War Fever

File Photo of F-22 Fighter and Ground Crew

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Jill Dougherty – July 18, 2016) Jill Dougherty is an expert on Russia and the former Soviet Union. In her three-decade career with CNN she served as Foreign Affairs Correspondent, based in Washington, D.C.,where she covered the State Department and provided analysis on international issues. The Russia File is happy to welcome Jill Dougherty as […]

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Nothing To Fear

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – The Daily Vertical: Brian Whitmore – July 18, 2016) So the big talking point coming out of the Kremlin is that NATO is overreacting to a non-existent Russian threat. According to Moscow, rotating just four combat battalion groups, a total of 4,000 troops, on the alliance’s eastern frontier constitutes a “provocation.” According to Vladimir Putin’s regime, […]

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NATO-Russia Council: From High Hopes To Broken Dreams

NATO Meeting File Photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Charles Recknagel – July 12, 2016) When the NATO-Russia Council meets in Brussels on July 13, it will be as a shadow of its former self. As ambassadors gather at NATO headquarters, their agenda will be limited to discussing only political issues because all the council’s cooperative programs have been suspended. And where once the talk […]

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NEWSWATCH: “NATO, Russia to Discuss Increased Baltic Tensions. Russia promises troop buildup in response to 4,000-strong Western force” – Wall Street Journal

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

Russian officials pushed a new air-safety initiative for the Baltic Sea in a meeting with [NATO] ambassadors … as they continued to criticize [NATO’s] planned buildup in the region. … [a proposal that] would require all planes flying in the Baltic Sea region to operate with their transponders turned on … … allied officials welcomed [the proposal] saying it could […]

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RBTH: NATO moving its troops closer to Russia but wants dialogue with Moscow

Globe Highlighting NATO Members

Russian military experts have summed up NATO’s actions as “they want peace but prepare for war,” adding, however, that Moscow will not be taking retaliatory measures against the alliance following its latest summit in Warsaw. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – NIKOLAI LITOVKIN, ALEXANDRA YELFACHEVA, RBTH – July 12, 2016) The North Atlantic Alliance is to deploy four additional […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Factbox: Main Decisions of NATO’s Warsaw Summit” – Reuters

Patriot Missile Launch file photo

* NATO agreed to deploy military forces to the Baltic states and eastern Poland from January 2017 to deter Russia, a response to Moscow’s 2014 seizure of Crimea from Ukraine. … four battalions totaling between 3,000 and 4,000 troops will be led by Britain in Estonia, the United States in Poland, Canada in Latvia and Germany in Lithuania. * NATO […]

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Gorbachev: NATO Preparing For ‘Hot’ War Against Russia

File Photo of Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan at Table Signing Documents

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – July 9, 2016) Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev has accused NATO of preparing for a “hot” war against Russia and says rhetoric from alliance’s leaders is pushing the two sides toward a military confrontation. “NATO has begun preparations for escalating from a Cold War into a hot one,” Gorbachev was quoted by the Interfax news agency […]

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NATO Can Reduce the Threat of Escalation With Russia

File Photo of F-22 Fighter and Ground Crew

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – July 7, 2016) The North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit starting in Warsaw on Friday will probably lead to increased — and unnecessary — tension between NATO and Russia. Yet it may also yield good results: Acknowledging the increased hostility might make it possible for the two sides to ensure there are fewer dangerous […]

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Moscow interested in further dialogue with NATO – Federation Council members on NATO-Russia Council meeting

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

MOSCOW. July 8 (Interfax) – The upcoming NATO summit will hardly be sensational, and a lot will depend on a NATO-Russia Council meeting to take place after it, Federation Council members said, adding that Russia was pro-dialogue. “Although NATO excitedly speaks about the forthcoming ‘epochal event’, nothing sensationally substantial will happen at the alliance’s summit in Warsaw,” Federation Council International […]

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UK Government Warns on Russian Military Threat

File Photo of British Parliament Building, Big Ben, Thames, adapted from image at loc.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – July 7, 2016) The language was stark. No longer was Russia an ally or partner. Instead it was to be seen as a “strategic competitor” and military threat. Russia had boosted military capacity, intensified anti-Western propaganda, and shown readiness to “maintain a sphere of influence beyond its own frontiers.” The conclusions of […]

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NEWSWATCH: “NATO Set to Approve Baltic Force at Warsaw Summit; Alliance officials say they are uncertain how Russia’s Putin will respond” – Wall Street Journal

