Former U.S. Defense Officials Warn Of Russian Response To NATO Summit

Europe Map

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Mike Eckel – June 23, 2016) WASHINGTON — A former top U.S. Defense Department official has warned that the buildup of NATO troops in Eastern Europe, and Russia’s own troop movements along its western borders, are deepening the risk of an accidental outbreak of war. The comments on June 23 by Ian Brzezinski, deputy assistant secretary […]

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Interfax: Ex-Russian military representative to NATO sees no prerequisites to improve relations between Russia, alliance

NATO Logo, NATO, OTAN

MOSCOW. June 26 (Interfax) – The resumption of contacts between Russia and the North Atlantic Alliance is premature, former Russian chief military representative to NATO, State Duma deputy Viktor Zavarzin said. “Today, the issue of resuming the relationship with NATO is premature, let they behave correctly, let they correctly understand Russia’s role in international security, European security,” Zavarzin said at […]

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New Anti-Terrorist Acts Means Kremlin is Preparing for War at Home and Abroad, Ponomarev Says

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 24, 2016) Today, the Russian Duma passed on second and third reading the so-called “Yarova-Ozerov law on terrorism,” a draconian measure that means not only that Vladimir Putin’s recent call for improved relations with the West was nothing more than “a special operation” but also and more seriously that he is […]

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The trap of “countering Russia”; Across eastern Europe, U.S. engagement against Russia is having an adverse effect on grassroots protesters – and no easy solution is forthcoming

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(opendemocracy.net – Tom Junes – June 23, 2016) Tom Junes is a historian and post-doctoral researcher focusing on protest movements in eastern Europe. He is a member of the Human and Social Studies Foundation Sofia and currently a visiting fellow at the Centre for Advanced Study in Sofia, Bulgaria. He is the author of Student Politics in Communist Poland: Generations […]

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No, Russia is not preparing for all-out war; Russia’s snap military mobilisation drills are an internal exercise. But troublesome relations with the west could still have unintended (and unpleasant) consequences.

Russian Jet Buzzing U.S. Navy Destroyer, adapted from U.S. Navy photo

(opendemocracy.net – Mark Galeotti – June 21, 2016) Mark Galeotti is currently Professor of Global Affairs at New York University and a visiting fellow at the ECFR, although from August he will be principal director of the Mayak Intelligence consultancy in Prague and senior researcher at the Czech Institute for International Relations. He blogs on Russian security affairs at In […]

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Putin Understands West but West Doesn’t Understand Putin, Moscow Hybrid War Specialist Says

Putin and Obama with U.S. and Russian Flags

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 20, 2016) Russia’s power does “not even come close” to that of the US, Andrey Manoylo says; but Moscow has an advantage “right now” because it understands the value of “asymmetric action” and because “the US clearly has difficulties with predicting Russia’s activities,” because of Washington’s overly simplistic models of Russian […]

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Ukraine’s struggle with the past is ours too

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

What happens in Ukraine does not stay in Ukraine – uncritical glorification of Ukrainian nationalism is the west’s problem too. (opendemocracy.net – PER RUDLING, TARIK AMAR, and JARED MCBRIDE – June 15, 2016) Per Anders Rudling is associate professor at the department of history, Lund University and senior visiting fellow at department of history, National University of Singapore. Tarik Cyril […]

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RBTH: Is Nadia Savchenko Putin’s secret weapon?

Nadiya Savchenko file photo, adapted from image at osce.usmission.gov

Savchenko, who recently returned to Kiev after two years in a Russian prison, has been accused of promoting Kremlin interests in Ukraine. According to Russian experts, these accusations are related to the fact that part of the Ukrainian establishment sees the pilot as a potential rival and seeks to discredit her. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ALEXEY TIMOFEYCHEV, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Report: U.S., Russia Slowly Reducing Nuclear Arsenals” – RFE/RL/AP/DPA

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

A Sweden-based nonproliferation think tank says the world’s biggest nuclear powers, the United States and Russia, are slowly reducing their nuclear arsenals but are modernizing their capacities. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) says … there were 455 fewer nuclear warheads at the start of 2016 among nine nuclear states than a year earlier. … the United States, Russia, […]

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Interfax: Attitude to Ukraine improves in Russia over past year although 36% still want closed border, visa regime – poll

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

MOSCOW. June 16 (Interfax) – More than a third of Russians (36%) want closed borders, visas and customs for Ukraine (30% a year ago), the Levada Center told Interfax, adding that was the highest indicator since March 2008. The share of respondents who see Russia and Ukraine as two independent, friendly nations with open borders and without visas or customs […]

