Clues From Views: Will Russia Resort to Nukes in Ukraine?

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org – RM Staff – April 28, 2022) This blog post is part of a new “Clues from Russian Views” series, in which we share what newsmakers in/from Russia are saying on Russia-related issues that impact key U.S. national interests so that RM readers can glean clues about their thinking.The words in the news: Speaking about the war in […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “How Russia’s grim demographics could thwart Putin’s global ambitions” – Washington Post

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

“The Russian army’s strangely stumble-footed invasion of Ukraine is only the latest reminder of the pervasive and long-standing ‘human resource’ woes that frustrate … Putin’s aspirations for superpower status. … Russia is depopulating — even after Putin’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, its total numbers are lower today than when the Soviet Union collapsed. Russia’s working-age population and its pool […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Hacker Attacks on Russia Gain Attention But Cause Little Damage” – Moscow Times

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Moscow Times – Alexandra Vladimirova – April 29, 2022) Two days after the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a group of hackers managed to get access to several Russian state-owned television channels and broadcast anti-war videos. But the attack ended after a few minutes and regular programming resumed. This type of fleeting hacking operation has been repeated many times […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia Making Slow Progress in Bid to Cut Off Ukrainian Forces; Russian advance has so far failed to make decisive breakthrough in second phase of the war” – WSJ

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

“Russia’s military is gradually seizing more territory in Ukraine’s east … apparent[ly] aim [ing] … [to] cut[] off Ukrainian forces. But Ukrainian and Western officials and analysts say Moscow’s progress is slow and yet to achieve a decisive breakthrough. … [A]ny success in severing Ukrainian units’ supply lines may not be decisive … as Russian forces would be vulnerable to […]

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Once A Hope Of Russian Liberals And The West, Medvedev Beats A Bellicose Drum To Stay Safe, Relevant

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Article text Copyright © 2022 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036. – rferl.org – Todd Prince – April 24, 2022 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/medvedev-liberal-to-bellicose/31818941.html) Former President Dmitry Medvedev’s opinion article in the daily Kommersant in October 2021, ahead of Russia’s massive military buildup […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia warns West: Don’t test our patience” – Reuters/ Guy Faulconbridge

European Portion of Commonwealth of Independent States

“Russia … warned the West that there would be a tough military response to any further attack on Russian territory, accusing the United States and its key allies of undermining European security by openly inciting Ukraine to assault Russia. Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine has killed thousands … displaced millions more and raised fears of the most serious confrontation […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “The Secret of Ukraine’s Military Success: Years of NATO Training” – WSJ

NATO Meeting file photo

“Soldiers, plus military brass and overseers in parliament, have been transformed from a rigid Soviet-style force into a modern army that thinks on the move.” “… [There has been] a little-publicized effort by [NATO] countries … that transformed Ukraine’s military up and down the ranks, from foot soldiers to the defense ministry to overseers in parliament. It is one big […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia plans to sue over frozen currency reserves, central bank says” – Financial Times

File Photo of Assorted U.S. Cash, adapted from image at tsa.gov

“Western sanctions have cut off Moscow from nearly half of its foreign exchange holdings.” “… Two days after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine … G7 countries and the European Commission announced … sanctions on Russia’s central bank to block it from accessing its foreign exchange holdings. The central bank is unable to access nearly half of its $609.4bn in […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Ex-Crimea Prosecutor Poklonskaya Slams Russia’s Pro-War ‘Z’ Symbol” – Moscow Times

European Portion of Commonwealth of Independent States

(Moscow Times – April 20, 2022) Natalia Poklonskaya has issued a harsh criticism of the pro-war Z symbol that has spread across Russia, the latest anti-war comments from the former Crimean prosecutor and onetime Russian lawmaker. The Latin letter — first seen displayed on Russian military vehicles entering Poklonskaya’s country of birth — has come to symbolize the public’s support […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russian Offensive Bears Down on Donbas as West Races to Supply Ukraine With More Weapons; Ukraine is reinforcing units as it also counterattacks southeast of Kharkiv” – WSJ

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

“Russian forces Wednesday made incremental gains … in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas … as Western nations rushed more weapons to … Ukrain[e]…. In … Mariupol … Russia … insisted on … unconditional surrender and kept pounding … Ukrainian forces — … mostly holed up in the sprawling Azovstal steel plant — with artillery and airstrikes. Ukraine[] … said … that Russian […]

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Who’s to Blame? Sanctions, Economic Hardship, and Putin’s Fear of Color Revolutions

