Lilia Shevtsova writes: Putin’s Russia has thus succeeded in adapting to the ambiguities of a globalized world much faster and more thoroughly than the liberal democracies. True, the Crimea annexation and war with Ukraine have to some extent reminded the West of its principles. But the Western elite, long used to living in a postmodern world, is already looking for ways to return to it. In this world, there is no “containment”—only words like “competition” and “cooperation.” – The American Interest
Russian military forces are carrying out "logistical exercises" in and around the Crimean Peninsula, the Ukrainian Black Sea region that Russia annexed in 2014. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Ukraine on Thursday reported the heaviest rebel shelling attack in the separatist east for a year in what the president said could be a prelude to a full-scale Russian invasion. - AFP
A member of former U.S. President George H.W. Bush's administration says that until the attempted coup against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in August 1991, nobody in the U.S. government imagined the Soviet Union would collapse by the end of 1991. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Leon Aron writes: Tocqueville compared enduring national institutions to rivers that “after going underground re-emerge at another point, in new surroundings.” Driven deep into the ground today by the weight of repression, monopolistic propaganda, and war-mongering paranoia, the great August revolution, too, will re-emerge. – Foreign Policy
David Kramer writes: We should stay true to our values and restore the notion of “linkage” by making clear that Putin’s mistreatment of his own people — and his neighbors — will adversely affect our bilateral ties. The next administration should implement more aggressively the Magnitsky Act for gross human rights abuses and maintain — even ramp up — sanctions against Russia for its ongoing violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty. – Washington Post
Anders Aslund writes: The increasing opacity of Russian politics has opened a window of opportunity for Kremlinology to make a comeback. Many people ridicule the field of study as little more than reading tea leaves, but it can be a helpful analytical tool when done properly. – The American Interest
Martha Simms writes: Trump and his gang of Putin admirers have unexpectedly provided the realists with an opportunity to creep back from their Reagan-era exile—to the surprise of conservative internationalists. These differing views of U.S. power and foreign policy are in theory broad and cover all regions and issues. However, the U.S. relationship with Russia is bringing this disagreement front and center and is fast becoming a litmus test of one’s place within the party. – The Cipher Brief
Matthew Bryza writes: It has been a long time since I have sensed any cause for optimism about the prospects of a political settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Indeed, Armenia and Azerbaijan nearly resumed full-scale war in April, when their troops clashed along the line of contact with a level of ferocity unprecedented during the twenty-four years since the previous ceasefire. As the dust has settled, however, two new openings have emerged, one rather unexpectedly from Russian President Vladimir Putin and another from a regional business leader. Both merit Washington’s close examination and perhaps its embrace.– Atlantic Council
Russian bombers are putting the Kh-32 cruise missile through its final trials, according to UPI. The missile, which reportedly travels at a blazing 3,300 miles per hour and can reach the stratosphere at heights of up to 130,000 ft., is being tested aboard long-range bombers. Russian sources also claim that the Kh-32 is impervious to the latest American air defense systems, able to evade Patriot missiles.
Russia isn't kitting up its fighter jets in Syria with its latest and greatest air-to-air weapons, according to the National Interest. Once in a great while, an Su-35S Flanker E will appear in Syria outfitted with R-77 RVV-SD missiles, but more often than not, Russian air-to-air defense is provided by Su-30SM Flanker-H and Su-34. Experts say the newer R-77 RVV-SD missiles remain in relatively shorter supply and Moscow isn't in a hurry to arm its fighter jets with advanced air-to-air loads because it's not sweating the possibility of a throwdown with American fighter jets in Syria.