JRL NEWSWATCH: “Iran Role in Syria Key Item at Trump-Putin Summit” – AP

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“As fighting wanes after seven years of war, the U.S. has made curtailing Iran’s influence in post-war Syria a strategic objective – one strongly backed by Israel. … officials from the U.S. and Russia have signaled that a broad framework for such a deal is likely to be the main outcome. But any agreement is likely to be carefully phrased […]

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With Trump, Shifts on One Issue Won’t Lead to Shifts on Others, Kortunov Warns

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 4, 2018) Previous American presidents in their dealings with Moscow have typically moved from progress in one area to progress in others, Andrey Kortunov says; but Donald Trump is different: he will treat each “‘deal’” with Moscow separately; and thus any forward movement on Syria won’t make an agreement on Ukraine […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH VIDEO: “National Security Adviser John Bolton on ‘Face the Nation,’ July 1, 2018” – CBS

File Photo of John Bolton Raising Hand at United Nations, with United States Nameplate on Desktop in Front, adapted from image at state.gov

“… There are possibilities for … a larger negotiation on … get[ting] Iranian forces out  [of Syria] …. * * * [T]he Russians are always saying to us they want to cooperate on international terrorism …. * * * I had meetings … with … Putin and his foreign minister … defense minister and … diplomatic adviser … the [U.S.] […]

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NEWSLINK: “How Russia’s Military Is Becoming Even Deadlier [with comment]” – The National Interest/Dave Majumdar

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“… From the Russian perspective, Moscow’s campaign in Syria affords the Kremlin invaluable combat experience that is helping it to refine the capabilities of its military forces. … In the Kremlin’s view, one of the most important reasons for Russia to continue its campaign in Syria is to further refine its newly developed precision-guided strike capability. ‘Syria is not a […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Russian Gordian Knot begins to unravel” – Asia Times/Norman A. Bailey

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“… Putin said two completely unexpected things: first … Iran should evacuate its forces from Syria and stop interfering with events in the northern Arab arc (Iraq, Syria, Lebanon). Second … Israel has a right to defend its borders, whether in the north or in the south (Hezbollah and Hamas territories respectively). … within a few days of a meeting […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Israel and Russia Agree to Remove Iranian Forces From Syrian Border, Report Says; Israel reportedly gets ‘green light’ to strike Iranian targets as long as it does not endanger Syrian regime. Report follows call between Netanyahu and Putin, meeting between Israel’s defense chief and Russian counterpart” – Haaretz (Israel)/

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“Israel and Russia have reached an understanding on pulling Iranian forces out of southern Syria, the London-based Asharq al-Awsat reported …. reached after … Netanyahu spoke to … Putin … [by] telephone, while Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman had held talks with his Russian counterpart. … the sides [reportedly] agreed it was necessary to remove Iranian forces from southern Syria and […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s Endgame in Syria Has Arrived; It’s not an Assad victory – it’s a frozen conflict” – Foreign Policy Magazine/Jonathan Spyer

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“Syria increasingly seems to be moving toward de facto partition accompanied by ongoing low-level military conflict and a functional, but sluggish politics – a so-called frozen conflict. This may have been the goal all along for … Putin, who has initiated and managed such conflicts elsewhere, including in Georgia and Ukraine. * * *  Russia has … preserved the integrity […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russian-U.S. dialogue on Syria still intensive – Ryabkov” – Interfax

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MOSCOW. May 17 (Interfax) – Russia is not phasing out a dialogue on Syria, and it is still quite intensive, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said. While talking to journalists on Thursday, Ryabkov was asked whether there were any concerns about Russian-U.S. dialogue on Syria in light of the absence of a U.S. delegation at the last round of […]

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NEWSLINK: “Time to show Russia a military parade – In Syria” – Brookings Institution/Shalom Lipner

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“Editor’s Note: Nowhere are Russia’s footsteps more pronounced today than in the Middle East, its old Soviet stomping grounds, where the locals are increasingly deferential to Putin. The question is what Trump intends to do about the situation, writes Shalom Lipner. This piece originally appeared in The National Interest. …”  

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NEWSWATCH: “Will Russia’s involvement in Syria end up burning its ties with Israel?” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

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“… despite … mutual determination [by Russia and Israel] to steer clear of the global storm [between Russia and the West], things may be reaching a breaking point in Syria. While Russia and Israel have hitherto been able to manage their differences there so far, Israel is becoming increasingly concerned as Iran, Russia’s ally in Syria and Israel’s main enemy, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Is Russia Sponsoring Terrorism?” – New York Times/Senator Cory Gardner

