JRL NEWSWATCH: “For Russia, SpaceX success is ‘wakeup call’ – AFP

File Photo of SpaceX Manned Launch, from image at nasa.gov with credit to Bill Ingalls

Russia has lost its long-held monopoly … ferry[ing] astronauts to the International Space Station following the flawless manned launch by U.S. company SpaceX. … [E]xperts said the launch should be a wakeup call for Roscosmos. […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Susan Rice Claims Without Evidence That Russia Could Be Funding Riots” – The Daily Caller/ Chuck Ross

File Photo of Susan Rice and Barack Hussein Obama in St. Petersburg Russia, with Mural of St. Petersburg Scene in Background, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

“Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice claimed without evidence … that the Russian government could be funding violent protests across the U.S. in the wake of the police-involved death of George Floyd. ‘I would bet based on my experience, I’m not reading the intelligence these days but based on my experience,’ Rice said, ‘this is right out of the Russian […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s small businesses left out in the cold by Covid-19” – Financial Times/ Henry Foy

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“Local service-sector enterprises flounder in an economy dominated by large industrial groups.” “… the Kremlin … [must] demand two seemingly opposing outcomes: maintain restrictions to smother the world’s second-largest number of Covid-19 infections and lift a lockdown [that is shrinking GDP] …. [with] [s]mall and medium-sized businesses … trapped in … between. … forced by … Putin to pay salaries […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “A History of Chess in Russia” – Chess24

Chess Pieces File Photo

“In the 80 years since Alexander Alekhine became World Chess Champion in 1927 until Vishy Anand took the title from Vladimir Kramnik in 2007, Russian or Soviet players held the title for all but five years – Max Euwe (1935-37) and Bobby Fischer (1972-75) were the only players to disturb the dominance. … FM Andrey Terekhov looks at those years, […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Oldest cousin of Native Americans found in Russia” – Science Magazine/ Michael Price

Map Depicting Beringia Land Bridge Across Bering Strait, adapted from image at nps.gov

“A new study has revealed … a 14,000-year-old tooth belonging to a close cousin of today’s Native Americans … thousands of kilometers from the landmass that once connected Eurasia and the Americas. … suggest[ing] the Siberian ancestors of North America’s Indigenous peoples were more widespread and mobile …. Sometime about 20,000 years ago, people began to cross the eastern tip […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Economy Suffers Double Hit From Oil Slump and Coronavirus” – Wall Street Journal/ Thomas Grove, Georgi Kantchev

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

“As infections grow, Russia finds a shortfall in oil revenue hurts its ability to offer the kind of emergency support provided in the West.” “… [Russia’s] slump … began … when coronavirus lockdowns in China and elsewhere pushed oil prices lower. … Putin’s hesitance in joining … big producers to curtail output compounded the problem, driving oil to its lowest […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s GDP shrinks by 20% in April, but government maintains a triple surplus” – bne Intellinews

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“… Russia’s nominal GDP shrank … 28%, of which two-thirds was due to the nation-wide lockdown … another third … due to … oil prices, the Ministry of Finance said …. The real contraction of the economy in April could be 20%, according to the Ministry …. [T]he government has reported … surplus[es] [for] the trade balance, currency account and […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Anatomy of lies; Russia’s covid-19 outbreak is far worse than the Kremlin admits” – The Economist

Kremlin and River

“Like its Soviet predecessor, Vladimir Putin’s system is steeped in falsehoods.” “… official numbers reveal less about covid-19 than they do about Russia’s political system … like its Soviet predecessor, … saturated with lies. Russian elections throw up similarly strange graphics. Many Russian athletes … took performance-enhancing drugs … their cheating … covered up … with official connivance. … [One […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “The United States Should Not Align With Russia Against China; Authoritarians make bad allies-and Washington already has the stable and democratic friends it needs” – Foreign Policy/ Matthew Kroenig

Asia Map

“… The growing Russian and Chinese strategic relationship is worrying. The two autocratic powers have cooperated on major energy deals, including a blockbuster $55 billion arrangement to pipe Siberian natural gas into China. … and Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping … [having] high-level summits … Xi … declared Putin ‘his best friend and colleague.’ Perhaps most troubling … have […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Has Russia grown tired of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad? And what is Russia’s role in the clash between the Assad and Makhlouf clans?” – Al Jazeera/ Anton Mardasov

