RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Will Russia cut its nuclear arsenal in exchange for lifting sanctions?”

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

The U.S. may reconsider sanctions against Russia if the latter agrees to reduce its nuclear arsenals, said U.S. President-elect Donald Trump in an interview with the British newspaper, The Times. According to military experts, if the reduction is reciprocal then such an agreement will be to Russia’s advantage. Russia, however, will first want a change in NATO policy. (Russia Beyond […]

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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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RUSSIALINK: “What kind of Russia should the West fear? RD Interview: Dmitri Trenin of the Carnegie Moscow Center explains how current misguided perceptions in both the United States and Russia could lead to a dangerous new geopolitical reality.” – Russia Direct

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

“… Russia should not be afraid of the West. A country like Russia can only be defeated by itself. Thus, it should be focused on dealing with its own weaknesses. In my view, NATO’s enlargement doesn’t create an existential threat for Russia and should be dealt with seriously, but calmly. The fear [of the West] is a very bad thing […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Thousands of U.S. Troops En Route to Eastern Europe; Hundreds of tanks, fighting vehicles, and attack helicopters to be deployed in unprecedented operation” – Transitions Online

Globe Highlighting NATO Members

“A massive movement of U.S. troops and materiel is underway, headed for Eastern Europe with one goal uppermost: ‘to deter Russian aggression.’ U.S. troops began offloading more than 2,000 pieces of equipment including Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles … [to] equip around 3,500 U.S. troops  … one of the largest movements of American forces in Europe since the end […]

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Putin’s New Year

Europe Map

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – January 9, 2017) So 2017 is here. And one thing we can be pretty certain of this year is that Vladimir Putin’s regime will try to push the advantage it gained last year — and intensify its efforts to undermine the liberal world order. And there will be plenty of targets of opportunity. […]

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Lift Russian Sanctions for ‘Positive Developments’ in Ukraine – OSCE Chair

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 9, 2017) Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz has called on European leaders to begin lifting sanctions against Russia in exchange for “any positive development” in the Ukrainian crisis. Kurz, a politician for the Austrian People’s Party, claimed that the change in policy would “send a clear signal to Russia.” “My concept is clear. I […]

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Rosneft Privatization Deal Closed As Italian Financing Comes Through

File Photo of Rosneft and Russian Flags Next to Rosneft Banner

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 4, 2017) The tumultuous privatization saga of Russia’s largest oil company appears to be drawing to a close. Swiss-British commodities trading firm Glencore and the Qatari Sovereign Wealth Fund have closed a deal to purchase 19.5 percent of state-controlled Rosneft, according to a statement on Glencore’s website. The news was followed by an announcement […]

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Debates in the West about Putin Now Recall Those in Europe about Hitler in Mid-1930s, Ikhlov Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, December 15, 2016) There has been a dramatic increase in the influence of pro-#Putin forces in the West in recent months, Yevgeny Ikhlov says; but at the same time, there has also emerged in Western societies a real horror about what the #Kremlin leader is doing in #Syria in general and in […]

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RBTH: Poles apart: Can the divisions between Russia and the West be bridged?

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

Russian and Western experts recently met in Moscow to discuss sensitive issues related to international politics in which Russia cannot find common ground with the U.S. and Europe: the expansion of NATO, the war in Syria and the conflict in eastern Ukraine. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – OLEG YEGOROV, RBTH – December 8, 2016) Russian and Western international […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Beware: The #Russian bear is getting bolder” – Washington Post

Europe Map

… In #NATO member #Hungary, #Russian agents have been fingered for training with a #neoNazi militia; in … #Monte­negro … on the verge of joining the transatlantic alliance, #Moscow is accused of plotting a violent #coup. … In Hungary … [there was] a gunfight … between police and the leader of the National Front movement …. Police … discovered large […]

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NEWSWATCH: “‘We’re OUTBREEDING you!’ Putin taunts West as he unveils drive to boost Russian birth rate” – The Daily Express (UK)

Couple in Hospital with Newborn

… Putin… issued an extraordinary putdown to the West as he boasted that Russia was outbreeding its rivals and unveiled new scientific measures to up the country’s birth rate further still. … plans to roll out 94 “hi-tech” perinatal centres across the country during his annual address to parliament. … Putin pledged a series of measures, from scientific to social, […]

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RUSSIALINK Russia Direct: “Does Putin really intend to restore the Soviet Union? RD Interview: Professor Richard Sakwa from the University of Kent talks about Russia’s foreign policy and explains why Russia is creating alternative regional institutions such as the Eurasian Economic Union.”

