Putin Speaks Directly To Separatist Leaders, Presses Prisoner Swap

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

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – November 15, 2017 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/putin-ukraine-prisoner-swap-medvedchuk-separatists/28856131.html) Russian President Vladimir Putin has told leaders of Moscow-backed separatists in Ukraine’s eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk that he favors a plan for a prisoner swap with Kyiv, in a rare acknowledgement of direct contact with the separatist forces. Russian state-run […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Latest U.S.-Russian Effort on Syria: Good for Preventing Accidents, So-So for Everything Else” – Russia Matters/ Nikolas K. Gvosdev

Syria Map

“The one concrete result to emerge from … Trump and … Putin’s informal meetings on the sidelines of … APEC … has been the Nov. 11 U.S.-Russia Joint Statement on Syria. … [which] has elicited some official optimism, but what does it amount to really? … a promising step forward to end the strife in that war-torn land and ‘save tremendous numbers of lives,’ as Trump […]

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Interfax: Russia’s defense spending tops 5.3% of GDP, near $70 bln – PwC

File Photo of Close-Up of Line of Russian Soldiers in Dress Uniforms for Parade

MOSCOW. Nov 15 (Interfax) – Russia ranks seventh among the world’s major defense-industry players, with defense expenditures totaling $69.2 billion, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) said in a statement regarding its second Global Defense Perspectives report. In the current rating, Russia occupies seventh place; its defense expenditures amount to 5.32% of GDP and total $69.2 billion. It has moved up one position since […]

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U.S., Russia Envoys Differ On Peace And Peacekeepers In Eastern Ukraine

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

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – November 14, 2017 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/volker-surkov-meeting-ukraine-u-s-russia/28853193.html) After talks on the conflict in eastern Ukraine, U.S. and Russian envoys say their countries have “different concepts for how to make peace” but will continue to work to achieve that goal. “Both sides agreed to reflect on the discussions … and […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Joint U.S.-Russia statement calls for U.N.-supervised elections in Syria” – Politico/ Nancy Cook

Syria Map

“… a new joint statement on Syria between the U.S. and Russia … [says] Syria must eventually hold U.N.-supervised elections to bring new leadership to the country as part of … ending its … civil war [say] two senior State Department officials. … follow[ing] … U.N. Security Council resolution … 2254. … [the election is to] include the ballots of the Syrian diaspora, displaced from the country […]

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Interfax: “NATO command’s restructuring focused on Russia standoff – Ambassador Grushko”

Alexander Grushko file photo, adapted from image at eucom.mil

BRUSSELS. Nov 10 (Interfax) – The proposals discussed by the NATO defense ministers at the conference in Brussels on November 8-9 in regard to the adaptation of the alliance’s command structure came as no surprise to anyone, the Russian Permanent Representative to NATO, Alexander Grushko, said. “They were made in furtherance of the Warsaw summit’s decisions, which included a review […]

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Interfax: North Atlantic Alliance inflating “threat from the East” – Russian envoy to NATO Grushko

Alexander Grushko file photo, adapted from image at eucom.mil

MOSCOW. Nov 8 (Interfax) – The North Atlantic Alliance is taking an endless series of measures to the sole end of mastering the theater of operations in the Baltic region and Central and Southeastern Europe, as well as creating a force-projection potential, Russian Permanent Representative to NATO Alexander Grushko said in an interview with the Izvestia newspaper published on Wednesday. […]

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NEWSLINK: “Putin: Russia Ending Conscription” – Russian Defense Policy Blog

File Photo of Russian Military Conscripts Boarding Train with Gear

“… Putin significantly changed the script for Russian military reform on October 24 by indicating intent to end the draft in favor of volunteer contract service. … Putin told his young audience: ‘While I don’t have a ready-made answer, in the same vein if we try to develop this practice further, then maybe we’ll come up with something, but in general […]

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NEWSLINK: “U.S. Special-Operations Forces Have Quietly Moved Onto the Russian Border; The percentage of special operators deployed to Europe quadrupled last year” – The Nation/ Nick Turse

Globe Highlighting NATO Members

“… Since 9/11, U.S. Special Operations forces (SOF) have grown in every conceivable way from funding to manpower, the pace of operations to geographic sweep. On any given day, about 8,000 special operators – from a command numbering roughly 70,000 in total – are deployed in around 80 countries. Over the course of a year, they operate in about 70 […]

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Less Than Half of Russians Surveyed Back Kremlin Support for Ukraine Separatists

