Bernie Sanders holds 2020 campaign rally in Iowa | All Saved Stories In Brief – 25010:48 AM 3/8/2019 – 10:48 AM 3/8/2019


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Bernie Sanders holds 2020 campaign rally in Iowa
All Saved Stories In Brief – 250 – 10:48 AM 3/8/2019

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» Why the West loves Poroshenko again
08/03/19 09:26 from Saved Stories – None
Berlin prepares for life after Merkel …. Trump delivers scorched-earth speech as he tries to regain footing …. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko delivers a speech at the 2018 Munich Security Conference on February 16, 2018  …
» Raising eyebrows and security concerns, Kushner goes rogue in Saudi – report
08/03/19 09:25 from Saved Stories – None
Jared Kusher abandoned protocol in Saudi Arabia, when he was not … CREW called for an investigation of Kushner’s security clearance .
» FoxNewsChannel’s YouTube Videos: Democrats exhibit media bias double by barring Fox News from hosting 2020 debates
08/03/19 09:24 from Saved Stories – None
From: FoxNewsChannel Duration: 09:30 Is the DNC trying to delegitimize Fox News? Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee discuss. FoxNewsChannel’s YouTube Videos
» All the president’s investigations – MSNBC
08/03/19 09:19 from Saved Stories – None
All the president’s investigations    MSNBC House Democrats are balancing investigations into Trump crimes and Trump policies. Congresswoman Nanette Barragán was among the Democrats who …
» FoxNewsChannel’s YouTube Videos: The Left’s anti-semetic problem
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From: FoxNewsChannel Duration: 07:07 House votes to condemn anti-semitism after backlash over comments by democratic congresswoman. FoxNewsChannel’s YouTube Videos
» FoxNewsChannel’s YouTube Videos: House passes anti-Semitism resolution, Rep. Omar sees no action for her remarks
08/03/19 09:19 from Saved Stories – None
From: FoxNewsChannel Duration: 04:35 Reaction and Analysis from Jewish Democratic Council of America’s Halie Soifer and Florida Congressional Committee PAC chair Stephen Fiske. FoxNewsChannel’s YouTube Videos
» Dilanian: Some intel experts think Manafort was essentially a Russian asset – MSNBC
08/03/19 09:18 from Saved Stories – None
Dilanian: Some intel experts think Manafort was essentially a Russian asset    MSNBC NBC News National Security Reporter Ken Dilanian details how Paul Manafort’s legal troubles began with his past work before joining the Trump …
» Paul Manafort, Russia, Ebola: Your Friday Briefing – The New York Times
08/03/19 09:17 from Saved Stories – None
Paul Manafort, Russia, Ebola: Your Friday Briefing    The New York Times (Want to get this briefing by email? Here’s the sign-up.) Good morning. Paul Manafort is sentenced, Europe’s central bank signals concern, and Russian bil…
» How Donald Trump Led to Paul Manafort’s Downfall – TIME
08/03/19 09:17 from Saved Stories – None
How Donald Trump Led to Paul Manafort’s Downfall    TIME If he had never joined Donald Trump’s campaign, Paul Manafort would likely be a free man today. Instead, the longtime political consultant is facing just…
» What would happen if Netanyahu was indicted?
08/03/19 09:17 from Saved Stories – None
… Avichai Mandelblit’s verdict is in on the secret recordings, texts, late-night summons and alleged schemes of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu .
» This is why Ukraine is facing its most important presidential election in decades
08/03/19 09:16 from Saved Stories – None
In the eyes of many Ukrainians the election marks another major stage in the country’s journey to break free of Russia and carve out an independent …
» Israel’s Choice: Solidarity or Extremism
08/03/19 09:15 from Saved Stories – None
I was 9 years old, Palestinian, Arab and a citizen of Israel . … He enters the elections with charges of fraud, bribery and breach of public trust hanging …
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Why the West loves Poroshenko again – POLITICO


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President Petro Poroshenko was no one’s idea of the face of Ukraine’s future. Now he looks like the last hope.

As the date of the March 31 presidential election nears, Russia has upped its efforts to exert influence on the race. A recent report from U.S. intelligence services found that the Kremlin is seeking to apply “a range of tools” to “exploit Kyiv’s fragile economy, widespread corruption, cyber vulnerabilities, and public discontent.”

The goal? Defeat Poroshenko and bring to power a less anti-Russian government.

As a result, foreign diplomats and Western capitals are coming around to an ironic realization: Poroshenko, the leader whose slow pace of reforms has at times frustrated their hopes for rapid change, is now their best — and only — chance of keeping Ukraine from drifting back into Russia’s orbit of influence.

It’s important not to underestimate Putin’s deep-held desire to restore influence over Ukraine.

For Russian President Vladimir Putin, it doesn’t so much matter who wins the election, just as long as it’s not Poroshenko.

A win for either of the two other front-runners — the politically inexperienced comedian Vladimir Zelenskiy and the left-leaning political veteran Yulia Tymoshenko, whose policies could rupture Ukraine’s relations with the International Monetary Fund — would be likely to destabilize the country, and create an opening for Putin to exert greater influence.

Putin’s main motive is not so much to elect a Kremlin-friendly president, but to make it abundantly clear to any future Ukrainian president that refusing to make concessions to the Kremlin will lead to political ruin.

The reasons behind the Kremlin’s efforts to derail Poroshenko’s campaign are also deeply personal.

When Poroshenko came to power five years ago, he presented himself as a pragmatic candidate in favor of peace. Because of his business background and his wealth, he also had a reputation for being a pragmatic politician who was open to striking deals. Putin likely thought that Poroshenko’s business interests in Russia — since abandoned — would make him inclined to compromise.

Faced with this evidence of Russian interference, the much-criticized Poroshenko is starting to look like the strategically sound alternative to many Western observers.