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Getting Each Other Wrong

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Maxim Trudolyubov, Senior Fellow, Editor-at-Large, Vedomosti Daily – June 14, 2016) Politicians have to walk the walk in order to be credible. This is even more true in today’s world, given the rise of populist demagoguery and the sorry state of trust between the most important players. The dialogue taking place between Russia, the U.S., […]

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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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Russian Elite Not Only Believes Its Own Propaganda But is Basing Its Actions on It, New Russian Document Shows

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 7, 2016) The Moscow Council on Foreign and Defense Policy released at the end of May a document describing Russian foreign policy for the remainder of this decade. It is filled with propagandistic shibboleths heard every day on Russian TV, and the policies that it recommends flow from them rather than […]

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Fewer than Half of Ukrainians Blame Moscow Alone for War in the Donbass, New Survey Finds

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 8, 2016) Forty-eight percent of Ukrainians blame Moscow for the war in the Donbas, while 33 percent blame both Moscow and Kyiv and nine percent blame only Kyiv, according to polls conducted by Ukraine’s Razumkov Center for a report on the evolution of Ukrainian identity. That report, now available online at […]

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Savchenko Says Willing To Hold Peace Talks With Separatists

Nadiya Savchenko file photo, adapted from image at osce.usmission.gov

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – June 8, 2016) Ukrainian airwoman Nadia Savchenko says she is willing to talk with Russia-backed separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine to try to end the nation’s two-year-old conflict. Savchenko told Ukrainian media on June 7 she believes direct peace talks with separatist leaders would be more effective than the current, unproductive talks that have included Russia, […]

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The Kremlin’s Arctic Plans: More Gutted than Grand

Arctic Map

(PONARS Eurasia – ponarseurasia.org – Sergei Medvedev, Professor of Politics; Deputy Dean for International Affairs Higher School of Economics, Moscow – June 7, 2016) Article also appeared at ponarseurasia.org/memo/kremlin-arctic-plans-more-gutted-grand Over the past decade, Russia has launched a diplomatic and symbolic offensive in the Arctic, supported by increased military activity, grandiose economic plans, and showy assertions of sovereignty. Russian officials have […]

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Why the U.S. Needs Russian Rocket Engines to Spy on Russia

File Photo of Atlas Rocket on Launch Pad

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Eli Lake – June 6, 2016) When President Barack Obama came into office, the fact that Russia sold the U.S. the rocket engines it needed for launches was a feature of U.S. foreign policy, not a bug. Obama was trying to reset the U.S. relationship with Moscow, and that meant finding areas where the two former […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Missile defense-Would the Kremlin pitch a deal?” – Brookings/Steven Pifer

Aegis Ashore Missile Defense File Photo

On May 12, U.S. officials declared the U.S. SM-3 missile interceptor site at Deveselu, Romania operational. The next day, ground was broken at Redzikowo, Poland for a second SM-3 installation. Moscow immediately made clear its displeasure at these developments, repeating its past claims that U.S. missile defenses in Europe pose a threat to Russia. At the end of May, President […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Ukraine Declares War on Journalism” – New York Times/IAN BATESON

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

…. We were collectively labeled “terrorist collaborators” for gaining accreditation from the separatists. The list’s publishers claimed not to know what the consequences would be of releasing this information, but it seemed clear that the intent was to encourage people to take action against the journalists on their own. * * * trying to encourage ‘patriotic’ journalism, in which the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Surveys show Russian nationalism is on the rise. This explains a lot about the country’s foreign and domestic politics.” – Washington Post/Richard Arnold

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

… annexing Crimea, Putin managed to steal the thunder of … supremacist Russian nationalists. But as long as waves of migrants … perceived as culturally alien keep coming … storm clouds will still exist and influence Russian politics. The regime will have the unpalatable choice of allowing the growth of radical forces vehemently opposed to democracy, even its ‘managed’ variety, […]

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Putin’s Longstanding Plan for Long-Term Confrontation with the West Being Implemented Ever More Rapidly, Illarionov Says

Kremlin and River

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, May 28, 2016) For the last decade, Vladimir Putin has pursued a plan to isolate his country from the outside world by pursuing rearmament and confrontation with the West, Andrey Illarionov says. Now, there is evidence that the Kremlin leader is stepping up his efforts I that direction even during the current […]

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NEWSWATCH: Freed by Russia, Ukraine’s ‘Joan of Arc’ may be thorn in own leaders’ side – Reuters/Pavel Polityuk

