Russian government extends counter-sanctions till end of 2018

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MOSCOW. July 5 (Interfax) – Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has signed a resolution extending the ban on imports of certain types of agricultural products, raw materials and food, the governmental website said in a report on Wednesday. “The ban on imports of certain types of agricultural products, raw materials and food originating from the United States, EU member countries, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “No Thaw Likely at Trump-Putin Meeting” – Wall Street Journal/ Nathan Hodge

File Photo of Donald Trump Waving Before Large Crowd with Trump Signs, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

“Russian officials are cautious about expectations for a fresh start in relations with Washington despite a planned first meeting between … Putin and … Trump next week. … Lavrov expressed hope that ‘pragmatism will prevail.’ But he added that U.S.-Russian relations ‘have become hostage to the internal politics’ inside Washington. * * * Russia continues to chafe under U.S. and Western […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko. [excerpt re: NGOs]

Valentina Matviyenko file photo

(Kremlin.ru – June 26, 2017) Vladimir Putin held a working meeting with Speaker of the Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko. Valentina Matviyenko: Mr President, we also organised public hearings on a subject that was long ripe for discussion. We simply gave this discussion a formal framework through these hearings on the inadmissibility of interference in Russia’s internal affairs. We know how […]

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Behind Brave Face on Sanctions, Russia Is Already Adjusting

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas – June 23, 2017) They are only discussed. They may not even be implemented. But the new sanctions under consideration in the U.S. Congress have already become a factor the Bank of Russia can’t ignore. While Governor Elvira Nabiullina dismissed sanctions as having little impact on Russia, the looming threat of wider measures was […]

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Cold War Deja Vu Deepens as New Russia Sanctions Anger Europe

American Flag and Partial View of U.S. Capitol Dome, adapted from image at aoc.gov

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Marc Champion – June 18, 2017) Russia on Sunday accused the U.S. of returning to “almost forgotten Cold War rhetoric,” after President Donald Trump’s decision to reinstate some sanctions on Cuba. It could have dropped “forgotten.” There’s been a lively debate among historians and diplomats for years over whether the souring of relations between the U.S. […]

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Punishing Putin Mostly Means Punishing His Foes; Washington wants more sanctions. But they would further strangle a pro-democracy movement on life support.

Kremlin and River

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – June 12, 2017) Leonid Bershidsky is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru. After being surprised by broad-based protests in late March, the Russian authorities were ready to prevent a repeat on Monday. Police detained hundreds across the country […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russian entrepreneurs wish you’d stop worrying about Putin and start thinking about them” – Washington Post/ David Filipov

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

“… With European governments grappling over whether and how Russian hackers might be attacking their electoral systems, and Washington torn asunder over the question of possible collusion between the Kremlin and members of President Trump’s campaign and administration, the forum presented journalists with a chance to go face to face with Moscow’s principal players. …”

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NEWSLINK: “How the Trump administration’s secret efforts to ease Russia sanctions fell short” – Yahoo News/ Michael Isikoff

State Department Building and U.S. Flag

“In the early weeks of the Trump administration, former Obama administration officials and State Department staffers fought an intense, behind-the-scenes battle to head off efforts by incoming officials to normalize relations with Russia, according to multiple sources familiar with the events. …”

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VIDEO & ARTICLE: “Russian Banker Sees Trump Facing Witch Hunt in New Cold War” – Bloomberg

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Erik Schatzker, Jake Rudnitsky – June 1, 2017) [Video interview also at: bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-06-01/russian-banker-says-u-s-involved-in-witch-hunt-against-trump] U.S. politicians have turned an investigation into alleged Russian interference in the presidential elections into a witch hunt to settle domestic political scores, according to the head of Russia’s second-largest bank. “This is effectively a new Cold War,” VTB Group Chief Executive Officer […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Navigating the Complexities of Doing Business in Russia” – Harvard Business Review/ Mark McNamee

… Most firms we work with feel a sense of powerlessness to handle the changing conditions in Russia. But  … there are ways that they can manage the uncertainty. … First, companies should pinpoint exactly what elements of their operations are most vulnerable to abrupt changes in foreign policy relations. … [and] think through the types of political and macroeconomic […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Snapshot Analysis: Trump, NATO, Russia” – Russia Matters/ Nikolas K. Gvosdev