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 30, 2017) Forty-one percent of surveyed Russians believe Moscow should support separatists in Ukraine’s Donbass region, according to a new poll published by the independent Levada Center. Moscow has been accused of supporting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine since then-president Viktor Yanukovych was toppled in February 2014. The ensuing conflict between Kiev and separatists […]

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NEWSLINK: “CARIBBEAN CRISIS 2.0: ILLUSION OF PERMISSIVENESS” – Valdai/ Maxim Starchak

Map of Cuba and Environs

“… The international security system is collapsing, there is no dialogue. The parties do not consider negotiations, options, but prefer options for developing their military activities. Sooner or later, this may lead to a full-scale crisis similar to Cuba 1962. However, this may not be a bad thing. The Caribbean crisis has taught us to understand that the value of […]

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[1993] NEWSWATCH: “Yeltsin crushes revolt; Parliament taken in tank battle; Opposition parties and newspapers banned” – The Guardian (UK)/ Jonathan Steele, David Hearst [from Oct. 5, 1993]

Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin

[From 1993 archived article:] “President Boris Yeltsin moved swiftly last night to stamp his absolute power on Russia by suspending a range of political movements and closing opposition newspapers after the surrender of his main parliamentary opponents in the wake of the assault on the Russian White House. * * *  After a grisly 10-hour gun battle in which tanks punched […]

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NEWSLINK: “From free info exchange to Kremlin tool; Russia’s homegrown Web; The Soviet Union had a working Internet surprisingly early, and its isolation and highly educated users have kept it separate even in a well-connected world.” – Le Monde Diplomatique/ Kevin Limonier

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

“The Ukrainian government blocked access to a number of Russian online services this May, including search engine Yandex and Facebook equivalent VKontakte. Kiev accuses these services, widely used in Ukraine, of sharing data with Russian intelligence, especially the personal data of soldiers fighting separatists in the Donbass region. This measure stopped millions from accessing their favourite sites, and showed the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “About 60 foreign planes, 12 ships seen on reconnaissance mission near Russian borders over week” – Interfax-AVN

Russia Map

“Fifty-eight foreign planes were performing reconnaissance missions near the Russian border over the past week, the Russian Defense Ministry said. … Air defense standby forces performed nine flights to intercept aerial targets …. Most reconnaissance missions were observed in the Western strategic sector (46); seven … in the Arctic, four in the East, and one in the South ….” Click here for: […]

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Two Years on, the Stakes of Russia’s War in Syria Are Piling; Russia may have helped Assad win the war, but crucial decisions lie ahead

Syria Map

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Vladimir Frolov – September 29, 2017) Two years ago, on Sept. 30, 2015, Russian warplanes launched their first airstrikes in Syria, plunging Russia into a civil war that had already been festering for four years. Moscow intervened in Syria vowing to fight Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, terrorist groups banned in Russia. Its objective was […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “Chemical disarmament completed in Russia”- KremlinRu

Chemical Weapons Hazard Symbol, adapted from image at dni.gov

(Kremlin.ru – September 27, 2017) The President listened to a report via videoconference on the destruction of Russia’s last remaining chemical weapons. Mikhail Babich, Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Volga Federal District and Chairman of the State Commission for Chemical Disarmament, reported to President Vladimir Putin on the completion of chemical disarmament ahead of schedule. Also in attendance at the […]

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NEWSLINK: “U.S. And Russia Quietly End Diplomatic Tailspin; A behind-the-scenes effort by US and Russian diplomats may have preempted a new wave of tit-for-tat retaliations” – Buzzfeed/ John Hudson

Rex Tillerson file photo, adapted from image at state.gov

“After months of angry statements, diplomatic expulsions, and shuttered consulates, US and Russian officials have quietly put an end to the tit-for-tat retaliations between the two sides, and U.S. officials are now considering reviving parts of a Russian proposal from March to strengthen military-to-military contacts. The improvement in relations follows talks between Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Understanding Russia’s War Stories; Putin’s foreign policy is rooted in an epic myth of betrayal and redemption” – The New Republic/ Sophie Pinkham

Vladirmir Putin and Donald Trump Sitting in Chairs with Flags Behind, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

“… From the hacking of DNC servers during the presidential campaign to links between Russian officials and Trump’s team, Democrats have leapt at the idea that Trump’s victory resulted from Russian machinations, even though there remains little evidence that the hacks decisively affected the election. Rather than revising their platform to appeal to today’s working class, Democrats have pointed their fingers […]

