Russia in Review, Nov. 3-17, 2017

NB: There will be no Russia in Review on Friday, Nov. 24, due to Thanksgiving holidays in the U.S.

I. U.S. and Russian priorities for the bilateral agenda

Nuclear security and safety:

  • The reconciled version of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, which the Senate approved Nov. 16, includes $20.6 billion for nuclear national security programs. The version that the House passed Nov. 14 also included continued congressional funding of $340 million for the Savannah River Site’s Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication facility. (Politico, 11.16.17, Aiken Standard, 11.15.17)
  • The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration released the Fiscal Year 2018 Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan (SSMP) and “Prevent, Counter and Respond—A Strategic Plan to Reduce Global Nuclear Threats” (NPCR) on Nov. 15. The NPCR says the agency’s Nuclear Material Removal is working closely with Russia to return Russian-origin weapons-grade materials from third countries. It also says the U.S. continues to work toward fulfilling its commitment to dispose of 34 metric tons of surplus weapon-grade plutonium despite Russia’s unilateral decision to suspend implementation of the U.S.-Russia Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement. According to the NCPR, the NNSA has completed annual monitoring visits in Russia under the terms of the U.S.-Russia Agreement Concerning Cooperation Regarding Plutonium Production Reactors (PPRA) and will conduct three more monitoring visits in Russia in FY2018. (NNSA, 11.15.17)
  • Monitors in Italy were among the first to detect the radioactive isotope ruthenium-106 on Oct. 3, according to a fresh report by France's Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety Institute, known as IRSN. In total, 28 European countries saw the radioactive cloud. Based on the detection from monitoring stations and meteorological data, the mysterious cloud—which has since dissipated—has been traced to somewhere along the Russia-Kazakhstan border, according to IRSN. (NPR, 11.10.17)

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • U.S. President Donald Trump said on Nov. 11: “We have a big problem with North Korea. And China is helping us. And because of the lack of a relationship that we have with Russia, because of this artificial thing that's happening with this Democratic-inspired thing, we could really be helped a lot, tremendously, with Russia having to do with North Korea. And, you know, you're talking about millions and millions of lives. This isn't baby stuff. This is the real deal. …  I'm doing very well with respect to China. They've cut off financing; they've cut off bank lines; they've cut off lots of oil and lots of other things, lots of trade. And it's having a big impact. But Russia, on the other hand, may be making up the difference. And if they are, that's not a good thing… I did not speak to President Putin about it because we just had these little segments that we were talking about Syria. But President Putin would be tremendously helpful—tremendously helpful—if I had Russia and China helping us with North Korea, I think that would solve it.” (White House.Gov, 11.11.17)
  • There is no cooperation between Russia and the U.S. on North Korea for the time being, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Nov. 4. (Reuters, 11.04.17)

Iran’s nuclear program and related issues:

  • Iran is operating within the limits imposed on its nuclear activities by the 2015 nuclear deal with six world powers, the IAEA says in a new report. (RFE/RL, 11.13.17)

Military issues, including NATO-Russia relations:

  • The Senate gave final approval to a compromise defense policy bill on Nov. 16, authorizing just under $700 billion in national defense spending for the 2018 fiscal year. The bill would endorse $626.4 billion in base spending and $65.7 billion for the Pentagon’s separate war account for Overseas Contingency Operations. (Politico, 11.16.17)
  • The reconciled version of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), agreed to by the House on Nov. 14, included an extension of limitations on security cooperation with Russian forces (section 1231). And Section 1232 would bar the executive branch from using any Department of Defense funds to “implement any activity that recognizes the sovereignty of the Russian Federation over Crimea” absent a waiver. (Lawfareblog, 11.15.17) 
  • Brian Hook, the State Department’s director of policy planning, says Russia’s actions over the past decade have shown that Moscow’s willingness to violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other nations is “real” and not “simply rhetorical.” He said cooperation with Moscow was possible, but added that the United States needs to see signs that Russia is ready to “return to a less confrontational posture” in Europe and the Middle East. (RFE/RL, 11.16.17)
  • Germany’s spy chief Bruno Kahl has warned that Russia should be seen as a “potential danger” rather than as a partner in building European security and said its armed forces have attained an alarmingly high level of modernization. According to German magazine Der Spiegel, one scenario contemplated by the country’s army as possibly playing out by 2040 is that some eastern European states enter the “Eastern bloc,” a likely reference to Russia and its allies. (Reuters, 11.15.17, Reuters, 11.05.17)
  • NATO defense ministers agreed to increase the number of military headquarters run by the alliance from seven to nine. One of the new command centers will focus on maritime security in the Atlantic and the other will be responsible for troop movements in Europe, with the locations due to be chosen next year. The ministers have also decided to integrate cyber into all NATO operations. (Bloomberg, 11.08.17, RFE/RL, 11.08.17)
  • Estonia has detained a man suspected of being a Russian agent operating against the Estonian state—the latest in a spate of espionage-related incidents with Moscow. (Reuters, 11.07.17)
  • Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman discussed bilateral relations and international security issues at a Nov. 2 meeting. (RFE/RL, 11.02.17)
  • Lithuania expects NATO to reach an agreement next year to shield Baltic countries with air defenses, plugging a gap in its security against Russia, its defense minister said Nov. 7. (Reuters, 11.07.17)

Missile defense:

  • The freshly approved 2018 NDAA accounts for the Trump administration’s request for an additional $6 billion for missile defense to counter North Korean threats. (Politico, 11.16.17)
  • The Chinese and Russian militaries will next month hold anti-missile drills in Beijing, China’s Defense Ministry said Nov.17, amid concern in both countries about the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system in South Korea. (Reuters, 11.17.17)

Nuclear arms control:

  • Section 1243 of the reconciled version of the 2018 NDAA, which the House agreed to on Nov. 14, would express the sense of Congress that “the United States is legally entitled to suspend the operation of the INF Treaty in whole or in part for so long as the Russian Federation continues to be in material breach” and, pursuant to this view, would direct the secretary of defense to initiate a “program of record” for the development of INF-related countermeasures as well as a separate U.S. INF capability. (Lawfareblog, 11.15.17)
  • The U.S. is laying the groundwork to build a type of missile banned by the INF Treaty unless Russia abandons its own pursuit of the weapons, U.S. officials have said. The U.S. military's preliminary research and development, previously undisclosed, is aimed at potentially reviving an arsenal of prohibited ground-based, intermediate-range missiles. A Russian official said Nov. 16 that the U.S., not Moscow, has been violating the treaty through its missile-defense installations in Europe. (Wall Street Journal, 11.16.17)
  • The Trump administration has called for another meeting of the Special Verification Commission, a forum where U.S. and Russian officials can try to sort out the conflict over the INF Treaty, two U.S. officials said. Democrats in Congress are supportive of the administration's efforts to save the treaty but skeptical that moving toward a U.S. version of the Russian treaty-busting missile will have the desired effect. (The Washington Post, 11.16.17).
  • “The discussion included a consideration of the Russian Federation's violations of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty and our collective efforts to bring Russia back into compliance with the INF,” U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters at NATO headquarters. “This is absolutely necessary to sustain confidence in arms control agreements. And we're doing so in a substantial, transparent and verifiable fashion.” (The National Interest, 11.11.17)
  • The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has published its long-awaited Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan (SSMP) for Fiscal Year 2018. The 2017 SSMP does not update the nuclear stockpile number but continues to use the 4,018-warhead number (as of September 2016) declassified by the Obama administration in January 2017. The number now is estimated at around 4,000. The requirement in the 2016 SSMP to accelerate dismantlement of warheads retired prior to 2009 has been deleted from the 2017 update. The NNSA’s nuclear weapons budget has increased by 60 percent since 2010, and the agency is hoping for another $1 billion increase in 2018. (Hans Kristensen for Federation of American Scientists, 11.16.17)
  • Retired Air Force Gen. Robert Kehler told the Senate on Nov. 14 that an order from Trump or any of his successors to launch nuclear weapons can be refused by the top officer at U.S. Strategic Command if that order is determined to be illegal. (AP, 11.14.17)


  • No significant developments.

Conflict in Syria:

  • The Nov. 11 joint statement on Syria by the presidents of the U.S. and Russia said: “The Presidents agreed to maintain open military channels of communication between military professionals to help ensure the safety of both US and Russian forces and de-confliction of partnered forces engaged in the fight against ISIS. They confirmed these efforts will be continued until the final defeat of ISIS is achieved. The Presidents agreed that there is no military solution to the conflict in Syria. They confirmed that the ultimate political solution to the conflict must be forged through the Geneva process pursuant to UNSCR 2254.” (, 11.1.17)
    • Trump on Nov. 11 said of the joint statement: “We agreed very quickly… We can save many, many, many lives by making a deal with Russia having to do with Syria, and then ultimately getting Syria solved and getting Ukraine solved and doing other things, having a good relationship with Russia is a great, great thing.” In a stream of Twitter posts Trump repeated the sentiment, adding: “I want to solve North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, terrorism, and Russia can greatly help!" (RFE/RL, 11.12.17, White House.Gov, 11.11.17)
  • Russia on Nov. 16 vetoed a U.S.-sponsored Security Council resolution that would have extended the international probe into chemical weapons use in Syria. Hours later, the council rejected a Russian-sponsored counter-resolution. Russia and Syria faced harsh criticism Nov. 9 at a meeting of the UN’s chemical-weapons watchdog and had clashed before that with Western nations over a report blaming Syria for a deadly chemical weapons attack, with Moscow dismissing its findings as “mythical or invented.” (Voice of America, 11.16.17, AP, 11.09.17, AP, 11.07.17)
  • The Kremlin is downplaying the Russian Defense Ministry's blunder in backing its allegations of the U.S. colluding with the Islamic State in Syria with a screenshot from a video game. The ministry had said Nov. 14 that the United States is providing de-facto cover for Islamic State units in Syria and only pretending to fight terrorism in the Middle East. The ministry said the U.S. had tried to hinder Russian strikes on Islamic State militants around Albu Kamal. (AP, 11.15.17, Reuters, 11.14.17)
  • Russia, Turkey and Iran will hold summit talks on Syria on Nov. 22 in the Black Sea resort of Sochi as Ankara threatens a possible attack on U.S.-allied Kurdish forces and tensions rise between Moscow and Washington over the future of the war-torn state. (Bloomberg, 11.16.17)
  • The leaders of Russia and Turkey discussed their next steps in Syria during talks Nov. 13 that underlined the close coordination between the two countries. When meeting Putin Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reaffirmed his country's interest in purchasing a missile defense system from Russia despite concern about the deal among Ankara's NATO allies. Russia and Turkey plan to launch the first reactor at Turkey’s Akkuyu nuclear power plant in 2023, Putin said. (AP, 11.13.17, Reuters, 11.13.17, RFE/RL, 11.14.17, Hurriyet Daily News, 11.13.17)
    • Erdogan said Nov. 17 that Turkey needed to clear the Afrin region of northwest Syria of Kurdish YPG militia fighters, who have been in the forefront of the battle there against Islamic State insurgents. (Reuters, 11.17.17)
  • Six long-range Russian Tupolev-22M3 bombers hit IS targets in Syria on Nov. 17. Six Russian Tu-22 long-range bombers also struck IS targets near the town of Albu Kamal in Syria’s Deir al-Zor province on Nov 15. Syria’s army and its allies began an assault on the area—IS’s largest remaining stronghold in Syria and Iraq—a week earlier. Islamic State has been all but destroyed over the past two years, remaining only in Albu Kamal in Syria, Rawa in Iraq, in a few neighboring villages and patches of desert, and some isolated pockets elsewhere. (TASS, 11.17.17, Reuters, 11.15.17, Reuters, 11.08.17)
  • A Syrian war monitoring group on Nov. 14 raised the death toll from airstrikes on a market in a northern, rebel-held town in Syria the previous day to 61. According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, there were at least three airstrikes on the market in the town of Atareb. The Observatory said it couldn't determine whether Russia or the Syrian government was behind the attack. The opposition Syrian National Coalition accused Russia. Syrian government shelling and airstrikes have killed nearly two dozen civilians in three days of fighting in the suburbs of the capital, Damascus. (AP, 11.14.17, AP, 11.16.17)
  • Yury Ebel, another Russian from the Wagner mercenary group, has been killed in Syria, a provincial Russian news site reported Nov. 15. (The Moscow Times, 11.15.17)
  • A special aircraft has delivered 41 women and children from Syria to Chechnya’s capital, Grozny, brought by senator Ziyad Sabsabi, who is the Chechen leader's special representative for North Africa and the Middle East. (Interfax, 11.13.17)
  • Russian boxing champion Vyacheslav Lapshin died in Syria while fighting for ISIS, according to (Russia Matters, 11.14.17)
  • The Israeli military fired a Patriot missile on Nov. 11 to shoot down a Russian-made spy drone over the Golan Heights, the army said. Israel also signaled on Nov. 12 that it would keep up military strikes across its frontier with Syria to prevent encroachment by Iranian-allied forces. (RFE/RL, 11.11.17, Reuters, 11.12.17)
  • Russia has not promised to ensure a withdrawal of pro-Iranian forces from Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying Nov. 14. The presence of Iran in Syria is legitimate, Lavrov reportedly said. (Reuters, 11.14.17)
  • The defeat of Islamic State in its last major foothold in Syria, Abu Kamal, marks a crucial juncture in the country’s larger war, as rival U.S.- and Russia-backed forces that have pushed the jihadist group to the brink now turn to consider each other. (Bloomberg, 11.09.17)
  • As IS loses its remaining strongholds in Iraq and Syria, Mattis is facing a growing chorus of questions from NATO allies and partners about next steps in the region to preserve peace. In addition to diplomatic efforts Mattis said the U.S. is still working to resolve conflicts with Russia in the increasingly crowded skies over the Iraq and Syria border, where a lot of the fighting has shifted. (AP, 11.06.17)
  • A senior U.S. official met Syria’s national security chief in Damascus the week before last in the highest ranking visit to Syria by a U.S. official since the start of the war in 2011. (Reuters, 11.03.17)

