NEWSWATCH @McFaul: “I constantly want to remind people that RT and Sputnik are state-owned propaganda organizations. You should too.” – Michael McFaul / Twitter

Ambassador Mike McFaul file photo

(Michael McFaul – @McFaul – Twitter – August 21, 2017) “I constantly want to remind people that RT and Sputnik are state-owned propaganda organizations. You should too.” [embedded live feed of tweet also should load below] I constantly want to remind people that RT and Sputnik are state-owned propaganda organizations. You should too. https://t.co/BpODfcZuyY — Michael McFaul (@McFaul) August 21, 2017

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NEWSLINK: “Russia’s Attacks on Democracy Aren’t Only a Problem for America; And that’s a problem for skeptics of Russian meddling” – The Nation/ Joshua Holland

Europe Map

“… the Kremlin’s attempts to influence other countries’ electoral processes have been a problem across Europe for over a decade, and … our intelligence agencies weren’t alone in sounding the alarm. And that’s a serious problem for those who are dismissive of the evidence of Russian intervention. …  * * * While Russian interference in last year’s election was all about […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Report of Ukraine Witness to DNC Hacking Stirs Confusion” – AP

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

“A report that a cooperating witness has emerged out of Ukraine to help the FBI’s inquiry … is drawing confusion and denials in Ukraine. … The New York Times says a malware author linked to the hacking of the DNC’s servers had turned himself in … But Ukraine’s Cyberpolice said … the unnamed individual had no established links to hacking The Times’ story has […]

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Russian Emigres in New York Unfazed by Sanctions Fallout; U.S.-Russia relations are flourishing in Brooklyn’s ‘Little Odessa’

File Photo of Manhattan and Manhattan Bridge, adapted from image at loc.gov, from photo by Carol M. Highsmith

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Evan Gershkovich – August 18, 2017) NEW YORK – U.S. President Donald Trump begrudgingly signed off on the latest round of sanctions against Russia early in August to the sound of growing hostility. In Russia, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev slammed the new sanctions, saying Washington had launched “a full-fledged economic war on Russia.” “It ends […]

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U.S. Religious Freedom Report Names Russia ‘Country of Concern’

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 16, 2017) A U.S. report on religious freedoms puts Russia on a par with countries like North Korea and Sudan in its treatment of religious minorities. The annual report produced by the state United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said Russian authorities’ policy towards minorities ranged from “administrative harassment to arbitrary imprisonment […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions at the Terra Scientia on Klyazma River National Educational Youth Forum, Vladimir Region, August 11, 2017” – Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Sergei Lavrov file photo

“… We are going through a critical stage in international relations. …”

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NEWSLINK: “The Costs of Ignoring Russia; Current mutual hostility threatens an explosive confrontation” – The National Interest/ Dimitri K. Simes

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

“Improving the dangerously unstable U.S.-Russia relationship will be very difficult, but it is important for U.S. national security. Current mutual hostility threatens an explosive confrontation that could destroy American (and Russian) civilization as we know it. Short of that, Russia can do much more than it is today to damage U.S. interests and values without taking extreme risks. Accordingly, the […]

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Fascism Remains a Greater Threat in Russia than in the U.S., Mitrokhin Says

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 14, 2017) The clashes in Charlottesville have raised the specter of the rise of fascism in the United States, but Yabloko leader Sergey Mitrokhin says that while Donald Trump has unleashed these forces and Vladimir Putin currently is trying to control them, fascism remains a far greater threat in Russia than […]

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Moscow Ponders Trump’s Fire and Fury

North Korea Map and Flag, adapted from .gov image

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – MAXIM TRUDOLYUBOV – August 11, 2017) Maxim Trudolyubov, Senior Fellow with the Kennan Institute and editor-at-large with Vedomosti, has been following Russian economy and politics since the late 1990s. He has served as an opinion page editor for Vedomosti and editor and correspondent for the newspaper Kapital. As North Korea’s nuclear missile program advances, U.S. […]

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Why Some U.S. Ex-Spies Don’t Buy the Russia Story; Evidence that undermines the “election hack” narrative should get more attention.

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – August 10, 2017) Leonid Bershidsky is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru. In 2003, when a number of former intelligence professionals formed a group to protest the way intelligence was bent to accuse Iraq of producing weapons of […]

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The One Big Problem With New Russia Sanctions; Congress won’t let Trump waive penalties, which gives Moscow no reason to change its behavior.

