A Question Of War: Ukrainian Journalist Gears Up (Again) For Putin’s Big Presser

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

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW, December 13, 2017 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/putin-annual-press-conference-ukrainian-journalist-war-questions/28914154.html) In a sea of more than a thousand journalists jostling for attention, Roman Tsymbalyuk will be holding a black-and-white “Ukraine” placard. His aim is to catch Vladimir Putin’s eye during the Russian president’s marathon annual press conference on […]

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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

Syria Map

(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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Putin Speaks Directly To Separatist Leaders, Presses Prisoner Swap

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

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – November 15, 2017 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/putin-ukraine-prisoner-swap-medvedchuk-separatists/28856131.html) Russian President Vladimir Putin has told leaders of Moscow-backed separatists in Ukraine’s eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk that he favors a plan for a prisoner swap with Kyiv, in a rare acknowledgement of direct contact with the separatist forces. Russian state-run […]

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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

Syria Map

“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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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “Vladimir Putin supported Viktor Medvedchuk’s proposed prisoner exchange between Ukraine and Donetsk and Lugansk republics” – KremlinRu

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

(Kremlin.ru – November 15, 2017) During Vladimir Putin’s visit to the Voskresensky New Jerusalem Monastery, Viktor Medvedchuk, the leader of the Ukrainian Choice – People’s Right movement, sought the Russian President’s support for his proposed prisoner exchange between Ukraine and the Donetsk and Lugansk republics. Leader of the Ukrainian Choice – People’s Right movement Viktor Medvedchuk: Mr President, may I […]

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Interfax: Russia’s defense spending tops 5.3% of GDP, near $70 bln – PwC

File Photo of Close-Up of Line of Russian Soldiers in Dress Uniforms for Parade

MOSCOW. Nov 15 (Interfax) – Russia ranks seventh among the world’s major defense-industry players, with defense expenditures totaling $69.2 billion, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) said in a statement regarding its second Global Defense Perspectives report. In the current rating, Russia occupies seventh place; its defense expenditures amount to 5.32% of GDP and total $69.2 billion. It has moved up one position since […]

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U.S., Russia Envoys Differ On Peace And Peacekeepers In Eastern Ukraine

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

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – November 14, 2017 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/volker-surkov-meeting-ukraine-u-s-russia/28853193.html) After talks on the conflict in eastern Ukraine, U.S. and Russian envoys say their countries have “different concepts for how to make peace” but will continue to work to achieve that goal. “Both sides agreed to reflect on the discussions … and […]

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Looming Demographic Collapse Now ‘Main Threat to Russian National Security,’ Health Expert Says

File Photo of Crowd of Russians with One Waving Russian Flag

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 14, 2017) The situation with regard to Russia’s birthrate is much worse than officials say, Igor Gundarov says. It is not easily correctible as some think but rather reflects a “cascading demographic” decline that now represents the main threat to the national security” of the country. The specialist on health care […]

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Interfax: Russian Strategic Missile Forces comprise approx. 400 ICBMs – commander

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

MOSCOW. Nov 13 (Interfax) – The Russian Strategic Missile Forces comprise about 400 intercontinental ballistic missiles with various types of warheads, the Russian Strategic Missile Forces Commander, Col. Gen. Sergei Karakayev, told the Defense Ministry’s newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda in an interview. “As of today, the Russian Strategic Missile Forces operate about 400 intercontinental ballistic missiles with warheads of various types […]

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Interfax: “NATO command’s restructuring focused on Russia standoff – Ambassador Grushko”

Alexander Grushko file photo, adapted from image at eucom.mil

BRUSSELS. Nov 10 (Interfax) – The proposals discussed by the NATO defense ministers at the conference in Brussels on November 8-9 in regard to the adaptation of the alliance’s command structure came as no surprise to anyone, the Russian Permanent Representative to NATO, Alexander Grushko, said. “They were made in furtherance of the Warsaw summit’s decisions, which included a review […]

