US-Soldaten in Afghanistan

The Moscow Times


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"Turkey and Russia Show That Land Grabs Can Pay Off"

Leonid Bershidsky vergleicht die türkische Invasion in Syrien mit der russischen Übernahme der Krim und hinterfragt die heutige Bedeutung des völkerrechtlichen Prinzips der territorialen Integrität. "The emergence and acceptance of this norm — a general international consensus against military conquest and armed secession — is often credited for the declining number of conquest attempts in recent decades. But the conclusions of political scientist Mark Zacher, whose 2001 paper promoted the idea that this territorial integrity norm had led to a dramatic decrease in the number of border changes, has been challenged in more recent research. A causal link between the norm and the prevalence of land grabs is turning out hard to prove. In a recent paper, Dan Altman of Georgia State University holds that conquest has never really gone obsolete. Instead, he claims, based on several updated datasets of interstate conflicts, that the nature of land grabs has changed (...). When it comes to conquests, it’s not clear whether any kind of operational 'rules-based order' has ever existed. Putin and Erdogan are just taking more risk than is customary. The authoritarians play for big stakes. Erdogan’s Syria move is a gamble — but not because he can be held responsible for violating some important norm."

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"Russia Is the New Referee in the Middle East"

Die russische Regierung werde aus der aktuellen Krise in Syrien diplomatisch gestärkt hervorgehen, erwartet Maxim Trudolyubov. Moskau habe gegenüber Ankara klar gemacht, dass es die aktuelle Offensive, aber keine dauerhafte "illegale" Präsenz ausländischer Truppen in Syrien dulden werde. "Russia’s overarching goal now is to maintain and possibly advance its carefully cultivated role as a preeminent power broker at the world’s most difficult crossroad, the Middle East. So far, Moscow has been successful in attaining recognition of its efforts in the region from players as diverse as Iran, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Turkey. Most leaders of those countries may not want to sit down for a conversation between themselves, but each of them, separately from the others, is talking to Putin."

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"For Trump, Syria Pullout Is a Win. Putin May See It That Way Too"

Bloomberg erwartet, dass Russland vom Rückzug der US-Truppen aus Nordsyrien profitieren wird, da die Kurden in den Gesprächen mit der Assad-Regierung ohne amerikanische Unterstützung zu Kompromissen gezwungen sein könnten. "Pressure now looks set to rise on Kurdish leaders and fighters in northern Syria to work with Assad in a bid to fend off any invasion by the Turkish military, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s second largest force. 'Erdogan’s operation against the Kurds could have a positive effect for Russia,' so long as the U.S. gets its troops out of the way, said Ruslan Mamedov, a Middle East analyst at the Russian International Affairs Council, a Moscow-based research group founded by the Kremlin. It 'will make Kurds realize that they need to make a deal with Damascus.'"

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"Ukraine Peace Talks Get Breakthrough as Kiev Accepts Compromise"

In den Verhandlungen über die Zukunft des ukrainischen Donbass ist es in Minsk zu einem möglicherweise wegweisenden Durchbruch gekommen. Vertreter der ukrainischen Regierung haben der sogenannten "Steinmeier-Formel" zugestimmt, die einen vorläufigen Sonderstatus für die Region vorsieht. "The next step could be negotiations involving the leaders of Germany and France alongside Zelenskiy and Russian President Vladimir Putin — the so-called Normandy format for talks. Tuesday’s development opens the way to such a meeting and steps toward a peaceful resolution of the conflict, according to Alexei Chesnakov, a former Kremlin official who continues to consult for the Russian authorities on Ukraine. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said 'the door is open' to further progress in the implementation of the 2015 Minsk peace accord. 'Today, the final obstacles have been removed to holding a summit of the Normandy four,' Zelenskiy said. 'We’ll know the date in the very near future.'"

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"Is the Kremlin Tired of Venezuela?"