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

“… The State Department should consider adding [Russia] to its list of state sponsors of terrorism, alongside its close allies Iran and Syria. … Russia has invaded … Georgia and Ukraine … supports the murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad and our enemies in Afghanistan … is engaged in active information warfare against Western democracies, including meddling in the 2016 United […]

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NEWSLINK: Doctors ordered at gunpoint to deny Syria chemical attack or else their children will be killed; ‘Unless you give a testimony, doctor, that there wasn’t a gas attack, we’ll be killing your children'” – The Mirror (UK)/Andrew Gregory

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“Unless you give a testimony, doctor, that there wasn’t a gas attack, we’ll be killing your children”

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia wants U.S. military out of Syria. But it still needs U.S. to help bring peace.” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

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“… Analysts say that Moscow was serious when it hinted that it would strike back against U.S. warships in the Mediterranean or other launch platforms if any Russian lives were endangered by U.S. missiles. But … they say that the exchange of explosive declarations last week turned out to be mostly theater. Kremlin-connected analysts say that US and Russian military […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin and Trump trying to walk back Syria strike and sanctions tensions” – bne Intellinews

Vladirmir Putin and Donald Trump Sitting in Chairs with Flags Behind, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

“The U.S. surprised (and relieved) the market by not following through on a threat to impose even more sanctions … the day after western allies carried out limited missile strikes on suspected chemical weapons industrial targets in Syria. The U.S. administration is split over how to react to Russia’s increasing aggression … both … Trump and … Putin were actively […]

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Western Attack Hasn’t Changed Situation in Syria or Harmed Moscow Despite Russian Public Reaction, Akopov Says

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(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 15, 2018) The Western attack on Syria hasn’t changed the likely outcome of the conflict there, Bashar Asad’s alliances with Russia and Iran, or Vladimir Putin’s view of Donald Trump, Petr Akopov says; but it has already led to a transformation of Russian public opinion in adequate ways that could have […]

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NEWSWATCH: “In Syria and Beyond, a Dangerous New Era Dawns; The U.S. simultaneously confronts an aggrieved Russia and an aggressive rising power in China, a situation that calls for dexterous diplomacy” – Wall Street Journal/Gerald F. Seib

File Photo of F-22 Fighter and Ground Crew

“… John Sawers, a career British diplomat and former head of the MI6 intelligence service, delivered a sober warning: For the first time in living memory, there is a realistic prospect of a superpower conflict. … The U.S., a mature power, simultaneously confronts an aggrieved and newly assertive Russia as well as an aggressive rising power in China. … the […]

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NEWSLINK: “Syria: bottom line questions” – Graham E. Fuller

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“… What sense can we make out of all these strategic events in Syria? We encounter a baffling array of players: Syrian troops, Syrian insurgents, jihadis of varying ideologies, Iranians, Russians, Americans, Israelis, Turks, Saudis, Qataris, Emiratis, Shi’ite militias, Iraqis, Kurds, Hizballah-all locked in a deadly dance. But as complex as it may be, this seven-year bloody conflict still continues […]

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NEWSWATCH: “U.S. postpones fresh sanctions on Russia, Kremlin retaliation options limited” – bne Intellinews/Ben Aris

Nikki Haley file photo, adapted from image at usembassy.gov

“The Trump administration postponed imposing yet another round of sanctions to the ‘near future’ in the wake of … airstrikes on Syria. … Nikki Haley said … the U.S. would impose fresh sanctions … that would primarily target Russia’s defence sector and single out companies … linked to chemical weapon production. Russia’s markets opened flat … the next day … […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Frantic Parade of Lies” – Washington Post Editorial

Artist Rendition of Barrel with Poison Symbol on It, Oozing Green Material

“Russia longs to be taken seriously in matters of global affairs, but … Putin has demonstrated … disdain for the rules-based post-World War II order. What does Russia want instead? In two recent incidents involving the use of outlawed chemicals[, the assassination attempt on Skripal in Britain and a chemical weapons attack in Syria], Russia’s answer has been a frantic […]

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NEWSWATCH: “A few cruise missiles from Trump won’t stop Syria’s war crimes” – Washington Post Editorial

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“Having declared that Syria will pay a ‘big price’ for its latest use of chemical weapons … Trump will deal another blow to U.S. global leadership if he does not follow through. But a few cruise missiles won’t change anything in Syria. What’s really needed is a concerted strategy …. the Assad regime and its Russian and Iranian allies are […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Trump Says U.S. Could Help Russian Economy” – Reuters