American Flag and Partial View of U.S. Capitol Dome, adapted from image at aoc.gov

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Meghan L. O’Sullivan – August 10, 2017) Meghan L. O’Sullivan is a Bloomberg columnist and the Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School. She served on the National Security Council from 2004 to 2007, and was deputy national security adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan. The latest round of congressional […]

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Washington May Force Russia to Close Consulate Amid Diplomatic Spat

File Photo of Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., Adapted From Image at loc.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 11, 2017) Washington could force Russia to shutter one of four consulates in the United States as part of an escalating diplomatic rift between the countries over fresh U.S. sanctions, the Kommersant newspaper reported on Friday citing unidentified sources. Russian authorities on July 28 ordered the United States reduce the number of employees in […]

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NEWSLINK: “Marshall I. Goldman, Expert on Russian Economy, Dies at 87” – New York Times

Lit Candle with Reflection and Dark Background

“Marshall I. Goldman, who diagnosed deficiencies in Moscow’s economic policies for decades and was among the first Kremlinologists to predict the downfall of Mikhail S. Gorbachev, died on Aug. 2 in Cambridge, Mass. He was 87. …”

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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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Russia Braces for Permanent Sanctions From the U.S.; Moscow was hopeful Trump would loosen sanctions. Instead, he made them permanent.

Portion of U.S. Treasury Department Building Facade, North Side, with Sculpture of Alexander Hamilton

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Henry Meyer, Anna Andrianova – August 8, 2017) Andrey Kostin, a former Soviet diplomat in London who runs Russia’s second-largest bank, was jubilant when Donald Trump was elected last year. “We may soon see U.S. financial sanctions eased or even lifted,” he said at the time. Now, he’s changed his tune as his state-run VTB Group, […]

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NEWSLINK: “Factbox: What Do the New U.S. Sanctions on Russia Target?” – Reuters

U.S. Capitol in Bright Sunlight

“… * The law establishes a review process that allows #Congress to block any effort by #Trump to ease or lift sanctions on #Russia. Lawmakers passed the bill to punish Russia over its alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region and its involvement in Syria’s civil war. * Trump, or any U.S. president, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Why New U.S. Sanctions Could Be a Ticking Time Bomb for Investors in Russia” – Moscow Times/ Elisabeth Braw, Nabi Abdullaev

File Photo of Man Placing Stack of Large Bills into Inside Pocket of Suitcoat

“The 755 staff forced to leave the U.S. embassy by … Putin may seem to have little to do with private companies wishing to invest in Russia. But in reality, they’re closely linked. … international companies planning to invest in Russia or already doing business there now face more uncertainty. And six months from now, a ticking bomb wrapped in […]

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Will New U.S. Sanctions Regime Finally Hit Putin and Those Closest to Him?

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 2, 2017) Western sanctions on Russia up to now have hit the ordinary people of that country, although not as hard as the countersanctions the Kremlin itself has imposed. But the Western actions have done less to affect those closest to Vladimir Putin who, unlike the Russian people, may be in […]

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Russian diplomat warns of risk to arms control with US

Iskander Missile with Launch file photo

(Interfax – August 2, 2017) Moscow, 2 August: Moscow’s possible countermeasures to the USA’s new anti-Russian sanctions may hypothetically affect agreements in the areas of disarmament and nonproliferation but any actions in this area have to meet Russia’s national interests, a Russian Foreign Ministry official has said. “Anything is possible in life, and I would like to draw your attention, […]

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Russia’s Medvedev Says U.S. Sanctions Bill Ends Hope For Better Ties

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Aug. 3, 2017 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/trump-signs-russia-sanctions-bill/28655189.html) Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev sharply denounced the sanctions bill signed into law by U.S. President Donald Trump on August 2, saying it ends hope for improving relations and ignites “an all-out trade war with #Russia.” “The hope for improving our relations […]

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New U.S. Website Aims To Track Russian ‘Disinformation’ On Twitter

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

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Aug. 3, 2017 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/us-pro-democracy-group-german-marshall-fund-launches-website-tracking-russian-disinformation-twitter/28656024.html) WASHINGTON — A pro-democracy group has launched a new website to monitor and highlight what it says is Russian-backed disinformation on Twitter. The site, called Hamilton 68, which was launched on August 2, is a project of the Alliance for Securing Democracy, […]

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NEWSLINK: “We Need to Stop Using Russia as a Political Football; From Nixon to Trump, there have always been long-term risks in exploiting foreign policy for domestic political gain” – The Nation/ Vadim Nikitin