Globe Highlighting NATO Members

“As predicted … #Trump’s summit with other #NATO leaders … showed a White House focused on meeting its treaty commitments … also determined to see its partners take on primary responsibility for countering threats that affect them, particularly in their own neighborhood. For #Russia, Trump’s public comments sounded like a mixed bag: … the president called Moscow a ‘threat’ and expressed no interest […]

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NEWSLINK: “Best To Assume Russia Sanctions Last Forever” – Forbes/ Kenneth Rapoza

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

“… the G-20 meeting this June … will be the first time [Trump and Putin] meet, and that could give us the official, presidential word on sanctions. …”

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NEWSWATCH: “Macron meets Russia’s Putin near Paris, promising tough talks” – Reuters/ Michel Rose, Denis Dyomkin

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

“#French President Emmanuel #Macron met #Russia’s Vladimir #Putin near Paris on Monday, promising some frank talking with the Kremlin leader after an election campaign in which his team accused Russian media of trying to interfere. … * * * While Moscow backs [#Syria’s] … al-Assad, France supports rebel groups trying to overthrow him. France has also taken a tough line on […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s economy is recovering well” – CNN

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“[Russia] is recovering nicely from a recession and should see economic growth of 1.4% this year, according to [the IMF] … Russia is heavily dependent on oil exports and was hit hard when crude prices started to crash in 2014. Economic sanctions imposed by Western governments as punishment for Russia taking control of Ukraine’s Crimea region dealt the economy another blow. […]

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Interfax: Reports on U.S. intention to monitor Russian ports in Primorye wrong – source in U.S. Congress

U.S. Capitol in Bright Sunlight

WASHINGTON. May 6 (Interfax) – Reports on the United States’ intention to monitor Russian ports in Primorye for their compliance with the sanctions imposed on North Korea are wrong, a source in the U.S. Congress said. “The report you passed along is wrong,” the source in the House Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives told Interfax, replying to […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Despite Sanctions, Russia’s Oil Industry Powers On” – Wall Street Journal/ Bradley Olson, Jay Solomon

Oil Well file photo

“Exxon Mobil … is suffering from sanctions on Russia. The same can’t be said for other big Western energy companies, or for Russia’s oil production. … sanctions, put in place by the U.S. and European Union in 2014 after Russia’s annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine, were meant to limit Russia’s pursuit of new technology for extracting more crude oil […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Western sanctions and languid Russian economy; Stringent international sanctions imposed on Russia for its role in the Ukraine conflict have sucked the momentum out of the Russian economy over the past couple of years. The nation’s growth prospects remain lethargic.” – Deutsche Welle/ Srinivas Mazumdaru

EU Map

Talks between … #Merkel and … #Putin … focused mainly on geopolitical and security problems, such as … #Ukraine and #Syria. … [they] did not explicitly bring up … #sanctions at the press conference … with the #German chancellor simply saying she hoped some of the sanctions could be lifted if Moscow helped make significant progress in implementing the Minsk peace plan. * * * The sanctions […]

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NEWSLINK: “ExxonMobil Just Challenged Trump to Get Serious With Russia Policy” – Fortune/ Richard Nephew, Colin Rowat

Portion of U.S. Treasury Department Building Facade, North Side, with Sculpture of Alexander Hamilton

“Earlier this month, news leaked that ExxonMobil was pushing the Treasury Department to grant it a sanctions waiver, which would allow the company to resume its joint venture Black Sea drilling operations with Russian oil giant Rosneft. The Treasury Department has since denied the waiver application, as waivers are granted for humanitarian and policy reasons, not for business reasons—which was […]

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Kudrin sees sanctions as primarily negative for Russian economy

Alexei Kudrin file photo

KRASNOYARSK. April 21 (Interfax) – Sanctions are having a negative impact on the Russian economy, the chairman of the Center for Strategic Research (CSR), former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said. “We are sooner losing position on the global market. The problem is not only related to the drop in oil prices and sanctions. Sanctions are in general very sensitive and […]

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In Annual Report, Medvedev Says Russian Economy Avoided Catastrophe

