cuts has been met. … even though [Russian] oil companies want to turn on the taps and its finance ministry may be worried about prices rising too far, Russia won’t [end] its output deal with the group … when … participants […]

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Is Russia About To Abandon The OPEC Deal?

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Irina Slav – May 17, 2018) OPEC and Russia are meeting in a little more than a month to discuss the progress of their oil production deal and what’s next. On the face of things, there will be no surprises: every country taking part in the deal is still committed to the cuts until the end of the […]

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NEWSLINK: “Eurasia torn between war and peace; Iran’s top trading partner is China, while Tehran and Moscow have been improving ties as the three countries move closer to cementing a solid alliance” – Asia Times/Pepe Escobar

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“… China is Iran’s top trading partner – especially because of its energy imports. Iran for its part is a major food importer. Russia aims to cover this front. Chinese companies are developing massive oil fields in Yadavaran and North Azadegan. China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) took a significant 30% stake in a project to develop South Pars – the largest […]

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NEWSLINK: “Time to show Russia a military parade – In Syria” – Brookings Institution/Shalom Lipner

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“Editor’s Note: Nowhere are Russia’s footsteps more pronounced today than in the Middle East, its old Soviet stomping grounds, where the locals are increasingly deferential to Putin. The question is what Trump intends to do about the situation, writes Shalom Lipner. This piece originally appeared in The National Interest. …”  

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NEWSWATCH: “Will Russia’s involvement in Syria end up burning its ties with Israel?” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

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“… despite … mutual determination [by Russia and Israel] to steer clear of the global storm [between Russia and the West], things may be reaching a breaking point in Syria. While Russia and Israel have hitherto been able to manage their differences there so far, Israel is becoming increasingly concerned as Iran, Russia’s ally in Syria and Israel’s main enemy, […]

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NEWSLINK: “Syria: bottom line questions” – Graham E. Fuller

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“… What sense can we make out of all these strategic events in Syria? We encounter a baffling array of players: Syrian troops, Syrian insurgents, jihadis of varying ideologies, Iranians, Russians, Americans, Israelis, Turks, Saudis, Qataris, Emiratis, Shi’ite militias, Iraqis, Kurds, Hizballah-all locked in a deadly dance. But as complex as it may be, this seven-year bloody conflict still continues […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s Turkey visit brings S-400 missile and nuclear plant headway” – bne Intellinews

Turkey and Environs Satellite Image

“… Erdogan received … Putin in Ankara … with a crowded agenda … including … Turkey’s first nuclear power plant, the purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defence system and progress with the TurkStream natural gas pipeline …. even more challenging … with the scheduled arrival of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and … the complicated task of finding an end-game […]

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Russia’s Syria Policy: The Hard Path of Military Disengagement

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(PONARS Eurasia – ponarseurasia.org – Ekaterina Stepanova – February 2018) Ekaterina Stepanova is Lead Researcher and Head of Peace and Conflict Studies at the National Research Institute of the World Economy & International Relations (IMEMO), Moscow. (PONARS Policy Memo) On December 11, 2017, two and a half years after the start of Russia’s military campaign in Syria, President Vladimir Putin, […]

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Russia Gets $41.5 Billion Boost From OPEC Deal

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Tsvetana Paraskova – February 13, 2018) Since the start of the OPEC-Russia production cut deal, Russia’s oil companies and government have received the equivalent of around US$41.5 billion more in proceeds, thanks to the higher oil prices, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Tuesday. Due to the higher oil prices as a result of the pact, Russia’s […]

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Can Russia Sustain Its Foreign Policy Power Plays in 2018?

File Photo of U.S. Embassy Moscow, with Russian Foreign Ministry Building in Distance

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jonathan Brown, Editor, Moscow Times – January 31, 2018) When Vladimir Putin landed in Syria late last year, he was greeted by President Bashar Assad not as a foreign dignitary, but as the guardian of the embattled nation. “Syria has been preserved as a sovereign and independent state,” Putin told soldiers assembled at the Khmeimim […]

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Drones that attacked Russian military bases in Syria could have been shipped only from U.S. – Russian senator

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MOSCOW. Jan 9 (Interfax) – The drones that attacked Russia’s military bases in Syria could have been shipped to the country only from the United States, Russian Federation Council Defense and Security Committee head Viktor Bondarev said. “I think it’s clear to everyone who stands behind the militants. Only a technologically powerful state could have supplied the drones that bombarded […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Gazprom gas exports to Europe rise 8% to new record” – Financial Times/ Henry Foy

Gas Flame file photo

“Russia’s gas exports to Europe rose 8.1 per cent last year to a record level of 193.9bn cubic metres (bcm), the company’s head said … as the world’s largest gas producer continued to increase sales despite rising competition from LNG and other sources. Gazprom … has a monopoly over Russia’s gas pipelines to Europe [and] has been forced to reduce […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin Toughens Penalty for Bomb Threats Plaguing Russia” – AP

