Idiots ‘Useful’ and Otherwise on the Rise in Russia and the West

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(Paul Goble – Staunton, July 31, 2015) Idiotism is on the rise in both Russia and the West, with its spread in Russia having transformed that country from “a land of liars to one of idiots,” according to Vitaly Portnikov, and in the West having become the latest iteration of the “useful idiots” Lenin and the Bolsheviks always viewed as […]

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Five-part blog: THE WORLD WAR IV SERIES

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Subject: Five-part blog: THE WORLD WAR IV SERIES Date: Wed, 29 Jul 2015 19:39:46 -0400 From: David Law <davidmurraylaw@gmail.com> I have recently written a five-part blog series on what I call World War IV. I think your readers may be interested in this material. At the very least, it should provoke some reflection. David Law — THE WORLD WAR IV […]

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Interfax: Putin hopes Russia will be able to promote dialogue with Europe and U.S. on Ukraine issue

Putin and Obama with U.S. and Russian Flags

(Interfax – July 28, 2015) Russian President Vladimir Putin is hopeful that his country will be able to further promote dialogue with Europe and the United States concerning the fight against radical Islamism and other problems, including the Ukrainian issue. “I see today that the situation has changed. Europe and the U.S. have realized the real threat coming from the […]

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Ukraine War Risks Reigniting as OSCE Warns of Troop Buildup

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Kateryna Choursina, Aliaksandr Kudrytski – July 28, 2015) The battle readiness of Ukraine’s military and the rebels it’s fighting in the country’s east is at its highest level since a February truce, monitors warned, a situation that risks tipping the conflict back into war. After more than a year of fighting, sides are fortifying positions and […]

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NEWSWATCH Chatham House/James Sherr: To Support Ukraine, West Must Go Beyond Sanctions. Providing critical military assistance to Ukraine would devalue Russia’s advantage in negotiations.

U.S. Military Convoy Headed to Ukraine, On Highway Near Mountains or Cliffs

Writing for Chatham House, James Sherr addresses Western support for Ukraine admidst the Russo-Ukrainian War. … the West has acted on the premise that economic sanctions would induce Russia to modify its actions. But while sanctions do constrain capacity, they do not constrain behaviour. Their immediate impact is bearable … they do nothing to diminish Russia’s most usable and effective form of power: military force. […]

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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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NEWSLINK Reuters: Bypassing Ukraine Will Be Costly for Russia’s Gazprom – Analysts

Gas Flame file photo

Russia’s plans to drop Ukraine as a route for pumping natural gas to Europe will still leave state-run Gazprom facing about $1 billion in annual transit fees to Slovakia and Bulgaria for years to come, analysts and industry sources say.

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NEWSWATCH Wall Street Journal/Stephen Hadley, Robert Zoellick: Crucial Weapons in the Defense of Ukraine. Without debt reduction and more aid, a young democracy could vanish.

International Monetary Fund Logo Over Ukraine Flag

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Stephen Hadley and Robert Zoellick address the issue of Western assistance for Ukraine amidst the Russo-Ukrainian War, including financial and debt-related assistance. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is an assault on the vision that emerged from the end of the Cold War of a Europe whole, free and at peace. For that vision to be realized, the […]

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Medvedev Upbeat About Russian Economy, Ties With Europe

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(RFE/RL – rferl.org – July 24, 2015) Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said he expects Russia’s recession-hit economy to start growing again at the end of the year, while he hopes for improving economic ties with friendly countries in southeastern Europe. “I think that the economy will return to the path of growth in late 2015, early 2016. It won’t […]

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NEWSWATCH CNN/Matthew Rojansky, Michael Kofman: Isolated Russia has little left to lose

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Writing for CNN.com, Matthew Rojansky and Michael Kofman address historic shifts in relations between Russia and the West, amidst Western reactions to the Russo-Ukrainian War, the downing of civilian airliner MH-17 and other developments. … MH17 was a turning point, after which many European leaders abandoned their previously held view that Russia could be successfully integrated into Western-led economic, political, or […]

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Gorbachev Urges Renewed Ties With West

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – July 22, 2015) Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev said that problems inherited from previous eras are holding Russia back and urged Western leaders to restore ties with Moscow instead of trying to “provoke” it during a book presentation Tuesday, Russian media reports said. “Many are trying to provoke Russia now,” Gorbachev said […]

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Economic Crisis Driving Foreigners Out of Russia – Experts

