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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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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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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Five Rules for Living Through and Looking Beyond the Putin Stagnation

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 20, 2016) Those who lived through the Brezhnev stagnation, commentator Dmitry Gubin says, know that “when the chances for change for the better don’t exist, one must particularly carefully filter information and choose one’s strategy of behavior.” Now, Russia is in another such period, and to help them, he offers five […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Senate Committee Looks To Revive Cold-War Era Body To Catch Russian Spies; A new intelligence bill also proposes tightening how Russian diplomats can travel. ” – Buzzfeed

U.S. Capitol in Bright Sunlight

In its 2017 Intelligence Authorization Bill, the Senate Intelligence Committee is asking the White House to reinstate a presidentially-appointed group to unmask Russian spies and uncover Russian-sponsored assassinations. The group, which would include personnel from the State Department, intelligence community and several other executive offices, would meet monthly. Along with spies and covert killings, the committee would also investigate the […]

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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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Putin’s New Friendship Offensive Won’t Work Abroad or at Home, Shevtsova Says

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 19, 2016) Vladimir Putin’s “main message” at the St. Petersburg economics conference that Moscow “again wants to be friends” with the West will not work either in the West, which has been transformed by the Kremlin leader’s aggressiveness, or at home among Russians because he depends on continued anti-Western mobilization, Liliya […]

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American experts on Russia

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

American experts on Russia: Washington Post (June 17): The overwhelming consensus among American political and national security leaders has held that Putin is a pariah who disregards human rights and has violated international norms in seeking to regain influence and territory in the former Soviet bloc. Strobe Talbott (President, Brookings Institution) June 17: A metaphor for Putin’s Russia: it flouts […]

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Interfax: SPIEF organizers thank U.S. State Department urging businesses to skip forum for “informational support”

Cash, Calculator, Pen

ST. PETERSBURG. June 18 (Interfax) – The organizers of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) thank the U.S. Department of State for providing annual “informational support” to the event. “The U.S. Department of State has provided great promotion to SPIEF. They have been doing this for four years by calling on the business community to ignore the event. We […]

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Putin’s Reliance on American Commerce Has Never Been Greater

File Photo of Boeing 747, adapted from image at navy.mil

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Jake Rudnitsky, Ilya Arkhipov – June 15, 2016) U.S. becomes Russia’s No. 5 partner as trade war hits EU worse Boeing, Cargill, Yum! lead U.S. companies expanding in Russia President Vladimir Putin loves to reel off statistics, but here’s one he may not trumpet at his annual investment forum in St. Petersburg this week: Russia’s reliance […]

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RBTH: U.S. elections: Would Trump isolationism be music to Moscow’s ears?

Donald Trump

Donald Trump has turned out to be a true heretic by openly challenging the U.S. foreign policy paradigm. Strangely, Moscow, at least publicly, has failed to notice it. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – VLADIMIR MIKHEEV, SPECIAL TO RBTH – June 16, 2016) Amid the noisy clamor around the Republican Party’s presidential candidate Donald Trump’s often embarrassing slips of […]

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VIDEO & Witness List: “U.S. Policy Toward Putin’s Russia” – House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing

U.S. Capitol in Bright Sunlight

House Foreign Affairs Committee June 14, 2016 Hearing: U.S. Policy Toward Putin’s Russia [Video of hearing here https://foreignaffairs.house.gov/hearing/hearing-u-s-policy-toward-putins-russia/ and embedded below] [Rep. Edward R. Royce, Chairman – click here for opening statement] Witnesses The Honorable Michael McFaul [– click here for prepared remarks] Senior Fellow and Director at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Stanford University (Former American Ambassador […]

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Getting Each Other Wrong

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Maxim Trudolyubov, Senior Fellow, Editor-at-Large, Vedomosti Daily – June 14, 2016) Politicians have to walk the walk in order to be credible. This is even more true in today’s world, given the rise of populist demagoguery and the sorry state of trust between the most important players. The dialogue taking place between Russia, the U.S., […]

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CONGRESSIONAL TESTIMONY: “Drivers of Putin’s foreign policy” – Leon Aron at House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing: “U.S. Policy Toward Putin’s Russia”

