Putin Aims to Undermine Western Democracies With Election Meddling, Experts Say

U.S. Capitol in Bright Sunlight

(Voice of America – voanews.com – Ken Bredemeier – March 9, 2017) WASHINGTON – Russian President Vladimir Putin is single-handedly trying to undermine democracy in the United States and Europe and rupture their decades-old NATO alliance by meddling in their elections, foreign affairs analysts and Estonia’s former president told a congressional hearing Thursday in Washington. One of the experts, Peter […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Even as #Trump seeks warmer ties with #Russia, U.S. deploys troops across Eastern #Europe” – Washington Post

U.S. Army Tanks in Transport Arriving in Germany, adapted from army.mil

“… major new deployments of tanks and other heavy equipment will fan out to nations on the #Russian frontier … part of the largest infusion of U.S. troops to #Europe since the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union. … the long-planned effort comes at the most unsettled time for U.S.-European relations since World War II, with #Trump questioning old alliances […]

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RUSSIALINK Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “Reply by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova to a media question on the U.S. troop buildup in Europe”

U.S. Army Tanks in Transport Arriving in Germany, adapted from army.mil

“Question: Do you agree with the assertion promulgated by US and European media that the dispatch of US troops to Europe is not of major importance? …”  

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The Real Threat to the Baltics Isn’t Russia — It’s Depopulation

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

Depopulation—Invisible Threat to Latvia’s Security (Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 13, Issue 132 – Olevs Nikers – July 21, 2016) [Also appeared at Russia Insider, with modified title and introductory capsule: “Between ethnic Russians leaving for #Russia and Balts leaving for the UK the three baltic states are emptying out — Latvia and Lithuania lost 8.3 […]

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War Fever

File Photo of F-22 Fighter and Ground Crew

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Jill Dougherty – July 18, 2016) Jill Dougherty is an expert on Russia and the former Soviet Union. In her three-decade career with CNN she served as Foreign Affairs Correspondent, based in Washington, D.C.,where she covered the State Department and provided analysis on international issues. The Russia File is happy to welcome Jill Dougherty as […]

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Nothing To Fear

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – The Daily Vertical: Brian Whitmore – July 18, 2016) So the big talking point coming out of the Kremlin is that NATO is overreacting to a non-existent Russian threat. According to Moscow, rotating just four combat battalion groups, a total of 4,000 troops, on the alliance’s eastern frontier constitutes a “provocation.” According to Vladimir Putin’s regime, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “NATO, Russia to Discuss Increased Baltic Tensions. Russia promises troop buildup in response to 4,000-strong Western force” – Wall Street Journal

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

Russian officials pushed a new air-safety initiative for the Baltic Sea in a meeting with [NATO] ambassadors … as they continued to criticize [NATO’s] planned buildup in the region. … [a proposal that] would require all planes flying in the Baltic Sea region to operate with their transponders turned on … … allied officials welcomed [the proposal] saying it could […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Factbox: Main Decisions of NATO’s Warsaw Summit” – Reuters

Patriot Missile Launch file photo

* NATO agreed to deploy military forces to the Baltic states and eastern Poland from January 2017 to deter Russia, a response to Moscow’s 2014 seizure of Crimea from Ukraine. … four battalions totaling between 3,000 and 4,000 troops will be led by Britain in Estonia, the United States in Poland, Canada in Latvia and Germany in Lithuania. * NATO […]

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NEWSWATCH: “NATO Set to Approve Baltic Force at Warsaw Summit; Alliance officials say they are uncertain how Russia’s Putin will respond” – Wall Street Journal

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

As the North Atlantic Treaty Organization prepares to kick off its summit here Friday, allies are casting a wary eye on Russia and its reaction to the expected approval of a new alliance force in the Baltic. … described by some as the most important gathering of NATO since the end of the Cold War … will authorize the presence […]

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Putin, Russian Security Council Discuss Baltic Airspace

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – July 5, 2016) Russian President Vladimir Putin has chaired a meeting with the country’s Security Council to discuss possible “confidence-building” steps in the skies over the Baltic region and details in connection with a NATO summit later this week, a presidential spokesman said. Putin also talked with the council’s permanent members about the situation in Syria, […]

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Putin Understands West but West Doesn’t Understand Putin, Moscow Hybrid War Specialist Says

Putin and Obama with U.S. and Russian Flags

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 20, 2016) Russia’s power does “not even come close” to that of the US, Andrey Manoylo says; but Moscow has an advantage “right now” because it understands the value of “asymmetric action” and because “the US clearly has difficulties with predicting Russia’s activities,” because of Washington’s overly simplistic models of Russian […]

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VIDEO & TRANSCRIPT: The Baltics Remember, Russia Forgets