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NEWSWATCH: “U.S. to Seek Russian Approval for Peacekeepers in Eastern Ukraine; U.S., Western officials hope Putin is seeking a way out of separatist conflict” – Wall Street Journal/ Laurence Norman, Julian E. Barnes

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

“U.S. officials are preparing to test Moscow’s willingness to end the Ukraine conflict by seeking Russia’s approval for 20,000 peacekeepers across Ukraine’s embattled east, U.S. and Western officials said. … driven by hopes in some Western capitals, including Paris and Berlin, that … Putin is seeking a way out of Moscow’s military support to Ukrainian separatists. * * * … U.S. officials […]

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NEWSLINK: “The reality of neo-Nazis in Ukraine is far from Kremlin propaganda” – The Hill/ Lev Golinkin

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

“… The most infamous neo-Nazi group in Ukraine is the 3,000-strong Azov Battalion, founded in 2014. Prior to creating Azov, its commander, Andriy Biletsky, headed the neo-Nazi group Patriot of Ukraine, members of which went on to form the core of Azov. Biletsky had stated that the mission of Ukraine is to ‘lead the White Races of the world in […]

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Russia increases military presence in strategic areas of globe – General Staff chief

File Photo of Deck of Russian Aircraft Carrier Admiral Kuznetsov

MOSCOW. Nov 7 (Interfax) – Russia’s military presence in strategic areas of the globe has markedly grown over the past five years, Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov said. “The growth of the Armed Forces’ combat capabilities over the past five years has resulted in a significant expansion of Russia’s military presence in strategic areas of the world,” Gerasimov […]

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Interfax: North Atlantic Alliance inflating “threat from the East” – Russian envoy to NATO Grushko

Alexander Grushko file photo, adapted from image at eucom.mil

MOSCOW. Nov 8 (Interfax) – The North Atlantic Alliance is taking an endless series of measures to the sole end of mastering the theater of operations in the Baltic region and Central and Southeastern Europe, as well as creating a force-projection potential, Russian Permanent Representative to NATO Alexander Grushko said in an interview with the Izvestia newspaper published on Wednesday. […]

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NEWSLINK: “Putin: Russia Ending Conscription” – Russian Defense Policy Blog

File Photo of Russian Military Conscripts Boarding Train with Gear

“… Putin significantly changed the script for Russian military reform on October 24 by indicating intent to end the draft in favor of volunteer contract service. … Putin told his young audience: ‘While I don’t have a ready-made answer, in the same vein if we try to develop this practice further, then maybe we’ll come up with something, but in general […]

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Less Than Half of Russians Surveyed Back Kremlin Support for Ukraine Separatists

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 30, 2017) Forty-one percent of surveyed Russians believe Moscow should support separatists in Ukraine’s Donbass region, according to a new poll published by the independent Levada Center. Moscow has been accused of supporting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine since then-president Viktor Yanukovych was toppled in February 2014. The ensuing conflict between Kiev and separatists […]

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NEWSLINK: “CARIBBEAN CRISIS 2.0: ILLUSION OF PERMISSIVENESS” – Valdai/ Maxim Starchak

Map of Cuba and Environs

“… The international security system is collapsing, there is no dialogue. The parties do not consider negotiations, options, but prefer options for developing their military activities. Sooner or later, this may lead to a full-scale crisis similar to Cuba 1962. However, this may not be a bad thing. The Caribbean crisis has taught us to understand that the value of […]

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Putin Is Filling the Middle East Power Vacuum

Syria Map

(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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Interfax: U.S.-led coalition stages fatal provocations against Russian troops in Syria – Lavrov

Sergei Lavrov file photo

MOSCOW. Oct 4 (Interfax) – The U.S.-led coalition in Syria inspires terrorists into attacks and stages fatal provocations against Russian servicemen, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. “The US-led forces’ activities in Syria cause many questions. In some cases these forces mount allegedly accidental strikes against the Syrian Armed Forces, after which the Islamic State counterattacks, in other cases they […]

