Putin Is Filling the Middle East Power Vacuum

Syria Map

(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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NEWSLINK: “Is Russia’s ‘neutrality’ over Qatar Crisis a sign of its dilemma?” – Al Arabiya English (UAE)/ Orhan Gafarli

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“During the past month, the crisis between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt has attracted global attention. When the Qatari foreign minister visited Moscow on June 11 and held talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, Moscow expressed a positive outlook …. It is interesting that Russia appears to remain neutral, while closely monitoring the situation. It is […]

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Natural Born Liar

File Photo of Screenshot of Vladimir Putin in Twitter Video of Trailer of Oliver Stone TV Film Regarding Russia

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore- June 22, 2017) [Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, also appeared at rferl.org/a/daily-vertical-transcript-natural-born-liar/28572901.html] What is the point of lying when what you are saying is obviously, demonstrably, and often ridiculously false? It’s a question worth asking in the aftermath of U.S. filmmaker Oliver Stone’s recent interview series with Vladimir Putin. During the […]

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NEWSLINK: “How Do America and Russia Avoid a War over Syria? The United States needs to think soberly about its next steps-and not stumble into a clash with Russia that it neither foresees nor desires.” – The National Interest/ Nikolas Gvosdev

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“That it has taken so long since the Russian intervention in Syria began in earnest, a year and a half ago, for an incident to occur that might directly pit Russian and American forces against each other has been nothing short of miraculous. That luck ran out this week, with the downing of a Syrian government warplane accused of carrying […]

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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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U.S., Russian Generals Communicating More To Avoid Mishaps In Syria

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©2017 RFE/RL, Inc. – rferl.org – article from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, also appeared at https://www.rferl.org/a/us-russian-generals-communicating-more-avoid-mishaps-syria/28507898.html – May 25, 2017 ) Russian and U.S. military generals are increasingly communicating about operations in Syria as both countries wage separate but at times overlapping battles in the country, the Pentagon said on May 24. Air Force Lieutenant General Jeffrey Harrigian, who is in […]

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Interfax: Lavrov-Trump meeting focused on Syria de-escalation zones

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MOSCOW. May 15 (Interfax) – Syria was high on the agenda of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington DC. “We worked together with [U.S. Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson for about two hours, and then spent less than an hour at the White House to extensively discuss Syria with U.S. President Donald Trump […]

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Interfax: Russian Defense Ministry reports stable situation in de-escalation zones in Syria

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MOSCOW. May 10 (Interfax) – The situation in the de-escalation zones in Syria is stable, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday. “The situation in the de-escalation zones is assessed as stable,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in its bulletin on the fulfillment of the memorandum on the establishment of de-escalation zones. Russia has registered 12 shooting incidents in the […]

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Putin Meets Erdogan as Russia Pursues Syria Diplomacy Blitz

Turkey and Environs Satellite Image

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Henry Meyer, Ilya Arkhipov – May 3, 2017) Russian President Vladimir Putin continued his diplomatic push for a plan to establish safe zones in Syria backed by peacekeepers as he began talks with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Wednesday. Russia and Turkey can “change the destiny of the […]

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“Crises in the Second Nuclear Age” – Stephen J. Cimbala, Paul Bracken

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

Subject: Crises in the Second Nuclear Age Date: Fri, 21 Apr 2017 From: STEPHEN CIMBALA <sjc2@psu.edu> Crises in the Second Nuclear Age By Stephen J. Cimbala and Paul Bracken Stephen J. Cimbala is Professor of Political Science at Penn State Brandywine. Paul Bracken is Professor of Management and Professor of Political Science at Yale University. Nuclear weapons coincided with the […]

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NEWSLINK: “The Syria Crisis Has Evolved into an International Power Struggle; The prospect of an accidental military confrontation with Russia and its allies have never been greater” – The National Interest/ Robert G. Rabil

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“No doubt, as reflected by many voices in Washington, DC corridors of power and media, the recent American cruise missile strikes against Syria’s al-Shayrat Air Base in response to the Assad regime’s chemical attack on Khan Shaykhun in Idlib Province was hailed as the right thing to do. Moved by horrifying images of children losing their lives to the internationally […]

