Iran Cements Alliance With China, Russia In Clear Message To Washington

Iran Map and Flag

The seismic, multi-generational Iran-China deal is set for full roll-out. Full membership of the economic, military and political, SCO alliance will lead to major strategic investments in Iran’s up-and-downstream sectors […]

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Russia’s Foreign Military Basing Strategy

File Photo of Deck of Russian Aircraft Carrier Admiral Kuznetsov

(PONARS Eurasia Policy Memo – DMITRY GORENBURG, Senior Research Scientist, CNA – Sept. 20, 2021) In December 2020, news broke that Russia had signed an agreement with Sudan to build a naval base on the Red Sea. Given the refurbishment of its existing base in Syria and rumors of other potential bases abroad being negotiated, on the surface, Russia appears […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia supports withdrawal of foreign fighters from Libya” – AP

File Photo of Ancient Roman Arch in Libya Framing Minaret and Palm Trees, adapted from image at cia.gov

“… Lavrov said after the talks … with Najla Mangoush that the Libyan leadership ‘is forming a consultative mechanism … to formulate the concrete parameters’ under which … foreign forces will leave. Russia was among … foreign powers backing … warring sides in Libya’s conflict … [S]ome officials and media … alleg[ed] … Russian private military contractors took part in […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov: We can’t talk about eradicating terrorism in Afghanistan in near future” – Interfax

Afghanistan houses aerial view, adapted from image at state.gov

(Interfax – Aug. 12, 2021) Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov, who is responsible for international anti-terrorist cooperation, has given an interview to Interfax in which he speaks about interaction with the United States on counterterrorism, the activity of ISIL, which is banned in Russia, and other terrorist organizations in Syria and Afghanistan. He also said that it is impossible […]

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Why Russian Oil Giant Lukoil Won’t Give Up On This Huge Oilfield

Iraq Map, adapted from image at cia.gov

(Oilprice.com – Simon Watkins – Aug. 10, 2021) There was always something that did not look quite right about Lukoil’s recent announcement that it was going to withdraw from Iraq’s huge West Qurna 2 oil field, located 65 kilometers northwest of the southern port of Basra and with roughly 14 billion barrels of reserves in place. So it has proven, […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Kremlin fears ‘instability’ after U.S. withdrawal from Iraq” – Interfax

Dmitry Peskov file photo adapted from image at kremlin.ru/wikimedia commons

(Interfax – July 27, 2021) Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman has said that the planned withdrawal of US troops from Iraq may lead to greater ‘instability’ in the region. “Now it is too early to second-guess events, but we would not like to see, in general, one more territory added to the regional potential for instability,” Dmitry Peskov told journalists […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s harsh condemnation of Israel – What does it mean for the future?” – Jerusalem Post

Jerusalem At Night, adapted from image at cia.gov

“Though such tough language directed at Israel has not been heard since the days of the Soviet Union, it is still very premature to declare Russia returning to its Middle East policies of the Cold War.” “… [H]ostilities between Israel and Hamas [have] produced a number of new developments, … tactical and strategic …. Russia’s harsh condemnation of Israel’s actions […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia: Foreign Policy and U.S. Relations [Excerpt]” – Congressional Research Service

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

Since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rise to leadership more than 20 years ago, tensions have increased steadily between Russia and the United States […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Leaders of Russia, France, Germany discuss global crises” – AP

Map of Europe, adapted from image at loc.gov

The leaders of Russia, France and Germany met by conference call … discuss[ing] coronavirus vaccines, the Iranian nuclear standoff[,] … eastern Ukraine, Libya … Syria [and Navalny] […]

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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: “Russia, Seeking to Bolster its Influence, Steps Up Intervention in Libyan Conflict” – CNSNews/ Dimitri Simes

U.S. Africa Command Screenshot from Defense Department Video of Russian Fighter Jet in Flight

“Russia is reportedly stepping up … involvement in the Libyan civil war … in recent years … a heated proxy conflict drawing in numerous foreign players … [with] a range of motives. … U.S. Africa Command issued a statement, … with satellite imagery, accusing Russia of deploying 14 fighter jets to Libya in support of the Wagner Group, a Russian […]

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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: “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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Qatar And Russia Fight For LNG Supremacy As Prices Fall To Historic Lows

Gas Flame file photo

(Oilprice.com – Viktor Katona – April 19, 2020) [Text with charts oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Qatar-And-Russia-Fight-For-LNG-Supremacy-As-Prices-Fall-To-Historic-Lows.html] The 2020 drastic oil price drop, induced by the ever-frightening coronavirus and the Saudi-Russian spat, has ravaged business interests all across the world. US oil producers are facing a new reality – instead of a seemingly watertight growth trajectory, 2020 will most probably witness a decline in annual […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Syria gamble under pressure as Turkey attacks in Idlib; Erdogan threatens further escalation of hostilities before Moscow meeting” – Financial Times/ Henry Foy

