Tuesday, December 27, 2016

News Reviews and Opinions: » Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks: The Latest: Putin ...

News Reviews and Opinions: » Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks: The Latest: Putin ...: You cannot reconcile with Putin’s Russia __________________________________________ Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks and Tweets In Br...

U.S., Russia, and the World - Review

us russia world - Google Search

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Story image for us russia world from Christian Science Monitor

2017 promises US-China tensions, resurgent Russia, and trade ...

Christian Science Monitor-Dec 26, 2016
Donald Trump's ascendance in Washington and Russian President .... get some change in China that boosts world trade and the US economy.
Story image for us russia world from BBC News

Russia used Syria as live-fire training - US general

BBC News-Dec 22, 2016
The US army's commander in Europe has accused Russia of using its military campaign in Syria as a "live-fire training opportunity". Lt Gen Ben ...
Story image for us russia world from U.S. News & World Report

Russia examines all possible reasons for Black Sea jet crash

U.S. News & World Report-Dec 25, 2016
Russian rescue workers attend the scene of the crashed plane at a pier ... included dozens of singers in Russia's world-famous military choir.
Story image for us russia world from U.S. News & World Report

25 Years After Soviet Union Collapse, Lessons for U.S.-Russia ...

U.S. News & World Report-Dec 23, 2016
Twenty-five years later, analysts are either despairing of the distressing state of relations between the United States and Russia, or outraged ...
Story image for us russia world from BBC News

Obama vows action against Russia over election hacks

BBC News-Dec 15, 2016
US President Barack Obama has vowed to take action against Russia for its alleged interference in the US presidential election campaign.
Story image for us russia world from The Guardian

US blacklists more Russian businessmen and companies over Crimea

The Guardian-Dec 20, 2016
President Vladimir Putin of Russia. The US placed sanctions on seven businessmen and eight companies and government enterprises on ...
Story image for us russia world from Fox News

Kremlin calls US-Russia ties 'frozen,' unsure about Trump

Fox News-Dec 21, 2016
MOSCOW – The Kremlin hopes that Donald Trump's administration will help improve the strained Russia-U.S. ties that it describes as "frozen," ...
U.S.-Russia communication channels nearly 'frozen,' Kremlin says
<a href="http://UPI.com" rel="nofollow">UPI.com</a>-Dec 21, 2016
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us military assistance to ukraine - Google Search

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Story image for us military assistance to ukraine from Voice of America

US-supplied Drones Prove Disappointing in Ukraine Conflict

Voice of America-Dec 21, 2016
The hand-launched Ravens were one of the recent highlights of U.S. security assistance to Ukraine, aiming to give Kyiv's military portable, ...
Story image for us military assistance to ukraine from The American Conservative

The Folly of Arming Ukraine Revisited

The American Conservative-Dec 21, 2016
It merely explains why the Russian government acted the way it did, and why further U.S. military assistance to the Ukrainian security forces ...
Story image for us military assistance to ukraine from The American Conservative

Arming Ukraine Is a Bad Idea

The American Conservative-Dec 21, 2016
The Senate Ukraine Caucus—a bipartisan group of senior lawmakers ... and why further U.S. military assistance to the Ukrainian security forces ...
Story image for us military assistance to ukraine from Ukrinform News
Ukrinform News

US Congress to allocate $350 mln on military aid for Ukraine

TASS-Nov 29, 2016
"It is authorization for lethal assistance," the source said, adding that the ... The US Congress is set to allocate $350 million for military assistance to Ukraine, ...
US to provide Ukraine with $350 mln in military aid
International-Ukrinform News-Nov 30, 2016
Story image for us military assistance to ukraine from Swarajya

Why American Support For Ukraine Will Not Help The Situation

Swarajya-Dec 23, 2016
What the next US administration needs to ask itself is whether more money ... and why further US military assistance to the Ukrainian security ...
Story image for us military assistance to ukraine from Ukraine Today

Obama signs defense bill, enabling help for Ukraine

Ukraine Today-Dec 24, 2016
U.S. President Barack Obama smiles as he closes the legislative folder after he ... As was reported earlier, Ukraine security assistance and intelligence ... as well as training for staff officers and senior leadership of the military.
Story image for us military assistance to ukraine from Big News Network.com

Drones supplied by US to Ukraine proven ineffective: Reuters

Big News <a href="http://Network.com" rel="nofollow">Network.com</a>-Dec 24, 2016
The hand-launched Ravens were one of the recent highlights of U.S. security assistance to Ukraine, aiming to give Kiev's military portable, ...
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us russia ukraine - Google Search

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US sanctions companies, people over Russia actions in Ukraine

CNBC-Dec 21, 2016
The United States on Tuesday targeted more Russian businessmen and companies over Russia's annexation of Crimea and the conflict in ...
Story image for us russia ukraine from Sputnik International

Russia Surprised US Links Bilateral Military Ties With Ukrainian Crisis

Sputnik International-3 hours ago
Russian Foreign Ministry said that Russia is surprised that the United States continues to interlink bilateral military contacts with the Ukrainian ...
Story image for us russia ukraine from NBCNews.com

Russian hackers tracked Ukrainian artillery units using Android ...

Reuters-Dec 21, 2016
Russia has repeatedly denied hacking accusations, and Trump has also dismissed the assessments of the U.S. intelligence community. The malware used to track Ukrainian artillery units was a variant of the kind used to hack ...
Story image for us russia ukraine from Kyiv Post

Alexei Bayer: Trump is a traitor to the US, but it may be good for ...

Kyiv Post-Dec 26, 2016
Indeed, Russia's military adventure in Syria began as an extension of its aggression against Ukraine, as Vladimir Putin sought to acquire a ...
Story image for us russia ukraine from Reuters

Exclusive: US-supplied drones disappoint Ukraine at the front lines

Reuters-Dec 21, 2016
U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, acknowledged that Russia's electronic warfare capabilities were far more sophisticated than ...
Story image for us russia ukraine from Ukraine Today

Kissinger advises Trump to accept Crimea as Russia – Bild

Ukraine Today-2 hours ago
Face masks depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. ... Kissinger is also the one to draw up a master plan for Ukraine, according to ...
Story image for us russia ukraine from Stars and Stripes

Top US commander in Europe meets with Ukraine troops, officials ...

Stars and Stripes-Dec 15, 2016
The top U.S. commander in Europe visited Ukrainian front-line troops and defense officials as tensions with Russia continue, the Pentagon ...
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us russia europe - Google Search

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Story image for us russia europe from NBCNews.com

US Army Returns Tanks to Europe as NATO Eyes Assertive Russia

<a href="http://NBCNews.com" rel="nofollow">NBCNews.com</a>-Dec 16, 2016
EYGELSHOVEN, Netherlands — The U.S. and its NATO allies are taking no chances amid a build-up of military force on Europe's eastern ...
Story image for us russia europe from BBC News

Russia used Syria as live-fire training - US general

BBC News-Dec 22, 2016
The US army's commander in Europe has accused Russia of using its military campaign in Syria as a "live-fire training opportunity". Lt Gen Ben ...
US Army General Slams Russia's 'Live-Fire Training' in Syria
<a href="http://Military.com" rel="nofollow">Military.com</a>-Dec 22, 2016
Story image for us russia europe from CNN

Russia challenges US to prove campaign hacking claims or shut up

CNN-Dec 16, 2016
(CNN) The United States must either stop accusing Russia of meddling in its elections or prove it, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir ...
Story image for us russia europe from The Guardian

Russian involvement in US vote raises fears for European elections

The Guardian-Dec 10, 2016
The suggestion that Russia's interventions had limited or no impact on the outcome of one of the most divisive US elections in modern history ...
Story image for us russia europe from CNNMoney

Europe extends sanctions on Russia

CNNMoney-Dec 16, 2016
Europe has extended economic sanctions on Russia for another six ... The U.S. and EU both imposed sanctions on Russia after it annexed ...
Story image for us russia europe from Deutsche Welle
Deutsche Welle

Trump and Russia critics fear Rex Tillerson will upend European ...

