Armenians See Russia As ‘Savior’ Not ‘Scapegoat’ In Nagorno-Karabakh War

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

(Article text ©2020 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Ron Synovitz – Nov. 24, 2020 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/armenians-see-russia-as-savior-not-scapegoat-in-nagorno-karabakh-war/30966988.html) As war raged this autumn over Azerbaijan’s breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, some Armenians expressed a sense of betrayal that long-standing ally Russia wasn’t providing more support to ethnic Armenian fighters in the conflict. But any […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Trump Exits Open Skies Treaty, Moves to Discard Observation Planes” – Wall Street Journal/ Michael R. Gordon

File Photo of OC-135B Plane Painted For Open Skies Treaty Use, adapted from image at arnold.af.mil

“Without specialized aircraft and equipment, Biden administration would have difficult time re-entering post-Cold War pact.” “The Trump administration formally shut the door on the Open Skies treaty Sunday, exiting the agreement while moving to get rid of … U.S. Air Force planes … used to carry out the … accord[, had had dated to the closing of the Cold War […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “In Nagorno-Karabakh peace deal, Russia’s Putin claims a strategic win. But risks are attached” – Washington Post / Robyn Dixon

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

“… Under the cease-fire, nearly 2,000 [Russian] peacekeepers have been deployed to Nagorno-Karabakh, a separatist enclave controlled by an ethnic Armenian government within the internationally recognized borders of Azerbaijan. … reinforc[ing] the Kremlin’s view that its sphere of influence includes Azerbaijan and Armenia …. [and providing] another counterweight to geopolitical rival[] Turkey, a close Azerbaijan ally and key customer for […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Moldova Vote Winner Promises ‘Balanced’ Ties With West, Russia” – AFP/ France 24

Moldova Map and Flag

“Moldova’s pro-European election winner Maia Sandu … vowed balanced ties with the West and Russia as Moscow-backed incumbent Igor Dodon conceded … and asked … supporters to refrain from violence. Sandu’s election is … as a major blow to the Kremlin[,] …. [that] wanted polarized Moldova to remain in its sphere of influence …[P]olitics in Moldova[,] … [located between Ukraine […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “‘Are We Getting Invaded?’ U.S. Boats Faced Russian Aggression Near Alaska” – New York Times/ Mike Baker

Alaska and North Pacific, adapted from image at army.mil

“Russia has escalated its provocative encounters in the North Pacific this year, harassing boats in U.S. fishing waters and sending bombers toward Alaska’s shores.” “The crew … was laying out … long cod-catching line well within U.S. fishing territory in the Bering Sea when a voice crackled over the … radio … issuing commands: The ship was in danger, it […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Peace, for now; A peace deal ends a bloody war over Nagorno-Karabakh; Azerbaijan wins some land, while Turkey and Russia carve out spheres of influence” – The Economist

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

“Brokered by Russia and Turkey …. [t]he peace deal marks one of the biggest shake-ups in a turbulent region at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and the Middle East since the collapse of the Soviet empire, which also began in Nagorno-Karabakh. … [A]fter 25 years of waiting for the return of its territory, Azerbaijan went back to war. … aided […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Caucasus ceasefire cements Turkey as a power in Russia’s backyard; Azerbaijan-Armenia truce underlines new regional balance between Moscow and Ankara” – Financial Times/ Henry Foy, Laura Pitel

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

“… a six-week-long conflict with Armenia over … Nagorno-Karabakh … resulted in major gains for Azerbaijan and its Turkish-backed military …. A truce … freezes the conflict … includ[ing] agreements that [Russian ally] Armenia … must hand over additional land …. While the truce was brokered by Moscow — which has deployed [nearly 2,000] peacekeepers — … Azerbaijan’s success with […]

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More Than Just An Onlooker, Ukraine Largely Relieved At U.S. Election Result

