NEWSWATCH: “Russia Flexes Its Soft Power Muscles; Extending output cuts deepens its role in global affairs” – Bloomberg/Julian Lee

File Photo of King Salman of Saudi Arabia Seated Next to Saudi Flag and Gesturing, adapted from image at defense.gov

“Oil has … [surpassed] $80 a barrel for the first time since November 2014. OPEC’s inventory target for output cuts has been met. … even though [Russian] oil companies want to turn on the taps and its finance ministry may be worried about prices rising too far, Russia won’t [end] its output deal with the group … when … participants […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Kennan Cable No. 33: A Russian Pivot to Asia? Russian Trade with Asia from 2006 to 2016 [Excerpt]” – Kennan Institute/Michael Corbin

Asia Map

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Michael Corbin – May 18, 2018) Michael Corbin has nearly twenty years of experience in the international financial services and trade arena, the majority with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Finance and Insurance Industries. On August 22, 2012, the Russian Federation officially joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) after almost 18 years of […]

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Is Russia About To Abandon The OPEC Deal?

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Irina Slav – May 17, 2018) OPEC and Russia are meeting in a little more than a month to discuss the progress of their oil production deal and what’s next. On the face of things, there will be no surprises: every country taking part in the deal is still committed to the cuts until the end of the […]

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NEWSLINK: “The Definitive Story Of How Trump’s Team Worked The Trump Moscow Deal During The Campaign” – Buzzfeed

Donald Trump

“… Talks to construct the 100-story building continued …. The tower — a sheer, glass-encased obelisk situated on a river — would have soared above every other building in Moscow …. the sharply angled skyscraper would have climaxed in a diamond-shaped pinnacle emblazoned with the word “Trump,” putting his name atop the continent’s tallest structure. …”    

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Russian Duma Amends One Antisanctions Bill, Postpones Vote On Another

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – May 17, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-duma-amends-one-antisanctions-bill-postpones-vote-on-another/29232439.html) The lower chamber of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, has amended and approved in its second reading a bill that provides for countermeasures against the United States and other countries that imposed sanctions against Russia. A third and final reading is […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Kara-Murza Jr. to face criminal liability if Duma adopts law on punishment for sanctions – Isayev” – Interfax

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

MOSCOW. May 16 (Interfax) – Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr., deputy chairman of the movement Open Russia, may fall under the bill criminalizing actions leading to the introduction of foreign sanctions against Russia if the bill is adopted, Andrei Isayev, first deputy chairman of the United Russia faction, said. “Among the people I know who are doing it is Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr., […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Ambassador Huntsman views strengthening of business ties as basis for improvement of Russian-U.S. relations” – Interfax

File Photo of John Huntsman, Men in Military Uniforms and Others, adapted from image at army.mil

MOSCOW. May 15 (Interfax) – Business ties between Russia and the United States should serve as the foundation for the improvement of bilateral relations, U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman said. “There of course remain profound disagreements between our governments on a number of policy issues, thankfully relations between our people, and that includes business relationships, remain strong. It is […]

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‘Not Their Business To Bomb Voronezh’: Russian Lawmakers Gut Sanctions Bill Targeting U.S.

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Carl Schreck – May 11, 2018 – article also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-sanctions-bill-gutted-bomb-voronezh/29221812.html) The phrase “bomb Voronezh” has become a staple of the Russian political lexicon, a reference to what Kremlin critics call Russia’s penchant for responding to Western sanctions with punitive measures that end up harming its own citizens. […]

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‘Thank You, Donald’ for Sending Oil Prices Up, Russian Commentator Says

Oil Wells File Photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, May 13, 2018) As a result of rising petroleum prices and projections that they will go even higher as result of instability in the Middle East, the Russian Federation is projected to earn five times as much from the sale of oil and gas this year than last and have a budget […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Over 400 companies, about 200 individuals in Russia fall under U.S. sanctions – Volodin” – Interfax

