Isolation and Reconquista: Russia’s Toolkit as a Constrained Great Power

Russian Soldiers Marching

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org – Marlene Laruelle – December 12, 2018) Marlene Laruelle is a research professor, associate director of the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies, director of the Central Asia Program and co-director of PONARS Eurasia at The George Washington University. [russiamatters.org/analysis/isolation-and-reconquista-russias-toolkit-constrained-great-power] In 2007, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s famous Munich speech took stock of what Russia considered the failure of the […]

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Russia and the West Soon Will Be Moving Leftward, Pastukhov Says

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 28, 2018) Many commentators now talk about the ways in which Russia and the West are moving to the right, with the former seeking to recover the Soviet past and the latter the unreconstructed capitalism of the past, but that “rightist wave” in both cases will soon be overwhelmed by a […]

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RUSSIALINK: “What Drives the Russian State; To understand what makes Putin and his allies act the way they do, you need to look beyond the myths” – New York Times/ Alexander Baunov/ Carnegie Moscow

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

“Since … Putin came to power … analysis of Russia … has largely focused on two interpretations …. The first argues that Russia is a mafia state in which the main aim of the ruling elite is to steal money at home to conceal and spend abroad. The second states that Mr. Putin is a hostage of his own popularity […]

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NEWSLINK: “Walter Laqueur obituary; Influential but pessimistic historian who tried to find answers to the Holocaust and was among the first scholars to study terrorism” – The Times (London)

Lit Candle with Reflection and Dark Background

“… Laqueur’s curiosity, interest in the future and anxiety remained into his nineties …. As always he was interested in the attacks societies faced, and how internal weaknesses made them vulnerable. … He spoke sometimes of hope, but the searing experience of seeing the society he was born into collapsing into barbarism had never left him. Walter Laqueur, historian, was […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia clashes with Western oil buyers over new deals as sanctions loom” – Reuters

Oil Well file photo

“Russian energy majors are putting pressure on Western oil buyers to use euros instead of dollars for payments and introducing penalty clauses in contracts as Moscow seeks protection against possible new U.S. sanctions. … Western oil majors and trading houses have clashed with Russia’s third and fourth biggest producers, Gazprom Neft and Surgutneftegaz, over 2019 oil sales contract terms during […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Patriarch Kirill speaks out against Western-style globalization” – Interfax

Patriarch Kirill file photo

MOSCOW. Nov 1 (Interfax) – Following the Western model of globalization would be a mistake because it has no room for traditional values, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said. “The narrow paradigm of the New Time speaks of globalization as an inevitable process. Hidden underneath the word ‘inevitability’ is the western principle of global development which features liberal […]

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Let Them East Cheese: Russian Plant Thrives Amid Sanctions

Russia Map

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Dmitry Lyubimov, Tony Wesolowsky – Oct. 22, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/let-them-east-cheese-russian-plant-thrives-amid-sanctions-/29557433.html) Sergei Chernych proudly points to the gleaming Western-made stainless-steel machinery at his cheese factory in Mari El, a small republic in Russia’s Volga region. Production at the plant in Sernur, some 90 kilometers east of the […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with RT France, Paris Match and Le Figaro” – Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Sergei Lavrov file photo

“Question: Western countries, the media and various organisations, including the World Anti-Doping Agency and the OPCW, have been constantly accusing Russia of meddling in elections and staging cyberattacks. Just recently, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and the Netherlands simultaneously voiced similar accusations and submitted six-month-old information to the media. What is this? Is this part of a planned […]

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Putin Youth Have Fallen in Love with the West but Not with Democracy, Levada Expert Says

File Photo of G7 Leaders and other Officials Around Round Table at the Hague, with Flags

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, October 17, 2018) Putin’s “Generation Z” love the West but not democracy and because of their numbers assume that they won’t be able to change things in Russia and are thus even less inclined to support the opposition of take part in demonstrations, according to Denis Volkov of the Levada Center. In […]

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Russia is in a Stalemate Today But Can’t Stay There for Long, Shevtsova Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 31, 2018) Russia is in a stalemate today because the Kremlin “cannot accept the sanction-backed demands of the West without losing face,” but it also cannot act as if it is indifferent to the sanctions because they are undermining Russia’s ability to remain a great power, Liliya Shevtsova says. As a […]

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Moscow has Made ‘Unforgivable Mistake’ of Setting West against Russia for the Long Term, Shevtsova Says