Cyber security:

  • Effective Oct. 1, 2018, one of the proposed provisions of the reconciled version of the 2018 NDAA, agreed to by the House on Nov. 14, would expand on current efforts to ban U.S. government use of Kaspersky Lab products. (Lawfareblog, 11.15.17)
  • Moscow-based cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab is releasing new details about how its software uploaded classified U.S. documents several years ago. Previous reports alleged that Kaspersky had uploaded National Security Agency files from an intelligence worker’s home computer in 2015. Kaspesrky’s 13-page report, published Nov. 16, carries awkward claims for the NSA worker in question. Under the heading “An Interesting Twist,” Kaspersky says the worker’s home computer was compromised by other hackers. (AP, 11.16.17)
  • British spymasters fear that the Kaspersky anti-virus software offered by Barclays to more than 2 million customers may be being used as an intelligence-gathering tool by the Russian government. (Financial Times, 11.12.17)
  • Fifteen months into a wide-ranging investigation by the NSA’s counterintelligence arm, known as Q Group, and the FBI, officials still do not know whether the NSA is the victim of a brilliantly executed hack, with Russia as the most likely perpetrator, an insider's leak, or both. (The New York Times, 11.12.17)
  • Russia has launched cyberattacks against the U.K. media, telecommunications and energy sectors, the British government's top cybersecurity official Ciaran Martin said, underscoring the possibility that Russian attacks on U.K. computer networks are more extensive than the government previously said. (Wall Street Journal, 11.15.17)
  • The European Commission is seeking views on how to stem an “almost overwhelming” tide of online misinformation in a move that may assess how far Facebook and Google have managed to fight back on fake news. (Bloomberg, 11.16.17)
  • During a hacking operation in which U.S. authorities broke into thousands of computers around the world to investigate child pornography, the FBI hacked a number of targets in Russia, China and Iran, The Daily Beast has learned. (Daily Beast, 11.08.17)
  • Yahoo’s former CEO apologized Nov. 8 for two massive data breaches at the internet company, blaming Russian agents for at least one of them. (Reuters, 11.08.17)
  • A startup in Moscow has won a tech prize awarded by the U.S. intelligence community for its facial-recognition app, despite growing concerns in America about Russian cyberattacks. NTechLab says its FindFace app, which allows users to identify strangers through their smartphone, has the industry’s “highest-rated accuracy." Critics say that FindFace undermines online privacy. (The Moscow Times, 11.08.17)
  • See also “Military issues, including NATO-Russia relations” section above.

Elections interference:

  • Trump said on Nov. 11: “You have President Putin very strongly, vehemently, says he had nothing to do with that. Now, you're not going to get into an argument. You're going to start talking about Syria and the Ukraine… Putin said he did not do what they said he did… He just—every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn't do that.’ And I believe—I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it. But he says, ‘I didn't do that.’ I think he's very insulted by it, if you want to know the truth.” (White House.Gov, 11.11.17)
  • Trump said on Nov. 11: “There was no collusion… Everybody knows there was no collusion.”  He labeled as “phony” a dossier compiled by a former British intelligence agent alleging ties between Trump and Moscow. The document was later turned over to U.S. law enforcement authorities. Many of the allegations have not been independently confirmed. (Whe Washington Post, 11.13.17)
  • Trump said on Nov. 12: “As currently led by fine people, I believe very much in our intelligence agencies.” He said he didn’t want to “stand and start arguing” the point with Putin during their Nov. 11 meeting, adding that it was “very important” to get along with Russia, China and other countries to address global problems. A day earlier, the U.S. leader had said Putin believed he didn’t interfere, prompting questions about whether Trump actually took the Russian president at his word. (Bloomberg, 11.11.17)
  • After talks with Trump, Putin said he knew “absolutely nothing” about contacts with Trump campaign officials, and called reports that a campaign official sought a meeting with his niece “bollocks,” according to an interpreter. Putin said he and Trump “hardly know each other,” but described the U.S. president as “very professional, very friendly, he behaves very appropriately. Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to get down to some more details,” he said, “because we have many matters to discuss.” (The Washington Post, 11.13.17)
  • An alleged link between Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and Russia is being fabricated by Trump’s opponents, Putin said Nov. 11. A federal U.S. judge has imposed a gag order in Manafort’s criminal case. (Reuters, 11.11.17, AP, 11.08.17)
  • Trump’s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., has released a series of private Twitter exchanges between him and WikiLeaks during and after the 2016 election. In the exchanges—some of them around the time the website was releasing stolen emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman—WikiLeaks praises his father’s positive comments about WikiLeaks and asks Trump Jr. to release his father’s tax returns to the site. (AP, 11.14.17)
    • Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya who met with Trump Jr. last year says he indicated that a law targeting Russia could be re-examined if his father won the election and asked her for written evidence that illegal proceeds went to Clinton’s campaign. (Bloomberg, 11.06.17)
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Nov. 14 again revised his account of what he knew about the Trump campaign’s dealings with Russians, acknowledging for the first time that he recalled a meeting where a foreign policy adviser mentioned having contacts who could possibly broker a meeting between then-candidate Trump and Putin. (The Washington Post, 11.14.17)
  • At the urging of President Donald Trump, CIA Director Mike Pompeo met last month with former U.S. intelligence official William Binney who advocates a fringe theory that the hack of the Democrats during the election was an inside job and not the work of Russian intelligence, the former official told NBC News. (NBC News, 11.07.17)
  • Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has questioned Sam Clovis, co-chairman of Trump’s election campaign, to determine if Trump or top aides knew of the extent of the campaign team’s contacts with Russia. (Reuters, 11.11.17)
  • Glenn Simpson, founder of Fusion GPS, defended the credibility of the notorious dossier commissioned by his firm before a U.S. House panel, according to people familiar with his testimony. (Bloomberg, 11.15.17)
  • Russian tech billionaire Alexei Gubarev is asking a U.K. court to compel testimony from the former British intelligence officer who compiled the now-famous dossier on Trump’s alleged links to Russia. (Foreign Policy, 11.11.17)
  • The top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee are pressing Jared Kushner to provide additional documents for its Russia investigation. (Bloomberg, 11.16.17)
  • Keith Schiller, who started working for Trump as a bodyguard in 1999, was questioned Nov. 7 behind closed doors for more than four hours by the House Intelligence Committee. (Bloomberg, 11.07.17)
  • Former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page on Nov. 16 delivered subpoenaed documents he described as “irrelevant and unnecessary” to two congressional committees investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Earlier he had refused to hand over documents, saying they might not all "match up" with information from earlier wiretaps that caught his conversations. (Reuters, 11.16.17, Bloomberg, 11.07.17)
    • Page met Russian government officials last year, according to testimony he gave to a U.S. congressional committee, despite numerous denials about the meetings in recent months. Page wrote in an email to Trump campaign staff upon his return from Moscow that he had gotten "incredible insights and outreach" from Russian legislators and members of the presidential administration. (Reuters, 11.03.17, New York Times, 11.07.17)
    • After questions emerged about whether Page had ties to Russia, Trump called him a “very low-level member” of a committee and said that “I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to him.” (The Washington Post, 11.05.17)
  • Facebook and Google told federal election officials they are open to greater oversight over the lucrative business of online political advertising, a shift for the tech giants who acknowledged recently that their ad platforms were exploited by Russian operatives during and after the 2016 election. (The Washington Post, 11.14.17)
  • Minute-by-minute logs gathered by the cybersecurity company Secureworks and recently shared with The Associated Press suggest it took hackers just over a week of work to zero in on and penetrate the personal Gmail account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta. (AP, 11.04.17)
  • Disguised Russian agents on Twitter rushed to deflect scandalous news about Trump just before last year’s presidential election while straining to refocus criticism on the mainstream media and Hillary Clinton’s campaign, according to an Associated Press analysis of since-deleted accounts. (AP, 11.09.17)
  • Russian businessman Dmitry Prigozhin has denied ties to the infamous Kremlin troll factory suspected of being behind Russian meddling in U.S. presidential elections last year. (The Moscow Times, 11.03.17)
  • More than 150,000 Russian-language Twitter accounts posted tens of thousands of messages in English urging Britain to leave the EU in the days before last year's Brexit referendum, a team of researchers reported Nov. 15. A spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said Nov. 14 that Britain has not seen any evidence of successful direct interference in its electoral system. (New York Times, 11.15.17, Reuters, 11.14.17)
  • Spurred on by May’s threat to retaliate against Russian interference, a British parliamentary committee wants to grill executives from Facebook, Google and Twitter while investigating whether Russians are trying to sway British elections. May earlier accused Putin of “seeking to weaponize information,” cyber espionage and other offenses. (Bloomberg, 11.16.17, AP, 11.13.17)
  • The indictment last week of former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos, who admitted lying about contacts with Russia during the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign, is turning the spotlight on London as an important hub of suspected Kremlin meddling in Western politics. (Voice of America, 11.05.17)
  • Russia has dismissed allegations from Spanish leaders that it may have spread "disinformation" that helped precipitate a crisis over Catalonia's vote for independence last month. A Spanish government-backed research institute said earlier that Spain’s struggle to quash separatism in Catalonia was disrupted by Russian hackers agitating for a break-up. (RFE/RL, 11.16.17, Bloomberg, 11.08.17)
  • Putin is suggesting that a recent flurry of Russian sports doping allegations could be an American attempt to interfere in next year’s Russian presidential election. Two Russian athletes have confirmed the existence of a doping cocktail described by Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of a Moscow anti-doping lab, in the first admission of involvement since Russia was accused of running a state-sponsored doping program. Earlier this month, Russia issued a request for his extradition from U.S. (AP, 11.09.17, The Moscow Times, 11.09.17)

Energy exports:

  • Oil futures rose 1.7 percent in New York, trimming the weekly decline to 1.2 percent, after Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said OPEC should announce an extension of output curbs when it meets on Nov. 30. Russia is said to be hesitant to commit to a decision so soon, suggesting the group waits until closer to the deal’s end-March expiry. Russia has produced more oil than Saudi Arabia this year, and more than Iran and Iraq combined. (Bloomberg, 11.16.17, Financial Times, 11.08.17)
  • The oil industry has started to whisper of a prospect that seemed unthinkable even a few weeks ago: crude trading above $70 a barrel before the end of 2017. Russia appears cognizant of the risks of a prolonged rally to reignite the U.S. shale boom and may try to rein in OPEC’s price hawks at the Nov. 30 meeting, fearing the market could become flooded again. Meanwhile, Russia, the world’s largest oil producer, has ramped up its crude exports this year, potentially undermining the production-cut deal with OPEC. (Financial Times, 11.06.17, Wall Street Journal, 11.07.17)
  • Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, urged member states to “proceed swiftly” to extend EU gas rules to cover the new Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a project he fears will strengthen Moscow. The European Commission on Nov. 8 proposed new regulations that could render the Russian Nord Stream 2 project unprofitable. Meanwhile, German support for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is weakening. (Financial Times, 11.16.17, RFE/RL, 11.08.17, Financial Times, 11.09.17)
  • By 2025, the growth in American oil production will equal that achieved by Saudi Arabia at the height of its expansion, and increases in natural gas will surpass those of the former Soviet Union, according to the annual World Energy Outlook. (Bloomberg, 11.13.17)
  • Gazprom has finished construction of the Russian stretch of the first string of the TurkStream pipeline, according to RIA Novosti news agency. The company has delayed completion of the Power of Siberia pipeline to China from 2022 to 2024, Reuters has reported, a sign of its limited access to financing. (Bear Market Brief, 11.07.17)
  • Rosneft remains Russia’s largest gas producer beside Gazprom, increasing production 2.2 percent year on year to 39.408 bcm in October, according to the RNS news agency. (Bear Market Brief, 11.07.17)

Bilateral economic ties:

  • Russia’s richest oligarch, Leonid Mikhelson, whose gas company is under U.S. sanctions, sidestepped prohibitions on foreigners registering private planes in the U.S. with the help of a Utah bank. A trove of records leaked from an offshore law firm, Appleby, shows that the services offered by Bank of Utah, Wells Fargo and other American companies were sought after by rich jet owners in Russia, including oil billionaire Rashid Sardarov. (New York Times, 11.06.17)
  • Princes, dictators and oligarchs from Saudi Arabia and Russia, among other countries, are investing heavily in Silicon Valley. Nowadays U.S. companies get defensive when they answer questions about Russian money, but let's not forget that just a few years ago, many in Silicon Valley welcomed Moscow with open arms. Venture investors like Tim Draper and Scott Sandell had been signing up to visit Moscow on trips designed to bring the tech sectors of the U.S., and Russia closer together. (New York Times, 11.06.17, Wall Street Journal, 11.07.17)
  • Yandex NV, the maker of Russia’s most-popular internet search engine, intends to move forward with an initial public offering of its recently enlarged taxi business by the first half of 2019, and plans to ramp up spending in its newly acquired food delivery service. The business—a joint venture with Uber—will most likely list in the U.S. (Bloomberg, 11.16.17)

Other bilateral issues:

  • Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said he spoke with Trump at the ASEAN summit, describing the U.S. president as “open and friendly” amid heightened tensions between their countries. “The bad thing is that despite the contacts, [and] the opportunity to discuss some issues, our relations are degrading day after day. They’re at the lowest point in recent decade,” he said. (Bloomberg, 11.14.17)
  • Russia’s central bank has the tools to address market shocks if the United States applies new sanctions on Russian treasury bonds, the bank head said Nov. 16. Washington is considering expanding sanctions against Russia and may impose restrictions on buying Russian bonds, known as OFZs and popular among international investors. Foreign investors held a record high 2.18 trillion rubles ($36.46 billion) of OFZs as of Oct. 1, according to central bank data. (Reuters, 11.16.17)
  • Russia's Finance Ministry has proposed a law to make importing sanctioned products a criminal offense punishable by up to 12 years behind bars. (The Moscow Times, 11.17.17)
  • U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he may soon appoint a special counsel to investigate an Obama-era deal in which a Russian company bought a Canadian firm that owned about 20 percent of U.S. uranium supplies. Senate Republicans say their investigation of Hillary Clinton’s role in approving a deal to sell U.S. uranium mines to a Russian company hinges in part on the testimony of a secret informant in a bribery and extortion scheme inside the same company. William D. Campbell, a lobbyist, confirmed to Reuters he is the informant who will testify and provide documents to Congress. (RFE/RL, 11.15.17, Reuters, 11.16.17)
    • A New Jersey businessman was sentenced to a year and one day in prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering in connection with his role in arranging corrupt payments to influence the awarding of contracts with the Russian state-owned nuclear energy corporation. (Department of Justice, 11.14.17)
  • The OSCE’s media watchdog said Nov. 16 that moves by the United States and Russia to force some foreign media to register as “foreign agents” were unacceptable and dangerous. Russia’s lower house of parliament this week approved a law allowing Moscow to force foreign media to describe news they provide to Russians as the work of “foreign agents” and to disclose their funding sources. Washington has required Russian state broadcaster RT to register a U.S.-based affiliate company as a “foreign agent.” (Reuters, 11.16.17)
  • Moscow wants to look into whether the U.S. news website BuzzFeed published anti-Russian “propaganda” in a story about an FBI probe into scores of money transfers to finance elections in 2016. BuzzFeed reported Nov. 14 that the FBI is looking into more than 60 Russian money transfers to embassies in nearly 60 countries to “finance” the 2016 election campaign. A Russian government spokesman was cited as saying the transfers were made to facilitate Russia’s parliamentary election on Sept. 18, 2016. (The Moscow Times, 11.16.17)
  • The U.S. State Department says it has duly screened a Russian private security firm contracted to help guard the Moscow embassy. The statement follows a report in the Russian business daily Kommersant, which said Elite Security was founded by ex-KGB spy Viktor Budanov and is currently run by his son. (AP, 11.15.17)
  • Russia’s borrowing costs will only suffer a short-term spike if the U.S. goes ahead with ahead with a proposal to impose sanctions on the country’s sovereign debt. Marking eight years since whistle-blowing lawyer Sergei Magnitsky died in a Moscow jail, the United States has pledged to continue enforcing legislation imposing sanctions on Russians over human rights abuses. (Bloomberg, 11.16.17, RFE/RL, 11.16.17, Bloomberg, 11.08.17)
  • U.S. prosecutors have asked a judge to enforce a $6 million settlement agreement with a Russia-linked company known as Prevezon. The Prevezon case officially dates back to 2013 when U.S. authorities sought to seize about $14 million in assets from the company. U.S. officials alleged that the assets, mainly Manhattan real estate, came from a $230 million tax scheme, uncovered seven years earlier, to defraud the Russian government. (RFE/RL, 11.16.17)
  • The share of U.S. B visa applications that U.S. consular officials rejected in Russia reached 11.6 percent in FY2017 compared to 9.3 percent last year, according to a Kommersant report, citing the U.S. State Department. Some 60 percent fewer visas were granted at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow between September and August, the Meduza news site states, while in St. Petersburg, the U.S. consulate issued approximately a quarter of visas. (Russia Matters, 11.17.17, The Moscow Times, 11.03.17)
  • U.S. commerce secretary Wilbur Ross has financial ties to a Russian firm partly owned by sanctioned oligarchs and Putin’s alleged son-in-law, a massive leak of offshore documents known as the Paradise Papers reveals. The leaked documents show that Ross holds a stake in a shipping giant that received millions of dollars from Russia’s Sibur gas and petrochemical firm connected to Putin’s inner circle. (The Moscow Times, 11.06.17, New York Times, 11.05.17)
    • Ross plans to completely divest from a shipping company that counts a Russian gas producer with ties to the Kremlin among its major customers. (AP, 11.08.17)
    • Sibur said Nov. 6 that it had no direct dealings with Ross and that its ties to its partners were not in breach of sanctions imposed on Russia over the Ukraine crisis. (Reuters, 11.06.17)
    • Navigator Holdings Ltd., the shipping firm part-owned by Ross, doubled the number of contracts it had with Sibur just months after the U.S. imposed sanctions on a major shareholder of the Russian petrochemical company in 2014. (Bloomberg, 11.09.17)