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

As the North Atlantic Treaty Organization prepares to kick off its summit here Friday, allies are casting a wary eye on Russia and its reaction to the expected approval of a new alliance force in the Baltic. … described by some as the most important gathering of NATO since the end of the Cold War … will authorize the presence […]

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Ira Straus: Re: 2016-#123-Johnson’s Russia List. (re: Breedlove)

Philip Breedlove file photo

Subject: Re: 2016-#123-Johnson’s Russia List. (re Breedlove) Date: Tue, 5 Jul 2016 15:00:17 -0400 From: IRASTRAUS@aol.com Re: 2016-#123-Johnson’s Russia List, 4. The Intercept: Hacked Emails Reveal NATO General Plotting Against Obama on Russia Policy. (Breedlove) 5. www.rt.com: Breedlove’s war: Emails show ex-NATO general plotting US conflict with Russia. Here we go again, into the fantasyland of anti-Russian conspiracies. No “plotting” […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Baltic outpost digs in for standoff with NATO” [Kaliningrad] – Reuters

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

Russia and NATO are each building up their military capability across eastern Europe, spurred by the conflict in Ukraine …. For Russia, a strategic centerpiece is … Kaliningrad … a small piece of Russian territory sandwiched between NATO members Poland and Lithuania, allowing the Kremlin to project its military power into the alliance’s northern flank. … there was ample visible […]

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Putin, Russian Security Council Discuss Baltic Airspace

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – July 5, 2016) Russian President Vladimir Putin has chaired a meeting with the country’s Security Council to discuss possible “confidence-building” steps in the skies over the Baltic region and details in connection with a NATO summit later this week, a presidential spokesman said. Putin also talked with the council’s permanent members about the situation in Syria, […]

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Turkey Signals Cooperation With Russia Against Islamic State

Turkey and Environs Satellite Image

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Selcan Hacaoglu, Firat Kozok – July 4, 2016) Turkey may cooperate with Russia in fighting Islamic State, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Monday, just days after the countries agreed to work to repair strained ties. Cavusoglu denied signaling in an interview Sunday that Turkey may let Russia use southern Incirlik air base for operations in Syria. […]

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U.S. Ambassador To Russia: NATO ‘Most Effective Defensive Alliance’ In History

John Tefft file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – June 27, 2016) The U.S. ambassador to Russia has tried to allay Moscow’s concerns about NATO’s intentions ahead of a crucial summit next week while offering an impassioned defense of the alliance, which he says has been forced to respond to Kremlin aggression in Ukraine. In a June 27 interview with the Russian-language services of RFE/RL […]

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Interfax: Shoigu: NATO doubled intensity of trainings near Russian borders

Sergei Shoigu file photo

(Interfax – June 29, 2016) NATO has dramatically intensified the number of trainings near the Russian borders, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said. “The intensity of the trainings of the NATO armed forces conducted in direct vicinity of the Russian borders has more than doubled,” he said at a Russian Defense Ministry collegium meeting on June 29. “We do not […]

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RBTH: Russia to open new naval base in Black Sea to counter NATO

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

The Russian Navy is to open a new base on the Black Sea coast in Novorossiysk hosting Varshavyanka class Project 636.6 diesel-electric submarines with Kalibr cruise missiles. However, there are still some weather-based issues to be resolved. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – NIKOLAI LITOVKIN, RBTH – June 29, 2016) The Russian Defense Ministry is completing the construction of […]

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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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What Russia will do if Ukraine joins the NATO mission in the Black Sea

Black Sea Satellite Photo file image

Kiev has expressed its desire to join the NATO mission in the Black Sea. The Russian Foreign Ministry says if it goes ahead Moscow will take “appropriate measures.” What exactly can Russia do? (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – NIKOLAI LITOVKIN, RBTH – June 21, 2016) In the course of the two-day NATO summit on June 14 and 15 […]

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Interfax: Russia trying to avoid confrontation with West – Lavrov

Sergei Lavrov file photo

MOSCOW. June 15 (Interfax) – Moscow is seeking to avoid confrontation with the United States, NATO, and the European Union, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. “We are not going to be drawn into confrontation with the U.S., NATO, or the European Union, which is being imposed on us. It’s obvious that confrontational attitudes and geopolitical zero-sum games hinder efforts […]

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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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CONGRESSIONAL TESTIMONY: “Drivers of Putin’s foreign policy” – Leon Aron at House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing: “U.S. Policy Toward Putin’s Russia”