Nadiya Savchenko file photo, adapted from image at osce.usmission.gov

Securing … Savchenko’s release from Russian captivity was a PR coup for … Poroshenko but the outspoken woman … may ultimately prove a thorn in his side. … in jail, Savchenko was named a lawmaker in … the main opposition party at a time of growing disillusion with the slow pace of reforms and … corruption. She … condemned a […]

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Kremlin Says Russia ‘In Favour’ of Returning Donbass to Ukraine

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 27, 2016) The Kremlin is ready to support the return of Ukraine’s troubled eastern regions to Kiev government control, according to President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov, the RIA Novosti news agency reported on Thursday. In a move some have interpreted as an invitation to dialogue, and others as bluff, Peskov said on Thursday […]

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Geopolitics versus the political marketplace: the origins of the war in Ukraine

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

These two books on the war in Ukraine open up fresh questions into how we interpret the causes of conflict. (opendemocracy.net – Mary Kaldor – May 27, 2016) Mary Kaldor is Professor of Global Governance at the London School of Economics and Political Science and author of ‘New and Old wars: Organised Violence in a Global Era’ 3rd edition, 2012 […]

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Savchenko ready to become Ukraine’s president if people want it

Nadiya Savchenko file photo, adapted from image at osce.usmission.gov

KYIV. May 27 (Interfax) – Nadiya Savchenko said she was ready to become Ukraine’s president if citizens of the country wanted it. “Ukrainians, if you want me to become the president, I will be the president,” Savchenko said at a press conference in Kyiv on Friday. Savchenko also said she was not sure that “people have already learned not to […]

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Ukraine’s New Hope

Nadiya Savchenko file photo, adapted from image at osce.usmission.gov

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – May 25, 2016) So after holding her in captivity for 708 days, the Kremlin has finally released its most famous hostage. And as a result, Ukraine might have gained something it has long lacked — and badly needs: a political figure with clear and unambiguous moral authority; someone unsullied by the past and […]

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What is causing the conflict in Ukraine?

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

Understanding the economic roots of rebellion in eastern Ukraine suggests that the resolution to the crisis must address restoring economic and political justice. (opendemocracy.net – Tymofiy Mylovanov – May 25, 2016) Tymofiy Mylovanov is the interim President of the Kyiv School of Economics, and Associate Professor at University of Pittsburgh. He received his economics PhD from the University of Wisconsin, […]

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Re #93/Olga Oliker, “No, Russia Isn’t Trying to Make Nuclear War Easier”

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

Subject: Re #93/Olga Oliker, “No, Russia Isn’t Trying to Make Nuclear War Easier” Date:     Wed, 25 May 2016 From:     Cynthia Roberts <car52@columbia.edu> Re Johnson List #93 article by Olga Oliker, “No, Russia Isn’t Trying to Make Nuclear War Easier.” Oliker is right about the flawed analysis on this topic, particularly in the government.  Too often existing work misreads the original […]

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‘I Will Never Return To Donetsk’ — Conflict Reduces One Woman’s Life To Rubble

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

Former Donetsk resident Nadia Zaslavska spoke to Dmitry Volchek from RFE/RL’s Russian Service about why the conflict in eastern Ukraine drove her from the city even though she had spent many happy years living there. (RFE/RL – rferl.org – May 24, 2016) I was born in the Dnipropetrovsk region but I spent more than 30 years in Donetsk. I built […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The U.S. and Russia Plan for Conflict” – Stratfor

File Photo of F-22 Fighter and Ground Crew

… In critical areas, including … Syria and Ukraine and arms control … both [the United States and Russia] would genuinely like to negotiate viable solutions. Nevertheless … mistrust … runs deep … vast differences of opinion and outright conflicts of interest will continue to undermine efforts …. With little hope of a positive outcome, the strategic decision-makers in Washington […]

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‘Reintegration of Donbass Will Be Impossible After Five Years,’ Senior Kyiv Official Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, May 24, 2016) Ukraine must move quickly to promote the reintegration of the Donbass because “five years from now,” Georgy Tuka, the deputy head of the Kyiv ministry responsible for overseeing such plans, says, “it will already be impossible” to do so because the region will have been so affected by the […]

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The Futility of Dialogue With Putin

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

(Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 13, Issue 100 – Pavel K. Baev – May 23, 2016) The need to keep the channels of dialogue open with an unpredictable Russia is taken as an absolute imperative by many Western politicians. But they are often surprised when this tactic backfires. The foreign ministers of the member states of […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia still plans to occupy Ukraine – defence minister; Ukraine’s Poltorak warns of further Kremlin’s aggression” – Ukraine Today

