JRL NEWSWATCH: “Industry Body Calls Russian Covid-19 Vaccine a Pandora’s Box” – Bloomberg/ Ilya Arkhipov, Jake Rudnitsky

Coronavirus File Photo adapted from image at cdc.gov

“Russia’s race to allow civilian use of a … coronavirus vaccine before clinical trials are complete could put people at risk, according to a local association of multinational pharmaceutical companies[, the Association of Clinical Trials Organizations (ACTO) … represent[ing] … multinational companies with clinical trials in Russia, including Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Novartis AG]. The government plans to give a vaccine […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “The contest after the vote; Eight major takeaways from the immediate aftermath of the Belarusian presidential election” – Meduza

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

“… Belarusian election officials published … preliminary results … [indicating that] Lukashenko … won more than 80 percent …. radically contradict[ing] [opposition] reports … say[ing] [Svetlana] Tikhanovskaya won 70 percent. … Tikhanovskaya’s campaign refuses to recognize the election’s results … [S]he called on ‘those who believe their vote was stolen’ ‘not to remain silent.’ … [R]eporting suggests … tens of […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Unwanted Truths: Inside Trump’s Battles With U.S. Intelligence Agencies” – New York Times Magazine/ Robert Draper

DNI Seal and Smaller Seals of Agencies Related to DNI

“Last year, intelligence officials gathered to write a classified report on Russia’s interest in the 2020 election. An investigation from the magazine uncovered what happened next.” “… the O.D.N.I. at last acknowledged publicly that Russia ‘is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate … Biden and what it sees as an anti-Russia “establishment.”‘ … also assert[ing] for the first […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Chat Group Becomes Target of Moscow’s Wrath as Security Crackdown Widens” – New York Times/ Andrew Higgins

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

“The group started out as an online discussion of hobbies, schoolwork and sometimes politics. But then it was infiltrated by an informer for Russia’s all-powerful security services.” “… [T]he chat group … was joined by a new member who promoted unusually strident views … and pushed to turn the online chatter into a political movement …. [He] gave his name […]

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Separatism Doesn’t Threaten Russia But Will If Kremlin Fails to Listen to Regions, Yarulin Says

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 30, 2020) The most important lesson of the Khabarovsk protests is that separatism doesn’t threaten Russia now but could if the central government continues to try to make all the decisions, consolidate all the power and wealth, and ignore the aspirations of Russians in the regions, Ildus Yarulin says. The director […]

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

Gas Flame file photo

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

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RUSSIALINK: Moscow Times: “U.S. Spams Russians With Texts Offering Rewards for Election Meddling Info”

File Image of Artist's Rendition of Cellphones, adapted from image at nih.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Aug. 7, 2020) Russians are receiving spam text messages offering huge rewards in exchange for information about their country’s efforts to interfere in the United States’ presidential election. News of the SMS messages came after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the $10 million reward in an attempt to prevent foreign interference in the […]

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RUSSIALINK: “NPT dismantlement to increase number of nuclear threshold states – Russian General Staff” – Interfax

File Photo of U.S.-Russian Senior Military Meeting, adapted from image at defense.gov with photo credit to Dominique A. Pineiro

MOSCOW. Aug 7 (Interfax) – The U.S. policy aimed at withdrawing from the agreements limiting nuclear weapons may have negative implications for the entire world, representatives of the Russian General Staff said in an article published by the Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper on Friday. “The future of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is a big […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “There Is No Russian Plot Against America; The Kremlin’s Electoral Interference Is All Madness and No Method” – Foreign Affairs/ Anna Arutunyan

Multilingual Polling Place Sign from U.S. Election Polling Place

“… Researchers and investigators have revealed … activities of [Kremlin-connected] Russian actors … during the 2016 election. … [yet with] comparatively little information about the real impact[,] … still less about … precise objectives. … Russian officials say and write a great deal about the United States …. What emerges is not a cunning, systematic scheme to corrode American democracy […]

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In a Confrontation Between Putin and the West, Belarus May Get Caught in the Middle

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

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Igor Zevelev – Aug. 5, 2020) Former Professor at George Marshall European Center for Security Studies; Former Director, MacArthur Foundation, Moscow Office Starting with the coup against Gorbachev in August 1991, the last month of the summer has become a time when the eyes of the world perforce turn to Russia. Financial crises (1998), the […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Climate Change in Russia and the Weaponization of Wheat” – The Center for Climate and Security/ Leah Emanuel

Arctic Map

“As temperatures in the Russian Arctic rapidly increase and permafrost continues to melt, Russian land feasible for wheat production is beginning to grow. … While wheat makes up only 2.3% of Russia’s total exports, this small percentage constitutes a major portion of the global wheat export market. … Relying on wheat production in these newly farmable lands, however, will not […]