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

(RFE/RL – The Daily Vertical: Brian Whitmore – June 15, 2016) [Video further below] Seventy-five years ago this week, an ethnic cleansing campaign began. Seventy-five years ago this week, tens of thousands of people were uprooted from their homes, from their lives, and from their families. Seventy-five years ago this week — when the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were […]

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In Estonia, we should be careful not to overstate the impact of the information war

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

The Baltic States are now seen as the next frontline in Russia’s hybrid war. But the political preferences of ethnic Russian communities are more complicated than meets the eye. (opendemocracy.net – Vassilis Petsinis – May 30, 2016) Vassilis Petsinis is a political analyst at the European Commission’s representation in Greece. His specialisation is european politics and ethnopolitics with a regional […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The U.S. and Russia Plan for Conflict” – Stratfor

File Photo of F-22 Fighter and Ground Crew

… In critical areas, including … Syria and Ukraine and arms control … both [the United States and Russia] would genuinely like to negotiate viable solutions. Nevertheless … mistrust … runs deep … vast differences of opinion and outright conflicts of interest will continue to undermine efforts …. With little hope of a positive outcome, the strategic decision-makers in Washington […]

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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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NEWSATCH: “Will Any More European Powers Contribute to NATO’s Eastern Force?” – Wall Street Journal

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

Now that the U.S. is only sending one—not two—battalions for the alliance military force on the eastern flank, there is a big question regarding which country will fill the void. … [NATO] has been working on a plan to step up its deterrence of Russia by creating a force of about 4,000 troops, a battalion for Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and […]

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Warning Of War, Ex-Deputy Commander Says NATO Must Counter ‘Russian Adventurism’ In Baltics

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Eugen Tomiuc – May 22, 2016) A former NATO deputy supreme commander is warning that the alliance could find itself in a full-fledged armed conflict with Russia within a year if it does not strongly step up its presence in the Baltic states. Retired British General Richard Shirreff set out the stark scenario in a book […]

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NEWSLINK Russia Direct: “Conventional arms race draws the world closer to state of brinkmanship. With NATO’s military buildup near Russian borders and signs of instability from the Middle East to East Asia, it’s no longer inconceivable that the great powers could find themselves involved in a conventional war.”

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NEWSWATCH: “The West needs to stop panicking about Russia’s “hybrid” warfare” – Vox/Mark Galeotti

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

… The fact is that Russian security discussions are dominated by an awareness of the country’s vulnerabilities to a stronger, richer, larger, more advanced West. Up to now, though, we have not let ourselves acknowledge our strengths. The greatest risk for the West is, after all, not its weakness of means but a perception of its weakness of will, both […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Baltic Elves Taking on Pro-Russian Trolls; What at first looked like as a social media grudge match could be a precursor to invasion, war, and resistance in the Baltics” – TheDailyBeast.com

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

Mindaugas is an unassuming, thirtysomething advertising agency director by day … ferocious cyber-warrior by night. He started a phenomenon … in Lithuania … countering Kremlin propaganda and disinformation …. ‘We needed to call our group something. … we were fighting trolls. … I said, “Let’s be elves.”‘ There were 20 or 30 at first, when the trolls began … leaving […]

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TRANSCRIPT: Dmitry Medvedev’s interview with Time magazine

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Government.ru – February 15, 2016) Dmitry Medvedev has given an interview to Time magazine correspondent Simon Shuster following the Munich Security Conference. Question: Thank you very much for agreeing to this interview with Time magazine. I would also like to thank you for your remarks today at the conference. This was a very interesting and eloquent speech. You made a […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Reinforcing Deterrence on NATO’s Eastern Flank Wargaming the Defense of the Baltics” – RAND

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

RAND addresses the military dynamic in the Baltics in the event of a hypothetical prospective Russian attack. Russia’s recent aggression against Ukraine has disrupted nearly a generation of relative peace and stability between Moscow and its Western neighbors and raised concerns about its larger intentions. From the perspective of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the threat to the three […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia could overrun Baltics in 3 days. NATO forces would face severe casualties.” – Washington Times

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

The Washington Times covers a recent RAND report about the military dynamic that could exist in the Baltics in the event of a hypothetical Russian attack. On the same day the Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, announced new resources being sought to strengthen Eastern European defenses from any possible Russian aggression, a report from the RAND corporation was released and […]

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Number of troops in NATO contingent in Baltic republics, Poland, Romania grows 23-fold, number of planes up 8-fold over past year – Shoigu

Sergei Shoigu file photo

MOSCOW. Dec 11 (Interfax) – The number of troops deployed in the Baltic republics and Central Europe has grown manifold over the past year, and modernization of U.S. nuclear air bombs is pending. “Over the past year alone, the NATO contingent in the Baltic countries, Poland and Romania has grown eight-fold in terms of planes and 23-fold by the number […]

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NEWSWATCH Deutsche Welle: “Activists or Kremlin agents – who protects Russian-speakers in the Baltics? Moscow has been financing Russian-language NGOs in the Baltic states for years. Security authorities there are suspicious of the organizations, but the NGOs deny there is any cause for concern.”