Der jüngste Besuch des venezolanischen Präsidenten in Moskau zeigt nach Ansicht von Max Hess, dass die Bereitschaft Russlands zur direkten Unterstützung der Maduro-Regierung begrenzt sei. Dies gelte jedoch nicht für das russische Mineralölunternehmen Rosneft, das sich zum wichtigen Verbündeten Maduros entwickelt habe. "(...) the immediate takeaway from this week’s talks is that while Moscow still backs Maduro, its willingness to invest further to help him achieve his goals is limited. (...) Dmitry Peskov, said the pair did not discuss new loans, and no new investments were announced. The absence of such pledges is significant. (...) Venezuela is by no means without Russian backers, even if the economic benefits of the relationship have evaporated. Foremost among them is Rosneft’s head Igor Sechin, who also attended Maduro and Putin’s meeting. Sechin has not only led Russia’s investments into Venezuela, but has also publicly backed the politics of the Bolivarian regime. Venezuela has become increasingly dependent on Rosneft, which now serves as the key conduit for exporting Venezuelan crude from the country and getting diluents to PDVSA. Rosneft has also become Venezuela’s its key supplier of refined petrol. (...) While the highlights of Putin and Maduro’s meeting signify that Moscow will not help Maduro get everything he wants, Sechin’s presence indicates that Maduro might just find he gets what he needs."

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"For Ukraine's Leader, Trump Memo On Their Call Is a Diplomatic Car Crash"

Für die Ukraine ist der Skandal um das Telefongespräch zwischen Präsident Trump und Präsident Selenskyj Reuters zufolge ein möglicherweise folgenreiches "diplomatisches Desaster". "'Unfortunately the main consequence of this is that Ukraine could become toxic,' said Alyona Getmanchuk, director of the New Europe Center in Ukraine. 'Maybe not as toxic as Russia became during the Mueller investigation, but toxic,' she said, referring to a two-year U.S. investigation into contacts between Trump's successful 2016 election campaign and Russia. The timing of the latest scandal is awkward for Zelenskiy, who is keen to reinvigorate parts of a stalled peace deal over eastern Ukraine, something for which he needs European and U.S. diplomatic muscle. (...) 'Zelenskiy does not come out looking good from this - giving the ex-U.S. ambassador a kicking, Merkel and the Europeans a kicking, and then agreeing to do Trump's dirty work on Biden,' said Timothy Ash, a senior emerging markets strategist at Bluebay Asset Management."

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"Future Without Putin No Longer Taboo Issue"

Mark Galeotti berichtet, dass innerhalb der politischen Elite in Moskau mehr oder weniger offen über eine mögliche Zukunft Russlands ohne Präsident Putin debattiert werde. "Any thought that Russia is simply a top-down authoritarianism, shaped by a brooding president’s masterplan, should be dispelled by the upsurge in open and indirect debates currently taking place in the higher echelons of the country’s elite. They demonstrate three things: that there are real differences in opinion, that this is a system where policy emerges from competitive lobbying, and that Vladimir Putin seems unwilling or unable to resolve the main issues of the day. Put together, they demonstrate the increasing dysfunctionality of 'late Putinism.' Much of the debate is, after all, openly or implicitly about 2024, when Putin’s — constitutionally — last term of office is meant to end, and the whole debate as to his future and his system’s. Will he step down in favor of a successor, carve out a new position for himself, rewrite the rules to stay in power? Until that issue is resolved, no long-term political strategy can be elaborated, leaving the stakeholders and political technologists relying on tactical gambits and pitching their own favored solutions in the hope one gets the boss’s approval."

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"Putin Wants to Be the Middle East's Go-To Problem Solver"

Russlands Präsident Putin hat Saudi-Arabien nach den Angriffen auf zwei Ölanlagen in einer nicht ganz ernst gemeinten Anmerkung den Kauf russischer Luftabwehrsysteme angeboten. Leonid Bershidsky zufolge steckt hinter dem Scherz der Hintergedanke, Russland als effektiven Vermittler im Nahen Osten zu präsentieren. "Russia’s bid to replace the U.S. as the go-to problem solver in the Middle East is based on the success of its relatively low-cost but highly effective intervention in Syria, where the Russian air force and deniable mercenaries have helped propel Assad’s forces to victory in a bloody civil war. Putin’s foray in Syria was meant, in part, as a sales demonstration to Middle Eastern regimes: Russia will, if asked, intervene on the side of the incumbent ruler in the interest of stability, and it will do so quickly and without political strings attached. The U.S. offers neither of these advantages. (...) It’s hard to see Saudi Arabia siding openly with Russia and undermining its long-standing alliance with the U.S., no matter how tempting Putin might make it sound. (...) In the medium to long term, however, which power is seen as the chief problem-solver in the Middle East depends on U.S. willingness to bring its might to bear. (...) Putin is waiting in the wings and signaling that he speaks the same language as the clients he’s courting."