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NEWSWATCH: “What would a Russia-NATO war look like? Russia’s wargaming it right now” – Washington Post/ David Filipov, Michael Birnbaum, Andrew Roth

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

“A revitalized Russian military on Monday sent tanks, paratroopers, artillery, antiaircraft weapons, jets and helicopters into frigid rains to engage the forces of a mock enemy called the ‘Western Coalition.’ The barrage of firepower , part of war games that began last week, was an explosive show of force that Baltic leaders said was a simulation of an attack against […]

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NEWSWATCH: “U.S. Senate approves $500 million military aid, lethal weapons for Ukraine”

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

“The … Senate passed … the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, authorizing the provision to Ukraine of $500 million worth of military aid, including lethal defensive weapons. … approved 89 to 8 votes, [the bill] will now go to the president’s desk … [it passed] the House … on July 14. * * * The executive summary … [says] that half of the $500 million … will be withheld until […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia touts essential role in Syria’s advance against IS” – AFP

Syria Map

“… In addition to air strikes and reconnaissance, Russia has also dispatched special forces, de-mining experts, and military police officers across Syria. Pavel Felgenhauer, military observer for Novaya Gazeta newspaper, says more than 2,000 military advisers are also on the ground. ‘Some two million tonnes of military supplies have been shipped to Syria,’ he says, including Russian weapons systems like […]

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Yabloko submits bill limiting president’s right to use military abroad to 3 regional legislatures

Russia Regions Map

MOSCOW. Sept 19 (Interfax) – The Yabloko party has submitted a draft federal bill restricting the president’s right to use the armed forces abroad to three regional legislatures for consideration, the party’s press service reported. “Party Chairperson Emilia Slabunova has submitted the bill to Karelia’s Legislative Assembly, and Mikhail Amosov and Lev Shlosberg of the party’s federal political committee submitted […]

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How to Resist Russian Propaganda on a Tight Budget; Expensive U.S. and EU efforts are no match for a few simple techniques.

File Image of Laptop Computer, Tables and Mobile Device, adapted from image at energy.gov

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – September 13, 2017) The awkwardly named European External Action Service East Stratcom Task Force provides the latest exercise in futility. The agency, which is part of the European Union bureaucratic machinery, has gathered several thousand examples of disinformation in the first searchable database of its size, a culmination of its work since 2015. […]

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NEWSLINK: “RT, Sputnik and Russia’s New Theory of War; How the Kremlin built one of the most powerful information weapons of the 21st century – and why it may be impossible to stop” – New York Times Magazine/ JIM RUTENBERG

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

“… Military officials in America and Europe have come to refer to this idea alternatively as the ‘Gerasimov doctrine’ and ‘hybrid war,’ which they accuse Russia of engaging in now. …”

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The Kremlin’s Global Campaign Of Chaos

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

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – September 8, 2017 –  also appeared at rferl.org/a/putin-calls-us-senator-mccain-old-world-but-admires-his-patriotism/28537171.html) They’ve done it from the Baltics to the Caucasus. They’ve done it from the Balkans to North America. They’ve done it from Belarus to Scandinavia. According to a new report by the Alliance for Securing Democracy of the German […]

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Interfax: Conditions already exist for UN peacekeepers’ introduction in Donbas – Gryzlov

File Photo of UN Building with Flags

MOSCOW. Sept 5 (Interfax) – Donbas already has the conditions allowing, with Kyiv’s good will, for an introduction of UN peacekeepers there, Boris Gryzlov, Russia’s representative in the Contact Group on Ukraine, said on Tuesday. “For a possible introduction of the UN contingent to support and maintain the security of the OSCE [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe] mission […]

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NEWSLINK: “Ukrainian crisis: Is there a way out?” – Washington Times/ Edward Lozansky

Aerial Photo of Pentagon and Environs

“Are we preparing for the war with Russia over Ukraine? That’s how it looks if you saw in the news how U.S. Marines regularly do simulated battles with Russian-speaking insurgents.  This is taking place in North Carolina and Germany, but the assumed country is Ukraine, where some American troops have established a combat training center staffed by Ukrainians and reportedly […]

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NEWSLINK: “The 10 worst cities to live in the world in 2017” – Business Insider/ Rosie Fitzmaurice

