What we saw this week was the anger in Congress over Russian interference, and how this is forcing the USG to still take quite hawkish actions. The feeling in USG is that if it does not deliver actions on the Congressional sanctions that inevitably Congress will further legislate tougher sanctions actions against Russia, and take discretionary implementation from the USG.

 

The sanctions that Russia suffered after its illegal occupation and annexation of Crimea continue to be if not crippling at least a major inconvenience for the Kremlin’s empire-builders. As Brian Whitmore points out in today’s Daily Vertical, Vladimir Putin thinks he has found in Berlin the lever he needs to escape the sanctions he so richly deserved.

 

 

If you took the hundreds of Soviet era monuments salted all over the former USSR as a guide to your knowledge of history, then you would be almost certain to come away believing a Russian version of World War II history that is at best skewed and in most cases a demonstrable lie. The Soviet Union under Stalin was not liberating the Baltics, Poland and Ukraine, it was in fact throwing out one army of occupation troops and imposing its own occupation regime, often as bad – and sometimes worse. Today in some cases – particularly Ukraine and Poland – Russia’s false history is being ripped put and destroyed. However, one city in Lithuania has discovered an easier and perhaps just as effective solution [as illustrated by the accompanying photo from Birzai, Lithuania].

 

Trouble seems headed back to the streets of Kyiv today as unhappy Ukrainian citizens put up another tent city that reminds of previous revolutionary times. It isn’t that no progress is being made – but many believe the pace of reform is bogging down – again. 

 

Elections in the Russian Federation tend to follow a familiar pattern, i.e. the oligarchic insiders decide when the election is to be held, who the winners are to be and – perhaps most important – how the exercise will be dressed up to look like real democracy. The situation is a bit more complicated this time round with the Kremlin script writers throwing in a new element that might be called the Sobchak effect. 

Former President Barack Obama’s envoy to Russia, Michael McFaul, raised the ire of Russian President Vladimir Putin by immediately meeting with opposition politicians when Mr. McFaul first landed in Moscow in January 2012.

 

(Associated Press)

Focus at the moment in Kyiv are these street demos, which are pushing for much needed electoral reforms

There is increasing evidence that the self-serving fabrication known as the Russian World, dreamed up by a cabal made up primarily of Kremlin spin doctors and some of Patriarch Kirill’s more ill-advised and extremist elements in the Moscow Patriarchate, is wearing very thin with many of its early adherents who now perceive reality.

 

This report makes the case for increased Western support, and argues the EU has been too timid in applying its unprecedented political mandate to drive forward post-2014 reforms in the country.

Looking for the best way to keep abreast of the latest machinations of Vladimir Putin and his merry gang of thieves in the Kremlin? Let Paul Goble, one of the world’s best informed Kremlin watchers mark your cards on what this crowd is up to – or perhaps we should more correctly say – down to. Read on below but keep a barf bag handy - it’s a bumpy ride.

 

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