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

MOSCOW. May 15 (Interfax) – The United States’ sanctions now apply to more than 400 Russian companies and about 200 individuals, State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin told reporters on Tuesday. “The U.S.’ sanctions are absolutely unfriendly. They’ve been applied to more than 400 legal entities and about 200 citizens of our country, and we should do everything we can to […]

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RUSSIALINK: “China plans to double trade with Russia to $200 billion by 2020” – Interfax

Asia Map

BEIJING. May 15 (Interfax) – China plans to double its trade with Russia to $200 billion by 2020, Deputy Director of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce’s Central Asia and Eastern Europe Department Liu Xuesun told Russian reporters in Beijing. “The trade turnover between China and Russia is due to reach $100 billion this year, which is quite an achievement,” Liu […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia to Soften Plan for Retaliation Against U.S. Sanctions” – Bloomberg/Stepan Kravchenko

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

“… Russia’s parliament plans to adopt a bill on counter-measures to U.S. and European Union sanctions this month after softening the initial draft to remove language that had targeted specific sectors and products ranging from medication to aerospace. * * * … the Kremlin put the brakes on the plan, hoping to prevent another round of escalation in tensions with […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Artificial limitations on trade, finance, must not be allowed, imbalances in global markets must be corrected – Putin” – Interfax

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

MOSCOW. May 14 (Interfax) – The 21st-century economy will be effective provided artificial limitations on multilateral trade, finance, manufacturing, or investment are not allowed, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “A 21st-century economy that is effective, built on forward-thinking business models, and socially responsible, and that adheres to strict environmental standards and takes account of people’s real needs is something that […]

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Putin: Russia Looks To Get Free Of U.S. Dollar ‘Burden’ In Oil Trade

Offshore Oil Rig file photo

(Oilprice.com – Tsvetana Paraskova – May 9, 2018) Russia is mulling over ways to ‘get free’ of the U.S. dollar burden in oil trade as part of a plan to boost its national economic sovereignty, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “Oil is traded in dollars on the exchange,” TASS news agency quoted Putin as saying. “Certainly, we are thinking about […]

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Europe Buys More Russian Gas Despite Strained Relations

Gas Flame file photo

(Oilprice.com – Tsvetana Paraskova – May 8, 2018) The West-Russia relations have reached a new low since the Cold War amid the spy poisoning scandal in the UK, allegations of Russian meddling in elections, and fresh U.S. sanctions on Russia. Yet European countries continue to buy increased amounts of Russian gas, and Russia’s state-held gas giant Gazprom is boosting production […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Misplaced Fears Over Nord Stream 2; Nord Stream 2 provides another reliable route for transporting gas to Europe, nothing more, nothing less.” – The National Interest/Klaus Schäfer, Mario Mehren, Rainer Seele

Gas Flame file photo

“… The European gas market has … modernized and liberalized over the last decade. …. The Third Energy Package put in place a well-developed, intra-European framework of hubs that allows gas to flow freely in multiple directions from a variety of points of origin. … allow[ing] European consumers to buy gas from whomever they wish … [it] simply does not […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia in interesting times: increased risk bad; weaker ruble good” – bne Intellinews/Chris Weafer

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

“… April 6 U.S. sanctions [represent a significant shift] in terms of risk … actual and perceived, for foreign investors and companies …. The … Treasury Department … expanded the risk paramaters … targeting oligarchs and their business interests … previously it was assumed that sanctions expansion would be confined to political targets and individuals considered close to the president […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Bondageddon” – bne Intellinews/Ben Aris

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

“Russian assets are nuclear toxic waste again. On April 6 the U.S. Treasury Department … released a new set of targeted sanctions aimed at some of Russia’s biggest businessmen and their companies, and unleashed chaos on the markets. Russian assets were hot until the new sanctions, with foreign investors piling into Russia’s sovereign ruble-denominated debt as one of the best […]

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Russians Not Turning on Kremlin Even as Latest US Sanctions Bite

