Putin vs. Erdogan – This Time It’s Personal

Turkey map

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner – February 4, 2016) On Feb. 2, Turkish President Recep Erdogan urgently sought an audience with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. The Turkish ambassador in Moscow relayed the message, but has, it seems, yet to receive a response. It was the second time Erdogan has been rebuffed by Putin following Turkey’s downing of […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Reinforcing Deterrence on NATO’s Eastern Flank Wargaming the Defense of the Baltics” – RAND

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

RAND addresses the military dynamic in the Baltics in the event of a hypothetical prospective Russian attack. Russia’s recent aggression against Ukraine has disrupted nearly a generation of relative peace and stability between Moscow and its Western neighbors and raised concerns about its larger intentions. From the perspective of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the threat to the three […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia could overrun Baltics in 3 days. NATO forces would face severe casualties.” – Washington Times

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

The Washington Times covers a recent RAND report about the military dynamic that could exist in the Baltics in the event of a hypothetical Russian attack. On the same day the Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, announced new resources being sought to strengthen Eastern European defenses from any possible Russian aggression, a report from the RAND corporation was released and […]

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Interfax: DPR militiamen accuse Kyiv of over 100 shellings over past day

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

DONETSK. Feb 2 (Interfax) – The Defense Ministry of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) said that the Ukrainian military have breached the ceasefire 28 times over the past day; two people were wounded. “The situation on the contact line has not changed over the past day. The Ukrainian army has shelled the territory of the republic 109 times as […]

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Is There A Non-West for Russia to Lead?

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(PONARS Eurasia – ponarseurasia.org – Keith Darden – January 28, 2016 – ponarseurasia.org/memo/non-west-for-russia-to-lead) Keith Darden is Associate Professor in the School of International Service at American University. (PONARS Eurasia Policy Memo) Recently, Russian policymakers and strategists have articulated a vision of a vibrant non-Western world, one in which the United States and European leaders are increasingly marginal and where Russia […]

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Russia Sanctions Can Be Lifted If Minsk Implemented – U.S. Ambassador

File Photo of U.S. Embassy Moscow, with Russian Foreign Ministry Building in Distance

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 29, 2016) Sanctions against Moscow can be lifted after it implements the Minsk peace agreement with Ukraine, including restoration of Kiev control over separatist eastern regions, the U.S. Ambassador in Moscow John Tefft said in an interview published on the U.S. Embassy’s website Thursday. Washington has the full backing of its European allies in […]

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Russian Investigative Committee gives ICC data on S. Ossetia conflict crimes

Georgia Map

(Interfax – January 28, 2016) The Russian Investigative Committee has provided the International Criminal Court (ICC) with the files of a criminal case opened into the crimes committed during the 2008 armed conflict in South Ossetia, Investigative Committee director Alexander Bastrykin has said. “The Investigative Committee of Russia conducted a thorough investigation into the crimes committed by the Georgian military,” […]

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Putin’s Departure Alone Won’t Necessarily Solve Ukraine’s Problems, Popovich Says

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 28, 2016) Like many in the West, Ukrainians view Vladimir Putin as the main source of their problems; but if he dies or otherwise leaves the scene, a Kyiv commentator says, he could be followed by leaders who would be even worse, a reminder that the problem is not Putin alone […]

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Putin, Trapped Between War and Revolution, Will Choose War, Ikhlov Says

Vladimir Putin

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 2, 2016) There are two possibilities in Russia today: either Vladimir Putin is in control of events or he is their prisoner, trapped between war and revolution. As bad as the first would be, the way the world has gone to war in the past suggests the second may be even […]

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Russian Entente Nears as Allies Give Ukraine Sanctions Hint

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – January 26, 2016) After almost two years on the outside, signs are growing that Russia may soon be invited in from the cold. The worsening of crises from Syria to Libya are forcing the international community to reconsider sanctions slapped on President Vladimir Putin’s government over Ukraine as a way of getting a key diplomatic power […]

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Can the North Caucasus adapt to political change?