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Moscow proposes setting up mission under OPCW auspices to investigate Idlib events

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MOSCOW. April 13 (Interfax) – Russia has submitted an initiative during a special session of the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague on Thursday to set up a mission under OPCW auspices to investigate the chemical incident in Syria’s Idlib governorate, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a press conference. […]

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NEWSLINK: “An American Dream Fulfilled. While the United States government was secretly preparing to bomb Syria, I was in my Siberian university classroom” – The Nation/Sarah Lindemann-Komarova

Russia Map

While the United States government was secretly preparing to bomb Syria, I was in my Siberian university classroom. It was the first day for a new group of third-year linguistics students. … After the class all told me something about themselves, I asked the stranger where he was from, as he was clearly not Russian. His name was Ali (the shortened version […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Is Russia Testing Trump?” – New York Times/ MICHAEL J. MORELL, EVELYN FARKAS

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

“This week Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is making his first diplomatic visit to Russia, where he’s likely to press Moscow on its handling of Syria, which he has called ‘incompetent.’ … Tillerson should recognize that Russia’s involvement in Syria is only one example of the increasingly active, and disruptive, role that … Putin has been playing on the world stage … […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia needs American help to seal the deal in Syria; After the air strikes, closer co-operation between Putin and Trump is more likely” – Financial Times/ Dmitri Trenin

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“The Russian reaction to the use of force by the U.S. president was strong but measured. Moscow condemned it … but gave no order to Russian air defence units in Syria to intercept American missiles. Nor did the Kremlin cancel the forthcoming visit by secretary of state Rex Tillerson. …”

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NEWSLINK: “Syria crisis: G7 leaders couldn’t change Vladimir Putin’s mind on backing Assad – even if they wanted to. Russia now relies on Syria for its new status as a great world power – and the West knows the risks of leaving a power vacuum in the Middle East.” – The Independent (UK)/ Patrick Cockburn

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

“It is very unlikely that Russia will change its support for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, despite calls to do so from foreign ministers from the G7 nations gathered in Italy in the aftermath of the use of poison gas in Syria and the US missile strikes. Russia owes its return to great power status in the eyes of much of the […]

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NEWSLINK: “Why Trump’s missiles are shaking Putin’s home front; He may be the hero of Crimea, but for the Russian leader the US strike on Syria could hardly have come at a worse moment” – The Guardian (UK)/ Mary Dejevsky

U.S. Naval Vessel Firing Tomahawk Cruise Missile at Night

“… Moscow’s generally careful and differentiated response so far suggests that Putin himself has not given up on the prospect of better relations. Nor would it make sense for him to do so. By refusing to rise to the myriad anti-Russian charges flying around Washington, the Russian president has already invested a large amount of political capital in a fresh […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia Suspends Syrian Air Operations Accord With U.S. After Airstrikes; The decision poses a new complication for Trump administration’s push against Islamic State” – Wall Street Journal/ Thomas Grove, Nour Malas, Maria Abi-Habib, James Marson

U.S. Naval Vessel Firing Tomahawk Cruise Missile at Night

Moscow swiftly suspended an agreement with Washington for military coordination in Syrian skies on Friday following the U.S. missile attack on a Syrian base …. heightening concerns of more unpredictable reactions from … al-Assad’s backers, in particular Iran, to the U.S. strike, conducted in retaliation for a suspected regime chemical attack on a village. It threatens to derail the delicate alliances that […]

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NEWSLINK: “The Syria Strike: Are the United States and Russia On a Collision Course? How Russia sees Donald Trump’s cruise missile strike.” – The National Interest/ Nikolas Gvosdev

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“After reviewing the evidence and considering the options available to him … Trump ordered a proportionate strike on the Syrian air base where it is believed that the aircraft responsible for the chemical-weapons attack that occurred earlier this week in Idlib Province was based. According to different sources, the United States used its deconfliction channel with the Russian military to inform […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Did St. Petersburg bombing bring Russia’s Syria intervention back home?” – Christian Science Monitor/ Fred Weir