The Guardian-Dec 13, 2016
US allies in Europe will be watching the confirmation hearings in particular for Tillerson's views on Russia, western sanctions over Moscow's ...
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Vladimir Putin, Unsurprised by...

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Vladimir Putin, Unsurprised by Trump's Remarks, Says Russia Wants No Nuclear Arms Race

New York Times - ‎Dec 23, 2016‎
“As for Donald Trump, there is nothing new about it, during his election campaign he said the U.S. needs to bolster its nuclear capabilities and its armed forces in general,” he added. Mr. Putin said that any new Russian nuclear weapons would stay ...

2017 promises US-China tensions, resurgent Russia, and trade turbulence

Christian Science Monitor - ‎Dec 26, 2016‎
Russian troops have intervened in Georgia, Crimea, eastern Ukraine, and Syria. Those operations “have boosted Russia's military confidence,” says Nicu Popescu, an analyst at the European Union's Institute for Strategic Studies in Paris. “They could be ...

Putin's Christmas Wish: Pain For The U.S. Aircraft Industry

Forbes - ‎14 hours ago‎
... this aircraft industry superiority gives the U.S. a profound strategic advantage. No matter what happens in Eastern Europe, Syria, the Baltic states, or anywhere else where Russia might apply covert or overt force, the West enjoys guaranteed air ...

9 questions about Russia you were too embarrassed to ask

Vox - ‎Dec 22, 2016‎
And now Putin's preferred candidate, Donald Trump, appears ready to embrace him as an ally — a stunning shift in US-Russia policy. This is a source of growing alarm among cosmopolitan-minded liberals. Putin is bad, they say, and so are the European ...

The Risk of Trump Abandoning Sanctions Against Putin

Newsweek - ‎Dec 26, 2016‎
Even this stand-in is a message to U.S. allies that Washington sees, understands and condemns Russian action. Sanctions against Russia are not just about Russia. They are also an essential element of Europe's response to wide-ranging challenges to ...

With US and Russia Likely to Get Closer, Israeli Army to Stress Shock and Awe Over Deterrence

Haaretz - ‎Dec 24, 2016‎
Nowadays, Israeli-Russian relations are warmer than U.S.-Russian relations, which Putin put in the deep freeze so he could pull them out to thaw after Trump is sworn in. There has been a video conference between Russian and American officers, in a ...

Trump Said the U.S. Should Expand Nuclear Weapons. He's Right.

POLITICO Magazine - ‎Dec 23, 2016‎
Beijing is expanding its nuclear forces and it is estimated that the number of Chinese warheads capable of reaching the U.S. homeland has more than trebled in the past decade and continues to grow. And Russia has become more aggressive in Europe and ...

I couldn't write a thriller as strange as a pro-Russia US president

San Francisco Chronicle - ‎14 hours ago‎
The United States does over $100 billion more in two-way trade with the European Union than with China and almost $700 billion more than with Russia. At the GOP convention, Trump's staff weakened a plank that called for giving Ukraine military aid for ...

How Russia Looks To Gain Through Political Interference

FRONTLINE - ‎Dec 23, 2016‎
Russia experts say that Moscow's apparent attempts to interfere in the internal politics of the United States are a familiar sight. In EuropeRussia has been cultivating relationships with several far-right and far-left populist groups that are ...
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The Risk of Trump Abandoning Sanctions Against Putin

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President-elect Donald Trump’s choices for top national security positions suggest he intends a broad shake-up of U.S. foreign policy.
One of the first action items could be abandoning U.S. and EU sanctions implemented on Russia following Vladimir Putin’s 2014 seizure of Crimea and invasion of Ukraine.
Trump said he would “look into” it. His pick for secretary of state, Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, opposes sanctions in general. And Lieutenant General Mike Flynn, who will serve as national security adviser, has called for the U.S. and Russia to “combine” national security strategies.
The immediate concern is what message this will send. Does Trump accept Putin’s illegal annexation of Crimea? Will he recognize the Russian protectorates in Donetsk and Luhansk taken from Ukraine?
Does he know and care that Russia is currently supporting extremist political parties in Europe, engaging in dozens of reckless military air and sea maneuvers across the continent and launching cyberattacks against its neighbors and now, possibly, against the U.S.?
If the answer is no, then the days of U.S. support for sanctions are numbered.
But are sanctions really an effective response to Putin’s revisionist foreign policy? After all, sanctions alone will not fundamentally change the regime’s behavior. They aren’t even a “Russian policy” on their own, but an inadequate stand-in for one.
Even this stand-in is a message to U.S. allies that Washington sees, understands and condemns Russian action. Sanctions against Russia are not just about Russia. They are also an essential element of Europe’s response to wide-ranging challenges to unity and security.
A worker checks the valve of an oil pipe at an oil field owned by Russian state-owned oil producer Bashneft near the village of Nikolo-Berezovka, Bashkortostan, Russia, on January 28, 2015. Wesley Fox writes that were President-elect Trump to lift sanctions against Russia for invading Ukraine, he would be condoning Vladimir Putin’s worldview that perceived national interest and spurious territorial claims supersede international treaties and norms. This risks alienating nearly every European ally and disregards the democratic foundation of the Continent. Sergei Karpukhin/reuters
The Continent is reeling from anti-EU referendums and bracing for critical elections in France and Germany. To regularly punish Russian attacks on sovereignty and democracy is an important—and increasingly necessary—act of unity on the Continent.
In requiring regular unanimous reapproval, the EU’s sanctions are an exercise in European consensus, which necessitates U.S. leadership and engagement. Sanctions are not a strategy unto themselves. But in the face of an increasingly shaky EU and an antagonistic Russia, they are a critical statement recognizing common values—and threats.
Finally, lifting the sanctions is neither low risk nor de-escalatory. To do so would condone Putin’s foreign policy and worldview that perceived national interest and spurious territorial claims supersede international treaties and norms. It risks alienating nearly every European ally and disregards the democratic foundation of the Continent.
Furthermore, this move would not reduce tensions but rather send a clear message: The price of violating long-standing treaties and norms by invading another country unprovoked is just a couple of years of sanctions. Putin has willingly paid this price before.
The U.S. needs a broader response to Russian aggression than simply sanctions, but that should be an additive process that reflects the importance of our European partnerships and our views of the international order as a whole.
If Trump does indeed want the U.S. to be respected, he cannot reward Putin’s behavior abroad by lifting the sanctions.
Wesley Fox is a retired United States Marine Corps colonel.
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2017 promises US-China tensions, resurgent Russia, and trade turbulence

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Paris2016 has been a tumultuous year around the world on several fronts, thanks to the migration crisis, terrorism, increasing nationalism, and – perhaps most of all – the election of Donald Trump as the next US president. But next year could be just as turbulent, particularly as Mr. Trump takes the reins in Washington. Here is a quick tour of places and stories to keep an eye on in 2017.