File Photo of G7 Leaders and other Officials Around Round Table at the Hague, with Flags

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 15, 2018) The Russian regime has made “the unforgivable mistake” of acting against the West in ways that have made Russia a key part of the domestic politics of the U.S. and European countries and guaranteed that the West will continue its sanctions regime against Moscow for a long time to […]

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Nigel Gould-Davies: “BOFIT Policy Brief: Assessing Western Sanctions”

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

Subject: BOFIT Policy Brief: Assessing Western sanctions Date: Tue, 14 Aug 2018 From: Nigel Gould-Davies <nigelgd.office@gmail.com In case of interest to JRL, my policy brief for the Bank of Finland’s Institute for Economies in Transition (BOFIT) on “Economic effects and political impacts: Assessing Western sanctions on Russia”, just published: helda.helsinki.fi/bof/bitstream/handle/123456789/15832/bpb0818.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y Abstract: This brief assesses the effectiveness of Western sanctions on […]

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NEWSLINK: “Believe it or not, Trump’s following a familiar script on Russia; The West has spent a decade playing into Putin’s hands” – Washington Post/Robert Kagan

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

“… Ten years ago this week … Putin struck one of the first major blows when he sent Russian forces into South Ossetia in neighboring Georgia in support of Russian-backed separatists. The Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili, fearing a full-blown invasion, ordered his troops to attack, thus springing Putin’s trap. Using the Georgian attack as a pretext, Putin launched that full-blown […]

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Growing Russian Sympathy for West a Bigger Problem for Kremlin than Regime’s Declining Ratings, Shevtsova Says

File Photo of G7 Leaders and other Officials Around Round Table at the Hague, with Flags

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 4, 2018) According to a new Levada Center poll, 68 percent of Russians do not want to live in “‘a besieged fortress’ and fight with the West but instead want to a rapprochement with the West, a change in attitudes with more far-reaching consequences than the declining popular ratings of Vladimir […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Whatever It Was, We Didn’t Do It” – New York Times Editorial

Kremlin and River

“… Russia’s reaction to all accusations of foul play [has been consistent], whether … [to] well-documented charges by the Netherlands, Australia and other nations that [Russia] was responsible for downing a Malaysian jetliner over Ukraine in 2014, killing 298 … the British accusation that Russia was most likely behind the poisoning of a double agent and his daughter in England […]

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NEWSLINK: “How Putin’s Russia Became Mafia Heaven; Inside the long, strange story of organized crime taking over the former Soviet Union-and how Russia tamed it only to unleash it on the West. [re: Mark Galeotti]” – ViceCom/Seth Ferranti

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

“…  Putin is engaged in this kind of political war with the West—he’s effectively trying to weaponize Russian organized crime against the west. We have seen Russian-based organized crime groups being used to kill enemies of his, to gather intelligence, to move spies across boarders, and raise money for Putin by supporting particular groups or media outlets that he likes […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin launches another term as Russia’s president. It might even be his last.” – Washington Post/Anton Troianovski, Amie Ferris-Rotman

Putin Descending a Staircase

“… Putin, already the longest serving leader of Russia since Stalin, launched a fourth presidential term on Monday in which he has promised to improve Russian lives at home while showing no sign of backing down in his confrontation with the West ….” Click here for: “Putin launches another term as Russia’s president. It might even be his last.” – […]

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Russia Tells Its Study-Abroad Students: It’s Time To Come Home

Bookcase file photo, adapted from image at nlm.nih.gov

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – April 17, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-tells-its-study-abroad-students-it-s-time-to-come-home/29173184.html) A Russian government agency is calling on Russians studying at universities abroad to come home to continue their studies, a campaign that appears tied to the sharp downward spiral in relations between Moscow and the West. Rossotrudnichestvo, which is tasked with overseeing […]

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Russia haunts the western imagination; The dividing line between authoritarian Russia and liberal democracies is growing ever thinner.