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"Russia Could Gain From Saudi Oil Attack – Analysts"

Russland könnte sich als energiepolitischer Gewinner der aktuellen Ölkrise im Golf herausstellen, schreibt Jake Cordell. Kurzfristig profitiere Moskau von den erhöhten Ölpreisen, für verunsicherte Kunden könnte die im Vergleich zum Nahen Osten besser geschützte russische Ölförderung aber auch längerfristig interessanter werden. "In addition to any short-term windfall and pickup in energy stocks from higher oil prices, the attack could trigger a gradual pivot toward Russia among oil buyers. 'Longer-term, this strengthens the reputation of countries like Russia, which are not seen as carrying the same risks in terms of supply,' said Charles Robertson, global chief economist at Renaissance Capital. 'Russia has never had a problem supplying gas to Western Europe in 45 years of the Cold War, let alone having terrorists attack installations. Russia comes out well in terms of the perceived security of its supply.' Macro Advisory’s Weafer said: 'Europe and Asia will be much more sensitive to energy security now. Russia has been — and has always been — a reliable energy partner. Even despite the contamination of the Druzhba pipeline earlier this year, Russia remains a very secure partner. Whereas the Middle East, while it has more energy, is a lot more vulnerable. Now that the world’s most secure facility has been attacked, question marks over supply in the Middle East become even larger. By default, that helps Russia.'"

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"Russia Ready for Ukraine Peace Talks but Sets Preconditions"

Die russische Regierung hat vor einer Teilnahme an neuen Verhandlungen des Normandie-Quartetts zur Lösung der Krise im Osten der Ukraine Vorbedingungen gestellt. "Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France last met in October 2016 for talks to implement a peace deal agreed in the Belarussian capital Minsk the year before but which failed to achieve a lasting ceasefire. 'We believe that such a meeting should take place and we agree that it can be held in Paris, as proposed by French President (Emmanuel) Macron,' said Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov. He said no date had yet been fixed but added that Moscow had three preconditions before it would agree to attend. The rival armed forces in eastern Ukraine should be separated on either side of the line of contact, he said. Also, the wording on a special status for the Donbass region should be agreed and there must also be a preliminary agreement on what the summit's conclusions should be."

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"Russia Plays a Game of Nuclear Strip Poker"

Leonid Bershidsky erkennt in der russischen Informationspolitik nach dem Atomunfall auf einem Militärstützpunkt in der russischen Arktis bekannte Muster wieder. "The Russian Defense Ministry’s desire for maximum secrecy is untenable given the pressure to provide specific information to the rest of the world. So a multi-stage process resembling strip poker has ensued. The Russian government has cast off one garment after another, finally to uncover enough for observers to reconstruct a more or less coherent picture of what the garments hid. This is a game Russia also played after annexing Crimea: First, flat denials, then hints, then a straight admission. Perhaps a future Russian government will realize that coming out with the truth isn’t just a more honorable policy — it’s also a less embarrassing one. For now, we should expect more information on what actually happened to the reactor during the Aug. 8 test — but not because Russia wants us to know the full story."

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"Russia's Opposition Has a Long Way to Go"

Mark Galeotti meint dagegen, dass die Position der russischen Regierung trotz der Proteste in Moskau nach wie vor stark sei. Politische Veränderungen ließen sich in der aktuellen Situation nur mit, nicht gegen den Kreml umsetzen. "This is not 1991. At present, although there is discomfort within the elite about current policy, their greatest fear is precisely systemic collapse. The security forces are disciplined and show no signs yet of being unwilling to play their role in the drama of repression. As for the economy, it is sluggish but not in crisis (...). The Kremlin's position is strong. However much neither man would like to acknowledge the parallel, though, Putin is in some ways like Gorbachev. He does not want to head a bloody-handed junta. He wants legitimacy both at home and abroad, and to fund his adventures, his cronies' embezzlement and his vanity projects, he needs a working economy, which in turn depends on many of those on the other side of the riot barriers. (...) So the challenge facing the protesters is not just to retain their enthusiasm, courage and momentum in the face of arrests and threats, on the one hand, shashlik and music festivals on the other. Arguably more difficult will be identifying a set of goals which slowly but genuinely advance their cause, but not leave the authorities feeling they cannot comply. The opposition has enthusiasm and right on their side. The authorities have ruthlessness and cosmonauts. Against this, the opposition has to play the long, clever game."