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Voice of America – voanews.com – Jamie Dettmer – April 30, 2018) The latest U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia earlier this month targeting two dozen Kremlin insiders and oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin and their companies are proving more painful than had been expected, say analysts. But they’re doing nothing at this stage in turning ordinary Russians against the Kremlin […]

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NEWSLINK: “Eurasia torn between war and peace; Iran’s top trading partner is China, while Tehran and Moscow have been improving ties as the three countries move closer to cementing a solid alliance” – Asia Times/Pepe Escobar

Asia Map

“… China is Iran’s top trading partner – especially because of its energy imports. Iran for its part is a major food importer. Russia aims to cover this front. Chinese companies are developing massive oil fields in Yadavaran and North Azadegan. China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) took a significant 30% stake in a project to develop South Pars – the largest […]

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NEWSLINK: “Meet The Russians Behind Your Blockchain (And Cryptocurrency, Too)” – Forbes/Kenneth Rapoza

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

“… Russian tech companies are not sanctioned. So far there is no Iron Curtain. Russians are behind some of the most successful blockchain platforms in the world. The Russians also dominate the cryptocurrency mining space. Go to a blockchain conference, and there are sure to be Russian miners dominating the exhibition hall. …”

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RUSSIALINK TRANCRIPT: “Excerpts from Dmitry Medvedev’s interview with the Vesti v Subbotu (News on Saturday) programme” – GovernmentRu

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Government.ru – April 28, 2018) The Prime Minister answered the questions of Sergei Brilyov, the programme’s host. Dmitry Medvedev: In the past six years, the Government has worked in unprecedented conditions, which include unfavourable changes in the global economy and on the hydrocarbons market, as well as sanctions, starting with those imposed on Russia in 2014. All of this taken […]

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Ten Signs Putin and His Russia have Serious Problems

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 21, 2018) Vladimir Putin and his country are in far deeper trouble than the Moscow media he controls or than the Western media which all too often relies on what the Putin outlets say and views his standing and that of his country almost exclusively as a derivative of what the […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Influential economist says sanctions-hit Russian firms must not be compensated” – Interfax

Alexei Kudrin file photo

(Interfax – April 21, 2018) Former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin has said the Russian government should not compensate Russian companies which have been hit by US sanctions. “Companies should be helped so that they don’t stop, but you don’t have to…[ellipses in original] compensate billionaires for the loss in their value,” Interfax news agency quoted Kudrin as saying on 21 […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Political Tensions Could Rob the U.S. of the Russian Rocket Engine It Desperately Needs; The United States has become increasingly reliant on the RD-180” – Popular Mechanics/David Grossman

File Photo of Atlas Rocket on Launch Pad

“The burgeoning private space industry might find itself caught in the middle of geopolitical tensions …. Russian lawmakers have drafted a law that would ban cooperation … on building rocket engines, including … the crucial RD-180. … [that] powers the Atlas V, the launch system maintained by United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint company owned by both Lockheed Martin and […]

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RUSSIALINK: Interfax: “Duma speaker warns of Russia’s dangerous dependency on U.S. pharmaceutical imports”

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings, adapted from image at lanl.gov

MOSCOW. April 20 (Interfax) – Russia must take efficient measures to swiftly make available in its market domestically produced medicinal drugs to secure itself from a possible halt of U.S. imports, State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said. “The U.S. has around 50 billion rubles of annual net profit from supplying pharmaceuticals to our country,” Volodin told reporters on Friday after […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia is opposed to ‘sanction-swapping’ with the U.S. – but is prepared to defend itself, finance minister says” – CNBC

Anton Siluanov file photo

“Russia stands ready to retaliate against the latest round of U.S. sanctions … Finance Minister Anton Siluanov [said] …. The U.S. slapped sanctions on several Russian oligarchs, businesses and agencies thought to have ties to … Putin …. prompt[ing] a dramatic market sell-off in Moscow …. Siluanov told CNBC: ‘We are not in favor of sanction-swapping. Nevertheless, our MPs (members […]

