Russia Sends Medvedev to Munich Seeking Sanctions Relief

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner – February 12, 2016) At last year’s Munich Security Conference, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov took to the stage to defend Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Scheduled between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the U.S. vice president, Lavrov faced a tough sell. He did his best to toe the government line, declaring Russia’s annexation of […]

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RBTH: U.S. to spend $4.3 billion on ‘countering Russian aggression’

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

The White House has announced that a special sum allocated to fighting Russian influence in Europe and the former Soviet space will be included in the country’s budget for the 2017 fiscal year. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – MARINA KARPOVA, RBTH – February 11, 2016) The U.S. fiscal year 2017 budget will include $4.3 billion allocated “for political, […]

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The Daily Vertical: Putin Smells Blood

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – February 9, 2016) As the shaky Minsk cease-fire agreement nears its first anniversary, Russia clearly smells blood in Ukraine. Pro-Moscow separatists have increased their attacks in Donbas in recent weeks. Kyiv officials are reporting 71 attacks a day in the vicinity of Donetsk, Horlivka, and Mariupol. Yesterday, Vladimir Putin ordered snap military drills […]

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Is There A Non-West for Russia to Lead?

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(PONARS Eurasia – ponarseurasia.org – Keith Darden – January 28, 2016 – ponarseurasia.org/memo/non-west-for-russia-to-lead) Keith Darden is Associate Professor in the School of International Service at American University. (PONARS Eurasia Policy Memo) Recently, Russian policymakers and strategists have articulated a vision of a vibrant non-Western world, one in which the United States and European leaders are increasingly marginal and where Russia […]

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Ukraine’s Graft Fight Shows Little Progress, Transparency Says

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Volodymyr Verbyany – January 27, 2016) Ukraine’s efforts to stamp out corruption last year brought scant progress, according to Transparency International, which said civil society, journalists and whistle-blowers have been more effective than government officials in combating graft. The former Soviet republic’s score rose “only one additional point” in the 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index, the Berlin-based […]

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Russian Entente Nears as Allies Give Ukraine Sanctions Hint

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – January 26, 2016) After almost two years on the outside, signs are growing that Russia may soon be invited in from the cold. The worsening of crises from Syria to Libya are forcing the international community to reconsider sanctions slapped on President Vladimir Putin’s government over Ukraine as a way of getting a key diplomatic power […]

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Kudrin: Sanctions against Russia could start to ease late 2016-early 2017

Alexei Kudrin file photo

(Interfax – January 22, 2016) Relations between Russia and the West are normalizing and sanctions will be lifted, Alexei Kudrin, a former Russian finance minister, said. “I’m sure the sanctions will start to soften at the end of this year or start of next year. Nobody in Russia wants to keep up confrontation. I think the Minsk accords will be […]

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Seven powerful politicians from around the world that speak Russian

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

Russian is considered one of the most difficult languages to learn yet there are many influential politicians around the world that have taken it up. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – NATALIA MASHINISTOVA, SPECIAL TO RBTH – January 12, 2016) [Videos with Michael McFaul and Condoleezza Rice here: rbth.com/arts/lifestyle/2016/01/12/7-powerful-politicians-from-around-the-world-that-speak-russian_558729] Most Russian-speaking politicians live in former Soviet republics and other […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Interview to German newspaper Bild [Part 1]

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

(Kremlin.ru – January 11, 2016) [As published in Bild: bild.de/politik/ausland/wladimir-putin/russian-president-vladimir-putin-the-interview-44092656.bild.html] The interview was recorded on January 5, in Sochi. Question: Mr President, We have just marked the 25th anniversary of the end of the Cold War. Last year, we witnessed a great number of wars and crises across the world, something that had not happened for many years. What did […]

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NEWSWATCH Reuters: “Putin: Russia Did Have People in Ukraine Doing ‘Certain Military Tasks'”

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

Reuters covers Russian President Vladimir Putin’s admission at a press conference that Russian personnel are present in conflict-torn eastern Ukraine, even while disputing whether that meant regular Russian troops were present. … Putin said … Russia did have personnel in eastern Ukraine who were carrying out certain military tasks but denied Moscow had deployed regular troops …. ‘We never said […]

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NEWSWATCH Carnegie Endowment for International Peace/Eugene Rumer, Paul Stronski: “Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia at Twenty­Five-A Baseline Assessment”

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace undertakes an overview of former Soviet states two-and-a-half decades following the USSR’s collapse. For nearly twenty-five years following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia, Ukraine, and the rest of the former Soviet lands now collectively referred to as Eurasia defied the best and the worst expectations of students of the region’s history. Unfortunately, […]

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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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EU Council divided on procedure for prolonging sanctions against Russia

EU Map

(Interfax – December 11, 2015) The EU restrictive measures against Russia may not be prolonged on Dec. 14, a high-ranking EU official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters in Brussels on Dec. 11. The source assumed that the sanctions will be prolonged fully, but not necessarily on Dec. 14. The source said such a decision does not have […]

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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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RBTH: “Russia and the EU: United by the refugees’ tragedy; Similar approach to border controls is key to managing migration.”