Instead, the Ukrainian president has been a formidable adversary: Poroshenko used his diplomatic skill to build widespread support in the West for major economic sanctions against Russia.

At home, Poroshenko has reduced Russia’s cultural impact by banning Russian television stations and social media platforms, and promoting the use of Ukrainian in media and in schools. He also successfully lobbied to create an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church — a religious schism that has dealt a major blow to Moscow’s historic claims to Kiev, and will cost the Russian church millions of dollars in church property, as well as dramatically erode its soft power influence in Ukraine.

Not least of all, the Ukrainian leader also succeeded in convincing the United States to provide Ukraine with lethal defensive weapons and has rebuilt both the Ukrainian armaments industry and created a formidable Ukrainian military force.

All these are neuralgic issues for Putin, who expected Ukraine to wither under the force of Russia’s aggression and destabilization, and can’t stomach the idea that Poroshenko could win another term.

Since the start of the election campaign season, Russia has deployed hundreds of millions of dollars in the effort to influence and disrupt Ukraine’s election, according an assessment by Ukraine’s security service, the SBU.

The Kremlin has sought to raise the political temperature by promoting inter-ethnic and inter-confessional conflict and painting Poroshenko as a feckless leader who is unable to maintain order.

It has also intensified its cyberattacks against Ukrainian officials and the country’s Central Election Council — which it hits on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis – as well as its disinformation campaign on social media.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko delivers a speech at the 2018 Munich Security Conference on February 16, 2018 | Sebastian Widmann/Getty Images

data dump of documents from an unknown source released last month by a Western-funded Ukrainian anti-corruption watchdog and alleging improprieties by Poroshenko associates also leaves open the possibility that the data may have been subject to tampering by Russian, or Russia-friendly, actors.

The Kremlin has also been laying the groundwork for this anti-Poroshenko campaign by empowering Kremlin-friendly businessmen and politicians through sweetheart deals and market access.

There are countless examples. A leading Ukrainian pro-Russian politician, Viktor Medvedchuk — whose daughter is Putin’s goddaughter and whose wife was recently revealed to be the majority owner of a company that last year won a tender to exploit a lucrative Russian oil field — exerts influence on several television news stations. Taras Kozak, a parliamentarian and influential importer of Russia-sourced diesel fuel who also co-owns a Russia-based weapons manufacturer, has taken over the popular television channel 112. Oligarch Dmytro Firtash, who made billions as a Russia-approved gas trading intermediary in the early 2000s, owns the widely watched Inter TV — which has seen a steady stream of criticism of Poroshenko as the election nears.

The scale of Russia’s intervention in Ukrainian politics may strike some as unlikely. But it’s important not to underestimate Putin’s deep-held desire to restore influence over Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin | Dmitri Lovetsky/AFP via Getty Images

Faced with this evidence of Russian interference, the much-criticized Poroshenko is starting to look like the strategically sound alternative to many Western observers.

Sure, his presidency gets mixed grades. Despite some economic growth, for most Ukrainians — whose average monthly wage stood at $390 in December — things aren’t getting better. And though he’s overseen a crackdown on corruption, critics fault him for the slow pace of reforms, including when it comes to criminal justice.

But what are the alternatives? His rivals are likely to weaken Ukraine’s links with the West or create uncertainty by undoing recent progress.

Western policymakers have realized it might be in their interest to embrace his accomplishments and turn a blind eye to his shortcomings. Ukraine’s patriotic liberals, too, are coming to the same conclusion.

As Yaroslav Hrytsak, one of Ukraine’s most prominent public intellectuals, recently put it: The main decision for liberals today is whether to support Poroshenko in the first round or wait until the second.

Adrian Karatnycky is senior fellow and co-director of the Ukraine in Europe Initiative of the Atlantic Council.


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Jared Kushner’s security clearance has been downgraded – Axios


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Jared Kushner’s security clearance has been downgraded

Chief of Staff John Kelly downgraded Jared Kushner’s security clearance on Feb. 23 from “Interim Top Secret” to “Interim Secret,” according to an administrative staffer involved in the HR process for handling clearances. The White House declined to comment on this story.

Why it matters: Kelly’s recent overhaul of the security clearance process has officially changed Kushner’s role — he was previously able to access sensitive national security information that very few people have access to, despite operating on an interim security clearance for the last year.

The difference in security clearances:

  • Interim Top Secret/SCI: Gives access to sensitive compartments of intelligence (SCI) that are restricted to a small group of “trusted, highly vetted and scrutinized users who need it to perform their duties,” David Wade, former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State John Kerry, told Axios. That information is deemed so classified that if made public, it could have national security implications. handling is so rigorously enforced and protected.”
  • Interim Secret: Would not have access to certain classified information, like the president’s daily briefing. “You may be cleared for a level but that doesn’t mean you have a ‘need to know,'” an FBI officer told Axios.

Politico was the first to report that Kushner’s clearance had been downgraded.

Kushner’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said Kushner’s work won’t be affected. “The new policy announced by General Kelly will not affect Mr. Kushner’s ability to continue to do the very important work he has been assigned by the President.”

Background: When asked whether Kushner’s security clearance would change at a press conference (on the same day Kelly ordered this downgrade), President Trump simply said, “General Kelly respects Jared a lot and General Kelly will make that call. I won’t make that call.”

  • Kelly previously announced his plan to revoke high-level access for those working on an interim security clearance, access that Kushner has been reluctant to give up.
  • Kushner’s Interim Top Secret clearance allowed him to attend classified briefings, read the daily intelligence briefing, oversee strategies for Middle East peace, and meet with foreign officials around the world.
  • His clearance was downgraded once before, to Interim Top Secret on Sept. 15, because his background check wasn’t completed and DOJ hadn’t yet granted final clearance.
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House Democrats may probe Kushners’ NYC real estate deal – Axios


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House Democrats may probe Kushners’ NYC real estate deal

House Democrats are discussing investigating the cash infusion the Kushner Companies’ flagship New York office tower received in summer 2018, Reps. Maxine Waters, Elijah Cummings and Ted Lieu told Axios.

