FROM Edward Lozansky
The US and Russia: Another re-set? Donald Trump has publicly scorned the CIA for claiming that Russia tried to help him get elected. But the disagreement's much deeper than that. Trump has picked a national security team with close ties to Vladimir Putin, who intelligence agents -- and many Republicans -- insist is up to no good. How much do they really know about that, and when did they know it? Is Trump's hand of friendship a lucky accident for Putin, whose real goal is a divided Europe? We look at the long-term threat to the Atlantic Alliance, national security and the global balance of power.
In Eastern Europe, Shades of the Cold War At the end of the Cold War, NATO and Russia agreed not to station forces along their shared borders. But times have changed. Vladimir Putin's actions in Crimea and Ukraine have the Pentagon calling Russia the primary threat to American interests. Now, US funding for NATO will be quadrupled to provide what's called "a rotational force" to patrol Eastern Europe, including the Baltic States and Poland. NATO calls it " deterrence ." Russia calls it "aggression."
NATO Returns to Its Original Mission: Countering Moscow After the fall of the Soviet Union, the NATO alliance became a world police force. Now, Vladimir Putin’s Russia has re-focused attention back to protection of Eastern Europe. On Tuesday, the US announced it will send tanks, armored personnel carriers and other heavy equipment into Eastern Europe. Yesterday, in Brussels, the NATO alliance accelerated its mobile rapid response by beefing up forces with 40,000 soldiers. It’s the first such buildup since the fall of the Soviet Union. OSCE SMM monitoring the movement of heavy weaponry in eastern Ukraine
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.
Russian Aid Trucks Head for Ukraine In the Eastern Ukrainian City of Luhansk, at least 2000 people have been killed and 5000 injured — pro-Russian separatists, Ukrainian troops and civilians. Yesterday, 278 Russian Army trucks, painted white, left Moscow and headed toward the Eastern Ukrainian border. Russian President Vladimir Putin says they’re loaded with humanitarian aid, but Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko smells a “Trojan Horse.”
What Will Vladimir Putin Do Next? American and European diplomats are trying to ease a potentially dangerous crisis, claiming Russia has illegally taken control of Crimea, which belongs to Ukraine. Vladimir Putin insists he hasn't sent any troops in yet — and that what's illegal is Ukraine's new regime, which overthrew an elected leader. The US has offered a $1 billion loan guarantee . The EU announced an aid package worth $15 billion in cash and infrastructure assistance. The IMF is already negotiating terms in Kiev. What the US wants most is for Russian diplomats to meet with those from Ukraine. Does Putin already have what he wants or has he made a strategic error? As the US and European Union try to craft a response, is Germany on board? We look at the economic, diplomatic and military options for an uneasy alliance against a Russian President with a very different view of the world.
Let the Games Begin The opening ceremonies aren't until tomorrow, and the flame has yet to be lit, but the first events of the Sochi Winter Olympics are already under way. American star Shaun White suffered an injury in slope-style snowboarding, but others have qualified. Team ice-dancing is under way for the first time. Yet, as the athletes take center stage, there's still tall about terror threats, the assault on gay rights, unfinished hotel rooms, stray dogs and financial corruption. Did President Obama pass up an opportunity by staying home? Will the Gold Medal for diplomacy go to Russian President Vladimir Putin?
The G-20 and the Man Who Wasn't There The so-called G-8 became the G-20 this weekend as thirteen emerging powers sat next to the industrialized nations to talk about fixing the global economy . At the formal dinner, the President of the United States had the President of Brazil on his right while the President of China sat on his left. Saudi Arabia, India and other developing nations also were at the table, along with Japan, Russia and the industrialized nations of Europe, dramatizing the new reality of economic interdependence. The man who wasn't there was Barack Obama . We talk about what the meeting accomplished and the challenges left for the next President of the United States.
Bush, Rice Warm Up Rhetoric Against Russia On his way to Crawford, Texas today, President Bush got off a verbal shot at Russia for its military action in neighboring Georgia. In Tbilisi, Georgia, President Mikail Saakashvili signed the ceasefire worked out in Russia by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. With him was Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who said that with the ceasefire "all Russian troops and any irregular and paramilitary forces that entered with them must leave immediately."
Fighting in Georgia Spreads Russian forces have moved further into Georgia's rebellious province of South Ossetia, despite Georgia's call for a ceasefire. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili ran for cover, saying Russian planes were flying over the presidential palace in his capital city. Russia's Prime Minister Putin has flown home from the Olympics, but President Bush was still in Beijing when he denounced Russia's "disproportionate" response” to explosive hostilities in the region. We catch up with events and get the background on a long running local dispute with international implications. What are America's interests in a dispute between Russia and a former Soviet Republic? What's the possible impact on the campaign for president?
Russia's Presidential Election: Freedom Versus Stability From St. Petersburg to Siberia, Vladimir Putin has centralized Russian authority behind what the New York Times calls a " facade of democracy ." Elections of provincial governors were cancelled altogether. The results of next Sunday's presidential election have been known for weeks. Dmitry Medvedev will succeed Putin as President and Putin will become Prime Minister, a job he calls "the highest executive power in the country." We hear about what's called "managed democracy," which means less freedom but greater "stability." That could be great for western investors, but for Washington it's another story. Will Putin and Medvedev want better relations or a new kind of Cold War?
Can the US and Russia 'Just Get Along?' Condoleezza Rice has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of squelching democracy. Putin's accused the US of behaving like Germany's Third Reich during World War II. Today, hard on the heels of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has gone to Moscow . After initial talks with Putin, Russia's Foreign Minister said they've agreed to "tone down" the public rhetoric and focus on "concrete issues." We look at the roller-coaster relationship between the superpower and a resurgent Russia overflowing with oil money. Will a US anti-missile system in Eastern Europe threaten Russia's security? Is Russia reverting to the days of the Cold War or just getting stronger?
Russia, Radioactive Poison and International Affairs Polonium 210 --the substance that killed Alexander Litvinenko--has turned up in Hamburg, and Interpol and German police are on the case, with Chancellor Angela Merkel saying such killings are not "a good sign." As the investigation into the radioactive poisoning of the former Russian spy continues, there's growing dispute about Litvinenko's London death-bed accusation that Vladimir Putin had a role in his killing. Though Russia's President scoffs, the incident has created alarm about what's happened to that county since the end of the Cold War. With former KGB agents running both the Kremlin and vast private interests, is Russia going fascist? Should the Soviet Union have been left in tact? We hear about internal corruption and international bullying.
Truth and Lies in Trumpland Donald Trump is using mis-information like no President has before him. It's an unprecedented challenge to the news media, and a potential threat to democracy. We hear how the "leader of all the people" is dividing Americans and confusing the rest of the world.
"Tough on crime" rhetoric sees a revival at Sessions' DOJ The pendulum swings between treatment-focused approaches to drug abuse and tough law enforcement. Now, after years of Obama-era "reforms," President Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions wants local police freed from federal restrictions to fight another "war on drugs."
Trump's ethical conflicts pile up as transparency diminishes President Trump's refusal to reveal his income tax returns is just one example of a lack of transparency that could be hiding conflicts of interest. Other conflicts are already obvious from his appointments. And he's being sued for using his job to increase his profits.
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?