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(PONARS Eurasia Eurasia Policy Memo No. 767 – Stephen Crowley – April 18, 2022 – click here for PDF) Stephen Crowley is Professor of Politics at Oberlin College. He is the author of, Putin’s Labor Dilemma: Russian Politics between Stability and Stagnation (Cornell University Press, 2021), from which this memo is drawn. The sanctions now imposed on Russia—as severe as they are—are unlikely by […]

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RUSSIALINK: “200,000 Risk Losing Jobs in Moscow Over Sanctions – Mayor” – Moscow Times

Kremlin and Red Square file photo, adapted from image at state.gov

(Moscow Times – April 18, 2022) Around 200,000 employees of foreign companies in Moscow could lose their jobs due to sanctions over Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine, the city’s mayor said on Monday. “According to our estimates, about 200,000 people are at risk of losing their jobs,” Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said in a blog post. He said authorities had […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Navalny Calls Ukraine War ‘Distraction’ From Russia’s Problems” – Moscow Times

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

“I think this war is designed to divert attention from Russia’s problems, and it will only lead to greater impoverishment …. I consider those who unleashed this war to be bandits and thieves. I went into politics to fight this criminal regime of thieves.” […]

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Fact vs. Fiction: Russian Disinformation on Ukraine

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

U.S. Department of State: Fact Sheet: Office of the Spokesperson …. Below are examples of Russian lies about the current crisis and its causes – and the truth […]

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[U.S. Department of State] Report: RT and Sputnik’s Role in Russia’s Disinformation and Propaganda Ecosystem

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

Russian state-funded and state-directed media outlets RT and Sputnik are critical elements in Russia’s disinformation and propaganda ecosystem […]

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Breaking the Impasse Between Russia and the West Over European Security

Map of Europe, adapted from image at loc.gov

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org – Thomas Graham – Jan. 20, 2022) Thomas Graham, a distinguished fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, served as the senior director for Russia on the National Security Council staff during the George W. Bush administration. Last week’s intense talks between Russia and the West over European security seemed to end in failure. Moscow heard […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Ukraine Standoff Threatens to Derail Russia’s Domestic Battle Against Inflation; Even without invasion, the crisis is accentuating rising price pressures at home” – Moscow Times

Cash, Calculator, Pen

The standoff between Russia and the West over Ukraine threatens to compromise Russia’s domestic economic plans and accentuate the country’s cost of living crisis […]

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U.S., Allies Again Warn Russia Of ‘Grave Consequences’ Over Ukraine

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

The meeting of allies comes a day before Secretary of State Antony Blinken heads to Geneva for talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Baltic States Authorized to Rush U.S.-Made Weapons to Ukraine” – Moscow Times

File Photo of Soldier Firing Javelin Shoulder-Mounted Anti-Tank Missile

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jan. 20, 2022) The United States has given the green light for Baltic nations to rush U.S.-made weapons to Ukraine, with Lithuania on Thursday saying it hoped to deter “aggressor” Russia. A State Department official in Berlin, where Secretary of State Antony Blinken is holding crisis talks on Ukraine, said Washington was “expediting authorized transfers […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Biden’s Sanctions Threats ‘Destabilizing,’ Kremlin Says” – Moscow Times

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jan. 20, 2022) The Kremlin warned Thursday that U.S. President Joe Biden’s threats of sanctions if Russia invades Ukraine destabilize European security. “All these statements can contribute to the destabilization of the situation,” Interfax quoted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov as telling reporters. “We believe that they don’t contribute in any way to […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “The guns of January; As war looms larger, what are Russia’s military options in Ukraine?” – The Economist

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

“The Kremlin’s aim would probably be to shatter Ukrainian military power and dictate terms.” “… Even with [various] advantages, Russia would struggle to occupy [Kyiv], let alone … Ukraine, … as large and populous as Afghanistan. … [O]ver 300,000 Ukrainians have gained … military experience … [M]ost have access to firearms. … [T]he Pentagon and CIA [reportedly] would both support […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia denies looking for pretext to invade Ukraine” – AP

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

According to the White House, U.S. intelligence officials believe Russia has deployed operatives to rebel-controlled eastern Ukraine to carry out acts of sabotage and blame them on Ukraine, in a ‘false-flag operation’ to create a pretext for possible invasion […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia Says Still Waiting on Western Response to Security Demands” – Moscow Times

Sergei Lavrov file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jan. 18, 2022) Russia is still awaiting the U.S. and NATO’s response to its sweeping demands for a new security settlement in Europe, Russia’s top diplomat said Tuesday as tensions between Moscow and the West over Ukraine continue to mount. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after a series of high-level talks last week that the […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russian embassy, consulates in Ukraine operating as usual – Russian Foreign Ministry” – Interfax