Europe Map

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – DMITRY BABICH, SPECIAL TO RBTH – December 8, 2015) Dmitry Babich is a political analyst at Sputnik International. In recent years, Russia and the European Union have developed a taste for stressing what divides them, particularly the “differences in values” which presumably make us two worlds apart. But there is at least one […]

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RBTH: “Russia can now ignore rulings by European human rights court”

European Court of Human Rights Building file photo

The Russian State Duma has passed a law making it possible to recognize, upon a motion from the president or the government, some rulings by international courts as unenforceable in Russia. While critics say the law is aimed at limiting the powers of the European Court of Human Rights, an RBTH source says the state is merely defending its sovereignty […]

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Russia won’t turn off gas to Ukraine and risk transit to EU – energy minister

Gas Flame file photo

(Interfax – Vladivostok, December 5, 2015) Russia will in no circumstances turn off the gas supply to Ukraine and place the transit of gas to Europe at risk, Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak has said. He said this in an interview with Vesti on Saturday with Sergey Brilyev, which was broadcast in the [Russian] far east. “Ukraine is receiving gas […]

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Russians Want Better Ties With West, But No Change in Policy – Poll

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Eva Hartog – December 3, 2015) Amid a standoff over the crisis in Ukraine and ongoing conflict in Syria, most Russians want their country to mend ties with its nemeses even while maintaining its political course, the independent Levada Center pollster said Wednesday. Seventy-five percent of those questioned in a new poll said Russia should […]

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NEWSWATCH New York Times: “Russia’s Fury Over Montenegro and NATO”

File Photo of Montenegro Coastal City Kotor with Portion of Old Fortress, Town in Distance, Mountain

The New York Times comments upon Russia’s reaction to the prospect of Montenegro joining NATO. It is a measure of how cold the West’s relations with Russia have become that NATO’s membership invitation to Montenegro — a small, poor Balkan state with a military force of 2,000 and no strategic significance save putting the last bit of Europe’s Mediterranean coastline […]

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Putin talks tough on Turkey but holds back on anti-West rhetoric

Turkey map

Analyzing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annual speech to the Federal Assembly, Russian observers interviewed by RBTH underlined the contrast between Putin’s harsh stance toward Turkey and his apparent readiness to cooperate with the West, though they said the address was lacking in groundbreaking ideas. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YEKATERINA SINELSCHIKOVA, RBTH – December 4, 2015) Against the […]

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NEWSWATCH Wall Street Journal: “Talks With Russia on EU-Ukraine Trade Deal Fail to Reach Compromise. Moscow makes new demands over bilateral accord set for Jan. 1”

EU Map

The Wall Street Journal covers efforts by the EU and Ukraine to consult with Russia over an upcoming EU-Ukrainian trade deal. Russia laid out a long list of demands for amending a sweeping trade deal between Ukraine and the European Union a month before the pact is due to be fully implemented…. at a fresh round of discussions among the […]

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Three-quarters of Russians stand for normalizing relations with West

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(Interfax – December 2, 2015) Most Russians (75 percent) think that Russia should normalize relations with the United States and other Western nations, and 16 percent argue the opposite, Levada Center has told Interfax. Ten percent of 1,600 respondents interviewed in 137 populated localities in 48 regions on November 20-23 were undecided. In the opinion of 51 percent of the […]

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Downing of Russian Plane has Serious Consequences for Putin at Home, in Central Asia, and in Ukraine

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 25, 2015) The shooting down of a Russian military plane by Turkish forces after Kremlin ignored repeated warnings from Ankara not to violate Turkey’s airspace not only increases the risks of a clash between Russia and the West but has serious consequences for Putin at home, in Central Asia and the […]

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NEWSWATCH International New York Times/Maxim Trudolyubov: “Putin’s Emergency Politics”

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

Writing in The International New York Times, Maxim Trudolyubov comments upon Russia’s relationship with Europe and the United States, and policies towards Syria and Ukraine, in the aftermath of terrorist attacks in France. Much has changed for Vladimir Putin since the terror attacks in Paris. The trope that aggressions in Crimea and Ukraine show that he is more of a […]

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Western sanctions cost Russia 1.5% of GDP – Alexei Kudrin

Alexei Kudrin file photo

(Interfax – November 21, 2015) Russia’s GDP would have been 1.5 percent higher if sanctions had not been imposed against Moscow, former Russian Finance Minister and Committee of Civil Initiatives Chairman Alexei Kudrin has said, pointing out that no positive effect from the sanctions has been seen in any industry. “The sanctions have considerably complicated the situation in the country. […]

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Can Putin Come In From The Cold?