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – April 19, 2017) Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has promised not to raise taxes in 2017 and vowed to consider indexing retirement payments for working pensioners, delivering a moderately upbeat annual report on the troubled economy. Addressing the lower house of parliament on April 19, Medvedev said the Russian economy had avoided “catastrophe” despite low world […]

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Trump Lacks Room to Move on Sanctions on Russia, Economists Say

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Andre Tartar, Anna Andrianova – April 3, 2017) What a difference three months can make. Donald Trump dropped enough hints during the campaign and in the run-up to his inauguration as U.S. president to turn most economists into believers in an imminent easing of sanctions imposed against Russia over the crisis in Ukraine. But as scandals […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The fate of Russian stocks hinges on politics and oil” – CNBC/Rebecca Ungarino

File Photo of Outdoor Electronic Sign with Russian Exchange Data

“… The Moscow composite index is down nearly 8 percent year to date, underperforming the U.S. by nearly 15 percent as optimism around the possibility of the removal of trade sanctions against Russia fades. And crude oil, which weighs heavily on the Russian economy, has traded in a narrow range so far this year, offering no help to Russian stocks. […]

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End of Kremlin’s Dream of ‘Big Deal’ with Trump Makes Putin More Dangerous Not Less

File Photo of Donald Trump Waving Before Large Crowd with Trump Signs, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 16, 2017) Andrey Piontkovsky is undoubtedly correct that “‘a big deal’” between Moscow and Washington has become “impossible” given the fallout from the Flynn scandal because “any step by Trump in this direction would mean for him political death” (nv.ua/opinion/piontkovskiy/novaja-realnost-kremlja-647586.html). But while the Russian commentator doesn’t say so in his latest […]

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The Political Assassination of Michael Flynn

Michael Flynn file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Eli Lake – February 14, 2017) Eli Lake is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the senior national security correspondent for the Daily Beast and covered national security and intelligence for the Washington Times, the New York Sun and UPI. If we are to believe the Trump White House, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn just resigned […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s economy grows at $40 per barrel oil; Russia’s Central Bank last week said appetite was low for an increase in lending rates” – UPI/Daniel J. Graeber

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

The Russian economy will be on the positive side of growth even if the price of crude oil falls to $40 per barrel … [Central Bank Gov. Elvira Nabiullina] said. … The number of economic sectors expected to expand this year is not much greater than those in contraction, but losers are outnumbered. Much … depends on the price of […]

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Interfax: Lifting of some restrictions from FSB confirms Trump’s intention to normalize relations with Russia – former FSB Director Kovalyov

Portion of U.S. Treasury Department Building Facade, North Side, with Sculpture of Alexander Hamilton

MOSCOW. Feb 9 (Interfax) – The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s decision to drop some restrictions imposed earlier on the issuance of licenses and permits to export computer technologies to Russia shows that the Donald Trump administration is consistent in its efforts to normalize cooperation with Russia, Nikolai Kovalyov, a State Duma deputy and former head of the Federal Security […]

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Moscow Doesn’t Expect Trump to End Sanctions All at Once but ‘Cleverly’ Over Time, Markov Says

File Photo of Donald Trump Waving Before Large Crowd with Trump Signs, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 3, 2017) “Russophobia is so deeply rooted in European-American ideology,” Sergey Markov says, that Moscow doesn’t expect new US President Donald Trump to end all sanctions all at once but rather “in a clever fashion” that avoids problems for him and over a significant period of time. The words of Markov, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Trump-Putin ties now seen as key to peace in eastern Ukraine” – CNBC/Silvia Amaro

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

“Escalating violence in eastern Ukraine … has underlined the importance … Trump now plays in the region … promising to restore peace after a phone call with … Poroshenko. Trump has signaled his intent to have a closer relationship with Russia and … Putin. And with an open line of communication with Poroshenko, Trump could well prove … instrumental. * […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Russians can no longer afford to pinch pennies on food”

Cash, Calculator, Pen

If incomes continue to drop, however, Russians won’t be able to cut their food budgets and still adequately feed themselves. Any further cuts could mean risking malnutrition. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – IGOR ROZIN, RBTH – Feb. 6, 2017) Consumers are not willing to further cut food spending even if their financial situation continues to deteriorate. Grocery spending […]

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American Business Lobby In Moscow Sees Sympathetic Ally In President Trump; The American Chamber of Commerce in Moscow isn’t happy about sanctions. But don’t call it a policy position.

