FROM Alec Luhn
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?
GOP 'Nukes' the Senate filibuster on SCOTUS nominees Senate Democrats today blocked Judge Neil Gorsuch's appointment to the US Supreme Court… but just for the moment. The Republican majority has changed the rules to force a likely confirmation as soon as tomorrow.
Mixed Messages from US diplomats on the new hard line on Syria Since President Trump's surprise retaliation against Syria's use of chemical weapons, Bashar al-Assad has used the same airport to launch conventional attacks on his own people. It's not clear what the US, its allies — or Vladimir Putin's Russia -- plan to do now.
White House flip flops: NATO, Syria and China In less than 100 days, President Trump has contradicted himself on a host of foreign policy issues — Syria, NATO, China and Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Is it a strength — or a weakness — for the United States when the world of power politics never knows what to expect?
Will the march for science politicize objective research? Protesters are gathering all over the country for tomorrow's Earth Day March for Science. Since President Trump has proposed massive cuts in basic scientific research, will the movement be perceived as partisan politics — whether scientists themselves like it or not?