St. Petersburg

“Though #Russia has been dealing with #terrorism for many years, it has mostly been rooted in domestic conflicts in the Caucasus. But Monday’s deadly bombing of a St. Petersburg metro seems likely linked to Russia’s involvement in Syria’s civil war. … analysts say that the identification of the bomber as Kyrgyz-born Akbarzhon Dzhalilov, from the turbulent central Asian city of […]

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NEWSWATCH: “How Russia Became the Jihadists’ No. 1 Target; Monday’s bombing in St. Petersburg might be only the beginning of a new terrorist wave” – Politico/COLIN P. CLARKE

Map of Middle East and North Africa with Inset Map of Holy Land

“… too soon to say who is responsible for the bombing … in St. Petersburg … it wouldn’t be surprising if international terrorists were responsible. Russia is fast replacing the United States as the No. 1 enemy of al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other Sunni jihadist groups …. recent Russian actions in the Middle East … escalating intervention in Syria and its […]

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NEWSLINK: “Alliance with Syria tightens Russia’s ties with Iran; Continuing cooperation on Syria was high on the agenda of a meeting between Putin and Rouhani, but other agreements were made as well” – Asia Times/SERGEI BLAGOV

Middle East Map

“As Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Moscow this week, the two sides pledged to develop cooperation on Syria, as well as bilateral economic ties. …”

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VIDEO: “Russia: Rival or Partner, or Both?” – Council on Foreign Relations event featuring Charles A. Kupchan, Stephen Sestanovich, Angela E. Stent, Evelyn N. Farkas

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

[The Council on Foreign Relations, on Feb. 27, 2017, hosted an event, “Russia: Rival or Partner, or Both?”, featuring Charles A. Kupchan, Stephen Sestanovich, Angela E. Stent and Evelyn N. Farkas in a mock government meeting, followed by a question-and-answer session. click here for event page: http://www.cfr.org/russian-federation/russia-rival-partner-both/p38860] “… Experts discuss U.S. policy options toward Russia including continued sanctions, possible cooperation […]

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Russia Tries to Salvage Syria Peace Bid as Iran Dispute Flares

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(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Henry Meyer – February 28, 2017) Russia is struggling to salvage its bid to secure a deal to end six years of civil war in Syria as deepening differences with Iran risk a repeat of previous failed peace efforts led by the U.S. “Things aren’t going as smoothly as we would want” in the Geneva talks, […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with Northern Fleet service members

File Photo of Deck of Russian Aircraft Carrier Admiral Kuznetsov

(Kremlin.ru – February 23, 2017) Vladimir Putin met with Northern Fleet officers who distinguished themselves in service and combat missions in the Mediterranean, off the coast of the Syrian Arab Republic. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Comrade officers, First of all, today, February 23, I would like to congratulate you on the Defender of the Fatherland Day. I want to […]

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Ten Years Ago Today, Putin Declared War

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – February 10, 2017) Ten years ago today, a cold wind blew in Munich. A decade ago today, Vladimir Putin telegraphed his intentions. On February 10, 2007, the Kremlin leader threw down the gauntlet to the West. On that day, Putin stunned the Munich Security Conference with a bellicose speech in which he railed […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Trump Administration Looks at Driving Wedge Between Russia and Iran” – Wall Street Journal

Iran Map and Flag

“… Trump … is exploring ways to break Russia’s military and diplomatic alliance with Iran in a bid to both end the Syrian conflict and bolster the fight against Islamic State …. The emerging strategy seeks to reconcile … Trump’s seemingly contradictory vows to improve relations with … Putin and to aggressively challenge the military presence of Iran – one […]

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UN Braces as Trump’s Detente With Russia Upsets Balance of Power

UN Building file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Kambiz Foroohar – January 31, 2017) President Donald #Trump’s outreach to #Russia is reverberating through the United Nations, where U.S. allies worry that a partnership between Washington and Moscow could undermine a historic balance of power dating to the early days of the Cold War. For decades, the five veto-wielding members of the 15-nation Security Council […]

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Meeting between Putin, Russian Security Council members involved exchange of opinions on current state of Russian-U.S. relations – Peskov

Dmitry Peskov file photo adapted from image at kremlin.ru/wikimedia commons

MOSCOW. Jan 27 (Interfax) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday held an operative meeting with permanent members of the Russian Security Council, presidential press officer Dmitry Peskov told Interfax. “The meeting addressed current issues relating to the internal Russian socio-economic agenda,” Peskov said. “It also addressed the outcome of the Astana negotiations, and also the prospects of further efforts […]