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[1993] NEWSWATCH: “Yeltsin crushes revolt; Parliament taken in tank battle; Opposition parties and newspapers banned” – The Guardian (UK)/ Jonathan Steele, David Hearst [from Oct. 5, 1993]

Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin

[From 1993 archived article:] “President Boris Yeltsin moved swiftly last night to stamp his absolute power on Russia by suspending a range of political movements and closing opposition newspapers after the surrender of his main parliamentary opponents in the wake of the assault on the Russian White House. * * *  After a grisly 10-hour gun battle in which tanks punched […]

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New York Times Covers Russia [Headlines & Links]

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

October 3, 2017 ‘Look Up! Sputnik!’ 60 Years Later By MICHAEL KHODARKOVSKY https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/03/opinion/sputnik-cold-war-space-race.html [“America’s response in 1957 was a huge investment in space technologies; within 12 years, it had put the first men on the moon. Today, too, a major investment in cybersecurity by a much wealthier and more innovative West might remind Moscow that it cannot afford or win […]

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NEWSLINK: “From free info exchange to Kremlin tool; Russia’s homegrown Web; The Soviet Union had a working Internet surprisingly early, and its isolation and highly educated users have kept it separate even in a well-connected world.” – Le Monde Diplomatique/ Kevin Limonier

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

“The Ukrainian government blocked access to a number of Russian online services this May, including search engine Yandex and Facebook equivalent VKontakte. Kiev accuses these services, widely used in Ukraine, of sharing data with Russian intelligence, especially the personal data of soldiers fighting separatists in the Donbass region. This measure stopped millions from accessing their favourite sites, and showed the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “About 60 foreign planes, 12 ships seen on reconnaissance mission near Russian borders over week” – Interfax-AVN

Russia Map

“Fifty-eight foreign planes were performing reconnaissance missions near the Russian border over the past week, the Russian Defense Ministry said. … Air defense standby forces performed nine flights to intercept aerial targets …. Most reconnaissance missions were observed in the Western strategic sector (46); seven … in the Arctic, four in the East, and one in the South ….” Click here for: […]

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Two Years on, the Stakes of Russia’s War in Syria Are Piling; Russia may have helped Assad win the war, but crucial decisions lie ahead

Syria Map

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Vladimir Frolov – September 29, 2017) Two years ago, on Sept. 30, 2015, Russian warplanes launched their first airstrikes in Syria, plunging Russia into a civil war that had already been festering for four years. Moscow intervened in Syria vowing to fight Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, terrorist groups banned in Russia. Its objective was […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “Chemical disarmament completed in Russia”- KremlinRu

Chemical Weapons Hazard Symbol, adapted from image at dni.gov

(Kremlin.ru – September 27, 2017) The President listened to a report via videoconference on the destruction of Russia’s last remaining chemical weapons. Mikhail Babich, Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Volga Federal District and Chairman of the State Commission for Chemical Disarmament, reported to President Vladimir Putin on the completion of chemical disarmament ahead of schedule. Also in attendance at the […]

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NEWSLINK: “U.S. And Russia Quietly End Diplomatic Tailspin; A behind-the-scenes effort by US and Russian diplomats may have preempted a new wave of tit-for-tat retaliations” – Buzzfeed/ John Hudson

Rex Tillerson file photo, adapted from image at state.gov

“After months of angry statements, diplomatic expulsions, and shuttered consulates, US and Russian officials have quietly put an end to the tit-for-tat retaliations between the two sides, and U.S. officials are now considering reviving parts of a Russian proposal from March to strengthen military-to-military contacts. The improvement in relations follows talks between Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Understanding Russia’s War Stories; Putin’s foreign policy is rooted in an epic myth of betrayal and redemption” – The New Republic/ Sophie Pinkham

Vladirmir Putin and Donald Trump Sitting in Chairs with Flags Behind, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

“… From the hacking of DNC servers during the presidential campaign to links between Russian officials and Trump’s team, Democrats have leapt at the idea that Trump’s victory resulted from Russian machinations, even though there remains little evidence that the hacks decisively affected the election. Rather than revising their platform to appeal to today’s working class, Democrats have pointed their fingers […]