II. Russia’s domestic news

Politics, economy and energy:

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin is deciding how and when to announce his bid for a fourth presidential term next year, having reportedly “decided that he’ll take part” in the presidential campaign. (The Moscow Times, 11.13.17)
  • The International Olympic Committee will announce Dec. 5 if Russia can compete at the next Olympics in South Korea. Russia was banned from February’s games after the World-Anti Doping Agency ruled for the third year running that Russia’s anti-doping agency is not meeting international standards. Russian television networks will reportedly refuse to carry the 2018 Winter Olympics, if Russia’s national team is barred. (The Moscow Times, 11.17.17, Vedomosti, 11.17.17)
  • Russia’s GDP added an annual 1.8 percent in the third quarter, down from 2.5 percent in the previous three months. (Bloomberg, 11.12.17)
  • Now forecast as the top wheat shipper, Russia saw its share of the export market jump from less than 1 percent in 2000 to an estimated 18 percent this season. During the same period, the U.S. share was cut almost in half.  This season’s shipments are expected to be up more than 40 percent from 2014 and are up by a fifth so far this season, while the EU’s shipments have dropped 25 percent. (Bloomberg, 11.13.17, Bloomberg, 11.15.17)
  • Russian energy giant Gazprom ended the latest reporting period with a 9.2 billion ruble loss ($166 million) for the first time in nearly twenty years. Its rivals saw major stock gains in three years while Gazprom’s shares slid by 7 percent over that period. (The Moscow Times, 11.17.17)
  • State-owned Sberbank, Russia’s largest lender, beat market estimates with its largest-ever quarterly net profit of 224.1 billion rubles ($3.7 billion), its individual loan growth outpacing corporate lending. (Financial Times, 11.17.18)
  • The reactor vessel for unit two of the Leningrad Phase II nuclear power plant was delivered to the construction site in Sosnovy Bor in western Russia on Nov. 14. (World Nuclear News, 11.15.17)
  • Dmitry Utkin, leader of an infamous Russian private military company, is now reportedly the general director of a catering business owned by Dmitry Prigozhin, the mastermind behind the Kremlin’s troll farm. (The Moscow Times, 11.15.17)
  • Hundreds of people were arrested in the center of Moscow while trying to gather Nov. 5 for an unauthorized demonstration called by an extreme nationalist group. (AP, 11.05.17)
  • Olga Romanova, head of the prisoner rights group Russia Behind Bars, fled to Germany after claiming she was falsely accused of embezzling state funds. (The Moscow Times, 11.08.17)
  • Russian radio journalist Tatyana Felgenhauer who narrowly survived a stabbing attack last month said the attacker was intent on killing her and had planned it. The station’s editor-in-chief said he believes the man had an accomplice. (AP, 11.08.17)
  • The Russian government has earmarked $3.5 million for a news service for children, as the Kremlin struggles to formulate a youth strategy ahead of the 2018 presidential election. (The Moscow Times, 11.08.17)
  • Russian authorities say they have detained backers of self-exiled Kremlin critic Vyacheslav Maltsev in the Moscow area, claiming they were plotting to attack government buildings and police during a politically charged holiday weekend. (RFE/RL, 11.03.17)

Defense and aerospace:

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree Nov. 16 saying Russia’s armed forces numbered just over 1.9 million people, including over 1 million military servicemen. An expanded meeting of the Defense Ministry's board is tentatively planned for Dec. 22. (Reuters, 11.17.17, Interfax, 11.14.17)
  • Russia has rolled out the latest upgrade of the world’s largest supersonic strategic bomber, the Tupolev Tu-160M2 “White Swan,” NATO codename “Blackjack.” (Aviationist, 11.16.17)
  • The Borei-class nuclear-powered submarine Prince Vladimir was floated out at the Sevmash Shipyard in northern Russia Nov. 17. Russia’s three Delta III, six Delta IV-class boomers and one Typhoon-class submarines will all be at least 40 years old by 2030; however, even if Russia scrapped these and only relied on the newer Boreis, only the United States, China and possibly India could match its numbers. (TASS, VZ.Ru, 11.17.17, The National Interest,11.10.17)
  • Russian troops near the Black Sea coast have carried out drills for a scenario in which Russia was attacked by a chemical or nuclear weapon. Spread across three Russian regions between the Black and Caspian seas, the drills involved more than 5,000 troops. (Newsweek, 11.13.17)
  • Russia is targeting export sales of at least $10 billion for the new MiG-35, the country’s most advanced jet fighter, as it prepares to offer the aircraft commercially in 2018. (Bloomberg, 11.14.17)
  • Russian gun maker Kalashnikov Kontsern will be sold, effectively privatizing it and reportedly leaving a single investor, Aleksei Krivoruchko, with a controlling stake. (New York Times, 11.13.17)
  • The Russian military announced on Oct. 30 that it will begin acquiring the Nerekhta, a ground-combat robot armed with remotely-operated weapons such as machine guns and rocket launchers. (The National Interest, 11.08.17) 
  • Rostec intends to sell a 49 percent stake in High Precision Systems, producer of the Iskander and Pantsyr weapons systems, to a single strategic investor, though possibly in several steps. Reports dating to April suggest billionaire co-owner of Kalashnikov, part of Rostec, Andrei Bokarev was the most likely candidate. (Bear Market Brief, 11.07.17)

