JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putting Putin in his place: U.S. Navy eyes ‘freedom of navigation’ patrols off Russia’s Arctic coast” – Washington Times/ Ben Wolfgang

“The Navy is eyeing a tougher posture in the Arctic to push back against Moscow … [T]op Pentagon officials said … the U.S. could launch ‘freedom of navigation’ operations near Russia’s Arctic coastline. Such operations would resemble Navy exercises in the South China Sea, an area in which American ships regularly contest growing Chinese territorial claims. Officials believe similar movements […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russian Aggression Spurs Neighbors to Rebuild Defenses” – Wall Street Journal/ Michael M. Phillips, James Marson

“Sweden has overturned decades of its own defense and foreign policy to strengthen its military and tighten ties with the U.S.” “Wooden targets hide among … pine trees at the Gotland island army firing range … depicting foreign invaders … faces twisted with malice. … [with] no unit insignia, no flag patches. … Swedish army recruits peppering the targets with […]

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Baku’s Success in Using Turkish Drones Raises Question: Could Ukraine Use Them Against Russia in Crimea?

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

(Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 17, Issue 179 – Paul Goble – Dec. 16, 2020) The Azerbaijani military’s use of Bayraktar TB2 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), purchased from Turkey, played such a prominent role in Baku’s victory over Armenian forces during the Second Karabakh War (September 27–November 9, 2020) that defense analysts around the world are […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “UN urges Russia to immediately withdraw forces from Crimea” – AP

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

“The U.N. General Assembly approved a resolution … urging Russia to immediately withdraw all its military forces from Crimea ‘and end its temporary occupation of the territory of Ukraine without delay.’ The vote in the 193-member world body was 63-17 with 62 abstentions …. Russia sent troops into Crimea and annexed the peninsula in 2014. It has supported separatist rebels […]

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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: “‘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: “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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RUSSIALINK: “Russia’s Security Guarantees for Armenia Don’t Extend to Karabakh, Putin Says” – Moscow Times

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

Russia’s commitments to Armenia as part of a Moscow-led regional security bloc do not include the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region where fighting is raging between Armenia and Azerbaijan … Putin said […]

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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: “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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JRL NEWSWATCH: “U.S. commander says evidence hasn’t corroborated intelligence of Russian bounties on U.S. troops” – The Hill/ John Bowden

Afghanistan Map of Ethnicities

“The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan says … he has not seen evidence to corroborate claims that Russian officials placed bounties on U.S. troops … in the Middle East. … Gen. Frank McKenzie said … reports in The New York Times and other media … indicating that U.S. intelligence officials were investigating reports that Russia was offering bounties to Taliban […]

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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’ 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: “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: “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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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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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia Warns It Will See Any Incoming Missile as Nuclear” – AP

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

“Russia will perceive any ballistic missile launched at its territory as a nuclear attack that warrants a nuclear retaliation, the military warned …. in … official military newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star) … [a warning] directed at the United States, which has worked to develop long-range non-nuclear weapons. [I]n June [Russia published its] … nuclear deterrent policy … envisag[ing] … […]

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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: “Lukashenko rhetoric shows fallout between Minsk and Moscow”- Financial Times/ Max Seddon, James Shotter

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

“Arrest of 33 Russians comes as Belarusian president’s strategy of playing Russia and the west off each other founders.” “… Belarus authorities arrested the [Russian] men [checking into a sanatorium outside Minsk as would-be tourists] and another Russian, claiming they were mercenaries plotting to ‘destabilise the situation’ ahead of Sunday’s [historically contentious] elections [in Belarus] …. [The arrests and surrounding […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “U.S. Lawmakers Offer Bill to Boost Aid for Ukraine Military” – Reuters

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

“… [S]enators [from both parties] introduced legislation to back Ukraine with $300 million of annual military financing …. The bill also authorizes up to $4 million to train Ukrainian military officers, requires a [DOD] … and State Department report on the requirements of Ukraine’s armed forces and a plan to supply security assistance and requires the appointment of a special […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Ukraine Cease-Fire Begins in Tense Climate” – Wall Street Journal/ Thomas Grove

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

A cease-fire between Ukrainian government forces and Russian-backed separatists … offer[s] the prospect of an end to a slow-burning conflict … claim[ing] thousands of lives in Eastern Ukraine … [Remaining] [p]oints of friction … includ[e] Russia’s control of … Crimea and Kyiv’s resistance to holding elections in separatist strongholds […]

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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: “How Russian imperialism could bring down Putin” – The Hill/ Janusz Bugajski

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

“… Putin has based his domestic support on economic growth and restoring the ‘Russian World.’ With the Russian economy in a nosedive, the Kremlin looks increasingly likely to attack a former Soviet neighbor to revive its imperial credentials. … Russia invaded Georgia to divert public attention from the 2008 financial crisis, and … invaded Ukraine to help quash growing protests […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “The U.S. must respond forcefully to Russia and the Taliban. Here’s how.” – Washington Post/ John W. Nicholson

File Photo of U.S. NATO Troops Atop Ridge in Afghanistan

“… Russia’s alliance with the Taliban, while calibrated in the past, is designed to undermine the success of the U.S.-led peace process and to erode the will of the United States, NATO and the Afghan people. Our leaders have a moral responsibility to protect our service members who are fighting for an enduring peace in Afghanistan, to honor the sacrifices […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Colin Powell suggests media had ‘hysterical’ reaction to Russian bounty reports” – New York Post/ Sam Dorman

Afghanistan Map of Ethnicities

“… Colin Powell indicated … that media figures overreacted to a recent report that Russian officials placed bounties on … U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. ‘What I know is that our military commanders on the ground did not think that it was as serious a problem as the newspapers were reporting and television was reporting,’ Powell [said] … ‘It got kind […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Realism in the Arctic” – The National Interest/ Kenneth Yalowitz, Ross A. Virginia

