Belarus Could Become a Normal European Country with Far Less Difficulty than Ukraine, Inozemtsev Says

(Paul Goble – Window On Eurasia – Staunton, May 31, 2021) Once Alyaksandr Lukashenka is ousted from power, Belarus would find it far easier to become a normal European country than Ukraine seeking the same thing has, Vladislav Inozemtsev says, something that restrains Moscow from seeking his ouster precisely because it would give the West such an enormous opportunity. The […]

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Putin’s Aggressiveness Uniting West against Russia and Powering Its Search for Modus Vivendi with China, Shevtsova Says

File Photo of G7 Leaders at Summit, adapted from image at usembassy.gov

Putin’s aggressively anti-Western posture is helping the West to recover its lost self-discipline and unity […]

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Did The West Promise Moscow That NATO Would Not Expand? Well, It’s Complicated.

NATO Meeting File Photo

… And so, more than two decades after NATO’s original 16-member Cold War composition was first enlarged to take in three former Warsaw Pact states, and with Putin poised to potentially stay in office into the 2030s, the past is very much present […]

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Russia Closes In on Eurovision Trophy With Manizha’s Qualifier

File Image of Musical Instruments and Sheet Music, adapted from image at nih.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 19, 2021) Russia is one step closer to bringing home its second ever Eurovision song contest trophy after Tajik-born singer-songwriter Manizha Sangin qualified for the finals late Tuesday. Manizha’s feminist anthem “Russian Woman” was among the 10 semi-final qualifiers, which also included Ukrainian folk-dance act Go_A, who have secured their place in this weekend’s […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Bullying Russia yearns to be treated as a great power; Vladimir Putin generates suspense in world affairs like some geopolitical Alfred Hitchcock” – Financial Times

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

“… As Russia’s chief decision maker, Putin’s personal moods obviously matter. However, more important is the logic of the Russian system of power, with its demand for … great power status. According to this logic, Russia cannot be ignored and must be a member of the global concert of powers. It believes macho bullying is the entry ticket …. Despite […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Myths and misconceptions in the debate on Russia: How they affect Western policy, and what can be done” – Chatham House

Globe Highlighting NATO Members

“This report deconstructs 16 of the most prevalent myths and misconceptions … shap[ing] … Western thinking on Russia. … explain[ing] their detrimental impact on … policy …. Western positions need critical re-examination to ensure more rational and effective responses to Russian actions. … [C]ontrary to wishful thinking … there is little prospect of Russia becoming a more constructive and cooperative […]

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Western Programs Behind Increase in Border and Enclave Disputes in Central Asia, Prokhvatilov Says

Russian Soldiers Marching

(Paul Goble – Window On Eurasia – Staunton, May 2, 2021) No one disputes that there are enough reasons on the ground for conflicts among the countries of Central Asia over borders and enclaves, but according to Moscow military analyst Vladimir Prokhvatilov, the number and intensity of such conflicts has increased because of Western civil society programs (fondsk.ru/news/2021/05/01/mjagkaja-sila-i-prigranichnye-konflikty-v-centralnoj-azii-53486.html). According to […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “U.S., Russia and Brussels at war over energy” – Le Monde Diplomatique

Gas Flame file photo

“The battle over natural gas: Worsening relations between Europe and Russia are reflected in tensions over energy, in which US demands, Russian and German interests, the EU’s neoliberal doctrine and the climate emergency all play a part.” “… The Russia-Ukraine conflict … the Nord Stream 2 pipeline  … and tensions … over offshore reserves near Cyprus, have put natural gas […]

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EU ‘Rejects’ Russian Labeling Of Meduza Media Outlet As ‘Foreign Agent’

EU Map adapted from cia.gov image

The [EU] has dismissed Russian authorities’ labeling of Latvia-based independent news outlet Meduza as a “foreign agent” and urged Moscow to end its “systematic infringement” of basic rights and freedoms […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia seizes on Suez blockage to promote merits of Arctic route” – Financial Times

Suez Canal and Environs Aerial File Photo, adapted from image at nasa.gov

Moscow is busy highlighting the northern sea route and Nordstream as alternatives for world trade […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Could Russia Benefit From the Suez Canal Blockage?” – Moscow Times

Suez Canal and Environs Aerial File Photo, adapted from image at nasa.gov

The Kremlin wants to use the grounding of the Ever Given ship to promote its Northern Sea Route and counter European concerns over Nord Stream 2. (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jake Cordell – March 26, 2021) Almost $300 million worth of Russian oil products are waiting to enter the Suez Canal, which remains closed following the grounding of the […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “About the Kremlin Propaganda — Our Democracy Needs To Be Protected” – Bild

Brandeburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, file photo adapted from image at state.gov

“As a dictator, … Putin has continued what he failed to do as a KGB agent in the GDR [East Germany] … his fight against a freedom-loving Germany and a united Europe. For years, Putin has been running riot with impunity in [Germany]. … buying off influential ex-politicians with lucrative oil projects, such as Nord Stream 2. … support[ing] the […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia Says Sputnik V Production Deals Reached in Key EU States” – AFP

File Photo of Blue-Gloved Hand Holding Syringe and Injecting Arm, adapted from image at nih.gov

“… Russia[] Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) [head] Kirill Dmitriev … [announced] ‘agreements with companies from Italy, Spain, France and Germany to launch … Sputnik V [production]’ … allow[ing] … Sputnik [vaccine supplies] to the European market ‘once … approval is granted by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).’ If approved Sputnik would become the first non-Western coronavirus [vaccine] … certified for […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH AUDIO: “Biden Faces Decision On Gas Pipeline From Russia That Could Alienate Germany” – NPR

Gas Flame file photo

“The Biden administration has to decide whether to alienate Germany … continuing … Trump administration[] sanctions on companies building Germany’s gas pipeline from Russia. … Hundreds of feet below the surface of the Baltic Sea is an enormously long pipeline, snaking from northern Russia to Germany. … Nord Stream 2 … [would] roughly double Europe’s energy supply when … finished. […]

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RUSSIALINK: “U.S. Will Lift Nord Stream 2 Sanctions if Europe Suspends Construction, Says Biden Advisor” – Moscow Times

Gas Flame file photo

… The U.S. imposed sanctions at the end of 2019 in an effort to halt the construction of the pipeline, which will transport Russian gas to Europe […]

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Western Sanctions Have Had ‘Outsized Impact’ On Russian Companies, Economist Says

File Photo of G7 Leaders at Summit, adapted from image at usembassy.gov

… Russian corporations have lost almost $100 billion since sanctions were imposed … following the annexation of Crimea … equivalent to about 4.2 percent of the country’s economy [then] […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “U.S. Broadens Sanctions to Thwart Completion of Russian Gas Pipeline” – Wall Street Journal/ Brett Forrest

State Department Building and U.S. Flag

“New measures target companies that would provide services or funding for vessels working on Nord Stream 2” “… [2019] U.S. Sanctions … focused on pipe-laying vessels for Nord Stream 2 and halted the $10.5 billion [natural gas] pipeline[,] … designed to transmit Russian gas to Germany, 100 miles short … beneath the Baltic Sea. … [A] State Department [web announcement] […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict Is a Bad Omen” – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace/ Paul Stronski

Map of Azerbaijan and Environs, adapted from image at cia.gov

“With the United States shrugging off its erstwhile role as the world’s policeman, can anyone stop the fierce fighting now raging between Armenia and Azerbaijan?” “… The long-running Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, … dat[ing] to the waning days of the Soviet Union, is not going to trigger a global war[] [n]or … affect … [great power] vital interests […]

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Evolving Global Order Makes a P5 Summit Ineffective

File Photo of UN Building with Flags

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org – Paul Saunders – Sept. 17, 2020) Paul Saunders is a senior fellow in U.S. foreign policy at the Center for the National Interest. With military tension among great powers increasing in east Asia, central Europe and the Middle East, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and others have proposed a summit of the U.N. Security Council’s five […]

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RUSSIALINK: “The West Is Outraged By Navalny’s Novichok Poisoning. That’s No Guarantee of Tough Sanctions.” – Moscow Times

File Photo of G7 Leaders at Summit, adapted from image at usembassy.gov

Looming U.S. elections and disparate EU interests could translate into a symbolic response. (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jake Cordell – Sept. 4, 2020) Lawmakers across Europe and the U.S. are scrambling to respond to the revelation that Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny was poisoned with Novichok – a lethal Soviet-era military nerve agent – with the possibility of fresh sanctions […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin bets on Lukashenko keeping power in Belarus for now: sources” – Reuters

Alyaksandr Lukeshenko file photo, adapted from image at usembassy.gov

“… Putin believes … Lukashenko will probably cling to power for now despite protests … and is content to let him sweat it out, two sources close to the Kremlin said. … [T]he two countries usually have no border controls, … culturally, linguistically and economically intertwined. Putin has pushed hard to make [their] union state [concept] more of a political […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Merkel and Putin discuss political crisis in Belarus” – Financial Times/ Guy Chazan, Henry Foy, James Shotter, Max Seddon

Brandeburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, file photo adapted from image at state.gov

“German leader’s talks with counterpart acknowledge Russia’s crucial role in deciding fate of Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko.” “… Merkel called … Putin … Tuesday to discuss Belarus[,] … tacit acknowledgment of his pivotal role …. Moscow has propped up … Lukashenko financially and militarily throughout [Lukashenko’s] 26 years in power … the Kremlin has remained on the sidelines since his […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Putin Doesn’t Want to Intervene in Belarus. That’s an Opportunity for the West.” – Moscow Times/ Anna Arutunyan

Alyaksandr Lukeshenko file photo

“It’s certainly not too soon for Moscow and Brussels to learn from past mistakes.” “… Now, the time has come, largely through Lukashenko’s own undoing, but also, in part, thanks to a perfect storm of the pandemic, a stagnating economy, and Moscow’s growing weariness with subsidizing Belarus and playing cat and mouse with an ally turned frenemy. Lukashenko may well […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “The U.S. Is Close to Killing Russia’s Nord Stream 2 Pipeline; But it’s a race between slow construction and slower sanctions” – Foreign Policy/ Amy Mackinnon

Gas Flame file photo

“Russia’s controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is close to the finish line – but might be closer to finished as a viable project, after one of the companies involved in laying the pipe on the Baltic seafloor said … it would withdraw …. For years, the United States has tried to kill off Russia’s latest effort to strengthen its […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Which Countries Are Open to Russians – and Vice Versa?” – Moscow Times

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

… Russia also closed its borders to most foreign citizens, with exceptions for diplomats, relatives of deceased people, high-demand workers and other categories […]

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Pompeo Says U.S. Will ‘Do Everything’ To Stop Nord Stream 2 Project

Gas Flame file photo

… The United States opposes the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which would run under the Baltic Sea and double Russia’s direct natural gas exports to Germany while bypassing Ukraine […]

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Mark Galeotti: “Re: Subject: A comment on Galeotti” [re: UK-Russian Relations, U.S.-Russian Relations, Nicolai Petro]

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

It’s always great when something you write receives a thoughtful response, but I did feel I needed make a couple of responses to Nicolai Petro’s open reply to my short commentary in The Spectator […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s Folly; Pompeo may be in an uproar over Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline, but it is hardly the geopolitical masterstroke he imagines.” – Foreign Policy/ Chris Miller

Gas Flame file photo

“As the United States [adds] … pressure … against Nord Stream 2, friction with Germany, which would receive much of the pipeline’s gas, will intensify. …. Many countries in Central and Eastern Europe see the pipeline as a glaring example of German hypocrisy … Berlin lectures them about carbon neutrality and human rights while guzzling fossil fuels from one of […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Denmark Gives Russia’s Nord Stream 2 Pipeline a Path to Completion” – Wall Street Journal/ Brett Forrest

Gas Flame file photo

“U.S. officials fear the pipeline will give Moscow greater political leverage across Europe.” “Denmark granted unexpectedly swift approval for resuming construction of the Russian-backed Nord Stream 2 pipeline in Danish waters, potentially clearing one of … [its] last hurdles …. The pipeline, once finished and certified, will deliver Russian natural gas to Germany …. U.S. lawmakers and officials fear … […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Why the World Worries About Russia’s Natural Gas Pipeline” – Bloomberg/ Anna Shiryaevskaya, Dina Khrennikova

Gas Flame file photo

“A … natural gas pipeline being built under the Baltic Sea from Russia … to the German coast is shaking up geopolitics. Nord Stream 2 … worries … bypassed countries in Eastern Europe … fear[ing the loss of] transit fees … [while also] adding to friction with the U.S., which argues the link would give the Kremlin new leverage over […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia cannot afford another 15 years at war with the west” – Financial Times/ Philip Stephens

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

“Vladimir Putin should brush off the cold war cobwebs in pursuit of a hard-headed look at national interests.” “… Putin is proposing … the option of another 15 years in office. He could … continu[e] to shake his fist at the west. Alternatively, he could brush away the cobwebs of the cold war and begin to recognise the challenge to […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s New Nuclear Doctrine: Don’t Mess With Us – But Let’s Talk” – World Politics Review/ Richard Weitz

Iskander Missile with Launch file photo

  “… Why did Russia decide to publish its deterrence policy now? In part, it could be to dispel alleged Western misperceptions about when Russia might use nuclear weapons, specifically the Pentagon’s assessment that Moscow would threaten to use nuclear weapons – or actually do so – to intimidate an adversary into yielding in a major crisis. Previously referred to […]

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Russia, George Floyd, and the end of the imaginary West; Why are Russians so angered by America’s latest protests?