Why it matters: Jared Kushner’s family real estate business provides Democrats with a new opening to investigate a senior White House official’s indirect connection to foreign money. Kushner has been helping conduct Middle East policy on behalf of the U.S. government.

The Kushner family’s most consequential recent deal is the one that bailed them out of their struggling, debt ridden behemoth at 666 Fifth Avenue.

  • Lieu, who serves on the House Judiciary and Foreign Affairs committees, told Axios that he finds the deal “really troubling,” and that one of the House committees will be looking into it.
  • Waters, chair of the House Financial Services Committee, and Cummings, chair of the House Oversight Committee, confirmed that there have been private discussions about investigating the deal.

It’s unclear which committee would investigate the deal, and whether it will be investigated at all.

  • “We’ve been looking at that for a while,” Cummings said. “It’s a very difficult question because Maxine may have a piece of it, another committee might have a piece of it. We’ll figure that out.”

The backdrop: Jared Kushner’s family company bought the Midtown skyscraper for a record $1.8 billion in 2007.

  • But the building later became a financial headache. At the time of the deal, the N.Y. Times reported, “Analysts have long said that 666 Fifth was worth less than its debts. The building was 30 percent vacant and only generated about half the annual mortgage payments.”
  • According to the Wall Street Journal, Brookfield Asset Management, which purchased a 99-year lease on the building, paid enough for Kushner Companies to pay off its $1.1 billion debt and buy out its partner, Vornado Realty Trust, which owned the retail portion of the building.
  • The deal became politically controversial because Qatar Investment Authority, one of the world’s biggest sovereign wealth funds, is Brookfield’s second-largest investor. Brookfield said Qatar wasn’t aware of the deal until it was publicly announced.

At around the same time, Brookfield’s acquisition of Westinghouse Electric, a nuclear power company, was finalized.

  • This connection became problematic after the House Oversight Committee released a report last month alleging some members of the Trump administration proposed selling nuclear power plants to Saudi Arabia over the objections of top national security officials. The report noted that Westinghouse, which manufactures power plants, could benefit from such a deal.

The White House did not respond to Axios’ request for comment.

Go deeper: Elijah Cummings orders White House to comply with Kushner security clearance review

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Democrats get leaked documents on Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump’s security clearances


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Someone in the White House reportedly leaked documents to House Democrats dealing with security clearances for members of President Trump’s family.

A Democratic aide responsible for handling to documents said that they provide information on the timeline of how President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump obtained security clearances.

They also explain how the final decision was made to grant those clearances, Axios reported.

Two staffers on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee told the top Democratic aide that they “appreciate having [the documents] upfront” because they are “part of the puzzle that we would be asking for” from the White House.

One of the documents details why Kushner’s clearance was changed to “interim” in Sept. 2017.

“Per conversation with WH counsel the clearance was changed to interim Top Secret until we can confirm that the DOJ or someone else actually granted a final clearance,” the document said. “This action was taken out of an abundance of caution because the background investigation has not been completed.”

This week, the panel requested documents regarding the Trump administration’s granting of security clearances to staffers, but the White House rejected the request.

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Scoop: White House leak to House Dems on Jared and Ivanka’s clearances – Axios


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Scoop: White House leak to House Dems on Jared and Ivanka’s clearances

From a White House source, the House Oversight Committee has obtained documents related to Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s security clearances that the Trump administration refused to provide, according to a senior Democratic aide involved in handling the documents.

Why it matters: The Trump administration’s problems with leaks will now benefit Congress, making it harder for the White House to withhold information from Democratic investigators.

The news: The White House this week rejected the committee’s request for documents on the process for granting security clearances to staffers.

  • The twist: But the House Oversight Committee in early February had already obtained the leaked documents that detail the entire process, from the spring of 2017 to the spring of 2018, on how both Kushner and Trump were ultimately granted their security clearances.
  • The senior Democratic aide who was involved in handling the documents told Axios that two staffers on the Oversight Committee said the documents are “part of the puzzle that we would be asking for” from the White House, “so we appreciate having this upfront.” 

The House Oversight Committee, via deputy communications director Aryele Bradford, declined to comment.

  • The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

The documents leaked to the Oversight Committee provide detailed information on the timeline for how Kushner’s and Trump’s security clearances were approved and who the people were involved in processing and the final decision.

  • One document, obtained by Axios, provides some details about why Kushner’s security clearance was changed to “interim” in September 2017: “Per conversation with WH counsel the clearance was changed to interim Top Secret until we can confirm that the DOJ or someone else actually granted a final clearance. This action was taken out of an abundance of caution because the background investigation has not been completed.”
  • Feb. 23, 2018: “Clearance downgraded to Interim Secret per COS direction” — then-chief of staff John Kelly.

Go deeper: Jared Kushner’s security clearance has been downgraded

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House Trump investigation – Washington Times


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ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The Democratic-controlled House Judiciary Committee launched a sweeping investigation this week to determine if there are grounds for President Trump’s impeachment.

The committee sent more than 80 letters on Monday to Mr. Trump’s former business associates, past and present advisers, among other figures who served on his White House staff and in his administration with knowledge of the controversial actions and other decision-making practices over the course of his 2016 campaign and his presidency.

Or as The Washington Post described the intent of the committee’s letters: “whether the president and his administration have engaged in obstruction of justice, corruption and abuse of power.”

“But rather than a targeted approach, Monday’s request was broad, reaching current and former campaign staffers, top Trump Organization officials, even documents and communications …”, The Post said.

“The inquiry touched on a wide array of matters, from the president’s business dealings with Russia to the firing of former FBI director James B. Comey to hush payments made to women,” the newspaper said.

