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Stephen Cohen - John Batchelor Show: New Cold War - Russia, Crimea, Iran (Audio Podcast)

"the FSB announcement sounds suspiciously like a gambit by Mr. Putin, who swiftly vowed revenge."

"PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN of Russia is again playing with fire. This time, it may be a summer bluff, or it may be a pretext to escalation of war with Ukraine.

Either way, it reflects Mr. Putin’s determination to deceive and subvert whenever it suits his goals, at home and abroad, taking advantage of a distracted United States and Europe.

The Russian Federal Security Service, or FSB, claimed Wednesday that one of its officers was killed over the weekend near the de facto border between Crimea and Ukraine. Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine in early 2014, then backed a violent uprising in Ukraine’s eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk.

The latter continue to simmer with deadly force, but the line between Crimea and Ukraine had been relatively calm. According to the FSB, the infiltrators were armed with bombs and ammunition, intending to destroy infrastructure in Crimea, and a second attempt occurred Monday with support from Ukrainian artillery, killing a Russian army soldier. Ukraine responded that it was all “fantasy,” a provocation from Russia.

There is precious little evidence of what really happened, and this conflict has given new meaning to the old adage that in war, truth is the first casualty. But the FSB announcement sounds suspiciously like a gambit by Mr. Putin, who swiftly vowed revenge. On Thursday, Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, put his troops on combat alert...."

MOSCOW - Russian bombers based in Iran struck militant targets inside Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Tuesday, after Moscow deployed Russian aircraft to an Iranian air force base to widen its campaign in Syria.

The ministry said the strikes by Tupolev-22M3 long-range bombers and Sukhoi-34 fighter bombers were launched from Iran's Hamadan air base.

It is thought to be the first time Russia has struck targets inside Syria from Iran since it launched a bombing campaign to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in September last year.,7340,L-4842214,00.html

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