Syria Map

“… What was all this media campaign about then? There are a few plausible explanations for it. First, it may have been ordered by parts of the Russian political elite critical of Damascus. Second, it could also have been used as a way to distract attention from reports by … Novaya Gazeta … of Russian mercenaries torturing Syrians. Third, it […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia Says Many Coronavirus Patients Died of Other Causes. Some Disagree” – Reuters

Coronavirus File Photo adapted from image at cdc.gov

“… [There have been] thousands of Russians infected with the novel coronavirus whose deaths have been put down to other causes. Russia has registered the second highest number of infections globally, at 299,941 total cases, and 2,837 deaths. … a death rate of 1.88 per 100,000 …. The equivalent U.S. figure is 27.61 per 100,000 …. 52.45 in Britain. … […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Moscow’s War in Syria” – CSIS

Syria Map

“… Russia’s military and diplomatic campaign in Syria [has been] the largest and most significant Russian out-of-area operation since the end of the Cold War. … and will shape [Russia’s] military thinking, influence promotion and personnel decisions, impact research and development for its arms industry, and expand its influence …. [D]espite the importance of Russia’s involvement in Syria – especially […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Coronavirus crisis leaves Russian government rudderless” – Financial Times/ Henry Foy, Max Seddon

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

Prime ministerial stand-in faces task of managing pandemic while getting economy moving again ….

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “What’s preventing a respite from the broken U.S.-Russia relationship?” – Defense News/ Steven Keil

“… In addition to a rare joint statement … Trump and … Putin connected numerous times over the past several weeks according to public reports. These developments stand out … [T]ies between Moscow and Washington have long been frozen in place. [Recent developments are] even more surprising given the Kremlin’s continued actions in places like Syria and Ukraine. The dual […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “The Vindication of Michael Flynn; Justice drops its prosecution with new evidence about the FBI” – Wall Street Journal Editorial

Department of Justice Headquarters Building file photo, adapted from image at justice.gov

“… Justice … dropped its case against Michael Flynn … ‘with prejudice[]’ …. [E]vidence … undermines the credibility of James Comey’s FBI, special counsel Robert Mueller, and the entire ‘Russia collusion’ investigation. [R]etired Army general [Flynn] … initially pleaded guilty to making false statements … when two agents interviewed him at the White House shortly after he took over as […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “New evidence reinforces the suspicion that Russia was behind the downed MH17 plane” – Washington Post Editorial

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

…. The findings suggest … Putin’s regime was overseeing the separatists at the time the Russian missile was fired at the airliner. …

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “As coronavirus hits record numbers in Russia, this is a dangerous moment for Putin” – CNN/ Nathan Hodge

Coronavirus File Photo adapted from image at cdc.gov

“Russia hit a grim milestone … officially recording the highest number of coronavirus cases the country has seen in a 24-hour period, with 10,633 people testing positive. … [T]he economic pain is worsening … Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on state television … ‘I don’t recall anything like this,’ … adding that plummeting global oil prices — a primary source […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Censorship row threatens Russia’s top business newspaper; Journalists at Vedomosti in open revolt against new editor” – Financial Times/ Max Seddon

File Photo of Empty Chair and Desk with Computer, adapted from image at osha.gov

“A row over censorship has plunged Russia’s top business newspaper into a crisis that could either see it fall under the Kremlin’s control or torpedo a deal to sell it, leaving it on the verge of bankruptcy. Staff at Vedomosti are in open revolt against new acting editor Andrei Shmarov … they say he banned writing about taboo topics for […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin, Russia’s Man of Action, Is Passive, Even Bored, in the Coronavirus Era” – New York Times/ Andrew Higgins

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

“The pandemic has derailed Vladimir V. Putin’s plans for a big military parade and a referendum extending his rule – and now knocked out his prime minister – as the Russian leader struggles to find his stride.” “This was supposed to be a moment of triumph for … Putin, a celebration of his grand successes … restoring the Russian state […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “With the World Distracted by Coronavirus, Hopes for Peace in Ukraine Are Dimming” – Wall Street Journal/ Ann M. Simmons