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"The Specter of the Soviet Union Still Haunts the EU"

Donald Tusk und andere EU-Vertreter werden in ihren Äußerungen gegenüber Russland offenbar immer noch vom "Gespenst" der Sowjetunion getrieben, schreibt Sean Guillory. Diese "Anti-Nostalgie" diene auch dem Zweck, von den internen Widersprüchen der liberalen Demokratie abzulenken. "In the EU debate, the Soviet Union serves as a form of anti-nostalgia. It’s a total rejection of a past without overcoming it. Like the nostalgic, the anti-nostalgic also has, in Boym’s words, 'a romance with the fantasy of the past.' Reducing the Soviet Union to 'prisons and gulags' relies such a fantasy (albeit a nightmarish one) that flattens the complexities of Soviet life not unlike the nostalgic does. (...) The communist phantom is a reminder of the good old days when liberal democracy was in an existential, global struggle with its antithesis. But the demise of Soviet communism as a victory of liberal democracy is wearing thin thirty years on. Liberal democracy lacks a worthy antipode to reflect its grandeur. Liberal democracy’s ideological providence needs a righteous foe to sublimate its own internal contradictions. (...) When Tusk called the collapse of the Soviet Union a blessing he was engaging in his own form of nostalgia. A romance with a fantasy of a past where the EU and liberal democracy broadly-offered a bright future for Central and Eastern Europeans, and Russians too. Thirty-years dead the Soviet bogeyman has lost much of its horror, and conjuring it will do little to strengthen liberal democracy’s appeal or rekindle its progressive promise in the face of the EU’s actually existing conditions."

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"A Russian-American Deal Can Bring Stability to Syria, Weaken Iran"

Ram Yavne hält einen amerikanisch-russischen "Deal" zur Beilegung des Syrienkonflikts trotz der Spannungen zwischen den beiden Großmächten immer noch für möglich. "The compromises required are within the realm of acceptability for both states. What would a Russo-American deal look like? First, it would recognize Assad’s regime for now and delay the United Nations-mandated political transition process in Syria. The signatories would agree to fund Syria’s economic rehabilitation process, providing Assad a major incentive to accept. (...) Why would Russian President Vladimir Putin agree to such a deal? Russia would achieve its objective of keeping Assad in power and reap some economic benefits during the rehabilitation process in Syria. It would also receive global and regional recognition for its major role in Syria, something Vladimir Putin is likely to value. (...) Second, the agreement would be a component in the campaign against the Iranian regional insurgency. Third, it will outline in clearer terms future American involvement in Syria and Iraq, with less direct deployment and involvement in Syria (while continuing American support for the SDF forces and communities) and give the needed focus for Iraq and other regional issues. (...) An agreement along these lines would benefit U.S. and Israeli interests, meet important Russian objectives and deescalate tensions in the region. Most of all, it would offer the prospect of stability and peace for the people of Syria. The alternative is grim indeed."

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"Russia's Roadmap Out of the MH17 Crisis"

Fünf Jahre nach dem Abschuss des Flugs MH17 in der Ukraine befinde sich Russland in einer strategischen Falle, schreibt Mark Galeotti. Eine offizielle Übernahme der Verantwortung für die Tragödie sei nahezu ausgeschlossen, da der Schritt aus Sicht Moskaus kaum zu einer Aufhebung westlicher Sanktionen führen würde. "The fifth anniversary of the tragic shooting down of the MH17 passenger flight, hit over the Donbass by a Russian-supplied missile, prompted the inevitable calls for Moscow to take responsibility. What are the chances the Kremlin could manage a resolution, or at least de-escalation of this issue? Not much, unless it is part of some wide deal over the Donbass. (...) Given the continuing annexation of Crimea and war in the Donbass, it is unlikely there would be any substantive shift on sanctions. If anything, the perverse outcome is that this would empower those hawks who believe that this is some kind of existential struggle between the Western liberal order and an evil Russia. You see, they would argue: the more pressure on the Kremlin, the more it is forced to concede."