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – July 21, 2015) Foreigners that used to live and work in Russia are now fleeing en masse, the Federal Migration Service has revealed. Since January 2014, 41 percent of Spanish nationals, 38 percent of British nationals, 36 percent of U.S. nationals and 31 percent of German nationals have left Russia, the Noviye […]

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NEWSWATCH Wall Street Journal/Ariel Cohen: How Russia Could Become a Food Superpower

File Photo of Wheat Field in Kenya, adapted from image at usda.gov

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Ariel Cohen addresses historical shifts in Russian agriculture, and what the future might hold. Russia could be a food superpower, given its vast soil and water resources. It still may become one, but the question is whether the food will be Western or Chinese. Since the beginning of the Ukrainian conflict, the Russian economy has […]

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NEWSWATCH New York Times/Andrei Kozyrev: Russia’s Coming Regime Change

Tower and Building Inside Kremlin

Writing in The New York Times, former Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev addresses the future of Russian governance in the face of multiple economic, political and international challenges. The firmness of the West in protecting the sovereignty of Ukraine and restoring its territorial integrity is a prerequisite not only to rein in the Kremlin’s aggressive impulses, but also to engage […]

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Interfax: MH17 investigators have yet to establish type of missile – Dutch prosecutors

Ukraine Air Crash Scene with Uniformed Security Personnel, Flames, Smoke

(Interfax – July 17, 2015) An international group of investigators probing the crash of the Malaysian Boeing in eastern Ukraine have yet to find out whether the plane was shot down from the ground or from the air, according to the Dutch prosecutor general’s office. “We are investigating the scenario of the ground-to-air missile that downed MH17 and the other […]

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RBTH: Seventy percent of Russians opposed to compromise on sanctions – report

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According to a new Levada Center opinion poll, 70 percent of Russian citizens believe that Russia should not make any sanctions-related concessions, even though a third of the population has admitted that sanctions are a problem. However, despite these difficulties, Russians continue to back President Vladimir Putin, whose popularity rating has never been higher. Experts have several theories for why […]

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Interfax: Putin says Eurasia’s not a chessboard, it’s our home

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

(Interfax – July 9, 2015) Russia and its neighbours in the Eurasian landmass should not be treated as a “chessboard” or a “geopolitical playing field”, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on 9 July in remarks reported by privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax. “For us, this isn’t a chessboard, it’s not a geopolitical playing field – this is our home, and […]

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Are The E.U. And Asia Turning A Blind Eye To Russian Sanctions?

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(Oilprice.com – Robert Berke – July 8, 2015) In a previous article on Oilprice, I questioned whether western sanctions imposed on Russia were being regularly breached by E.U. and Asian companies, noting that sanctions only work if all countries unite behind them. In June, the Financial Times reported that only one year after being imposed, the sanctions are eroding. It […]

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What Does Greece’s ‘No’ Vote Mean for Russia?

Ancient Temple Ruins in Greece with Tourists

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anastasia Bazenkova, Delphine d’Amora – July 7, 2015) As EU leaders gather Tuesday to seek an answer to Greece’s sweeping rejection of international bailout terms, Russia -the EU’s third-largest trading partner – is quietly waiting to see where the chips fall. Hailed as a victory for democracy by Greece’s new far-left leaders, the resounding “no” […]

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Ukraine cancels gas supplies from Russia in pricing row

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(Business New Europe – bne.eu – bne IntelliNews – July 2, 2015) Ukraine suspended Russian natural gas purchases on July 1, citing its inability to secure from Gazprom a heavily discounted price for the third quarter of the year. Henceforth, the country’s state-owned monopoly Naftogaz will rely on supplies from the European Union, and claims that volumes bought from EU […]

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Interfax: Russia to react “immediately” if NATO increases strength in Europe – source

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Interfax – Moscow, June 26, 2015) By “slightly pushing” Russia by increasing the alliance’s military presence in Europe, the USA and NATO are waging a “game of nerves” for now, however should any practical steps be taken towards an escalation near Russia’s western border, Moscow will respond without delay, a source in the military and diplomatic circles has told Interfax-AVN. […]

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VIDEO & TRANSCRIPT: Conversation: The Standoff Between Russia and the West Over Ukraine

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

(Stratfor.com – June 23, 2015) Conversation: The Standoff Between Russia and the West Over Ukraine is republished with permission of Stratfor; article also appeared at stratfor.com/video/conversation-standoff-between-russia-and-west-over-ukraine. Transcript follows below video. Video Transcript Lauren Goodrich: Hello, my name is Lauren Goodrich, and I’m the senior Eurasia analyst here at Stratfor. I’m joined by Sim Tack, our military analyst, and today we’re going to […]

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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.

