This is a compilation of Russian news you might not have heard. There’s a lot going on in Russia. President Vladimir Putin’s popularity is flagging, so much so that his United Russia Party had to resort to shady dealings in recent elections in Russia’s Far East. The retirement age for pensions has been raised, and people are not happy. They’ve just mounted a big military exercise, but probably not as big as they claim. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church will probably split organizationally from the Russian Orthodox Church.
Paul Goble worked in the State Department during the breakup of the Soviet Union. He retired some time ago and has taught in universities in Estonia. He speaks Russian and Estonian. He maintains a blog, Window on Eurasia, where he summarizes news and opinion from Russia and its neighbors in English. I’ll draw on his posts and a few other sources to note recent developments in Russia. This is far from exhaustive, and probably not even indicative of larger trends. Just things that are happening. Read More
The Trump circus in the White House continues. You have undoubtedly seen more than enough articles about Michael Flynn’s resignation as National Security Advisor because of his (not fully explained) telephone conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, or maybe it was because he lied to Vice President Michael Pence, or maybe it was because someone leaked about the whole mess to the media.
So I won’t link to much of that; in any case, I am working on posts relating to it and the question of just how connected the White House is to Russia. Flynn is the third to resign from Trump’s service for too much connection to Russia, along with Paul Manafort and Carter Page. You have probably seen news reports about calls for an independent investigative body to look at the whole mess. Read More
It’s hard to know how to deal with every day’s tsunami of Trump news. On the one hand, much of it affects US foreign relations and some the nuclear part of that. On the other, the administration lies and backtracks so much that it’s tempting to blow off much of it. The sheer volume of leaks, much of it on gossipy trivia, is tempting as a focus. The leaks themselves, as well as much of their content, indicate that White House operations are chaotic, and the bureaucracy is mostly resisting the crazier demands. Steve Bannon is much too influential, and President Trump isn’t reading what he signs.
There are hundreds of articles that I might link by the standards I’ve used in the past. But I don’t have that kind of time, and neither do you. It’s not a bad idea to check the New York Times or the Washington Post daily; both are doing a good job of covering the chaos. (Yes, I would complain about their campaign coverage too, but there are too many other things to do now.) I’ll try to present articles that help with thinking out how to deal with a presidency gone wrong, and foreign policy news that may be getting lost in the furor. Maybe some fun, too. Read More
On April 26, it will be thirty years since the Chernobyl reactor blew up. That event gave the Soviet Union’s new premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, a scare that got him thinking about better ways to run the country. None of that worked out quite as he planned, though. Here’s a good history of the Chernobyl event. Photo from here of the containment now being built for the ruined reactor. Read More
This is the most complete account I have seen of the crash of the Russian charter jet in the Sinai. Updates are coming regularly. What is remarkable to me is that Russia is not providing a number of outrageous stories. The chief executive of Metrojet even says it couldn’t possibly have been anything his airline did wrong, just as Western executives often do. ISIS claimed responsibility, but the jet was higher than most ground-based weapons can reach. The animosity toward Russia, due to Russia’s intervention in Syria, is telling, though. Photo from Reuters video. Read More
A very overhyped article on nuclear smuggling. A few things to put this in perspective: A market requires buyers and sellers. Typically these articles report on sting buyers from various law-enforcement organizations. They do not count as a market. Only one “real” possible buyer is mentioned in the article. Also, more and more of these materials are locked up every year. Russia, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, was the largest potential source of illicit nuclear materials. In 24 years, there has been no serious incident of nuclear material getting loose. And Russia’s security has improved greatly. I commented further on Twitter: start here and here and follow the linked tweets. Read More