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

MOSCOW. Jan 18 (Interfax) – The Russian embassy and consulates general in Ukraine are operating as usual despite the attacks of Ukrainian radicals and the provocations staged by local law enforcement officers, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Tuesday. “The Russian embassy and consulates general to Ukraine are working as usual. They are doing so despite the attacks […]

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RUSSIALINK: “A Week of Russia-West Diplomacy Ends in Deadlock” – Moscow Times

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

The latest round of talks concluded, there is some disagreement about whether Putin’s December threat of a “military-technical solution” to the Ukraine crisis is probable or even inevitable […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Energy Dependence Ties Europe’s Hands in U.S.-Russia Crisis” – WSJ

Gas Flame file photo

“Europe gets almost one-third of its natural gas from Russia, limiting its ability to penalize Moscow.” Europe’s growing dependence on Russian gas and oil is limiting [European] room to maneuver … and making [Europe] highly vulnerable … [if] escalation [occurs in the crisis with Russia]. … Western officials accuse [Russia] of withholding extra supplies in recent months to force European […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “No Ukraine breakthrough, but NATO and Russia eye more talks” – AP/ Lorne Cook

File Photo of Wendy Sherman and Sergei Ryabkov Standing In Front of U.S. and Russian Flags, adapted from image at state.gov

“The United States and NATO [at the NATO-Russia Council’s first meeting in over two years] rejected key Russian security demands for easing tensions over Ukraine but left open … the possibility of future talks with Moscow on arms control, missile deployments and ways to prevent military incidents …. That Russia’s delegation did not walk out … and remained open to […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia Suggests Military Deployment to Venezuela, Cuba if Tensions With U.S. Remain High” – WSJ

File Photo of Wendy Sherman and Sergei Ryabkov Standing In Front of U.S. and Russian Flags, adapted from image at state.gov

“Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Rybakov said Moscow couldn’t exclude sending ‘military infrastructure’ to the two countries as tensions with U.S. soar and says talks have stalled.” “… Ryabkov said Thursday that Moscow couldn’t exclude dispatching ‘military infrastructure’ to Venezuela or Cuba if tensions with Washington — which have soared in recent weeks over a huge buildup of Russian troops on […]

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State Department Press Briefing – Jan. 11, 2022 [excerpt with Victoria Nuland]

State Department Building and U.S. Flag

(U.S. Department of State Press Briefing –  excerpt with Victoria Nuland – WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 11, 2022) MR PRICE:  Good afternoon.  Very sorry for the delay, but as you can see, we have a special guest joining us today for the second time, at least in this current iteration.  She is no stranger to all of you.  Victoria Nuland, the Under Secretary of State […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Where Does NATO Enlargement End?” – Creators.com/ Patrick Buchanan

NATO Meeting File Photo

“… NATO … Article 5 war guarantees … oblige the United States to wage war against Russia to restore … [the] sovereignty and territorial integrity [of NATO allies] if [they are] attacked. … Why would we commit to risk war with a nuclear-armed Russia on behalf of nations no one has ever regarded as vital interests of the United States  […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Donetsk counts conflict cost as Russia, U.S. to meet” – AP

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

“While Russia and the U.S. are preparing to meet for critical strategic talks over Ukraine, residents in the rebel-controlled Ukrainian city of Donetsk claim the Ukrainian army started heavy firing on New Year’s Eve.” “… A 2015 peace agreement brokered by France and Germany ended large-scale battles, but frequent skirmishes have continued. The [OSCE] … has reported an increasing number […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “U.S. Rebuilt NATO to Face Down Russia. Putin Scrambled Those Plans” – WSJ

NATO Meeting File Photo

“Kremlin tests the alliance by undermining former Soviet republics, sowing disinformation and exploiting divisions.” “The U.S. and other NATO members have deployed thousands of troops and invested heavily in weaponry to rebuild the alliance’s front line facing Russia. Moscow has parried that strategy by opening up new fronts just beyond NATO’s reach. … Rather than confront NATO head-on … Putin […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Why The Kremlin Lies: Understanding Its Loose Relationship With the Truth” – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Tower and Building Inside Kremlin

Russian leaders have used deception for strategic ends in ways that shed light on their geopolitical goals […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia Thinks America Is Bluffing” – Foreign Affairs

Portion of U.S. Treasury Department Building Facade, North Side, with Sculpture of Alexander Hamilton

To Deter a Ukraine Invasion, Washington’s Threats Need to Be Tougher […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Kremlin: Russia-U.S. talks inspire no significant optimism” – AP