Vladirmir Putin and Donald Trump Sitting in Chairs with Flags Behind, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

“… Trump … said the U.S. could aid Russia’s economy and sought an end to what he called an ‘arms race,’ lamenting that relations with Moscow had reached an all-time low. …Trump … on Twitter warned Russia that missiles ‘will be coming’ in Syria following a suspected chemical attack and chided … Putin for being ‘partners’ with … Assad. … […]

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NEWSLINKS: “Kremlin backers warn of threat of war with U.S. as Syria tensions rise” – Washington Post/Anton Troianovski

File Photo of Bashar al-Assad and Sergei Lavrov

“… The United States is considering strikes on Russian ally Bashar al-Assad in Syria, prompting ominous speculation among people close to the Kremlin that such a move could touch off a wider conflict. One scholar who advises the Russian Defense Ministry even raised the specter of ‘World War III.’ … U.S. sanctions against top Russian business executives wiped billions of […]

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NEWSLINK: “In Syria, Trump Faces the Limits of Bluster” – New York Times Editorial

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“A world grown numb to the slaughter of civilians in Syria has been roused in the last 48 hours by photographs on social media of lifeless men, women and children in the rebel-held town of Douma, many with white foam coming from their mouths and nostrils, victims of chemical weapons. Outraged Western nations blame President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and demand […]

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To Avert U.S. Retaliation, Russia Proposes Inspection of Syria Attack Site

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 10, 2018) Russia said on Tuesday it will propose to the United Nations that international inspectors visit the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack in the Syrian town of Douma, a move which follows U.S. President Donald Trump’s warning of quick, forceful action in response to the incident. At least 60 people were […]

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NEWSWATCH VIDEO: “Putin’s Next Act” – Brookings/ Julia Ioffe, Vladimir Kara-Murza, Angela Stent, Strobe Talbott, Alina Polyakova

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

(Brookings event – April 4, 2018) “… Putin’s third term as Russia’s president was defined by a return to aggressive foreign policy … military interventions in Ukraine and Syria, interference in elections in the United States and Europe … a crackdown on domestic dissent. … as Russia’s economic model and political system seem[] increasingly stagnant …. What might Putin’s fourth […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s Turkey visit brings S-400 missile and nuclear plant headway” – bne Intellinews

Turkey and Environs Satellite Image

“… Erdogan received … Putin in Ankara … with a crowded agenda … including … Turkey’s first nuclear power plant, the purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defence system and progress with the TurkStream natural gas pipeline …. even more challenging … with the scheduled arrival of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and … the complicated task of finding an end-game […]

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Russia’s Syria Policy: The Hard Path of Military Disengagement

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(PONARS Eurasia – ponarseurasia.org – Ekaterina Stepanova – February 2018) Ekaterina Stepanova is Lead Researcher and Head of Peace and Conflict Studies at the National Research Institute of the World Economy & International Relations (IMEMO), Moscow. (PONARS Policy Memo) On December 11, 2017, two and a half years after the start of Russia’s military campaign in Syria, President Vladimir Putin, […]

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73% of Russians Believe Military Has Achieved Syria Goals

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 27, 2018) A state-run poll has shown that nearly three-quarters of surveyed Russians believe their military has achieved its stated goals in Syria. Russian warplanes have been engaged in air raids in support of the Syrian government against rebels since October 2015. Late last year, President Vladimir Putin declared victory and ordered Russian troops […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Starving Wolf No Longer: Can Russia Sustain Its Military? Russia is having to balance its demand for more advanced weapons with a slew of other priorities” – Moscow Times/Michael Kofman

Russian Soldiers Marching

“… the military … will probably continue operations [in Syria]. … [and] continue to fuel its other major conflict, Ukraine … supporting proxy forces in breakaway republics in the … east. But … Russia’s … Armed Forces are at a crossroads. Divergent spending priorities, resource constraints and myriad dilemmas loom …. * * * The Armed Forces may expand, but … […]

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Can Russia Sustain Its Foreign Policy Power Plays in 2018?

