Russia

US approves possible Patriot missile sale to Turkey in bid to block Russian purchase

Washington (CNN) – Amid diplomatic tensions between the US and Turkey on a range of issues, the US State Department announced Tuesday that it approved the possible sale of a $3.5 billion Patriot missile system to Turkey. By Ryan Browne, CNN The approval is an attempt by the US to get Turkey to give up its plans to purchase the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system. The proposed purchase has been a major impediment to closer US-Turkish relations amid fears the Russian ... Read More »

Don’t let Russian S-400s peel Turkey away from the West

U.S.-Turkish relations are enjoying a somewhat warmer moment, following the resolution of the crisis over American pastor Andrew Brunson and the recent dialogue to resolve differences over U.S. cooperation with the… Kemal Kirişci and Seçkin Köstem Brookings However, Ankara’s commitment to purchase S-400 surface-to-air missiles from Russia presents a big challenge with important geopolitical implications. Among other problems, the plan could get Turkey sanctioned and removed from the U.S.-led program to provide F-35 aircraft. Some experts have recently argued that ... Read More »

Climate action must now focus on the global rich and their corporations

The latest UN climate talks, known as COP24, have just concluded. Nicholas Beuret The Conversation The supposed story this time was one of a grinding victory by the EU and developing nations over recalcitrant petro-states – Russia, the US, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. These four, condemned as “climate villains” over the past week, worked to block the adoption of a critical IPCC report that detailed how woefully inadequate current international action was for limiting future climate change to 1.5C. Building ... Read More »

Ukraine moves to sever Orthodox Church link with Russia

Moscow: Ukraine has taken a major step towards establishing its own, autonomous Orthodox Church, setting the stage for increased tensions with Russia by altering a centuries-old religious tradition under which the… Neil MacFarquhar The Canberra Times / The New York Times Some 190 bishops, priests and other church figures spent the day closeted in St Sophia’s Cathedral in downtown Kiev to elect the newly unified Ukrainian church’s head, Metropolitan Epiphanius. He is scheduled to travel in January to Istanbul, the ... Read More »

Maria Butina Pleads Guilty to Role in a Russian Effort to Influence Conservatives

WASHINGTON — To the conservative Americans she courted, Maria Butina was the right kind of Russian. Matthew Rosenberg The New York Times She loved guns and the church and networking with top officials in the National Rifle Association. She schmoozed with Republican presidential candidates, and became a supporter of Donald J. Trump. She spent Thanksgiving at a congressman’s country house, took a Trump campaign aide to see the rock band Styx and helped a Rockefeller heir organize “friendship dinners” with ... Read More »

The Writer Who Destroyed an Empire

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, born 100 years ago today, did more than anyone to bring the Soviet Union to its knees. Michael Scammell The New York Times When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, pundits offered a variety of reasons for its failure: economic, political, military. Few thought to add a fourth, more elusive cause: the regime’s total loss of credibility. This hard-to-measure process had started in 1956, when Premier Nikita Khrushchev gave his so-called secret speech to party leaders, in which ... Read More »

Armenia Elections Boost Hopes for Peace with Azerbaijan

With his party’s victory in the snap parliamentary elections and a new calm on the frontlines with Azerbaijan, Armenia’s leader Nikol Pashinyan and his team will have more space to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Olesya Vartanyan ICG BERKABER, Armenia – One of the windows in Sonya Matinyan’s home is filled in with bricks. The glass of the other is splintered by a rifle bullet. The roof has taken a few missile hits and leaking water has stained the ceilings in ... Read More »

Armenia’s Revolution: A Flickering Light in a Darkening Europe

This is the first insurrection in a post-Soviet state that legitimately boiled up from the streets, free of influence from outside forces. Marc Cooper The Nation Next Sunday, on December 9, Armenians are expected to further consolidate their unique and vastly underreported “Velvet Revolution.” On that day, acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s “My Step” alliance is expected to win a large governing majority in the… Though this has been barely reported, if it all, in most of the Western media, ... Read More »