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

“… 10. Kiev, Ukraine – 47.8/100 points. The capital of Kiev saw the biggest decline in terms of liveability – 21.4 points – of all 140 cities surveyed. It is the also the only European city in the 12 that scored below 50 points. The city is still in a recovery that remains under threat from unrest, economic instability, and […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia’s government moves from war budget to election budget” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“The Russian government has moved from a war budget to an election budget as social spending soars and defence spending is cut. With the presidential election now only a year away, which Russian President Vladimir Putin, virtually unopposed, is expected to easily win, the Russian government has changed its budgetary focus and boosted social spending to soften up the electorate. […]

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Interfax: Contact Group to support ‘school truce’ in eastern Ukraine on occasion of new school year’s beginning – Gryzlov

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

MINSK. Aug 23 (Interfax) – The Trilateral Contact Group may declare a truce in eastern Ukraine at its meeting on Wednesday so that a new school year could begin without incident, Russian representative to the group Boris Gryzlov said. “A school truce should be put into place at today’s meeting of the Contact Group for the sake of security of […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Tavrida National Youth Educational Forum – KremlinRu

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

(Kremlin.ru – August 21, 2017) During his working trip to the Republic of Crimea, Vladimir Putin attended the Tavrida National Youth Educational Forum. The President was introduced to thematic exhibitions of various creative teams, photo artists, architects and urban designers. The President spoke in an informal setting with both organisers and participants of the annual forum. The Tavrida National Youth […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Putin announces cuts to defence spending in 2018” – RIA Novosti

File Photo of Russian Tanks in Military Parade

(RIA Novosti – August 15, 2017) Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced cuts to defence spending in 2018 as a part of next year’s federal budget, state-owned news agency RIA Novosti reported on 15 August. “I would like to recall that significant savings are under review for next year’s budget, and incidentally, by means of reducing spending on defence. This […]

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NEWSLINK: “Demands on Russian Foreign Policy And Its Drivers: Looking Out Five Years; Russia’s foreign policy priorities in the coming years hinge upon solidifying Russia’s great power status outside the post-Soviet space as well as reducing the country’s political isolation” – Carnegie Moscow/ Dmitri Trenin

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

“… This is the first article in a series looking ahead at the drivers of Russian foreign policy from 2017 to 2022. …”

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NEWSWATCH: “Contact averts conflict. Why Russia is foolish not to invite NATO observers to its war games. Instead, the biggest exercises in Europe since the cold war will be conducted amid secrecy and mistrust.” – The Economist editorial

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

“… Russia will hold … the biggest military exercise in Europe since the end of the cold war. According to NATO estimates … involv[ing] at least 100,000 troops …. Revived from Soviet times by … Putin … the Zapad (West) drills … take place every four years. … the Kremlin insists that the scenarios … are purely defensive [but] that is not always how they have looked […]

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Interfax: Donbas conflict sides trade truce breach accusations

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

LUHANSK/KYIV. Aug 11 (Interfax) – The Ukrainian armed forces have launched seven shelling attacks on the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) in the past 24 hours, the LPR militia told Interfax. “The Ukrainian armed forces have violated the truce seven times in the past 24 hours, using 120mm and 82mm mortars, infantry fighting vehicles, anti-tank grenade launchers, automatic grenade launchers, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Front Line Drawn Across Russia’s Backyard” – Stratfor

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

“Globalization has changed how we think about time, space and distance, but geography is still the same where it counts: national security. … former Soviet states lining Russia’s border know this better than most … their proximity to the eastern giant renders them more vulnerable to Moscow’s hybrid warfare …. Nations like Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova sit on the front line of […]

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CSTO Rift Grows Between Moscow And Astana

Map of CIS Central Asia and Environs

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Samuel Ramani – Aug. 6, 2017 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/qishloq-ovozi-csto-kazakhstan-russia-nazarbaev/28661553.html) Samuel Ramani is a DPhil candidate in International Relations at St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford, specializing in post-1991 Russian foreign policy. He is also a journalist who contributes regularly to The Washington Post, the Huffington Post, and Diplomat […]

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Interfax: DPR sees 50 attacks by Ukrainian army in past 24 hours

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

DONETSK/KYIV. Aug 4 (Interfax) – The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) has seen 50 ceasefire breaches by the Ukrainian army in the past 24 hours. “The Ukrainian army breached the truce 50 times during the day. The army shelled the vicinity of 15 populated localities in the republic using artillery, mortars, infantry combat vehicles, armored personnel carriers, grenade launchers, and […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Joint news conference with President of Finland Sauli Niinisto (Q&A excerpt)

European Portion of Commonwealth of Independent States

(Kremlin.ru – July 27, 2017) Vladimir Putin and Sauli Niinisto gave a joint news conference following bilateral talks. Question from Yle (retranslated): My question concerns the military exercises conducted jointly by China and Russia in the Baltic Sea. I would like to ask President Putin: What message are China and Russia sending to others, what message do they want to […]

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An ideal conflict on the Dniester; Twenty five years after the end of the war, a resolution to the frozen conflict over Transnistria seems no closer. This situation suits plenty of people at the top just fine.