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jonathan Brown, Editor, Moscow Times – January 31, 2018) When Vladimir Putin landed in Syria late last year, he was greeted by President Bashar Assad not as a foreign dignitary, but as the guardian of the embattled nation. “Syria has been preserved as a sovereign and independent state,” Putin told soldiers assembled at the Khmeimim […]

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Drones that attacked Russian military bases in Syria could have been shipped only from U.S. – Russian senator

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MOSCOW. Jan 9 (Interfax) – The drones that attacked Russia’s military bases in Syria could have been shipped to the country only from the United States, Russian Federation Council Defense and Security Committee head Viktor Bondarev said. “I think it’s clear to everyone who stands behind the militants. Only a technologically powerful state could have supplied the drones that bombarded […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin Toughens Penalty for Bomb Threats Plaguing Russia” – AP

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

“… Putin has signed a law doubling the penalty for false reports of impending explosions or fire to a possible 10 years in prison. … Since September, authorities have received false bomb reports allegedly targeting more than 3000 structures in about 180 Russian cities. The subsequent building evacuations have sometimes caused severe traffic problems. A top Interior Ministry official said […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Putin’s Plan for Syria; How Russia Wants to End the War” – Foreign Affairs/ Dmitri Trenin

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“… Moscow … means to secure its own core interests in Syria, whatever the balance of political power in the country. Among these is a permanent air and naval presence in the country. Under the lease agreements signed in 2015 and 2016 with Damascus, both the Khmeimim air force base and the Tartus naval facility, which is being upgraded to a […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Backed by Putin, Russian Military Pushes Into Foreign Policy” – Reuters

Sergei Shoigu file photo

“From Damascus to Doha … Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has been showing up in unexpected places, a sign of the military’s growing influence under … Putin. … at times wearing his desert military uniform, Shoigu has held talks with Syria’s president in Damascus, met Israel’s prime minister in Jerusalem and been received by the Emir of Qatar in Doha. The defense ministry’s […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “Vladimir Putin visited Khmeimim Air Base in Syria” – KremlinRu

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(Kremlin.ru – December 11, 2017) At the air base, Vladimir Putin was met by President of the Syrian Arab Republic Bashar al-Assad, Russian Minister of Defence Sergei Shoigu and Commander of the Russian military group Sergei Surovikin. The Commander-in-Chief ordered the withdrawal of the Russian military group from Syria back to their permanent bases. Vladimir Putin thanked the Russian service […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Latest U.S.-Russian Effort on Syria: Good for Preventing Accidents, So-So for Everything Else” – Russia Matters/ Nikolas K. Gvosdev

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“The one concrete result to emerge from … Trump and … Putin’s informal meetings on the sidelines of … APEC … has been the Nov. 11 U.S.-Russia Joint Statement on Syria. … [which] has elicited some official optimism, but what does it amount to really? … a promising step forward to end the strife in that war-torn land and ‘save tremendous numbers of lives,’ as Trump […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Joint U.S.-Russia statement calls for U.N.-supervised elections in Syria” – Politico/ Nancy Cook

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“… a new joint statement on Syria between the U.S. and Russia … [says] Syria must eventually hold U.N.-supervised elections to bring new leadership to the country as part of … ending its … civil war [say] two senior State Department officials. … follow[ing] … U.N. Security Council resolution … 2254. … [the election is to] include the ballots of the Syrian diaspora, displaced from the country […]

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NEWSWATCH: “What Does Putin Want? To Maintain His Power No Matter What; A big win for Putin in the March election would be a victory for the Russian autocratic state.” – NBC/ William Pomeranz

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Podium Gesturing

“In Russia … [elections] are acts of confirmation: The only real suspense … is whether … Putin will receive 70 percent or 80 percent …. Putin … surely understands that reform is the moment of greatest vulnerability for a Russian leader (just ask … Gorbachev). … Putin’s intent is always to maintain control, as recent prosecutions attest. * * * … At the top of […]

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NEWSWATCH: “No pomp as Russia revolution centenary nears” – AFP

Kremlin and River

“… Russia strives to strike an odd balance … remembering the uprising that brought about the Soviet Union … stopping short of romanticising regime change. … 1917 saw Tsar Nicholas II abdicate in March and the Bolsheviks … seize power in October. Civil war erupted … followed by the creation in 1922 of the USSR, built on the ruins of the Russian empire. … Russia still […]

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Putin Is Filling the Middle East Power Vacuum

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(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Henry Meyer, Donna Abu-Nasr – October 3, 2017) The Israelis and Turks, the Egyptians and Jordanians — they’re all beating a path to the Kremlin in the hope that Vladimir Putin, the new master of the Middle East, can secure their interests and fix their problems. The latest in line is Saudi King Salman, who on […]