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – November 18, 2015) He wasn’t ostracized. He wasn’t isolated. And certainly nobody threatened to shirtfront him. In the space of a year, Vladimir Putin has gone from being the pariah of Brisbane to being the star of Antalya. The contrast between last year’s G20 summit in Australia and this year’s in Turkey couldn’t […]

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Russia Pushes IMF for Response, Won’t Send Debt Offer to Ukraine

International Monetary Fund Logo Over Ukraine Flag

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas – November 20, 2015) Russia, which has previously refused to negotiate with Ukraine over restructuring its $3 billion Eurobond, is waiting for the International Monetary Fund to respond to its proposal to change the terms on the debt and expects the cash-strapped country to initiate new talks if it’s unable to pay in full […]

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NEWSWATCH Reuters: “EU’s Juncker dangles trade ties with Russia-led bloc to Putin”

EU Map

Reuters covers European overtures to Russia to improve ties with a ceasefire in Ukraine. European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker wrote to Russian President Vladimir Putin this week, suggesting closer trade ties between the 28-nation EU and a Russian-led economic bloc once a ceasefire is implemented in Ukraine. … written after a G20 summit in Turkey … Russian aggression in Ukraine […]

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The Beginning of the End of Russia’s Estrangement from the West

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Maxim Trudolyubov – November 17, 2015) Maxim Trudolyubov is a Senior Fellow at the Kennan Institute and the Editor-at-Large of Vedomosti, an independent Russian daily. Mr. Trudolyubov was the editorial page editor of Vedomosti between 2003 and 2015. He has been a contributing opinion writer for The International New York Times since the fall of […]

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Possible Russia-West Rapprochement Over Syria Stokes Fears In Europe’s East

Middle East Map

(RFE/RL – Pete Baumgartner – November 19, 2015) France’s surprise embrace of Russia in the aftermath of the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris has raised concerns across the former Soviet bloc that Moscow wants to leverage the fight against Islamic extremists in Syria to secure Western concessions over Ukraine. Just days after the massacres in the French capital killed 129 […]

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G20 summit in Turkey: What were the 4 major events for Russia?

Turkey map

Following the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey on Nov. 15-16, RBTH presents an overview of the four most interesting events and statements concerning Russia made at the meeting of world leaders. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ALEXEY TIMOFEYCHEV, RBTH – November 17, 2015) 1. Unplanned meeting between the U.S. and Russian presidents Russian President Vladimir Putin and his […]

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‘A monstrous blow to European civilization’: Russia reacts to Paris attacks

Paris, France, View from Eiffel Tower

People in Russia are mourning together with the families and friends of those killed in the terrorist attacks in Paris, voicing their solidarity with the people of France. Russian politicians have urged unity in the face of the threat of international terrorism (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ALEXEY TIMOFEYCHEV, RBTH – November 15, 2015) Both the president and […]

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EU and Russia remain hostage to Ukrainian crisis as progress stalls

St. Basil's Domes

After modest progress made this fall on organizing elections in eastern Ukraine and the withdrawal of weaponry from the frontlines, talks on resolving the conflict in the Donbass region have again run into trouble, with the timeline for implementing the Minsk peace agreements to be extended into 2016. Where does this leave the peace process and is there a risk […]

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Kremlin’s Campaign against Russophobia Threatens both Russia and the West, Polish Experts Say

Europe Map

(Paul Goble – Staunton, November 11, 2015) The Kremlin’s revival of a campaign against what it calls “Russophobia” constitutes a threat not only to Western countries but to Russia’s future as well, according to two Polish experts. As such, they argue, it can properly be described as “a weapon of mass destruction.” In a new study, “Russophobia in the Kremlin’s […]

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Ukraine: Europe’s forgotten refugees

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

While the world focuses on refugees arriving in Europe from warzones in the Middle East, the plight of those fleeing war in Ukraine has been forgotten. (opendemocracy.net – Sara Cincurova – November 20, 2015) Sara Cincurova is a freelance journalist focusing on human rights. She is a former family support worker and holds a Master’s degree from the Paris Descartes […]

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