U.S. Capitol in Bright Sunlight

House Foreign Affairs Committee June 14, 2016 Testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Drivers of Putin’s foreign policy By Leon Aron American Enterprise Institute Resident Scholar and Director of Russian Studies [Text with footnotes here http://www.aei.org/publication/drivers-of-putins-foreign-policy/] Mr. Chairman, the Ranking Members, Members of the Committee! It is an honor and a pleasure to be here-especially in the company […]

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CONGRESSIONAL TESTIMONY: “U.S. Policy Toward Putin’s Russia” – Jack F. Matlock, Jr., at House Committee on Foreign Affairs Hearing

Jack Matlock file photo, adapted from image at usembassy.gov

House Foreign Affairs Committee June 14, 2016 Testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Prepared Testimony By Jack F. Matlock, Jr. During his 35 years in the American Foreign Service (1956-1991), Jack Matlock served as Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987 to 1991, Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and Senior Director for European and […]

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CONGRESSIONAL TESTIMONY: “U.S. Policy Towards Putin’s Russia” – Michael McFaul at House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing

Ambassador Mike McFaul file photo

Testimony of Michael McFaul Director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing: “U.S. Policy Towards Putin’s Russia.” June 14, 2016 Michael McFaul is the Director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, and Professor of Political Science all at Stanford University. He served five […]

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CONGRESSIONAL REMARKS: “U.S. Policy Toward Putin’s Russia” – Rep. Edward R. Royce, Chairman, at House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing

Ed Royce file photo

House Foreign Affairs Committee June 14, 2016 Hearing: U.S. Policy Toward Putin’s Russia Opening Statement Rep. Edward R. Royce, Chairman (As prepared for delivery) Winston Churchill famously described Russia as “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” But less well known is what he said next: “but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.” […]

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Former U.S. Ambassadors Spar Over Russia, NATO, Ukraine

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Mike Eckel – WASHINGTON – June 15, 2016) Two former U.S. ambassadors to Russia clashed over past and future assessments of relations between Washington and Moscow and which country bears the greater responsibility for deepening bilateral tensions. Michael McFaul and Jack Matlock delivered their remarks at a June 14 hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, […]

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West Must Again Shift from Containing Russia’s Leaders to Defeating Them, Pastukhov Says

U.S. Capitol in Bright Sunlight

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 12, 2016) Just as was the case at the beginning of the 1980s, the United States must shift from a policy of containing Moscow, which the Kremlin viewed then and views now as a sign of weakness, to one designed to bring victory over it, according to St. Antony’s College historian […]

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RBTH: U.S. elections: Does Moscow really care if it’s Clinton or Trump?

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

Hillary Clinton has warned that should her opponent, Republican maverick Donald Trump win the U.S. presidential elections, “They’ll be celebrating in the Kremlin.” Is she right? And does this mean that a Clinton presidency would be perceived as a disaster in Moscow? (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – VLADIMIR MIKHEEV, SPECIAL TO RBTH – June 8, 2016) Addressing her […]

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Ordinary Russians Mistakenly Placing Their Hopes in Donald Trump, Bykov Says

Donald Trump

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 8, 2016) That Vladimir Putin should express his admiration and support for presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is no surprise. Not only does Trump reflect some of the same populist and nationalist themes the Kremlin leader does, but Putin welcomes Trump’s unilateralism and isolationism as something that might benefit 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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Russians like Trump better than Clinton – poll

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

(Interfax – June 7, 2016) Russians are not united as to what outcome of the U.S. presidential elections would serve Russian interests best, the Public Opinion Foundation said in its report. Some 37 percent of respondents were undecided, and 26 percent claimed that U.S. election results were immaterial to Russia: “the U.S. attitude to Russia would not improve, no matter […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Michael McFaul: Russians were never promised NATO non-expansion to Eastern Europe” – Postimees Estonia News

NATO Meeting file photo

We have heard from Russian politics different accusations incl. that West has broken it’s promise that NATO would not expand into the East. How would you comment: has there ever been a promise not to expand NATO or is it just a myth? This assertion is a complete myth. I worked closely with Russian officials in negotiating many agreements, including […]

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NEWSWATCH: “America Needs to Break its Old Habits on Russia. Washington’s strategy is a relic of a bygone era.” – The National Interest/Thomas Graham

Putin and Obama with U.S. and Russian Flags

… there should be no doubt that the goal that had animated policy since the end of the Cold War … slow but steady integration of Russia into the Euro-Atlantic community — is beyond reach. Russia is no longer interested, if it ever was. Its ambition is to fortify itself as an independent great power based in central Eurasia. It […]

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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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NEWSLINK “RBTH/Gazeta.ru/Fyodor Lukyanov: “Will Russia integrate into the Western world, post-sanctions? Recent overtures by top EU and German officials usher in hopes that relations between Moscow and the West could be on the verge of a turn for the better – but the real question is what direction Russia will take after sanctions are lifted and the tensions have abated.”

