US Opinion and Commentary

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Russia Risks Being Prosecuted for Syria’s War Crimes

Posted October 1st, 2015 at 10:51 am (UTC-4)
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“If you aid the Syrian air force in committing war crimes such as dropping barrel bombs on civilians, you can find yourself held responsible right up to the top, including President Putin.”

Russia Unleashes Military Strikes in Syria, Putting Pressure on US

Posted September 30th, 2015 at 2:40 pm (UTC-4)
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No matter what, the bold move by Russian President Vladimir Putin to conduct airstrikes in Syria is a dramatic game-changer. The White House says it’s unclear what the Russians were aiming at and unclear what they hit. Murkier still, the question of whether the United States is in this with Russia. Defense Secretary Ash Carter says a communication channel needs to be established. Secretary of State John Kerry warns Russia to keep the strikes aimed at the Islamic State or other extremist groups like al-Nusra, and not any target that shores up the regime of Bashir al-Assad. Four years after the uprising against Assad began, a new chapter has begun.

Beware Putin’s Peace Offering

Posted September 29th, 2015 at 2:28 pm (UTC-4)
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By James Kirchick To best understand Russian President Vladimir Putin’s approach to foreign policy, envision the world as a global protection racket. From the Scottish borderlands of the 16th century to the American urban areas of the mid and late 20th, powerful clans have extorted weaker actors for “protection.” What these poor farmers or shop […]

Obama and Putin Struggle to Find a Way Forward on Syria

Posted September 29th, 2015 at 12:09 pm (UTC-4)
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By Barbara Slavin (New York) — More than a year after their last uncomfortable encounter, the presidents of the United States and Russia have managed to conduct a lengthy and civil discussion about the issue dominating this year’s U.N. General Assembly – the multisided, devastating civil war in Syria. Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin spoke […]

Is Time Working For or Against Putin?

Posted September 28th, 2015 at 1:05 pm (UTC-4)
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What ails the Russian economy?   Take your pick.  Up until now, Putin has always made sure that pensions keep pace with inflation and are paid in full.   Now, because of the collapse in the price of oil and deep recession, that type of money is simply not available.

Putin’s Pre-U.N. Charm Offensive: Fake or Breakthrough?

Posted September 21st, 2015 at 11:06 am (UTC-4)
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Moscow think tanks believe the carefully planned and staged remarks were meant to send two important signals to the West before Putin’s meetings at the U.N. General Assembly later this month: First, he is ready to freeze the war in Eastern Ukraine, and secondly, he wants to join the West in the fight against ISIS

Like it or Not, America and Russia Need to Cooperate in Syria

Posted September 17th, 2015 at 11:43 am (UTC-4)
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The expansion of Russia’s military role in Syria has real risks. Both Russian political and military leaders and the Russian people still remember Afghanistan … Another risk is a potential collision with the United States and its allies, who have long been striking IS targets in Syria and who can also bomb Assad’s forces

Triangulation: Russia, Syria and the United States

Posted September 14th, 2015 at 1:16 pm (UTC-4)
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President Obama said Friday there will be a “long discussion” involving Russia’s move to provide military assistance to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. While the assistance may seem modest — 200 naval infantrymen, modular housing for 1,500 troops, howitzers, a short-range guided-missile controller and a dozen armored vehicles according to the Pentagon — it’s seen as another audacious gesture by Russian president Vladimir Putin. There is concern that Putin is creating facts on the ground similar to the situation in Ukraine with Washington unable, or unwilling, to confront Moscow. And there are those who suggest Russia should take note of history and its unsuccessful invovlement in Afghanistan? There are plenty of suggestions for all sides on how to stop the war in Syria.

A Hawkish Hillary Clinton Distances Herself From Obama’s Putin Policy

Posted September 10th, 2015 at 4:21 pm (UTC-4)
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During her speech supporting the Iran nuclear deal, Hillary Clinton included a thinly veiled criticism of President Barack Obama’s Russia policy after Russian leader Vladimir Putin boldly annexed Crimea, and then sent support to Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. Now, Russia says it’s sending military help to Syria to bolster the Assad regime. Clinton said she pressed hard for a tougher line against Putin, and vowed to carry it out if she becomes the next President of the United States.

Why Waiting for Russia to Collapse is Terrible Ukraine Policy

Posted September 1st, 2015 at 2:49 pm (UTC-4)
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In one narrative, the declining economy will galvanize widespread public opposition to the Putin government, as hundreds of thousands of Russians are set to fall below the poverty line … It seems quite dangerous, however, to base policy towards Russia on assumptions of a forthcoming economic disaster.

Vladimir Putin is Suffocating His Own Nation

Posted July 30th, 2015 at 1:23 pm (UTC-4)
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In the tumult and uncertainty that marked Russia after the Soviet Union imploded … a vital lifeline was extended from the West. The U.S. government, as well as foundations and philanthropies, responded generously … Now, President Vladimir Putin is forcing these organizations out of Russia

Riyadh Looks to Moscow

Posted June 18th, 2015 at 11:39 am (UTC-4)
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Prince Muhammad’s visit to Russia will increase speculation that Saudi Arabia’s relationship with the United States is changing.