Russia Braces Itself as Syrian Cease-fire Falters

Syria Map

(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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TRANSCRIPT: Remarks by Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland at a Press Availability in Kyiv

Victoria Nuland file photo

Embassy of the United States-Kyiv Remarks by Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland at a Press Availability April 27, 2016 Fairmont Grand Hotel Kyiv, Ukraine ASSISTANT SECRETARY NULAND: Good afternoon, everybody. Apologies for keeping you waiting. It is terrific to be back in Kyiv on this beautiful spring day, and on the eve of the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Lawmakers look to get tough on Russia” – The Hill

U.S. Capitol in Bright Sunlight

Russian aggression will be high on lawmakers’ minds when the House Armed Services Committee meets Wednesday to mark up its annual defense policy bill. … the Russians have buzzed a U.S. Navy destroyer, barrel rolled over a U.S. reconnaissance plane and warned the United States to steer clear of its territory. … committee members say there will be plenty in […]

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BBC Accuses British, Russian Media Of Skewing MH17 Reporting

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

(RFE/RL – Carl Schreck – April 25, 2016) The BBC has issued a rare defense of an upcoming documentary about the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine, accusing British media of distorting its report about a tragedy that killed 298 passengers and crew in July 2014. A report by Britain’s Sunday Express tabloid “misrepresented” the BBC program, […]

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NEWSLINK Russia Direct: “Reasons to be hopeful after the Russia-NATO Summit. Russia and NATO renewed their dialogue for the first time since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis, but the talks failed to produce any results. However, the very fact that the summit took place means a lot and gives reason to hope that the two sides can eventually find a compromise.”

File Photo of Official at Podium in Front of Large NATO-Russia Council Signage » Read more

NEWSWATCH: “New Russian Security Force Will Answer to Vladimir Putin. The Russian Guard is being formed ahead of coming parliamentary elections.” – Wall Street Journal

Vladimir Putin

The Kremlin is creating a new internal security force that answers directly to … Putin, ahead of parliamentary elections. … the new force … the Russian Guard, will be headed by Viktor Zolotov, who served as Mr. Putin’s personal bodyguard for 13 years. … Putin directed the creation of the force … through an executive order … under review by […]

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VIDEO & NEWSWATCH PBS: “Two years into new regime, grim realities persist in Ukraine”

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

Ukraine has faced many challenges in the two years since violent protests drove the country’s president from office. The Russian occupation of the Crimean Peninsula in particular sparked a military conflict between pro-Russian secessionists and Ukraine’s government. Correspondent Kira Kay and Producer Jason Maloney from the Bureau for International Reporting take us inside Ukraine to asses the country’s struggle for […]

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Interfax: Donetsk republic attacked nearly 300 times by govt forces in 24 hours

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

(Interfax – April 23, 2016) The Ukrainian troops have opened fire against the self-proclaimed Donetsk people’s republic (DPR) about 300 times in the past 24 hours, DPR defense representative Eduard Basurin said. “Over the past 24 hours the Ukrainian armed forces have shelled our republic 296 times. In all, the enemy fired 190 mortars of the 82- and 120-millimeter caliber. […]

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Kennan Cable No.16: Understanding the “Under Control” Donbas

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

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Brian Milakovsky, Humanitarian Activist, Ukraine – April 22, 2016) [Photos and figures here wilsoncenter.org/publication/kennan-cable-no16-understanding-the-under-control-donbas] After nearly two years of war, the contested Donbas region in eastern Ukraine is split in two between the Russian-backed “People’s Republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk and the so-called podkontrolny (under control) Donbas. There is much analysis of how Ukraine might […]

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NEWSWATCH Carnegie Endowment for International Peace:/ Balázs Jarábik, Mikhail Minakov: “Ukraine’s Hybrid State. Ukraine has new institutions and a vibrant civil society, but a culture of corruption erodes state legitimacy. The state has been captured by enemies within.”

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

With no end in sight to the slow-motion hybrid war in Donbas, the impetus to reform the Ukrainian state has moved in fits and starts. Attempts to carry out a series of fundamental reforms have fallen far short of expectations. These efforts have produced what some observers have described as a hybrid Ukrainian state. The country boasts new institutions and […]

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VIDEO & ARTICLE: The Kremlin’s Spin, NATO’s Reality

NATO Meeting file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – The Daily Vertical: Brian Whitmore – April 20, 2016) The Kremlin and its surrogates are spinning today’s meeting of the NATO-Russia Council as the end of Moscow’s isolation. In Brussels, it is viewed as a technical meeting to put safeguards in place to prevent an accidental conflict from breaking out amid rising tensions. The Kremlin says […]

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NEWSLINK Russia Direct: “Russia might be the first casualty if nuclear terrorism becomes reality. RD Interview: Alexey Arbatov, the head of the Carnegie Moscow Center’s Nonproliferation Program, discusses nuclear security challenges and the risk of terrorist groups getting access to nuclear weapons.”