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

(Article text ©2020 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Mark Raczkiewycz – KYIV, Nov. 8, 2020 – article text also appeared at https://www.rferl.org/a/more-than-just-an-onlooker-ukraine-largely-relieved-at-u-s-election-result/30937071.html) When U.S. media began to call the presidential race in Joe Biden’s favor on November 7, it was about 6:30 p.m. in Kyiv. Within hours, a former president tweeted that his country was “blessed,” […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Alexander Lukashenko changes tack in Belarus stand-off” – Financial Times/ James Shotter, Max Seddon

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

“Meeting imprisoned opposition leaders is departure from previous hardline approach” “After … weeks in the Belarusian KGB prison, tech executive Dmitry Rabtsevich and a dozen opposition activists … [were visited by] embattled strongman … Lukashenko … [in] an unannounced roundtable with his jailed opponents. The jail then quickly released … Rabtsevich …. The bizarre four-and-a-half-hour jail meeting … was … […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia Approves Second Covid-19 Vaccine Before Phase 3 Trials” – Bloomberg/ Jake Rudnitsky

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

“Russian health authorities approved a Covid-19 vaccine created by a former biological weapons research laboratory for public use, marking the second time the Kremlin has bypassed accepted scientific protocol as it tries to field a defense against the pandemic. A vaccine developed by the Vector State Virology and Biotechnology Center in Siberia has been registered, … Putin said …. registered […]

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Rebuttal: Ukraine Is Emerging as Critical Node for White-Supremacy Extremists

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

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org – Mollie Saltskog, Colin P. Clarke – Sept. 24, 2020) Mollie Saltskog is a senior intelligence analyst at The Soufan Group, a strategic consultancy based in New York City. Colin P. Clarke is a senior research fellow at The Soufan Center and an assistant teaching professor at the Institute for Politics and Strategy at Carnegie Mellon […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “A dozen countries refuse to recognise Lukashenko’s inauguration; Spontaneous protests broke out in the evening following Alexander Lukashenko’s secret inauguration for a sixth term” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

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

“A dozen countries refused to recognise … Lukashenko as … legitimate president of Belarus after he secretly inaugurated himself … September 23. Tensions were high in Minsk after the news broke, with protesters in Minsk flooding the streets and clashing with police trying to disperse them. The only leader that sent a message to congratulate Lukashenko was Turkmen President Gurbanguly […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Four Myths about Russian Grand Strategy” – Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)/ Robert Person

Satellite

“Myth #1: Russia’s grand strategy is driven by ideology …. Myth #2: Russia seeks to reconstruct the Soviet Union or Russian Empire. … Instead of a formal territorial empire … Russia endeavors to establish a privileged and exclusive sphere of influence across former Soviet territory. … [with] a seat at the table in the capital of every post-Soviet country. … […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Lukashenko inaugurates himself in secret” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

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

“Fearing mass protests, Belarus’ self-appointed President Alexander Lukashenko held an inauguration for himself in secret to complete the legal process of winning the disputed August 9 presidential election. … [T]he entire perimeter surrounding the presidential palace … was closed to traffic. Some companies told their employees not to come in, as … roads were closed. Police trucks and army vehicles […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Why Russia’s alliance with China is improbable, but not impossible” – Fondation pour la recherche stratégique/ Simon Saradzhyan

File Photo of Beijing Temple, adapted from image at lbl.gov

“Abstract: [A]re Russia and China already in a de facto military alliance (against the U.S.), or may they soon enter one? … [This article] reviews … academic literature on alignments … and alliances … infers criteria … [and] sets out to … [assess that] relationship …. Introduction[:]  The [Russia-China] relationship … is getting stronger …. Xi Jinping[] and … Putin[] […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia to cut defence spending in bid to prop up ailing economy; Continued support for less well-off set to wipe out fiscal surplus of recent years” – Financial Times/ Henry Foy

File Photo of Close-Up of Line of Russian Soldiers in Dress Uniforms for Parade, adapted from image at georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov with credit to Eric Draper