Many of these and other issues are being investigated by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York.
New York regulators have recently subpoenaed Mr. Trump’s insurance broker in the wake of testimony from his former lawyer Michael Cohen that Mr. Trump exaggerated his wealth to insurance firms.

In a statement on Monday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, said “We will act quickly to gather this information, assess the evidence and follow the facts where they lead with full transparency with the American people.”

“This is a critical time for our nation, and we have a responsibility to investigate these matters and hold hearings for the public to have all the facts. That is exactly what we intend to do,” Mr. Nadler said.

The White House, in a statement from press secretary Sarah Sanders, called the Judiciary committee’s action “a disgraceful and abusive investigation into tired, false allegations already investigated by the Special Counsel and committees in both Chambers of Congress.”

Mr. Trump’s reply at a White House event Monday: “No collusion. It’s all a hoax.”

Of course, that was Mr. Trump’s repeated response about the Kremlin’s cyberwar interference throughout the 2016 presidential campaign. He rarely says that anymore, not since U.S. intelligence unanimously agreed that Russia was behind the massive barrage of phony stories written to incite American voters.

Did you see the interview of the Russian on CBS’ “60 Minutes” who saturated our Internet with these false stories to influence the presidential election?
And why were people in Mr. Trump’s campaign talking to the Russian ambassador to the United States during this period? And meeting with go-betweens for well-connected Russian oligarchs?

Mr. Trump says he intends to cooperate with the Judiciary Committee’s upcoming hearings, but, privately, advisers have been “preparing to push back against the committee’s demands,” The Post says.

Their strategy: Claiming executive privilege whenever possible to block the committee’s requests.

Meantime, the scope of Mr. Nadler’s inquiry is so broad, it is running into the work of other committees exploring the same issues. There were at least six or more committees investigating Mr. Trump, possibly working at cross purposes that could pose problems in the future.

To avoid duplication, committee chairmen have been holding meetings to coordinate their work.

Among those who received letters to appear before his committee: Mr. Trump’s eldest sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump; son-in-law Jared Kushner; Allen Weisselberg, chief financial officer of the Trump Organization; and former White House aides Hope Hicks, Sean Spicer, and Stephen K. Bannon.

Mr. Nadler’s list of requested documents include the FBI, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Mr. Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen.
On Tuesday, Mr. Trump sat down at his computer to send this tweet: “A big, fat fishing expedition desperately in search of a crime.”

Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and contributor to The Washington Times.

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Mueller’s scorecard: Who’s been convicted, sentenced


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Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

 / Updated 

By Dareh Gregorian

President Donald Trump has called it “a witch hunt,” but special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation has already resulted in seven guilty pleas and one conviction at trial, with a cast of defendants that include Trump’s former campaign chairman, ex-national security adviser and onetime personal lawyer.

In all, 34 people and three companies have been criminally charged as a result of the probe. Mueller was named special counsel in May 2017 by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and directed to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump” and “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”

Paul Manafort

He ran Trump’s campaign for part of 2016 and was convicted in August on five counts of tax fraud, one count of failure to file a report of foreign bank and financial accounts and two counts of bank fraud. Prosecutors said he’d hidden millions of dollars overseas. Prosecutors had recommended he get up to 24 years, but he was sentenced to just 47 months in that case on Thursday. He pleaded guilty in a second case brought by the Mueller team in September, and is scheduled to be sentenced for those crimes on Wednesday.

Rick Gates

Manafort’s former business partner and Trump’s former deputy campaign chair pleaded guilty to conspiracy and lying to Mueller’s investigators about his business dealings with Manafort. Gates, who also worked on Trump’s inaugural committee, has been cooperating with Mueller’s investigation and testified against Manafort at his trial in Alexandria, Va. His sentencing has been repeatedly delayed. Prosecutors said in January that “Gates continues to cooperate with respect to several ongoing investigations.”

Michael Cohen

Trump’s longtime fixer pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the duration of Trump’s plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. He was sentenced to three years in prison for that plea and another in a case that had been brought by federal prosecutors in Manhattan, where he admitted to eight felony counts of tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations. He’s scheduled to begin serving his sentence May 6.

Michael Flynn

A top Trump surrogate and foreign policy adviser during the 2016 campaign who admitted to lying to the FBI about the substance of his conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during his brief stint as national security adviser. He’s expected to be sentenced later this year.

George Papadopoulos

Another Trump foreign policy adviser, he pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI about the timing of his conversations with a professor who had ties to Russian intelligence. He’d said he’d spoken with the professor before he went to work for Trump, when it was afterward. The professor had told Papadopoulos that Russia had “thousands of emails” that would damage Trump rival Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Papadopoulos was sentenced to 14 days in jail.

Alex van der Zwaan

The London-based lawyer admitted to lying to Mueller’s investigators about his contacts with Gates. Van der Zwaan had worked with Gates and Manafort for a Ukrainian political party that was closely allied with Russia. He was sentenced to 30 days behind bars and fined $20,000.

Richard Pinedo

He was sentenced to six months in federal lockup and six months of home confinement for selling bank account and other stolen identity information to a group of Russians accused of interfering in the election. The Russians allegedly used the information to create fake online identities. The California man has said he didn’t know who his clients were, and Mueller’s office has said he was cooperative with their investigators.

Dareh Gregorian writes for NBC News.

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A Dark View Of Russia From U.S. NATO Commander : NPR


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from National Security : NPR.

Russian military officers stand by as the 9M729, center, its launcher, left, and the 9M728, right, land-based cruise missiles are displayed in Kubinka outside Moscow, in January. The Russian military rolled out its new missile and spelled out its specifications, seeking to dispel the U.S. claim that the weapon violates the INF Treaty.