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"Russia’s S-400 Is 'the Best Missile System All-Around,' U.S. Firm Says"

Das russische S-400-Raketenabwehrsystem, dessen Installation in der Türkei zu einer NATO-Krise geführt hat, ist nach Ansicht von Experten des Beratungsinstituts Stratfor das derzeit beste Raketensystem der Welt. "Russia’s S-400 is the 'best all-around' missile defense system out there, the U.S. intelligence firm Stratfor has said in a new report, but it is severely limited if operating alone. Russia began delivering the S-400 surface-to-air system to Turkey last week, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan calling it 'the strongest defence system against those who want to attack our country.' The United States has opposed its NATO ally’s purchase of the Russian systems and is reportedly preparing sanctions against Turkey this week. (...) Konstantin Sokolov, geopolitical expert at the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, told The Moscow Times the missile system’s delivery marks 'a critical juncture in Russian-Turkish and Turkish-NATO relations.' 'The purchase of weapons — this is long-term cooperation and long-term policy — is a key moment because it shows that Turkey has pivoted toward Russia,' Sokolov told The Moscow Times."

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"Is Putin Winning Against Liberal Democracy?"

Russlands Präsident Putin habe sich zu einem Anführer der politischen Rechten entwickelt, schreibt Leonid Ragozin. Dies sei die Konsequenz einer "ideologischen Flexibilität", die Putins gesamte politische Karriere begleitet habe. "He was totally at peace with the liberal paradigm back in the 1990s; later he happily toyed with Soviet nostalgia, blood & soil ethnonationalism and Christian fundamentalism. He would turn liberal again if it helped keep his ratings afloat. (...) Putin wouldn’t have evolved into a far-right leader if not for the corruption, double standards and intellectual impotence of Russia’s liberals. The young Russian 'liberal' reformers of the 1990s are directly responsible for the emergence of oligarchic capitalism, which quite naturally led the country toward authoritarianism. (...) It’s much the same story when it comes to Putin confronting liberal democracy in the West. You can’t demand for Russia to ditch its nationalism and irredentism while you encourage far-right language and historical memory policies in Eastern Europe, or supply weapons to the Nazi-leaning Azov regiment in Ukraine. You can’t stop Russia from meddling in its neighborhood when you meddle all around the world, with grave results for local populations. You can’t tell Russia to stop farming trolls and spreading fake news, when your own partisan troll farms and infowar operations do that on a larger scale, using your own online platforms that you fail to regulate."

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"Why We Should Welcome Russia Rejoining PACE"

Nach der Übernahme der Krim ist Russland vor fünf Jahren das Stimmrecht im Europarat entzogen worden. Die Entscheidung ist nun trotz vieler Proteste und kritischer Medienkommentare rückgängig gemacht worden. Der russische Oppositionspolitiker Vladimir Ryzhkov begrüßt die Entscheidung, da ein Rückzug Russlands aus dem Europarat das Land weiter isoliert und die russische Zivilgesellschaft geschädigt hätte. "The vote and accompanying discussion showed that there is a deep rift in the Council of Europe — and in Europe as a whole — on the desirability of Russian participation in European institutions. An equally deep schism on the issue exists among the Russian elites. However, the decision has been made, and it will benefit both parties. (...) In general, part of the Russian elite sees membership in the Сouncil of Еurope as an unwelcome legacy of the 'wild 1990s,' something that prevents the Kremlin from having complete freedom of movement in both domestic and foreign policy. However, there is another influential part of the Russian elite that realizes leaving the Сouncil of Еurope would be a substantial blow to the national interest. (...) Under the Сouncil of Еurope, Russia has ratified and pledged to implement dozens of conventions that have a positive influence on processes taking place inside Russia. Russia’s permanent representative to the Council of Europe, Ivan Saltonovsky, stresses that the body 'is an extremely serious platform for dialogue with the participation of the Europeans, and an important part of our work on creating a single European legal and humanitarian space.'"