Syria Map

“Turkish attacks on Russian-backed forces in the Syrian province of Idlib are testing Moscow’s relationship with Ankara …. Seeking to avenge the killing last week of 34 Turkish soldiers, … Erdogan has bombarded Syrian regime targets in the province … warning that the destruction of fighter jets and killing of more than 100 pro-regime combatants is ‘only the beginning.’ The […]

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Russia Is Defeating The U.S. In The Middle East Oil Game

Middle East Map

(Oilprice.com – Simon Watkins – February 18, 2020) Historically, Russia goes to great lengths to hide or disguise its strategic intentions but it clearly feels empowered enough in the Middle East to very obviously stake its claim in the region – excluding, for the time being only, Saudi Arabia – by stating that a slew of Russian companies are to […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Top U.S. and Russian Diplomats Discussed Ways to End Syria War” – AP

Syria Map

“Top U.S. and Russian diplomats discussed step-by-step implementation of a 2012 roadmap to U.N.-supervised elections in Syria that could allow a Syrian government ‘to move back into the international community’ … [Ambassador James Jeffrey] said … indicat[ing] a new U.S.-Russian engagement on efforts to end the eight-year Syrian conflict that has killed over 400,000 people …. But Jeffrey cautioned that […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Still possible to prevent Tehran’s possible withdrawal from JCPOA, NPT – Russian ambassador to Iran” – Interfax

Iran Map and Flag

MOSCOW. May 30 (Interfax) – Moscow will deeply regret Iran’s potential withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), but there is still a chance to avert this negative scenario, Russian Ambassador to Iran Levan Dzhagaryan said in an interview published in the newspaper Izvestia on Thursday. “Doubtlessly, Iran’s […]

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Interview: Russia Seeks To ‘Capitalize On Opportunities’ In Libya

File Photo of Ancient Roman Arch in Libya Framing Minaret and Palm Trees, adapted from image at cia.gov

(Article text ©2019 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Tony Wesolowsky – April 10, 2019 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/interview-russia-seeks-to-capitalize-on-opportunities-in-libya/29873341.html) The situation is escalating in Libya, where more than 30 people have been killed since fighting broke out on April 4, when forces loyal to Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive against the internationally […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russian-Saudi Oil Cooperation Won’t Last; They say they will cut production. But it’s in the interests of both big oil producers to pump as much as they can.” – Bloomberg/Leonid Bershidsky

Oil Well file photo

“There’s a nasty undercurrent to the surprisingly strong Saudi-Russian oil alliance behind the upcoming oil production cuts …. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may high-five … Putin in public, but … expect[s] that Russia will disappear from the oil market …. Eventually … the two big exporters may not be interested in production-cutting deals as they square off for […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia’s Mediterranean call: from Kerch to Palmyra, but without Constantinople? How the Russian authorities are justifying the military’s pivot to the south east.” – OpenDemocracy/Marlene Laruelle

File Photo of Deck of Russian Aircraft Carrier Admiral Kuznetsov

(opendemocracy.net – Marlene Laruelle – November 9, 2018 – opendemocracy.net/od-russia/marlene-laruelle/russias-mediterranean-call) Marlene Laruelle is associate director at the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University. She is also co-director of PONARS Eurasia, and the author of several books on Russian and Central Asian politics and society. In August 2018, Russia’s fleet […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Via arms and trade, Russia plots long-term Syrian future” – AP

Syria Map

“… A longtime client of Russian weapons manufacturers since well before the war, Syria also was a reliable trading partner. And Moscow is furthering that relationship by rebuilding roads, pipes and skyscrapers wiped out by seven years of war – including destruction wrought by Russia’s own weapons. … Russian companies are seeking a diverse trade base, with food, farming and […]

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RUSSIALINK: “What next for Russian-Israeli relations? Russia’s decision to install the S-300 in Syria increases the risk of unintended confrontation with Israel” – AlJazeera/ Yury Barmin/ Russian International Affairs Council

Middle East Map

“… The Israeli government rejected the accusations and even sent a defence delegation to Russia to provide clarification. Its efforts, however, do not seem to have pacified the Russian defence ministry, which on September 24 announced that it was going to deploy a modern S-300 system to Syria. This could curb Israel’s ability to launch air operations in Syria and […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Turkey Shifts Toward Russia as Sanctions Sour U.S. Relations; Foreign ministers slam Western sanctions, as Erdogan plans boycott of U.S. electronic goods” – Wall Street Journal/David Gauthier-Villars

Turkey and Environs Satellite Image

“… Erdogan … stepped up his attacks on the U.S. … Tuesday, calling for a boycott of Apple … iPhones and other U.S. electronic goods … his foreign minister joined his Russian counterpart … criticizing Western sanctions. Turkey, a longtime [NATO] ally, has been caught between the West and Russia. This week, officials in Ankara were leaning decidedly toward Moscow. […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Iran Role in Syria Key Item at Trump-Putin Summit” – AP