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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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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: “Trump Scraps New Sanctions Against Russia, Overruling Advisers” – New York Times/Peter Baker

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

“… Trump rejected, for now at least, a fresh round of sanctions set to be imposed against Russia on Monday, a course change that underscored the schism between the president and his national security team. …”

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U.S. Sanctions aren’t Splitting Russian Elites or Dividing Elites and People, ‘Nezavisimaya’ Says

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 10, 2018) The expanded US sanctions regime is based on the same assumption that the West made after the beginning of the economic crisis in Russia four years ago, the editors of Nezavisimaya gazeta say, the belief that economic hardship will lead some in the elite to oppose Vladimir Putin and […]

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NEWSLINK: “The Arctic as the next battleground? Don’t count on it” – Asia Times/Richard A. Bitzinger

Arctic Map

“… as tensions between Russia and the West also grow, where might conflict between these two camps break out? … Global warming … raises the specter that the Arctic might become a new zone for conflict, as the polar icecap recedes and the area becomes more accessible. In the first place, competition for natural resources in the region is increasing. […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Can Russia Afford Its Save-a-Billionaire Relief Program? Russia’s poorest will end up footing the bill” – Moscow Times/ Vedomosti/ Pavel Aptekar, Vladimir Ruvinsky

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“… new sanctions … the West imposed against companies and businesspeople with close Kremlin ties pose a new challenge for the Russian government and economy. Like in 2014, the authorities have already promised support to those targeted …. ‘Supporting those who support you’ might make sense politically, but how much of this … can the Russian economy bear? * * […]

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

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

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

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NEWSWATCH: “Medvedev threatens Russian counter-measures on U.S. goods” – Financial Times/Kathrin Hille

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

“Moscow has threatened to hit imports from the U.S. or even products made by American companies in Russia as a retaliation against the crippling sanctions imposed Washington last week that battered Russian markets and have pushed Russian aluminium company Rusal to the brink. … Medvedev … said … that the government would ‘look into’ the possibility of counter-measures on ‘a […]

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NEWSWATCH: “No longer safe assets: Invest in Russia at your own risk after U.S. sanctions, strategist says” – CNBC/Natasha Turak

File Photo of Outdoor Electronic Sign with Russian Exchange Data

“Russian assets, in recovery mode following a deep recession after the global oil price collapse in 2015, have been ravaged since Friday over fears of U.S. sanctions.  Popular among many emerging market investors for the past year, this progress now appears on the brink of becoming undone as market analysts call for a re-evaluation of Russia’s risk pricing. * * […]

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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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NEWSLINK: “Taking on Russia’s ‘oligarchs’; Meduza looks at the businessmen, state officials, and companies targeted in the latest U.S. sanctions” – Meduza

“On Friday, the world got a look at the latest U.S. sanctions against Russia. The U.S. Treasury Department’s new “designations” target seven Russian ‘oligarchs’ and 12 companies they own or control, 17 senior Russian government officials, and a state-owned Russian weapons trading company and its subsidiary, a Russian bank. Washington says the measures are a response to “a range of […]

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U.S. Reported Poised To Impose New Sanctions On Russian Billionaires

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

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – April 5, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/us-reported-poised-impose-new-sanctions-russian-billionaires/29146529.html) The United States plans to impose a new round of sanctions on Russia, this time targeting Russian billionaires with ties to President Vladimir Putin, media are reporting. Reuters and The Washington Post, citing U.S. officials speaking on condition of anonymity, said at […]

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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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NEWSWATCH: “Why Is Russian Gas in Boston Harbor? Environmentalists’ war on fossil fuels helps Vladimir Putin” – Wall Street Journal/Drew Johnson