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

From liberal columnists to pro-Kremlin pundits, Russia’s opinion formers take the same line on the protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd. Once poles apart, they have merged into a chorus chanting about the death of the West, exposing “political correctness,” and gleefully sharing racist jokes.

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Senators to Announce Sanctions Bill on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 Gas Pipeline” – Reuters

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

“U.S. senators [reportedly] will announce a bill this week expanding sanctions on … [the] Gazprom-led Nord Stream 2 project … [that] Washington says will make Europe too reliant on Russian gas. The Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Clarification Act[, spearheaded by Republican Senator … Ted Cruz[ and Democratic Senator] Jeanne Shaheen … follows legislation signed by … Trump last year …. […]

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Poll: Majority of Young Russians Distrust NATO, Don’t Consider Russia a European Country

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org – Thomas Schaffner, Angelina Flood – May 5, 2020) A majority of young Russians distrust NATO more than any other organization and disagree that Russia is a European country, according to a recent poll conducted by Russia’s independent Levada Center and Germany’s Friedrich Ebert Foundation. These organizations’ research on the opinions of Russia’s “Generation Z” (aged […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Moscow’s coronavirus offensive; As the epidemic ravages Europe, the Kremlin has dialed up the disinformation and propaganda” – Politico.eu/ Hannah Roberts

File Image of Artist's Conception of Globe with Curved Connecting Lines of Light Passing Through Space, adapted from image at fincen.gov

“As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, Russia appears to be observing the adage that you should never let a good crisis go to waste. Seeking to capitalize on the chaos and promote its own soft power, the Kremlin has taken Beijing’s lead and started love-bombing struggling nations with medical aid, and stepping up its efforts to broadcast propaganda and sow disinformation […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “NATO enlargement: evaluating its consequences in Russia” – International Politics/ Kimberly Marten

NATO Meeting file photo

“… There is no question that Russia – its leaders, expert analysts, and public – reacted negatively to NATO enlargement right from the start. … But …. Russia’s unhappiness is overdetermined, and there is no evidence that if NATO enlargement had been avoided, delayed, or altered (while nothing else changed), that Russia could have been reconciled to the idea of […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s Long War Against American Science” – New York Times/ William J. Broad

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

A decade of health disinformation promoted by President Vladimir Putin of Russia has sown wide confusion, hurt major institutions and encouraged the spread of deadly illnesses. “… the pandemic has swept the globe … accompanied by a dangerous surge of false information – an ‘infodemic,’ according to the [WHO] …. Analysts say … Putin … has played a principal role […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s state-backed media uses the pandemic to spin anti-Western views. They are not alone.” – Washington Post/ Isabelle Khurshudyan

Satellite Dishes

“After a Russian military contingent with medical equipment arrived in Rome last month, the Kremlin’s English-language media outlets RT and Sputnik found video gold. They highlighted an Italian man replacing an E.U. flag with a Russian one — deriding how Italy’s European partners “failed” to provide assistance to the coronavirus-stricken country while Russia ‘filled in.’ But when questions were raised […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “EBRD drops a COVID-19 dambuster on Russian sanctions; The EBRD has started investing in Russia again after several years off” – bne Intellinews/ Jason Corcoran

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“A modest investment by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in a Russian travel company may prove to be the sanctions dambuster that the Kremlin has been longing for. The London-headquartered bank announced on April 7 it would provide finance to a Russian travel aggregator Travelata as part of its €1bn coronavirus (COVID-19) funding programme … designed to […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “U.S. should revive Lend-Lease to contain Russia” – Atlantic Council/ Stephen Blank

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

“… Moscow’s hybrid war against the Western world continues unabated. … There are many advantages to a modern-day revival of the Lend-Lease concept. Firstly, it materially strengthens Ukraine by demonstrating growing U.S. support …. Secondly, this plan would help increase allied security and capabilities in threatened areas such as Romania in the Black Sea region and Poland in the north. […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “With Friends Like These: The Kremlin’s Far-Right and Populist Connections in Italy and Austria” – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace/ Andrew S. Weiss

Europe Map

“… A blend of new threats and opportunities is causing Moscow to take greater risks and embrace more flamboyant policies in Europe. The Kremlin’s relationships with Italy and Austria shine a spotlight on how Europe’s domestic troubles have opened many doors for Moscow. … Europe … has always been too important for the Kremlin to ignore. … the historical benchmark […]

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