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

Amid a crumbling and fragile system, central and regional elites gear up for a new power struggle in Russia’s North Caucasus. (opendemocracy.net/RBC – Denis Sokolov – January 25, 2016) Denis Sokolov is Senior Research Fellow at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. If 2015 was the year of purges of regional elites for the North Caucasus, […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russian Oil: Output Grows as Prospects Shrink. Plummeting prices and U.S.-led sanctions raise questions about Russian oil’s capacity to continue underwriting Putin’s global ambitions.” – Wall Street Journal

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NEWSWATCH: “Ukraine to reclaim Donbas this year – Poroshenko” – Interfax-Ukraine

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

Interfax-Ukraine reports on comments attributed to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko regarding conflict-ridden eastern Ukraine. Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko has said … ‘At my press conference on January 14 I clearly proclaimed: my objective – and I firmly believe in this – is to restore Ukrainian sovereignty in Donbas already in 2016. And yesterday speakers in Davos also reaffirmed this position: […]

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US Appears to Have Accepted ‘Donbas Model’ Not Only for Ukraine but for Other Conflicts, Russian Analyst Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 20, 2016) Petr Iskenderov, a researcher at the Moscow Institute of Slavic Studies and a commentator for Russia Today, says that it now appears the US has accepted what he calls “the Donbas Model” for the resolution not only of the conflict in Ukraine but for similar conflicts elsewhere. That model, […]

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NEWSLINK The Guardian/Shaun Walker: “Caught between Russia and the US? The curious case of Ukraine’s Dmytro Firtash. Critics say the oligarch now living in exile pushed Putin’s agenda during Maidan revolution while a US arrest warrant appeared politically motivated.”

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U.S. Beats Russia in ‘Most Powerful’ Ranking

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 22, 2016) Russia is second only to its former Cold War foe the United States in terms of its power to influence the global agenda but lags behind many other countries in most categories, a new ranking presented at the Davos World Economic Forum said. Moscow scored a 9.4 in the “Power” category, which […]

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Russia Pushing for An Endgame in Ukraine

Vladislav Surkov file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner – January 21, 2016) The appearance of one of President Vladimir Putin’s most enigmatic associates, Vladislav Surkov, at a meeting with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland last Friday has sparked speculation that Moscow and Washington are approaching an endgame in Ukraine after two years of conflict. “That is was Surkov, and […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting on the Advanced Research Fund’s development

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

(Kremlin.ru – January 19, 2016) The President held a meeting on the development of the Advanced Research Fund. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues. Today we will discuss the development of the Advanced Research Fund. We will consider the implementation of its main projects and how they are assisting the development of applied research. We will look into […]

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Peskov: Surkov, Nuland hold expert dialogue on settlement in Ukraine

Dmitry Peskov file photo adapted from image at kremlin.ru/wikimedia commons

(Interfax – January 20, 2016) The negotiations held between Russian Presidential Aide Vladislav Surkov and Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the United States Department of State, in Kaliningrad with regard to the settlement in Ukraine were an expert exchange of opinions between Moscow and Washington, which is not a member of the ‘Normandy […]

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U.S., Russia Start Syria Negotiations Amid Threat to Peace Talks

Syria Map

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Henry Meyer – January 20, 2016) The top U.S. and Russian diplomats began talks in Zurich Wednesday to try to bridge divisions over which belligerents in Syria’s five-year civil war should be labeled “terrorist,” an issue that threatens to hold up the start of peace talks. John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov need to strike a deal […]

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Gorbachev: Russian-U.S. summit needed for settling crisis in Ukraine

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

(Interfax – January 20, 2016) The Russian and U.S. presidents should meet to speed up the settlement of the crisis in eastern Ukraine, says former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. Negotiations between Russian presidential aide Vladislav Surkov and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland in Kaliningrad last week could mark the beginning of preparations for a bilateral summit dealing with […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Months without pay at Donetsk mine leads to strike, firings” – Kyiv Post – Josh Kovensky – January 19, 2016

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

The Kiev Post covers labor unrest amidst the conflict in eastern Ukraine. After months without pay, workers in one of Ukraine’s largest coal mines had enough. Workers at the Kholodna Balka mine in Donetsk Oblast’s Makeevka decided to strike on Jan. 13, bringing work to a halt …. miners said that they decided to go on strike after nearly a […]

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Tensions escalate in conflict zone in eastern Ukraine after New Year holidays – OSCE SMM

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

DONETSK. Jan 19 (Interfax) – Members from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) have observed an escalation of tensions along the Donbas contact line in January after a relative lull in the period before the New Year holidays. Things calmed down before New Year’s Eve, and tensions escalated after the holidays, OSCE Principal Deputy Chief Monitor Alexander Hug […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Seven Key Reforms for Ukraine in 2016” – Atlantic Council/Anders Åslund