Security, law-enforcement and justice:

  • Russia’s Federal Security Service says it has detained 69 suspected members of outlawed Islamic group Tablighi Jamaat during a raid near Moscow. (AP, 11.14.17)
  • A resident of a nine-story apartment building in the city of Izhevsk that partially collapsed in a gas explosion, killing seven people, has been charged with murder. (AP, 11.11.17)
  • Officials in Moscow say the Russian capital has faced over 500 fake bomb calls in two months and suffered a loss of millions of dollars as a result. (AP, 11.14.17)
  • Igor Sechin, CEO of Russian oil giant Rosneft and key witness in a bribery case against former Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev, has been summoned to appear in court for the third time, having failed to appear previously. (The Moscow Times, 11.15.17)
  • Russian investigators are pressing new charges against financier William Browder, a British citizen who has spearheaded a law targeting Russian officials over human rights abuses. Russian state television’s top weekly news show said the charges relate to alleged illegal funneling of funds. (AP, 11.13.17)
  • Mikhail Belousov, former deputy head of a labor colony in Yekaterinburg, has been sentenced to six and a half years in prison for torturing inmates. (The Moscow Times, 11.14.17)
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has proposed legislation to widen the responsibility of the National Guard to include protecting regional governors. (RFE/RL, 11.06.17)
  • A Moscow court has seized the property of prominent theater and film director Kirill Serebrennikov, who is being investigated for fraud. (AP, 11.09.17)
  • Former deputy governor of St. Petersburg Marat Oganesyan has admitted a fraud charge related to the construction of the city’s 2018 World Cup stadium. (AP, 11.08.17)

III. Foreign affairs, trade and investment

Russia’s general foreign policy and relations with “far abroad” countries:

  • Russia agreed to restructure $3.15 billion of debt owed by Venezuela, throwing a lifeline to a crisis-wracked ally that’s struggling to repay creditors. (Bloomberg, 11.14.17)
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin will travel to Bolivia to attend the fourth Gas Exporting Countries Forum summit on Nov. 20–24. (The National Interest,11.12.17)
  • Concluding a peace treaty between Russia and Japan would involve Moscow examining how it could be affected by Tokyo’s security commitments to its allies, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Nov. 11. (Reuters, 11.11.17)
  • German parties exploring a coalition government have underscored their commitment to NATO and transatlantic ties, but also said they wanted good relations with Russia, according to a draft document to be considered by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, the pro-business Free Democrats and the Greens. (Reuters, 11.10.17)
  • The European Union has moved toward closer defense ties with over 20 member states committing to deepen cooperation and improve coordination in developing military hardware. (RFE/RL, 11.13.17)
  • Lithuania’s parliament has passed new human rights legislation modeled on the U.S. Magnitsky Act, the 2012 law that infuriated Moscow and prompted a ban on Americans adopting Russian children. (RFE/RL, 11.16.17)
  • Russia will assist the Philippines in developing national policies for nuclear energy development through a memorandum of cooperation signed Nov. 13, including feasibility studies on constructing small modular reactors. (World Nuclear News, 11.15.17)          
  • Russia and Finland have opened a new 24/7 hotline between their defense administrations. (Bloomberg, 11.09.17)
  • Serbia wants to maintain its delicate balancing act between Russia and the West, dismissing U.S. calls for it to pick a side. (Reuters, 11.02.17)
  • State-owned Russian nuclear group Rosatom sent initial proposals to Saudi Arabia for nuclear power generation and would bid if a tender was announced. (Reuters, 11.02.17)
  • Moscow has vowed to hit back at Canada after Ottawa announced financial sanctions and other restrictions on 30 Russians in connection with whistleblowing Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, whose 2009 death and the crimes he uncovered have been a persistent thorn in the Kremlin's side. (RFE/RL, 11.04.17)


  • China and Russia will next month hold anti-missile drills in Beijing, amid concern over the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system in South Korea. (Reuters, 11.17.17)
  • Russia’s state-owned Far East Development Fund is in talks to create a $1 billion joint venture to invest in Russia’s mining industry with China National Gold Group. (Bloomberg, 11.09.17)