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  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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NEWSLINK Foreign Policy/John Hudson: The Undiplomatic Diplomat.

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Russia hawks on Capitol Hill love Victoria Nuland, the State Department’s point person for Ukraine. Many Europeans can’t stand her. http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/06/18/the-undiplomatic-diplomat/

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

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(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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Interfax: Russia urges U.S. not to destroy INF Treaty

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(Interfax – June 11, 2015) The deployment of intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles near Russian borders by the U.S. would totally destroy the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), the Russian Foreign Ministry said. “We have taken note of statements by Pentagon representatives that the U.S. is studying options for military responses to Russian ‘violations’, up to the potential deployment of […]

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Poll: Russians Dislike West About as Much as Westerners Dislike Russia

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – June 11, 2015) A staggering majority of Russians view the West negatively, and the feeling is mutual, a poll conducted by the U.S.-based Pew Research Center revealed Wednesday. According to the poll, 81% of Russians have unfavorable opinions of the United States, and 80% feel similarly about NATO. The European Union fared […]

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Putin Is No James Bond Villain

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – June 9, 2015) Despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars on foreign-language propaganda, all that President Vladimir Putin has achieved outside Russia is the status of a Bond movie villain. He may enjoy it, especially since there’s no 007 in sight to tackle him, but his variety of pop stardom is growing into […]

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Putin: Russia has no relations with G7 but ready to cooperate with its members bilaterally

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

(Interfax – June 10, 2015) Russia currently does not maintain any relationship with the G7, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “We have no relations with the G7, what relations could there be?” Putin told journalists following negotiations with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on June 10. At the same time, “if our partners want it, we will be developing active […]

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Ukraine defending Europe, world order, says Yatsenyuk

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

(Interfax – June 9, 2015) Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has called for unity of the European Union and the United States needed “to defeat the aggressor.” He made the statement at a forum of the American Jewish Committee during a working visit to Washington DC, the Ukrainian government press service has reported. “We are positive that we can regain […]

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TRANSCRIPT: Remarks by President Obama in Press Conference after G7 Summit (excerpts)

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

(The White House – Office of the Press Secretary – Elmau Briefing Center, Krün, Germany, June 8, 2015) PRESIDENT OBAMA: With respect to security, the G7 remains strongly united in support for Ukraine. We’ll continue to provide economic support and technical assistance that Ukraine needs as it moves ahead on critical reforms to transform its economy and strengthen its democracy. […]

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RIA Novosti: Russia sets out what it wants from USA, NATO, EU in new foreign policy document

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(RIA Novosti – June 8, 2015) Russia reserves the right to respond to any unfriendly steps towards it taken by the USA, says the document containing a review of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s performance in 2014 and medium-term objectives, as reported by RIA Novosti (part of the state-owned International News Agency Rossiya Segodnya) on 8 June. “In constructing our engagement […]

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NEWSWATCH Washington Post: At G-7 meeting, Obama’s primary task is confronting his Putin problem

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

[“At G-7 meeting, Obama’s primary task is confronting his Putin problem” – Washington Post –  Steven Mufson – June 6, 2015] The Washington Post covers U.S. policies towards Russia and Ukraine amidst the latest meeting of the G-7: The G-7 meeting is a symbolic moment. After the Cold War, the annual gathering of the leaders of the world’s major industrial nations […]

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Interfax: Russians like Belarus and China, have aversion to U.S., EU and Ukraine – poll

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(Interfax – June 8, 2015) Most Russians speak ill of the United States, the European Union and Ukraine and see Belarus, China and Kazakhstan as friends, the Levada Center has told Interfax. Seventy-three percent of 1,700 respondents polled in 134 populated localities on May 22-25 expressed negative feelings for the U.S., 15 percent said the opposite, and 12 percent were […]

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NEWSWATCH Wall Street Journal: Defense Chief: Subversion, ‘Big Lie’ Are in Russia’s Arsenal. Ash Carter favors more military exercises, better intelligence sharing

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[Wall Street Journal – Defense Chief: Subversion, ‘Big Lie’ Are in Russia’s Arsenal. Ash Carter favors more military exercises, better intelligence sharing – GORDON LUBOLD – June 6, 2015] The Wall Street Journal covers remarks by Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter after a European trip to discuss Russia and the crisis in Ukraine. Mr. Carter made clear at the end of an […]

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Putin: ‘We Have Never Viewed Europe as a Mistress’

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber – June 8, 2015) President Vladimir Putin insisted that the West should not view Russia as a threat in an interview published Saturday in Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera ahead of an official visit to Italy that kicks off this week. “I think that only an insane person – and only in a […]