Pavel Golovkin/AP


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Pavel Golovkin/AP

Russian military officers stand by as the 9M729, center, its launcher, left, and the 9M728, right, land-based cruise missiles are displayed in Kubinka outside Moscow, in January. The Russian military rolled out its new missile and spelled out its specifications, seeking to dispel the U.S. claim that the weapon violates the INF Treaty.

Pavel Golovkin/AP

At a post-summit news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin last July in Helsinki, President Trump did not once mention Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. Nor did he point to its military support of pro-Russian secessionists in eastern Ukraine.

If Trump’s aim was to avoid confrontation with a superpower whose nuclear arsenal rivals that of the U.S., or more personally, not to to antagonize an iron-fisted ruler who may or may not have damning information to spill on Trump, his top military commander in Europe does not seem to have gotten the memo.

Appearing this week before the Senate Armed Services Committee, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti sounded an alarm about Russia’s aims in the lands west of its border with Europe.

“Russia is a long-term, strategic competitor that wants to advance its own objectives at the expense of U.S. prosperity and security,” Scaparrotti, who also leads the U.S. European Command, told the panel.

“In pursuit of its objectives, Moscow seeks to assert its influence over nations along its periphery, undermine NATO solidarity and fracture the rules-based international order,” he said.

It was likely Scaparrotti’s last appearance in uniform before the committee. He’s slated to retire later this year from the two command posts he’s held in Europe since President Obama appointed him three years ago.

During the four-star general’s leadership, the U.S. has further expanded a military deployment in Europe that’s been growing since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.

“I humbly represent over 68,000 brave and dedicated men and women who are forward-deployed or stationed in the European theater of operations,” he said in prepared remarks.

That force, he suggested, is nonetheless inadequate.

“I’m not comfortable yet with the deterrent posture that we have in Europe,” Scaparrotti told the senators. “I have shortfalls in our land component…and in our maritime component,” he added, noting he’s requested that two naval destroyers be added to the four currently stationed at the U.S. naval base in Rota, Spain.

“In light of Russia’s modernizing, increasingly aggressive force posture,” Scaparrotti declared, “(the U.S. European Command) recommends augmenting our assigned and rotational forces to enhance our deterrence posture.”

And while Scaparrotti asserted the U.S. still maintains military superiority over Russia, he suggested that may not be the case in the future.

“Evolving Russian capabilities,” he warned, “threaten to erode our competitive military advantage, challenge our ability to operate uncontested in all domains and diminish our ability to deter Russian aggression.”

At another hearing this week, Congress got a darker estimate of who’s up and who’s down in the revived Great Powers competition along Russia’s western frontier.

“Understand that there’s no place today on the NATO-Russia border where Russia does not have military superiority,” former NATO nuclear policy chairman and George W. Bush administration special adviser Franklin Miller told the House Armed Services Committee, adding, “I think that the Russian leadership looks at nuclear war differently than we do.”

Adding to Cold War-reminiscent tensions, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declared this week that Moscow reserves the right to deploy missiles banned by the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which applies to all U.S. and Russian missiles that can fly between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.

That followed the Trump administration’s notification last month that the U.S. was withdrawing from the INF Treaty. Each side accuses the other of having violated the pact signed by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

The collapse of the arms control accord has been sharply criticized by congressional Democrats, who contend its demise will likely make a bad situation even worse.

“What is our plan to prevent Russia from building more INF Treaty-prohibited missiles in the absence of the treaty?” asked committee member and Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. “Do we have a plan here?”

“I don’t know that we have a plan today,” Scaparrotti replied. “I know we’re working on what we think that plan might be.”

In the end, Scaparrotti told lawmakers, the continued cohesion of NATO — a military alliance which Trump has frequently criticized — may provide the best defense against what he termed a “revisionist” Russia.

“When you can combine 29 nations with their elements of power in response to Russia’s,” the 63-year-old Army general told the panel, “it’s a slam-dunk. There’s no doubt that we can handle this and they’ll be deterred, but we’ve got to work together.”

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People hear and believe what they want to hear and believe. – M.N. | Trump Investigations News In 250 Brief Posts – 5:52 AM 3/8/2019


Michael_Novakhov
shared this story
from Trump Investigations.




People hear and believe what they want to hear and believe. – M.N. 


Jul 1, 2011 – You bias your interpretation of evidence toward what you desire. … That means that people may ultimately come to believe that the weight of … 


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The Operation Trump and The New Abwehr: A Study In Psychohistory
by Michael Novakhov – Google Search

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Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠

Trump Investigations News In 250 Brief Posts

» Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠: Video News Review – 4:59 AM 3/8/2019
08/03/19 04:01 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)
Michael_Novakhov shared this story from Trump Investigations. Lawrence’s Last Word: The Company You Keep | The Last Word | MSNBC – YouTube Friday March 8 th , 2019  at  3:51 AM 1 Share Lawrence’s Last Word: The Company You Keep…
» mikenov on Twitter: Trump Investigations: Video News Review – 4:59 AM 3/8/2019 trumpinvestigations.blogspot.com/2019/03/video-…
08/03/19 04:01 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)
Trump Investigations: Video News Review – 4:59 AM 3/8/2019 trumpinvestigations.blogspot.com/2019/03/video-… Posted by mikenov on Friday, March 8th, 2019 9:01am mikenov on Twitter
» “2016 Presidential Election Investigation” – Google News: What happens when Mueller files his report — and why Trump critics won’t like it – CBC.ca
08/03/19 04:00 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)
What happens when Mueller files his report — and why Trump critics won’t like it    CBC.ca The public has been waiting 21 months for special counsel Robert Mueller to share the findings of his investigation into Russian interfe…
» Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠: All The President’s Investigations | The Last Word | MSNBC – YouTube
08/03/19 03:55 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)
Michael_Novakhov shared this story . All The President’s Investigations | The Last Word | MSNBC Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠
» Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠: Lawrence’s Last Word: The Company You Keep | The Last Word | MSNBC – YouTube
08/03/19 03:51 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)
Michael_Novakhov shared this story . Lawrence’s Last Word: The Company You Keep | The Last Word | MSNBC Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠
» Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠: The Left’s anti-semetic problem – YouTube
08/03/19 03:49 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)
Michael_Novakhov shared this story . The Left’s anti-semetic problem Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠
» “bank of Cyprus” – Google News: Changes to Hellenic Bank’s share structure – In-Cyprus.com
08/03/19 03:35 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)
Changes to Hellenic Bank’s share structure    In-Cyprus.com Yesterday’s deadline for Hellenic Bank shareholders to exercise preference rights has led a reshuffle in the composition of its shareholders. The day after the … “ba…
» Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠: Trump Has Been Living A Double Life – YouTube
08/03/19 03:18 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)
Michael_Novakhov shared this story . Trump Has Been Living A Double Life Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠
» Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠: Dilanian: Some Intel Experts Think Manafort Was Essentially A Russian Asset | The 11th Hour | MSNBC – YouTube
08/03/19 03:16 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)
Michael_Novakhov shared this story . Dilanian: Some Intel Experts Think Manafort Was Essentially A Russian Asset | The 11th Hour | MSNBC Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠
» “bank of Cyprus” – Google News: Graphic Stories Cyprus 2019 – In-Cyprus.com
08/03/19 03:05 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)
Graphic Stories Cyprus 2019    In-Cyprus.com Graphic Stories Cyprus conference returns for its 5th edition, 15-17 March 2019. The 5th consecutive Conference on Graphic Design and Visual Communication … “bank of Cyprus” – Goog…
» Cambridge Analytica from Michael_Novakhov (4 sites): “cambridge analytica” – Google News: Facebook’s Zuckerberg talks privacy | Komando.com – Komando
08/03/19 03:05 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)
Facebook’s Zuckerberg talks privacy | Komando.com    Komando Facebook’s chief Mark Zuckerberg is saying online privacy should be a priority. Finally! “cambridge analytica” – Google News Cambridge Analytica from Michael_Novakhov…
» Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠: Jon Meacham: We May Have A President Who Is Enthralled To A Foreign Power | The 11th Hour | MSNBC – YouTube
08/03/19 03:02 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)
Michael_Novakhov shared this story . Jon Meacham: We May Have A President Who Is Enthralled To A Foreign Power | The 11th Hour | MSNBC Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠
» Google Alert – mueller investigation: Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation toll: Six top Trump aides (so far)
08/03/19 02:52 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)
Several other minor figures in Mueller’s investigation have been charged and convicted in plea deals. Mueller has also charged 25 Russians with … Google Alert – mueller investigation
» Google Alert – manafort, kilimnik, mueller: Manafort sentenced to nearly four years
08/03/19 02:52 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)
Near the end of a 3½-hour court hearing, Manafort appealed to Ellis for … Mueller’s prosecutors later disclosed in court papers that Kilimnik “has ties to … Google Alert – manafort, kilimnik, mueller
» “bank of Cyprus” – Google News: Cypriot exports significantly up in recent years, President says – In-Cyprus.com
08/03/19 02:45 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)
Cypriot exports significantly up in recent years, President says    In-Cyprus.com President Nicos Anastasiades has said that there has been a significant increase of exports in recent years, noting at the same time that support…
» “bank of Cyprus” – Google News: Owen Bonnici Our 10th President of the Republic – Malta Independent Online
08/03/19 02:32 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)
Owen Bonnici Our 10th President of the Republic    Malta Independent Online An honour for Zejtun, an honour for Malta: this is how I described Dr George Vella’s nomination to be Malta’s next President. Unanimously approved by t…
» Politics, Economy, World News from 100k+ sources: WaPo issues correction after publishing Cynthia Nixon op-ed attacking VP Mike Pence
08/03/19 02:31 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)
The Washington Post issued a lengthy correction this week, four days after publishing an op-ed article by “Sex and the City” actress and activist Cynthia Nixon that attacked Vice President Mike Pence. Nixon’s essay, titled…
» Politics, Economy, World News from 100k+ sources: Trump’s withdrawal from JCPOA made Kim talks ‘difficult’
08/03/19 02:26 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)

