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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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Poll: Nearly half of Russians fear World War III over Syria”

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According to a survey by the Levada Center polling agency, almost half of Russians (48 percent) are afraid that the breakdown in relations between Russia and the West over Syria could lead to a third world war. Another 31 percent of respondents were not particularly concerned and 11 percent did not fear a possible deterioration of the current situation.

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U.S. Stuck With Nobody Left to Sanction in Russia Over Syria

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Nick Wadhams – October 26, 2016) The U.S. put sanctions on Russia’s main arms exporter, Kremlin aides and the black leather-loving head of a motorcycle gang nicknamed “The Surgeon” after the 2014 invasion of Ukraine. Now, as Washington seeks ways to punish Moscow for its actions in Syria, it may be running out of options. President […]

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Russia’s Use of Military Force as a Foreign Policy Tool: Is There a Logic?

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(PONARS Eurasia – ponarseurasia.org – Samuel Charap – October 19, 2016) Samuel Charap is Senior Fellow for Russia and Eurasia at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. [PONARS Policy Memo; article also appeared at ponarseurasia.org/sites/default/files/policy-memos-pdf/Pepm443_Charap_Oct2016_4.pdf] Russia has used its military beyond its borders with unprecedented frequency in the period since the invasion of Crimea in February 2014. Depending on how […]

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TRANSCRIPT: Press Conference of President Obama and Prime Minister Renzi of the Republic of Italy [excerpt re Russia]

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

The White House Office of the Press Secretary October 18, 2016 Press Conference of President Obama and Prime Minister Renzi of the Republic of Italy (excerpt re Russia) PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I’m going to be a little more subdued in my discussions of the Republican nominee in this context than I might be on the campaign trail. But let me […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Why the U.S. thinks it could vanquish Russia in Syria without a fight”

File Photo of F-22 Fighter and Ground Crew

“Despite the signs that the U.S. and Russia are on the verge of a military confrontation in Syria, Washington is counting on Moscow to back down in the event that it decides to intervene. However, this betrays a lack of understanding both of the significance of Syria for the Kremlin and of the way public opinion is formed in Russia. […]

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NEWSLINK Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Transcript: “Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with Amanpour program on CNN International, Moscow, 12. October 2016

Sergei Lavrov file photo

Question: We are here at an extraordinarily difficult and painful time: what’s happening in Syria has got the world very, very upset. In the United Kingdom people are saying that this is the worst bombardment of civilians since the Nazis bombed Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. John Kerry has said that Russia and the Syrian regime owe the world […]

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NEWSLINK RBTH: “Russia to establish a permanent naval base in Syria”

File Photo of Deck of Russian Aircraft Carrier Admiral Kuznetsov

“The Russian naval facility in the city of Tartus will be upgraded into a permanent naval base. Military experts believe that the Russian Defense Ministry may set up a detachment of ships in the Mediterranean armed with Kalibr-NK cruise missiles and headed by the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier.”

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NEWSLINK RBTH: “Russia: We will shoot down U.S. jets in Syria that threaten our servicemen”

File Photo of F-22 Fighter and Ground Crew

“… Russian air defense and anti-missile systems in Syria are ready to shoot down ‘any unidentified flying object’ if air strikes are carried out on Syrian government positions, according to Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov. …”

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Others Cease, Russia Fires

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(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – October 4, 2016) Should we really be that surprised that Russia has opted to flat out ignore the cease-fire it agreed to in Syria? Should we really be all that shocked by the all-out assault on Aleppo? Probably not. In Moscow, the definition of a cease-fire appears to be that the other side […]

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Russia’s Syria Campaign Seen Purely as Bid to Prop Up Assad

Syria Map

(Voice of America – voanews.com – Victor Vladimirov – MOSCOW – September 30, 2016) The Russian air force’s bombing campaign in Syria marked its first anniversary Friday, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying there was no “time frame” for the operation. The Kremlin has officially declared the main objectives of its air campaign in Syria to be eliminating radical Islamic […]

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What Putin Wants

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – October 5, 2016) Vladimir Putin wants a bunch of things. He wants NATO to be scaled back to where it was at the turn of century, essentially reducing it from 28 to 19 members. He wants the United States to repeal the Magnitsky Act and end all sanctions against Russia. He wants the […]

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NEWSLINK RAND: “Russia’s Determination to Revise the Post-Cold War Order”