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NEWSWATCH: “What would a Russia-NATO war look like? Russia’s wargaming it right now” – Washington Post/ David Filipov, Michael Birnbaum, Andrew Roth

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

“A revitalized Russian military on Monday sent tanks, paratroopers, artillery, antiaircraft weapons, jets and helicopters into frigid rains to engage the forces of a mock enemy called the ‘Western Coalition.’ The barrage of firepower , part of war games that began last week, was an explosive show of force that Baltic leaders said was a simulation of an attack against […]

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NEWSWATCH: “U.S. Senate approves $500 million military aid, lethal weapons for Ukraine”

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

“The … Senate passed … the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, authorizing the provision to Ukraine of $500 million worth of military aid, including lethal defensive weapons. … approved 89 to 8 votes, [the bill] will now go to the president’s desk … [it passed] the House … on July 14. * * * The executive summary … [says] that half of the $500 million … will be withheld until […]

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

Syria Map

“… 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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Yabloko submits bill limiting president’s right to use military abroad to 3 regional legislatures

Russia Regions Map

MOSCOW. Sept 19 (Interfax) – The Yabloko party has submitted a draft federal bill restricting the president’s right to use the armed forces abroad to three regional legislatures for consideration, the party’s press service reported. “Party Chairperson Emilia Slabunova has submitted the bill to Karelia’s Legislative Assembly, and Mikhail Amosov and Lev Shlosberg of the party’s federal political committee submitted […]

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How to Resist Russian Propaganda on a Tight Budget; Expensive U.S. and EU efforts are no match for a few simple techniques.

File Image of Laptop Computer, Tables and Mobile Device, adapted from image at energy.gov

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – September 13, 2017) The awkwardly named European External Action Service East Stratcom Task Force provides the latest exercise in futility. The agency, which is part of the European Union bureaucratic machinery, has gathered several thousand examples of disinformation in the first searchable database of its size, a culmination of its work since 2015. […]

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NEWSLINK: “RT, Sputnik and Russia’s New Theory of War; How the Kremlin built one of the most powerful information weapons of the 21st century – and why it may be impossible to stop” – New York Times Magazine/ JIM RUTENBERG

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

“… Military officials in America and Europe have come to refer to this idea alternatively as the ‘Gerasimov doctrine’ and ‘hybrid war,’ which they accuse Russia of engaging in now. …”

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NEWSWATCH: “A Problem Much Bigger Than Putin” – New York Times/ Mikhail Khodorkovsky

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

“More than 25 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the attempt to build a democracy in its place, Russia has once again become an authoritarian state. The same inability to build democratic institutions plagued the leaders of the February Revolution of 1917, which led to the Bolsheviks gaining power later that year. … Still burdened by a ‘besieged […]

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Know Your Enemy: Russian War Games Expected To Yield Valuable Insight For Western Watchers

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – September 10, 2017 – also appeared at https://www.rferl.org/a/zapad-war-games-valuable-insight-western-observers-russia-belarus/28727052.html) When thousands of Russian troops wheeled and maneuvered through the steppes of southern Siberia two years ago, as part of massive military exercises known as Tsentr, Western experts spotted something unusual. Amid Defense Ministry orders for tank brigades, paratrooper battalions, motorized rifle […]

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The Kremlin’s Global Campaign Of Chaos

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

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – September 8, 2017 –  also appeared at rferl.org/a/putin-calls-us-senator-mccain-old-world-but-admires-his-patriotism/28537171.html) They’ve done it from the Baltics to the Caucasus. They’ve done it from the Balkans to North America. They’ve done it from Belarus to Scandinavia. According to a new report by the Alliance for Securing Democracy of the German […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “Vladimir Putin’s news conference following BRICS Summit”- KremlinRu

File Photo of Flags of BRICS Nations and BRICS Logo from Past Summit

(Kremlin.ru – September 5, 2017) Vladimir Putin answered Russian journalists’ questions following his visit to China to take part in the BRICS Summit. Vladimir Putin summed up the results of the BRICS Summit and his talks with foreign leaders on the Summit’s sidelines, and shared his perspective on pressing international issues. Transcript of the news conference for Russian journalists President […]