» Google Alert – Elections Ukraine: Election-2019: CEC approves final list of 39 presidential candidates in Ukraine
08/03/19 02:18 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)
The Central Election Commission of Ukraine approved the final list of presidential candidates. Overall 39 candidates will run for the presidency on … Google Alert – Elections Ukraine
» “bank of Cyprus” – Google News: Alarm bells over house prices – Cyprus Property News Magazine
08/03/19 02:10 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)
Alarm bells over house prices    Cyprus Property News Magazine The Central Bank of Cyprus has sounded alarm bells over rising house prices due to the Invest Citizenship scheme and calls for vigilance. “bank of Cyprus” – Google …
» Google Alert – Elections Ukraine: Comedian Volodymyr Zelenskyi leading in Ukrainian presidential polls
08/03/19 01:45 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)
Some three weeks ahead of the first round of the Ukrainian presidential elections on March 31, the most recent polling of voters in Ukraine reveals that … Google Alert – Elections Ukraine
» Google Alert – Elections Ukraine: Ukraine’s Election Wildcard Assembles a Team to Match His Ambition
08/03/19 01:44 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)
The surprise leader in polls before March’s presidential election in Ukraine is surrounding himself with a team that could help him achieve what only a … Google Alert – Elections Ukraine
» Trump News TV from Michael_Novakhov (9 sites): CNN’s YouTube Videos: Lawmaker on Manafort sentencing: Judge should have recused himself
08/03/19 01:27 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)
From: CNN Duration: 03:24 In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA) criticized Judge T.S. Ellis for sentencing President Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort to 47 months in prison. #CNN #News CNN’s…
» Google Alert – Elections Israel: Israel bars Arab party from election and allows Jewish supremacist party to run
08/03/19 01:22 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)
Israel’s election board has approved far-right Jewish candidates accused by rivals of racism for next month’s election while disqualifying an Arab party … Google Alert – Elections Israel
» Trump digital operations from Michael_Novakhov (2 sites): “Trump digital operations” – Google News: Analysts: Normal operations restored at NKorean launch site – Miami Herald
08/03/19 01:12 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)
Analysts: Normal operations restored at NKorean launch site    Miami Herald U.S. analysts say North Korea appears to have restored normal operations at a long-range rocket launch site it partially dismantled last year as part o…
» Google Alert – mueller: Manafort sentencing marks rare reprieve for Trump world in Mueller probe
08/03/19 01:11 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)
By Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN. CNN — Donald Trump has rarely caught a break since special counsel Robert Mueller clamped a vise … Google Alert – mueller
» Google Alert – mueller investigation: Manafort sentencing marks rare reprieve for Trump world in Mueller probe
08/03/19 01:11 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)
Nothing that happened Thursday lessened Trump’s potential legal or political exposure, or repudiated Mueller’s investigation , which has uncovered a … Google Alert – mueller investigation
» Google Alert – mueller: Manafort sentencing marks rare reprieve for Trump world in Mueller probe
08/03/19 01:11 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)
Washington (CNN) Donald Trump has rarely caught a break since special counsel Robert Mueller clamped a vise around his White House two years … Google Alert – mueller
» Google Alert – trump: Manafort sentencing marks rare reprieve for Trump world in Mueller probe
08/03/19 01:11 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)
Washington (CNN) Donald Trump has rarely caught a break since special counsel Robert Mueller clamped a vise around his White House two years … Google Alert – trump
» Trump News TV from Michael_Novakhov (9 sites): msnbcleanforward’s YouTube Videos: Former Trump Campaign Chair Sentenced To 47 Months In Prison | Rachel Maddow | MSNBC
08/03/19 01:03 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)
From: msnbcleanforward Duration: 29:28 Rachel Maddow looks back at the course of Paul Manafort’s trial in the Eastern District of Virginia, and talks with Josh Gerstein, senior legal affairs contributor for Politico, about how the senten…
» Google Alert – Elections Ukraine: Ukraine elections: What’s going on and why it matters
08/03/19 01:00 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)
Ukraine is holding presidential and parliamentary elections at the end of March and the race is too close to call. CNBC has the lowdown on the vote  … Google Alert – Elections Ukraine
» Google Alert – Elections Israel: Israel’s Choice: Solidarity or Extremism
08/03/19 01:00 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)
I was 9 years old, Palestinian, Arab and a citizen of Israel . … He enters the elections with charges of fraud, bribery and breach of public trust hanging … Google Alert – Elections Israel
» Trump News TV from Michael_Novakhov (9 sites): msnbcleanforward’s YouTube Videos: Jon Meacham: We May Have A President Who Is Enthralled To A Foreign Power | The 11th Hour | MSNBC
08/03/19 00:55 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)
From: msnbcleanforward Duration: 02:11 Pulitzer Prize-winning author and presidential historian Jon Meacham says we are witnessing history while reflecting on the scope of scandal – something he calls a crisis – under Trump. » Subscribe …
» Trump News TV from Michael_Novakhov (9 sites): msnbcleanforward’s YouTube Videos: The Threat Russia Still Poses To U.S. Democracy Heading Into 2020 | The 11th Hour | MSNBC
08/03/19 00:48 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)
From: msnbcleanforward Duration: 01:39 FBI veteran and Russian expert Clint Watts discusses the constant threat America’s democracy still faces from Moscow. » Subscribe to MSNBC: http://on.msnbc.com/SubscribeTomsnbc MSNBC delivers breaki…
» Trump News TV from Michael_Novakhov (9 sites): msnbcleanforward’s YouTube Videos: Dilanian: Some Intel Experts Think Manafort Was Essentially A Russian Asset | The 11th Hour | MSNBC
08/03/19 00:40 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)
From: msnbcleanforward Duration: 01:34 NBC News National Security Reporter Ken Dilanian details how Paul Manafort’s legal troubles began with his past work before joining the Trump campaign. » Subscribe to MSNBC: http://on.msnbc.com/Subs
» Google Alert – Elections Ukraine: Walter Molano | Ukraine presidential poll is no joke
08/03/19 00:37 from Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (32 sites)
High drama has gripped the Ukraine , as the population prepares for the upcoming presidential elections . The first round is slated for March 31. Google Alert – Elections Ukraine
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Russia Stands With Maduro (While Hedging Its Bets)


Michael_Novakhov
shared this story
.

MOSCOW — On a rainy afternoon this week, a group of Russian officials and oil executives gathered for Mass in a Catholic church tucked away behind the imposing secret service headquarters in central Moscow.

They did not come to pray. Instead, they were commemorating the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez, who poured billions of dollars into Russian weapons and machinery, and showing support for his embattled successor, Nicolás Maduro.

Mr. Maduro is fighting to save the political system he and Mr. Chávez have built, with Russian support, for two decades. Mr. Maduro’s catastrophic economic mismanagement has led the opposition to claim the country’s leadership with the support of the United States, the European Union and most South American nations.

To Russia, it was the latest attempt by the West to topple an adversarial government and check President Vladimir V. Putin’s global outreach. The Kremlin reacted by closing ranks around Mr. Maduro and offering him unequivocal diplomatic support, which was on display at St. Ludwig the French Church on Wednesday.

Russia’s top Latin America diplomat, Alexander Shchetinin, and Igor Sechin, the powerful chief of Russia’s biggest state-owned oil company, Rosneft, were among those who laid flowers on Mr. Chávez’s memorial. But behind the official show of unity, Russia’s economic and political elites are becoming increasingly divided on how best to preserve their interests.