“Russia will spend more on supporting its economy than funding its armed forces next year for the first time since 2014 … ahead of critical parliamentary elections. … [with economic] doldrums … amid low oil prices and western sanctions … [and with the economy] contract[ing] sharply … due to … coronavirus …. The Kremlin announced …  [higher] spending … to […]

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Because of Pandemic, Moscow This Year Spent More on Economy than on Defense

Covid-19 Coronavirus file photo, adapted from image at cdc.gov

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, September 19, 2020) The pandemic has introduced major changes in Russian government policy but perhaps not one greater than this: for the first time in a very long time, the Russian government has spent more on promoting the economy than on maintaining and developing its military (sobkorr.org/news/5F6610F248362.html). The number of new cases […]

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RUSSIALINK: “‘Harsh Times Ahead’: Russia’s Emergency Loan to Belarus Changes Little for Embattled Lukashenko” – Moscow Times

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

The $1.5 billion will largely go towards refinancing debt owed to Russia, and is only a fraction of what Belarus needs to avoid a crash in living standards. (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jake Cordell – Sept. 17, 2020) Russia’s emergency $1.5 billion loan will do little to help Belarus’ embattled President Alexander Lukashenko prevent his economy from spiraling into […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia says Belarus leader plans to change constitution; President Lukashenko began raising the question of changing Belarus’s constitution several years ago.” – Al Jazeera

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

“Russia said … Lukashenko … confirmed … plans to change the constitution as the two leaders held talks in Sochi …. Lukashenko faces mass protests at home …. Lukashenko, who has been in power for 26 years … previously changed the constitution to increase his presidential powers. The opposition wants to change the constitution back to its original form … […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Belarusian leader set to visit Russia as protests continue” – AP

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

“… Protesters in Belarus have spent a month denouncing the results of the country’s Aug. 9 presidential election as rigged and demanding the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko from the sixth term he won. Facing criticism from the West, Lukashenko has worked to cement ties with his main ally and sponsor, Russia. … set to head to Russia … Monday […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Travel Ban, Oil Supplies on Russia-Belarus Agenda” – Moscow Times

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Sept. 4, 2020) Russia and Belarus are preparing to reopen borders that were closed because of the coronavirus pandemic and are discussing rerouting Belarusian oil exports through Russia, news outlets reported after high-level talks Thursday. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and his delegation met Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and his government in Minsk amid continuing […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Belarus Leader Proposes Vote on Constitution Reforms” – AFP

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

“… Lukashenko on Monday discussed plans for a referendum on constitutional reforms …. The 66-year-old … fac[es] his greatest challenge yet [in his 26-year rule,] following three weekends of giant protests in Minsk over a disputed August 9 [election] where he claimed victory over … popular opposition candidate[] Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. Lukashenko has twice before held such referendums, pushing through changes […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH VIDEO: “Russia Declassifies Video From 1961 of Largest Hydrogen Bomb Ever Detonated” – Smithsonian Magazine/ Theresa Machemer

File Photo of Tsar Bomba Nuclear Detonation, adapted from image at osd.mil

“The blast was over 3,000 times bigger than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.” “… [D]eclassified Russian footage [features] the 1961 Tsar Bomba hydrogen bomb test …  [of] the largest bomb … detonated on Earth …. a 50-million-ton hydrogen bomb, officially named RDS-220[,] … [set off] late October 1961 … during the height of the Cold War[,] …. 26 feet long […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Belarus protests stoke sea change at state media outlets” – Financial Times/ Max Seddon, James Shotter

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

“Hundreds of journalists have gone on strike demanding fair coverage of demonstrations.” “… [In] a sea change at … [Belarus’s] normally pliant state media[,] [h]undreds of journalists have gone on strike demanding fair coverage of the [anti-Lukashenko] protests and … brutal police crackdown …. Several have resigned …. [S]tate media … remains a crucial tool in … Lukashenko’s attempt to […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Security strongmen take on key role in Russian Arctic policy” – The Barents Observer (Norway)/ Atle Staalesen