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"Russian Church Seeks to Ban Blessings of Weapons of Mass Destruction"

Eine von der russisch-orthodoxen Kirche eingesetzte Kommission hat sich für die Abschaffung der bisher üblichen Segnung von Massenvernichtungswaffen ausgesprochen. "The Russian Orthodox Church seeks to stop the practice of blessing weapons of mass destruction under rules that could be approved later this summer, a senior church official has said. Over the years, Russian priests have been called to bless everything from tanks and missiles to cats and metro cars. (...) 'Weapons of mass destruction and non-personal weapons in general should not be 'sanctified,'' said Bishop Savva of Zelenograd, a senior official at the Moscow Patriarchy, citing the practice of blessing missiles, tanks and other large-scale weapons. 'This is where the commission’s position is at odds with practices of recent years.' The bishop added that personal weapons could still be blessed because they are used by soldiers on military service 'for the protection of the Fatherland.'"

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"Russia Thwarts U.S. Cyber Attacks on Its Infrastructure — News Agencies"

Russische Behörden haben Berichten zufolge in den vergangenen Jahren immer wieder amerikanische Cyber-Angriffe auf kritische Infrastrukturen entdeckt und abgewehrt. "The disclosure was made on Russia's state-run RIA and TASS news agencies days after the New York Times cited unnamed government sources as saying that the United States had inserted potentially disruptive computer code into Russia's power grid as part of a more aggressive deployment of its cyber tools. (...) 'We see and note such attempts,' the Russian security source was quoted as saying in response to the report. 'However, we manage to neutralize these actions.' Foreign intelligence services have stepped up cyber attacks against Russia in recent years and are targeting mainly transport, banking and energy infrastructure, the source told TASS and RIA."

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"Moldova is the One Thing Russia and the West Agree On"

Die verworrene politische Situation in Moldawien erinnere an die Krise in Venezuela, schreibt Leonid Bershidsky. In einem der ärmsten Länder Europas konkurrierten derzeit zwei Regierungen um die Macht. Die Situation sei auch bemerkenswert, weil der Westen und Russland ähnliche Positionen vertreten. "The confluence of Russian and European interests, backed by the U.S., is almost incredible in the current geopolitical climate. It shows Russia doesn’t have to be the West’s adversary and a corruption exporter banking on chaos and decay in neighboring countries. Even though its ulterior motives are expressly not the same as those of Western countries, it’s equally interested in stability in its immediate neighborhood – and in making sure political forces sympathetic to it have some say in governing the region. (...) For now, though, it’s  important to prevent violence. Russia and the West must combine their efforts to force Plahotniuc to stand down. Europe doesn’t really need a Venezuela of its own."

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"What Russia After Vladimir Putin Might Look Like"

Leonid Bershidsky stellt eine neue Studie der in Washington ansässigen Free Russia Foundation vor, die sich mit der langfristigen Entwicklung Russlands beschäftigt hat. "The authors include some of the most insightful anti-Putin commentators today: political analyst Alexander Morozov, media expert Vasily Gatov, economists Vladimir Milov and Vladislav Inozemtsev, social anthropologist Denis Sokolov and energy expert Ilya Zaslavskiy. While the report makes no attempt to mask the authors’ clear differences of opinion, there is some consensus about the key points of tension in Russia’s immediate future. These are: Russia will still depend on energy exports. (...) Russia will increasingly come under China’s sway. (...) No high-cost military adventures, but watch Belarus and Kazakhstan. (...) No elite rebellion. (...) The picture that emerges from the report is one of a mature, stable system geared toward a relatively smooth succession when Putin moves on. For the West, the best outcome would be if a still authoritarian and highly centralized Russia decided, out of self-interest, to be less outwardly assertive, giving up on the eastern Ukraine project and abandoning attempts to sow discord in the Western through propaganda and cyber activity."

