Tuesday, April 17, 2018
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Top News

G7 Makes Joint Statement Opposing Russia's "Destabilizing" Behavior

Ministers from the member countries of the Group of Seven made an official joint statement on April 23 that condemned what they see as Russia's "pattern of irresponsible and destabilizing" behavior while urging Russia to assist in resolving the Syrian conflict. They also jointly called on Russia to halt any interference in foreign elections, which they warned was "highly detrimental to prospects for constructive cooperation.” 

The ministers met in Toronto for a two-day summit in order to discuss tensions with Russia, Iran, and North Korea, among other topics.

CGI Rising Expert Karin Thomas offers policy recommendations for reintegrating children of foreign fighters (Center on Global Interests)

Analysis of cryptocurrency and the Russian elite by CGI Rising Expert Alexis Corn (Center on Global Interests)

Leonid Bershidsky on the implications of the Telegram ban (Bloomberg)

A look at the Russian reaction to Kazakhstan's abstention from UN vote on Syria strike  (Eurasianet)

 A  brief compendium of nearly two decades of analysis by Graham Allison  (Russia Matters)

The agreement between OPEC countries and Russia to curb production and reduce the oil stockpile surplus has largely achieved that goal, with crude prices at a three-year high. However, cuts are likely to continue in order to facilitate further investment in oil and gas production. Read more>>>
Russian Politics

Possible Sanctions on U.S. to Exclude Titanium Trade

Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Mantyrov stated that prospective sanctions on the United States would not extend to the Russian titanium industry, which supplies American companies such as Boeing and Airbus. 
Mantyrov cited the fact that halting titanium trade would hurt not only Russian companies, but also joint U.S.-Russian plants such as Ural Boeing Manufacturing.

The proposed sanctions law was published on April 13 and will restrict imports of U.S. products as well as allow the government to halt cooperation in the aerospace and nuclear industries with any U.S.. companies or those with with more than 25% of American capital.

In other trade news, representatives have announced that Russia will not be excluded from SWIFT over sanctions. SWIFT has taken an official position of neutrality, despite various appeals to exclude Russia since 2014.

TRANSPORT MINISTRY: On April 17, The Russian Transport Ministry agreed to extend overflight authorization to U.S. airlines until October of this year. The new agreement came several hours before the existing one was set to expire. 

ROSKOMNADZOR: Russia has blocked approximately 16 million IP addresses in an attempt to combat servers used by the Telegram messenger app. Many of these addresses were hosted by Amazon and Google, and Telegram utilized them to circumvent the court-ordered ban on its app after the company refused to turn over encryption keys to the FSB. 

Telegram head Pavel Durov has announced that the effect of the block has been minimal. He also promised to donate millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency towards promoting VPNs and proxies, with which users can bypass the ban.

View from Washington

National Security Advisor Meets With Russian Ambassador

U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton met with Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov for the first time on Thursday. 

At the meeting, which took place at the White House, Bolton expressed interest in improving relations. To his mind, rapprochement was only possible if Russia addressed allegations of meddling in the 2016 election and of orchestrating the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal. He also cited U.S. concerns about Russian involvement in Syria and Eastern Ukraine.

WHITE HOUSE: The White House has openly criticized U.S. Representative to the UN Nikki R. Haley's announcement that President Donald Trump would impose new sanctions on Russia as "momentary confusion." Haley responded that she "did not get confused." Officials have confirmed that Haley was indeed not informed by the White House that the policy on sanctions had changed. 

Eastern Europe and Eurasia

Armenian Prime Minister Resigns After Protests

After days of popular unrest, newly appointed Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan announced his resignation. Opposition politician Nikol Pashinyan was released from police custody hours prior. 
Pashinyan was detained on Sunday by Armenian authorities after televised talks with Sargsyan collapsed. Pashinyan was the leader of the recent mass demonstrations against former president Sargsyan's appointment to the Prime Ministerial post soon after the transition to a parliamentary government.

Sargsyan, whose presidential term lasted 10 years, retracted his previous accusations that Pashinyan was "blackmailing the state and legitimate authorities" with an "ultimatum."

SLOVAKIA: Police Chief Tibor Gaspar is the latest high level official to resign in light of months-long protests following the shooting of journalist Jan Kuciak. Activists feared that Gaspar, who had ties to a firm under investigation by Kuciak, would compromise the investigation into Kuciak's murder.

Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini denied that Gaspar's resignation would have any effect on the ongoing inquiry, citing the need to quell "attacks on all the police force" and lessen media pressure.

POLAND: The European Court of Justice ruled that Poland violated EU law in authorizing increased logging in the protected Bialowieza forest. The ECJ rejected Poland's argument that the logging was necessary to combat a beetle infestation. Polish officials have stated that Poland would accept the ruling, and the official responsible for the policy was removed. 

In other news, Poland's parliament voted in support of EU-backed changes to the embattled judicial system. After the changes go into place,the justice minister will not be able to remove judges without consultation. 

UKRAINE: A presidential motion which would establish Ukrainian Orthodoxy's independence from the Moscow Patriarchiate was introduced to the Ukrainian Rada on Thursday. Domestic opponents of the measure say it is a ploy by President Petro Poroshenko to garner support in the leadup to the 2019 elections.

AZERBAIJAN & BELARUS: Azerbaijan has reached an agreement with Belarus to buy Polonez missile systems. The deal, which was previously reported as having been blocked by Armenia, is a response to Armenia's recent acquisition of Iskander missiles from Russia. Though Azerbaijan has not confirmed the deal, Azerbaijani media has widely reported on its existence.
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