Odds and Ends 

Amid Escalating Syrian Carnage, Turkey Shoots Down Assads Planes

GAZIANTEP, TurkeyOver the last several days Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoan has pulled out all the stops in his attempts to deal with the Syrian crisis, even shooting down fighter jets from the Assad regime air force. It's a very high-risk strategy in a complicated conflict that's less a chess match than a game of deadly tic-tac-toe, with every option blocked until nobody wins. Erdoan's campaign is an attempt to exert maximum pressure on his two purported allies, the adversaries Russia and the United States, using the Americans to influence…

Read More
Odds and Ends 

U.S. Readied Sanctions on Russian Oligarchs AssociatesThen Mysteriously Backed Off

Something strange happened in mid-December involving Oleg Deripaska, the Russian oligarch. Late last year, the U.S. government signaled that it was about to level a new round of sanctions targeting people and entities linked to to convicted Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort as part of a decades-long relationship between the two men. Over the following months, Deripaskas allies estimated net worth of $4.5 billion, entered the Treasury Departments crosshairs in the wake of the Kremlins campaign to shape American opinion about the 2016 election. Manafort and Deripaska have known each…

Read More
Odds and Ends 

Russia to Iran: Dont Admit GuiltBlame the U.S. Instead

After mounting evidence, Iran finally acknowledged that it accidentally shot down the Ukrainian passenger jet earlier this week, killing all 176 people aboard. Following the admission, Iranian protesters have told Al Jazeera, There is a lot of anger. Iranians are demanding justice and accountability. Many people including families of the victims are in shock. They do not understand why their government would have lied to them for this long. There is also a lot of anger in Russia, but for an entirely different reason. Yuri Shvytkin, deputy head of the…

Read More
Odds and Ends 

Did Russian Prime Minister Medvedev Drop a Grim Hint About Putins Latest Power Grab?

At a celebration of the Russian Orthodox New Year on Tuesday, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev chose a grim message, the sarcasm of which left his audience on edge. But, then, Medvedev probably knew what Wednesday would bringthe resignation of his entire governmentand the audience did not. On national television, the prime minister remained stone-faced. The prime minister seemed nervous anddescribed as the taxman of the future, digitally acquiring receipts of every transaction in Russia within 90 seconds. It's unclear whether Mishustin will be a placeholder technocrat or assume other responsibilities…

Read More
Odds and Ends 

With the Children on the Ukraine Wars Front Lines Praying for Peace

KRASNOGORIVKA, UkraineThe front line is only one kilometer away from the childrens soccer club where five- and six-year-old boys were exercising on Monday morning. And the childrens music school is even closer, 800 meters, which is to say half a mile. All the windows are covered, since shock waves from explosions have broken them so many times. Machine guns and artillery could be clearly heard while 6-year-old Daria Pamazanova, in a funny hat with teddy-bear ears, was rehearsing at her singing class. During the break Daria told me about the…

Read More
Odds and Ends 

Russia Banned From the Next Olympics and World Cup Over Doping

Russia has been banned from all major international sporting events for the next four yearsa prohibition that will see Russias athletic teams excluded from next summers Olympic Games in Tokyo, the 2022 soccer World Cup in Qatar, and the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing. The World Anti-Doping Agencys board met in Switzerland on Monday and agreed unanimously to the ban. Its the most severe punishment dished out yet to Russia following years of the country carrying out a highly sophisticated and widespread state-powered doping program. However, Russian athletes who can…

Read More
Odds and Ends 

At Least One Dead in Shooting at Russias FSB Security Service Headquarters

At least one person is reported to be dead in Moscow after a shooter opened fire Thursday evening at the highly secure headquarters of Russias Federal Security Service, or FSB, according to according to the agency, and the gunman involved was neutralized. according to the Interfax news agency. Some people were injured. The Health Ministry said that five other people were wounded in the shooting, including two Federal Security Service personnel, the told Reuters she had heard shots fired in the same area and sirens, gunfire, and screams were heard…

Read More
Odds and Ends 

Trump Sides With Indicted Oligarch Over His Own Diplomat

President Donald Trump boosted a tweet Monday promoting a controversial allegation from long-standing beef with Joe Biden. Scott Adams, a Washington, D.C., talk radio host, sent out a tweet Monday night about U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor, who delivered some of the impeachment inquirys Ukrainian natural gas baron Dmytro Firtash in a cable to State Department headquarters in 2008. At issue was a conversation Taylor had with Firtash in Kyiv that December. Taylor wrote in a diplomatic cable (later published by WikiLeaks) that Firtash told him he had acknowledged…

Read More
Odds and Ends 

Why Would Russia, Chinaand IranPlan Joint Naval Exercises?