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner – February 2, 2017) In mid-December, with Donald Trump’s ascension to the presidency looming, former Republican congressman Jack Kingston flew to Moscow. Kingston, a senior Trump surrogate, was dispatched to liaise with American firms working in Russia. The topic on everyone’s minds was the U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia in response to its […]

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What Vladimir Putin Could Explain to Donald Trump

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

(Jack Matlock, U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987 to 1991 – jackmatlock.com – January 31, 2017) The telephone conversation last Saturday between the American and Russian presidents seems to have been amicable and constructive, at least in a general sense. They are reported to have discussed key world issues as potential partners, not as adversaries or enemies. That […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The sanctions on Russia are working, Mr. President: Don’t lift them prematurely” – The Hill/Alexander Vershbow

Alexander Vershbow file photo

“… I have seen many U.S. presidents seek to engage … Russia. While it has never been easy, it was possible to find areas of common ground that increased the security of both sides — as long as the U.S. set clear objectives and stuck with them. … The sanctions are working. … Russia is interested in having sanctions removed. […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia Survived Sanctions, And BlackRock Goes Overweight” – Forbes.com/Kenneth Rapoza

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“… Russian oil and gas companies, along with its biggest banks, were sanctioned in the summer of 2014 following the March annexation of Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula in southeastern Ukraine. Tension between the West and Russia increased that year as a new, U.S. backed government led by Arsesniy Yatsenyuk took hold in Kiev, sending Moscow into panic mode. Russia […]

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Putin and Trump Want to Team Up, but That’s Not Going to Be Easy

Donald Trump

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner, Mikhail Fishman – January 27, 2017) No actor on the world stage was as publicly energized by the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency as Russia. At first glance, the support seemed entirely emotional. But there was also a rational interest: Trump was open to lifting sanctions, after all. Sanctions have had a […]

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Easing Russia Sanctions ‘Under Consideration’

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Jennifer Epstein, Stepan Kravchenko – January 27, 2017) President Donald Trump is willing to consider removing U.S. sanctions against Russia when he has his first official discussion with Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin on Saturday, according to senior advisor Kellyanne Conway. “All of that is under consideration,” Conway said in a TV interview Friday on Fox News, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian retail slump clouds forecasts for economic recovery” – Reuters

File Photo of Older Russian Woman Shopping in Grocery Store

Russian retail sales fell more than expected in December, official data showed on Wednesday, challenging the government’s optimistic predictions for an imminent economic recovery. Retail sales are the largest contributor to Russian gross domestic product and have suffered steep falls since the economy entered a deep slump in 2014, when oil prices collapsed and the West imposed sanctions over the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Trump’s pick for U.S. Treasury chief says 100% committed to Russia sanctions” -bne/Intellinews

“US #Treasury secretary nominee Steven #Mnuchin said he is 100% committed to enforcing the #sanctions against #Russia, as he gave evidence during the #Senate #Finance Committee confirmation hearings on January 19. * * * … Relations between the two countries plunged to their lowest ebb since the Cold War in 2014 after Russia annexed Crimea and encouraged a separatist conflict […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Simple Reason Russia and America Keep Inching towards Crisis” – The National Interest/Ted Galen Carpenter

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

“Tensions between the United States and Russia rose rapidly during the final months of the Obama administration. Symbolizing that trend is the new deployment of three thousand U.S. troops along with tanks and other military hardware in eastern Poland, directly on [the] border with Russia. … Long gone was the hope Obama expressed early in his presidency for a ‘reset’ […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia shouldn’t pin hopes for lifting of sanctions on foreign elections – Medvedev” – RT/Russia Today

File Photo of Dmitry Medvedev with United Russia Logos Behind Him

“‘It’s time to discard the illusions that any sanctions imposed on our country would be lifted. Obviously, they are there to stay for a long time. And don’t lay your hopes on someone else’s elections,’ [Medvedev] said Sunday, in a speech addressing a United Russia party meeting in Moscow. …”

