NEWSWATCH: “NATO’s Breedlove Calls for Sharper Focus on Russia Ahead of Departure. Gen. Philip Breedlove says U.S. needs more reconnaissance satellites amid Russian threat.” – Wall Street Journal

Philip Breedlove file photo

The U.S. has too few intelligence assets focused on the threat from Russia and should concentrate its technical capabilities on Moscow’s growing military might, NATO’s departing supreme allied commander said. The U.S. has begun to build up the number of intelligence analysts examining Russia, which stood at 13,000 at the height of the Cold War before dipping to a low […]

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Can Putin and Poroshenko agree on sending peacekeepers to the Donbass?

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

Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko has said he would be willing to send a police mission to Ukraine’s war-torn Donbass region. Earlier, his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin had expressed his desire to deploy armed OSCE observers in the area. But are the leaders not speaking of different things even though their statements may sound similar? (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru […]

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Russia Braces Itself as Syrian Cease-fire Falters

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner – April 28, 2016) Not two months have passed since President Vladimir Putin declared mission accomplished in Syria, and again the war-ravaged nation is on the brink. Russia’s partial withdrawal coincided with the launch of a new round of UN-mediated talks in Geneva. But with negotiations falling apart, the status quo of full-blown […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Lawmakers look to get tough on Russia” – The Hill

U.S. Capitol in Bright Sunlight

Russian aggression will be high on lawmakers’ minds when the House Armed Services Committee meets Wednesday to mark up its annual defense policy bill. … the Russians have buzzed a U.S. Navy destroyer, barrel rolled over a U.S. reconnaissance plane and warned the United States to steer clear of its territory. … committee members say there will be plenty in […]

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NEWSWATCH Carnegie Moscow Center/Kevin Rudd: “Asia’s Rise, Russia, and the Future of the Global Order”

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The Asia-Pacific region contains dynamic twenty-first century global economies in the midst of a positively nineteenth-century set of security policy arrangements. Unresolved territorial disputes litter the region, including the Korean peninsula, the East China Sea, Taiwan, the South China Sea, the Sino-Indian border, and the continuing problem of Kashmir. … unresolved territorial disputes have given rise to multiple fractious security […]

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BBC Accuses British, Russian Media Of Skewing MH17 Reporting

Ukraine Air Crash Scene with Uniformed Security Personnel, Flames, Smoke

(RFE/RL – Carl Schreck – April 25, 2016) The BBC has issued a rare defense of an upcoming documentary about the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine, accusing British media of distorting its report about a tragedy that killed 298 passengers and crew in July 2014. A report by Britain’s Sunday Express tabloid “misrepresented” the BBC program, […]

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Interfax: Donetsk republic attacked nearly 300 times by govt forces in 24 hours

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

(Interfax – April 23, 2016) The Ukrainian troops have opened fire against the self-proclaimed Donetsk people’s republic (DPR) about 300 times in the past 24 hours, DPR defense representative Eduard Basurin said. “Over the past 24 hours the Ukrainian armed forces have shelled our republic 296 times. In all, the enemy fired 190 mortars of the 82- and 120-millimeter caliber. […]

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NEWSLINK Russia Direct: “What Russia’s military buildup near Aleppo means for Syria ceasefire. Russia’s military buildup near Aleppo indicates that it is too early to make conclusions about the implications of the Russian campaign in Syria. The campaign is not over, which might be both a boon and a bane for the Kremlin, experts warn.” [Alexei Arbatov, etc.]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s Russia: Down But Not Out.” – Foreign Affairs [issue table of contents with links]

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

Foreign Affairs foreignaffairs.com May/June 2016 issue Putin’s Russia Down But Not Out https://www.foreignaffairs.com/issues/2016/95/3 [There is limited access to free articles] Russia’s Perpetual Geopolitics Putin Returns to the Historical Pattern Stephen Kotkin Russian Politics Under Putin The System Will Outlast the Master Gleb Pavlovsky Russia’s Constrained Economy How the Kremlin Can Spur Growth Sergei Guriev The Revival of the Russian Military […]

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Polish Minister Says Russia More Dangerous Than Islamic State

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

(RFE/RL – April 15, 2016) Poland’s foreign minister has said that Russia is an “existential threat” to European countries and is more dangerous than the Islamic State (IS) militant group. Speaking at a conference in Bratislava on April 15, Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said “Russia’s activity is a sort of existential threat because this activity can destroy countries.” The migration […]

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U.S.-Russia Baltic Sea incident: Was there a risk of a military clash?