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

“Sound of gunfire and shelling has become part of everyday life in the city of Mariupol as hopes fade for an end to the war.” “… in eastern Ukraine … hopes for an end to the long-running war between Russian-backed separatists and Kyiv have faded since this winter’s tentative detente between … Putin and … Zelensky. … The conflict has […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s economic woes will clip Vladimir Putin’s wings; Pandemic combined with collapsing oil prices spells real hardship” – Financial Times

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

“… Putin’s … oil price war with Saudi Arabia … was disastrously timed. … days before the coronavirus pandemic began forcing economies around the world into lockdown, cutting crude demand. Russia then succumbed to the virus itself. … [Putin] had to cancel a referendum to approve constitutional changes …. The IMF forecasts Russian [GDP] could contract by 5.5 per cent […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Facing Disaster, Russian Businesses Find Kremlin Aid Lacking” – AP

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“Desperate [Russian] business owners … have been pleading with the Kremlin for help in the pandemic shutdown. The response … has been slow and largely focused on big industries, leaving most smaller companies to fend for themselves … raising the prospect of massive unemployment and social unrest. The Kremlin’s anti-crisis measures reflect its long-held emphasis on state-controlled companies and a […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin Has a Syria ‘Headache’ and the Kremlin’s Blaming Assad” – Bloomberg/ Henry Meyer, Ilya Arkhipov

Syria Map

“… Putin is … impatien[t] … with Syrian ally Bashar al-Assad, who isn’t … [sufficiently] grateful for being kept in power by Russian intervention …. Consumed … by … twin shocks of collapsing oil prices and the coronavirus epidemic … eager to wrap up his Syrian military adventure by declaring victory, Putin is insisting that Assad show more flexibility in […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Repair, abandon, burn: Russia explores options for historic oil cut” – Reuters/ Olesya Astakhova, Katya Golubkova

Oil Well file photo

“In just a week, Russia has to find ways to cut a fifth of its oil output … and is looking at all options, including putting wells on repair and maintenance to abandoning them entirely and even burning oil, four oil industry sources said. Russia, along with other members of the global oil alliance between the [OPEC] and non-OPEC members, […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Made men; The enduring grip of the men-and mindset-of the KGB” – The Economist

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

A meticulous account of Vladimir Putin’s consolidation of power in Russia. “… as [Catherine] Belton shows [in Putin’s People], the continuity between the Soviet agency that nurtured … Putin as a young officer, and the security-based behemoths that bestride today’s Russia lies less in institutions than in mentality. … that believes anybody can be turned; that advantage can be sought […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Easter in Russia: Between Church and State, a New Divide Has Risen” – NYU Jordan Center/ Kathryn David

File Photo of Russian Orthodox Cathedral with Man in Religious Garb in Foreground

“… The enormous variances in how priests chose to observe Easter this year in Russia hints at the broader context that frames the divide between those following church-related COVID restrictions and those ignoring them: the complex relationship between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian state. While many commentators have remarked on the tight partnership between the church and state in […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia Cuts Interest Rate to Shore Up Faltering Economy” – Wall Street Journal/ Georgi Kantchev

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

The central bank takes action as the country lurches towards a recession. “Russia’s central bank cut its benchmark interest rate in a move to shore up the country’s economy as it lurches toward a deep recession due to depressed oil prices and shutdowns over the spread of the coronavirus. … lower[ing] its key rate by a deeper-than-usual 50 basis points […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s edtech companies step up in the pandemic; Expansion of online learning might help modify the country’s archaic education system” – Asia Times/ Dmitriy Frolovskiy

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

“… looming economic fallout in Russia could wipe out as much as 10% of gross domestic product … yet … could also deliver … transformative shifts. Educational technology is one of the areas destined to grow worldwide. Russia is not an exception … expansion of online learning might also help modify the country’s archaic education system. [Covid-19 s]tay-at-home policies … […]