Radioactivity Symbol » Read more

NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Perpetual Geopolitics. Putin Returns to the Historical Pattern.” – Foreign Affairs/Stephen Kotkin

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

For half a millennium, Russian foreign policy has been characterized by soaring ambitions that have exceeded the country’s capabilities. Beginning with … Ivan the Terrible … Russia managed to expand at an average rate of 50 square miles per day for hundreds of years, eventually covering one-sixth of the earth’s landmass. * * *  Throughout, the country has been haunted […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s Russia: Down But Not Out.” – Foreign Affairs [issue table of contents with links]

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

Foreign Affairs foreignaffairs.com May/June 2016 issue Putin’s Russia Down But Not Out https://www.foreignaffairs.com/issues/2016/95/3 [There is limited access to free articles] Russia’s Perpetual Geopolitics Putin Returns to the Historical Pattern Stephen Kotkin Russian Politics Under Putin The System Will Outlast the Master Gleb Pavlovsky Russia’s Constrained Economy How the Kremlin Can Spur Growth Sergei Guriev The Revival of the Russian Military […]

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Polish Minister Says Russia More Dangerous Than Islamic State

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

(RFE/RL – April 15, 2016) Poland’s foreign minister has said that Russia is an “existential threat” to European countries and is more dangerous than the Islamic State (IS) militant group. Speaking at a conference in Bratislava on April 15, Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said “Russia’s activity is a sort of existential threat because this activity can destroy countries.” The migration […]

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Interfax: Less than half of Ukrainians support NATO membership – poll

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

(Interfax – April 16, 2016) Only 45% of the population support the idea of Ukraine’s joining NATO, as is seen from a public opinion poll. Asked how they would vote if a referendum on Ukraine’s accession to NATO were held today, 45% of those polled said they would vote in favor of NATO membership, 30% would vote against it, 16% […]

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RBTH: Putin announces creation of National Guard for Russia

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

A series of important changes has taken place within Russian security organs, with the most significant being the establishment of a National Guard, to be formed from Interior Ministry troops. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – IGOR ROZIN, RBTH – April 6, 2016) A reorganization of government bodies has seen Russian President Vladimir Putin place the Federal Drug Control […]

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TRANSCRIPT: Russian National Guard established

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Kremlin.ru – April 5, 2016) Vladimir Putin made the announcement at a meeting with Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev, Interior Ministry Troops Commander Viktor Zolotov, Federal Drug Control Service Director Viktor Ivanov and Federal Migration Service First Deputy Director Yekaterina Yegorova. Vladimir Putin announces the creation of the National Guard on the basis of the Interior Ministry Troops. On the right: […]

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Interfax: Over 80% of Russians against Crimea’s return to Ukraine – poll

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

(Interfax – April 7, 2016) An overwhelming majority of Russians believe that Crimea should stay within Russia: this opinion is maintained by 87 percent of respondents, the same as in November. The percentage has sizably grown since March 2014 (64 percent), the Levada Center told Interfax. The respondents supported their opinion by saying that “Crimea had always been Russian” (64 […]

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Russia’s Military Budget Ranks Fourth Worldwide – Report

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 5, 2016) Russia no longer ranks among the top three spenders on defense, dropping down to fourth place, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reported Tuesday. The United States remained the leader by far, accounting for 36 percent of all military spending in the world, according to the SIPRI report. In 2015, Washington […]

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NEWSLINK Newsweek.com/Ben Nimmo: “PUTIN’S PARANOIA IS DRIVING HIS FOREIGN ADVENTURES”

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

NEWSWATCH Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP): “UKRAINE: THE PRESIDENT’S OFFSHORE TAX PLAN”

Petro Poroshenko file photo, with additional men in background, adapted from image at state.gov

… actions by his financial advisers and Poroshenko himself … worth an estimated US$ 858 million, make it appear that the candy magnate was more concerned about his own welfare than his country’s – going so far as to arguably violate the law twice, misrepresent information and deprive his country of badly needed tax dollars during a time of war. […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Dutch referendum on Ukraine: A hard Dutch kick: Voting down the EU’s treaty with Ukraine would hand Vladimir Putin a win.” – The Economist

EU Map

… Yanukovych … succumbed to Russian pressure and renounced an association agreement with the European Union that he and his predecessors had spent six years negotiating. Many Ukrainians thought their country’s best hope for transforming itself from a corrupt gangster state into an orderly democracy … had been sacrificed on the orders of … Putin …. Thousands set up camp […]

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News Flash! The Truth Is Heard On Russian TV

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – The Daily Vertical: Brian Whitmore – April 1, 2016) Every once in awhile, a voice of reason and truth can be heard — even on Russian state television. What? You don’t believe me? Well, look, I saw it with my own eyes and heard it with my own ears — and I don’t think I was […]

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Ukraine bans all Russian films released after Jan 1, 2014

File Photo of Reel of Film

(Interfax – March 29, 2016) Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada has banned broadcasting of the “films of the aggressor state” produced and/or publicized (demonstrated) for the first time after January 1, 2014. The bill, entitled “On making changes to the Ukrainian law ‘On cinematography’,” was favored by 237 parliamentarians on March 29. Having passed the law, the parliamentarians extended the ban to […]

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U.S. Embassy: No way of exchanging Savchenko for Bout and Yaroshenko

File Photo of Viktor Bout Behind Bars

(Interfax – March 29, 2016) Washington is not considering the possibility of exchanging Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko, who has been sentenced in Russia to 22 years in prison, for Russian citizens Konstantin Yaroshenko and Viktor Bout, currently serving prison terms in the United States for drug trafficking and arms dealing respectively, the U.S. Embassy in Russia has said. “No, we […]

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NEWSWATCH Kyiv Post/Arseniy Yatsenyuk: “‘We must impose a moratorium on the struggles between political allies'”

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

The Kyiv Post features an English translation of Easter remarks by Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. … Our internal and external threats remain exceptional. We are in real danger of the imminent threat of an ungovernable political and economic environment, of financial instability and international fatigue with the Ukrainian political class, not to mention from Russian military aggression. No wonder […]

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Moscow Accuses Itself

Sergei Lavrov file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – The Daily Vertical: Brian Whitmore – March 24, 2016) Well, it was predictable, but Sergei Lavrov has not let us down. He’s proven yet again the axiom that if you want to know what Russia is doing, pay close attention to what it accuses the West of doing. The Russian foreign minister yesterday urged Europe to […]

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