Moldovan Dancers Dancing with Peace Corps Volunteers

(opendemocracy.net – Vladimir Soloviev – July 21, 2017) Vladimir Soloviev is founder and editor-in-chief of Newsmaker. He is also Moldova correspondent for Kommersant. On 21 July 1992, the armed conflict in Transnistria came to an end. A Russian peacekeeping mission was introduced to this self-declared republic on the east bank of the Dniester river, internationally recognised as Moldovan territory. After […]

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Navalny Clashes With Ex-Commander Of Russia-Backed Separatists

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

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Carl Schreck, Christopher Miller – July 20, 2017 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/navalny-girkin-debate/28629308.html) Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny and a prominent former commander of Russia-backed separatists sparred over patriotism and the war in Ukraine in a debate that stoked widespread discussion and criticism among political players and watchers after it […]

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Free Russia Forum Outlines What a Post-Putin Russia Must Do to Rejoin Civilized World

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 20, 2017) The Free Russia Forum, a group of opposition politicians and analysts, says that a post-Putin Russia can only rejoin the civilized world if it operates under the principles of the primacy of law in all spheres of life. Otherwise, it will be “impossible” to build a law-based state and […]

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Interfax: Moscow says Malorossiya idea far from “real politics”

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

(Interfax – July 19, 2017) The Russian Foreign Ministry has said that Ukrainian separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko’s plan to establish a new state in Ukraine – “Malorossiya” – has nothing to do with real politics. “In my view, these statements do not go in line with the obligations the sides [of the conflict] had taken as part of the Minsk […]

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Interfax: Russia to verify reports on closure of CIA program backing Syrian opposition – Foreign Ministry

Artist's Rendition of U.S. Embassy, Moscow, with the Russian Foreign Ministry in the Background

MOSCOW. July 20 (Interfax) – Russia intends to verify reports by U.S. media outlets on President Donald Trump’s decision to phase out a covert CIA program of providing aid to the Syrian opposition, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said. “We welcome all steps aimed at defusing the situation and strengthening security in the Middle Eastern region. If this is being done […]

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Interfax: Serious Russia-NATO talk about de-escalation in Europe requires restoration of military contacts – Grushko

NATO Meeting file photo

BRUSSELS. July 13 (Interfax) – Information briefings even at the level of ambassadors in the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) are not sufficient for a serious talk about de-escalation of the military situation in Europe; what is needed is a restoration of interrupted military contacts, Alexander Grushko, Russia’s Permanent Representative to NATO, said after a NRC meeting on Thursday. “If someone is […]

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NEWSLINK: “Trump is right about challenging Russia over Syria” – Asia Times/ David Goldman

Syria Map

“The ceasefire in three Syrian provinces announced Friday after the Trump-Putin meeting in Hamburg is the first step in the right direction that the United States has taken in the Middle East in more than 20 years. The Syrian deal should be understood in the context of President Trump’s address in Warsaw the day before, a challenge to Russia to […]

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World War II Continues to Have Demographic Impact on Russia, Vishnevsky Says

Battle of Stalingrad file photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 4, 2017) The periodic increases and current decrease in the number of births in Russia reflects the third echo of World War II, Anatoly Vishnevsky says, with the low number of births in 1943 leading to demographic declines approximately every 25 years thereafter. The current decline is almost precisely 75 years […]

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NEWSLINK: “THREAT PERCEPTIONS” – Irrussianality/ Paul Robinson

DIA Headquarters file photo, adapted from DIA Public Affairs photo at defense.gov

“… This is also pretty obvious, and one doesn’t need a $4 billion a year agency to come up with this stuff, but it’s interesting that at least somebody in the American security establishment is willing to admit that people elsewhere in the world don’t all appreciate what the United States is doing. Unfortunately, all intelligence agencies can do is […]

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