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Anti-Centralism Now Embraced by Both Russian and Non-Russian Radical Oppositions, Sidorov Says

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 3, 2020) Russian nationalists have always been more divided than most analysts have suggested, with some committed imperialists, others devoted to a small Russia, and still others believing that their best course forward is in the elaboration of a civic national identity that would allow them to retain the loyalty of […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “What just happened and what’s next in Belarus?” – Meduza

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

“A rundown of the contentious presidential race, Lukashenko’s surprising struggles, and the likely post-election scenario.” “… August 9, Belarus will conclude its most contentious, openly dirtiest, and toughest presidential campaign …. [O]ne candidate has been imprisoned (as well as two campaign chiefs of staff) … another fled the country …. [P]olitical prisoners in Belarus spiked from one to 24 … […]

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

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

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

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Degtyarov First of New Generation of Regional Leaders in Putin System, Ivanov Says

Far Eastern Russia and Environs, with Khabarovsk Pinpointed, adapted from image at cdc.gov

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, Aug. 2 , 2020) Despite the travails of his first days in office, Mikhail Degtyarov, Moscow’s appointee as new head of Khabarovsk Kray, represents the harbinger of a new generation of regional leaders, one very different than their predecessors and likely to have unexpected consequences for both Moscow and the regions, Andrey […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Putin signs law allowing 3-day voting in elections, referenda” – Interfax

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

MOSCOW. July 31 (Interfax) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law which allows voting in elections and referenda to be held for three consecutive days. The law was published on the official web portal for legal information on Friday. It enters into effect on the day of its publication. In accordance with the law, voting in elections “may […]

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RUSSIALINK: “‘The Master and Margarita’ Named Most Popular Russian Prison Read” – Moscow Times

Bookcase file photo, adapted from image at nlm.nih.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 30, 2020) “The Master and Margarita,” Mikhail Bulgakov’s classic Soviet tale of when the Devil went down to Moscow, has been ranked the most popular book among Russian prisoners, the state-run TASS news agency reported Thursday. Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” ranked second, followed by “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas in […]

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Report: U.S. Officials Say Russia-Backed Websites Spread Coronavirus Disinformation

Coronavirus File Photo adapted from image at cdc.gov

U.S. officials have identified three English-language websites that they say Russia is using to spread disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic to exploit the U.S. struggle to contain the outbreak […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia and China in Talks About Building a Joint Moon Research Base” – CNS/ Dimitri Simes

File Photo of Surface of Moon with Earth in Distance, adapted from NASA image

“Looking to strengthen … space cooperation with China amid heightened geopolitical tensions with the United States, Russia is in talks with Beijing about the possibility of building a joint lunar research base. Dmitry Rogozin … head of … Roscosmos, held talks recently with … China National Space Administration[] director Zhang Kejian. He … [stated in an state television interview] that […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Siberia’s ‘gateway to the underworld’ grows as record heat wave thaws permafrost” – Science Magazine/ Richard Stone

Cartoon Sun and Thermometer, adapted from cdc.gov

“… Known to locals as the ‘gateway to the underworld,’ Batagay is … [earth’s] largest thaw slump …. Once just a gully … the scar has expanded … as … permafrost thaws and meltwater carries off … sediment. Now more than 900 meters wide, it epitomizes the vulnerability of permafrost in the Arctic …. Outbursts of pent-up methane gas in […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russian Intelligence Agencies Push Disinformation on Pandemic” – New York Times/ Julian E. Barnes, David E. Sanger

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

“Declassified U.S. intelligence accuses Moscow of pushing propaganda through alternative websites as Russia refines techniques used in 2016.” “… Russian military intelligence, … the G.R.U., has used … ties with … Russian government information center[] InfoRos[] and other websites to push out English-language disinformation and propaganda about the pandemic, such as amplifying false Chinese arguments that the virus was created […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Revelation of Steele’s primary source triggers focus on think tank tied to Clinton, Biden” – Just the News/ John Solomon

FBI Headquarters File Photo

“The Obama team’s ties to the Brookings Institution are deep, and so are those of impeachment witness Fiona Hill.” “[Igor Danchenko,]… Christopher Steele’s primary sub-source … was an American resident tied to a liberal think tank close to the Obama administration …. In … [FISA] warrant [applications] targeting Trump adviser Carter Page, the FBI referred to the primary sub-source … […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Nearly Half of Russians Support Anti-Kremlin Protests in Far East – Poll” – Moscow Times

Far Eastern Russia and Environs, with Khabarovsk Pinpointed, adapted from image at cdc.gov