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

(opendemocracy.net – Ivan Krastev – April 16, 2018) Ivan Krastev is Visiting Lecturer in Interdisciplinary Programmes at The Graduate Institute and Geneva Permanent Fellow, Institute for Human Sciences (IWM), Vienna. He is also Chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia. He is author of After Europe (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017). If a Martian were sent to earth with […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Trade With the West Surges Even as Sanctions Mount; Last year’s increase, three years after penalties tied to annexation of Crimea, shows limits of curbs in longer term” – Wall Street Journal/Andrea Thomas, James Marson, Stefan Lange

File Photo of G7 Leaders and other Officials Around Round Table at the Hague, with Flags

” …. The U.S. and Europe’s largest nations, including France and Germany, saw exports to and imports from Russia skyrocket in 2017 after three years of decline. … at their highest levels since 2014, the year Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea …. The turnaround could be short-lived. … [After] Washington … unveiled fresh sanctions … in the latest U.S. […]

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Russia Faces ‘100 Years Of Solitude’ (Or More), Putin Aide Says

Vladislav Surkov file photo

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – April 10, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/putin-adviser-surkov-says-russia-abandoning-hopes-integrating-with-west-loneliness-isolation-/29155700.html) A veteran adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin says that Russia has abandoned its centuries-long hopes of integrating with the West and is bracing for a new era of geopolitical isolation. In an article for Russia In Global Affairs magazine released on […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian officials accuse West of fomenting new Cold War” – AP

Sergei Shoigu file photo

“Top Russian defense and security officials on Wednesday launched diatribes at the West, accusing it of fomenting a new Cold War in a bid to retain waning influence in global affairs. Moscow used an annual security conference attended by top defense officials from Asia, Africa and Latin America to harshly criticize the U.S. and its allies …. Russia-West relations have […]

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Interfax: Russian foreign policy expert says relations with West at new low [Fyodor Lukyanov]

File Photo of G7 Leaders and other Officials Around Round Table at the Hague, with Flags

(Interfax – March 26, 2018) Relations between Russia and the West have reached an unprecedented crisis, according to the head of an influential Russian foreign affairs think-tank. Fyodor Lukyanov, chairman of the presidium of the Council for Foreign and Defence Policy, was commenting on the expulsion of diplomats from EU countries and the USA in response to the Skripal poisoning. […]

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NEWSLINK: “Does Putin’s Russia reject the West?” – BBC/Sarah Rainsford

File Photo of British Parliament Building Including Saint Stephen's Tower Containing Big Ben

“Amid the furor over a nerve agent spy attack in the UK, Russia is holding a presidential election. … Putin is expected to win yet another term in office. Do ordinary Russians share his outlook? …”  

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West Now Focusing on Young People to Change Russia a Decade from Now, Federation Council Report Says

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, March 6, 2018) Foreign governments are seeking to change the attitudes of young people everywhere in hopes “of transforming them into an instrument for undermining national political systems and realizing scenarios of ‘color revolutions’ and the overthrow of existing governments,” according to a report prepared by a special commission of the Federation […]

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NEWSLINK: “COPENHAGEN CONFERENCE” – Irrussianality/Paul Robinson

File Photo of G7 Leaders and other Officials Around Round Table at the Hague, with Flags

“… I participated in a conference in Copenhagen to launch a book entitled ‘The New Cold War’, edited by Danish MP Marie Krarup and consisting of interviews she conducted with 17 experts about Russian-Western relations. … I spoke straight after the defence minister. I made three main points … “

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NEWSLINK: “Richard Sakwa: The Key Challenge for Russia is to Avoid Inflicting Damage on Itself” – Rethinking Russia/Richard Sakwa Interviewed by Pavel Koshkin

“Rethinking Russia sat down with University of Kent’s Professor Richard Sakwa to discuss his new book Russia Against The Rest, its relations with the West, its role in a new world order as well as its greatest challenges in 2018. … On Jan. 30, The U.S. Treasury released the Kremlin Report, which contains a list of 220 Russian officials and […]

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Security Experts Chide West On ‘Limited, Weak’ Response To Russia

Europe Map

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – BRUSSELS, November 9, 2017 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-threat-to-democracy-western-response-european-values-think-tank/28842909.html) A group of security and foreign-policy experts says Western governments have been “limited and weak” in their response to the Kremlin’s barrage of “hostile actions” toward democracies. In a declaration initiated by the Prague-based think tank European Values titled How The […]

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Surkov’s ‘Crisis of Hypocrisy’ Not Just in the West but in Russia Too, Inozemtsev Says

Vladislav Surkov file photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 8, 2017) In an essay posted on the RT portal yesterday, Vladislav Surkov argues that the West is suffering from “a crisis of hypocrisy” in which people are no longer prepared to accept the shibboleths of the past and are demanding a clearing away of the existing political and social system […]

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Putin Calls Ekho Moskvy Journalist’s Attacker a ‘Sick Person’