Wendy Sherman file photo, adapted from image at state.gov

“The Kremlin said Tuesday it saw ‘no significant reason for optimism’ …. The talks aimed at defusing tensions over Ukraine took place in Geneva on Monday and offered no sign of immediate progress. Moscow went in insisting on guarantees to halt NATO’s eastward expansion and even roll back the military alliance’s deployments in Eastern Europe — demands that Washington had […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “How to Get What We Want From Putin” – Politico.com

Map of Europe, adapted from image at loc.gov

Talks on European security underway between the U.S. and Russia will be difficult because the two countries don’t trust one another, not even a little […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Kazakh leader: Russia-led security group to pull out troops” – AP

Map of CIS Central Asia and Environs

“The president of Kazakhstan announced Tuesday that [the] Russia-led security alliance [Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), including six former Soviet states,] will start pulling out its troops [from Kazakhstan] … in two days …. Protests over soaring fuel prices erupted in the oil and gas-rich Central Asian nation of 19 million on Jan. 2 and quickly spread across the country […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Why the Russians Aren’t Coming!” – iAffairs Canada/ Egor Evsikov

Kremlin and River

“… Imagery of Russian forces assembling near the [Ukrainian] border is just one of … several indicators to consider …. Russia is … a semi-authoritarian ‘managed democracy’ …. The Russian population does not live in a constant state of war readiness. A significant state-controlled media effort would be required to prepare the population and ensure public support for the invasion […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Putin Seizes on Crises to Assert Control Over Former Soviet Republics” – WSJ

Map of CIS Central Asia and Environs

“In tightening grip over neighbors, president seeks to signal that his country is a superpower to be both feared and respected.” “… The [Russian-led CSTO] venture into Kazakhstan, at the request of the country’s leader, follows nearly 15 years of Russian interventionism in Georgia, Belarus, Ukraine and elsewhere aimed at pulling [them] even closer to Russia … propping up [Kremlin-aligned] […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “U.S., Russia Hold High-Stakes Talks on Ukraine” – AFP

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

“… [H]igh-stakes negotiations come amid fears of a Russian invasion of … pro-Western … Ukraine … with Moscow demanding wide-ranging concessions from Washington and … NATO …. Monday’s [Geneva] talks … launch[ed] a week of diplomacy … after Moscow amassed tens of thousands of troops at the Ukrainian border …. RIA Novosti on Monday quoted [Sergei] Ryabkov saying he feared […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “U.S., Russia hold talks amid tensions linked to Ukraine” – AP

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

“… U.S. and Russian officials launched special talks Monday aimed at defusing tensions over a Russian military buildup on the border with Ukraine, part of a flurry of diplomatic activity in Europe …. No major breakthrough was immediately in sight. … Russia has said it wants the issue resolved this month, but NATO is wary that Putin might be looking […]

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Background Press Call by a Senior Administration Official on Russia

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

(The White House – whitehouse.gov – Via Teleconference – 1:11 P.M. EST – Jan. 8, 2022) MODERATOR:  Hi, everyone.  Good afternoon.  And thanks for joining us on a Saturday. Today’s call will be on background, attributed to a “senior administration official,” and the contents will be embargoed upon [until] conclusion. For your information only, the speaker today is going to […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia rules out concessions at Ukraine talks with U.S.” – Moscow Times

Wendy Sherman file photo, adapted from image at state.gov

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, meeting foreign ministers of the alliance on Friday, said there remained real risks of a Russian invasion […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia and NATO: How to talk to Mr. Putin; Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine has created a chance to enhance the security of Europe” – The Economist

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

“… Perhaps [Putin] wants Ukraine to fail because, were it to become a thriving democracy, it would … rebuke … his claim that Western values are unworkable in Orthodox, Slavic Russia. He may also intend to divide and weaken NATO … [and] to create an enemy abroad … to justify repression at home …. But … Ukraine is as populous […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Biden wants to turn Ukraine into a porcupine” – Washington Post

File Photo of Soldier Firing Javelin Shoulder-Mounted Anti-Tank Missile

“…. Russia is heading to Geneva with what amounts to an ultimatum: Unless … Putin gets security guarantees from the West, he’s prepared to invade. Biden administration officials say they want a diplomatic solution, but they’ve also been delivering warnings through public and private channels that an invasion would be bloody, protracted and extremely damaging for Russia. … The Air […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “NATO weighs Russia’s security offer to end Ukraine standoff” – AP

NATO meeting file photo

“… Much contained in … documents … Moscow has made public — a draft agreement with NATO countries and the offer of a treaty between Russia and the United States — appears to be a non-starter [for NATO] …. NATO would have to agree to halt all membership plans, not just with Ukraine, and end military exercises close to Russia’s […]

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