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NEWSWATCH: “Listen, liberal. Alexei Kudrin wants to liberalise Russia’s economy to save it. But with Donald Trump’s election, many Russians think Putin’s model is winning.” – The Economist

Alexei Kudrin file photo

“… Kudrin’s verdict was grim. Russia, he said, is at a low pace of economic growth even compared with the period of stagnation in the 1970s and 1980s that led to the Soviet collapse. The reasons go well beyond low #oil prices and Western sanctions: The main problems lie within Russia and they are structural and institutional.’ Russia lags far […]

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Remarks by the President in Final Press Conference. (excerpt re: Russia)

Putin and Obama with U.S. and Russian Flags

(The White House – Office of the Press Secretary – January 18, 2017) Q Mr. President, thank you. The President-elect has said that he would consider lifting sanctions on Russia if they substantially reduced their nuclear stockpile. Given your own efforts at arms control, do you think that’s an effective strategy? Knowing this office and Mr. Trump, how would you […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Will Russia cut its nuclear arsenal in exchange for lifting sanctions?”

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

The U.S. may reconsider sanctions against Russia if the latter agrees to reduce its nuclear arsenals, said U.S. President-elect Donald Trump in an interview with the British newspaper, The Times. According to military experts, if the reduction is reciprocal then such an agreement will be to Russia’s advantage. Russia, however, will first want a change in NATO policy. (Russia Beyond […]

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NEWSWATCH: “China Goes Food Shopping-to Russia; ‘Everything that can be consumed by a human being in China is something they’re interested in,’ Russian official says” – Wall Street Journal/AMIE FERRIS-ROTMAN/Liyan Qi

Asia Map

China bought more than $1 billion in food products from Russia last year, replacing Turkey as the top importer of Russian foodstuffs. … central to Russia’s economic and political pivot toward Asia, as the Russian economy continues to suffer under Western sanctions and the low price of oil, and U.S.-Russian relations deteriorate …. Russia and China … describe current relations […]

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Lift Russian Sanctions for ‘Positive Developments’ in Ukraine – OSCE Chair

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 9, 2017) Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz has called on European leaders to begin lifting sanctions against Russia in exchange for “any positive development” in the Ukrainian crisis. Kurz, a politician for the Austrian People’s Party, claimed that the change in policy would “send a clear signal to Russia.” “My concept is clear. I […]

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Russian Ruble Ended 2016 As Second Best Emerging Market Performer

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – January 4, 2017) The Russian ruble continued to make gains against the euro and U.S. dollar in the first two days of trading in 2017 after ending last year as the second-best performer among emerging market currencies. The ruble ended trading in Moscow at 60.51 to the dollar and 62.76 to the euro on January 3. […]

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TRANSCRIPT: Statement by the President of Russia

Putin and Obama with U.S. and Russian Flags

(Kremlin.ru – December 30, 2016) We regard the recent unfriendly steps taken by the outgoing US administration as provocative and aimed at further weakening the Russia-US relationship. This runs contrary to the fundamental interests of both the Russian and American people. Considering the global security responsibilities of Russia and the United States, this is also damaging to international relations as […]

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Trump Has Tough Choice After Obama Sanctions on Russia Hack

Putin and Obama with U.S. and Russian Flags

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Nick Wadhams, Justin Sink – December 30, 2016) President Barack Obama is forcing his successor, Donald Trump, into a difficult choice: reverse the sanctions the departing president just imposed on Russia for hacking e-mails in the U.S. election or put at risk his campaign vow to improve relations with Vladimir Putin. Hours after Obama imposed penalties […]

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NEWSWATCH: “U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Russian Restaurateur With Ties to Putin; Yevgeny Prigozhin is accused of possessing links to private military force that fought in Ukraine, Syria” – Wall Street Journal

“The U.S. has imposed sanctions on a Russian restaurateur and caterer with connections to President Vladimir Putin who has been accused of funding Russian online ‘troll farms’ and possessing links to a private Russian paramilitary group that fought in Ukraine and Syria. The U.S. Treasury Department officially sanctioned Yevgeny Prigozhin on Tuesday for contributing to the conflict in Ukraine through […]

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