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"Russia Unlikely to Stay Neutral if U.S. and Iran Go to War"

Pyotr Kortunov und Abdolrasool Divsallar erläutern, warum ein Sturz des Regimes in Teheran keineswegs im Interesse Russlands wäre. Die USA könnten in diesem Fall eine Sicherheitsarchitektur im Nahen Osten installieren, die Washington großen Einfluss garantieren würde. Im Fall eines Kriegs der USA gegen den Iran würde es Moskau deshalb wohl nicht bei diplomatischer Unterstützung für Teheran belassen. "Over the past years, Moscow and Tehran have institutionalized their military coordination through an unprecedented amount of regular high-level military and intelligence contacts. This could also contribute to Moscow’s willingness to expand her assistance to Iran beyond diplomatic measures. Furthermore, the global ambition Russia is acting on today demands that Moscow makes an appropriate response to any radical U.S. policy towards Iran. One of Putin’s key aspirations in regard to foreign policy is asserting Russia as a globally recognized superpower. (...) Russia’s direct involvement in the U.S.-Iran conflict, should such a confrontation take place, is highly improbable. However, Moscow may take certain cautious steps in order to strengthen Iran's deterrence capacities. It is doubtful that Moscow will make any radical changes to her policy of not supplying Tehran with offensive weapons, but that doesn’t mean Russia cannot enhance Iran’s defense capabilities."

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"Ukraine’s Zelenskiy Asks U.S. for Stronger Anti-Russia Sanctions On First Day in Office"

Bei einem Treffen mit US-Vertretern hat der neue ukrainische Präsident Volodymyr Zelenskiy härtere Sanktionen gegen Russland gefordert. "'I would like to urge you that the United States keeps increasing sanctions against [Russia],' Zelenskiy said in a meeting with U.S. lawmakers and Trump administration officials, including Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, Monday. During the meeting, Zelenskiy noted that Washington is 'a powerful and very serious partner in overcoming Russia's aggression.' He voiced a similar 'hope' that the European Union will continue sanctions pressure on Russia in talks with European energy commissioner Maros Sefcovic later that day."

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"Corruption and Populism Are the West's Weaknesses, not Moscow’s Invention"

Der Skandal um den österreichischen FPÖ-Politiker und mittlerweile zurückgetretenen Vizekanzler Heinz-Christian Strache bestätigt nach Ansicht von Mark Galeotti, dass Korruption und Populismus in Europa keine Erfindung Russlands seien. "The Freedom Party in Austria, the Lega and Five Stars in Italy, the Brexit Party, Alternative for Germany and so forth all have their roots in the generalized legitimacy crisis gripping the West, not Russian subterfuge. By failing to modernize our political systems, by letting constituencies come to feel left out and overlooked, by allowing the narratives of globalization, migration and harmonization to be hijacked and defined by the populists, the mainstream has shaped its enemies, empowered them, and handed them to Moscow or any other foreign backers — from Steve Bannon to Xi Jinping — willing to stroke their egos and back their campaigns. Likewise, while it has become fashionable in some circles to assert that 'corruption is the new communism' — in other words, that the world can be divided between the 'kleptocratic East' and the 'liberal West', and that countries such as Russia seek to 'export corruption' abroad — this is evidently also a home-grown problem. No one tied Strache to a chair and forced him to listen to the Russian's pitch."

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"How One Village on the Volga Sowed Chaos in Europe’s Oil Market"

Jake Rudnitsky hat das russische Dorf Nikolayevka besucht, das als Ursprung des aktuellen "Chaos" auf den europäischen Öl-Märkten gilt. "It’s here, just east of a looping bend in the Volga River, that authorities say corrosive chlorides entered Russia’s 40,000-mile network of oil pipelines, causing the first-ever shutdown of the main export artery to Europe. President Vladimir Putin was quick to lash out at national operator Transneft, saying April 30 that the crisis was causing 'huge' damage. Eight days later, investigators blamed a band of black marketeers working in concert with a local company that had access to Transneft’s system through feeder lines in Nikolayevka. (...) Russia’s Investigative Committee accuses the group of stealing at least 1 million rubles ($15,400) of pipeline-ready oil, covering their tracks by replacing it with a similar volume of a liquid mixture consisting of raw crude and organic chlorides. The scheme lasted about 10 days and ended up tainting as much as 5 million tons of exports through the Druzhba link to Belarus and beyond, affecting refineries throughout Eastern Europe."