World Map Showing Continents, Greens, Browns, Ice

“The Russian economy has been in recession for nearly two years now, with GDP growth shrinking by 3.7 percent in 2015. However, as the recession continues and persistent low oil prices cut government revenues to the bone, military spending has remained almost immune to cuts, and the country has undertaken expensive foreign military interventions in Ukraine and Syria. The Cipher […]

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Washington’s latest statements may cause Russia to increase support for Syrian president – Russian expert

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MOSCOW. Oct 4 (Interfax) – The U.S. decision to unilaterally suspend interaction with Russia on the truce in Syria may cause the Russian Aerospace Forces’ operation in the country to last longer, Middle East expert and senior teacher at the Higher School of Economics Leonid Isayev said. “I think that this will result in Russia getting more actively involved in […]

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

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

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

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NEWSWATCH: “Aligned with Russia in Syria, Pentagon awkwardly treads on new terrain” – Reuters

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… the reactions of U.S. military officials range from caution to outright skepticism over a Geneva-based ‘joint integration center’ that may soon bring together American and Russian militaries to discuss shared targets for the first time since World War Two. … U.S. officials past and present voiced concerns about the initiative, underscoring the Pentagon’s long-public criticism about the way Russia […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Answers to journalists’ questions

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

(Kremlin.ru – September 5, 2016) Vladimir Putin answered Russian journalists’ questions following his working visit to China to take part in the G20 Summit. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon. Let’s dispense with opening remarks and get straight into the discussion. I will try to answer the questions of interest to you. Question: Mr President, this year, for the […]

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Putin Says Russia and U.S. Close to Breakthrough Deal on Syria

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(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – September 2, 2016) Vladimir Putin said #Russia and the U.S. are close to striking a deal on fighting terrorists in Syria, potentially a major step toward ending a civil war that’s flooded Europe with refugees and helped give rise to Islamic State. “We’re gradually, gradually heading in the right direction,” the Russian president said in an […]

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NEWSWATCH: “U.S., Russia Discuss Syria Cooperation Plan. Officials see hope of reducing violence and creating atmosphere for political transition” – Wall Street Journal

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… Kerry and … Lavrov are meeting … in a bid to complete a deal on increased cooperation in Syria that officials hope could help create the calm necessary for talks on a political transition. … The Pentagon is concerned about more closely cooperating with Russia, which backs … al-Assad’s regime. * * * Kerry’s efforts are opposed by some […]

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NEWSLINK Valdai Discussion Club/ Paul Saunders: “TECTONIC SHIFTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST, OR ARE THEY REALLY?”

Middle East Map

Russia’s military operation in Syria – and America’s restraint there-has catalyzed discussion and debate about possible strategic realignments in the Middle East, generating excitement in Moscow about Russia’s “great power” role and parallel concern in Washington and some allied capitals about future U.S. influence.

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NEWSLINK RBTH: “Russian airplanes leave Iran, but for how long?”

Iran Map and Flag

Tu-22M3 and Su-34 combat aircraft are no longer performing sorties into Syria from Iranian territory. Experts attribute the decision to a number of diplomatic and technical miscalculations on Moscow’s part and say the possibility remains for Russian aircraft to return

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin/ Erdogan] News conference following talks with President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey and Environs Satellite Image

(Kremlin.ru – August 9, 2016) President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, We have just completed the main part of the talks with President Erdogan. Naturally, this meeting is very important for the future of Russian-Turkish relations. We had a meaningful and, I would like to emphasise, constructive conversation on the entire range of bilateral issues and […]

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New commander takes charge of Russia’s operation in Syria

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Lt. Gen. Alexander Zhuravlev is expected to change the course of battle with Islamic State (ISIS) militants, who are advancing towards Palmyra once more. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – NIKOLAI LITOVKIN, RBTH – July 22, 2016) The Russian business daily Kommersant reports that Lieutenant General Alexander Zhuravlev, first deputy commander of the South Military District, has been appointed […]

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NEWSWATCH: “U.S., Russia Agree on Steps Designed to End War in Syria, but Details Sketchy. Washington initially offered military coordination, but terms of agreement not divulged after two days of meetings in Moscow.” – Wall Street Journal

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U.S. and Russian officials said Friday they … reached an agreement on steps designed to pave the way for an end to the civil war in Syria, but top officials declined to detail the specific measures …. John Kerry, without elaborating, said implementing the steps could address … Assad and his regime’s disregard of a February cease-fire …. * * […]

