Vladimir Kara-Murza bristles when the words “election” and “Vladimir Putin” are strung together in the same sentence.

“There are many ways to describe what happened in Russia [on March 18]. Election is not one of them,” said the Russian opposition figure who, despite surviving two apparent poisonings, remains an ardent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Despite US sanctions, the Kremlin’s pursuit of a free hand to maintain dominance over Europe’s energy market by using Nord Stream II has sparked fierce debate among Western democracies over the importance of the proposed pipeline.

“This is not about a pipeline,” said Agnia Grigas, a nonresident senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center. “This is a Kremlin project, a project by a country that is under sanctions right now for waging war in Europe.”

According to Grigas, US and European policymakers need only note the actors involved, mainly Russia, to know that “this is not purely a commercial project.” She called on all international stakeholders to “assess this long-term, generational project from its security and political perspective.”
Newly former US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his replacement, former Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo, do not necessarily see eye to eye on every major foreign policy issue. Their divergent views raise serious questions as to how the shake-up in leadership at Foggy Bottom will alter the course of US foreign policy around the world.

In particular, Pompeo has a history of disparaging the Iran nuclear deal and remains supportive of US President Donald J. Trump’s harsh rhetoric on North Korea. As the White House prepares for Trump to sit down with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sometime this spring and threatens to withdraw from the Iran deal, Pompeo could tip the policy scales and pivot away from the work done by Tillerson’s State Department.
Any US or European response to the ongoing issue of disinformation must not exploit the openness of a democratic society, but work within its boundaries to ensure transparency of information, according to the Atlantic Council’s Daniel Fried.

“We have to fight disinformation within the norms of our government,” said Fried, a distinguished fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Future Europe Initiative and Eurasia Center. Though the United States and its European allies must take important steps to counter Russian actors meddling in future elections, according to Fried, “we don’t have to become them in order to fight them.”

“The solution to this problem is going to look nothing like the problem itself,” said Jonathan Henick, deputy director of the Global Engagement Center at the US Department of State. Rather than turn the Kremlin’s subversive tactics against it, he said: “We are going to need to be much more creative in how to address this problem, and it’s not going to involve troll farms.”

Boris Nemtsov: A life remembered, a legacy celebrated

Three years have passed since the murder of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, but his legacy continues to inspire those who challenge Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian government in Russia.

Describing Nemtsov’s life and legacy, his close friend and fellow dissident Vladimir Kara-Murza said: “Every country, every nation has its good sides and its bad sides. Boris represented the best there is of Russia.”

Nemtsov was a governor, member of the Russian Duma, deputy prime minister, critic of the Kremlin, opposition leader, friend, and “the most decent person I’ve ever known,” said Kara-Murza, chairman of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation.
US President Donald J. Trump on February 23 announced that his administration has imposed what he described as the "largest-ever" set of new sanctions on North Korea.

The US Treasury Department later announced measures to cut off sources of revenue and fuel that have helped North Korea advance its nuclear program. Treasury said the action was "the largest North Korea-related sanctions tranche to date, aimed at disrupting North Korean shipping and trading companies and vessels to further isolate the regime and advance the US maximum pressure campaign."
Thirteen Russians and three Russian entities have been indicted by a grand jury for interfering in the US presidential elections in 2016, US Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office said on February 16.

The thirty-seven-page indictment alleges that Russians’ operations “included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump...and disparaging Hillary Clinton,” Trump’s Democratic opponent, according to the Guardian.
US Rep. Will Hurd [R-TX] has a strategy to check Russian meddling in the midterm elections later this year and the US Department of Homeland Security would have a pivotal role in that plan.

“We have a model that we should be thinking about when countering disinformation, and that’s CVE: Countering Violent Extremism,” said Hurd, adding: “The Department of Homeland Security is the entity designed to do that.”
On February 1 Poland’s Senate passed a controversial bill that would make it illegal to blame Poles for crimes committed by Nazi Germany. Violations would be punished by fines or prison sentences up to three years.

Polish President Andrzej Duda has previously said that he will consider signing the measure into law. That would risk a rupture in Poland’s ties with Israel and the United States.
The US Treasury Department’s decision not to slap sanctions on Russian oligarchs and officials, some with ties to the Kremlin, is a missed opportunity to check Russian aggression, according to the Atlantic Council’s Daniel Fried.

“I think the [Trump] administration missed an opportunity [on January 29] to extend the use of sanctions to Russia’s aggressive behavior,” Fried, a distinguished fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Future Europe Initiative and Eurasia Center, and formerly the State Department’s coordinator on sanctions policy, said in a phone briefing hosted by the Council on January 30.

However, he said, if a classified Treasury list of Russian officials is “credible and strong” then “its existence may have some deterrent value, but the administration then needs to work on its messaging to make sure that this is understood.”