KARACHI, PakistanThe waters around the Arabian Peninsula have calmed for the moment, but preparations for combat continue, with joint exercises and security conferences showing just how profoundly the regions strategic balances are shifting. As confidence declines in U.S. President Donald J. Trumps ability to navigate the difficult moral and military choices in the region, new players are entering the picture in and around the Persian Gulf. An Israeli delegation attended a U.S.-backed maritime-security conference that began Sunday in Manama with delegations from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain as a vast international…

Read More
Headlines 

‘Russians never surrender’: Maria Butina arrives back in Moscow

Graduate student linked to NRA and Republicans served most of 18-month sentence for conspiring to act as a foreign agent Maria Butina, who was jailed in the US in April after admitting to working as a Russian agent, arrived in Moscow on Saturday to be greeted by her father and Russian journalists who handed her flowers. Russians never surrender, an emotional Butina told reporters at Sheremetyevo airport, flanked by her father and a Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman. Clutching a bouquet of white roses, the 30-year-old graduate student thanked her supporters…

Read More
Odds and Ends 

Moscow Cops Raid Offices of Putin Opponent Alexei Navalny, Who Just Wont Quit

MOSCOWAt about 8 oclock Thursday night, days before municipal elections, police special forcesmen in black uniforms with faces hidden under black balaclavasbroke the door to opposition leader Alexei Navalnys Anti-Corruption Foundation, stormed in and confiscated pretty much everything: computers, cameras, film lights, cell phones, clothes, food, as well as thousands of documents important for independent election observers. Two hours later police detained nine of the foundations members in different corners of the Russian capital. During the raid Navalny, famous for his cool resistance and extraordinary stamina, took a video of…

Read More
Odds and Ends 

This Senator Tried to Make Nice With Russia. It Shut Him Out.

2Early this week, two SenatorsRon Johnson (R-WI) and Chris Murphy (D-CT)announced that the government of Russia had blocked them from entering the country for a planned official visit. The snub represented an abrupt turn of events, especially for Johnson. Just last year, the Wisconsin Republican had visited Moscow and then worked to set up talks with members of the Russian Duma, people familiar with the outreach told The Daily Beast. Those efforts havent blossomed. And neither have U.S.-Russia relations more broadly. The Kremlins decision to withhold visas from both Johnson…

Read More
Headlines 

I left Russia to escape Putins assault on reason. Now I fear the UK is on the same path | Peter Pomarentsev

We need to develop a more collaborative political discourse, built on facts, not spin Nothing is true and everything is possible. That was my one-line attempt to sum up the politics and propaganda that enveloped Russia at the start of the 21st century. It was a world where politicians no longer cared whether they were caught lying; where old ideologies were dead and conspiracy thinking had become the new way to explain the world; where all the old political categories (socialist and liberal, conservative and communist) seemed utterly meaningless and…

Read More
Odds and Ends 

Police hijack a botnet and remotely kill 850,000 malware infections

In a rare feat, French police have hijacked and neutralized a massive cryptocurrency mining botnet controlling close to a million infected computers. The notorious Retadup malware infects computers and starts mining cryptocurrency by sapping power from a computer’s processor. Although the malware was used to generate money, the malware operators easily could have run other malicious code, like spyware or ransomware. The malware also has wormable properties, allowing it to spread from computer to computer. Since its first appearance, the cryptocurrency mining malware has spread across the world, including the…

Read More
Odds and Ends 

A Missile Explosion, a Radiation Spike, and Kremlin Secrecy Bring Back Memories of Chernobyl

MOSCOWNot much has changed in Russia since Soviet authorities hid the truth about the nuclear catastrophe in Chernobyl more than three decades ago. At the time, Soviet military commanders, KGB generals, and Communist Party leaders were terrified theyd get sacked or end up in the Gulag if the truth came out, so they preferred to lie to the public, delaying the evacuation when radiation equivalent of 500 Hiroshima bombs was released into the atmosphere. Today, it seems the generals of President Vladimir Putins Russia have not learned the dangers of…

Read More