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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NEWSWATCH: “U.S., Russia Discuss Syria Cooperation Plan. Officials see hope of reducing violence and creating atmosphere for political transition” – Wall Street Journal

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… Kerry and … Lavrov are meeting … in a bid to complete a deal on increased cooperation in Syria that officials hope could help create the calm necessary for talks on a political transition. … The Pentagon is concerned about more closely cooperating with Russia, which backs … al-Assad’s regime. * * * Kerry’s efforts are opposed by some […]

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NEWSLINK Valdai Discussion Club/ Paul Saunders: “TECTONIC SHIFTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST, OR ARE THEY REALLY?”

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Russia’s military operation in Syria – and America’s restraint there-has catalyzed discussion and debate about possible strategic realignments in the Middle East, generating excitement in Moscow about Russia’s “great power” role and parallel concern in Washington and some allied capitals about future U.S. influence.

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NEWSLINK RBTH: “Russian airplanes leave Iran, but for how long?”

Iran Map and Flag

Tu-22M3 and Su-34 combat aircraft are no longer performing sorties into Syria from Iranian territory. Experts attribute the decision to a number of diplomatic and technical miscalculations on Moscow’s part and say the possibility remains for Russian aircraft to return

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NEWSLINK RBTH/ Kommersant: “Six reasons Russia and Turkey will struggle to become strategic partners.”

Turkey and Environs Satellite Image

The Russian-Turkish rapprochement obtained during the Aug. 9 summit in St. Petersburg must not engender unrealistic expectations and excessive illusions. There are still many problems and serious contradictions in relations between Moscow and Ankara for there to be, as some commentators are already saying, a ‘strategic alliance’ between Russia and Turkey.

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin/ Erdogan] News conference following talks with President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey and Environs Satellite Image

(Kremlin.ru – August 9, 2016) President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, We have just completed the main part of the talks with President Erdogan. Naturally, this meeting is very important for the future of Russian-Turkish relations. We had a meaningful and, I would like to emphasise, constructive conversation on the entire range of bilateral issues and […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Turkey’s Erdogan Patches Up Relations With Putin” – Wall Street Journal

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… Putin and … Erdogan mended fences in a high-profile meeting Tuesday, bolstering their governments’ ties as both face strained relations with the West. … Erdogan’s first trip abroad since the Turkish coup attempt … signals his willingness to look to Moscow, traditionally the counterweight to Western influence in the Middle East. But Western leaders say Turkey … crucial to […]

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New commander takes charge of Russia’s operation in Syria

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Lt. Gen. Alexander Zhuravlev is expected to change the course of battle with Islamic State (ISIS) militants, who are advancing towards Palmyra once more. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – NIKOLAI LITOVKIN, RBTH – July 22, 2016) The Russian business daily Kommersant reports that Lieutenant General Alexander Zhuravlev, first deputy commander of the South Military District, has been appointed […]

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How will the attempted coup in Turkey affect Moscow-Ankara relations?

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Experts are divided on the significance of the failure to overthrow the Turkish government by members of the country’s armed forces for Russia-Turkey relations. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YEKATERINA CHULKOVSKAYA, RBTH – July 17, 2016) Late in the evening of July 15, a military coup was attempted in Turkey. In Ankara, rebel faction of the armed forces […]

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NEWSWATCH: “U.S., Russia Agree on Steps Designed to End War in Syria, but Details Sketchy. Washington initially offered military coordination, but terms of agreement not divulged after two days of meetings in Moscow.” – Wall Street Journal

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U.S. and Russian officials said Friday they … reached an agreement on steps designed to pave the way for an end to the civil war in Syria, but top officials declined to detail the specific measures …. John Kerry, without elaborating, said implementing the steps could address … Assad and his regime’s disregard of a February cease-fire …. * * […]

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Turkey Signals Cooperation With Russia Against Islamic State

Turkey and Environs Satellite Image

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Selcan Hacaoglu, Firat Kozok – July 4, 2016) Turkey may cooperate with Russia in fighting Islamic State, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Monday, just days after the countries agreed to work to repair strained ties. Cavusoglu denied signaling in an interview Sunday that Turkey may let Russia use southern Incirlik air base for operations in Syria. […]

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RBTH: Moscow and Washington consider expanding cooperation in Syria

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U.S. President Barack Obama made an offer to Russia to begin joint combat operations against the Al-Nusra Front militants. Some Russian experts believe that this overture has been made in order to strengthen the Democrat Party’s position in the presidential election race. Yet this step also could have positive implications for Moscow. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – NIKOLAI […]

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RBTH: The 3 key areas of disagreement between Moscow and Damascus

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Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict, Russia has been seen as a loyal ally to Bashar Assad, giving unwavering support to the Syrian president. Yet, the positions of Moscow and the Syrian regime are far from identical. Russia advocates a political solution to the crisis, whereas Assad sees war as the answer. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – […]

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VIDEO & TRANSCRIPT: Russian Violations of Borders, Treaties, and Human Rights – U.S. Senate Testimony by Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland

U.S. Capitol in Bright Sunlight

Russian Violations of Borders, Treaties, and Human Rights Testimony, Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Statement Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Washington, DC, June 7, 2016, As prepared [Video of hearing also appeared here http://www.c-span.org/video/?410738-1/federal-officials-testify-human-rights-violations-russia][Video includes all speakers and some lawmakers; Nuland testimony transcript follows below] Thank you Chairman Corker, Ranking Member Cardin, and members […]

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NEWSWATCH: “America Needs to Break its Old Habits on Russia. Washington’s strategy is a relic of a bygone era.” – The National Interest/Thomas Graham

Putin and Obama with U.S. and Russian Flags

… there should be no doubt that the goal that had animated policy since the end of the Cold War … slow but steady integration of Russia into the Euro-Atlantic community — is beyond reach. Russia is no longer interested, if it ever was. Its ambition is to fortify itself as an independent great power based in central Eurasia. It […]

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NEWSLINK Russia Direct: “Conventional arms race draws the world closer to state of brinkmanship. With NATO’s military buildup near Russian borders and signs of instability from the Middle East to East Asia, it’s no longer inconceivable that the great powers could find themselves involved in a conventional war.”

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Russia Braces Itself as Syrian Cease-fire Falters

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner – April 28, 2016) Not two months have passed since President Vladimir Putin declared mission accomplished in Syria, and again the war-ravaged nation is on the brink. Russia’s partial withdrawal coincided with the launch of a new round of UN-mediated talks in Geneva. But with negotiations falling apart, the status quo of full-blown […]

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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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NEWSLINK Russia Direct: “What Russia’s military buildup near Aleppo means for Syria ceasefire. Russia’s military buildup near Aleppo indicates that it is too early to make conclusions about the implications of the Russian campaign in Syria. The campaign is not over, which might be both a boon and a bane for the Kremlin, experts warn.” [Alexei Arbatov, etc.]

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