US relations with China

Outgoing US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping always agreed that their nations’ relationship was the most important in world affairs. And President-elect Trump spent more time on the campaign trail talking about China than anywhere else.
But under Trump, “it won’t be business as usual,” predicts Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
What kind of business it will be, it’s probably too early to say. But even before he has taken office, Trump’s barrage of tweets and other public comments suggest that he could be ready for a major overhaul of Washington’s China policy.
Complaining that China is “raping” the United States by its unfair trade practices, Trump has pledged to restore equity to commercial ties. He has also hinted that he might take a fresh look at Washington’s “one China policy,” which acknowledges that Beijing claims Taiwan, but leaves the island’s precise status ambiguous.
Any steps that called current American policy into question “would risk a major confrontation with China,” warns Ms. Glaser. “Beijing is not ready to re-negotiate agreements … that they see as the bedrock of US-China relations.”
Another potential flashpoint: the South China Sea, which Beijing claims almost in its entirety – along with the islets, reefs, and shoals that dot its waters – in defiance of an international legal ruling this year and of US policy.
So far, in its drive to build those reefs into military airstrips, China has stayed below the threshold that might provoke a strong American reaction. But a Trump administration could lower that threshold, and show less tolerance for Chinese adventurism.
“The next administration will be very confrontational with China,” says David Shambaugh, who teaches Chinese politics at George Washington University. “I’m not sure they appreciate China’s sensitivities or strength; Beijing could do all sorts of things to make life difficult and painful for America.”
The risk, he warns, is that a general mood of confrontation between Beijing in Washington could spawn an incident that could get out of hand. “In the worst case scenario, they could come to blows in a military clash,” says Professor Shambaugh. “That is not out of the question.”

Russia’s role in the world

One thing is plain as the world looks toward 2017. It cannot ignore Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
Twenty-five years after the humiliating collapse of the Soviet Union, President Putin is well on his way to making Russia the “ubiquitous state and indispensable partner” of his dreams, says Andrew Monaghan, who follows Russian affairs at Chatham House, a London-based think tank. “Expect Russia to be very active” on the diplomatic, military, and cyber fronts, he says.
Syria offers the most dramatic illustration of Russia’s ambitions. It was the Russian Air Force’s brutal bombing campaign that turned the tide in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s favor.
And the week before Christmas, Mr. Putin hosted Turkish and Iranian officials for political talks on how to end the civil war. US Secretary of State John Kerry was nowhere to be seen. Nor is he expected to be invited to Russian-planned talks in Kazakhstan between the Syrian government and opposition.
The Kremlin has made no secret of its intention to thwart the United States, and the West more broadly, whenever it sees fit.
In a foreign policy “concept” document published this month, Moscow framed its view of the world as a “competition … in the form of dueling values,” and announced it intended “to prevent military interventions or other forms of outside interference” justified on humanitarian grounds.
Russia “reserved the right to react very strongly to unfriendly actions, including … retaliatory or asymmetrical measures.”
Russia’s oil-dependent economy is weak, its state structures inefficient, its soft power limited. But it has a strong military that is getting stronger, and Putin is ready to use it.
Russian troops have intervened in Georgia, Crimea, eastern Ukraine, and Syria. Those operations “have boosted Russia’s military confidence,” says Nicu Popescu, an analyst at the European Union’s Institute for Strategic Studies in Paris. “They could be tempted to use military force more easily than before, if they think that will give them influence.”
Especially nervous in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Crimea are the three Baltic states, NATO members neighboring Russia, which has been bolstering its military forces in the region.
According to the NATO treaty, an invasion of Estonia, Lithuania, or Latvia would mean war. But US President-elect Trump hinted on the campaign trail that he would not necessarily feel obliged to come to their aid. And there is much speculation about the prospect that Trump would be more conciliatory toward Moscow than has President Obama.
However Trump and Putin get on, Russia and the West will remain divided over fundamental issues, not least Washington’s plan for a global missile defense system. Moscow considers the scheme a threat to its national security, the foreign policy document made clear. If the United States goes ahead with it, Moscow “reserves the right to take adequate retaliatory measures.”

Trade troubles

As for next year’s outlook for world trade, the grease to globalization’s wheels, it is bleak. Some are calling it the end of globalization.
Trade among members of the Group of 20, the leading world economies, has been pretty much stagnant this year. And now a wave of protectionist, anti-trade sentiment is washing over the United States and Europe.
That seems to have put paid to plans for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a putative free-trade deal between the United States and the European Union that has run into strong political headwinds in Europe.
The political climate, with elections due next year in Germany and France, has put TTIP negotiations “on a very long pause,” says Caroline Freund, a trade analyst at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a Washington think tank.
And Trump’s election as US president appears to have sounded the death knell for the Trans Pacific Partnership, a free-trade agreement that had already been agreed on by 12 Pacific rim countries, including the US but not China.
Trump, who has long disdained international trade deals that he says make it easier to offshore US jobs to cheaper locations, has said he will tear up the TPP.
He is also threatening to slap 45 percent tariffs on all Chinese exports to the United States. This could be rhetoric, building up a position in advance of negotiations with Beijing to make China open its market more to US goods and investment.
“The most hopeful outlook is that this works,” says Dr. Freund, “and that instead of a trade war we get some change in China that boosts world trade and the US economy. But I do not think that is particularly likely.”
More probably, she forecasts, China would retaliate big time by canceling orders for Boeing aircraft and buying European instead, or making life even harder than it already is for US companies in China, or drying up the flow of Chinese students who have been flocking to US colleges and filling their coffers for the past decade.
Before any of that could happen, Trump might be dissuaded by US businessmen from imposing across-the-board import tariffs on Chinese goods. “So much of what American consumers buy is manufactured in whole or in part in China,” points out Debbi Elms, head of the Singapore-based Asian Trade Centre. “And a lot of what US companies produce is produced in China, and a lot of their profits come off the China market.”
Under those circumstances, she warns, “a trade war could be quite catastrophic.”
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us russia israel - Google Search

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Story image for us russia israel from Press TV

'Israel, ISIL plotted Russian envoy's assassination in Turkey'

Press TV-Dec 21, 2016
'Israel, ISIL plotted Russian envoy's assassination in Turkey' ... Tayyip Erdogan to falsely blame the attack on US-based Turkish opposition ...
Story image for us russia israel from The National Interest Online (blog)

The Middle East's Worst Nightmare: A War between Israel and Russia

The National Interest Online (blog)-Dec 9, 2016
The news that Israel had attacked targets in Syria was a yawner. ... Russian fighters have already confronted U.S. aircraft attacking ISIS in Syria.
Story image for us russia israel from Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times

An Emerging Alliance: Russia and Israel

American Spectator-Dec 14, 2016
Israel's imports from Russia ($1.67 billion) are also small compared to its imports from the U.S. ($7.22 billion) and China ($5.91 billion), but ...