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 30, 2017) The man who stabbed a radio editor in Moscow last week was a “sick person” without political motives, President Vladimir Putin said Monday. Tatyana Felgenhauer, a deputy editor at the liberal-learning Ekho Moskvy radio station, was stabbed last week by a Russian-Israeli man believed to have mental health issues. Two state television […]

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NEWSWATCH: “[Re: European Values]” – Mark Galeotti on Russia (facebook page)

Europe Map

(Mark Galeotti on Russia – facebook page – facebook.com/markgaleottionrussia/ – Oct. 21, 2017) [embedded live feed of facebook post should load below, or click here to go to post on facebook, with accompanying comments]  

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[PDF 53 pages] NEWSLINK: “The Kremlin’s Platform for ‘Useful Idiots’ in the West: An Overview of RT’s Editorial Strategy and Evidence of Impact ” – EuropeanValuesNet

Satellite Dishes

“This Report provides a detailed overview of the history, agenda, and evidence of impact of the Kremlin-funded international broadcasting network RT (Russia Today). In recent months, RT has come under increasing scrutiny for its role in the Kremlin’s disinformation campaign against the West. Unlike other agents of this campaign, which operate primarily behind the scenes and whose ties to the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “[Re: European Values]” – Fred Weir (facebook profile)

Europe Map

(Fred Weir – facebook profile – https://www.facebook.com/fred.weir – Oct. 21, 2017) [embedded live feed of abbreviated facebook post should load below; or click here for direct link to full post on facebook, with accompanying comments]

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NEWSLINK: “The Kremlin’s Platform for ‘Useful Idiots’ in the West: An Overview of RT’s Editorial Strategy and Evidence of Impact” – EuropeanvaluesNet

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

“European Values Think-Tank presents a new Kremlin Watch Report, ‘The Kremlin’s Platform for “Useful Idiots” in the West: An Overview of RT’s Editorial Strategy and Evidence of Impact’, authored by Monika Richter, Kremlin Watch Analyst. The Report is accompanied with an appendix document, the RT Guest List.”    

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “[Vladimir Putin and Fyodor Lukyanov at] Meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club” – KremlinRu (transcript concluded)

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Valdai Club 2013 Meeting, Adapted from Screenshot of Valdai Club Video at youtube.com

(Kremlin.ru – October 19, 2017) Vladimir Putin took part in the final plenary session of the 14th annual meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club titled The World of the Future: Moving Through Conflict to Cooperation…. Fyodor Lukyanov: Rein Muellerson. Rein Muellerson: Thank you. My question is to President Putin. In your speech, you mentioned Catalonia. My observations suggest that, […]

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Russians Mull Movie Ban On British Farce ‘Death Of Stalin’

File Photo of Reel of Film

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW – Sept. 20, 2017 – also appeared at https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-death-stalin-movie-ban-outrage/28747021.html) The Russian Culture Ministry has warned it may ban a British satirical film about Soviet leader Josef Stalin’s death amid an outcry from Communist Party lawmakers who call it the latest example of Western “psychological warfare.” Adapted […]

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NEWSLINK: “European University in Russia faces closure. With its teaching licence revoked and the forced removal from its premises, the European University in St Petersburg is on life support. ‘We have lost virtually everything,” says one of its professors.” – ScienceBusinessNet

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

“… The private and internationally-backed postgraduate school has been a target of lawmakers for over a decade, in what critics claim is a complicated plot to stifle independent points of view, take ownership of a historic building, and stamp out western influences. …”

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The West’s Values And Moscow’s Ambitions

Globe Highlighting NATO Members

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – August 14, 2017 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/daily-vertical-west-s-value-moscow-s-ambitions/28707109.html) Sometimes, one simple statement can encapsulate the dilemma of an era. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s remarks this week that Brussels should seek better relations with Russia “without renouncing our values and principles” is a perfect illustration of the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian economy boss: sanctions no longer bite” – AP

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

“… Maxim Oreshkin … [said that] the Russian economy is on track to grow at least 2 percent this year. That would be a first after 2014, when the economy sank into recession driven by sinking oil prices and sanctions over Russian actions in Ukraine. … he said, ‘we see more willingness on the Asian side to work with us.’ He wouldn’t […]

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NEWSLINK: “Looking out Five Years: What Should Washington and Its European Allies Expect From Moscow? Russians have become skeptical about a truly global order. At best, interactions with Western countries will be transactional, based on national interests when those happen to coincide or come close” – Carnegie Moscow Center/ Dmitri Trenin