Arctic Map

“The United States and Russia have disagreements on many issues, including the organization of the international system. No ‘reset’ in relations is in sight but there is a need to put a floor in the relationship and work on possible areas for cooperation. The Arctic can be one.” “… The Arctic is [Russia’s] highest priority strategic national interest …. Arctic […]

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AUDIO JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia Denies Allegations It Paid Militants To Kill U.S. Troops As ‘Nonsense'” – NPR/ Lucian Kim

Afghanistan Map of Ethnicities

“… The Russian Foreign Ministry said the initial … New York Times [story] demonstrated the ‘low intellectual abilities of U.S. intelligence propagandists.’ … Putin[] spokesman[] Dmitry Peskov[] called subsequent reports ‘hoaxes’ … damag[ing] the reputation of the media that publish them.  Russian officials spend a lot of time refuting allegations of malfeasance, from the poisoning of a former Russian spy […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Famous ex-defence reporter arrested, accused of treason” – bne Intellinews

FSB Building file photo

“In what appears to be an escalating crackdown on Russian journalists by the Federal Security Service (FSB), famous defence reporter Ivan Safronov was arrested … and charged with treason. He faces up to 20 years in jail if convicted. The arrest is only the latest of a series of arrests and cases brought against leading Russian journalists who have simply […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “How Putin Views the Iranian Role in Syria: Insights from Bolton’s Memoir” – Mark N. Katz

Syria Map

“[According to Bolton’s new book] … Putin … told Bolton to convey … to Trump [that –] … Moscow did not need Iranian forces … in Syria… [and gained] no advantage [from it] …. Iran’s policy agenda … regard[ing] … Lebanon and the Shi’a were not [Russia’s] … [and] Iranian policy was causing problems …. Russia [wanted] … an Iranian […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “How Kremlin’s View of U.S.’s War in Afghanistan Has Shifted” – Wall Street Journal/ Alan Cullison

File Photo of U.S. NATO Troops Atop Ridge in Afghanistan

“Deteriorating U.S.-Russian ties adversely affect a once-shared goal, leading to a U.S. intelligence assessment of bounties paid to Taliban.” “For years … the U.S. and Russia shared a goal of deposing the Taliban government and hunting down its remnants …. [T]hat … crumbled … amid mutual suspicion and U.S. plans to leave Afghanistan with the Taliban undefeated. Today… [there is] […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Intelligence officials cast doubt on Times’ Russia-Taliban bounty scheme: report” – New York Post/ Ebony Bowden

File Photo of U.S. NATO Troops Atop Ridge in Afghanistan

“Intelligence officials say a news report about Russia paying the Taliban to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan does not match ‘verifiable’ Taliban activity and was never presented to … Trump because it was not deemed credible. The National Security Agency reviewed the claims contained in the New York Times report but found it did ‘not match well established and verifiable […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Return to Kabul? Russian Policy in Afghanistan” – David G. Lewis/ George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies

Soviet Era Afghan Soldiers with Flag

“… Moscow has publicly supported the current U.S.-Taliban peace talks … [yet] has a very different perspective from the U.S. … influenced by geography and history. Russia’s current strategic posture is informed by a long history of relations with Afghanistan and above all … the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in 1979, a strategic and military failure … still fresh in […]

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Russia and the West

Satellite

From: David C. Speedie <davidcspeedie@gmail.com> Date: Sun, Jun 28, 2020 Subject: Russia and the West To: <letters.editor@ft.com> (Financial Times) Philip Stephens [“Russia cannot afford a war with the west”, 26 June] contains some home truths about Russia under Vladimir Putin, but comes significantly short of the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. To focus on but a few illustrations: […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s New Nuclear Doctrine: Don’t Mess With Us – But Let’s Talk” – World Politics Review/ Richard Weitz

Iskander Missile with Launch file photo

  “… Why did Russia decide to publish its deterrence policy now? In part, it could be to dispel alleged Western misperceptions about when Russia might use nuclear weapons, specifically the Pentagon’s assessment that Moscow would threaten to use nuclear weapons – or actually do so – to intimidate an adversary into yielding in a major crisis. Previously referred to […]

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Kremlin Denies Eyeing Territorial Claims After Putin’s Comments In Documentary

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

The Kremlin has denied it has any territorial claims on former Soviet republics after … Putin appeared to question the redrawn borders of Russia after the breakup of the Soviet Union […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin heightens the strategic role of the Northern Fleet” – Barents Observer/ Thomas Nilsen

Russian Naval Vessel file photo

“In an early June decree, President Vladimir Putin de facto equals the Northern Fleet with a military district” “… [Starting in] 2021, the Northern Fleet will have the same status as Russia’s four other military districts … the Western, Southern, Central and Eastern. … [T]he Republic of Komi, Arkhangelsk Oblast, Murmansk Oblast and the Nenets Autonomous Okrug will be part […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Pentagon announces $250 million in security assistance to Ukraine” – CNN/ Ryan Browne

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

“… ‘[DOD] announced … plans for $250 million in Fiscal Year 2020 Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) funds for additional training, equipment, and advisory efforts to strengthen Ukraine’s capacity to more effectively defend itself against Russian aggression,’ the Pentagon said in a statement …. the ‘funds — $125 million of which was conditional on Ukraine’s progress on defense reforms — […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s new nuclear policy could be a path to arms control treaties” – Defense News/ Sarah Bidgood

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

… the U.S. and Russia have traditionally been able to work together to mitigate mutual threats even when their bilateral relationship is in crisis […]

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