Nearly half of Russians say they approve of … anti-Kremlin protests in the Far East … [breaking] out … after the arrest of the Khabarovsk region’s popular governor … and his replacement with a Putin-appointed lawmaker …. People have taken to the streets of Khabarovsk near the Chinese border … 18 days in a row … an unprecedented show of opposition to the Kremlin in the region […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Joe Biden May Want to Forget About the Russia Investigation” – Wall Street Journal/ Gerard Baker

File Photo of Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin in front of U.S. Flag and Russian Flag, adapted from image from RIA Novosti

The candidate struggles to field softballs from friendly media. … It’s well past time … Biden was asked … what he knew about … serious malfeasance by [Obama administration] officials [in the Russiagate investigation targeting the Trump campaign]. … We know … Biden was kept abreast of … the investigation […]

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EVENT & WEBCAST: “The Putin Profile: A Conversation with Dr. Fiona Hill” – Kennan Institute, Wednesday, July 29

Redacted File Photo of Fiona Hill, adapted form image at seanmaloney.house.gov

… Putin’s presidency has lasted over 20 years. … [H]e further cemented his grip on power with … constitutional amendments[] giving him the ability to extend his presidency to 2036 …. Join us … for a conversation with Dr. Fiona Hill on … Putin, his regime, and how her thinking on Putin has evolved […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “U.S., Russia Hold Talks on Space Security” – Wall Street Journal/ Michael R. Gordon

Space in Low Earth Orbit with Partial Sun

“Two space powers are at odds over goals, with U.S. seeking voluntary norms, Russia aiming for a treaty” “The U.S. and Russia … [are holding] their first space-security talks since 2013 … [addressing] how to guard against the increasing militarization of space. [The] Trump administration … hoped … the [Vienna] meeting … would lead to … voluntary norms … and […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “An oil spill in Russia’s Arctic exposes risks for Moscow’s Far North plans” – Washington Post/ Isabelle Khurshudyan, Andrew Freedman

Map of Arctic Highlighting Permafrost, adapted from image at nasa.gov

“Thawing permafrost in the rapidly warming region leaves Moscow’s ambitious Arctic expansion proposals literally on shaky ground.” “… [S]urg[ing] … climate change in interior Russia – more than three times the global average – is throwing new risks in the way of … Putin’s Far North agenda, among his top domestic initiatives. A key danger is … more infrastructure atop […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Beat Film Fest Kicks Off Aug. 1; Muscovites’ favorite festival of documentary films is online and offline this year” – Moscow Times

File Photo of Reel of Film

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daniil Galaydov – July 28, 2020) Beat Film Festival, founded in 2010, is likely to become the headliner of this summer’s cultural events in Moscow. It launches on Aug. 1, when the city’s movie theaters are allowed to open after their long downtime during the coronavirus quarantine. This year the films will be shown online […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “In Russia’s Far East, a New Face of Resistance to Putin’s Reign” – New York Times/ Anton Troianovski

Far Eastern Russia and Environs, with Khabarovsk Pinpointed, adapted from image at cdc.gov

“As the protests swell in the city of Khabarovsk, 4,000 miles from Moscow, residents who had never before found a public outlet for anger are becoming activists.” “… [P]rotests in Khabarovsk reached well into the tens of thousands … establishing this distant city – some 4,000 miles from Moscow – as the site of the biggest popular challenge to … […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russian-U.S. strategic stability consultations have never been so intensive over past decade – Ulyanov to Interfax” – Interfax

Stylized Russian and U.S. Flags, 200, 1807-2007

MOSCOW. July 27 (Interfax) – The ongoing consultations on strategic stability within the framework of the working groups in Vienna are the most intensive dialogue on these issues between Russia and the United States over the past ten years, Russian Permanent Representative to International Organizations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov said. “I remember not a single instance over the past ten […]

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Russians Don’t Believe Kremlin about Coronavirus or the Economy, New Surveys Show

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

Two new surveys show the collapse of public trust in the powers that be …. [T]he level of trust in Russia today is lower than it has been in 15 years […]

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RUSSIALINK: “‘Russia, Wake up’: Far East Protesters Seek to Set Example for Entire Country; Some local Khabarovsk activists and experts, however, wonder if the protest movement can be sustained.” – Moscow Times

Far Eastern Russia and Environs, with Khabarovsk Pinpointed, adapted from image at cdc.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Evan Gershkovich – Khabarovsk, July 27, 2020) As they have for nearly three weeks, the first protesters started to gather at Lenin Square in the city of Khabarovsk in Russia’s Far East at 7 pm on a recent weekday evening. They were soon joined by independent Russian journalists and a small army of YouTube bloggers, […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Man of steel; ‘Novaya Gazeta’ reports on the backroom business schemes that maybe ruined a Russian governor” – Meduza

