I am sorry to see the letter from a group that opposes a private dinner that we are holding with Peter Aven and Mikhail Fridman of Alfa Group.

I have the greatest of respect for this distinguished group of people, and we have more often been on the same side when it comes to campaigning on Russia, its aggressive foreign policy, abuse of human rights, and corruption.  Still, I am a bit bemused by the views they express in this statement.

They are clearly critics of Fridman and Aven and they provide the reasons for their criticism. We are happy to provide them with the means to express their views.
Last week we—Russian and US experts and activists—learned that an off-the-record roundtable dinner with Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven, principals of the Alfa Group, will be held on May 21 at the Atlantic Council. These Kremlin regime insiders are both listed on the January update of the US government list “Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” (CAATSA) but are nevertheless invited to discuss “the outlook for the Russian economy in an era of escalating sanctions” in Washington DC.
US President Donald J. Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Iran nuclear deal may increase the prospects of instability in the Middle East. However, Russia is likely to interpret this instability through the prism of what many politicians and analysts in Moscow like to call the “approaching global confrontation with the United States.”

In April—just before the United States, France, and the United Kingdom launched airstrikes on Syria in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime—members of the Duma, retired generals, and analysts in Moscow were convinced that the United States and Russia would come to blows over Syria.

Even before the airstrikes, Chief of General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Gen. Valery Gerasimov announced in March that Russia would shoot down any US missiles fired at Syrian territory, and would target US aircraft and naval vessels if Russian forces were threatened.

Trump to meet Uzbek president at the White House on May 16

US President Donald J. Trump will meet his Uzbek counterpart, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, at the White House on May 16. This will be the first time since March 2002 that the president of Uzbekistan has made an official visit to the United States.

In general, US foreign policy in Central Asia has been built, developed and, often, stalled in the following areas: political, military, economics, and human rights. Washington found in Tashkent a ready partner for security and intelligence cooperation, but never developed a close, cooperative relationship because of its concerns about political authoritarianism in the country and, in particular, human rights abuses. 
Days after a wave of protests won an enormous (and unlikely) victory by forcing the resignation of Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sargysan, his Republican Party still seems reluctant to let their grip on power slip away. Opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan could be confirmed as the new prime minister in a parliamentary vote on May 8.

Time will tell whether Sargysan’s resignation on April 23 was a genuine step away from one party rule or little more than a sacrificial offering to the protesters. Armenia’s steps toward democracy are likely to be tortuous and fraught.
The leaders of North and South Korea agreed on April 27 to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and work to formally end the Korean War this year.

Making history, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un walked across into South Korea where he was greeted by a beaming South Korean President Moon Jae-in. This was the first time that a North Korea leader has set foot in South Korea since the end of the Korean War in 1953. Kim then asked Moon to step back with him into North Korea; Moon obliged, eliciting applause from onlookers.

“South and North Korea confirmed the common goal of realizing, through complete denuclearization, a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula,” according to a statement signed by Kim and Moon after their meeting at the so-called truce village, Panmunjom, on the border between the two Koreas.

“South and North Korea agreed to actively seek the support and cooperation of the international community for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” the statement said.
When Shavkat Mirziyoyev was elected president of Uzbekistan in December of 2016 it was widely believed that he would continue the legacy of his predecessor, Islam Karimov, who ruled the country for twenty-five years until his death.

Instead, Mirziyoyev has charted a fiercely independent foreign policy that aims to mend ties with Uzbekistan’s neighbors and boost its economy.
The Trump administration’s latest Russia sanctions package is solid and strong. It hits oligarchs tied to Russian President Vladimir Putin and their associated companies, two “golden children” (corrupt and privileged children of the Putin elite), Rosoboroneksport (the Russian arms firm), and selected officials.

While leaving plenty of room for escalation, the new package also avoids dumb moves, like trying to sanction Russian gas exports, which could drive wedges with our European or Asian allies, while simultaneously going after select CEOs.
Sanctions imposed by the US Treasury on thirty-eight Russian individuals and entities on April 6 essentially correspond to Section 241 of the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). Officially, the designations hit seven Russian oligarchs and twelve companies belonging to them, seventeen senior Russian government officials, and a state-owned Russian weapons trading company together with its bank subsidiary. These sanctions are a continuation of the US tendency to sanction people close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
By expelling sixty Russians from the United States and closing the Russian consulate in Seattle, the administration of US President Donald J. Trump has made a decisive move against the Kremlin for its attack in the United Kingdom (UK).

These actions were taken alongside announcements from fifteen European countries that they, too, would expel Russian diplomats from their nations over Moscow’s actions.

The White House announced on March 26 that the expulsion of Russian citizens—including twelve intelligence officers from Russia’s mission to the United Nations—was a direct response to the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with a nerve agent on March 4. Russia’s consulate was closed due to its proximity to submarine bases and Boeing offices in Seattle.