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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Despite Putin Jibes, Russia Places Hope In ‘Brexiteer’ Boris Johnson

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW, July 14, 2016) In a single sentence, he once called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “manipulative tyrant” and likened him to the big-eared, bug-eyed “house elf” from the Harry Potter series. But the surprise appointment of Boris Johnson to head the British Foreign Office is being cautiously welcomed by Moscow — and […]

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NATO-Russia Council: From High Hopes To Broken Dreams

NATO Meeting File Photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Charles Recknagel – July 12, 2016) When the NATO-Russia Council meets in Brussels on July 13, it will be as a shadow of its former self. As ambassadors gather at NATO headquarters, their agenda will be limited to discussing only political issues because all the council’s cooperative programs have been suspended. And where once the talk […]

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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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RBTH: NATO moving its troops closer to Russia but wants dialogue with Moscow

Globe Highlighting NATO Members

Russian military experts have summed up NATO’s actions as “they want peace but prepare for war,” adding, however, that Moscow will not be taking retaliatory measures against the alliance following its latest summit in Warsaw. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – NIKOLAI LITOVKIN, ALEXANDRA YELFACHEVA, RBTH – July 12, 2016) The North Atlantic Alliance is to deploy four additional […]

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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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Gorbachev: NATO Preparing For ‘Hot’ War Against Russia

File Photo of Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan at Table Signing Documents

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – July 9, 2016) Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev has accused NATO of preparing for a “hot” war against Russia and says rhetoric from alliance’s leaders is pushing the two sides toward a military confrontation. “NATO has begun preparations for escalating from a Cold War into a hot one,” Gorbachev was quoted by the Interfax news agency […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Pyatt: High hopes, some regrets, one big question” – Kyiv Post/Brian Bonner

Geoffrey R. Pyatt file photo

Pyatt is part a big turnover … coming in the Western diplomatic corps, as ambassadors who served during the EuroMaidan Revolution and the start of Russia’s war against Ukraine are being reassigned …. * * * It was in support of Ukrainians’ fight against their corrupt authorities that Pyatt took one of his stronger and more memorable stands. … * […]

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NATO Can Reduce the Threat of Escalation With Russia

File Photo of F-22 Fighter and Ground Crew

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – July 7, 2016) The North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit starting in Warsaw on Friday will probably lead to increased — and unnecessary — tension between NATO and Russia. Yet it may also yield good results: Acknowledging the increased hostility might make it possible for the two sides to ensure there are fewer dangerous […]

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NEWSWATCH: Ukraine’s Poroshenko: “‘We believe in Europe’; Memories of war and oppression are short in the EU, as Brexit shows. Not in Ukraine.” – Petro Poroshenko/Politico.eu

Petro Poroshenko file photo, with additional men in background, adapted from image at state.gov

Writing in Politio.eu, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko addresses the UK’s exit from the EU and Ukraine’s professed ongoing commitment to European unity. These aren’t the easiest days for a united Europe. Both Eastern and Western Europe are suffering from Brexit fever. The destiny of those who want to be out has been decided – just like the destiny of those […]

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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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We Are Right, You Are Wrong: Russia’s Response to Brexit

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

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Maxim Trudolyubov – June 29, 2016) 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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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Baltic outpost digs in for standoff with NATO” [Kaliningrad] – Reuters

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

Russia and NATO are each building up their military capability across eastern Europe, spurred by the conflict in Ukraine …. For Russia, a strategic centerpiece is … Kaliningrad … a small piece of Russian territory sandwiched between NATO members Poland and Lithuania, allowing the Kremlin to project its military power into the alliance’s northern flank. … there was ample visible […]

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Russian Oil Exports Set for Record as Europe Competition Grows

Oil Well file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Stephen Bierman and Dina Khrennikova – July 3, 2016) Russian crude exports are on track to set a record this year, which is intensifying competition in Europe as Iran boosts shipments to the region. Exports rose 4.9 percent to 5.55 million barrels a day in the first half of the year from the same period in […]

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Russia Seeks to Reassure Over Brexit Volatility

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

(Voice of America – voanews.com – Daniel Schearf – June 29, 2016) As Britain and Europe struggle to come to terms with the British vote in favor of leaving the European Union, financial markets are roiling across the globe, including in Russia. Even before the vote for a British EU exit, the head of Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, warned that […]

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Russian markets rode out Brexit volatility fairly smoothly – Nabiullina

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

ST. PETERSBURG. June 30 (Interfax) – Russian markets made it through the surge in volatility caused by the UK’s vote to leave the European Union fairly smoothly, Central Bank chief Elvira Nabiullina said at a financial conference on Thursday. “Speaking about Brexit, in or estimate its direct influence on the Russian financial system and economy will be fairly limited. We’ve […]

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Moscow a safe haven? Brexit erodes perceptions of political risk

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – NATASHA DOFF, KSENIA GALOUCHKO – June 28, 2016) Britain’s vote to quit the European Union has flipped perceptions of global political risk on their head. Brazil’s new government and Russia’s isolation represent a buying opportunity for Europe’s biggest asset manager as political chaos across the continent erodes developed economies’ traditional haven status. Even before the Brexit […]