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Interfax: U.S.-led coalition stages fatal provocations against Russian troops in Syria – Lavrov

Sergei Lavrov file photo

MOSCOW. Oct 4 (Interfax) – The U.S.-led coalition in Syria inspires terrorists into attacks and stages fatal provocations against Russian servicemen, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. “The US-led forces’ activities in Syria cause many questions. In some cases these forces mount allegedly accidental strikes against the Syrian Armed Forces, after which the Islamic State counterattacks, in other cases they […]

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Two Years on, the Stakes of Russia’s War in Syria Are Piling; Russia may have helped Assad win the war, but crucial decisions lie ahead

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Vladimir Frolov – September 29, 2017) Two years ago, on Sept. 30, 2015, Russian warplanes launched their first airstrikes in Syria, plunging Russia into a civil war that had already been festering for four years. Moscow intervened in Syria vowing to fight Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, terrorist groups banned in Russia. Its objective was […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia touts essential role in Syria’s advance against IS” – AFP

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“… In addition to air strikes and reconnaissance, Russia has also dispatched special forces, de-mining experts, and military police officers across Syria. Pavel Felgenhauer, military observer for Novaya Gazeta newspaper, says more than 2,000 military advisers are also on the ground. ‘Some two million tonnes of military supplies have been shipped to Syria,’ he says, including Russian weapons systems like […]

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Only an Anti-War Movement Can Shatter the Putin Regime, Yakovenko Says

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

(Paul Goble – Staunton, August 15, 2017) There are anti-war attitudes in Russia, Igor Yakovenko says; but “there is no anti-war movement” despite the fact that Russia has been killing people in Ukraine for four years and in Syria for two and the even more significant problem for the country that “Putin is war.” Instead of focusing on creating such […]

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CSTO Rift Grows Between Moscow And Astana

Map of CIS Central Asia and Environs

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Samuel Ramani – Aug. 6, 2017 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/qishloq-ovozi-csto-kazakhstan-russia-nazarbaev/28661553.html) Samuel Ramani is a DPhil candidate in International Relations at St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford, specializing in post-1991 Russian foreign policy. He is also a journalist who contributes regularly to The Washington Post, the Huffington Post, and Diplomat […]

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Interfax: Russian Foreign Ministry: UNSC’s inability to condemn attack of terrorists on Russian embassy to Syria encourages them to new attacks

UN Building file photo

MOSCOW. Aug 4 (Interfax) – The Russian Foreign Ministry has accused members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) of blocking Russia’s suggestion to condemn shelling of the Russian embassy in Damascus, saying that it encourages terrorists to new attacks. “The most outrageous thing is that the Security Council’s inability to condemn terrorists’ actions encourages them to new provocations and […]

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NEWSWATCH: “President Trump signs Russia sanctions bill” – ABC

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

“… Trump today signed a bill aimed at punishing Russia for its interference in the 2016 election despite his reservations … passed with rare and overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress …. The bill limits the president’s ability to lift or waive sanctions against Russia and keeps in place sanctions the Obama administration imposed …. It also allows the U.S. to deny […]

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Interfax: Russia to verify reports on closure of CIA program backing Syrian opposition – Foreign Ministry

Artist's Rendition of U.S. Embassy, Moscow, with the Russian Foreign Ministry in the Background

MOSCOW. July 20 (Interfax) – Russia intends to verify reports by U.S. media outlets on President Donald Trump’s decision to phase out a covert CIA program of providing aid to the Syrian opposition, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said. “We welcome all steps aimed at defusing the situation and strengthening security in the Middle Eastern region. If this is being done […]

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NEWSWATCH: “THE G-20 SUMMIT: AFTERWORD” – Angela Stent/ Valdai

File Photo of Country Flags Outside 2017 G20 Meeting in Hamburg, adapted from image at state.gov

“… The main focus inside the United States was the meeting with President Putin, which lasted over two hours, much longer than anticipated. There was great anticipation about what this first meeting might produce …. Resumption of relations has been delayed by the domestic debate in the United States about Russia’s actions during the 2016 election campaign. It turned out to […]

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NEWSLINK: “Trump is right about challenging Russia over Syria” – Asia Times/ David Goldman

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“The ceasefire in three Syrian provinces announced Friday after the Trump-Putin meeting in Hamburg is the first step in the right direction that the United States has taken in the Middle East in more than 20 years. The Syrian deal should be understood in the context of President Trump’s address in Warsaw the day before, a challenge to Russia to […]

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