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To Thomas Graham: We Should Understand Russian History Differently

Balaklava harbour, the cattle pier, Crimea, Ukraine, 1855; adapted from image at loc.gov; Fenton, Roger, 1819-1869, photographer;

(PONARS Eurasia – ponarseurasia.org – Ivan Kurilla, Professor of History Volgograd State University – June 5, 2015) In a recent Financial Times op-ed (“Europe’s Problem is with Russia, not Putin”) Thomas Graham, a managing director at Kissinger Associates and former senior director for Russia on the US National Security Council, makes far-reaching conclusions about contemporary Russia and international security by drawing on the position Russia […]

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NEWSLINK Chatham House: A ‘New Cold War’? Abusing History, Misunderstanding Russia

Berlin Wall, Fencing, Barbed Wire, Women

The war in Ukraine suggests a new era of competition between the West and Russia. It has (again) revealed both fundamental differences in how European security is understood, and increasing friction in values. Together, these problems suggest an emergent ‘clash of Europes’ that pits the West’s relatively liberal vision for the region against a more conservative ‘Russian Europe’

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NEWSLINK New York Times: Disenchanted With Europe, Moldovans Shift Their Focus to Russia

Moldova Map and Flag

Daniela Morari, a Foreign Ministry official who has been traveling her country trying to nudge Moldovans toward the European Union, has heard it all. People are worried that “if you join the E.U., everyone becomes gay” and that Brussels bureaucrats “won’t let you keep animals around your houses,” an alarming prospect in a largely rural country.

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The Riga summit of disappointment

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(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Ben Aris in Moscow – May 21, 2015) Several plucky countries of Emerging Europe have put their necks on the block by defying Russian bullying to join its Customs Union, turning instead to the EU and its promise of a better life. But most of these countries are likely to be disappointed, or could […]

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Russian Gas: There Is No Alternative For Europe

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(Oilprice.com – Colin Chilcoat – May 17, 2015) The sanctions are now in their second year; the ruble is still not quite itself; and national champions Gazprom and Rosneft are both bracing for what can generously be called a down year. Still, while Russia’s political relationship with the west continues to be redefined, the broader element of codependence remains relatively […]

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NEWSLINK Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: Reform as Resilience: An Agenda for the Eastern Partnership.

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The EU needs to remold its support for fundamental political reform in Eastern Partnership partner states—and use this as a firmer base from which to assuage tensions with Russia. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: Thomas de Waal and Richard Youngs, Reform as Resilience: An Agenda for the Eastern Partnership.

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Russia Was Right: Shale in Europe Has Proved a Dud

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(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ladka Mortkowitz Bauerova – May 11, 2015) When Cuadrilla Resources Ltd. opened an office in Poland in 2009, it had a reason to be optimistic: the shale boom was transforming the U.S. into the world’s largest producer of natural gas. To the companies rushing to imitate that success in Europe, Poland looked like the next Texas. […]

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EU Says No Visa Liberalization For Ukraine And Georgia

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(RFE/RL – rferl.org – May 8, 2015) The EU Commission has said neither Georgia nor Ukraine would obtain visa-free travel to the EU’s Schengen zone at the Riga Eastern Partnership Summit later this month. Speaking in Brussels on May 8 after the EU Commission published its annual visa report on both countries, the spokeswoman for home affairs, Natasha Bertaud, said […]

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NEWSLINK New York Times: In Talks With Merkel, Putin Calls for Improving Relations With Europe

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President Vladimir V. Putin used a visit on Sunday by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, to call for a return to normal relations with Europe, brushing aside the widespread boycott by Western leaders of the huge Victory Day parade on Red Square a day earlier.

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NEWSWATCH Reuters: EU’s top diplomat says destabilized Russia in nobody’s interest

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Reuters covers the views of Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the EU Commission. A destabilized and isolated Russia is in nobody’s interests, and sanctions are only being kept in place because a truce agreement in the conflict in Ukraine is not being fully implemented, the European Union’s foreign policy […]

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Interfax: Russia ready to cooperate with West in tackling terror, regional conflicts – Sergei Ivanov

File Photo of Sergei Ivanov, adapted from defense.gov image

(Interfax – May 2, 2015) Russia will still cooperate with the United States and Europe in fighting terrorism, resolving regional conflicts and countering other modern challenges, if partners are keen on that, says Sergei Ivanov, the chief of the Russian presidential administration. “New threats and challenges emerged, for example, terrorism, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, regional conflicts. Russia […]

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