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"In Venezuela, Geopolitics Obscure the True Prize: Oil"

Max Hess rät dagegen von einer amerikanisch-russischen Debatte über Einflusssphären ab. Er meint, dass die USA Russland zur Kooperation in der Venezuela-Krise bewegen könnten, wenn Moskau eine Beteiligung an der künftigen Ölproduktion im Land in Aussicht gestellt würde. "Moscow’s sizable investments in Venezuela are the most likely explanation for its commitment to shoring up the Maduro regime. The imagery of standing up to the United States and 'protecting sovereignty' are added benefits. Moscow has spent the last few months signaling that it is willing to hold talks over Caracas’ fate while expanding support to Maduro, which would raise American costs in case of U.S. intervention. (...) offers should be made along the lines of what Rosneft really wants to gain: continued control over major assets in Venezuela’s oil sector. If that were to be accompanied by a face-saving political transition, new capital for the country’s hydrocarbon sector and perhaps the potential for sanctions relief, a deal could be in sight. It would also carry far fewer geopolitical costs than those promulgated by proponents of 21st-century spheres of influence."

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"Putin Is Ready to Give Up Venezuela for the Right Price"

Die russische Regierung hat Vladimir Frolov zufolge mittlerweile erkannt, dass die Krise in Venezuela in der US-Außenpolitik mit der neu beschworenen "Monroe-Doktrin" eine zentrale Rolle spielt. Moskau könnte demnach versuchen, die USA durch eigene Zugeständnisse von Konzessionen in der Ukraine zu überzeugen. "Bolton’s invocation of the Monroe Doctrine and his 'spheres of influence framing' makes Moscow believe that, if done on an equal basis, a similar right should be recognized for Russia in Ukraine and other parts of the 'near abroad'. For Moscow, a deal of equals on Venezuela where Russia helps the U.S. diffuse the crisis by engineering a constitutional transition, should involve an equally significant concession by the U.S. (on a par with JFK-Khrushchev deal to remove nuclear missiles from Cuba and Turkey) to pressure Kiev into fully implementing the Minsk-2 agreements that would truncate Ukraine’s sovereignty and allow Moscow to retain some degree of control over Kiev’s security policies. (...) Moscow is ready to sell its stake in Maduro, but it is still unclear whether Washington is ready to offer the right price."

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"Kim Jong Un Looks to Putin for Help Dealing With Trump Whiplash"

Nordkoreas Staatschef Kim Jong Un erhofft sich von seinem Besuch in Russland diesem Bericht der Moscow Times zufolge einige konkrete Zugeständnisse Moskaus. "Here’s what Kim wants: 1. Diplomatic lifeline (...) Kim wants to protect the diplomatic profile he built during a series of unprecedented trips abroad last year and demonstrate to Trump that he has friends beyond just China. (...) 2. Sanctions relief (...) Russia has pledged to abide by Security Council resolutions and there’s no sign Putin would take the risk of violating them. 3. Guest worker exceptions. One North Korean sanctions complaint that could find a receptive audience in Russia is the Security Council requirement that countries expel North Korean guest workers by the end of the year. (...) 4. Transportation links. Decades of sanctions, stagnation and excessive military spending have left North Korea’s infrastructure in bad shape. And Russia, which shares a 17 kilometer (11 mile) border with the country, wants it upgraded to gain access to the North and South Korean markets. (...) 5. Barter system. With trade between them down more than 56 percent last year, Russia and North Korea are working on a mechanism to stimulate commerce without violating sanctions, the Kommersant newspaper reported Tuesday."

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"Ukraine President-Elect Zelenskiy’s Positions on Russia, Explained"

Die Moscow Times hat die bisher geäußerten Positionen des designierten ukrainischen Präsidenten Wolodymyr Selensky zu Russland zusammengetragen. "Positions on Crimea and Donbass: — Zelenskiy said that he had a plan for a 'powerful information war' to achieve a ceasefire in the Donbass. The plan includes launching pro-Ukrainian, Russian-language broadcasts in the region and worldwide. — Zelenskiy ruled out granting special status to the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, whose Kiev-controlled parts went heavily in Zelenskiy’s favor during Sunday’s runoffs. He said there’s 'no point' in negotiating directly with the Moscow-backed rebels and endorsed deploying UN peacekeepers in the region. — He has said that Crimea’s return to Ukrainian control would only be possible under new leadership in Russia. 'The so-called ‘referendum’ cannot be considered as an act corresponding to the free will of Crimean residents.'"

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