• How Vulnerable Is Putin? The Answer Rests on Oil

    The Kremlin’s dirty tricks are dominating the headlines and have plunged the United States into political disarray. Behind these attacks, however, is a Russia that is increasingly weak and vulnerable. What this means for the stability of Vladimir Putin’s regime, however, is anyone’s guess.

    Russia’s future depends on the price of oil and gas. This sector provides 52 percent of Russia’s federal budget and 70 percent of its exports. These prices make or break Russia, as is the case with other petro-states where economic development is nonexistent. Put bluntly, as Senator John McCain has said, “Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country.”

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  • Tillerson Urges Senate Ratification of Montenegro's NATO Membership

    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has written to the leaders of the U.S. Senate urging the ratification of Montenegro as the newest member of the NATO alliance
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  • Despite Sen. Rand Paul, Montenegro’s Foreign Minister is Confident of NATO Membership

    Montenegro’s Foreign Minister Srdjan Darmanovic is confident that, despite a procedural setback, the US Senate will ratify a protocol that will allow his nation to become the twenty-ninth member of NATO. This, he said, should happen before the Alliance’s summit in Brussels in May.

    NATO foreign ministers signed the Accession Protocol with Montenegro in May 2016. Prospective members must win approval from all NATO members’ parliaments, as well as the unanimous consent of the US Senate. Once that approval is secured, Montenegro will be invited to join the Alliance. This would represent NATO’s first expansion since Albania and Croatia joined in 2009.

    So far, twenty-four of twenty-eight NATO allies have backed Montenegro’s accession. In the United States, the process has hit a roadblock: Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) has demanded a roll call vote, which is a lengthier process than a quick voice vote.

    “I am very confident [that the Senate will ratify the protocol] and rely on US democracy," Darmanovic said in an interview with the New Atlanticist at the Atlantic Council on March 21.

    "It is normal procedure to try to get it done by unanimous consent, but in any democracy, it is not easy to get 100 out of 100 senators or parliamentarians,” he added.

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  • Russia’s Support for the Taliban Leaves Kabul Feeling Uneasy

    Afghan foreign minister sees threat to peace process

    Russia’s support for the Taliban—a terrorist group with which the United States has been at war for more than fifteen years and that is dedicated to overthrowing Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government—is causing considerable unease in Afghanistan where officials worry it will undermine efforts to make peace in their war-torn country.

    “[E]stablishing contacts with these terrorist groups will give them a wrong message and they will think that the international community is recognizing them,” said Salahuddin Rabbani, Afghanistan’s foreign minister and a former head of the country’s High Peace Council. This, in turn, would undercut a peace and reconciliation process because the Taliban “will not be encouraged to come to the negotiating table,” he added.

    The peace process has had scant success in part because, as Rabbani noted, Afghanistan’s eastern neighbor, Pakistan, continues to provide material support and sanctuary for the terrorists.

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  • Russian Policy toward Libya: The Egyptian Factor

    A great deal of media attention to Russian involvement in Libya arose as a result of a March 14 Reuters report that Moscow “appears to have deployed special forces to an airbase in western Egypt near the border with Libya.” These forces, reportedly consisting of a 22-man unit, deployed to support General Khalifa Haftar, who controls much of eastern Libya. Haftar is at odds with the UN-backed (and thus Russian-approved) Libyan government based in the western part of the country headed by Fayez al-Sarraj.

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  • Russia Threatens Norway to Stay Out of NATO Missile Defense

    From Russian Embassy in Norway:  Deployment of strategic missile defense capabilities within the global missile defense system might potentially jeopardize the efficiency of Russian strategic nuclear forces as a means of deterrence.
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  • Fishman in the Wall Street Journal: We Built the Russia Sanctions to Last

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  • The Importance of Values in Engagement with Russia

    In devising a strategy to counter Russian aggression, the new US administration must keep in mind the significance of fundamental values and frame a foreign policy accordingly, said Simon Palamar, a senior fellow with the Center for International Governance and Innovation.

    “Invoking values… is useful for reminding us about what we’re doing this for and why we’re pursuing this policy,” he said. While US President Donald J. Trump has expressed a desire for improved relations between the White House and the Kremlin, Palamar said, “Russia and the United States still simply have incompatible positions and interests on a lot of things.” These opposing positions cannot be bridged solely by good relations between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the values informing the US stance on the world stage must not be disregarded for the sake of expediency, according to Palamar. “That leads to discord; that leads to resentment.”

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  • Ullman in UPI: What Will Russia's Vladimir Putin Do Next?

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  • Polyakova Quoted by Newsweek on Vladimir Putin and Russian Foreign Policy

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