FOCUS on Frozen Conflicts: Ukraine-Russia

Seven years ago, Russia annexed Crimea in southern Ukraine, sparking the largest security crisis in Europe since the end of the Cold War. Today, this conflict continues to simmer, with over 10,000 killed and 24,000 injured, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. Eastern Europe is no stranger to uncertainty, but the situation in Ukraine presents a serious obstacle to peace in the region and has left the country in a precarious state of limbo. 

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Prison Officials Designate Navalny as a “Terrorist” and an “Extremist”

On October 11, the officials of a Russian prison in Vladimirskaya Oblast, which is located about 60 miles east of Moscow, designated the opposition leader Alexei  Navalny as a “terrorist” and an “extremist” according to Reuters. He was given these designations after the same commission revoked his previous status as an “escape-risk,” a status which necessitated more tedious “accounting.”

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Russian Troop Withdrawal from Ukrainian Border Carries Significant Weight

The Russian Defense Ministry has announced the withdrawal of its troops from the Ukrainian border following a massive military buildup last week. According to Euronews, Moscow called for all troops to return to their permanent bases, signaling the potential end to a massive escalation of tensions with the West.

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FOCUS on Vaccine Diplomacy: Russia

The global effort against COVID-19 is intensifying as countries race to vaccinate their populations and use vaccine diplomacy to improve relations with foreign nations. Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine now has emergency authorization in more than 30 countries and a peer-reviewed efficacy rate of 91.6 percent in Phase 3 trials, reports the New York Times Vaccine Tracker. Researchers are currently working on a single-dose version of Sputnik V, which would be called “Sputnik Light.”

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Moscow Court Rejects Russian Opposition Leader Navalny’s Appeal

On Saturday, February 20, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s demand to be released from prison was rejected by a Moscow appeals court. According to Politico, Navalny has been jailed in Moscow since returning to Russia in January based on the supposition that he violated his parole agreement related to a previous conviction of embezzlement.

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Putin Critic Detained Upon Arrival in Moscow

CNBC reports that Russian opposition leader and Putin critic, Alexei Navalny, has been sentenced to nearly three years in prison following his return to Russia in January. Navalny has been on a wanted list since 2014 for allegedly violating the terms of a suspended sentence. Upon his arrival at the airport in Moscow, Russian authorities arrested him before he could even get his passport stamped.

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Russia Successfully Tests New Hypersonic Cruise Missile

The Russian Defense Ministry has announced the successful test of a new hypersonic cruise missile known as Tsirkon, a move hailed as a “great event” by Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Barron’s. The missile was fired from the Admiral Gorshkov frigate in the White Sea and hit its target 280 miles away in the Barents Sea in northern Russia. The chief of the Russian military’s general staff, Valery Gerasimov, told Putin that this was the first successful sea launch, Al Jazeera reports. 

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Alexi Navalny, Russian Opposition Leader, Poisoned

It has been confirmed that Navalny, a prominent Kremlin critic, was poisoned, reports BBC News. Political analysts and experts are still wondering who was behind the poisoning and who is responsible for carrying out the plan. Navalny’s allies and other anti-Putin political activists believe that the United Russia Party played a significant role in this situation due to the obvious tensions between him and President Vladimir Putin.

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