Russia and Middle East may strike serious blow on US economy

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The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) reached an agreement on the reduction of oil production from January 1, 2017. The agreement was reached at the meeting in Vienna on 30 November.
OPEC members agreed to restrict oil extraction on the level of 32.5 million barrels a day. In accordance with the decision, the volume of oil production will fall by 1.2 million barrels a day.
The OPEC set quotas for several members of the cartel within the scope of the agreement to limit the level of production. The largest oil producer in the cartel - Saudi Arabia - will cut oil production by nearly half a million barrels per day - up to 10.06 million. Iran will freeze it at a current level of about 3.8 million barrels.
Iraq agreed to cut production by 209,000 barrels per day, while representatives of the cartel will hold a meeting next week with non-OPEC members, Bloomberg wrote with reference to an unknown source.
During the meeting, Indonesia decided to suspend its membership in OPEC. Indonesia's quota (722,000 barrels) will be redistributed among other members of the organization.
Indonesia has thus left the cartel for the second time. The first time was in 2008, before the country joined the OPEC again on January 1, 2016. On the eve of the summit, Indonesian Minister of Energy said that the country had not decided its position. Currently, Indonesia produces about 0.75 million barrels of oil a day.
In October, OPEC oil production amounted to 33.64 million bpd, a monthly bulletin of the organization said. Saudi Arabia was producing 10.53 million barrels, Iraq - 4.56 million, Iran - 3.69 million, Kuwait - 2.84 million, while the production of other ten countries was ranging between 0.2-1.6 million barrels.
Russia and OPEC countries are interested in maintaining the price of oil within the limit of $50-$60 per barrel. It is believed that such prices would be less comfortable for US companies producing shale oil.
According to forecasts, oil prices will fluctuate at around $56-59 per barrel next year. A lot will depend on the decision of Saudi Arabia to freeze their production of oil. The oil from the Middle East is the cheapest, therefore, certain countries will have to cut their productions to balance out the market.
Russia and the Middle East expect a gradual growth of oil prices, analysts say. If Russia and the countries of the Middle East come to an agreement on the matter, they will be able to strike a serious blow on the US economy.

Read article on the Russian version of Pravda.Ru

USA running out of shale oil
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You cannot reconcile with Putin’s Russia

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Illustration: Eric Lobbecke
President Barack Obama owes Mitt Romney an apology. So does president-elect Donald Trump.
In a television interview in March 2012, Romney — the Republican Party’s nominee for president at that year’s election — said that Russia is “without question our No 1 geopolitical foe”. He went on to explain: when countries such as Iran and North Korea crossed the line, “when Assad … is murdering his own people” and we go to the UN looking for ways to stop them, “Who is it that always stands up with the world’s worst actors? It’s always Russia.”
In the final presidential debate of the 2012 election, Obama mocked Romney’s thesis: the 1980s were “calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War has been over for 20 years”.
There it is, the Obama syllogism: the Cold War is over and therefore Russia cannot be our principal geopolitical foe. This is faulty logic and even worse empirical analysis. What was evident in 2012 is even clearer today: because Vladimir Putin believes the collapse of the Soviet Union was, as he said in 2005, the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century, he is determined to reverse it by all means necessary. His incursion into Georgia, his seizure of Crimea, his role in the “frozen conflict” in eastern Ukraine — all these are part of a ruthlessly consistent strategy.
While Obama dithered endlessly over Syria, Putin acted. As he did, Obama predicted: “An attempt by Russia and Iran to prop up Assad … is just going to get them stuck in a quagmire and it won’t work.” Some quagmire. At modest cost, Putin has rescued Bashar al-Assad and restored Russia’s position in the Middle East, securing a Russian zone of influence that stretches from Lebanon to Iran.
Game, set and match to Romney. It would be graceful for the US President to acknowledge that he was wrong and the man he defeated was right.
If Obama’s Russia policy has been feckless, Trump’s promises to be far worse. The president-elect has given no indication that Russian aggression in Europe troubles him in the slightest. The idea that NATO, the greatest alliance of democracies the world has seen, has a value that transcends the balance sheet seems never to have crossed his mind.
He cheered on the Brexiteers and urged the British government to appoint Nigel Farage, until recently leader of the UK Independence Party, as its US ambassador. Never mind that the collapse of European unity, flawed as it was, would open the door to expanded Russian influence throughout the Continent. Putting America first is what every American president should do, but no American president should ever put US allies last.
When it comes to foreign policy, Trump is a bull who doesn’t know he’s in a china shop. This is why his choice for secretary of state is of more than customary importance.
The signs are not encouraging. He passed over Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who is respected on both sides of the aisle and would have been confirmed with few, if any, dissenting votes. Instead, Trump toyed with Romney, whose views on Russia he must have known, parading him repeatedly before the television cameras while allowing his senior aides to trash him, before selecting ExxonMobil chief executive Rex Tillerson, one of the few men whose pro-Russian credentials match his own.
Not satisfied with choosing a friend of Putin to represent the US abroad, Trump has spent the past two weeks running interference for the Russian President at home. It is obvious to just about everyone that Putin preferred Trump to Hillary Clinton. He certainly had good reason to do so. Confronted with intelligence pointing to Russian interference in the US election, the president-elect res­ponded by questioning the pro­fessionalism and even the political impartiality of the CIA. All of this would be comical were its implications not so serious. Putin’s toxic blend of authoritarianism and assertive national­ism is gaining adherents across Europe and inspiring autocrats around the world. If he can distort democratic politics in the US and get away with it, he can do so anywhere.
Worse, the Russian President has naked contempt for the laws and norms by which civilisation tries to limit the brutality of war. The destruction of Grozny should have put the world on notice. After Aleppo, it will be said of Putin’s Russia what a conquered Briton said of the Romans: “They make a desert and call it peace.”
A rapprochement with a country led by such a man would be a blunder — and a disgrace — that is the task of Senate Republicans to prevent.
The Wall Street Journal
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US gave leadership in Middle East to Russia: US ex-top soldier

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The former U.S. Army Chief of Staff Raymond Odierno said the United States has given its leadership in the Middle East to Russia.
“Frankly we have given up our leadership in the region to Russia. It is time for us to reassert our leadership,” Odierno told Fox News on Dec. 21.
The military option should not be taken off the table for the crises unfolding in the Middle East, he said, adding that Obama’s administration has done so for several years.
Odierno said combating terrorism would require a comprehensive approach from the U.S. government, including a ready and robust military, a strategy for countering Islamist propaganda online, a focus on disrupting terror groups’ funding and a thorough vetting process for refugees coming from hotbeds of radical Islam.
“I believe this is a time of proactive leadership to deal with this problem of radical Islamic extremism head-on. And it’s time for us to take action,” Odierno said.
He argued that the Obama administration has been overly passive in the fight against terrorism, choosing all too often to lead from behind.
“It is now time for us to lead from the front. Be aggressive at bringing nations together. Be aggressive in our own policies and bringing the capabilities of our government together to take action,” he said.
Odierno was a commander in Iraq who captured Mosul and Tikrit, the hometown of Iraq’s former leader, Saddam Hussein, and who captured Saddam later on. He was also the head of a unit that arrested members of the Turkish Special Forces in Sulaymaniyah in Iraq in 2003.