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth » Read more

NEWSWATCH: “Missile defense-Would the Kremlin pitch a deal?” – Brookings/Steven Pifer

Aegis Ashore Missile Defense File Photo

On May 12, U.S. officials declared the U.S. SM-3 missile interceptor site at Deveselu, Romania operational. The next day, ground was broken at Redzikowo, Poland for a second SM-3 installation. Moscow immediately made clear its displeasure at these developments, repeating its past claims that U.S. missile defenses in Europe pose a threat to Russia. At the end of May, President […]

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Clinton Says Kremlin ‘Will Celebrate’ If Trump Becomes U.S. Leader

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – June 3, 2016) U.S. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has claimed that Russia and China will celebrate if her opponent Donald Trump wins the upcoming U.S. elections. Speaking on national security in San Diego on Thursday, Clinton said that Trump’s isolationist views would weaken the country while playing into the hands of the Kremlin, Time Magazine […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Obesity problem is as acute in Russia as in United States – Russian Health Ministry” – TASS

File Photo of Feet of Woman on Scale, With Red Toenails and Help on Scale Digital Display Screen

Russia has caught up with the United States in the number of obese people, Sergey Boitsov, a part-time expert on preventive medicine at the Russian Health Ministry, told journalists. … “The number of obese men in Russia has more than doubled over the past 20 years and has reached the number of obese women” …. Click here for TASS: Obesity […]

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NEWSLINK Valdai Discussion Club/Paul Saunder: “G7 SUMMIT IN JAPAN: NO HISTORIC HIGHS. The G7 has yet to redefine its purpose and role following Russia’s exclusion. Reinvigorating it will require leadership, creativity, and a degree of reflection.”

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

Interfax: Russia-U.S. disagreements over INF treaty not resolved so far because Washington unready to accommodate Moscow’s concerns – Ryabkov

Iskander Missile with Launch file photo

MOSCOW. May 27 (Interfax) – The Russian Foreign Ministry is still committed to the 1987 Treaty Between the United States of America and the Soviet Union on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty), Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said. “The Russian Federation is committed to this treaty and abides by all of its provisions,” Ryabkov […]

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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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Russia Hails Eurobond Triumph as Traders Ask: Who Bought It?

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Andrey Biryukov, Lyubov Pronina – May 25, 2016) Russia hailed its sale of $1.75 billion of Eurobonds as a triumph in the face of sanctions and “unprecedented pressure” from U.S. and European Union governments. While Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said the deal showed foreigners have “trust” in Russia, investors expressed concern the bond won’t be admitted […]

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Is the U.S. behind Japan’s reluctance to sign a peace treaty with Russia?

Japan Map

In the second part of this series on Russia-Japan ties, Rakesh Krishnan Simha looks at how the two countries are finding common cause in many areas, despite being unable to settle the over 70-year old dispute over the Southern Kuril Islands. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – RAKESH KRISHNAN SIMHA, SPECIAL TO RBTH – May 25, 2016) The Russia-Japan […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Former U.S. diplomat criticizes Canada’s ‘weakness’ on Russia” [Michael McFaul] – The Globe and Mail (Canada)

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

… Obama’s former ambassador to Russia says Canada is showing a ‘sign of weakness’ by not pushing ahead with a promised U.S.-style Magnitsky Act that would punish Russians deemed to be human-rights violators with visa bans and asset freezes. … McFaul, who served as the U.S. envoy to Moscow from 2012 to 2014 and before that was … Obama’s special […]

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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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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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Interfax: Liquidation of Taliban leader to hinder negotiations in Afghanistan – Russian Foreign Ministry

Afghanistan Map of Ethnicities

MOSCOW. May 23 (Interfax) – The liquidation of Taliban movement leader Akhtar Mansoor will lead to further military escalation in Afghanistan, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. “If this information is confirmed, it will seriously hinder the negotiating process,” Special Representative of the Russian President for Afghanistan, Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Second European Department Zamir Kabulov told Interfax. It […]

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