TRANSCRIPT: Vladimir Putin made a working trip to Chelyabinsk Region

File Photo of Russian MI-26 Helicopter in Afghanistan with MI-17 Helicopter In Background

(Kremlin.ru – December 5, 2016) The President toured the Makeyev State Rocket Centre in Miass, where he held a meeting on the centre’s activity. Vladimir Putin took part in the launch of a new production line at the Eterno Plant in Chelyabinsk, which produces advanced components for pipe systems using nanotechnology. The Eterno Plant is a joint project of the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “U.S. reshaping budget to account for Russian military threat” – Reuters

Aerial Photo of Pentagon and Environs

Russia’s increasing military activities around the world have unsettled top U.S. military officials … reshaping … budget plans to better address what they now consider to be the most pressing threat …. ‘Russia is the No. 1 threat to the United States. … because of the nuclear aspect, an existential threat …’ Air Force Secretary Deborah James told Reuters …. […]

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RUSSIALINK RT/Russia Today: “Russia sets out its policy on terrorism, nuclear war & global ties in new Foreign Policy Concept”

Kremlin and River

“… Putin has signed a decree approving Russia’s new Foreign Policy Concept. The document specifies Moscow’s position on key global issues, highlighting its relations with the US, EU, China and other countries. … the concept is now in force, replacing the previous one from 2013. Moscow’s ‘views on core principles, priority directions, aims and tasks of the Russian foreign policy’ are […]

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Putin approves Russia’s new foreign policy blueprint

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(RIA Novosti – December 1, 2016) President Vladimir #Putin has signed a decree approving #Russia’s new Foreign Policy Concept, state-owned RIA Novosti news agency reported on 1 December. The key points of the document, according to RIA Novosti, are as follows: USA – The risk of a war, including a nuclear war, between the leading powers is low, but the […]

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NEWSLINK Irrussianality/Paul Robinson: “DON’T MENTION THE WAR”

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

“… Putin approved a new ‘Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation’. Documents like this are aspirational; they reflect what a government would like to do, not what it is able to do. They are also for public consumption; their purpose is to send certain signals to the policy community, both inside and outside of government. Nevertheless, they are up […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Turchynov hopes Trump’s administration approves lethal weapon provision to Ukraine” – Interfax-Ukraine

“National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov said he hopes that the new U.S. administration will make a decision on granting lethal weapons to Ukraine. ‘I do think that Ukraine has a chance to get lethal weapons. … The position of the Republican Party towards Ukraine is sufficiently clear and consistent. All their votes in the Congress and […]

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Lavrov says no breakthroughs at Normandy Format meeting

Sergei Lavrov file photo

MINSK. Nov 29 (Interfax) – Today’s meeting of the Normandy Quartet foreign ministers has brought no breakthroughs; it is noted that implementation of the Minsk Agreements in the area of security and politics remains stalled as no specific steps have been agreed upon, although the earlier agreements made by leaders of the fours countries are not being questioned, Russian Foreign […]

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Russians Want West to Make Up with Them and Don’t See Why Ukraine Should Be an Obstacle, New Poll Suggests

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 29, 2016) In presenting the latest Levada Center poll on Russian attitudes toward the West, the center’s Aleksey Grazhdankin says that a majority of Russians think that the initiative for improving East-West ties should come from the West and “do not understand why the actions of their country in Ukraine” have […]

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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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NEWSLINK AFP: “Obama wants Ukraine deal ‘before term is up'”

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

“US President Barack Obama said he told Vladimir Putin … that he wants to reach a settlement that solves the Ukraine crisis before he leaves office in January. ….”