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“… [T]here’s a convoluted story of cutthroat competition for a steelworks. … Sergey Furgal, until recently … duly elected governor of Khabarovsk, is now suspected of involvement in four murders committed in 2004 and 2005. While many observers have assumed openly that the allegations are plausible, given the rough and tumble of the Far East’s business world at the time, […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “U.S. urged to exploit cracks in Russia-China relationship; Ties between Beijing and Moscow are not as strong as Xi and Putin portray” – Financial Times/ Kathrin Hille, Katrina Manson, Henry Foy, Christian Shepherd

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

“… Steve Biegun, deputy U.S. secretary of state, told the Financial Times … he was confident the U.S. could be more agile and find ‘the seam’ in the relationship between Russia and China. … [a] seam … held together solely by a ‘mutual determination to challenge the United States.’ … The two are far from an alliance in the western […]

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

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

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

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Russia Considers Emulating The World’s Largest Oil Hedge

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Tsvetana Paraskova – July 22, 2020) Russia is considering whether to adopt a kind of state oil hedging program, similar to Mexico’s oil hedge, to protect government revenues from oil price crashes in the future, Russian news agency Interfax reported on Wednesday, quoting sources familiar with the matter. The Mexican oil hedge, or the Hacienda Hedge, is considered […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s disinformation campaigns are targeting African Americans” – Washington Post/ Zilvinas Svedkauskas, Chonlawit Sirikupt, Michel Salzer

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

“Russia is masking its involvement by outsourcing its disinformation operations to West Africa.” “… The Kremlin’s previous attempts to hijack movements such as Occupy Wall Street and the Standing Rock protests against the Dakota Access pipeline indicate that the Kremlin can skillfully reframe social protests to increase mistrust between U.S. citizens and their government. If African Americans continue to be […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “There Is No Arctic Axis; Russia and China’s partnership in the north is primarily driven by business, not politics.” – Foreign Policy/ Elizabeth Buchanan

Arctic Map

“… [C]ommercial realpolitik is at the heart of [Russia and China’s Arctic] engagement. … [even as it] navigates existing fault lines, such as Beijing’s failure to acknowledge Russia’s annexation of Crimea and Moscow’s nonalignment in the … India-China conflict. … [R]egional cooperation is due to … shared interest[s] in maintaining domestic stability. Long-term economic development ventures and the viability of […]

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VIDEOS & ARTICLE: Navalny’s Greatest Hits: FBK’s Best Corruption Exposés During Its Nine-Year History

… During its nine years of existence, the FBK has been instrumental in exposing corruption in Russia, producing dozens of detailed investigative videos on oligarchs, government officials, executives at state-owned companies, and their friends and relatives […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “New FBI Notes Re-Debunk Major NYT Story, Highlight Media Collusion To Produce Russia Hoax” – The Federalist/ Mollie Hemingway

FBI Headquarters File Photo

“The New York Times in 2017 falsely reported that the Trump campaign had ‘repeated’ contacts with Russian intelligence officials during the 2016 campaign, and instead of being held accountable for publishing lies, the story’s authors received Pulitzer prizes.” “The FBI official who ran the investigation into whether the … Trump campaign colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 presidential election […]

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An Isolated Case? Observers Doubt Far East Unrest Will Spread Across Russia

Far Eastern Russia and Environs, with Khabarovsk Pinpointed, adapted from image at cdc.gov

… [Khabarovsk] residents … have been protesting following the … arrest of … popular governor[] Sergei Furgal. After … Putin named a Moscow-based politician with no ties to the Far Eastern region as Furgal’s temporary replacement, the protests took a sharply anti-Moscow turn […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Melting Arctic Permafrost Threatens Russian Energy Firms’ Bottom Line – Morgan Stanley” – Moscow Times

File Photo of Polar Bear on Snow with Bare Ground in the Background, adapted from image at nasa.gov with photo credit to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Eric Regehr

Rapidly melting Arctic permafrost poses the greatest threat to major Russian energy producers’ infrastructure and financial indicators, according to a new Morgan Stanley report […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin plans to make the West destroy itself; Chaos and division is the real goal for Russia” – The Spectator (UK)/ Owen Matthews

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

“… only one person [will] be genuinely pleased with the Intelligence and Security Committee’s Russia report … and that’s … Putin. Russia emerges as an amorphous and formidable enemy – all the more so because the inconclusive and much-redacted report contains next to no substantiated allegations. Instead Russia appears as a phantom, unknowable menace, and this will spawn a thousand […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Drew Holden: Remember the Steele dossier? ….” – twitter post

U.S. Capitol in Bright Sunlight

Remember the Steele dossier?  … Now that its been thoroughly discredited, anyone care for a trip down memory lane about how folks in the media hyped it up because it made Trump look bad? […]

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