  • The National Defense Authorization Act passed by the U.S. Senate provides $4.6 billion for deterring Russia in Europe and some $350 million in defense support to Ukraine. (Unian, 11.17.17)
  • Several U.S. officials said the White House has approved in principle providing Ukraine lethal weapons, including Javelin antitank weapons, the Wall Street Journal reported. However, in an interview with TASS, another White House official strongly rejected that Washington has decided to start supplying Ukraine with weapons. Should the United States begin supplying lethal weapons to Kiev, this would cause the situation around Donbas to deteriorate, putting further strain on relations with Russia, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. (Russia Matters, 11.16.16)
  • U.S. officials are preparing to test Moscow's willingness to end the Ukraine conflict by seeking Russia's approval for 20,000 peacekeepers across Ukraine's embattled east. (Wall Street Journal, 11.09.17)
  • Germany and France envisage the possible deployment of U.N. peacekeepers in eastern Ukraine very differently than Russia does, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said. (Reuters, 11.17.17)
  • After talks on the conflict in eastern Ukraine, U.S. and Russian envoys say their countries have "different concepts for how to make peace," but will continue to work to achieve that goal. "Both sides agreed to reflect on the discussions … and to think about further ways to address this challenge," said a joint statement released by the U.S. Embassy in Moscow after U.S. special envoy Kurt Volker and Kremlin aide Vladislav Surkov met on Nov. 13. (RFE/RL, 11.14.17)
  • Ukraine's Security Service said Nov. 16 it welcomes "any steps" by Russia that would facilitate exchanges of people held by Kiev and the Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. A day earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin told separatist leaders that he favored a plan for a prisoner swap with Kiev. (RFE/RL, 11.16.17)
  • Ukrainian anticorruption investigators have opened a criminal case into suspected unlawful enrichment by the country’s powerful prosecutor-general, Yuriy Lutsenko. (RFE/RL, 11.17.17)
  • Johannes Hahn, the EU's European neighborhood policy and enlargement negotiations commissioner, says he is working on lowering the roaming tariffs between the EU and Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, and is aiming for their eventual abolition. (RFE/RL, 11.16.17)
  • A reported plan by Ukraine to cut all diplomatic ties with Russia would further deepen the crisis between the two and hurt the interests of both Ukrainians and Russians, according to the Kremlin. (Reuters, 11.08.17)
  • The United Nations has raised "extreme" concern that an escalation of fighting near water infrastructures in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk could lead to a deadly chlorine gas disaster. (RFE/RL, 11.08.17)
  • Ukraine restarted unit three of its Zaporozhe nuclear power plant following a 264-day outage for modernization work required to extend its operation by 10 years to 2027.  (World Nuclear News, 11.07.17)
  • Mikheil Saakashvili says Ukrainian authorities have confirmed that his stay in the country is legal. (RFE/RL, 11.07.17)
  • In the next five years, Ukraine’s aggregate payments for external liabilities will amount to more than $40 billion, while net reserves of the National Bank of Ukraine stand at $5 billion. (Wilson Center, 11.02.17)
  • Ukraine's Defense Ministry said Nov. 6 that Russia-backed separatists have used heavy artillery in persistent cease-fire violations in the Donetsk region over the previous 24 hours, wounding two soldiers. (RFE/RL, 11.06.17)
  • Wess Mitchell, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs visited Ukraine Nov. 14-15. (RFE/RL, 11.06.17)
  • Ukraine's political and military elite were targeted by a hacking group with alleged links to Russian security services. The 545 people who were targeted included an officer who developed an artillery-guidance app used by the Ukrainian military in its fight against Moscow-backed separatists. (RFE/RL, 11.02.17)
  • Ukrainian opposition politician Serhiy Leshchenko who helped uncover off-the-books payments allegedly made to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort says he provided the information to the FBI, but never heard back. (AP, 11.03.17)
  • Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have discussed the possibility of sending U.N. peacekeepers to eastern Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 11.05.17)

Russia’s other post-Soviet neighbors:

  • The foreign ministers of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have signed a Program on Mutual Cooperation for 2018-19. The document was signed Nov. 10 in Samarkand during the 13th annual EU-Central Asia ministerial meeting. (RFE/RL, 11.10.17)
  • European Parliament lawmakers overwhelmingly passed a resolution praising reforms in Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova, saying the three former Soviet republics could eventually be considered for membership in the European Union. (RFE/RL, 11.15.17)
  • A dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the wording of a potential one-paragraph statement on the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh has delayed completion of a final declaration for next week's Eastern Partnership summit sponsored by the European Union. (RFE/RL, 11.16.17)
  • Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian has hailed his country's close ties with Russia after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a visit to Moscow. (RFE/RL, 11.15.17)
  • Armenia’s parliament has passed a controversial bill that would restrict draft deferments. (RFE/RL, 11.15.17)
  • The Georgian ministries of energy, environment and mineral resources, sports and youth and the corrections ministry—will merge with the ministries of economy, agriculture, culture and justice, respectively. (RFE/RL, 11.13.17)
  • Final preliminary election results suggest that Georgian Dream won five out of six mayoral runoffs that held in Georgia Nov. 12, three weeks after the ruling coalition won victories in most constituencies in the first round. (RFE/RL, 11.13.17)
  • Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev has signed a law cancelling an agreement under which Bishkek would have received $100 million in aid from Kazakhstan to bring its customs and border-crossing infrastructure up to the standards of the Eurasian Economic Union. (RFE/RL, 11.16.17)
  • Moldova, Europe’s poorest country, is looking to use blockchain, the digital tool behind the cryptocurrency bitcoin, to stamp out child trafficking with help from United Nations experts. (Reuters, 11.15.17)
  • Belarusian Defense Minister Gen. Lt. Andrey Ravkov said that four Russian-built S-300 air defense systems would be sent to Belarus by the end of this year, and there were ongoing talks over Russia deploying its most advanced S-400 air defense systems. (Scout, 11.02.17)
  • Azerbaijan's independent Turan News Agency says prosecutors have dropped all charges against it and its director. (RFE/RL, 11.02.17)
  • Authorities in Turkmenistan have reduced the limit on cash withdrawals from ATMs abroad for the third time this year, an apparent attempt to keep more money in the country amid an economic downturn. (RFE/RL, 11.07.17)
  • The United States has unveiled criminal charges against five people accused of involvement in a bribery scheme to help British defense giant Rolls-Royce win energy-related contracts in Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and other countries. (RFE/RL, 11.08.17)
  • A French court rejected a lawsuit by Azerbaijan’s government against two French journalists it accuses of defamation in what the defendants and media freedom activists say is an attempt by Azerbaijan to export censorship beyond its borders. (RFE/RL, 11.07.17)
  • In 2000, there were 5,033 Uzbekistan-born residents in Brooklyn, according to the American Community Survey. By 2015, that number increased to 13,651, according to statistics compiled by Queens College. Of the 55,177 Uzbekistan-born immigrants in the United States, nearly half reside in New York City. (New York Times, 11.06.17)

IV. Quoteworthy

  • “I feel that having Russia in a friendly posture, as opposed to always fighting with them, is an asset not a liability,” U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters Nov. 12. (Bloomberg, 11.12.17)