U.S. Capitol in Bright Sunlight

House Foreign Affairs Committee June 14, 2016 Testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Drivers of Putin’s foreign policy By Leon Aron American Enterprise Institute Resident Scholar and Director of Russian Studies [Text with footnotes here http://www.aei.org/publication/drivers-of-putins-foreign-policy/] Mr. Chairman, the Ranking Members, Members of the Committee! It is an honor and a pleasure to be here-especially in the company […]

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CONGRESSIONAL TESTIMONY: “U.S. Policy Toward Putin’s Russia” – Jack F. Matlock, Jr., at House Committee on Foreign Affairs Hearing

Jack Matlock file photo, adapted from image at usembassy.gov

House Foreign Affairs Committee June 14, 2016 Testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Prepared Testimony By Jack F. Matlock, Jr. During his 35 years in the American Foreign Service (1956-1991), Jack Matlock served as Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987 to 1991, Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and Senior Director for European and […]

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RBTH: How Finland became a battleground in the Russia-NATO information war

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

From internet ‘trolls’ to strategic communication: RBTH investigates how competing narratives from Russia and NATO are manipulating the information space and public debate in Finland to influence the country’s policy of neutrality. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – NIKOLAI SHEVCHENKO, RBTH – June 10, 2016) As mounting tensions over Ukraine continue to divide Europe into two camps, Russia and […]

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Lawmakers: More U.S. Pushback Needed Against Russian Aggression

U.S. Capitol at Twilight With Washington Monument, National Mall, Washington, D.C., Environs and Sunset in Background

(Voice of America – voanews.com – Pamela Dockins – June 8, 2016) U.S. lawmakers have expressed concern that the Obama administration may not be engaged enough in countering what they view as Russia’s bad behavior in Ukraine and Georgia. “I worry that the message that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin must be taking from our response is that his limit-testing aggression […]

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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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NEWSWATCH: “Michael McFaul: Russians were never promised NATO non-expansion to Eastern Europe” – Postimees Estonia News

NATO Meeting file photo

We have heard from Russian politics different accusations incl. that West has broken it’s promise that NATO would not expand into the East. How would you comment: has there ever been a promise not to expand NATO or is it just a myth? This assertion is a complete myth. I worked closely with Russian officials in negotiating many agreements, including […]

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NEWSWATCH: “America Needs to Break its Old Habits on Russia. Washington’s strategy is a relic of a bygone era.” – The National Interest/Thomas Graham

Putin and Obama with U.S. and Russian Flags

… there should be no doubt that the goal that had animated policy since the end of the Cold War … slow but steady integration of Russia into the Euro-Atlantic community — is beyond reach. Russia is no longer interested, if it ever was. Its ambition is to fortify itself as an independent great power based in central Eurasia. It […]

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NEWSLINK “RBTH/Gazeta.ru/Fyodor Lukyanov: “Will Russia integrate into the Western world, post-sanctions? Recent overtures by top EU and German officials usher in hopes that relations between Moscow and the West could be on the verge of a turn for the better – but the real question is what direction Russia will take after sanctions are lifted and the tensions have abated.”

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth » Read more

NEWSWATCH: “Step-by-Step Rapprochement. Germany Considers Easing of Russia Sanctions. Standing tough on Russia remains official policy, but Germany has begun working on the careful easing of sanctions imposed following Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine. The US is opposed, but many in the EU could support the new approach.” – Der Spiegel

Europe Map

… What Merkel didn’t say … is that behind the scenes, her government has long since developed concrete plans for a step-by-step easing of the sanctions against Russia and that the process could begin as early as this year. … the message has been that the trade and travel restrictions will only be lifted once all the provisions foreseen by […]

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Interfax: Russia-U.S. disagreements over INF treaty not resolved so far because Washington unready to accommodate Moscow’s concerns – Ryabkov

Iskander Missile with Launch file photo

MOSCOW. May 27 (Interfax) – The Russian Foreign Ministry is still committed to the 1987 Treaty Between the United States of America and the Soviet Union on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty), Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said. “The Russian Federation is committed to this treaty and abides by all of its provisions,” Ryabkov […]

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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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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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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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Interfax: Liquidation of Taliban leader to hinder negotiations in Afghanistan – Russian Foreign Ministry

Afghanistan Map of Ethnicities

MOSCOW. May 23 (Interfax) – The liquidation of Taliban movement leader Akhtar Mansoor will lead to further military escalation in Afghanistan, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. “If this information is confirmed, it will seriously hinder the negotiating process,” Special Representative of the Russian President for Afghanistan, Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Second European Department Zamir Kabulov told Interfax. It […]

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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: “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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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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