Gas Flame file photo

“Why are some parts of America reliant on Russian natural gas, especially when domestic gas production has surged? … [it’s] political. … Massachusetts and New Hampshire [officials] blocked … the $3 billion Access Northeast Pipeline, which would have … provided fuel to three New England states. … [the] Massachusetts Attorney General … claimed the state could ‘maintain electric reliability’ without […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian Spy’s Poisoning: Where Does PM May Go from Here? Russia’s apparent attempt to murder Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom leaves Her Majesty’s Government with no good choices” – David Johnson/The National Interest

File Photo of British Parliament Building, Big Ben, Thames, adapted from image at loc.gov

“Russia’s apparent attempt to murder Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom leaves … [the UK] with no good choices. Unlike the murder of … Litvinenko … London had no choice but rapidly and publicly to accuse [Russia] of … incompetence in losing control of a nerve agent it invented or attempted murder on British soil. …”  British Prime Minister May […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin and Xi Are Dreaming of a Polar Silk Road; The Northern Sea Route might not be the next Suez Canal, but it’s at the heart of Moscow and Beijing’s play for the high north.” – Foreign Policy Magazine/Keith Johnson, Reid Standish

Arctic Map

“The unprecedented melt of Arctic sea ice is … rejuvenating hopes of a shipping shortcut …. It shouldn’t be. China is dreamy-eyed about the prospects of shipping goods from Asia to Europe across the top of Russia … dominating its brand-new Arctic strategy. … Russia is convinced that the melting Arctic will open up a new economic frontier rich in […]

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Interfax: Putin: import substitution in Russia is temporary phenomenon

File Photo of U.S. Dairy Cows

SAMARA. March 7 (Interfax) – Import substitution in Russia is a temporary phenomenon; a temporary tool to balance out the current situation, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “The idea of import substitution is not, in and of itself, universal and is not what we should be aiming for in the long run; import substitution mustn’t disrupt competition. This is an […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Ukraine maintains gas transit to Europe despite new gas war with Russia” – Intellinews/Ben Aris

Gas Flame file photo

“Fears that Russia would stop sending transit gas to its European customers via Ukraine were not borne out over the weekend despite Russian state own gas monopolist Gazprom’s announcement that it was going to break its contracts with its Ukrainian counter party Naftogaz on March 2. Naftogaz immediately announced emergency measures, calling on Ukrainians to turn down the thermostat, switching […]

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Interfax: Ryabkov predicts countermeasures in response to new U.S. sanctions on Russia

Sergei Ryabkov file photo

MOSCOW. Feb 15 (Interfax) – Russia will respond to new sanctions from the United Sates if they are imposed, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said. “If the threats are followed by real actions, we will act as before, staying calm and reserved – that is, ensure alternative forms and ways of achieving the tasks faced by our economic operators, […]

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Interfax: Medvedev: U.S. seeks to oust Russian companies from European market by putting them on different lists

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

SOCHI. Feb 15 (Interfax) – The United States is seeking to oust Russian companies from European market by including them in different lists, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said. “Why are they doing so? For purely pragmatic reasons, this is because they want to promote their companies to European market, but, saying it straightforwardly, Europe and the U.S. are now […]

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NEWSLINK: “Expansion, Sanctions, and Opposition-Promotion: the West’s Failed Russian Transformation Strategy” – Russian and Eurasian Politics/ Gordon M. Hahn

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

“… The West’s post-Ukraine crisis sanction meanwhile are intended to undermine the regime from above. The hope in Washington and Brussels is that by pressuring state and private oligarchs close to Putin or the Kremlin, some may withdraw their support and seek either to remove Putin in a coup or join the opposition and remove him in a revolution or […]

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Russia Gets $41.5 Billion Boost From OPEC Deal

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Tsvetana Paraskova – February 13, 2018) Since the start of the OPEC-Russia production cut deal, Russia’s oil companies and government have received the equivalent of around US$41.5 billion more in proceeds, thanks to the higher oil prices, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Tuesday. Due to the higher oil prices as a result of the pact, Russia’s […]

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