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

Deutsche Welle covers Russian government financing of NGO activity in the Baltics. Authorities have long had these NGOs in their sights. In its annual report, Latvian police stated that the Russia-backed organizations are tasked with the distribution of “biased and distorted information” on domestic procedures in Latvia. According to Estonian and Latvian authorities, the violation of the rights of Russian […]

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Brussels Break-In Shines Light on Putin’s European Mischief

EU Map

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Henry Meyer, Jeremy Hodges – August 23, 2015) It was an unusual delivery at the European Parliament by a pair of native Russians. They broke into the third-floor mailroom and deposited for the 751 legislators English-language copies of “Red Dalia,” a scathing biography of Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, according to a parliamentary probe. The book, published […]

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NEWSLINK Washington Post: Russia’s summer of intrigue: Political trials take center stage.

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

NEWSWATCH Christian Science Monitor: Living on Prussia’s ruins, Kaliningraders embrace Germanic past

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

The Christian Science Monitor covers some of the interplay in Kaliningrad between Germanic cultural history and more recent Russian control, amidst Russia’s tensions with the West over Ukraine. … a growing movement of mainly younger Kaliningraders – supported by local government – … are working to roll back the Soviet-imposed amnesia that convinced generations of people who grew up on this ancient territory […]

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NEWSWATCH Christian Science Monitor: Amid Kremlin-NATO tensions, what mood in Russia’s European ‘spearhead’? The Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad is home to a major naval base that weighs heavily in both Russian and Western military thinking

Kaliningrad Map, adapted and cropped from army.mil image with credit to Jim Kistler, USAWC

The Christian Science Monitor reports on Russia’s Baltic enclave Kaliningrad in the midst of stepped-up Russian and NATO military activity. If the tensions between Russia and the West should escalate into full-fledged confrontation, it is this former Prussian town – home to a huge military base in the heart of NATO country – that is going to be right at […]

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NEWSLINK Wall Street Journal/Edward Lucas: Buttressing the Front Line Against Putin. The U.S. must compel Nordic and Baltic states to put aside old prejudices and link arms against the Russian threat.

Europe Map

  Russia is waging a new cold war in the Baltic region, breaching international law and the conventions that govern civilized behavior among nations. The Kremlin provokes and intimidates its neighbors with aggressive espionage, corruption of political elites, propaganda onslaughts, cyberattacks, economic sanctions, coercive energy policies, surprise military exercises, and violations of airspace, territorial waters and even national borders, as […]

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U.S. Readying Plan to Put Tanks on Putin’s Doorstep

NATO Meeting File Photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – David Lerman, Marta Waldoch – June 14, 2015) The U.S. may announce agreements later this month to station tanks and fighting vehicles in eastern European and Baltic countries, a U.S. defense official said. The Pentagon is trying to finalize plans to station equipment for as many as 5,000 soldiers in about a half-dozen countries as the […]

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Putin gives the world his geography lesson: ‘All the former USSR is Russia’

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – April 28, 2015) The 150-minute film “The President” about Vladimir Putin is mostly boring and predictable in that it insists that “without Vladimir Vladimirovich nothing in the country will work,” Kseniya Kirillova notes. But she points out that there are three “lessons” contained in the film that must not be ignored. First, she argues, […]

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NEWSLINK The National Interest: Countdown to War: The Coming U.S.-Russia Conflict. Putin and Obama think they’ve got this crisis contained. Two prominent experts say they may be wrong.

Putin and Obama with U.S. and Russian Flags

The United States and Russia may be unwittingly stumbling down a path to deeper confrontation and even war, cautioned two prominent American national-security experts at a panel in Washington, D.C. Tuesday. Graham Allison, director of Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and Dimitri K. Simes, president of the Center for the National Interest and publisher of this […]

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NEWSLINK: i24news.tv: One man’s journey to the heartland of fascism. Hostility to minorities and attempts to rewrite Holocaust history …

Auschwitz Concentration Entrance with Sign Arbeit Macht Frei

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Baltic independence and more than a decade of full membership in the European Union and NATO. If the assumption was that those developments would cure Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian society from the scourges of fascism, racism, and anti-Semitism, the events of the past month clearly show that these plagues have not been eradicated. […]

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NEWSLINK Fox News: Jews in Baltics fear creep of anti-Semitism

Torah Scrolls

Jews in the Baltics fear a series of disturbing events in the three-nation region of Eastern Europe may be signaling a revival of the Holocaust-era hatred that once nearly wiped out their numbers. Across the countries of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, Jewish leaders say their communities are feeling increasingly uncomfortable as anti-Semitism once again appears to be on the rise. […]

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Where will Putin Strike Next?