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NEWSWATCH: “Ukraine turns to Tampa group for help setting up new commando HQ” – Tampa Bay Times

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

Commando forces in … Ukraine were decimated … against pro-Russian insurgents and … “little green men” — masked Russian commandos in unmarked army uniforms. … when it came time to rebuild and adjust … Ukrainian officials turned … to the non-profit Global SOF Foundation, a Tampa-based special operations advocacy group. … credited with helping put Ukraine on the right footing […]

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Putinism a Greater Threat to the West than Soviet Communism Was

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 18, 2016) Putinism, as ideology and practice, is now a greater threat to the West than Soviet communism ever was, a reality few in Western countries now recognize precisely because the Kremlin leader is making use, in the best tradition of the judo master he is, values and methods that are […]

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Global Conflict ‘Russians’ Greatest Fear’ – Poll

File Photo of Russian Tanks in Military Parade

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 14, 2016) Potential global conflict is Russians’ greatest fear, a report by state-run pollster the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) has announced. VTsIOM’s annual “fear index” rates common anxieties among the Russian population from 100 to -100. Global tensions, conflict and war took the top slot as Russians’ main worry with a ranking […]

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NEWSLINK Harper’s Magazine/Andrew Cockburn: “The New Red Scare; Reviving the art of threat inflation”

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

“… There would seem to be one major difference between the fine art of threat inflation as practiced during the Cold War and the current approach. In the old days, taxpayers at least got quite a lot for their money, albeit at inflated prices: the 900 ships, the 15,000 planes, and so forth. Things are different today. The so-called global […]

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Russia’s Strategic Calculus: Threat Perceptions and Military Doctrine

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(PONARS Policy Memo – PONARS Eurasia – ponarseurasia.org – Dmitry Gorenburg – November 11, 2016) Dmitry Gorenburg is Senior Research Scientist at CNA Corporation and Associate at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University. Russian foreign policy is driven by the political elites’ search for a new basis for national self-esteem after the collapse of the […]

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Breaking Bad: How Russian State Patriotism Destroyed the Far Right; The Kremlin’s intervention in the Ukraine conflict has fragmented Russian nationalist groups

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Kupfer, Bradley Jardine – November 11, 2016) On Friday, Nov. 4, chants rang out through the suburban neighborhood of Lyublino, in southeastern Moscow: “We are Russians! Glory to the Slavic nations! Glory to the white races!” Soon, a crowd appeared on the horizon. Some of the men – for they were mostly men – […]

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Russia Today Far More Dangerous than USSR Was and West Far Less Ready to Counter It, Analysts Say

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 4, 2016) Russia under Vladimir Putin is far more dangerous to the West than the Soviet Union ever was, two Russian analysts argue; and the West for the moment at least is far less capable of dealing with the challenges and threats the Kremlin leader now poses, according to a third. […]

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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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NEWSWATCH: “Russia may be wounded, but it can still bite; The country is in decline, but Vladimir Putin is willing to take bold risks” – Washington Post

Kremlin and River

Whoever wins Tuesday’s presidential election will face an assertive, aggrieved Russia whose risk-taking behavior under … Putin is increasingly worrisome …. pushy, headstrong Russia presents a paradox … most measures … a country in decline, with a sagging economy, an underdeveloped technology base and a shrinking population. Corruption pervades nearly every sector. The collapse of the Soviet Union is still […]

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

Middle East Map

(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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NEWSWATCH: “Being Russian in Putin’s Russia; Russia is still struggling to define itself nearly a century after the Soviet Union was established.” – Stratfor

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

“… Putin has inherited the problem of unity. … He needs an actionable ideology he can implement at the political and cultural level. … Through heavy-handed propaganda, Moscow has used the current stand-off with the United States to rally nationalist fervor against a common enemy. Following Russia’s failures to prevent a revolution in Ukraine, it presented Crimea as a source […]

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

Syria Map

(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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Containment 2.0

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – October 31, 2016) And so, I’m back. And while I may not have been visible in this space over the past couple weeks, I have in fact been pretty busy thinking and talking about Russian affairs in various venues in the United States and in Europe. And now is as good a time […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s renewed might rests on weak economic foundations. Putin bravado does not extend to modernisation of the economy” – Financial Times/Neil Buckley

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

… the gap between the image … Putin portrayed … and the reality was exposed by a sobering assessment of Russia’s economy by another senior official … further emphasised by a draft budget … envisaging a 27 per cent cut in defence spending …. the official … made it clear how Russia’s ambitions clash with its capabilities. … western sanctions […]