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

“Despite the deteriorating state of relations between Russia and the West, experts and politicians continue to search for ways out of the crisis. Many blame Russia and President Vladimir Putin for the desire to restore the Soviet Union and pursue an authoritarian path of development. However, as other experts argue, such perceptions stem from a misunderstanding of Russia’s interests, goals […]

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NEWSLINK Irrussianality/Paul Robinson: “DON’T MENTION THE WAR”

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

“… Putin approved a new ‘Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation’. Documents like this are aspirational; they reflect what a government would like to do, not what it is able to do. They are also for public consumption; their purpose is to send certain signals to the policy community, both inside and outside of government. Nevertheless, they are up […]

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How Russian Propaganda Really Works in the West

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – November 28, 2016) Until recently, the phenomenon of Russian government propaganda was only interesting to a small group of Russia experts, news junkies and counter-propaganda fundraisers. It was mainly seen as a tool for keeping Russians supportive of Vladimir Putin. No longer. Thanks to post-U.S. election blame games, and the upcoming election season […]

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RUSSIALINK RT/Russia Today: “Russians warm towards West & favor rapprochement, poll shows”

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

“The latest poll has shown that the proportion of Russians who favor warmer and closer relations with Western nations is growing fast and has almost reached the historical maximum registered in 2000. …”

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Russians Want West to Make Up with Them and Don’t See Why Ukraine Should Be an Obstacle, New Poll Suggests

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 29, 2016) In presenting the latest Levada Center poll on Russian attitudes toward the West, the center’s Aleksey Grazhdankin says that a majority of Russians think that the initiative for improving East-West ties should come from the West and “do not understand why the actions of their country in Ukraine” have […]

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Big Western Companies Are Pumping Cash Into Russia

File Photo of Ikea Store with Russian Language Facade and Shopping Carts

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ilya Khrennikov – November 22, 2016) [Charts here bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-23/bouncing-back-putin-s-shrunken-economy-lures-foreign-investors] Even before the U.S. presidential election raised hopes of warmer ties with the Kremlin, some big Western companies were betting Russia’s economy will soon come out of the deep freeze. Big retailers like Sweden’s Ikea Group and France’s Leroy Merlin SA have begun pumping billions of dollars […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Replies to media questions following APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting

Map of Asia-Pacific Highlighting APEC Member States

(Kremlin.ru – November 21, 2016) Vladimir Putin answered media questions following the working sessions of the economic leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon. Or good evening. Or good night already in Moscow. Let us get straight to your questions, without any introductory remarks. Please. Question: There was fear on the meeting’s sidelines […]

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Putinism a Greater Threat to the West than Soviet Communism Was

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 18, 2016) Putinism, as ideology and practice, is now a greater threat to the West than Soviet communism ever was, a reality few in Western countries now recognize precisely because the Kremlin leader is making use, in the best tradition of the judo master he is, values and methods that are […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian Opposition Leader Navalny’s Case Sent for Retrial” – AP

Alexei Navalny file photo

Russia’s Supreme Court on Wednesday scrapped a criminal conviction and sent the case of opposition leader Alexei Navalny for retrial, opening the door for his potential run for office.  … convicted in 2013 of embezzling timber …. Following unsuccessful appeals in Russia, Navalny, a trained lawyer, turned to the European Court of Human Rights which ruled in February that Russia […]

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Russia’s Strategic Calculus: Threat Perceptions and Military Doctrine

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(PONARS Policy Memo – PONARS Eurasia – ponarseurasia.org – Dmitry Gorenburg – November 11, 2016) Dmitry Gorenburg is Senior Research Scientist at CNA Corporation and Associate at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University. Russian foreign policy is driven by the political elites’ search for a new basis for national self-esteem after the collapse of the […]

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Putin Weaponizes Democracy

Europe Map

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – November 14, 2016) [RFE/RL budget: $108.414 million (FY2016)] Don’t look now but Russia just picked up two more allies in Europe. Don’t look now, but pro-Moscow candidates just won the presidencies of Moldova and Bulgaria. Don’t look now, but Vladimir Putin appears to be on a roll. The Kremlin leader is no democrat. […]

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NEWSLINK Reuters: “Pro-Russian Candidate Wins First Round of Bulgarian Election”