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Interfax: Putin warns U.S. against supplying Ukraine with lethal weapons, which would exacerbate Donbas situation

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

XIAMEN. Sept 5 (Interfax) – The possible delivery of U.S. lethal weapons to Ukraine cannot drastically change the Donbas situation but may increase casualties and trigger the use of military force in other territories, Russian President Vladimir Putin told a press conference on Tuesday, after the BRICS summit in Xiamen. “This [the supply of lethal weapons to Ukraine] is a […]

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Interfax: Conditions already exist for UN peacekeepers’ introduction in Donbas – Gryzlov

File Photo of UN Building with Flags

MOSCOW. Sept 5 (Interfax) – Donbas already has the conditions allowing, with Kyiv’s good will, for an introduction of UN peacekeepers there, Boris Gryzlov, Russia’s representative in the Contact Group on Ukraine, said on Tuesday. “For a possible introduction of the UN contingent to support and maintain the security of the OSCE [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe] mission […]

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NEWSLINK: “Ukrainian crisis: Is there a way out?” – Washington Times/ Edward Lozansky

Aerial Photo of Pentagon and Environs

“Are we preparing for the war with Russia over Ukraine? That’s how it looks if you saw in the news how U.S. Marines regularly do simulated battles with Russian-speaking insurgents.  This is taking place in North Carolina and Germany, but the assumed country is Ukraine, where some American troops have established a combat training center staffed by Ukrainians and reportedly […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Despite New U.S. Sanctions, Russian Oil Traders Say It’s Business as Usual” – Reuters

Oil Well file photo

“Russian oil companies will quickly find ways to work around tighter restrictions imposed this month by the United States on the foreign finance they can use, multiple Russian oil industry sources told Reuters. … new restrictions cut the period that U.S.-based entities can provide finance to Russian energy firms from 90 to 60 days … part of a fresh package of U.S. […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Marking time” – Kyiv Post Editorial [re: Ukraine]

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

“… Ukraine celebrates the 26th year of its independence …. in the Donbas, Russia’s war on Ukraine is a deadly stalemate …. in Minsk, peace talks to end the Kremlin’s military intervention and restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity are going round in circles …. In Kyiv, it’s politics as usual … with a powerful president lording over … an oligarchical system. The reform […]

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NEWSLINK: “The 10 worst cities to live in the world in 2017” – Business Insider/ Rosie Fitzmaurice

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

“… 10. Kiev, Ukraine – 47.8/100 points. The capital of Kiev saw the biggest decline in terms of liveability – 21.4 points – of all 140 cities surveyed. It is the also the only European city in the 12 that scored below 50 points. The city is still in a recovery that remains under threat from unrest, economic instability, and […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia’s government moves from war budget to election budget” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“The Russian government has moved from a war budget to an election budget as social spending soars and defence spending is cut. With the presidential election now only a year away, which Russian President Vladimir Putin, virtually unopposed, is expected to easily win, the Russian government has changed its budgetary focus and boosted social spending to soften up the electorate. […]

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Interfax: Contact Group to support ‘school truce’ in eastern Ukraine on occasion of new school year’s beginning – Gryzlov

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

MINSK. Aug 23 (Interfax) – The Trilateral Contact Group may declare a truce in eastern Ukraine at its meeting on Wednesday so that a new school year could begin without incident, Russian representative to the group Boris Gryzlov said. “A school truce should be put into place at today’s meeting of the Contact Group for the sake of security of […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Tavrida National Youth Educational Forum – KremlinRu

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

(Kremlin.ru – August 21, 2017) During his working trip to the Republic of Crimea, Vladimir Putin attended the Tavrida National Youth Educational Forum. The President was introduced to thematic exhibitions of various creative teams, photo artists, architects and urban designers. The President spoke in an informal setting with both organisers and participants of the annual forum. The Tavrida National Youth […]

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