With U.S. and Russia likely to get closer, Israeli army to stress shock and awe over deterrence - Israel News

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Here’s what’s likely to happen in the coming year if the security leaders of Russia and the United States remain as expected. There will be a warm telephone or video call between James Mattis, the retired general picked to be Donald Trump’s defense secretary, and Gen. Valery Gerasimov, the head of Russia’s military.
Both presidents bear the title of commander in chief of their armed forces. The Russian defense minister, Sergey Shoygu, has a civilian background, even though he wears a military uniform, a tradition in his country. Thus Gerasimov is the highest-ranking man among Vladimir Putin’s security advisers.
Mattis, 66, and Gerasimov, 61, share the same birthday, September 8. Both dedicated time and thought to developing a strategic doctrine befitting the time, place and circumstances, including asymmetric warfare.
Mattis knows well his colleagues in the Israeli military from his days developing the Marines’ military doctrine as head of the U.S. Joint Forces Command. He was also head of U.S. Central Command  CENTCOM  during the preparation for operations against Iran and in the first years of the Syrian civil war.
Relations between the Israel Defense Forces and CENTCOM are flourishing. Officers from the General Staff’s planning division met in Tel Aviv with their counterparts from the three American commands operating in Syria – CENTCOM, EUCOM (European Command, to which Israel and Turkey belong) and SOCOM (Special Operations Command).
Gerasimov, naturally, is less friendly with the Israelis, but last year he hosted Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot for a meeting designed to prevent incidents between the two countries’ militaries as the Russians ramped up their presence in Syria.
Nowadays, Israeli-Russian relations are warmer than U.S.-Russian relations, which Putin put in the deep freeze so he could pull them out to thaw after Trump is sworn in. There has been a video conference between Russian and American officers, in a similar hope of preventing run-ins, but the general atmosphere is an intentional chill.
Another blow to the Obama administration came after a meeting in London between outgoing Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and his Turkish counterpart, Fikri Isik. Carter praised Turkey’s contribution to Operation Euphrates Shield in Syria. The next day Turkey joined the Russian-Iranian agreements.
People in the region realize which way the wind is blowing, from Barack Obama to Trump and from him to Putin. It seems that a new geopolitical entity, Amrussia, is being created on the basis of Putin’s assistance to his friend Trump and his friend Rex Tillerson, the secretary-of-state nominee and CEO of the oil – sorry, energy – company Exxon Mobil.
Pence like Nixon
It’s an extreme turnabout, because Obama, Carter and the generals in the Pentagon, of which Mattis was one (as was Trump’s pick for national security adviser, Michael Flynn), view Russia as a rival, a softer term for an enemy.
Russia is a partner in diplomatic efforts against chemical weapons in Syria and Iranian nukes, but it threatens other American interests in Europe and Asia. Russia uses violence in places like Ukraine, Crimea and Syria to achieve its aims, which are consistent with Putin and Gerasimov’s overlapping approaches. For Trump in politics and Putin in strategy, the end justifies the means.
In every lecture and hearing attended by the heads of the U.S. administration that will pass from this world in four weeks, Russia leads the top-five security challenges. It comes before China, Iran, North Korea and “violent extremist organizations,” code for the Islamic State, Al-Qaida and other Islamists.
What will happen starting on January 20? Will the bear change his coat in operational planning and discussions at NATO? After all, the European members of that alliance fear that Trump will neglect them, and they fear Putin, who harshly opposes the anti-missile system around the alliance’s eastern belt.
In one respect, Trump is bringing things back to the days of Dwight Eisenhower in the ‘50s. Eisenhower lacked political experience. His vice president was a politician with connections in Congress, Richard Nixon, and Eisenhower delegated authority. He expected Congress and Nixon to solve their arguments and only bring to him irreconcilable disputes as the final arbiter.
Trump, who patently suffers from (or enjoys) a short temper, a short attention span and little familiarity with the material, will surely put most of the burden on his (former congressman) deputy Mike Pence and the cabinet secretaries. A tug-of-war between two aggressive figures like Mattis and Tillerson will determine the center of gravity of foreign and security policy.
Tillerson isn’t the first Texas oilman in a Republican administration. William Clements, the undersecretary of defense in the Nixon administration during the Yom Kippur War and the OPEC boycott, preceded him. Clements, later governor of Texas, was the anti-Israel pole in the administration.
Luckily for Israel, Nixon didn’t appoint another Texan with close oil ties, Governor John Connally, as his vice president and potential successor. Oil has lost much of its weight, but don’t eulogize it. As long as relations with Saudi Arabia, Iran and Russia are taken into account, the result won’t benefit Israel.
Like Eisenhower and the Sinai?
In another respect, Trump is almost the entire opposite of Eisenhower, who through Secretary of State John Foster Dulles tried to block Soviet expansion and who mistakenly spoke in terms of “the Sino-Soviet bloc.” Nixon and his adviser Henry Kissinger learned to discern the cracks in the Russian camp. Now the triangle has been turned on its side. China is worrying about a Russian-American rapprochement.
Besides Stalin, who ruled for nearly three decades, Putin is the most stable Russian leader. He was head of the Federal Security Service from 1998, prime minister a year later, and president from 2000 (including four years as prime minister for the imaginary President Dmitry Medvedev).
The Lenin-Stalin-Putin chain overshadows all other links. Moreover, leaders like Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev came to the fore out of a troika. From the beginning, Putin bolstered his power as a sole leader; he didn’t have to worry about interference from Politburo comrades.
Because the continuity of American policy threatens to break down, it’s too early to focus on a particular direction. After all, Trump is unpredictable – how he’ll react, which of his picks will survive the Senate swamp, and how much maneuverability the two houses of Congress will give him.
He’s capable of joining with the Russians as Eisenhower did in the 1956 Suez crisis to force Israel out of Sinai and Gaza. He conceivably could push for an evacuation of the Golan in exchange for peace with Syria as part of a grand deal to restore Bashar Assad’s sovereignty over all Syria.
Given the axis developing between Pennsylvanian Avenue and Red Square, the IDF’s operations branch has labored to polish Israel’s military capability to defeat the friends (Hezbollah) of the friends (Iran) of Trump’s Russian friends. The plan is expected to be ready this summer.
Readers of the plan should note the added emphasis on decisiveness, as opposed to deterrence, in operations in Lebanon and Gaza. In other words, the goal is a quick, strong and clear achievement that would cause “serious damage” to the quasi-governmental organizations that confront Israel. Such an achievement would deny the enemy, for some time, the ability to cause significant damage. It would dull the sting of the nitpicking over whether the war ended in victory or a draw that’s equivalent to a loss.
Overall, Israel’s military situation is good, a senior officer in the General Staff said this week, given all the changes concerning Trump and Putin as well as the Iran nuclear deal. We can put into storage the outdated image of a small country surrounded by enemies. More correctly, small enemies are surrounded by a state, more precisely a world power.
The topic will be Syria and how to avoid conflicts in the air, sea or airwaves in and around Syria.
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Aleppo highlights Obama's disastrous Middle East policy