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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: “Russia Is Testing US Military for Weaknesses Amid Pandemic, General Says” – Military.com/ Gina Harkins

File Photo of F-22 Fighter and Ground Crew

“Russia is testing whether the U.S. military has developed any weaknesses during the novel coronavirus crisis, a top general said, noting three run-ins with that country’s planes over a two-month period. ‘We just want to make it very clear to them … there are no vulnerabilities as a result of COVID-19,’ Air Force Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, head of U.S. […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Senate panel backs assessment that Russia interfered in 2016” – AP/ Mary Clare Jalonick, Eric Tucker

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

“A [heavily redacted] bipartisan Senate report … confirms the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusions that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election to sow chaos. Senators warned that it could happen again …. This is the fourth of five reports the Senate panel will release …. Previous reports reviewed Russian efforts to breach state election systems and manipulate social media, and […]

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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: “Oil prices fall to less than zero for the first time in history” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Offshore Oil Rig file photo

Oil prices dropped to less than zero dollars as producers are forced to pay buyers to find some place to store their output “Oil prices for the US WTI blend fell to less than zero on the futures market for May deliveries on April 20 for the first time in history as producers ran out of places to store crude. […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “China Tightens Russia Border to Stem Surge of Coronavirus Cases; Officials move to contain new outbreak as infected Chinese nationals return from Moscow” – Wall Street Journal/ Thomas Grove

Asia Map

“China raced to contain a new outbreak of coronavirus in communities along its northern border with Russia …. seal[ing] off parts of its border with Russia … establish[ing] a field hospital …. Newly imported infections threaten to trigger a second wave of contagion in China …. The jump in infections also added to the uncertainty about the state of the […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “As Pandemic Grips Russia, an Age-Old Bane Returns: Drinking” – New York Times/ Anton Troianovski

Man in Silhoette with Bottle of Alcohol and Head in Hand

The widespread, false belief that alcohol will protect drinkers from the coronavirus is helping drive a spike in liquor sales and domestic violence. “… Across the world, the coronavirus pandemic has sparked fears of increased alcohol abuse …. In Russia, two weeks into a nationwide partial lockdown, those fears are becoming reality … evidence mounts that a spike in alcohol […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia has zero FDI in 1Q20; Russia’s FDI in 1Q20 was next to nothing, which means in reality it was probably negative” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

File Photo of Outdoor Electronic Sign with Russian Exchange Data

“Russia received almost zero foreign direct investment (FDI) in the first quarter 2020, dropping from $10.3bn in the same period a year earlier to $200mn, the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) reported …. This number almost certainly understates the real FDI, which was most likely negative. … a quirk of Russian national statistics means that foreign companies working and registered […]

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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 Hails Oil Deal It Says Will Save Millions of U.S. Jobs” – Reuters

Offshore Oil Rig file photo

“… .planned supply cuts represent a complete reversal by Russia and Saudi Arabia, which had both threatened to ramp up output in a battle for market share after the previous deal between … OPEC[] and other producers fell apart …. Combined with G20 input, the leaders of Russia, the United States and Saudi Arabia engaged in a series of phone […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “What Happens if Putin Gets Coronavirus? Who take over the Russian Government? What is the line of succession?” – The National Interest/ Charlie Gao

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Podium with United Russia Logo, Gesturing

“… While many countries have a clear ‘line of succession’ …. [f]or Russia, this line of succession is not clear beyond the first step, which is the prime minister assuming the duties of the president. But recent measures in response to COVID may provide some level of insight …. Most leaders in Russia are still out and about, making statements […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Coronavirus Upends Putin’s Political Agenda in Russia” – AP

Kremlin and River

“… A nationwide vote on April 22 was supposed to finalize sweeping constitutional reforms that would allow [Putin] to stay in power until 2036 …. But after the coronavirus spread in Russia, that plebiscite had to be postponed – an action so abrupt that billboards promoting it already had been erected in Moscow and other big cities. Now under threat […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin Makes Painful Climbdown as He Sues for Peace in Oil War” – Bloomberg/ Evgenia Pismennaya, Ilya Arkhipov, Henry Meyer