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, March 5, 2015) The purpose of terrorism is to terrorize, to suggest that old rules and old expectations no longer apply and thereby increase uncertainty and fear. That explains why someone like Kseniya Sochak has suggested that she is next on Putin’s list now that the Kremlin has killed Boris Nemtsov and […]

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Business New Europe: NATO ramps up presence in Eastern Europe

NATO meeting file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – bne IntelliNews – February 6, 2015) Nato has agreed to establish a new rapid reaction force, boost its troops in Poland and Romania, and establish six command and control centres in Central and Southeast Europe as part of the alliance’s response to the Russian aggression in Ukraine. According to Nato’s secretary general Jens Stoltenberg, […]

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Despite Swedes’ Sub Panic, Russia’s Baltic Fleet Is Far From Fearsome

Russian Nuclear Submarine file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner – October 22, 2014) As Sweden’s navy goes on its sixth day of hunting a suspected Russian submarine, Swedish defense officials announced on Tuesday that they intend to force the mystery vessel, if found, to surface “with armed force, if necessary,” the English-language Swedish newspaper The Local reported. The announcement that Sweden is […]

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Nazi death squad leader: The musical

Map of Latvia and Environs

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – BALTIC BLOG: Mike Collier in Riga – October 9, 2014) If you are constantly battling to try and disprove Russian claims that your state is essentially neo-Nazi, it doesn’t help if an evening of musical entertainment then pops up giving Nazi death squads the razzle-dazzle of a Broadway musical. That’s exactly what has happened […]

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If Putin Isn’t Stopped in Ukraine, He Will Move against Baltic Countries, Piontkovsky Says

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, September 20, 2014) If the West does not stop Vladimir Putin’s campaign to subordinate Ukraine to Moscow, then the Kremlin leader will move against the Baltic countries even though that carries with it the direct threat of a military conflict with NATO, according to Andrey Piontkovsky. But if Putin and his concept […]

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Lithuania President Warns of Growing ‘Russian Chauvinism’

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Voice of America – voanews.com – James Brooke – July 8, 2014) In Lithuania, July is the season of song festivals but the country’s newly re-elected president, Dalia Grybauskaite, sees little harmony with her massive neighbor to the east: Russia. “Now, we see aggressive rhetoric, aggressive behavior, aggressive propaganda, and informational wars,” she noted. ‘Great Russian chauvinism’ Russia’s annexation of […]

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Interfax: Moscow worried about intensified NATO activity in north Baltic region

NATO Meeting file photo

MOSCOW. June 2 (Interfax) – The stepped-up debate on the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO may have negative implications for the north Baltic region, which has been traditionally calm from the military-political point of view, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday. “Amid the NATO infrastructure build-up in a number of countries bordering on Russia and the stepped-up […]

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NATO Is Ready for Russia Tactics, Estonia Minister Says

NATO meeting file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ott Ummelas – May 7, 2014) NATO is prepared to counter non-conventional warfare used by Russia to annex Crimea, Estonian Defense Minister Sven Mikser said. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s 1949 founding treaty “can be effectively used to counter new threats” and doesn’t need to be revised, Mikser said in an interview yesterday in the Estonian […]

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RIA Novosti: NATO to Boost Military Presence in Baltic, Mediterranean

NATO meeting file photo

BRUSSELS, April 16 (RIA Novosti) – NATO will intensify air patrols over Eastern Europe and dispatch extra ships to the Baltic and Mediterranean Seas due to the crisis in Ukraine, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said after a meeting of alliance ambassadors in Brussels. “We will have more planes in the air, more ships on the water, and more […]

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Who’s next on Putin’s list?

Vladimir Putin file photo

(opendemocracy.net – Agnia Grigas – March 12, 2014) Crimea is under the control of Russia’s military forces and its Moscow-backed government is voting to secede from Ukraine.  Where might President Vladimir Putin seek territorial expansion next? Agnia Grigas served as an advisor in the Lithuanian government. She consults for multinational corporations investing in emerging markets and is the author of […]

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NEWSLINK: After 20 years, Russia and Estonia sign border treaty

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

[“After 20 years, Russia and Estonia sign border treaty” – Reuters – February 18, 2014 – reuters.com/article/2014/02/18/us-russia-estonia-idUSBREA1H0QN20140218] Reuters reports on Russia and Estonia signing a treaty formalizing their border, still awaiting ratification by their respective legislatures.  The treaty comes amidst long-standing tensions between the two countries. Russia and Estonia signed a treaty setting out the position of their joint border […]

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