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Posts Tagged ‘russia’

Keep Your Friends Close, But Keep Russia Closer

May 20th, 2014

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As Russia’s stock market continues to plummet, so too has Russia’s stock among the American people. Polling from earlier this year indicates a majority of Americans view Russia “as unfriendly or an enemy,” the highest unfavorable rating since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Some in Congress are capitalizing on this discontent by inserting a section into an upcoming defense bill that suspends “contact or cooperation” between the Pentagon and its Russian counterparts. This break in relations would continue until Moscow left Ukraine alone and fulfilled its obligations under two military treaties.

Slashing military ties with Russia after its Crimean land grab might feel emotionally satisfying in the short term, but it’s ultimately counterproductive in the long term. After all, unilaterally halting the Pentagon’s contacts in Russia would undermine our ability to collaborate on shared interests, confront shared threats and manage global crises.

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During the Olympics, the greatest terrorism threats are outside Sochi

February 3rd, 2014

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Olympian Roberto Carcelén wouldn’t be competing in Sochi if it weren’t for his wife, Kate. She was the one who introduced him to skiing after he gave up elite surfing in Peru to move to Seattle and marry her. She convinced him that it was like surfing on frozen water.

When Carcelén skis for his native Peru on the cross-country track this month, however, Kate and their daughter will be at home. Amid reports about the possibility of terrorist attacks at the Winter Games, they decided it would be safer that way — and less stressful.

“I’m going to be up training in the mountains, while the family would be down in the city outside the Olympic rink,” Carcelén told CNN. “So that puts a lot of pressure on me as an athlete.”

The security threat during the Olympicsisn’t hypothetical. As has been widely reported, the Winter Games are being held in a country with an active insurgency capable of coordinating devastating attacks, including two suicide bombings in December. In the past seven months, Chechen terrorists have twice issued statements targeting the Olympics.But if there’s a terrorist attack during the Games, it’s far more likely to happen outside Sochi.

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Freezing Out U.S. Security at Sochi Is a Counterterrorism Fail

January 29th, 2014

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Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, recently had a disturbing opinion about the personal risk of attending this year’s Olympic Games, saying on CNN, “I would not go, and I don’t think I would send my family.” When a senator who sits on both the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services Committees tells Americans it is unsafe to attend an international event in Russia, people should take note. Despite the threat, Moscow, which is spending some $2 billion on security, or almost $118 million a day, for the 17 days of the 2014 Games, would prefer to freeze out America’s efforts to help secure the Winter Olympics.

Putin should think twice if he thinks the Olympics are secure. Russia’s preeminent jihadist group, the Caucasus Emirate, or CE, intends to disrupt the games, even if Russian forces may have killed its leader, Doku Umarov. GivenCE’s decentralized cell structure, terrorist violence in or around Sochi is still likely to occur and revenge can be a powerful motivator.

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Getting High… With a Little Help From Our Friends

December 5th, 2012

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In the late 1960s, the Soviet Union designed and built innovative rocket engines for its massive “N-1″ Moon rocket. These “NK-33″ engines were based on a radical new design and on advanced metallurgy that is cutting-edge, even today. But the NK-33s never flew.

After America won the Space Race, Soviet leaders ordered the NK-33s and all other traces of their Moon program to be destroyed. Instead, Soviet rocket scientists ignored their Moscow masters and squirreled away over 100 of their prized NK-33s. After the Soviet Union fell, an American company confirmed rumors about this invaluable rocket cache and eventually bought three dozen, along with U.S. manufacturing rights. Now — some four decades after they were built — two NK-33s are poised to leap from the pages of history and power a new rocket into space.

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Opening Russia

March 29th, 2012

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This piece was originally posted on The Huffington Post.

The World Trade Organization currently has 153 members, ranging from the United States and China, to Uruguay and Ukraine. The WTO is not an exclusive club. Venezuela, run by America-hating strongman Hugo Chavez, is a member. And plenty of other WTO countries have kings, presidents-for-life or juntas that are not making names for themselves as statesmen or democrats. Still, despite its varied membership, the WTO does play a vital role in opening markets and enforcing rules against unfair trade.

This summer, Russia will become the WTO’s newest member. Congress will have no say in the matter. But Russia’s WTO accession will nevertheless pose a quandary for Congress and for American exports. Current U.S. law would put American companies at a real disadvantage in exporting to Russia once it joins the WTO. Unless Congress acts to change the law, as President Obama and Congressional leaders have urged, American jobs in companies doing business with Russia — and the potential for tens of thousands more — will be at risk.
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