Oil Wells File Photo

“… Putin’s deal with OPEC … three years ago was a triumph … bolstering his clout on the global stage. But now he’s had to to make stinging concessions after … Trump stepped in to end a price war. Amid relief in Moscow at the unprecedented deal with Saudi Arabia and other major producers to slash oil output, the accord […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “AG Barr just signaled that things are about to get ugly for the Russia collusion team” – The Hill/ Kevin R. Brock

Department of Justice Headquarters Building file photo, adapted from image at justice.gov

“… The AG is logically being briefed on the progress and findings of U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation, which he commissioned to examine how the empty Russia collusion case got started in the first place and if it involved any wrongdoing on the part of the government. It is a safe bet that … Durham is collecting evidence beyond the […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Trump, Putin, Saudi Crown Prince Scramble to Fix Oil Markets” – Wall Street Journal/ Georgi Kantchev, Summer Said, Andrew Restuccia, Justin Scheck

Offshore Oil Rig file photo

All three leaders face economic threat from low prices. Moscow and Riyadh bury the hatchet. “… On Thursday, Saudi Arabia and Russia ended their stalemate and convinced a handful of other major oil producers to join them in the biggest monthly oil-production cut ever. … Mexico … [also] said it would reduce … production by 100,000 barrels a day …. […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “The Cold War roots of Putin’s digital-age intelligence strategy” – Washington Post/ Greg Myre

Stylized Artist's Depiction of Shadowy Figures in Dark Coats and Dark Hats, One Carrying a Briefcase

“Spying may be the world’s second-oldest profession, but … Putin has certainly given it a fresh makeover. To fully grasp what Russia did in the 2016 U.S. presidential election – and hopes to replicate … – … look back to the end of the Cold War. Putin was a young Soviet KGB officer in Dresden, East Germany … as the […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Barr Says Russia Probe Was Started ‘Without Basis'” – AP

Department of Justice Headquarters Building file photo, adapted from image at justice.gov

“Attorney General William Barr believes the Russia investigation that shadowed President Donald Trump for the first two years of his administration was started without any basis and amounted to an effort to ‘sabotage the presidency’ …. Barr, who has appointed a U.S. Attorney to scrutinize the origins of the Russia probe, said the Justice Department has evidence there was ‘something […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Prevent the outbreak of another global security threat. Extend New START.” – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists/ Daryl G. Kimball

File Photo of Stealth Bomber in Flight

“… New START … signed 10 years ago, verifiably caps each nation’s strategic nuclear arsenals at no more than 1,550 deployed warheads and 700 missile and bomber delivery platforms. The treaty has worked well for both sides. The latest data exchange mandated by the treaty shows Russia with 1,326 deployed warheads on 485 deployed delivery systems, while the United States […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Muscovites flee coronavirus shutdown, bringing trouble to Russia’s regions” – Reuters/ Katya Golubkova, Polina Nikolskaya

Russia Regions Map

“[On one day] … about 730,000 cars … perhaps 10% of Moscow’s 12.7 million population, left the capital, centre of Russia’s epidemic, for the countryside, according to Moscow’s transport department. … rais[ing] fears that the virus is being carelessly spread … anger[ing] … residents of outlying regions who had thought themselves at least relatively protected. … [S]ome locals are accusing […]

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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: “Ukraine’s moment of truth” – Kyiv Post/ Kurt Volker

International Monetary Fund Logo Over Ukraine Flag

“… As the novel coronavirus increasingly impacts the country, the Verkhovna Rada must finally pass the banking legislation necessary to free up $8 billion in International Monetary Fund lending, and a further $1.5 billion from other sources. … Achieving peace and restoring Ukrainian sovereignty in eastern Ukraine and Crimea will never come as the result of a military victory. Peace […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “U.S.-Russian Crew Blasts Off for International Space Station” – AP

International Space Station file photo

“A U.S.-Russian space crew blasted off Thursday to the International Space Station following a tight quarantine amid the coronavirus pandemic. NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Roscosmos’ Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner lifted off as scheduled … from the Russian-operated Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan …. The International Space Station is currently operated by Russian Oleg Skripochka and NASA astronauts Jessica Meir […]

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