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

“… Putin has signed a law doubling the penalty for false reports of impending explosions or fire to a possible 10 years in prison. … Since September, authorities have received false bomb reports allegedly targeting more than 3000 structures in about 180 Russian cities. The subsequent building evacuations have sometimes caused severe traffic problems. A top Interior Ministry official said […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Putin’s Plan for Syria; How Russia Wants to End the War” – Foreign Affairs/ Dmitri Trenin

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“… Moscow … means to secure its own core interests in Syria, whatever the balance of political power in the country. Among these is a permanent air and naval presence in the country. Under the lease agreements signed in 2015 and 2016 with Damascus, both the Khmeimim air force base and the Tartus naval facility, which is being upgraded to a […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Backed by Putin, Russian Military Pushes Into Foreign Policy” – Reuters

Sergei Shoigu file photo

“From Damascus to Doha … Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has been showing up in unexpected places, a sign of the military’s growing influence under … Putin. … at times wearing his desert military uniform, Shoigu has held talks with Syria’s president in Damascus, met Israel’s prime minister in Jerusalem and been received by the Emir of Qatar in Doha. The defense ministry’s […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “Vladimir Putin visited Khmeimim Air Base in Syria” – KremlinRu

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(Kremlin.ru – December 11, 2017) At the air base, Vladimir Putin was met by President of the Syrian Arab Republic Bashar al-Assad, Russian Minister of Defence Sergei Shoigu and Commander of the Russian military group Sergei Surovikin. The Commander-in-Chief ordered the withdrawal of the Russian military group from Syria back to their permanent bases. Vladimir Putin thanked the Russian service […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Latest U.S.-Russian Effort on Syria: Good for Preventing Accidents, So-So for Everything Else” – Russia Matters/ Nikolas K. Gvosdev

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“The one concrete result to emerge from … Trump and … Putin’s informal meetings on the sidelines of … APEC … has been the Nov. 11 U.S.-Russia Joint Statement on Syria. … [which] has elicited some official optimism, but what does it amount to really? … a promising step forward to end the strife in that war-torn land and ‘save tremendous numbers of lives,’ as Trump […]

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NEWSLINK: “NATO is headed for a very messy break-up” – Boston Globe/ Stephen Kinzer

Turkey and Environs Satellite Image

“… Recently Turkey and the United States stopped issuing visas to each other’s citizens. This is more than just another travel ban. It is a geopolitical spectacle unique in modern history: two allied countries blocking normal back-and-forth travel. An old relationship has gone deeply sour. …”

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NEWSWATCH: “Joint U.S.-Russia statement calls for U.N.-supervised elections in Syria” – Politico/ Nancy Cook

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“… a new joint statement on Syria between the U.S. and Russia … [says] Syria must eventually hold U.N.-supervised elections to bring new leadership to the country as part of … ending its … civil war [say] two senior State Department officials. … follow[ing] … U.N. Security Council resolution … 2254. … [the election is to] include the ballots of the Syrian diaspora, displaced from the country […]

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Is This The Geopolitical Shift Of The Century?

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(Oilprice.com – Cyril Widdershoven – October 7, 2017) Dr. Cyril Widdershoven is a long-time observer of the global energy market. Presently, he holds several advisory positions with international think tanks in the Middle East and energy sectors in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The geopolitical reality in the Middle East is changing dramatically. The impact of […]

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Putin Is Filling the Middle East Power Vacuum

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(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Henry Meyer, Donna Abu-Nasr – October 3, 2017) The Israelis and Turks, the Egyptians and Jordanians — they’re all beating a path to the Kremlin in the hope that Vladimir Putin, the new master of the Middle East, can secure their interests and fix their problems. The latest in line is Saudi King Salman, who on […]

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Saudi Arabia to Plan Russia Deals, Deepening Energy Ties

File Photo of King Salman of Saudi Arabia Seated Next to Saudi Flag and Gesturing, adapted from image at defense.gov

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Wael Mahdi , Elena Mazneva, Ilya Arkhipov – October 3, 2017) Saudi Arabia is looking at unprecedented deals to acquire #oil and #gas assets in Russia, deepening ties between the world’s largest energy exporters as the Saudi king prepares to visit Moscow later this week. OPEC’s biggest crude producer is considering investing in Russia’s largest oil […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Oil prices rise to highest level in two years” – Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Oil Wells File Photo

“Trouble between Turkey and the Kurds led oil prices to rise to $59 per barrel on September 26, their highest level in more than two years. Kurds held a referendum in … Iraq calling for … an independent Kurdish homeland for the ethnic group, who spill over the borders of neighbouring Turkey, Iran and Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia touts essential role in Syria’s advance against IS” – AFP

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“… In addition to air strikes and reconnaissance, Russia has also dispatched special forces, de-mining experts, and military police officers across Syria. Pavel Felgenhauer, military observer for Novaya Gazeta newspaper, says more than 2,000 military advisers are also on the ground. ‘Some two million tonnes of military supplies have been shipped to Syria,’ he says, including Russian weapons systems like […]

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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

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“… 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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