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

Russia is strengthening its military positions on its border with Ukraine and is still planning to occupy the neighbouring state. … according to Ukraine’s Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak who stated, ‘We clearly notice that Russia is bolstering its army positions on the border with Ukraine. It plans to deploy additional units and military bases on the border with Ukraine.’ Click […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Volodymyr Turchynovskyy, Reconciliation Will Be Ukraine’s Next Serious Battle with Russia” – Atlantic Council

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

… however paradoxical it might sound, the next serious battle will be over the concept of reconciliation, and its possible impact. This is where Ukraine might have a chance to play its unique role again by strategically cultivating a reconciliation initiative. … even the smallest hint of authentic reconciliation is, in the eyes of the current Russian political leadership, a […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Ukraine defeated Russia – at Eurovision. Here’s why that matters.” – Washington Post/Robert Seely

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

… [the] Russian regime was musically mugged at the Eurovision Song Contest by Susana Jamaladinova — known as Jamala — a Crimean Tatar who won by singing about Moscow’s oppression of her kin. … About 200 million viewers watched Jamala perform “1944,’ an emotional lament that mixes Turkish-style harmonies with a cool, Western beat and tells how the Soviet Union deported Tatars from their […]

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NEWSATCH: “Will Any More European Powers Contribute to NATO’s Eastern Force?” – Wall Street Journal

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

Now that the U.S. is only sending one—not two—battalions for the alliance military force on the eastern flank, there is a big question regarding which country will fill the void. … [NATO] has been working on a plan to step up its deterrence of Russia by creating a force of about 4,000 troops, a battalion for Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and […]

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Warning Of War, Ex-Deputy Commander Says NATO Must Counter ‘Russian Adventurism’ In Baltics

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Eugen Tomiuc – May 22, 2016) A former NATO deputy supreme commander is warning that the alliance could find itself in a full-fledged armed conflict with Russia within a year if it does not strongly step up its presence in the Baltic states. Retired British General Richard Shirreff set out the stark scenario in a book […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Minsk is not working, but Kyiv should stay with it” – Steven Pifer/Kyiv Post

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

The Minsk arrangements that were supposed to resolve the conflict in the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine have not been implemented. Ukrainians and others increasingly question whether it is time to abandon the Minsk process. The Ukrainian government, however, should not do so, as it would dangerously undermine Kyiv’s position. * * *  The Minsk arrangements are flawed and most […]

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NEWSWATCH: “NATO finalizes military build-up to counter Russia” – AFP

NATO Meeting file photo

NATO foreign ministers were … finalising the alliance’s biggest military build-up since the end of the Cold War to counter what they see as a more aggressive and unpredictable Russia. … [At] a “landmark” summit … in July … NATO leaders will formally endorse the revamp which puts more troops into eastern European member states as part of a “deter […]

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The West Shouldn’t Fear Russia’s ‘Hybrid Warfare’

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – May 18, 2016) In the two years that have passed since Russia annexed Crimea, the expression “Russian hybrid warfare” has become a fixture in the Western political, media and academic lexicon. It’s a catch-all for Russian hostility — and a perfect mirror image of the Kremlin’s own paranoia about the West. The Atlantic […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Inevitable Decline of Putin’s Russia” – US News/Paul Shinkman

Putin Descending a Staircase

The downfall of the Soviet Union has taken on renewed resonance in 2016, as a similar set of pressures appears to be aligning against America’s former Cold War foe, raising questions as to whether it, too, may overtax itself. … the Kremlin in the early 2000s consolidated a resurgent Russia’s economic power among a few trusted business elites, failing to […]

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Ukraine Talks Seek Progress, But Donbas Elections Remain a Hurdle

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

(Voice of America – voa.com – Daniel Schearf – MOSCOW, May 17, 2016) U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland’s surprise trip to Moscow is evidence of a new push for progress on implementing the peace deal for Ukraine signed last year in Belarus’ capital, Minsk. Nuland’s trip began Tuesday, just a day before the Trilateral Contact Group meets in […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting on defence industry development

Patriot Missile Launch file photo

(Kremlin.ru – May 13, 2016) Vladimir Putin held this week’s final meeting with Defence Ministry leadership and defence industry representatives. The meeting covered the current tasks of the defence industry, specifically, mobilisation readiness of defence industry companies. Another issue on the agenda was the deployment of the US missile defence system in Eastern Europe. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good […]

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