Bulgaria Map, adapted from image at cia.gov

“Socialist-backed candidate Rumen Radev, who has called for an end to European Union sanctions against Russia, has won the first round of Bulgaria’s presidential election, partial official results showed on Monday. Radev’s close-fought victory over ruling party candidate Tsetska Tsacheva makes the former air force commander favorite to win a run-off on Sunday, a result that could push the Black […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia Aims to Disrupt Other Western Elections, U.S. Officials Say; Electoral chaos in West being sowed to safeguard Putin’s hold on power, Kremlin watchers say” – Wall Street Journal/Alan Cullison

Stylized Artist's Depiction of Shadowy Figures in Dark Coats and Dark Hats, One Carrying a Briefcase

… Russian-backed hacking … that has rocked the presidential campaign may peak on Election Day, but is likely to continue next year and into 2018 as Moscow seeks to influence U.S. politics and key elections in Europe … administration officials warn. Russian meddling … may become more potent in Europe than in the U.S., White House officials and other experts […]

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This is not a new Cold War

Putin and Obama with U.S. and Russian Flags

Fresh talk of a new Cold War between Russia and the west relies on outdated thinking and ignores new realities. (opendemocracy.net – Anton Shekhovtsov – November 3, 2016) Anton Shekhovtsov is a visiting fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences, Austria and editor of the Explorations of the Far Right book series at ibidem-Verlag. Against the background of worsening relations […]

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Moldova’s Pro-Moscow Presidential Front-Runner Says Open To EU Partnership

Moldova Map and Flag

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – November 1, 2016) Igor Dodon, who won the first round of Moldova’s presidential election and is seen as having strong leanings toward Russia, says he will seek to maintain good relations with both Brussels and Moscow if elected. “I believe that we must and we will have good relations with the European Union,” the Socialist Party […]

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The Beginning Of The End For Europe’s Natural Gas War

Gas Facility file photo

(Oilprice.com – Nick Cunningham – October 27, 2016) Russia’s Gazprom is on the verge of striking a deal with EU regulators to settle a half-decade old dispute over natural gas pricing, and the resolution could change the way Gazprom does business and lead to lower gas prices for much of Eastern Europe. The conflict began back in 2011 when EU […]

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NEWSLINK Carnegie Moscow/Fyodor Lukyanov, René Nyberg, Angela Stent: “Three Dimensions: Is the Break Between the Kremlin and the West Permanent?”

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

As the U.S. presidential election approaches on November 8, Carnegie.ru asked three experts, one in Russia, one in the United States, and one in Europe, to comment on the question: “Is the break between the Putin administration and the West permanent?”  

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Containment 2.0

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – October 31, 2016) And so, I’m back. And while I may not have been visible in this space over the past couple weeks, I have in fact been pretty busy thinking and talking about Russian affairs in various venues in the United States and in Europe. And now is as good a time […]

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Kasparov Says Confrontation With West Putin’s ‘No. 1 Goal’

Garry Kasparov file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Mikhail Sokolov, Antoine Blua – October 25, 2016) #Kremlin foe Garry Kasparov says President Vladimir Putin is resorting to “external aggression” and increased confrontation with the West to bolster his image as Russia’s leader and maintain a “dictatorship” in the country. Talking to RFE/RL’s Russian Service correspondent Mikhail Sokolov on the sidelines of a forum in […]

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NEWSLINK Irrussianality/Paul Robinson: “FOREIGN EDUCATION”

World Map Showing Continents, Greens, Browns, Ice

“According to the website Znak, a strong recommendation has been issued to Russian state officials to bring home any children who are studying abroad. Strictly speaking, this is not mandatory, but ‘One of the sources said that anyone who fails to act, will find such non-compliance to be a “complicating factor in the furtherance of their public sector career”.’ This […]

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NEWSLINK Irrussianality/Paul Robinson: “BOOK REVIEW: THE NEW POLITICS OF RUSSIA [re: Andrew Monaghan]”

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

“… He analyzes the reasons why Western observers have continually been surprised by Russian actions and finishes by laying out his own model of how the Russian political system works. His book challenges Russian ‘experts’ to reconsider their assumptions. …”

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NEWSLINK Washington Post: “Please pass the Russian Parmesan: Cheesemakers celebrate sanctions, and hope they continue.”

