New commander takes charge of Russia’s operation in Syria

Syria Map

Lt. Gen. Alexander Zhuravlev is expected to change the course of battle with Islamic State (ISIS) militants, who are advancing towards Palmyra once more. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – NIKOLAI LITOVKIN, RBTH – July 22, 2016) The Russian business daily Kommersant reports that Lieutenant General Alexander Zhuravlev, first deputy commander of the South Military District, has been appointed […]

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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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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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Interfax: DPR reports dozens of destroyed houses in latest Ukraine’s army shell attacks

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

DONETSK. July 10 (Interfax) – Ten houses were destroyed and over 70 buildings were damaged in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) due to the Ukrainian army shell attacks over the past 24 hours, senior officer with the DPR Defense Ministry Eduard Basurin said. “In the shell attacks on Zaitseve, Horlivka and Donetsk ten houses have been destroyed and nearly […]

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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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Moscow interested in further dialogue with NATO – Federation Council members on NATO-Russia Council meeting

File Photo of Official at Podium in Front of Large NATO-Russia Council Signage

MOSCOW. July 8 (Interfax) – The upcoming NATO summit will hardly be sensational, and a lot will depend on a NATO-Russia Council meeting to take place after it, Federation Council members said, adding that Russia was pro-dialogue. “Although NATO excitedly speaks about the forthcoming ‘epochal event’, nothing sensationally substantial will happen at the alliance’s summit in Warsaw,” Federation Council International […]

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UK Government Warns on Russian Military Threat

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – July 7, 2016) The language was stark. No longer was Russia an ally or partner. Instead it was to be seen as a “strategic competitor” and military threat. Russia had boosted military capacity, intensified anti-Western propaganda, and shown readiness to “maintain a sphere of influence beyond its own frontiers.” The conclusions of […]

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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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Ira Straus: Re: 2016-#123-Johnson’s Russia List. (re: Breedlove)

Philip Breedlove file photo

Subject: Re: 2016-#123-Johnson’s Russia List. (re Breedlove) Date: Tue, 5 Jul 2016 15:00:17 -0400 From: IRASTRAUS@aol.com Re: 2016-#123-Johnson’s Russia List, 4. The Intercept: Hacked Emails Reveal NATO General Plotting Against Obama on Russia Policy. (Breedlove) 5. www.rt.com: Breedlove’s war: Emails show ex-NATO general plotting US conflict with Russia. Here we go again, into the fantasyland of anti-Russian conspiracies. No “plotting” […]

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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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Putin, Russian Security Council Discuss Baltic Airspace

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – July 5, 2016) Russian President Vladimir Putin has chaired a meeting with the country’s Security Council to discuss possible “confidence-building” steps in the skies over the Baltic region and details in connection with a NATO summit later this week, a presidential spokesman said. Putin also talked with the council’s permanent members about the situation in Syria, […]

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Turkey Signals Cooperation With Russia Against Islamic State

Turkey and Environs Satellite Image

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Selcan Hacaoglu, Firat Kozok – July 4, 2016) Turkey may cooperate with Russia in fighting Islamic State, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Monday, just days after the countries agreed to work to repair strained ties. Cavusoglu denied signaling in an interview Sunday that Turkey may let Russia use southern Incirlik air base for operations in Syria. […]

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RBTH: Moscow and Washington consider expanding cooperation in Syria

Syria Map

U.S. President Barack Obama made an offer to Russia to begin joint combat operations against the Al-Nusra Front militants. Some Russian experts believe that this overture has been made in order to strengthen the Democrat Party’s position in the presidential election race. Yet this step also could have positive implications for Moscow. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – NIKOLAI […]

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U.S. Ambassador To Russia: NATO ‘Most Effective Defensive Alliance’ In History

John Tefft file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – June 27, 2016) The U.S. ambassador to Russia has tried to allay Moscow’s concerns about NATO’s intentions ahead of a crucial summit next week while offering an impassioned defense of the alliance, which he says has been forced to respond to Kremlin aggression in Ukraine. In a June 27 interview with the Russian-language services of RFE/RL […]