Globe Highlighting NATO Members

“In the next five years, Russia’s relations with the United States and Europe will be competitive and tense. Russia will not invade NATO territory unprovoked, but incidents along the new front line, stretching from the Arctic to the Baltic to the Black Sea and elsewhere, may occasionally endanger peace between Russia and the United States and its allies. Operating from […]

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NEWSLINK: “Eurasian eyes turn east; Russia is more and more seeing China’s push West as an opportunity rather than a threat” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Asia Map

“… The relationship with the Chinese state began as a trade deal, but it has become progressively more political. It was not for nothing that when Xi Jinping took office in March 2013 his first trip abroad was to Moscow. To escape its blockade by the West, Russia has tried to shape the new emerging economies such as China into […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “Foreign Ministry statement in connection with anniversaries in Russia-NATO relations”

Russian Foreign Ministry Building Tower file photo

“These days we will mark 20 years of the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security, which Russia and NATO signed in Paris on May 27, 1997, and 15 years of the declaration titled Russia-NATO Relations: A New Quality, which was adopted at the Russia-NATO summit meeting in Rome on May 28, 2002. We have to point out that […]

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Moscow’s Main Agent Is Hype

Eiffel Tower and Tree-Lined Grassy Green, adapted from image at lbl.gov

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – MAXIM TRUDOLYUBOV – May 12, 2017) Maxim Trudolyubov, Senior Fellow with the Kennan Institute and editor-at-large with Vedomosti, has been following Russian economy and politics since the late 1990s. He has served as an opinion page editor for Vedomosti and editor and correspondent for the newspaper Kapital. In an election seen by many in Europe […]

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NEWSLINK: “Why the New Cold War Is More Dangerous Than the Preceding One; Questionable but orthodox Cold War narratives make actual war with Russia more likely than during its 40-year predecessor.” – The Nation/Stephen F. Cohen

Berlin Wall, Fencing, Barbed Wire, Women

“Nation contributing editor Stephen F. Cohen and radio-show host John Batchelor continue their weekly discussions of the new US-Russian Cold War. …”

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Easter’s East-West divide: What are the differences?”

File Image of Resurrection of Christ by Raphael, adapted from image at loc.gov

This year, Western and Eastern Christians are celebrating Easter on the same day, on April 16, and it won’t happen again until 2025. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ROMAN LUNKIN, FOR RBTH – April 14, 2017) Nikolai Gogol, the famous 19th century Russian author who preferred living in Italy, wrote that Russia celebrates Easter unlike anywhere else. He […]

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NEWSLINK: “SELECTION AND MAINTENANCE OF THE AIM” – Irrussianality/ Paul Robinson

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

“… the first ‘principle of war’ as taught to British and Canadian military officers is ‘selection and maintenance of the aim’. Pick a bad aim, or fail to maintain a good aim and instead get sidetracked into pursuing something else, and failure will almost certainly ensue. …”

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NEWSLINK: “How the Tumultuous ’90s Paved the Way for Putin’s Russia” [Book Review of “WHO LOST RUSSIA? How the World Entered a New Cold War”] – New York Times/ Rajon Menon

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

“… So who lost Russia? Russia’s leaders, primarily Putin, who neither built democracy nor made Russia a partner of the West? Or the West, which was never serious about respecting Russia’s interests, let alone a partnership? Conradi doesn’t provide a clear-cut answer to his question. Given the complexities he grapples with, who can blame him?”

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Our Man in Washington

File Photo of G7 Leaders and other Officials Around Round Table at the Hague, with Flags

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Andrei Babitsky – March 29, 2017) Andrey Babitsky, an independent journalist, columnist at Vedomosti Daily and contributor to the opinion platform InLiberty, has been covering Russian economy, politics and the country’s tech industry for the past 10 years. He has served as deputy editor-in-chief at Esquire magazine and headed opinion pages at Forbes Russia. There […]

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NEWSLINK: “WEAPONIZING COMEDY” – Irrussianality/Paul Robinson

Satellite Dishes

“… The basic conclusion of the report is that in Russia, ‘the entire “official humour industry” … is directly Kremlin-controlled’. Working for the Kremlin, Russian comedians use humour to reduce their compatriots’ stress and make them feel more comfortable and thus more accepting of the political system. They provide audiences with a positive sense of social identity, which is contrasted […]

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