U.S. Military Tests Russia at Sea Days After Warning From China

The U.S. military has sent a message to Russia by sailing through a disputed waterway near Japan. Tom O’Connor Newsweek The move came only a week after China mobilized its own vessels in response to a perceived transgression by the Navy. Navy Lieutenant Rachel McMarr, a spokesperson for the Pacific Fleet, told CNN Wednesday that Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS… The Navy considered the move one of its “freedom of navigation” operations, which are outlined in the 1982 United Nations Convention on ... Read More »

Solzhenitsyn as he saw himself

Stephen Kotkin on the turbulent life, exile and writing of the Russian author. TLS Listen to the best journalism: Download the Audm app for your iPhone. One hundred years ago this month, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was born in Kislovodsk (“acidic waters”), a curative town in the North Caucasian foothills of Russia, which was then wracked by civil war. Earlier that year, 300 miles north at Novocherkassk, the capital of the Don Cossacks, former tsarist officers had proclaimed the formation of a… The ... Read More »

Ukraine-Russia clash: Nato’s dilemma in the Black Sea

Does crisis beckon in the Black Sea? Could Russia and Nato even come to blows? Jonathan Marcus BBC That – at least for now – is probably unlikely. But the recent seizure of two Ukrainian gunboats and a tug in the approaches to the Kerch Strait, by vessels of the Russian Border Guard, has inevitably brought security in the Black Sea to the forefront of Nato’s agenda at their meeting in Brussels on Tuesday. The Black Sea has long had ... Read More »

Russia’s Gas Strategy Gets Help From Turkey

The Turkish Stream pipeline will make Ankara more energy dependent on Moscow. It will also give Russia a bigger energy foothold in Europe. Marc Pierini Carnegie Europe It was November 19 in Istanbul. There, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held a ceremony marking the completion of the first underwater segment of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline, linking Russia to Turkey’s European shores. The project is a vivid illustration of Moscow’s strategy to strengthen its position ... Read More »

Ukraine urges Nato to deploy ships amid standoff with Russia off Crimea coast

‘Put Putin in his place,’ Kiev diplomat tells Germany Tom Embury-Dennis Independent Ukraine’s president has urged Nato to deploy naval ships to the Sea of Azov amid a stand-off with Russia. “We hope that states within Nato are now ready to relocate naval ships to the Sea of Azov in order to assist Ukraine and provide security,” Petro Poroshenko said in an interview with German newspaper Bild. Mr Poroshenko’s request comes after the Russian coastguard on Sunday fired on and seized three Ukrainian vessels trying to pass through the Kerch Strait, which separates Russia’s mainland and ... Read More »

Crimea Annexation 2.0

Similar to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, Western powers have been confined to watching events from the sidelines without finding an effective response—so far. Gwendolyn Sasse Carnegie Europe The events in and around the Kerch Strait over the last five days are a stark reminder of two things: the central role of Ukraine in the relations between Russia and the West, and the misleading notion of a… It has become apparent how quickly a new cycle of confrontation and ... Read More »

Goodbye Grotius, Hello Putin

Russia’s provocations in the Kerch Strait aren’t just a challenge to Ukraine. Like Beijing in the South China Sea, Moscow is seeking to undermine international maritime law. James R. Holmes FP Sunday’s encounter between Russian and Ukrainian vessels in the Kerch Strait, the entryway to the Sea of Azov east of the Crimean peninsula, revived an age-old question in international politics: Can a coastal nation own the sea? International law says no; authoritarian states such as China and Russia say ... Read More »

Merkel warns ’no military solution’ to Ukraine conflict

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday there is “no military solution” to the Ukraine conflict after President Petro Poroshenko asked for NATO naval support in his country’s standoff with… BERLIN – AFP Berlin Blaming Russia for the tensions, Merkel said: “We ask the Ukrainian side too to be sensible because we know that we can only solve things through being reasonable and through dialogue because there is no… Russia fired on and then seized three Ukrainian ships on Sunday, accusing them of illegally entering its waters in ... Read More »