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Interfax: Shoigu: NATO doubled intensity of trainings near Russian borders

Sergei Shoigu file photo

(Interfax – June 29, 2016) NATO has dramatically intensified the number of trainings near the Russian borders, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said. “The intensity of the trainings of the NATO armed forces conducted in direct vicinity of the Russian borders has more than doubled,” he said at a Russian Defense Ministry collegium meeting on June 29. “We do not […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Reception in honour of graduates of military academies

File Photo of Russian Military Conscripts Boarding Train with Gear

(Kremlin.ru – June 28, 2016) A reception in honour of graduates of military academies, institutes and universities run by the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Justice, Interior Ministry, Emergency Situations Ministry, Federal Security Service and Federal Guards Service was hosted at the Grand Kremlin Palace. Distinguished graduates of academies under the responsibility of the Federal National Guard attended the reception […]

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RBTH: Russia to open new naval base in Black Sea to counter NATO

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

The Russian Navy is to open a new base on the Black Sea coast in Novorossiysk hosting Varshavyanka class Project 636.6 diesel-electric submarines with Kalibr cruise missiles. However, there are still some weather-based issues to be resolved. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – NIKOLAI LITOVKIN, RBTH – June 29, 2016) The Russian Defense Ministry is completing the construction of […]

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Interfax: Basurin reports over 800 attacks in DPR territory, injury of three civilians in past 24 hours

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

DONETSK. June 29 (Interfax) – The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) saw 830 attacks of the Ukrainian army in the past 24 hours; three civilians were injured, Eduard Basurin, a senior official of the DPR Defense Ministry, told the press. “The situation in the Donetsk People’s Republic remains critical. The number of shelling incidents grew over the past day. The […]

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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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New Anti-Terrorist Acts Means Kremlin is Preparing for War at Home and Abroad, Ponomarev Says

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 24, 2016) Today, the Russian Duma passed on second and third reading the so-called “Yarova-Ozerov law on terrorism,” a draconian measure that means not only that Vladimir Putin’s recent call for improved relations with the West was nothing more than “a special operation” but also and more seriously that he is […]

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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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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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What Russia will do if Ukraine joins the NATO mission in the Black Sea

Black Sea Satellite Photo file image

Kiev has expressed its desire to join the NATO mission in the Black Sea. The Russian Foreign Ministry says if it goes ahead Moscow will take “appropriate measures.” What exactly can Russia do? (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – NIKOLAI LITOVKIN, RBTH – June 21, 2016) In the course of the two-day NATO summit on June 14 and 15 […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Report: U.S., Russia Slowly Reducing Nuclear Arsenals” – RFE/RL/AP/DPA

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

A Sweden-based nonproliferation think tank says the world’s biggest nuclear powers, the United States and Russia, are slowly reducing their nuclear arsenals but are modernizing their capacities. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) says … there were 455 fewer nuclear warheads at the start of 2016 among nine nuclear states than a year earlier. … the United States, Russia, […]

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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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VIDEO & TRANSCRIPT: Russian Violations of Borders, Treaties, and Human Rights – U.S. Senate Testimony by Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland

U.S. Capitol in Bright Sunlight

Russian Violations of Borders, Treaties, and Human Rights Testimony, Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Statement Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Washington, DC, June 7, 2016, As prepared [Video of hearing also appeared here http://www.c-span.org/video/?410738-1/federal-officials-testify-human-rights-violations-russia][Video includes all speakers and some lawmakers; Nuland testimony transcript follows below] Thank you Chairman Corker, Ranking Member Cardin, and members […]

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Russian Elite Not Only Believes Its Own Propaganda But is Basing Its Actions on It, New Russian Document Shows