As Mr. Maduro and the opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, settle into a war of attrition, the Kremlin faces a stark choice: to double down on its ally or to be among those who choose his successor.

The path Mr. Putin takes will help determine whether Venezuela peacefully changes government, slides into civil war or consolidates as a repressive pariah under Mr. Maduro.

“Russia’s global image and weight is at stake in Venezuela,” said Vladimir Rouvinski, political scientist at the Icesi University in Cali, Colombia. “The initial shock and fear in Russia that they would lose everything in Venezuela is being replaced by the possibility that they can become part of a negotiated transition and ensure their interests are respected.”

These interests range from Venezuelan oil projects and military contracts held by Russian state firms to the geopolitical value of having an anti-American ally in the Western Hemisphere.

In recent years, Rosneft has emerged as Venezuela’s biggest oil partner and lender of last resort, taking stakes in five crude-producing projects and lending Mr. Maduro’s government around $7 billion in return for oil. Venezuela still owes Rosneft about $2.3 billion, according to a company presentation in February.

Venezuela also owes $3.1 billion to the Russian Finance Ministry for weapons, trucks and grain purchased on credit. Finally, Moscow’s state arms exporter has lucrative contracts to maintain Venezuela’s Russian-made tanks, fighter jets and air defense systems.

“These are significant sums, but it’s not something that would sink the Russian economy,” said Alexander Gabuev, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Moscow Center. “It’s about Putin’s ability to project Russia as a global power.”

Close ties with Venezuela have allowed Mr. Putin to challenge America in its backyard. Both Mr. Chávez and Mr. Maduro have traveled to Russia, visiting machine gun factories and state farms. Mr. Chávez was one of the few leaders to recognize the Russian-backed separatist republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, while Mr. Maduro supported the Russian military campaign in Syria.

Russia responded with symbolic gestures like flying a Russian chamber choir to Mr. Chávez’s hometown and inaugurating a Hugo Chávez street in Moscow.

These economic and personal ties have made Russia arguably the only ally besides Cuba that can exert influence on Mr. Maduro, said Mr. Rouvinski, the political scientist. They have also raised the costs of Mr. Maduro’s downfall to the Kremlin.

To try to loosen these ties, Venezuela’s opposition has repeatedly said that Russia’s investments would be respected by a new government. The country will need capital to recover from its dire economic crisis, they said, and Russian companies would be welcome in the reconstruction.

By sticking with Mr. Maduro, Russia increases the opposition’s dependence on America, which could lobby a new government to cancel Rosneft’s contracts and send Russian weapons to the scrapyard, the opposition lawmaker Angel Alvarado said.

“The longer they wait, the more they risk losing everything,” he said. “Their investments are safe here, but they need to come to the negotiating table before it is too late.”

The Trump administration has repeatedly said that all options are on the table to force Mr. Maduro’s exit, including military intervention, a specter that has split Russian policymakers.

On one side are pragmatic technocrats and career diplomats who believe Mr. Maduro’s disastrous economic performance makes his government unsustainable.

Russian diplomats have reopened channels with Venezuela’s opposition after a brief halt following Mr. Guaidó’s proclamation, according to opposition leaders and people close to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

In public statements, Russian Foreign Ministry officials have gone in the past few weeks from unequivocally supporting Mr. Maduro to offering to mediate negotiations with the opposition or hold talks on Venezuela with the United States. Venezuela has largely disappeared from the saber-rattling talk shows of Russian state television.

This contrasts with the hard-line position taken by Russia’s defense and security establishment, which includes Rosneft’s Mr. Sechin, a former KGB officer. They see Venezuela’s political crisis as part of a global campaign of American subversion against Russia, and believe backing Mr. Maduro is a matter of principle and self-defense.

America’s “goal is liquidation of governments of inconvenient countries, the undermining of sovereignty,” Russia’s chief military strategist, Gen. Valery V. Gerasimov, said at a conference in Moscow last week. “Such actions are currently observed in Venezuela.”

Rosneft has emerged as Mr. Maduro’s economic lifeline since the United States slapped crippling sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry in late January. The company said it will lift its production in the country this year and has begun to take up some of the Venezuelan oil exports that used to go to America.

Rosneft’s delivery of gasoline and oil diluent to Venezuela has helped the state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela, known as Pdvsa, avoid collapse. It has also been good business for Mr. Sechin. Left without alternative buyers, Pdvsa is forced to sell to Rosneft at a steep discount, according to a Rosneft official and oil trader with knowledge of the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“Sechin has positioned himself to Putin as Venezuela’s curator, the person who will keep the Russian flag flying there,” said Mr. Gabuev of Carnegie Center. “He has too much wagered on Maduro.”

Beyond Rosneft’s opportunistic oil buying, the Kremlin’s effective support of Mr. Maduro is checked by Russia’s economic realities.

Real income in Russia has stagnated since Mr. Putin annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, sapping domestic support for foreign interventions like Mr. Putin’s campaign to prop up Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.

“How much milk can we provide to our kids if we don’t build another missile for Syria?” asked Maria Potapova, a manager at the Blagoveshchensk Dairy Plant in Russia’s Far East. “They have all the money for Crimea and Syria. Why not spare some for us?”

The threat of American sanctions has scared away most Russian corporations still doing business in Venezuela. Russia’s second-largest oil producer, Lukoil, said last month it had stopped trading Venezuelan oil; the state-run Gazprombank, once one of Pdvsa’s main bankers, has stopped opening new accounts for Venezuelan clients. Even small-time orchid importers have left the country.

A $1.5 billion Kalashnikov machine gun plant built by the state-run RosTec in Maracay, meant to symbolize Russia and Venezuela’s military cooperation, remains an empty shell 12 years after the start of construction.

Conditions in Venezuela are terrible and the government has to change, said a person involved in the RosTec project, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

What Russia wants, he added, is to have a say in who comes next.

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