US Opinion and Commentary

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Putin’s Syrian Misadventure

Posted December 2nd, 2015 at 10:27 am (UTC-4)
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Putin’s “crafty” Syrian chess move has left him with a lot more dead Russians; newly at odds with Turkey and Iran; weakened in Ukraine; acting as the defense lawyer for Assad — a mass murderer of Sunni Muslims, the same Sunni Muslims as Putin has in Russia; and with no real advances against ISIS.

Putin Takes Ineffectual Aim at Turkey

Posted November 30th, 2015 at 4:40 pm (UTC-4)
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President Vladimir Putin is so angry with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey that he won’t talk to him on the phone or meet with him at the United Nations climate talks in Paris. But Putin can’t do much to hurt Erdogan or his country; he can only make life a little more difficult for Russians.

Turkey Shoots Down Russian Jet. What’s Next?

Posted November 24th, 2015 at 5:12 pm (UTC-4)
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Another twist to the multi-faceted war in Syria took place this morning along the Turkey-Syria border. A Russian warplane was shot down by Turkish F-16 fighter jets after being repeatedly warned to exit Turkish airspace. Russian President Vladimir Putin described it as a “stab in the back” by a business partner, accusing Turkey of supporting the so-called Islamic State. President Obama says Turkey has a right to defend itself and its territory, but urged Ankara and Moscow to avoid any escalation. Obama starkly outlined the distinction between U.S. and Russian efforts against IS: “We’ve got a coalition of 65 countries … Russia right now has a coalition of two: Iran and Russia, supporting Assad.” Standing next to Obama at that moment was French President François Hollande. Their conversation will shape the conversation Hollande will have with Putin in Moscow later this week. And that conversation will impact the next moves on what has become a crowded battlefield.

Obama to Hollande: Stay the Course Against Russia

Posted November 23rd, 2015 at 1:55 pm (UTC-4)
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Privately, Obama officials say they are concerned about whether key European leaders are prepared to extend sanctions on Moscow, which expire in late January. And they are wary of any effort by Putin — who will host Hollande in Moscow later this week — to link events in Syria and Ukraine.

Success in Ukraine Could Threaten Western Unity

Posted November 23rd, 2015 at 1:52 pm (UTC-4)
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Today’s headlines about Syria obscure a major triumph for Western policy. Ukraine seems to be heading toward an informal settlement largely on European and U.S. terms. Yet this success could threaten the very Western unity that brought it about.

Teaming up with Russia in Syria Could be a Dangerous False Step for the U.S.

Posted November 19th, 2015 at 12:15 pm (UTC-4)
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Mr. Putin is doing his best to look like a potential partner. On Tuesday, after weeks of obfuscation, his government suddenly confirmed that the Islamic State was responsible for the bombing of a Russian airliner last month, and Russian forces carried out a rare wave of attacks against the Islamic State capital, Raqqa.

Morality, Pragmatism, and Orwell in Rhetoric and Policy

Posted November 12th, 2015 at 2:53 pm (UTC-4)
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We’ve all gotten very familiar with Vladimir Putin’s Orwellian logic, according to which peace is war, intervention is non-intervention, democracy is fascism, and fascism is democracy. His latest comments at the Valdai discussion club just reinforced, if any reinforcing were still necessary, the point that the man is a master of mendacity.

Russia Cracks Down on an Important Voice for Human Rights

Posted November 12th, 2015 at 11:47 am (UTC-4)
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The Russian Ministry of Justice has taken another step toward suffocating Memorial, one of the world’s most respected human rights and civil society organizations. The Kremlin hopes to cripple a group that has courageously defended the memory of Stalin’s victims, while carrying out independent research into modern human rights abuses.

Ukraine is in Danger of Becoming a Failed State

Posted November 6th, 2015 at 5:01 pm (UTC-4)
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Despite attempts at change by a new generation of bureaucrats, Ukraine’s economy remains unreformed. Taxes are oppressive but widely evaded, the shadow economy is growing and the regulatory climate for business has barely improved.

Growing Up in the Shadow of ‘Brother Putin’

Posted November 6th, 2015 at 10:09 am (UTC-4)
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The latest hip-hop hit in Russia is a bass-speaker-shaking tribute to the ex-KGB officer who has ruled the country for over 15 years. “My best friend is Vladimir Putin …” my six-year-old daughter, Masha, walked into the room. “My brother,” she said, glancing at the screen and smiling. “Putin is my brother!”

How Putin’s Ukrainian Dream Turned Into a Nightmare

Posted October 29th, 2015 at 12:33 pm (UTC-4)
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Putin’s plans of weakening Ukraine have backfired. Ukraine is slowly getting stronger, while Russia is getting weaker. Time is, therefore, on the side of Ukraine and the West. They should avoid offering Putin any relief as long as Russian and proxy troops continue to occupy Ukrainian territory

Reading Tea Leaves in Moscow, Damascus and Washington

Posted October 26th, 2015 at 4:28 pm (UTC-4)
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“The Russians are burning and flattening everything.” That’s how a commander in a U.S.-backed rebel militia describes Russia’s military involvement in Syria. And the commander dismisses Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s offer of Russia’s help for Syria’s “patriotic opposition” if only Russia knew their whereabouts. Moscow’s intentions — and Washington’s response — has many experts wondering how this will play out on and off the battlefield.

The West Should Take-On Putin’s P.R. Machine

Posted October 26th, 2015 at 2:45 pm (UTC-4)
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Freeze the assets of Putin’s state-funded RT cable network, not because of the odious things it spews but in compliance with two court rulings against the Russian government involving the multibillion-dollar Yukos oil company.

Jimmy Carter: A Five Nation Plan to End the Syrian Crisis

Posted October 26th, 2015 at 10:14 am (UTC-4)
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[Putin] replied that little progress had been made, and he thought that the only real chance of ending the conflict was for the United States and Russia to be joined by Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia in preparing a comprehensive peace proposal.

Is it Putin or Rasputin?

Posted October 14th, 2015 at 3:37 pm (UTC-4)
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When President George W. Bush was in power, Mr. Putin realized the president was firm in his national security decision-making…. And Russia responded with an absence of military malice in the world. With Mr. Obama, however, Mr. Putin has not only sensed weakness but an absolute disinclination to exert any military influence whatsoever on Russia’s aggression.