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Former U.S. Defense Officials Warn Of Russian Response To NATO Summit

Europe Map

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Mike Eckel – June 23, 2016) WASHINGTON — A former top U.S. Defense Department official has warned that the buildup of NATO troops in Eastern Europe, and Russia’s own troop movements along its western borders, are deepening the risk of an accidental outbreak of war. The comments on June 23 by Ian Brzezinski, deputy assistant secretary […]

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RBTH: Four possible effects of Brexit on Russia’s economy

EU Map

Rather than being a boon, UK’s possible exit from the EU could cast the Russian economy into troubled waters. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ALEXEI LOSSAN, KIRA EGOROVA, RBTH – June 27, 2016) Despite Russia being called one of Brexit’s possible beneficiaries, in reality the UK’s potential exit from the EU poses more risks for the Russian economy […]

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Interfax: United Russia intends to work on normalizing relations with EU

EU Map

MOSCOW. June 27 (Interfax) – The party United Russia stated Russia’s economic development, resumption of active contacts with the European Union and partnership with its neighbors as priorities in its election program. “In the upcoming political cycle, we will actively work on normalizing our relations with the EU,” the party said in its political program approved at the congress in […]

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RBTH: How would Russia have voted in Brexit referendum?

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

As Britain prepares to decide whether to leave the EU, experts weigh in on what Russia has to gain and lose from Brexit. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – NIKOLAI SHEVCHENKO, RBTH – June 22, 2016) As the British people prepare to cast their votes in the most fateful vote in a generation – a ballot that has the […]

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The trap of “countering Russia”; Across eastern Europe, U.S. engagement against Russia is having an adverse effect on grassroots protesters – and no easy solution is forthcoming

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(opendemocracy.net – Tom Junes – June 23, 2016) Tom Junes is a historian and post-doctoral researcher focusing on protest movements in eastern Europe. He is a member of the Human and Social Studies Foundation Sofia and currently a visiting fellow at the Centre for Advanced Study in Sofia, Bulgaria. He is the author of Student Politics in Communist Poland: Generations […]

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Brexit: Russia’s national interest versus its nationalist interest

EU Map

Subject: Brexit: Russia’s national interest versus its nationalist interest Date: Tue, 21 Jun 2016 13:27:00 -0400 From: Ira Straus (IRASTRAUS@aol.com) The argumentative thrust of Putin’s Russia is friendly to Brexit. Indeed, it propagandizes for the most extreme parties of the far Right in Europe, coupled with providing financial sponsorship for them and some organizational support. This creates a resemblance to […]

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No, Russia is not preparing for all-out war; Russia’s snap military mobilisation drills are an internal exercise. But troublesome relations with the west could still have unintended (and unpleasant) consequences.

Russian Jet Buzzing U.S. Navy Destroyer, adapted from U.S. Navy photo

(opendemocracy.net – Mark Galeotti – June 21, 2016) Mark Galeotti is currently Professor of Global Affairs at New York University and a visiting fellow at the ECFR, although from August he will be principal director of the Mayak Intelligence consultancy in Prague and senior researcher at the Czech Institute for International Relations. He blogs on Russian security affairs at In […]

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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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Putin’s New Friendship Offensive Won’t Work Abroad or at Home, Shevtsova Says

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 19, 2016) Vladimir Putin’s “main message” at the St. Petersburg economics conference that Moscow “again wants to be friends” with the West will not work either in the West, which has been transformed by the Kremlin leader’s aggressiveness, or at home among Russians because he depends on continued anti-Western mobilization, Liliya […]

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Don’t ignore the left! Connections between Europe’s radical left and Russia; Europe’s radical left is connected personally and politically to the Kremlin

Stylized Artis Depiction of Shadowy Figures in Dark Coats and Dark Hats, One Carrying a Briefcase

(opendemocracy.net – Péter Krekó, Lóránt Győri – June 13, 2016) Péter Krekó is the Director of Political Capital Institute, a think-tank based in Budapest, Hungary. He is also an assistant professor at ELTE University, and a co-chair of the EU Radicalisation Awareness Network Prevention working group. Lóránt Győri is an analyst at the Political Capital Institute. The fact that many […]

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Getting Each Other Wrong

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Maxim Trudolyubov, Senior Fellow, Editor-at-Large, Vedomosti Daily – June 14, 2016) Politicians have to walk the walk in order to be credible. This is even more true in today’s world, given the rise of populist demagoguery and the sorry state of trust between the most important players. The dialogue taking place between Russia, the U.S., […]

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Lawmakers: More U.S. Pushback Needed Against Russian Aggression

U.S. Capitol at Twilight With Washington Monument, National Mall, Washington, D.C., Environs and Sunset in Background

(Voice of America – voanews.com – Pamela Dockins – June 8, 2016) U.S. lawmakers have expressed concern that the Obama administration may not be engaged enough in countering what they view as Russia’s bad behavior in Ukraine and Georgia. “I worry that the message that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin must be taking from our response is that his limit-testing aggression […]