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The fall of Aleppo just weeks before President Barack Obama leaves office is a fitting stamp on his Middle East policy of retreat and withdrawal. The pitiable pictures from the devastated city showed the true cost of Obama's abdication. For which he seems to have few regrets, however. In his end-of-year news conference, Obama defended U.S. inaction with his familiar false choice: It was either stand aside or order a massive Iraq-style ground invasion.
This is a transparent fiction designed to stifle debate. Five years ago, the popular uprising was ascendant. What kept a rough equilibrium was regime control of the skies. At that point, the U.S., at little risk and cost, could have declared Syria a no-fly zone, much as it did Iraqi Kurdistan for a dozen years after the Gulf War of 1991.
The U.S. could easily have destroyed the regime's planes and helicopters on the ground and so cratered its airfields as to make them unusable. That would have altered the strategic equation for the rest of the war.
And it would have deterred the Russians from injecting their own air force — they would have had to challenge ours for air superiority. Facing no U.S. deterrent, Russia stepped in and decisively altered the balance, pounding the rebels in Aleppo to oblivion. The Russians were particularly adept at hitting hospitals and other civilian targets, leaving the rebels with the choice between annihilation and surrender.
They surrendered.
Obama has never appreciated that the role of a superpower in a local conflict is not necessarily to intervene on the ground, but to deter a rival global power from stepping in and altering the course of the war. That's what we did during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when Moscow threatened to send troops to support Egypt and President Nixon countered by raising America's nuclear alert status to Defcon 3. Russia stood down.
Less dramatically but just as effectively, American threats of retaliation are what kept West Germany, South Korea and Taiwan free and independent through half a century of Cold War.
It's called deterrence. Yet Obama never had the credibility to deter anything or anyone. In the end, the world's greatest power was reduced to bitter speeches at the U.N. "Are you truly incapable of shame?" thundered U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power at the butchers of Aleppo. As if we don't know the answer. Indeed the shame is on us for terminal naivete, sending our secretary of state chasing the Russians to negotiate one humiliating pretend cease-fire after another.
Even now, however, the Syria debate is not encouraging. The tone is anguished and emotional, portrayed exclusively in moral terms. Much less appreciated is the cold strategic cost.
Syrian President Bashar Assad was never a friend. But today he's not even a free agent. He's been effectively restored to his throne, but as the puppet of Iran and Russia. Syria is now a platform, a forward base, from which both these revisionist regimes can project power in the region.
Iran will use Syria to advance its drive to dominate the Arab Middle East. Russia will use its naval and air bases to bully the Sunni Arab states, and to shut out American influence.
It's already happening. The foreign and defense ministers of Russia, Iran and Turkey convened in Moscow this week to begin settling the fate of Syria. Notice who wasn't there. For the first time in four decades, the United States, the once dominant power in the region, is an irrelevance.
With Aleppo gone and the rebels scattered, we have a long road ahead to rebuild the influence squandered over the past eight years. President-elect Donald Trump is talking about creating safe zones. He should tread carefully. It does no good to try to do now what we should have done five years ago. Conditions are much worse. Russia and Iran rule. Maintaining the safety of safe zones will be expensive and dangerous. It will require extensive ground deployments and it risks military confrontation with Russia.
And why? Guilty conscience is not a good reason. Interventions that are purely humanitarian — from Somalia to Libya — tend to end badly. We may proclaim a "responsibility to protect," but when no American interests are at stake, the engagement becomes impossible to sustain. At the first losses, we go home.
In Aleppo, the damage is done, the city destroyed, the inhabitants ethnically cleansed. For us, there is no post-facto option. If we are to regain the honor lost in Aleppo, it will have to be on a very different battlefield.
Charles Krauthammer is a Washington Post columnist.
Washington Post Writers Group
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us russia middle east - Google Search

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Story image for us russia middle east from New York Times

Russia, Iran and Turkey Meet for Syria Talks, Excluding US

New York Times-Dec 20, 2016
Russia, Iran and Turkey Meet for Syria Talks, Excluding U.S. ... a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who studies Syria.
US Sidelined as Russia, Turkey, Iran Plot Syria's Fate
<a href="http://Military.com" rel="nofollow">Military.com</a>-Dec 21, 2016
Russia's Rise in Mideast Creates Enemies
In-Depth-Wall Street Journal-Dec 20, 2016

Officials: US, Russian military talks quietly proving useful

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U.S.-Russian talks on their separate fights against the Islamic State group are improving and becoming more frequent, American officials said, with each side trading information in real time and even outlining some of their strategic objectives in the months ahead. The progress dispels the notion that ties between the former Cold War foes are "frozen."
In the discussions, Russia has made clear its counterterrorism priority in Syria is retaking the ancient city of Palmyra, officials said. The U.S. is determined to pressure IS' headquarters in Raqqa.
The closer contacts have developed despite the former Cold War foes' bitter accusations against one another over the devastation in Aleppo and Moscow's claim that relations are now "frozen on all practical levels."
The confidential military discussions aren't focusing on the two countries' opposing positions in Syria's civil war, where Russia is fighting alongside the government and the United States has backed rebel groups, officials said.
But U.S. officials with knowledge of the ongoing conversations are crediting both sides with putting aside much of the public animosity, which has included Washington's accusations of Russian war crimes in Aleppo and Moscow's charges of American support for terrorist groups such as al-Qaida.
Much of the talk has concerned the two nations' immediate operations.
Since Dec. 15, the U.S.-led coalition has conducted airstrikes on about two dozen locations around Palmyra, destroying air defense weapons, tanks, aircraft shelters, storage bunkers and other vehicles and equipment. At the same time, U.S. and Russian officials having been ensuring that the two militaries' don't cross paths in the airspace above the city that IS militants seized for the second time earlier this month, and that American strikes don't mistakenly hit Russian or Syrian forces.
But the talks have gone beyond the granular and even touched on broader U.S. and Russian plans, according to several U.S. officials, who weren't authorized to speak publicly on the confidential discussions and demanded anonymity.
The Russians have spelled out that after they retake Palmyra, they want to move on IS militants congregated in Deir el-Zour, a city closer to the Iraqi border. Succeeding in Deir el-Zour, according to one U.S. official, could take Russia several months.
Palmyra became a more urgent mission after Islamic State militants ended the Syrian government's nine-month hold over the city, seizing Russian and Syrian military equipment and weapons in the process. These include dangerous air defense artillery that could be used against coalition and friendly forces.
According to officials, the U.S. and Russian military have been communicating regularly, often in real time as strikes have been about to launch to make sure innocent troops aren't at risk. The new concentration of U.S. strikes around Palmyra in the past week has made the effort especially important for Russia, one senior U.S. official said.
The scope of the discussions suggests the two sides are pulling back from some of the extreme rhetoric in recent months, mainly colored by Russia's support for the successful Syrian military effort to retake all of Aleppo. While Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed hopes that Donald Trump will improve U.S.-Russian cooperation, it appears some of the groundwork already is being done.
U.S. officials have legal constraints on how far they can go. American law prohibits any military-to-military relations with Russia in the aftermath of its 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region.
But as Syria's various conflicts have escalated, it became more critical for the U.S. and Russia to make sure they avoid crashes and other problems in the increasingly crowded skies — as happened when the U.S. mistakenly killed dozens of Syrian soldiers in airstrikes near Deir el-Zour in September.
"We certainly don't want to have a repeat of that," said Air Force Col. John Dorrian, spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and Syria.
Palmyra poses particular difficulties. Several hundred IS forces are believed to be in the city. But Syrian government and Russian troops are also there, making it difficult to tell them apart.
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Officials: US, Russian military talks quietly proving useful

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S.-Russian talks on their separate fights against the Islamic State group are improving and becoming more frequent, American officials said, with each side trading information in real time and even outlining some of their strategic objectives in the months ahead. The progress dispels the notion that ties between the former Cold War foes are &quot;frozen.&quot;...

us russia syria - Google Search

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Story image for us russia syria from Reuters

Russia calls US move to supply Syria rebels weapons a hostile act ...

