Senate seeks to punish Russia

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a bill which seeks to limit Russia’s control and influence in Europe by sanctioning Russia’s Nord Stream 2 project. The bill now moves to the Senate to be voted on.

Putin opponent likely poisoned

Alexei Navalny, one of Putin’s biggest critics, was arrested last week in Moscow. After his arrest, he was taken to the hospital for a “severe allergic reaction”. His doctor says it looked like he was poisoned with a “toxic agent.”

Putin’s protest problem

Up to 20,000 people took to the streets of Moscow protesting government and the removal of opposition candidates from an upcoming election. Nearly 1,400 were arrested during the demonstrations.

RT fined in the U.K.

Russia’s foreign propaganda network, RT, was fined by Britain’s media regulator for violating broadcasting impartiality rules. The violations in question come from RT’s coverage of the Skripal poisoning, Ukraine, and Syria.

Putin is back at it again

Putin and his cronies continue to disqualify and harass opposition candidates running for Moscow’s city council. Protests against the government over its anti-democratic action continue to grow.

Ukraine seizes Russian tanker

Ukraine seized a Russian tanker that was involved in last year’s incident which saw Russia take 24 Ukrainian sailors hostage. Russia has now promised a “harsh response” for the seizure.

Russia enjoyed the Mueller hearings

Russian state media was very content with the Mueller hearings yesterday. One pundit was very pleased when she said, “We’re officially laughing at their allegations of election interference.”

Popular app has Russian connections

A popular face-editing app developed in Russia is now catching the attention of the FBI. Senator Schumer is asking the FBI to investigate the app, as the app requires “full and irrevocable access to [users’] personal photos and data.”

Trump jokes to Putin they should ‘get rid’ of journalists

Donald Trump joked with Russian President Vladimir Putin that they should “get rid” of journalists as they met in public at the G-20 conference of world leaders in Osaka, Japan. Indicating toward the journalists in the room, Trump said, “Get rid of them. Fake news is a great term, isn’t it? You don’t have this problem in Russia but we do.”

State officials scrutinize voting machine vendors

Election officials in North Carolina and Maryland are probing whether top voting system vendors are foreign-owned and demanding more transparency after revelations in the Mueller report. Russian-backed hackers inserted malware into VR Systems’ voting registration system in Florida in 2016, and equipment from the same vendor caused Election Day glitches and slowdowns in North Carolina. Maryland officials learned last year that its election data host, ByteGrid LLC, was majority-owned by a private equity firm in which a Russian oligarch with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin had an investment.

NATO calls on Russia to destroy new missile, warns of response

NATO urged Russia on Tuesday to destroy a new missile before an August deadline and save a treaty that keeps land-based nuclear warheads out of Europe or face a more determined alliance response in the region. NATO defense ministers will discuss on Wednesday their next steps if Moscow keeps the missile system that the United States says would allow short-notice nuclear attacks on Europe and break the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).

Malaysian Prime Minister denies clear evidence Russia was behind downing of MH17

Just one day after a team of international investigators laid out clear and extensive evidence of Russia’s culpability in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine in 2014, the prime minister of Malaysia has insisted there’s no proof that Russia was behind the attack. He denied the stance was down to the country’s reliance on Russia as a major buyer of its palm oil as other countries are trying to outlaw it.

State Dept official didn’t disclose ties to Maria Butina’s boo

Andrea Thompson, the State Department official in charge of U.S. arms control negotiations with Moscow, and her husband had a years-long friendship with GOP operative Paul Erickson, the former boyfriend of convicted unregistered Russian agent Maria Butina — ties this official did not disclose to her superiors or to Congress during her confirmation process in the spring of 2018.

Jonathan Chait: U.S. national security officials still consider Trump a security risk

“Mueller has finished his work, and — save for foreign-policy bureaucrats keeping their actions secret from the president — there’s no obvious mechanism for identifying and limiting the threat of Russian leverage over him. For all we know, Trump is still being promised, or even receiving, payoffs from Russia. None of these actions would amount to crimes. They do, however, constitute a crisis — not just of national security but of national sovereignty.”

Legal foreign influence? Come again?

Yep, it’s a thing. Hacking and influence campaigns may get the headlines, but loopholes in federal law have allowed foreign entities with various agendas—economic, political, cultural—to inject cash into U.S. elections for years. More than a billion untraceable dollars have been spent in U.S. elections since 2006, and it’s unknowable how much of that came from foreign sources, legally or illegally.

Russia intercepts US, Swedish jets

A Russian Su-27 intercepted two reconnaissance planes flying in international airspace over the Baltic Sea. The planes belonged to the U.S. and Sweden. The intercept was considered safe by both sides.

Russia eyes missile sale to Turkey

Russia is making it clear that it intends to complete its sale of its S-400 missile system to Turkey. If Turkey receives the missile system, they are hit with U.S. sanctions, lose access to the F-35 jet, and have their membership in NATO reevaluated.