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Turkey Signals Cooperation With Russia Against Islamic State

Turkey and Environs Satellite Image

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Selcan Hacaoglu, Firat Kozok – July 4, 2016) Turkey may cooperate with Russia in fighting Islamic State, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Monday, just days after the countries agreed to work to repair strained ties. Cavusoglu denied signaling in an interview Sunday that Turkey may let Russia use southern Incirlik air base for operations in Syria. […]

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RBTH: Moscow and Washington consider expanding cooperation in Syria

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U.S. President Barack Obama made an offer to Russia to begin joint combat operations against the Al-Nusra Front militants. Some Russian experts believe that this overture has been made in order to strengthen the Democrat Party’s position in the presidential election race. Yet this step also could have positive implications for Moscow. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – NIKOLAI […]

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RBTH: The 3 key areas of disagreement between Moscow and Damascus

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Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict, Russia has been seen as a loyal ally to Bashar Assad, giving unwavering support to the Syrian president. Yet, the positions of Moscow and the Syrian regime are far from identical. Russia advocates a political solution to the crisis, whereas Assad sees war as the answer. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – […]

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VIDEO & TRANSCRIPT: Russian Violations of Borders, Treaties, and Human Rights – U.S. Senate Testimony by Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland

U.S. Capitol in Bright Sunlight

Russian Violations of Borders, Treaties, and Human Rights Testimony, Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Statement Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Washington, DC, June 7, 2016, As prepared [Video of hearing also appeared here http://www.c-span.org/video/?410738-1/federal-officials-testify-human-rights-violations-russia][Video includes all speakers and some lawmakers; Nuland testimony transcript follows below] Thank you Chairman Corker, Ranking Member Cardin, and members […]

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The Futility of Dialogue With Putin

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

(Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 13, Issue 100 – Pavel K. Baev – May 23, 2016) The need to keep the channels of dialogue open with an unpredictable Russia is taken as an absolute imperative by many Western politicians. But they are often surprised when this tactic backfires. The foreign ministers of the member states of […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Inevitable Decline of Putin’s Russia” – US News/Paul Shinkman

Putin Descending a Staircase

The downfall of the Soviet Union has taken on renewed resonance in 2016, as a similar set of pressures appears to be aligning against America’s former Cold War foe, raising questions as to whether it, too, may overtax itself. … the Kremlin in the early 2000s consolidated a resurgent Russia’s economic power among a few trusted business elites, failing to […]

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RBTH: What problems has the Syrian operation revealed in the Russian army?

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that the Russian campaign in Syria has highlighted a number of problems with the armed forces that need to be addressed. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – NIKOLAI LITOVKIN, RBTH – May 13, 2016) At a meeting with military officials and heads of the military-industrial complex on May 10, Russian President Vladimir Putin […]

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NEWSLINK Russia Direct: “What does Victory Day mean for Russia after Ukraine and Syria? Today Russians look at Victory Day through the lens of the war in Ukraine and the Kremlin’s Syria military operation. However, it might bring about three negative implications both for Russia and the world.”

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Russia Braces Itself as Syrian Cease-fire Falters

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner – April 28, 2016) Not two months have passed since President Vladimir Putin declared mission accomplished in Syria, and again the war-ravaged nation is on the brink. Russia’s partial withdrawal coincided with the launch of a new round of UN-mediated talks in Geneva. But with negotiations falling apart, the status quo of full-blown […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Iran and Russia Move Closer but Their Alliance Has Limits” – Reuters

Iran Map and Flag

When Iran took delivery of the first parts of an advanced Russian air defense system this month, it paraded the anti-aircraft missile launchers … to mark Army Day. … the Kremlin’s decision a year ago to press ahead with the stalled sale of the S-300 system was the first clear evidence of a growing partnership between Russia and Iran that […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s Russia. Down But Not Out. Part I.” – Foreign Affairs/Maria Lipman, Sergei Guriev, Daniel Treisman, Katie Allawala

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

Over the past decade and a half, Vladimir Putin’s Russia has been an economic dynamo and a basket case, an imperfect democracy and a tightening tyranny, a constructive diplomatic actor and a serial military aggressor—sometimes all at once. The only constant has been surprise, as the zigging and zagging has left outside observers, and even many Russians, scratching their heads. […]

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