Russia

Turkey and the Kurds turn to Russia to solve problems sparked by U.S. exit from Syria

BEIRUT — Both Turkey and the Syrian Kurds are now pinning their hopes on Russia to resolve the problems created by President Trump’s abrupt decision last month to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, which has threatened to ignite a… Liz Sly The Washington Post Turkish officials said Wednesday that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is planning to visit Moscow this month for talks on Syria and other issues with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Kurds have already reached out to Russia ... Read More »

Is Venezuela Willing to Start a Caribean War?

The timing of Russia sending two long-range bombers to Venezuela earlier in December was Washington wondering what Caracas is thinking. Scott B. MacDonald The National Interest On December 22, 2018, the Bolivarian Navy of Venezuela ‘íntercepted” the ExxonMobil research ship, the Ramform Tethys, in the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana. The ship is flagged by the government of Bahamas and was contracted to to contact seismic work by ExxonMobil and has a crew ... Read More »

The other Khashoggi

A gruesome death in Ukraine provides a warning for those following the murder of the Saudi journalist. Mary Mycio Politico An opposition journalist disappears. Anonymous tapes hint at his gruesome murder. An autocrat selling himself as a pro-Western reformer, beset by intrigue at home, is blamed for the death. In moral repugnance, the democratic world shuns him, sparking a foreign policy crisis. If this sounds like the case of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, that’s because it is. But the scenario ... Read More »

10 Conflicts to Watch in 2019

As U.S. leadership of the international order fades, more countries are seeking to bolster their influence by meddling in foreign conflicts. In this new era of limit testing, Crisis Group’s President Robert Malley lists the Ten Conflicts to Watch in 2019. In a world with fewer rules, the only truly effective one is knowing what you can get away with. The answer today, it turns out, is: quite a lot. As the era of uncontested U.S. primacy fades, the international ... Read More »

Trump’s Syria Withdrawal Hinges on Turkey

Whether pulling the remaining U.S. troops from Syria turns out to be a bold and beneficial move or a stupid, harmful one depends on what Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will do. Angelo M. Codevilla American Greatness That, in turn, depends in no small part on what constraints he senses from President Trump—as well as from Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Here, to the best of my understanding, are the circumstances and the possible consequences of the president’s decision to withdraw from Syria. ... Read More »

Russia-Ukraine War: Kiev’s Navy Says ‘We Will Be Ready’ and Prepared to Use ‘Weapons’ If Moscow Attacks Again

One month after Russia attacked three Ukrainian navy ships in the Kerch Strait, Ukraine’s navy chief said his country was prepared to defend its sovereignty from its bigger neighbor and exert its freedom to navigate in the… Cristina Maza Newsweek “There’s a war going on, initiated by Russia…and this war is raging at the sea too, since 2014. Whether we want and don’t want to lay low at bases and offices; we have to fulfill our duties regarding the… And the ... Read More »

Avoiding a Free-for-all in Syria’s North East

President Donald Trump has ordered U.S. troops to withdraw from north-east Syria. ICG This risks chaos and drives home the urgent need for a deal that restores Syrian state sovereignty to its north east, assuages Turkish security concerns and allows for some degree of Kurdish self-rule. What’s new? President Trump’s surprise decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria followed previous warnings that he justified their presence only as part of the campaign to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS). Trump said ... Read More »

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 »