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Russians believe policy should not change under sanctions

EU Map

(Interfax – June 8, 2016) Most Russians (71 percent) are expecting the European Union to extend sanctions against Russia this summer, and 15 percent claim the opposite, the Levada Center told Interfax. Fourteen percent of 800 respondents polled in 137 populated localities in 48 regions on May 27-30 could not predict what the European authorities would do. The share of […]

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NEWSLINK “RBTH/Gazeta.ru/Fyodor Lukyanov: “Will Russia integrate into the Western world, post-sanctions? Recent overtures by top EU and German officials usher in hopes that relations between Moscow and the West could be on the verge of a turn for the better – but the real question is what direction Russia will take after sanctions are lifted and the tensions have abated.”

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NEWSWATCH: “Missile defense-Would the Kremlin pitch a deal?” – Brookings/Steven Pifer

Aegis Ashore Missile Defense File Photo

On May 12, U.S. officials declared the U.S. SM-3 missile interceptor site at Deveselu, Romania operational. The next day, ground was broken at Redzikowo, Poland for a second SM-3 installation. Moscow immediately made clear its displeasure at these developments, repeating its past claims that U.S. missile defenses in Europe pose a threat to Russia. At the end of May, President […]

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RBTH: Political division over Ukraine sets scene for thaw in Russia-EU relations

EU Map

The release of Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko by Moscow and hints in Germany of a relaxation on sanctions, as well as positive overtures toward Russia by EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, have raised real hopes that Russia and the EU may be ready to start rebuilding their relationship. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Bryan MacDonald – May 31, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Step-by-Step Rapprochement. Germany Considers Easing of Russia Sanctions. Standing tough on Russia remains official policy, but Germany has begun working on the careful easing of sanctions imposed following Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine. The US is opposed, but many in the EU could support the new approach.” – Der Spiegel

Europe Map

… What Merkel didn’t say … is that behind the scenes, her government has long since developed concrete plans for a step-by-step easing of the sanctions against Russia and that the process could begin as early as this year. … the message has been that the trade and travel restrictions will only be lifted once all the provisions foreseen by […]

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NEWSLINK Valdai Discussion Club/Paul Saunder: “G7 SUMMIT IN JAPAN: NO HISTORIC HIGHS. The G7 has yet to redefine its purpose and role following Russia’s exclusion. Reinvigorating it will require leadership, creativity, and a degree of reflection.”

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

OPPORTUNITIES: Research fellow openings at Centre for East European and International Studies (Zentrum für Osteuropa – und internationale Studien)

Bookcase file photo, adapted from image at nlm.nih.gov

Subject: Job advert Date: Mon, 30 May 2016 From: Lejly Agamuradova <agamuradova@dgo-online.org> Job advert Centre for East European and International Studies (Zentrum für Osteuropa- und internationale Studien) The German Bundestag has allocated funds to enhance expertise on Russia and Eastern Europe in Germany. On this basis, the Federal Government is establishing the Centre for East European and International Studies (ZOiS) […]

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There is hope Russia, EU can take relations trajectory consistent with interests of their countries – Peskov

EU Map

MOSCOW. May 30 (Interfax) – There is hope for an improvement of Russia-EU relations, and the participation of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum can help that, Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov said. “On the whole, the subject of Russia-EU relations has paramount importance, relations with the European Union are still crucial for the […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Meeting with Russian Media

Ancient Temple Ruins in Greece with Tourists

(Kremlin.ru – May 28, 2016) Following the Russian-Greek talks, Vladimir Putin met with Russian media representatives. Question: Mr President, may I ask you a question about domestic policy rather than talks with Greece? Vladimir Putin: Are you having trouble sleeping? Remark: I am. The whole country is thinking about this issue. Vladimir Putin: Go ahead. Question: Mr Medvedev visited Crimea […]

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What is causing the conflict in Ukraine?

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

Understanding the economic roots of rebellion in eastern Ukraine suggests that the resolution to the crisis must address restoring economic and political justice. (opendemocracy.net – Tymofiy Mylovanov – May 25, 2016) Tymofiy Mylovanov is the interim President of the Kyiv School of Economics, and Associate Professor at University of Pittsburgh. He received his economics PhD from the University of Wisconsin, […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with French business community representatives

Kremlin and River

(Kremlin.ru – May 25, 2016) Vladimir Putin met at the Kremlin with French business community representatives. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, friends, Let me welcome you all to Moscow. It is a great pleasure to meet the members of the Economic Council of the Franco-Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. France is without a doubt one of our longstanding […]

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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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Russia Hails Eurobond Triumph as Traders Ask: Who Bought It?

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Andrey Biryukov, Lyubov Pronina – May 25, 2016) Russia hailed its sale of $1.75 billion of Eurobonds as a triumph in the face of sanctions and “unprecedented pressure” from U.S. and European Union governments. While Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said the deal showed foreigners have “trust” in Russia, investors expressed concern the bond won’t be admitted […]

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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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