FROM Alec Luhn
The Russia reaction to Trump leaks Now that the Oval Office conversation between President Trump and Russian officials is the subject of global speculation, let's hear how it is playing out in Russia. The Washington press corps is abuzz with reports that Trump shared classified information with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. Is it even a story in Moscow? We ask Alec Luhn, who's based in Moscow for the Guardian.
Putin Holds Forth on Marathon Call-In Show Despite economic recession, President Vladimir Putin has 80% approval in Russia. Today, he held the annual, four-hour televised call-in that's designed to keep it that way. Alec Luhn writes from Moscow for the Guardian newspaper and the Nation magazine.
Russia's Currency Crisis The price of oil and economic sanctions have panicky Russian consumers rushing to buy whatever they can as the ruble loses its value, but at today's three-hour, end-of-the-year news conference, Vladimir Putin said , not to worry: the crisis will only last a couple of years. He blamed the US and Europe, said the Russian bear won't be chained up -- saying he was referring to nuclear weapons. We look at what might be in store for Ukraine and at the role of Saudi Arabia in Russia's economic decline.
Ukraine's Future and Russian Politics Despite last week's plan to "de-escalate" the crisis, Ukraine and Russia are now exchanging accusations over Saturday's deadly shootings near the Eastern city of Sloviansk. Russia says Ukraine has failed to crack down on "extremists" as promised last week in Geneva. Ukraine says people were killed in a "crude provocation" staged for Russian TV. Vice President Biden has arrived in Kiev for talks with Ukraine's interim government starting tomorrow, while the Obama White House decides whether to escalate economic sanctions. Would they make any difference in the short term? Does Vladimir Putin want to invade Ukraine, or will continued destabilization suit his purposes? His domestic approval rating is 80% based on nationalism and conservative values. Is that more important than the economy in the short term?
The free-flowing leaks in the Trump White House President Obama tried to clamp down on leakers, but the Trump Administration is besieged almost as never before. Are the "anonymous sources" partisans or worried professionals? Are they endangering the republic or performing a public service?
Future of the Palestinians as Trump welcomes Abbas President Trump says there's "no reason there can't be peace" between Israel and the Palestinians… but the first step will have to be unity between the West Bank and Gaza. Are the Palestinian Authority and Hamas any closer to speaking with one voice?
A New York Times op-ed on climate change sparks uproar The New York Times is embroiled in a public furor over a new columnist, who wrote that scientific uncertainty is reason for debate about climate change. Many conservatives are delighted. Is America's leading liberal newspaper fostering climate denial? This is the latest in our series, "The Emotional States of America."