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

Anders Åslund covers unfolding conditions in Ukraine, adding recommendations for steps forward in 2016. … It is quite striking how the mood has changed in a positive direction. The 2016 budget and the modified tax code were adopted on December 24. After two weeks of well-deserved rest, there is a sudden realization that Ukraine accomplished many important economic reforms in […]

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NEWSWATCH Vladimir Suchan: “Nuland-Surkov Talks”

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

(Vladimir Suchan – Facebook post – January 17, 2016) Alexander Chalenko, who belongs to the ex-Ukrainian circle of Surkov’s and the Kremlin’s PR horns, published an article… Posted by Vladimir Suchan on Saturday, January 16, 2016

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Ukrainian military disrupt repair works in Zaitseve by opening fire – Russian representative in JCCC

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

DONETSK. Jan 18 (Interfax) – The Ukrainian Armed Forces have disrupted the restoration works in the area of Zaitseve by opening fire, a representative of the Russian Armed Forces in the Joint Center for Control and Coordination (JCCC) told reporters. “Today, on January 18, the works, which were determined as priority in Minsk on January 13, 2016, began in four […]

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International Conflicts Are Russians’ Biggest Fear – Poll

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 18, 2016) The escalation of international conflicts is currently the issue that most frightens Russian citizens, the results of a poll by the state-run VTsIOM pollster published Monday revealed. Seventy percent of Russians currently believe that international conflicts and hostilities pose a real threat, according to the poll. The second issue that most worries […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Backed by Russian air power, Syria’s army builds on gains.” – Los Angeles Times

Syria Map

The Los Angeles Times covers unfolding evens in the Syrian civil war, including Russian involvement. … Moscow’s air onslaught appears to be gaining effectiveness as Russian commanders grow more familiar with the conflict and with the capabilities of allied Syrian ground forces, observers say. … Russia’s involvement has also led to a new calculation by Syria’s neighbors …. Click here […]

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Hidden Sting Raises Costs for Ukraine in Russian Trade War

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Daryna Krasnolutska – January 14, 2016) [Charts here bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-01-13/hidden-sting-drives-up-costs-for-ukraine-in-russian-trade-war] With the conflict in Ukraine already having ravaged bilateral trade, Russia canceling a free-trade pact with its former ally wasn’t seen as a big danger. But there was a twist. On top of annulling the accord, a response to Ukraine’s trade agreement with the European Union, Russia […]

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Territorial battalions uncontrolled by Kyiv breaking truce in Donbas – Pushilin

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

DONETSK. Jan 15 (Interfax) – Self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) negotiator, Denis Pushilin, has blamed territorial battalions uncontrolled by Kyiv for the increased number of shelling incidents in Donbas, after a ceasefire deal was signed at the latest Minsk meeting. “The reason is that provocations are being staged by territorial battalions which are not fully controlled by Kyiv. There are […]

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In Russia’s updated national security strategy NATO not named a ‘threat’

NATO Meeting file photo

(Interfax – January 14, 2016) Russian Foreign Ministry official Maria Zakharova has called the information reported by the Western media stating that NATO is called a “threat” to Russia’s national security in Russia’s updated national security strategy “unscrupulous speculation.” “As to the wording that defines NATO as a ‘threat,’ the document doesn’t have them […] It is enough to read […]

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New Russian security strategy views use of military force as “extreme measure”

File Photo of Russian Tanks in Military Parade

(Interfax – Moscow, January 13, 2016) According to the new national security strategy, the use of military force by Russia is viewed as an extreme measure, Russian Security Council Deputy Secretary Mikhail Popov told journalists. “The use of military force is viewed as an extreme measure. It can only be used once political, economic, diplomatic and other avenues have been […]

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How ‘eastern Ukraine’ was lost

Ukraine Map and Flag

Nearly two years after the outbreak of fighting, nearly 9,000 people have died in eastern Ukraine. To understand how this war ends, we need to understand how it began. (opendemocracy.net – Andrii Portnov – January 14, 2016) Andrii Portnov is director of the Berlin-Brandenburg Ukrainian Initiative at the Forum Transregionale Studien, as well as visiting professor at Humboldt University, Berlin. […]

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NEWSLINK Christian Science Monitor: “Could 2016 see Ukraine crisis resolved? Russian moves hint yes. The halting Minsk process, meant to peaceably reunite Ukraine with its restive eastern regions, got a big boost in recent weeks with the assignment of two top Putin officials to key positions in the Russian team.”

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