Syria Map

“As fighting wanes after seven years of war, the U.S. has made curtailing Iran’s influence in post-war Syria a strategic objective – one strongly backed by Israel. … officials from the U.S. and Russia have signaled that a broad framework for such a deal is likely to be the main outcome. But any agreement is likely to be carefully phrased […]

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Russia’s Finance Ministry Warns Of Another Price Collapse

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Irina Slav – July 9, 2018 – oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Russias-Finance-Ministry-Warns-Of-Another-Price-Collapse.html) If prices remain at their current level, another collapse could be around the corner, the Russian Finance Ministry has warned in a report, cited by Sputnik. According to the report, the long-term equilibrium price level for crude oil is currently around US$50-60 a barrel, but actual prices are substantially higher […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia-Saudi Plans for Super-OPEC Could Reshape Global Oil Order” – Bloomberg/Will Kennedy, Elena Mazneva, Wael Mahdi

File Photo of King Salman of Saudi Arabia Seated Next to Saudi Flag and Gesturing, adapted from image at defense.gov

“… the group overseeing the so-called OPEC+ deal met last night [with] proceedings … dominated by … Saudi Arabia and Russia. … probably a snapshot of the oil market’s future.  Beyond … this week’s diplomatic efforts to agree to an increase in oil production, the more significant longer-term development may be moves to make Russia’s role in managing global supply […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Russian Gordian Knot begins to unravel” – Asia Times/Norman A. Bailey

Syria Map

“… Putin said two completely unexpected things: first … Iran should evacuate its forces from Syria and stop interfering with events in the northern Arab arc (Iraq, Syria, Lebanon). Second … Israel has a right to defend its borders, whether in the north or in the south (Hezbollah and Hamas territories respectively). … within a few days of a meeting […]

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NEWSLINK: “Top Russian pundit calls for Palestine talks in Moscow” – Asia Times/M.K. BHADRAKUMAR

Map of Israel, Palestine, Holy Land

“In an interview with the influential Russian daily Izvestiya, the well-known ‘Orientalist’ scholar and establishment figure, Vitaly Naumkin, has floated the startling idea that Moscow must play a role in resolving the Palestinian problem. He said, ‘Moscow has long urged for [organizing] a top-level meeting between Palestinians and Israelis in Russia, on a Moscow platform. It is necessary to turn […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Israel and Russia Agree to Remove Iranian Forces From Syrian Border, Report Says; Israel reportedly gets ‘green light’ to strike Iranian targets as long as it does not endanger Syrian regime. Report follows call between Netanyahu and Putin, meeting between Israel’s defense chief and Russian counterpart” – Haaretz (Israel)/

Syria Map

“Israel and Russia have reached an understanding on pulling Iranian forces out of southern Syria, the London-based Asharq al-Awsat reported …. reached after … Netanyahu spoke to … Putin … [by] telephone, while Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman had held talks with his Russian counterpart. … the sides [reportedly] agreed it was necessary to remove Iranian forces from southern Syria and […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s Endgame in Syria Has Arrived; It’s not an Assad victory – it’s a frozen conflict” – Foreign Policy Magazine/Jonathan Spyer

Syria Map

“Syria increasingly seems to be moving toward de facto partition accompanied by ongoing low-level military conflict and a functional, but sluggish politics – a so-called frozen conflict. This may have been the goal all along for … Putin, who has initiated and managed such conflicts elsewhere, including in Georgia and Ukraine. * * *  Russia has … preserved the integrity […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia Flexes Its Soft Power Muscles; Extending output cuts deepens its role in global affairs” – Bloomberg/Julian Lee

File Photo of King Salman of Saudi Arabia Seated Next to Saudi Flag and Gesturing, adapted from image at defense.gov

“Oil has … [surpassed] $80 a barrel for the first time since November 2014. OPEC’s inventory target for output cuts has been met. … even though [Russian] oil companies want to turn on the taps and its finance ministry may be worried about prices rising too far, Russia won’t [end] its output deal with the group … when … participants […]

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Is Russia About To Abandon The OPEC Deal?