File Photo of U.S. Dairy Cows

“… When Russian President Vladimir Putin banned most food imports from Europe in 2014 in response to Western sanctions, Russian dairy farmers rejoiced as deliveries of French and Italian cheeses ceased. Now, they believed, they could compete. Since then, they have tried to duplicate all sorts of famous varieties, from Camembert to Emmenthal. But one global delicacy remains largely beyond […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The scary truth about what Putin really wants (and Obama’s willful ignorance)” – Fox News/Judith Miller

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

What is Vladimir Putin up to? Evidence of Russian ambition seems to mount by the day. Seizing its neighbor’s territory. Russian bomber overflights of NATO member states. Sophisticated cyberattacks aimed at influencing America’s presidential election. Missiles fired at civilian aircraft. Devastating air strikes on hospitals and relief convoys in Aleppo as the ink dries on a U.S.-Russian cease-fire agreement for […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Dealing with a simmering Ukraine-Russia conflict” – Brookings/Fiona Hill, Steven Pifer

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

A major foreign policy challenge that will confront the new U.S. administration from day one is Ukraine and its conflict with Russia. … Minsk II … that was to end the fighting in … Donbas … has yet to be implemented. There is little sign that Moscow wants a settlement, apparently preferring a ‘simmering’ rather than ‘frozen’ conflict, where it […]

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Putin Making the Same Mistake Hitler Did, Piontkovsky Says

File Photo of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler Riding in Convertible

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, October 4, 2016) After meeting with the leaders of Britain and France, Adolf Hitler concluded that he was dealing with non-entities and that he couldn’t possibly lose a war against them, forgetting not only that these countries could and would change leaders but also that the outcome of conflicts reflects not just […]

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Eastern Europe Arming Itself because ‘No One Wants to Be the Next Ukraine’

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, September 28, 2016) In what many are calling “the Putin effect,” countries across Eastern Europe, including even #Belarus, nominally Russia’s closest ally, are now arming themselves even when they have to cut social welfare spending because, in the words of one commentator, “no one wants to be the next Ukraine.” This sacrifice […]

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NEWSWATCH: “A Powerful Russian Weapon: The Spread of False Stories” – New York Times

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

The New York Times addresses concerns about Russian disinformation campaigns, including Russia’s reputed involvement with a rash of misleading material on social media disrupting NATO-related debate in Sweden. With a vigorous national debate underway on whether Sweden should enter a military partnership with NATO, officials in Stockholm suddenly encountered an unsettling problem: a flood of distorted and outright false information on […]

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Russia Understanders” in Europe (excerpt)

Europe Map

(PONARS Eurasia – Andrey Makarychev, Stefano Braghirolil, University of Tartu (Estonia) – August 16, 2016) [Full text here http://www.ponarseurasia.org/sites/default/files/policy-memos-pdf/Pepm435_Makarychev-Braghiroli_August2016.pdf] The Ukraine conflict reinforced the desire of Kremlin policymakers to establish connections with a range of anti-status-quo groups in Europe. Moscow’s broad aim is to catalyze support for and legitimize Russian sovereignty (and hegemony) and, perhaps, even the dissolution of the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “While the world is distracted, Putin escalates his war in Ukraine” – Washington Post

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

… The … FSB, claimed … one of its officers was killed … near the de facto border between Crimea and Ukraine. Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine in early 2014, then backed a violent uprising in … Donetsk and Luhansk. … According to the FSB … a second attempt occurred … with support from Ukrainian artillery, killing a Russian … […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Why Ukraine and Russia Need Each Other” – Nicolai Petro/Russian Politics

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

Ukraine needs ….  the restoration of those economic ties with Russia that clearly benefit the Ukrainian economy, at least until Ukraine develops stable alternative markets. …. a stop gap measure needed to stop the hemorrhaging of resources, manpower, and capital, and to win Ukraine time and breathing space for economic reform …. Nor do I see it as a matter […]

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Leon Aron: “Don’t Expect a New Détente Between Russia and the West”

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(Institute of Modern Russia – imrussia.org – Olga Khvostunova – July 27, 2016) The Institute of Modern Russia continues its series of interviews with experts on the political situation in Russia, its relations with the West, and the future of the country’s political system. Olga Khvostunova, editor-in-chief of imrussia.org, spoke with Dr. Leon Aron, director of Russian studies at the […]

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Russia’s Moves, Terrorism Fuel Talk of War in Europe – The Daily Signal [also appeared as “Europeans are quietly preparing for war with Russia” at Newsweek.com]

Europe Map

[article also appeared at Newsweek.com as “Europeans are quietly preparing for war with Russia”] (Nolan Peterson – @nolanwpeterson – The Daily Signal – dailysignal.com – The Heritage Foundation – heritage.org – KYIV, Ukraine, Aug. 3, 2016) Whether referring to Russian aggression in the east or to the threat of Islamist terrorism in the West, Europe’s political, media, and religious elite […]

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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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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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