Arctic Map

“The Russian Security Council is given an expanded position in the management of national interests in the Arctic.” “According to a[n] [Aug. 25] decree signed by … Putin … the [Russian] Security Council is to establish a special commission … promot[ing] Russian national interests in the far northern region[,] [a]mong its responsibilities … ‘analysis of the international and social-economic situation […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Belarus’ Soviet-era economy still propped up by Moscow” – Deutsche Welle/ Nik Martin

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“Belarus has one of the lowest poverty rates in Europe, but economic growth is anemic due to archaic state-run industries and the ending of Russian energy subsidies. Its biggest political crisis is even more of a threat.” “… Belarus’ dependence on energy-rich Russia is ever more evident …. Moscow has already offered to help bolster security [amidst the current crisis] […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Thousands gather on Belarus’ Independence Square in the rain to maintain protest momentum” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

“Thousands of Belarusians … gather[ed] once again on [I]ndependence [S]quare in central Minsk … [T]he police … [have again] started to randomly arrest protestors …. The protests have become as large as those in 1991 during the collapse of the Soviet Union. … [After] fears that the protest movement was losing … momentum as Lukashenko launched an increasingly effective counter […]

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As Lukashenka Turns To Geopolitics, The West Faces Learning Curve In Belarus

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

… The embattled strongman has been back-footed by the massive, unprecedented demonstrations demanding he resign in the wake of the August 9 presidential election the protesters view as fixed […]

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Belarusians Expected a Maidan but Instead have a Revolution, Kagarlitsky Says

Belarus city file photo, adapted from image at state.gov

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 19, 2020) Belarusians expected a Maidan like in Ukraine with a dispute about falsification of election results leading to the ouster of a dictator; but what has occurred, as a result of Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s earlier successes and recent failures, is the beginning of a revolution with many more far-reaching consequences, Boris […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Biegun Says U.S. Sees No Indication of Russian Military Plans in Belarus” – Reuters

Cropped File Photo of Stephen Biegun, adapted from image featured at state.gov

“Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun [was in Lithuania,] signal[ing] a greater U.S. role … trying to settle … strife … erupt[ing] when Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko cracked down on peaceful protesters … reject[ing] his claim of a landslide election victory [claiming it was rigged]. … Asked about possible Russian military intervention … [Biegun] said: ‘Of course that would be […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Belarus’ defence minister tells military elite: ‘It is necessary to fight. And if necessary with weapons’ as Lukashenko’s counteroffensive gathers momentum” – bne Intellinews

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

“Belarus’ Defence Minister Viktor Khrenin told the country’s military elite that there may be a military conflict and they may be called on to use their weapons …. ‘Yes, we may have a civil war …. There’s a chance we’ll have a military conflict … Criminal order, not criminal – we are soldiers, we execute orders!’ Khrenin said …. Lukashenko […]

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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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Only Six Percent of Russians Think Lukashenka About to Lose Power, VTsIOM Poll Finds

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Euarasia – Staunton, Aug. 16, 2020) While one Russian in four thinks Alyaksandr Lukashenka falsified the results of the presidential vote there and only one in five thinks that the official reports are entirely trustworthy, only one Russian in 16 – six percent – thinks the demonstrations in Belarus are about to drive Lukashenka from […]

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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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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Belarus Opposition Seeks to Reassure Russia as Strikes Go On” – Bloomberg/ Aliaksandr Kudrytski

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

“Opposition leaders in Belarus are seeking to reassure Russia about future relations as the biggest challenge to … Lukashenko’s 26-year rule continues with nationwide strikes. Russia is an important partner for Belarus and ‘we recognize and accept that,’ Maria Kalesnikava … top ally of opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya[] wrote in a message published … on Telegram by … [Ekho Moskvy] […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Tikhanovskaya to hold first transition council meeting, EU opens talks with opposition” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Belarus city file photo, adapted from image at state.gov