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

Syria Map

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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Ukraine’s ‘Amazing Idiots’ and ‘Crimes Against Humanity’; Five issues Vladimir Putin addressed when speaking in Yalta on Oct. 26

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 26, 2016) On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to Yalta on the contested Crimean peninsula, where he addressed a forum by the All-Russia People’s Front, a political movement Putin started in 2011 to coexist with the United Russia political party. Hours after Putin’s speech, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry sent Moscow a formal letter […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russians Conduct Nuclear-Bomb Survival Drills as Cold War Heats Up. Bomb shelters are upgraded, gas masks tested amid strained relations between Putin and U.S.” – Wall Street Journal

Radioactivity Symbol

Russian authorities have stepped up nuclear-war survival measures amid a showdown with Washington, dusting off Soviet-era civil-defense plans and upgrading bomb shelters …. At the Kremlin’s Ministry of Emergency Situations, the Cold War is back. [Russia] recently held its biggest civil defense drills since the collapse of the U.S.S.R., with what officials said were 40 million people rehearsing a response […]

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Russia’s Use of Military Force as a Foreign Policy Tool: Is There a Logic?

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(PONARS Eurasia – ponarseurasia.org – Samuel Charap – October 19, 2016) Samuel Charap is Senior Fellow for Russia and Eurasia at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. [PONARS Policy Memo; article also appeared at ponarseurasia.org/sites/default/files/policy-memos-pdf/Pepm443_Charap_Oct2016_4.pdf] Russia has used its military beyond its borders with unprecedented frequency in the period since the invasion of Crimea in February 2014. Depending on how […]

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TRANSCRIPT: Press Conference of President Obama and Prime Minister Renzi of the Republic of Italy [excerpt re Russia]

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

The White House Office of the Press Secretary October 18, 2016 Press Conference of President Obama and Prime Minister Renzi of the Republic of Italy (excerpt re Russia) PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I’m going to be a little more subdued in my discussions of the Republican nominee in this context than I might be on the campaign trail. But let me […]

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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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Ukraine’s ministry of internal hatred

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

Ukrainian citizens displaced following the outbreak of conflict in the Donbas are still fighting for their rights – and public officials are using them as scapegoats. (opendemocracy.net – Tetiana Bezruk – October 14, 2016) Tetiana Bezruk researches contemporary Ukrainian nationalism, political violence in the Donbas and cultural memory in post-Soviet Ukraine. A friend who moved to Kyiv from Luhansk showed […]

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Ukrainian Nationalists Stage Torchlight March In Kyiv As New Far-Right Party Is Born

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Christopher Miller – KYIV, October 14, 2016) Thousands of nationalists have marched through Kyiv in a torchlight procession to celebrate Ukrainian fighters past and present on a day that saw a fearsome far-right military force formally enter the country’s political fray. As dusk fell on the second annual Day of Defenders on October 14, a holiday […]

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Russia’s Largest Problem: Permafrost Lies beneath Two-Thirds of Its Territory and Two-Thirds of That Will Melt This Century

Polar Map Showing Permafrost Areas, Adapted From NOAA.gov Graphic

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, October 14, 2016) The Russian government says it will invest 80 billion US dollars in developing Russia’s Far North between now and 2030, money it does not yet have (profile.ru/economics/item/111568-5-trillionov). But the biggest barrier to achieving its goals may not be financial stringencies but the impact of global warming. According to Russian […]

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NEWSLINK Daily Beast/Michael Weiss: “Barack Obama’s Wrong: The New Cold War’s Only Just Begun. From propaganda to missile deployments, Russian leader Vladimir Putin is testing Obama’s resolve-while claiming to be America’s victim.”

