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Russia is using the same disinformation playbook to sow doubt about the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal and his daughter as it did in the case of Alexander Litvinenko’s death, Marina Litvinenko, the slain Russian intelligence officer’s widow, said at the Atlantic Council in Washington on September 11.

Russian authorities are now “trying to use a case of Alexander Litvinenko to destroy the future case of Yulia and Sergei Skripal,” Marina Litvinenko said. Alexander Litvinenko died in London in November 2006 after being exposed to radioactive polonium-210, allegedly given to him in a cup of tea. Litvinenko had emigrated to the United Kingdom in 2000 after serving for almost two decades in Soviet intelligence and then eventually Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).
In the early hours of September 12, 2001, as the world was coming to grips with the enormity of the events of the day before, US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice was busy working the phones. She discussed with the United States’ NATO allies the possibility of doing something never done before in the history of the Alliance: the invocation of Article 5 on collective defense.

Daniel Fried was working at the National Security Council and in Rice’s office at the time. He recalls Rice’s conversation with her French counterpart. “We need this,” she said.

By the evening of September 12, less than twenty-four hours after al Qaeda terrorists hijacked and crashed commercial airliners into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania, the allies invoked Article 5 in an act of solidarity with the United States. Then NATO Secretary General George Robertson informed United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan of the Alliance's decision.
US Sen. John McCain—a Vietnam veteran, six-term senator, and recipient of the Atlantic Council’s Freedom Award—passed away on August 25. He was 81. Atlantic Council leadership and fellows share their tributes to McCain.
When a cache of secret documents detailing a global network of offshore assets, the so-called Panama Papers, was released to the public in 2016, the name of a St. Petersburg cellist, Sergei Roldugin, broke into the news. The documents revealed that Roldugin, a childhood friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, had received more than $2 billion from the Russian state and oligarchs and was presumably holding that wealth for his friend.

The tight-knit—and tight-lipped—network of Russian influencers and dark money connected to the Kremlin is the subject of a report, “How the United States Can Combat Russia’s Kleptocracy,” by Anders Åslund, a resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center. Åslund details how Putin solidified his control over Russia by systematically dominating three circles of power: the state apparatus, including law enforcement agencies and courts, large state-owned companies, and his cronies. Since first becoming president in 2000, Putin has combined this ambition with enriching himself and his associates in Russia’s ruling elite.
As German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet on Saturday near Berlin, several items will be on the agenda, including the war in Syria, the conflict in east Ukraine, and US tariffs. The most important item, however, will be the Nord Stream 2 pipeline bringing Russian gas to Germany. The Nord Stream 2 project has faced harsh criticism from both partner EU countries and Washington and reflects the continued complexity of the German-Russian relationship. Merkel’s need to balance her interests between her Western allies and Moscow means that her meeting with Putin will likely produce an empty-promise agreement on Nord Stream 2, with Russia saying that it will continue its gas transit via Ukraine even after the pipeline is completed.
The Atlantic Council commemorated the ten-year anniversary of the 2008 Russia-Georgia war with a series of pieces looking at the impact of the war and the unsettled geopolitical situation today.

Here is a look back at the pieces which ran from August 7 until August 9:
The 2008 Georgian War was Russia’s first successful military action outside of its borders since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The invasion came on the heels of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s now famous imperialist revival speech at the 2007 Munich Security Conference, where he launched into a long tirade against the West, enumerating Russia’s grievances and posturing to regain a global superpower status.

On the tenth anniversary of the Russian Federation’s war with Georgia we must remember that only Western unity and a battle-worthy NATO can prevent Russian aggression against its neighbors and deter a wider war.
Ten years ago, Russia invaded Georgia, burning and ethnically cleansing the villages of the Tskhinvali region and occupying and recognizing the regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Moscow’s immediate objective was to limit the sovereign right of Georgia to resist the corrupt, backward, and technologically obsolete Russian political and economic system, and, instead, join the transatlantic political, military, and economic alliances of advanced economies. The invasion followed the April 2008 NATO Summit, where Georgia and Ukraine were given a commitment, but no actual mechanisms and timeframe to become members of NATO. The Russian Federation saw this as a window of opportunity to prevent the process.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation has attempted to control the countries in its neighborhood at all cost and punish those countries who resist Moscow’s will. In 2008, the United States and the West did not do enough to deter Russian aggression – this mistake must not be repeated.
On August 8, the Russian newspaper Kommersant published a draft of what they claim is the new Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act (DASKAA), a bill US senators introduced on August 2 that aims to punish Moscow for its interference in American elections, its continued support for the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, and the illegal annexation of Crimea.

US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said the new sanctions were necessary because existing measures had “failed to deter Russia from meddling in the upcoming 2018 elections,” and that these sanctions would be in place “until [Russia] ceases and desists meddling in the US electoral process.”
On the tenth anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Georgia, it is essential not to forget the ongoing human, security, political, and economic impact both of that war, and of Georgia’s underlying unresolved conflicts with the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Nothing brings home the cost of war better than meeting some of its victims. My most searing memory as British Ambassador to Georgia came when I visited a group of Georgian internally displaced persons near the city of Gori, less than fifty miles from Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi. They lived down a long dirt road, far from any schools, shops, medical centers, or places of work. They had little furniture, scant possessions, and few prospects for improving their lot. One elderly woman cried as she told me of her lost family: her husband prematurely dead due to ill health; one son killed in the war; another son killed in a criminal incident in Moscow, where he had moved in search of work. Another family was in despair, because both their children had serious medical issues which were not being treated. Their overall outlook remained bleak – a world removed from the more optimistic mood in Tbilisi, celebrating Georgia’s recently signed Association Agreement with the EU.


    

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