Leonid Brezhnev and Richard Nixon Sitting and Talking, as Nixon Gestures, with Third Man Standing and Leaning Closely Between Them

“By voting in new sanctions against Russia, Congress torpedoed the White House’s dream of rapprochement with the Kremlin. Yet its real target was not a foreign foe but an unpopular Republican president threatened by impeachment over alleged electoral manipulation. With the commander in chief dogged by perceived softness on Moscow and crippled by plummeting approval ratings, Congress chose foreign policy […]

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NEWSLINK: “Oh, Wait. Maybe It Was Collusion” – New York Times/ John Sipher, Steve Hall

New York Times Masthead from 1913 adapted from image at loc.gov

“… John Sipher, a former chief of station for the C.I.A., worked for over 27 years in Russia, Europe and Asia and now writes for The Cipher Brief and works for CrossLead, a consulting company. Steve Hall is a former C.I.A. chief of Russian operations and a CNN national security analyst. …”  

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NEWSWATCH: “President Trump signs Russia sanctions bill” – ABC

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

“… Trump today signed a bill aimed at punishing Russia for its interference in the 2016 election despite his reservations … passed with rare and overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress …. The bill limits the president’s ability to lift or waive sanctions against Russia and keeps in place sanctions the Obama administration imposed …. It also allows the U.S. to deny […]

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The Ousting of Hundreds of U.S. Diplomats From Moscow, Explained

File Photo of U.S. Embassy Moscow, with Russian Foreign Ministry Building in Distance

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 1, 2017) In response to fresh sanctions proposed by the U.S. Congress, Russia has ordered the U.S. to slash its diplomatic staff in Russia by hundreds of people. Amid reports that this will dramatically increase wait times for visa processing, the RBC news outlet on Monday published an overview of what the measure means […]

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Interfax: Russian Foreign Ministry against tying U.S. diplomatic staff cuts to visa matters

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

MOSCOW. Aug 1 (Interfax) – Moscow said that tying the reduction of United States diplomatic staff in Russia to visa processing times was unacceptable. “Tying staff cuts to visa processing does not withstand any criticism, because no one was expelling the Americans, no one dictated, nor indicated who is to be sent home and who is to stay put. Therefore, […]

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U.S. Sanctions Are Another Gift to Putin; Far from being hurt by them, he finds them useful.

U.S. Capitol in Bright Sunlight

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – July 31, 2017) Leonid Bershidsky is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru. Russian President Vladimir Putin tends to respond to Western sanctions in ways its authors probably didn’t anticipate: by going after those Russians who could most help […]

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NEWSLINK: “We’re on the road to a new Cold War; And the fault lies squarely with Vladimir Putin” – Washington Post Editorial

Historic Washington Post Masthead, adapted from image at nlrb.gov

“… Twenty-five years after the Cold War ended, relations are back in a deep freeze. … Putin chose to seize Crimea from Ukraine, annex it and then instigate an armed insurrection in southeastern Ukraine in 2014, violating all post-World War II norms of national sovereignty. The war in the Donbas region was a tactic by Mr. Putin to inject further instability […]

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NEWSLINK: “Latest Diplomatic Rift Places US, Russia on Edge of ‘Tipping Point'” – Russia Matters/ Paul Saunders

File Photo of U.S. Embassy Moscow, with Russian Foreign Ministry Building in Distance

“The Russian government’s recent announcement of its decision to eject American diplomats and block access to two diplomatic properties may signal an approaching tipping point in the United States-Russia relationship. Trump administration officials and members of Congress should consider very carefully how to proceed. While the Russian Foreign Ministry’s official announcement of Moscow’s latest moves focused primarily on Russia’s complaints […]

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NEWSLINK: “Putin says the U.S. Mission in Russia needs to cut 755 employees. What do all these people do?” – Washington Post/ Andrew Roth

File Photo of U.S. Embassy Moscow, with Russian Foreign Ministry Building in Distance

“When Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Sunday that the U.S. Embassy and consulates in Russia would have to cut 755 diplomatic and technical staff, many people had the same first thought: We have 755 diplomats in Russia for Putin to expel? Doesn’t that seem like a lot? The answer is yes, that does seem like a lot. Because no, we […]

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NEWSLINK: “The Russians Were Involved. But It Wasn’t About Collusion” – New York Times/ DANIEL HOFFMAN

