Eastern Europe Arming Itself because ‘No One Wants to Be the Next Ukraine’

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, September 28, 2016) In what many are calling “the Putin effect,” countries across Eastern Europe, including even #Belarus, nominally Russia’s closest ally, are now arming themselves even when they have to cut social welfare spending because, in the words of one commentator, “no one wants to be the next Ukraine.” This sacrifice […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The United States Must Be the World’s Policeman; Only America has the material and moral greatness to stop the slide into chaos and foster peace.” – The Wall Street Journal/Anders Fogh Rasmussen

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

Barely had I been seated before Vladimir Putin told me that NATO – the organization that I then headed – no longer had any purpose and should be disbanded. … in December 2009, I sensed … Putin was challenging the world order that the U.S. created so successfully after World War II. Beginning in 2014, he invaded Ukraine and launched […]

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NEWSWATCH: “A Powerful Russian Weapon: The Spread of False Stories” – New York Times

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

The New York Times addresses concerns about Russian disinformation campaigns, including Russia’s reputed involvement with a rash of misleading material on social media disrupting NATO-related debate in Sweden. With a vigorous national debate underway on whether Sweden should enter a military partnership with NATO, officials in Stockholm suddenly encountered an unsettling problem: a flood of distorted and outright false information on […]

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NEWSWATCH Anne Applebaum/@anneapplebaum: “finally – finally! – Russia’s extraordinary disinformation campaign is creeping towards the front pages”

Satellite Dishes

[Anne Applebaum, on twitter at @anneapplebaum, comments upon Russian disinformation and links to a story from the New York Times, “A Powerful Russian Weapon: The Spread of False Stories;” her tweet should be embedded below, yet it might take some time to load for some users; her tweet also can be accessed through this link: twitter.com/anneapplebaum/status/769960717877383168] finally – finally! – […]

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RIA Novosti: Russian envoy says NATO dialogue “gradually being restored”

NATO Logo, NATO, OTAN

(RIA Novosti – August 18, 2016) Russian permanent representative to NATO Alexander Grushko has said that dialogue with NATO is gradually improving. “Today our main attention is on political dialogue, which is gradually being restored. Two sessions of the Russia-NATO council have taken place,” Grushko told Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti. “Furthermore, taking part in the last session were […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin underestimated Ukrainians and overestimated his ability to divide NATO – Pyatt” – Ukraine Today

Geoffrey R. Pyatt file photo

‘Implementation of Minsk-2 means all the Russian troops go out; it means Ukraine’s control over the international border is restored; it means all the hostages are released; it means all of the tanks, and BMPs, and GRAD missiles, and mortars, all of these heavy weapons go back. The first point of the Minsk agreement was a comprehensive ceasefire, and the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “While the world is distracted, Putin escalates his war in Ukraine” – Washington Post

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

… The … FSB, claimed … one of its officers was killed … near the de facto border between Crimea and Ukraine. Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine in early 2014, then backed a violent uprising in … Donetsk and Luhansk. … According to the FSB … a second attempt occurred … with support from Ukrainian artillery, killing a Russian … […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Turkey’s Erdogan Patches Up Relations With Putin” – Wall Street Journal

Turkey map

… Putin and … Erdogan mended fences in a high-profile meeting Tuesday, bolstering their governments’ ties as both face strained relations with the West. … Erdogan’s first trip abroad since the Turkish coup attempt … signals his willingness to look to Moscow, traditionally the counterweight to Western influence in the Middle East. But Western leaders say Turkey … crucial to […]

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Leon Aron: “Don’t Expect a New Détente Between Russia and the West”

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(Institute of Modern Russia – imrussia.org – Olga Khvostunova – July 27, 2016) The Institute of Modern Russia continues its series of interviews with experts on the political situation in Russia, its relations with the West, and the future of the country’s political system. Olga Khvostunova, editor-in-chief of imrussia.org, spoke with Dr. Leon Aron, director of Russian studies at the […]

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Russia’s Moves, Terrorism Fuel Talk of War in Europe – The Daily Signal [also appeared as “Europeans are quietly preparing for war with Russia” at Newsweek.com]

Europe Map

[article also appeared at Newsweek.com as “Europeans are quietly preparing for war with Russia”] (Nolan Peterson – @nolanwpeterson – The Daily Signal – dailysignal.com – The Heritage Foundation – heritage.org – KYIV, Ukraine, Aug. 3, 2016) Whether referring to Russian aggression in the east or to the threat of Islamist terrorism in the West, Europe’s political, media, and religious elite […]

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U.S. Official: Annexing Crimea, Russia Broke All Rules of ‘World Order’

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

(Voice of America – voanews.com – August 5, 2016) Russia’s actions against Ukraine and the potential threat it poses to other countries in its neighborhood has become an issue in the U.S. presidential race, thanks largely to comments made by Donald Trump. The Republican candidate told a U.S. television interviewer late last month that the people of Crimea, which Russia […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Kremlin’s Advantage; Why Cyberwar Will Continue” – Foreign Affairs/ Eugene B. Rumer

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

The hack of … Democratic National Committee emails, now widely attributed to Russian intelligence, has set off a political earthquake in the United States. The brazenness of the attack, the crude attempt to intervene in a U.S. presidential election, and the equally bald-faced denial in the face of mounting evidence of Russian government complicity …. * * * Events of […]

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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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