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 7, 2016) The Moscow Council on Foreign and Defense Policy released at the end of May a document describing Russian foreign policy for the remainder of this decade. It is filled with propagandistic shibboleths heard every day on Russian TV, and the policies that it recommends flow from them rather than […]

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Why the U.S. Needs Russian Rocket Engines to Spy on Russia

File Photo of Atlas Rocket on Launch Pad

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Eli Lake – June 6, 2016) When President Barack Obama came into office, the fact that Russia sold the U.S. the rocket engines it needed for launches was a feature of U.S. foreign policy, not a bug. Obama was trying to reset the U.S. relationship with Moscow, and that meant finding areas where the two former […]

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Putin Invaded Ukraine to Deflect Russian Nationalist Threat to Himself, Demushkin Says

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, May 30, 2016) Vladimir Putin launched his “Russian world” project and invaded Ukraine in the hopes that radical Russian nationalists who represented a threat to his rule would go there and die, thus “killing two birds with one stone,” according to Dmitry Demushkin, the leader of the ethno-political movement “The Russians.” In […]

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Putin’s Longstanding Plan for Long-Term Confrontation with the West Being Implemented Ever More Rapidly, Illarionov Says

Kremlin and River

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, May 28, 2016) For the last decade, Vladimir Putin has pursued a plan to isolate his country from the outside world by pursuing rearmament and confrontation with the West, Andrey Illarionov says. Now, there is evidence that the Kremlin leader is stepping up his efforts I that direction even during the current […]

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Kremlin Says Russia ‘In Favour’ of Returning Donbass to Ukraine

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 27, 2016) The Kremlin is ready to support the return of Ukraine’s troubled eastern regions to Kiev government control, according to President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov, the RIA Novosti news agency reported on Thursday. In a move some have interpreted as an invitation to dialogue, and others as bluff, Peskov said on Thursday […]

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Geopolitics versus the political marketplace: the origins of the war in Ukraine

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

These two books on the war in Ukraine open up fresh questions into how we interpret the causes of conflict. (opendemocracy.net – Mary Kaldor – May 27, 2016) Mary Kaldor is Professor of Global Governance at the London School of Economics and Political Science and author of ‘New and Old wars: Organised Violence in a Global Era’ 3rd edition, 2012 […]

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Re #93/Olga Oliker, “No, Russia Isn’t Trying to Make Nuclear War Easier”

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

Subject: Re #93/Olga Oliker, “No, Russia Isn’t Trying to Make Nuclear War Easier” Date:     Wed, 25 May 2016 From:     Cynthia Roberts <car52@columbia.edu> Re Johnson List #93 article by Olga Oliker, “No, Russia Isn’t Trying to Make Nuclear War Easier.” Oliker is right about the flawed analysis on this topic, particularly in the government.  Too often existing work misreads the original […]

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‘I Will Never Return To Donetsk’ — Conflict Reduces One Woman’s Life To Rubble

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

Former Donetsk resident Nadia Zaslavska spoke to Dmitry Volchek from RFE/RL’s Russian Service about why the conflict in eastern Ukraine drove her from the city even though she had spent many happy years living there. (RFE/RL – rferl.org – May 24, 2016) I was born in the Dnipropetrovsk region but I spent more than 30 years in Donetsk. I built […]

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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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The Futility of Dialogue With Putin

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

(Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 13, Issue 100 – Pavel K. Baev – May 23, 2016) The need to keep the channels of dialogue open with an unpredictable Russia is taken as an absolute imperative by many Western politicians. But they are often surprised when this tactic backfires. The foreign ministers of the member states of […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia still plans to occupy Ukraine – defence minister; Ukraine’s Poltorak warns of further Kremlin’s aggression” – Ukraine Today

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

Russia is strengthening its military positions on its border with Ukraine and is still planning to occupy the neighbouring state. … according to Ukraine’s Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak who stated, ‘We clearly notice that Russia is bolstering its army positions on the border with Ukraine. It plans to deploy additional units and military bases on the border with Ukraine.’ Click […]

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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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