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

“… Having long considered the United States its main enemy, the Kremlin deploys a full quiver of intelligence weapons against America and its national security agencies, political parties and defense contractors. Its intelligence services, though best known for clandestine operations to recruit spies, also run covert ‘influence operations’ that often use disinformation to try to affect decisions or events in […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russian propaganda has flooded U.S. airwaves. How about some reciprocity?” – Washington Post editorial

Historic Washington Post Masthead, adapted from image at nlrb.gov

  “… The asymmetry is a problem. … Putin’s government, intent on undermining liberal democracies by casting doubt on the very notion of truth, and sowing division and doubt about basic Western institutions, has become increasingly adept at weaponizing information. U.S. intelligence agencies have called attention to Moscow’s fake news campaign, as have U.S. allies in Europe. … The wild […]

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Intefax: Hundreds of U.S. diplomatic missions’ employees to leave Russia under countermeasures – source

File Photo of U.S. Embassy Moscow, with Russian Foreign Ministry Building in Distance

MOSCOW. July 28 (Interfax) – U.S. authorities will have to recall hundreds of employees at its missions in Russia in accordance with measures taken by Moscow in response to the bill on new anti-Russian sanctions passed by the U.S. Congress, a source with knowledge on the matter told Interfax. “We are talking about hundreds, not dozens of diplomatic and technical […]

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NEWSWATCH: “DID RUSSIA KILL A U.S. PRESIDENT? NEW CIA DOCUMENTS REVEAL SPY’S THEORY ABOUT JFK’S DEATH” – Newsweek/ TOM O’CONNOR

John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy and Other Parties in Open-Air Limousine On Street Just Before Assassination, With Crowd in Background, adapted from image at archives.gov

“The U.S. government released Monday a large trove of documents pertaining to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, including previously top-secret audio files and transcripts of the CIA interrogating a former Soviet spy who claimed to have intimate knowledge about the killer’s connection to Moscow.  In accordance with the JFK Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, which mandates that […]

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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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RUSSIA & UKRAINE – Johnson’s Russia List table of contents :: JRL 2017-146 :: Friday, 28 July 2017

St. Basil's Domes

To inquire about a subscription to the full Johnson’s Russia List e-mail newsletter, e-mail David Johnson at davidjohnson@starpower.net [check back for updates, including more links; links also posted to facebook and twitter] Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2017-#146 Friday, 28 July 2017 A project sponsored through the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University’s Elliott School […]

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NEWSWATCH: “New Challenge to U.S. Power: Chinese Exceptionalism; Once-reticent citizens now see their country as ascendant-and America in decline” – Wall Street Journal/ Te-Ping Chen, Josh Chin

Asia Map

… Chinese exceptionalism is on the rise. … challeng[ing] a decades-old tenet of U.S. foreign policy … that argued exposure to the West would lead Chinese to embrace Western values. … President Xi’s signature slogan, the ‘China Dream,’ appeals to Chinese who aspire to a middle-class lifestyle and cheer China’s return to international prominence. … China’s government exercises near-absolute authority over education, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia Risks Decades of Low Growth Under U.S. Sanctions: Putin Adviser”- Reuters

Alexei Kudrin file photo

“Russia risks being saddled with U.S. sanctions for decades, curbing economic growth and preventing it from regaining its status as a leading economic power, an adviser to President Vladimir Putin said …. Alexei Kudrin told Reuters that the current proposed tightening of sanctions in Washington should not have any serious impact. But he called for a major structural reform program […]

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Why Russia’s Market Is Rising After Sanctions Bill Approval

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ksenia Galouchko – July 27, 2017) The U.S. House has approved a bill hardening sanctions against Russia, but European resistance to some of its toughest new measures means the impact on companies will be muted, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Deutsche Bank AG. As it stands now, the most negative aspect of the bill […]

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New U.S. sanctions bill on Russia threatens to further erode Minsk agreement; The diplomatic spat over new U.S. Russia sanctions risks eroding common US-EU position on Ukraine conflict.