Putin and Obama with U.S. and Russian Flags

Recently, a Russian weatherman on state-owned Rossiya-24 outlined ways in which a Russian nuclear strike in Nebraska could strategically cripple U.S., Canadian, and Mexican communications. Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations has announced that 40 million citizens will take part in a “fire drill,” popularly and traditionally seen as precautionary measures (such as they are) in the event of a nuclear […]

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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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RUSSIALINK Russia Today/RT: “New wartime state management system gives full power to Russian military – report”

File Photo of Russian Tanks in Military Parade

“A recent military exercise in southern Russia saw the first real-time test of the state management system that allows the Defense Ministry to assume direct control over municipal and regional authorities, police, state security and emergency services.”

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NEWSWATCH: “What Clinton and Trump need to know about Putin’s Russia” – The Hill/Ariel Cohen

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

When Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump address security challenges … Putin’s Russia will loom large. This is no longer post-communist Russia attempting the transition to a market-based democracy and looking up to the West. That transformation was an epic failure. In Putin’s words, ‘Russia is rising from its knees’. … therein lies the threat. … The next American president will […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The scary truth about what Putin really wants (and Obama’s willful ignorance)” – Fox News/Judith Miller

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

What is Vladimir Putin up to? Evidence of Russian ambition seems to mount by the day. Seizing its neighbor’s territory. Russian bomber overflights of NATO member states. Sophisticated cyberattacks aimed at influencing America’s presidential election. Missiles fired at civilian aircraft. Devastating air strikes on hospitals and relief convoys in Aleppo as the ink dries on a U.S.-Russian cease-fire agreement for […]

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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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NEWSWATCH: “Dealing with a simmering Ukraine-Russia conflict” – Brookings/Fiona Hill, Steven Pifer

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

A major foreign policy challenge that will confront the new U.S. administration from day one is Ukraine and its conflict with Russia. … Minsk II … that was to end the fighting in … Donbas … has yet to be implemented. There is little sign that Moscow wants a settlement, apparently preferring a ‘simmering’ rather than ‘frozen’ conflict, where it […]

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In Putin’s World, Crime Pays

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – October 3, 2016) By most objective standards, last week’s news should have been an unmitigated disaster for Vladimir Putin’s regime. By most objective standards, the Kremlin should be worried that it risks becoming an international pariah. By most objective standards, September 28 should have been a dark day for Russia. Dutch investigators on […]

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Putin Making the Same Mistake Hitler Did, Piontkovsky Says

File Photo of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler Riding in Convertible

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, October 4, 2016) After meeting with the leaders of Britain and France, Adolf Hitler concluded that he was dealing with non-entities and that he couldn’t possibly lose a war against them, forgetting not only that these countries could and would change leaders but also that the outcome of conflicts reflects not just […]

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Others Cease, Russia Fires

Syria Map

(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

Syria Map

(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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What Putin Wants

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – October 5, 2016) Vladimir Putin wants a bunch of things. He wants NATO to be scaled back to where it was at the turn of century, essentially reducing it from 28 to 19 members. He wants the United States to repeal the Magnitsky Act and end all sanctions against Russia. He wants the […]

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Analysis: ‘Barbarous’ Syria Bombings, MH17 Blame: What Consequences Could Russia Face?

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Steve Gutterman – September 30, 2016) In terms of its reputation, Russia has had one of its worst weeks ever. Incensed that Moscow is pushing ahead with the “barbarous” bombing of Aleppo and angry over an attack on an aid convoy that is widely blamed on Russian and Syrian forces, the United States is threatening to […]

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Russia to Increase Military Spending While Slashing Welfare Budget

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 4, 2016) Russia’s military spending is set to increase by 679 billion rubles ($10 billion) despite the welfare budget decreasing by 375 billion rubles ($6 billion), the Gazeta.ru news website reported Tuesday, citing a source in the government. The government’s finance ministry published a bill of amendments to the welfare budget on Monday, announcing […]

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

Syria Map

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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Russian Officials Dig In On MH17, As Critics Decry ‘Politics Of Denial’

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – September 29, 2016) MOSCOW — A series of denials by Russian officials and state-media allegations of bias and foul play present a view that is starkly discrepant with international criminal investigators’ findings, announced this week, over the downing of a Malaysian airliner over eastern Ukraine in 2014. The Joint Investigation Team’s (JIT) interim […]

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