Reuters-2 hours ago
Russia calls U.S. move to supply Syria rebels weapons a hostile act: RIA ... a U.S. decision to ease restrictions on weapons supplies to Syrian ...

Wall Street Journal States that Russia Bombed US-Syrian Base

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Wall Street Journal States that Russia Bombed US-Syrian Base 
According to the Wall Street Journal, Russia Bombed a secret Military base in Syria that was used by elite American and British forces.  How elite are they, if they could not even keep the base’s location a secret we wonder?
Despite the fact that some forces could have been killed and the bombing dampened relations between Russia and the Pentagon and CIA, the White House and State Department still persued a compromise.
The U.S. and Russia agreed to a pact last week to target airstrikes against the Al Qaeda affiliate in the region – Nusra Front – despite objections from the Pentagon and CIA. Russia agreed to stop airstrikes on U.S.-backed rebels and restrain the Syrian air campaign. The two sides are still talking about designations where Russia would need U.S. approval to conduct an airstrikeFull Story
Over a year ago we stated that Russia had hit the point of no return; in other words, the US had crossed Russia’s red line. Russians, as we stated, are fascinating people; they can be pushed quite a bit and keep quiet while this is going on. One never knows what their full limit is unless one takes the time to understand their culture, but when you cross that invisible red line, the transformation is shocking. It is like that of Jekyll and Hyde.  The Russian bear is in a hunting mode, and it will not stop until it has destroyed its prey.  China is emulating this behaviour as they have seen the gains Russia has made.  Russia and now China’s Goal is to drive the US out of the Middle East, and there is a good chance that they will succeed in doing so.
Israel is already stepping up the rhetoric against Hamas. However, a new war with Hamas will lead to very severe casualties on the Israeli side. Hamas soldiers are now battle hardened; they have drones and very sophisticated missiles that can target any part of Israel and they have a massive supply of these rockets. New alliances are being formed that are going to transform the Middle East entirely.  The new leaders are going to be Russia, China and Iran.
We can expect some Chinese Response directed at the US or one of its minions and Australia might be the perfect candidate.  China would not think twice about attacking an Australian warship to send a strong message to the U.S. Hence; Australia should “wise up” and allow the US to do the bulk of the patrolling in the disputed South China Sea corridor. On a separate note, we feel that Russia is pretending to make peace with Erdogan and waiting for the right time before delivering a very brutal response. They are strategic players, and Revenge is best served Cold.
Other stories of Interest 
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us russia - Google Search

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Story image for us russia from The Seattle Times

Officials: USRussian military talks quietly proving useful

The Seattle Times-2 hours ago
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S.-Russian talks on their separate fights against the Islamic State group are improving and becoming more frequent, ...
Story image for us russia from Reuters

Russia calls US move to supply Syria rebels weapons a hostile act ...

Reuters-2 hours ago
Russia calls U.S. move to supply Syria rebels weapons a hostile act: RIA ... Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday it viewed a U.S. decision ...
Story image for us russia from Business Insider

US relations with Russia hit rough patch, but there are signs things ...

Business Insider-21 hours ago
vladimir putin Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, ...
Story image for us russia from CNN

Russia gives US cold shoulder, saying relations between countries ...

CNN-Dec 22, 2016
(CNN) The frosty relationship between the United States and Russia has become even more icy after Moscow said communications between ...
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Russia calls U.S. move to supply Syria rebels weapons a hostile act: RIA

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday it viewed a U.S. decision to ease restrictions on weapons supplies to Syrian rebels as a "hostile act" which threatened the safety of Russian warplanes and military personnel, the RIA news agency reported.

Obama, Japan's Abe to seek reconciliation at Pearl Harbor

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HONOLULU (AP) -- Putting 75 years of resentment behind them, the leaders of the United States and Japan are coming together at Pearl Harbor for a historic pilgrimage to the site where the bloodshed of the surprise attacks drew America into World War II....

Cyprus Mail: George Michael died from suspected heart failure, found dead in bed by his partner 

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A screen in Times Square features the image of late singer George Michael in Manhattan
Pop superstar George Michael has been described as a “beautiful person” and a “kind and generous man” after he was found dead in bed by his partner.
The 53-year-old musician died from suspected heart failure.
His former long-term partner Kenny Goss said he was devastated at the death, which is being treated by police as “unexplained but not suspicious”.
Fadi Fawaz, who began seeing Michael following his split from Goss, said he found the star dead when he arrived to wake him ahead of a planned Christmas Day lunch.
He told the Daily Telegraph: “I went round there to wake him up and he was just gone, lying peacefully in bed. We don’t know what happened yet.
“Everything had been very complicated recently, but George was looking forward to Christmas, and so was I.
“Now everything is ruined. I want people to remember him the way he was – he was a beautiful person.”
Michael officially announced in 2011 that his 15-year relationship with Goss had ended – but said the pair had actually split around two years earlier.
Their relationship was first revealed when Michael came out as gay after being arrested in public toilets in Beverly Hills, California, in 1998 for engaging in a lewd act.
In a statement Goss said: “I’m heartbroken with the news that my dear friend and long-time love George Michael has passed.
“He was a major part of my life and I loved him very, very much. He was an extremely kind and generous man.
“The beautiful memories and music he brought to the world will always be an important part of my life and those who also loved and admired him.”
Michael’s manager Michael Lippman said it was believed he had died from heart failure, while his publicist said he “passed away peacefully at home”.
After his death it emerged Michael had quietly donated millions of pounds to charities, gave a stranger money for IVF treatment and anonymously volunteered at a homeless shelter.
The singer – whose real name was Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou – sold more than 100 million albums throughout his career.
His death came in a year which has seen the music industry lose some of its biggest stars including Prince, David Bowie and Leonard Cohen.
Michael’s former Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgeley said he was “heartbroken at the loss of my beloved friend Yog”, an affectionate nickname used for the star.
He said: “Me, his loved ones, his friends, the world of music, the world at large. 4ever loved. A xx.”
Spandau Ballet star Martin Kemp and his wife Shirlie – a backing singer for Wham! with her musical partner Helen “Pepsi” DeMacque as part of the act Pepsi & Shirlie – said they were left devastated.
Kemp previously revealed how Michael was responsible for him getting together with Shirlie, to whom he has been married since 1988.
Their son Roman, Michael’s godson, told The Sun the family had planned to go to the singer’s house during the Christmas period.
Michael formed Wham! with Ridgeley in 1981, and went on to massive success, releasing a string of hit singles including Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do), Club Tropicana and Wake Me Up Before You Go Go.
They were the first Western pop act to visit China when they played there in 1985, before splitting in 1986, by which time Michael had already released a handful of solo singles.
Fans and neighbours gathered at his homes in Highgate, north London and Goring-on-Thames in Oxfordshire to pay tribute to an artist they described as a “huge inspiration”.
Michael, whose brushes with the law and tales of drug use saw him hit the headlines, nearly died from pneumonia in late 2011. After receiving treatment in a Vienna hospital, he made a tearful appearance outside his London home and said it had been ”touch and go”.
Michael’s 1990 album Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 had been set to be reissued accompanied by a new film featuring Stevie Wonder, Sir Elton and the supermodels who starred in the video to his hit single Freedom! ’90.
An appeal for archive footage and imagery from fans including “mass Wham! hysteria” was made on Michael’s website in August, with a post on his official Facebook page saying: “George is personally seeking rare Wham! & George Michael photos and video and we need your help!” (PA)

