• Ukraine’s Got a Real Problem with Far-Right Violence (And No, RT Didn’t Write This Headline)

    It sounds like the stuff of Kremlin propaganda, but it’s not. Last week Hromadske Radio revealed that Ukraine's Ministry of Youth and Sports is funding the neo-Nazi group C14 to promote "national patriotic education projects" in the country. On June 8, the Ministry announced that it will award C14 a little less than $17,000 for a children’s camp. It also awarded funds to Holosiyiv Hideout and Educational Assembly, both of which have links to the far-right. The revelation represents a dangerous example of law enforcement tacitly accepting or even encouraging the increasing lawlessness of far-right groups willing to use violence against those they don't like.
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  • Here’s Why Georgia Must Be on the Agenda of a Trump-Putin Summit

    As the ten-year anniversary of the 2008 Russian invasion of Georgia approaches, there will be a brief spike in policy suggestions and attention paid to the small Caucasian nation. The reality, unfortunately, is that the five-day war in August 2008 is now mostly cited in the context of being the event that took place prior to Russia’s seizure of Crimea and incursion into Eastern Ukraine, which should have warned the Western world that Russia had returned as a fully-fledged revanchist power.

    Though there are now a number of other pressing issues facing the United States and Europe—from the fallout of the US decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal with Iran to ever-increasing trade tensions—it is in the transatlantic community’s strategic interest to continue supporting Georgia.

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  • Framing a Trump-Putin Meeting: A Short Guide to US-Russia Summits Past

    As we contemplate the promise and peril of the possible upcoming meeting between US President Donald J. Trump and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, past US-Russia summits can provide a guide to what can go right and what can go very, very wrong when American and Russian leaders meet.

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  • Five Ways the Kremlin Can Meddle in Ukraine’s Big Election

    On June 15, Yulia Tymoshenko launched the start of Ukraine’s presidential election season with a two-and-half hour speech in Kyiv, Ukraine. With twenty-nine percent of voters telling pollsters they haven’t made their minds up for the race slated for March 31, the field is wide open. But it’s not too soon to start worrying about the many ways in which the Kremlin may meddle in the election.

    The first way to meddle is easy: support pro-Russian candidates.

    Polls show that in spite of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine, pro-Russian candidates still enjoy strong approval ratings. Among them are Yuriy Boyko, former vice prime minister and an MP with support at 9.7%, and Vadim Rabinovich, leader of the “For Life” party at 9.5%. Both have over twenty years in politics and their records strongly support the Kremlin.

    If Boyko and Rabinovich were to agree on a single candidate in the 2019 presidential election, it would make for a strong ticket, and this potential merger is already drawing worrying parallels to the 2010 election when pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovych returned to power six years after the pro-democratic Orange Revolution and turned Ukraine back toward authoritarianism. The Kremlin will undoubtedly press for the same scenario in 2019 by supporting one of their candidates with large amounts of cash.

    There’s at least four other ways the Kremlin may try to influence the election.

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  • Geers Quoted in The Hill on the Russian Threat to Undersea Cables

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  • The Art of the (Russian-Israeli) Deal

    On June 1, Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya told the press that he “believes” that his country and Israel reached an agreement regarding “certain disengagement in the southwest of Syria.” Other sources reported that the agreement will include the withdrawal of Iranian and Iranian-backed forces from the Syrian-Israeli border in return for implicit Israeli acceptance of the Syrian forces’ redeployment there. More speculative reports even suggested that Russia promised to look the other way during future Israeli attacks in Syria, as long as Jerusalem commits not to target Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

    The Russian ambassador’s statement was the only formal recognition that such an agreement was reached. All other Russian and Israeli officials refused to confirm that such a deal was secured. Indeed, on June 2, a “senior Israeli diplomatic source” denied that an agreement was reached, and so did the Syrian foreign minister, Walid Mualem. The reports came amid intensive Israeli-Russian diplomatic interactions. 

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  • Herbst Quoted in the Washington Post on the G7 Summit and Russia

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  • FIFA’s Own Goal: Soccer Federation Needs to Do More to Press Russia on LGBTI Rights

    From now until July 15, one million soccer fans will descend on Russia for the twenty-first Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup, 3.4 billion people will watch from virtually every country and territory on Earth, and Russia will profit from immense global attention, an economic boon, and the fame that comes from hosting the premier mega-event.

    Such reach puts a great deal of power and influence in the hands of soccer's global governing body. While FIFA has long used its influence to encourage governments to make the quadrennial tournament safer, more profitable, and more successful, its relative inaction in protecting and advancing fundamental human rights—specifically those of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or intersex (LGBTI) community—around this year’s World Cup is disappointing.

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  • They Speak Russian in Crimea, but That Doesn’t Make It Part of Russia

    US President Donald Trump made headlines ahead of the recent G7 summit in Canada by calling on his colleagues in the group of leading industrial nations to welcome Russia back into the fold. However, it seems that this was not the full extent of his advocacy for the Kremlin. According to a report published by BuzzFeed quoting two unnamed diplomatic sources, the US president also took advantage of the opportunity presented by the traditional G7 dinner to justify Vladimir Putin’s takeover of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. The BuzzFeed report quotes him telling his G7 colleagues that Crimea was Russian “because everyone who lives there speaks Russian.”

    If this account is accurate, it is difficult to exaggerate how troubling the American leader’s comments are.

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  • Herbst in The American Interest: Why Nord Stream 2 Will Not Be Built

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