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Trump Team Aims to Test Russia’s Alliance With Iran

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(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Eli Lake – January 24, 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. As the #Trump administration begins planning its outreach to #Moscow, one question for the new president […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: Russia to build full-fledged naval base in Syria

File Photo of Deck of Russian Aircraft Carrier Admiral Kuznetsov

#Russia and #Syria signed an agreement to transform the naval repair and docking facility in #Tartus into a full-fledged naval base. Up to 11 Russian warships will be deployed in the eastern Mediterranean within the next few years. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – NIKOLAI LITOVKIN, RBTH – January 23, 2017) On Jan. 20 Moscow and Damascus signed a […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

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(Kremlin.ru – December 29, 2016) Mr Shoigu and Mr Lavrov briefed the President on work to resolve the Syrian crisis, in particular, agreements reached between the Syrian government and the opposition on a ceasefire and readiness to begin peace talks. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, The news has just come in that this morning, a few hours ago, an […]

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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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Debates in the West about Putin Now Recall Those in Europe about Hitler in Mid-1930s, Ikhlov Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, December 15, 2016) There has been a dramatic increase in the influence of pro-#Putin forces in the West in recent months, Yevgeny Ikhlov says; but at the same time, there has also emerged in Western societies a real horror about what the #Kremlin leader is doing in #Syria in general and in […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian Campaign in Syria Exposes Moscow’s Defense Gaps; Deployment of warships to assist Assad regime lays bare weaknesses in Russian military’s naval aviation and carrier operations” – Wall Street Journal

File Photo of Deck of Russian Aircraft Carrier Admiral Kuznetsov

“A flotilla of Russian warships in the Mediterranean … provid[es] a high-profile show of force in support of the Syrian regime. But … also throw[s] into sharp relief the limits of Moscow’s conventional military. … the quarter-century-old Kuznetsov lacks the kind of powerful catapult system … featured on U.S. carriers, forcing Russian planes to carry lighter payloads and less fuel […]

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Russia to use all existing channels to work on Syria with incumbent, future U.S. administration – diplomat

Sergei Ryabkov file photo

MOSCOW. Nov 10 (Interfax) – Russia will continue to work with the incumbent U.S. administration on Syria through bilateral and multilateral channels, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday. “Work is continuing via bilateral channels at different levels, special groups are continuing to work in a broader format in Geneva, and possible new documents on Syria are being […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia Makes U-Turn After Evicting Amnesty From Moscow Office” – Reuters

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

… Amnesty International can return to the Moscow office it was evicted from this week, a Kremlin human rights adviser said on Thursday …. Amnesty has been a vocal critic of Russia over its bombing campaign in Syria and had said it believed the eviction might be part of an official crackdown on civil society groups. … Kremlin officials have […]

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Russians Are Growing Uneasy About the Kremlin’s War in Syria, New Poll Shows

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ola Cichowlas – November 3, 2016) Despite Russia’s lack of independent news coverage on Syria and the heavily controlled nature of television, a new poll by the Levada Center suggests that the public is beginning to worry about Moscow’s conflict with the West in Aleppo spinning out of control. “On the whole, most people are […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Being Russian in Putin’s Russia; Russia is still struggling to define itself nearly a century after the Soviet Union was established.” – Stratfor

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

“… Putin has inherited the problem of unity. … He needs an actionable ideology he can implement at the political and cultural level. … Through heavy-handed propaganda, Moscow has used the current stand-off with the United States to rally nationalist fervor against a common enemy. Following Russia’s failures to prevent a revolution in Ukraine, it presented Crimea as a source […]

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Russia Urges New U.S. President to Avoid Escalation Over Syria

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(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Albertina Torsoli, Henry Meyer – November 2, 2016) A senior Russian diplomat urged the incoming U.S. president to work with his country to resolve the war in Syria and avoid escalation, as he defended the Kremlin’s military intervention in the conflict as a fight against terrorism. Alexei Borodavkin, who’s represented Russia at Syria peace talks as […]

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