 Cyprus Mail
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New York Times: Russia finds flight data recorder in Black Sea

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MOSCOW – The flight data recorder of the Russian military passenger plane that crashed into the Black Sea near the resort town of Sochi, killing all 92 passengers and crew members on board, has been recovered, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Dec. 27.
The flight recorder was found about a mile from the shore and will be transferred to Moscow for decoding, the Defense Ministry said in a statement, after the crash on Dec. 25 of a Tupolev 154 carrying members of the famed Alexandrov Ensemble.

JPost.com - Home: Trump family faces antisemitic backlash following Hanukka tweets 

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Social media followers attack the Trump family with antisemitic comments following tweets wishing everyone a Happy Hanukka.

 JPost.com - Home
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Page 5

Trump family faces antisemitic backlash following Hanukka tweets

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Followers attack the Trump family with antisemitic comments following tweets wishing everyone a happy Hanukka.

Russia calls U.S. move to supply Syria rebels weapons a hostile act: RIA

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday it viewed a U.S. decision to ease restrictions on weapons supplies to Syrian rebels as a "hostile act" which threatened the safety of Russian warplanes and military personnel, the RIA news agency reported.

Russia finds first flight recorder from Black Sea crash jet

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian authorities have found a flight recorder in the wreckage of a military plane that crashed into the Black Sea on Sunday, killing all 92 on board, Russian agencies cited the Defence Ministry as saying on Tuesday.

Officials: US, Russian military talks quietly proving useful

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S.-Russian talks on their separate fights against the Islamic State group are improving and becoming more frequent, American officials said, with each side trading information in real time and even outlining some of their strategic objectives in the months ahead. The progress dispels the notion that ties between the former Cold War foes are &quot;frozen.&quot;...

В Москве преступник подстрелил пять человек и покончил с собой

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В Москве преступник подстрелил пять человек и покончил с собой Злоумышленник ворвался в чужую квартиру, где взял в заложники женщину и отстреливался от правоохранителей из ружья

Минобороны России отменило полеты самолетов Ту-154

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Пока не выяснят причины авиакатастрофы российского самолета минобороны Ту-154, полеты самолетов Ту-154, которые используют российские силовые ведомства, будут приостановлены.

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Key Words: Queen Elizabeth II says it’s time to take a ‘deep breath’

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In her annual Christmas message, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II said the country needs to take a step back and just “breathe” in trying to help tackle the world’s biggest issues.

Лукашенко обратился к Порошенко

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Лукашенко обратился к Порошенко Президент Беларуси выразил убеждение, что и в дальнейшем братские белорусско-украинские связи будут крепнуть и развиваться на благо народов обеих стран

Iran's Monstrous Record in 2016 - Gatestone Institute

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Gatestone Institute

Iran's Monstrous Record in 2016
Gatestone Institute
It expanded interventionist policies in the region; pursued revolutionary principles of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism; ignored several UN resolutions and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between the P5+1 and Tehran, which Iran never ...

and more »

Штаб: Пропавшие на Луганщине военные захвачены в плен

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Пропавшие в районе Золотого Луганской области двое украинских военных находятся в плену у членов НВФ самопровозглашенной «ЛНР». Об этом ЛІГА.net сообщил спикер пресс-центра штаба АТО Леонид Матюхин. Он предположил, что пленных бойцов могли доставить в оккупированный Луганск. Судьба военнослужащих в настоящее время выясняется. Напомним, ранее сообщалось о том, что 26 декабря в районе КПВВ «Золотое» исчезли двое военнослужащих.

Боевики ЛНР устроили перестрелку с главарями: есть жертвы

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Боевики гибридной армии во время перестрелки были пьяны

Президент Молдовы уволил главу Минобороны, который выступал за сближение с НАТО

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Президент Молдовы уволил главу Минобороны, который выступал за сближение с НАТО По словам Додона, такие вещи несовместимы с обязанностями действующего министра обороны суверенного государства
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Page 7

В Якутии мужчины на "Уралах" задавили медведя

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Местные СМИ пишут, что по данному факту уже начата проверка.

Россия не является стороной Минских соглашений - МИД РФ

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Россия не является стороной Минских соглашений - МИД РФ Захарова опять обвинила США в "курировании государственного переворота в Киеве"

В Москве умер атташе посольства Ирака

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В Москве умер атташе посольства Ирака Дипломата нашли мертвым в дипломатическом ведомстве прямо на рабочем месте

God Bless America sung by the Russian Red Army Choir, FIMMQ 2011 - YouTube

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Published on Jul 8, 2012
Dans un geste de solidarité, le Choeur de l'Armée rouge Russe a chanté GOD BLESS AMERICA lors d'un tableau commémorant le dixième anniversaire des événements du 11 septembre 2001, au Tattoo militaire de Québec 2011, événement majeur du Festival International de Musiques militaires de Québec. Le soliste est Grigory Osipov. Le NYPD Band et son directeur, le Lieutenant Tony Giorgio participaient à cette commémoration. (<a href="http://www.fimmq.com" rel="nofollow">www.fimmq.com</a>)

In an expression of solidarity the Russian Red Army Choir sang GOD BLESS AMERICA at a commemorating scene the tenth anniversary of the events of September 11, 2001, at the Quebec City Military Tattoo 2011, a major event of the Quebec City International Festival of Military Bands. Soloist was Grigory Osipov. The NYPD Band and its director, Lt. Tony Giorgio participated in this commemoration. (<a href="http://www.fimmq.com" rel="nofollow">www.fimmq.com</a>)

В знак солидарности русской Красной Армии хор пел Боже, благослови Америку в память сцена десятую годовщину событий 11 сентября 2001 года в Квебеке Military Tattoo 2011, главным событием Квебеке Международный фестиваль военных духовых . The Band полиции Нью-Йорка и его директор, лейтенант Тони Джорджио участие в этом праздновании. (<a href="http://www.fimmq.com" rel="nofollow">www.fimmq.com</a>)