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

The “buzzing” of an American destroyer in the Baltic Sea on April 11 and 12 by Russian Su-24 bombers led to a stormy reaction in the U.S., with Washington stating that the ship had the right to shoot down the Russian warplanes. Would this have led to a full conflict? RBTH answers this and other questions about the incident. (Russia […]

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RBTH: Putin announces creation of National Guard for Russia

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

A series of important changes has taken place within Russian security organs, with the most significant being the establishment of a National Guard, to be formed from Interior Ministry troops. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – IGOR ROZIN, RBTH – April 6, 2016) A reorganization of government bodies has seen Russian President Vladimir Putin place the Federal Drug Control […]

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Russia’s Military Budget Ranks Fourth Worldwide – Report

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 5, 2016) Russia no longer ranks among the top three spenders on defense, dropping down to fourth place, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reported Tuesday. The United States remained the leader by far, accounting for 36 percent of all military spending in the world, according to the SIPRI report. In 2015, Washington […]

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NEWSLINK Newsweek.com/Ben Nimmo: “PUTIN’S PARANOIA IS DRIVING HIS FOREIGN ADVENTURES”

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

Interfax: Russian air operation [in] Syria not aimed at backing al-Assad – Russian Foreign Ministry

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MOSCOW. March 27 (Interfax) – The Russian military operation in Syria is not aimed at supporting the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Sunday. “It is not al-Assad we are backing. Bear in mind: he was not our best friend, but a friend of the West,” she told reporters. “We supported preservation of the […]

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Moscow Accuses Itself

Sergei Lavrov file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – The Daily Vertical: Brian Whitmore – March 24, 2016) Well, it was predictable, but Sergei Lavrov has not let us down. He’s proven yet again the axiom that if you want to know what Russia is doing, pay close attention to what it accuses the West of doing. The Russian foreign minister yesterday urged Europe to […]

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RBTH: Why does Moscow need Syrian Kurdistan?

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Why is the Kremlin supporting the Syrian Kurds, who are now complicating the reginal picture by pushing for federalization, and how will this affect Russian assistance to the Bashar al-Assad regime? (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – SERGEI DEMIDENKO, SPECIAL TO RBTH – March 24, 2016) Sergei Demidenko is a Middle East expert and professor at the Russian Presidential […]

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Syria analyst: Damascus cannot take Russian support for granted

File Photo of Bashar al-Assad and Sergei Lavrov

Russia’s recent air campaign in Syria has had mixed effects on the civil war there. RBTH interviewed Noah Bonsey, Senior Syria Analyst at International Crisis Group, an NGO that researches conflicts and aims to advance policies for their resolution, as he returned from a recent field trip to Syria. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – NIKOLAI SHEVCHENKO, RBTH – […]

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Kyiv sees Savchenko’s conviction as Moscow’s failure to comply with Minsk Agreements – Foreign Ministry statement

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

KYIV. March 22 (Interfax) – The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has demanded that Ukrainian military pilot Nadiya Savchenko’s conviction be reversed and she be freed. “We view this judicial farce as yet another undeniable evidence of the Russian Federation’s failure to comply with the Minsk Agreements,” the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in a statement in Kyiv on Tuesday. “The Ukrainian Foreign […]

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Interfax: Russia submits proposals to U.S. on monitoring truce in Syria

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(Interfax – March 21, 2016) The Russian Defense Ministry submitted proposals on the provision and monitoring of the cessation of hostilities in Syria to the United States on Feb. 25 through military diplomatic channels, Lt. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi, head of the Main Operative Department of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff, has said. “This document specifies a mechanism of consultations […]