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Irina Slav – May 17, 2018) OPEC and Russia are meeting in a little more than a month to discuss the progress of their oil production deal and what’s next. On the face of things, there will be no surprises: every country taking part in the deal is still committed to the cuts until the end of the […]

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NEWSLINK: “Eurasia torn between war and peace; Iran’s top trading partner is China, while Tehran and Moscow have been improving ties as the three countries move closer to cementing a solid alliance” – Asia Times/Pepe Escobar

Asia Map

“… China is Iran’s top trading partner – especially because of its energy imports. Iran for its part is a major food importer. Russia aims to cover this front. Chinese companies are developing massive oil fields in Yadavaran and North Azadegan. China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) took a significant 30% stake in a project to develop South Pars – the largest […]

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NEWSLINK: “Time to show Russia a military parade – In Syria” – Brookings Institution/Shalom Lipner

Syria Map

“Editor’s Note: Nowhere are Russia’s footsteps more pronounced today than in the Middle East, its old Soviet stomping grounds, where the locals are increasingly deferential to Putin. The question is what Trump intends to do about the situation, writes Shalom Lipner. This piece originally appeared in The National Interest. …”  

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NEWSWATCH: “Will Russia’s involvement in Syria end up burning its ties with Israel?” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

Middle East Map

“… despite … mutual determination [by Russia and Israel] to steer clear of the global storm [between Russia and the West], things may be reaching a breaking point in Syria. While Russia and Israel have hitherto been able to manage their differences there so far, Israel is becoming increasingly concerned as Iran, Russia’s ally in Syria and Israel’s main enemy, […]

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NEWSLINK: “Syria: bottom line questions” – Graham E. Fuller

Syria Map

“… What sense can we make out of all these strategic events in Syria? We encounter a baffling array of players: Syrian troops, Syrian insurgents, jihadis of varying ideologies, Iranians, Russians, Americans, Israelis, Turks, Saudis, Qataris, Emiratis, Shi’ite militias, Iraqis, Kurds, Hizballah-all locked in a deadly dance. But as complex as it may be, this seven-year bloody conflict still continues […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s Turkey visit brings S-400 missile and nuclear plant headway” – bne Intellinews

Turkey and Environs Satellite Image

“… Erdogan received … Putin in Ankara … with a crowded agenda … including … Turkey’s first nuclear power plant, the purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defence system and progress with the TurkStream natural gas pipeline …. even more challenging … with the scheduled arrival of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and … the complicated task of finding an end-game […]

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Russia’s Syria Policy: The Hard Path of Military Disengagement

Syria Map

(PONARS Eurasia – ponarseurasia.org – Ekaterina Stepanova – February 2018) Ekaterina Stepanova is Lead Researcher and Head of Peace and Conflict Studies at the National Research Institute of the World Economy & International Relations (IMEMO), Moscow. (PONARS Policy Memo) On December 11, 2017, two and a half years after the start of Russia’s military campaign in Syria, President Vladimir Putin, […]

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Russia Gets $41.5 Billion Boost From OPEC Deal

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Tsvetana Paraskova – February 13, 2018) Since the start of the OPEC-Russia production cut deal, Russia’s oil companies and government have received the equivalent of around US$41.5 billion more in proceeds, thanks to the higher oil prices, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Tuesday. Due to the higher oil prices as a result of the pact, Russia’s […]

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Can Russia Sustain Its Foreign Policy Power Plays in 2018?

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jonathan Brown, Editor, Moscow Times – January 31, 2018) When Vladimir Putin landed in Syria late last year, he was greeted by President Bashar Assad not as a foreign dignitary, but as the guardian of the embattled nation. “Syria has been preserved as a sovereign and independent state,” Putin told soldiers assembled at the Khmeimim […]

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Drones that attacked Russian military bases in Syria could have been shipped only from U.S. – Russian senator

Syria Map

MOSCOW. Jan 9 (Interfax) – The drones that attacked Russia’s military bases in Syria could have been shipped to the country only from the United States, Russian Federation Council Defense and Security Committee head Viktor Bondarev said. “I think it’s clear to everyone who stands behind the militants. Only a technologically powerful state could have supplied the drones that bombarded […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Gazprom gas exports to Europe rise 8% to new record” – Financial Times/ Henry Foy

Gas Flame file photo

“Russia’s gas exports to Europe rose 8.1 per cent last year to a record level of 193.9bn cubic metres (bcm), the company’s head said … as the world’s largest gas producer continued to increase sales despite rising competition from LNG and other sources. Gazprom … has a monopoly over Russia’s gas pipelines to Europe [and] has been forced to reduce […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin Toughens Penalty for Bomb Threats Plaguing Russia” – AP

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

“… Putin has signed a law doubling the penalty for false reports of impending explosions or fire to a possible 10 years in prison. … Since September, authorities have received false bomb reports allegedly targeting more than 3000 structures in about 180 Russian cities. The subsequent building evacuations have sometimes caused severe traffic problems. A top Interior Ministry official said […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Putin’s Plan for Syria; How Russia Wants to End the War” – Foreign Affairs/ Dmitri Trenin

Syria Map

“… Moscow … means to secure its own core interests in Syria, whatever the balance of political power in the country. Among these is a permanent air and naval presence in the country. Under the lease agreements signed in 2015 and 2016 with Damascus, both the Khmeimim air force base and the Tartus naval facility, which is being upgraded to a […]

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