“The focus of the opposition is shifting from street protests to a legal assault on Lukashenko’s administration and the creation of a transition government.” “… nominal president-elect of Belarus Svetlana Tikhanovskaya’s Transfer of Power Coordination Council … [seeks a] process of bringing in a new government ahead of fresh elections. ‘We’re starting to form the Coordination Council. … an extended […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Lukashenko Says He Is Ready to Share Power in Belarus as Protests Mount” – Reuters

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

“[Belarus’ leader] … Lukashenko … [says] he would be ready to hold new elections and hand over power after a constitutional referendum, an attempt to pacify mass protests and strikes … pos[ing] the biggest challenge … to his rule. … He faces the threat of [EU] sanctions after a bloody crackdown on protests following what demonstrators say was his rigged […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Why Vladimir Putin is unlikely to invade Belarus” – Atlantic Council/ Anders Åslund

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

“… Lukashenka seems to be on his way out. … he could only gather a few thousand press-ganged ‘supporters’ for a regime rally … [C]olossal crowds gathered [in Minsk] … hours later to demand his departure. Lukashenka’s blatant theft of the … presidential election has united the Belarusian people against him. Presumably, the only support he can now count on […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Will Russia invade Belarus?” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

“Russia has a lot more to lose than to gain from an annexation of Belarus. But it will be hard to lose anything in a post-Lukashenko Belarus” “… Lukashenko … [said] he would ask … Putin to help Belarus ‘restore order[,]’ … [that] protests ‘threaten the whole former Soviet space’ …. [Social media] [v]ideo … show[s] Russian army trucks … […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin is reckless because we allow him to be” – Washington Post/ David Ignatius

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

“… Putin keeps defying the norms of international behavior. … Intelligence agencies have … evidence … Russian military intelligence officers, from … shadowy Unit 29155 of the GRU, paid … Taliban … whose bombing killed three U.S. Marines in … 2019. … [S]ources … [claim] forensic links between the [Afghan operation] GRU officers … and GRU colleagues who carried out […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia Registers World’s First Covid-19 Vaccine Despite Safety Concerns” – Wall Street Journal/ Thomas Grove

Coronavirus File Photo adapted from image at cdc.gov

“Officials in Russia and the West express alarm at the speed the vaccine was developed.” “[With Putin’s blessing,] Russia registered the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine … amid [anticipation, skepticism and ] safety concerns …. Moscow’s [state-run] Gamaleya Institute for Epidemiology and Microbiology developed the vaccine … [with] military testing, accelerated clinical evaluations and shortened trial times …. Russia [plans] … […]

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RUSSIALINK: “‘World’s First’ Coronavirus Vaccine: What We Know So Far About Russian Injection” – Moscow Times

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings, adapted from image at lanl.gov

Russia has become the first country to approve a vaccine against the coronavirus … Putin said … despite widespread concerns about its safety. Russia … has the world’s fourth-highest coronavirus caseload […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Vladimir Putin Is No Mastermind, But He Has Played Russia’s Cards Well; It verges on impossible to forecast what Moscow will do tactically. What it will do strategically, however, is more intelligible and thus more predictable.” – The National Interest/ James Holmes

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

“…. The Russian armed forces … have to live within their means. Russia depends heavily on exporting oil and natural gas … [L]ow energy prices constrict … national income and … ability to afford pricey armaments. Prices …  have run off a cliff amid coronavirus lockdowns. … [F]or instance … the Severnoye Design Bureau, a division of the United Shipbuilding […]

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Hot of [off?] the Press, Colder in Scope: Russia’s Nuclear Deterrence Fundamentals 2020

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

(PONARS Eurasia Commentary – Polina Sinovets, Associate Professor, Mechnikov National University, Odessa – Aug. 7, 2020) In a surprise move this past June, Moscow published its first-ever “Basic Principles of State Policy of the Russian Federation on Nuclear Deterrence.” The content core of these fundamental principles looks like excerpts from other Russian documents pertaining to the conditions and “red lines” […]

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