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NEWSLINK: “SYRIA: U.S.-RUSSIAN TEPID WAR. Syria appears unlikely to serve as a vehicle to improve the wider U.S.-Russia relationship in any sustainable way. A U.S.-Russian Tepid War can still lead to plenty of collateral damage.” – Valdai/Paul Saunders

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NEWSWATCH: “Don’t Fear the Russians” – New York Times/Anatol Lieven

Aerial Photo of Pentagon and Environs

Writing in the New York Times, Anatol Lieven argues for greater U.S.-Russian engagement on Ukraine and Syria. If you believe many of the commentators and policy makers in Washington … Putin … is an expansionist on the march. … he annexed Crimea and fueled a destabilizing conflict in eastern Ukraine. … intervened in the Syrian civil war and rescued his […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with Russian Armed Forces service personnel

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(Kremlin.ru – March 17, 2016) At a meeting in the Kremlin’s St George Hall, Vladimir Putin presented state decorations to service personnel and defence industry specialists who distinguished themselves in the performance of special missions in the Syrian Arab Republic. More than 700 officers and men of the Aerospace Forces, the Ground Forces and the Navy attended the ceremony, along […]

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Black Sea Rising: Rebirth of a Russian Fleet

Black Sea Satellite Photo file image

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner – March 17, 2016) From a military point of view, Russia’s ground operation to annex Crimea in 2014 was an exceptionally clean affair, and gave ample opportunity to demonstrate the fruits of Moscow’s military modernization efforts. But for Russia’s famed Black Sea Fleet, the most tactically relevant action it could take was to […]

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Dreams in Isolation: Crimea 2 Years After Annexation

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Eva Hartog – March 17, 2016) DZHANKOI, SIMFEROPOL, KERCH, Crimea – The soldiers carry assault rifles and stand guard, some of them wearing black balaclavas to protect their faces. No more than 100 meters and a bridge separate them from the nearest Ukrainian positions. There, against the gray sky, a blue and yellow flag flickers […]

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There is no single reason for Putin’s departure from Syria

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What is really behind the Kremlin’s decision to withdraw from Syria? The move is almost certainly down to a complex combination of factors, involving Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the EU. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – DMITRY YEVSTAFYEV, SPECIAL TO RBTH – March 16, 2016) The decision to pull Russian forces out of […]

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RBTH: Syria withdrawal: Which of Russia’s forces are being pulled out?

File Photo of Buk-1 SAM

Russia is withdrawing more than half of its fighters and bombers from Syria, while leaving its missile defense systems and naval fleet in the Mediterranean, Russian military experts told RBTH. Despite the pullout, the Russian armed forces will continue to strike positions Moscow says are held by ISIS militants. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – NIKOLAI LITOVKIN, RBTH – […]

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Syria Opposition Says Russian Military Pullout Helps Peace Talks

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(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Henry Meyer – March 15, 2016) Syria’s main opposition group said Russia’s withdrawal of forces from the country will help peace talks in Geneva, even as a top Russian military official said that airstrikes will continue against terrorists. The pullout ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin is “a positive step which will help to move forward […]

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RBTH: Russia has changed course of civil war in Syria, say analysts

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the withdrawal of the main part of the military group in Syria. According to Russian observers, the pullout will affect land and aerospace forces, while the fleet and missile defense and intelligence systems will stay in the region. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – NIKOLAI LITOVKIN, RBTH – March 15, 2016) Russian President […]

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RBTH: Moscow is winding down its presence in Syria. Why? Why now?

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

Observers are hotly debating the true reasons for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s order to downsize and refocus the military operation in Syria, with some describing it as a tactical withdrawal while others label it an acknowledgement of failure. What is really behind the unexpected decision, and what will happen now? (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – VLADIMIR MIKHEEV, SPECIAL […]

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Putin’s Pullout: Behind Russia’s New Syria Surprise

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(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Steve Gutterman – March 15, 2016) Vladimir Putin surprised his country and the world on March 14 by ordering the start of a partial withdrawal of Russian forces from Syria, less than six months after the beginning of an air campaign that followed a swift and secretive buildup on the ground. What are the motives and […]

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