Atlantic Council

New Atlanticist

Alternate Reality Presented to the Russian Public by its Media


Four days after the destruction of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, Russia’s state-dominated news media are bending fact and credulity in an effort to blame Ukraine for the disaster. Within hours of the crash, Russia’s second largest news agency, RIA Novosti, announced that the Boeing 777 was shot down by the Ukrainian military. Citing the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic press service as their source, RIA reported that “eyewitnesses reported that the Malaysian jet was attacked by a Ukrainian fighter plane, after which the plane broke in midair into two sections and crashed on the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic. After the attack the Ukrainian fighter jet was shot down and crashed. ”

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Calls for Probe of Flight MH17 Will Disturb Back-Room Policymaking


The shooting down of the Malaysian airliner by the Russian-led insurgents in southeastern Ukraine appears to have awakened Europe’s conscience. The principal powers in the EU had been able thus far in the Ukraine crisis to avoid directly accusing the Kremlin of responsibility for the disorder in Ukraine’s southeast. They had sanctioned Moscow three times for failing to rein in “the pro-Russian separatists,” but those measures were notably weaker than the sanctions issued from Washington. This encouraged Mr. Putin to believe that, due to its economic interests in Russia, the EU would not act decisively against Kremlin aggression in Ukraine.

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The downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine on July 17 has heightened international concern about the Ukraine-Russia conflict, tragically demonstrating the broader impact and consequences of the ongoing war.

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Atlantic Council experts Barbara Slavin and Matthew Kroenig discussed on July 17 what’s at stake in the most recent extension to the Iran nuclear talks.

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Around the time the plane disappeared, Russian Col. Girkin (Strelkov) on his 'VKontakte' page ('VKontakte' is the Russian Facebook equivalent) noted that a plane (which he called an Antonov – a Ukrainian transport plane) had been shot down in the region of Torez. The post also mentioned that the local authorities had warned all not to fly "in our skies." It also talks about a second plane being shot down.

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The Kremlin's thin veil concealing its waging of war against Ukraine effectively disappeared weeks ago for anyone carefully watching the evidence. But now it has vanished even for the casual observer. Moscow's escalation of the war since the start of July has created too much clear evidence to permit President Vladimir Putin any further benefit of the doubt.

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Vladimir Antyufeyev Fought Dirty Wars in Latvia, Moldova, Georgia; He’s Just the Man the Kremlin Needs 

Last week the Russian-backed “Donetsk People’s Republic” became even more Russian-led. The two Muscovites at the top of the separatist leadership introduced the latest Russian citizen to join their team – and the one with the most prominent role so far in the Kremlin’s quarter-century of struggles to cripple the independence of its neighboring European states.

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Putin Used West's Hesitation to Escalate Kremlin's War on Ukraine


The news that the United States has sanctioned several major Russian banks and firms, greatly limiting their use of American financial markets, is the first good news in months in terms of Western support for Ukraine. The designation of Vnesheconombank (Bank for Development and Foreign Economic Affairs), Rosneft (Russia's largest oil producer) and Gazprombank in particular will have a major impact on the Russian economy. EU sanctions are notably weaker, but still exert a price on the Kremlin for its escalating aggression in Ukraine. The decision to stop any funding for Russian projects by the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development will have an impact.

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A Diaspora Russian Declares That 500 Pro-Kremlin Fighters Could Break Up Latvia


Latvia’s government and the world’s mainstream media may have been right to publicly ignore a Latvia-born Russian named Andrey Neronsky this week when he declared that “about 500 [Donbas-style] militiamen would be enough to end the existence of Latvia as a unified state.” Neronsky is a hardline and marginalized son of the ethnic Russian community in Latvia’s capital who has re-settled in Moscow to lobby there for greater support for the Russian diaspora in the Baltic states.

While there’s no evidence that Neronsky represents any significant constituency in either Riga or Moscow, his outburst, on a Russian website, did seize the attention of Latvian political analysts and officials, if only because Eastern Europe is a more dangerously unpredictable place since Russia’s seizure of Crimea and its proxy invasion of southeastern Ukraine. And it underscores that, even if Baltic governments handle well the local grievances of their Russian minorities, a deluded minority exists in the diaspora that the Kremlin can use as cover to press its neighboring states – psychologically or with real violence.

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Kyiv Government and Local Residents Report New Tanks From Russia Entering the Fight

A week after the European Union backed away from its vow to impose broad economic sanctions on Russia over the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine, the government of President Vladimir Putin has intensified the assault. Ukraine’s government and independent reports say Russia has sent as many as 100 military or armored vehicles into Ukraine. Russia has deployed its army officers directly in the fighting, Ukraine says, and a high-altitude rocket attack today on a Ukrainian military transport reflects the introduction of either more potent missiles or direct Russian force into the war.

The Kremlin’s amplified role, effectively permitted by the West’s retreat on sanctions, underscores the urgency for the West of imposing broader measures, notably as part of the meeting Wednesday (July 16) of EU leaders, Atlantic Council analysts say.

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