U.S. Capitol in Bright Sunlight

(opendemocracy.net – Moritz Pieper – July 27, 2017) Moritz Pieper is a Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Salford, UK. He received his PhD from the University of Kent’s Brussels School of International Studies. He has been a visiting Research Fellow at China Foreign Affairs University (CFAU), Beijing, the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), Brussels, […]

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Moscow Hears Political Saber Rattling in Fresh U.S. Sanctions Vote; The vote sparked harsh rhetoric not heard since Trump has come to office

American Flag and Partial View of U.S. Capitol Dome, adapted from image at aoc.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Lena Smirnova – July 26, 2017) Top Russian officials on Wednesday slammed a U.S. House of Representatives vote in favor of fresh sanctions, with one official warning it could trigger “a new Cold War.” “Washington is a source of danger,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the state-run TASS news agency. “This is a blatant, […]

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New U.S. Sanctions on Russia Are a Mixed Bag; Europeans are rightly wary that promoting U.S. exports is an ulterior motive.

American Flag and Partial View of U.S. Capitol Dome, adapted from image at aoc.gov

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – July 24, 2017) Leonid Bershidsky is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru. The European Commission is preparing to counteract the new sanctions the U.S. Congress may impose on Russia this week. This may sound as if Europe is […]

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Interfax: Ukraine’s western partners to decide next steps on Donbas settlement based on Volker’s trip results

File Photo of Kurt Volker and W. Bruce Weinrod, adapted from image at defense.gov with photo credit to Senior Airman Nathan Lipscomb

KYIV. July 24 (Interfax) – United States Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker has told Ukrainian parliamentarians that the results of his trip to Donbas will be reflected in western partners’ decision on further steps towards peaceful settlement. At the start of their meeting Volker, who had just returned from the armed conflict zone in Donbas, shared his impressions […]

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Americans in the USSR: Changing Hearts and Minds in the Midst of the Cold War (excerpt)

Stylized Russian and U.S. Flags, 200, 1807-2007

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Izabella Tabarovsky, Senior Associate, Manager for Regional Engagement at The Kennan Institute – July 24, 2017) This blog is a short version of a Wilson Quarterly article Walking in Each Other’s Shoes: wilsonquarterly.com/quarterly/the-lasting-legacy-of-the-cold-war/walking-in-each-others-shoes-through-the-iron-curtain-and-back/ For interview excerpts with the guides, please see and “A Tribe of the Exhibit People: American Guides Recall Soviet Journey”: wilsonquarterly.com/quarterly/the-lasting-legacy-of-the-cold-war/a-tribe-of-exhibit-people-american-guides-recall-soviet-journey/ In my […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Diplomacy of Dog Walking in Russia” – Foreign Policy Magazine / Amie Ferris-Rotman

File Photo of U.S. Embassy Moscow, with Russian Foreign Ministry Building in Distance

“Since [the early 1990’s] Svetlana has walked the dogs of American diplomats in Moscow. The 52-year-old Russian is not a U.S. Embassy employee but has come to this work through recommendations by American pet devotees … [she]doesn’t remember how many dogs … “… definitely under 100 … more than 60.” … what started out as a side job … while raising her children has […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Strengthening Strategic Stability with Russia” – RAND/ Christopher S. Chivvis, Andrew Radin, Dara Massicot, Clinton Bruce Reach

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

(RAND Corporation – Christopher S. Chivvis, Andrew Radin, Dara Massicot, Clinton Bruce Reach – July 2017) This report analyzes trends in strategic stability between Russia and the United States, examines Russian views on the subject, and assesses current prospects for stemming the erosion of strategic stability between the two countries. Such prospects exist, but they would require a sustained effort […]

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U.S. should be more involved in settlement of crisis in eastern Ukraine – Department of State

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

KYIV. July 23 (Interfax) – Washington wants to be more involved in the settlement of a crisis in eastern Ukraine, United States State Department’s Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker said. Volker said at a press conference in Kramatorsk on Sunday that the U.S. saw how this conflict had begun and understood how it had been managed now. He […]

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NEWSWATCH: “What Did Trump and Putin Tell Each Other?” – New York Times editorial

File Photo of Country Flags Outside 2017 G20 Meeting in Hamburg, adapted from image at state.gov

“…  Trump initiated the conversation without the benefit of his own interpreter or the participation of any of his national security advisers. Only … Putin’s interpreter was on hand. … Putin, after all, is an adversary, not an ally. … Spicer told reporters the dinner discussion involved ‘pleasantries and small talk.’ … Trump [said that] the two men discussed ‘Russian adoptions’ … … Lavrov told […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with «NBC», Moscow, July 21, 2017” – Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Sergei Lavrov file photo

“Question: Minister, thank you very much for your time. There is a lot to talk about. There is Syria, there is North Korea, there is China, there is Ukraine, there is ISIS. But inevitably, I’d like to begin by talking to you about Russian-US relations. …”

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