The big picture

As countries line up for Russia's vaccine, not everyone is buying it

It's 92% effective, according to unconfirmed data.

Nov 12, 2020 - World
Alexei Navalny in first interview: Putin was behind Novichok poisoning

"I have no other explanation for what happened."

Oct 1, 2020 - World
The tangled web of Russia's Taliban support

Suspected Russian support of the Taliban goes all the way back to the Obama administration.

Jul 8, 2020 - World
Russians back reforms that could let Putin rule through 2036, officials say

It's the most significant reform package since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Jul 1, 2020 - World
20 Years of Putin: Tracing his rise from KGB to Kremlin

Part 1 of an Axios special report focuses on his rise, his early years and his escalating antagonism with the West.

Updated Dec 31, 2019 - World

All Russia stories

12 hours ago - World

Blinken: Russia will "force" State to fire 182 local embassy, consulate workers

A national flag flown outside the U.S. Embassy on Novinsky Boulevard in central Moscow. Photo: Valery Sharifulin/TASS via Getty Images

The United States has been forced to lay off more than 180 local employees and contractors at its embassy in Moscow and two consulates, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Friday.

Driving the news: "Starting in August, the Russian government is prohibiting the United States from retaining, hiring, or contracting Russian or third-country staff, except our guard force," Blinken said in a statement.

Jul 22, 2021 - World

Congress, Europeans trash pipeline deal

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Photo: Stefanie Loos/Pool/Getty Images

Almost nobody is happy with the U.S.-Germany deal on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. On the Hill, Republicans like Sen. Ted Cruz expressed outrage and Democrats like Sen. Tim Kaine voiced concern. In Europe, the Ukrainians feel bullied and the Poles disappointed.

The big picture: Ukraine and U.S. allies on the eastern flank of NATO argue the pipeline will make it easier for Moscow to isolate Kyiv and pressure Europe. They say the U.S.-Germany deal doesn't sufficiently address those concerns.

Ukraine fears U.S.-Germany deal on Putin's pipeline falls far short

Zelensky and Merkel. Photo: Stefanie Loos-Pool/Getty Images

The soon-to-be-announced deal between the U.S. and Germany on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline falls well short of Ukraine's hopes and fails to address the country's national security concerns, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky tells Axios.

Why it matters: The deal is designed to allay concerns in Kyiv and on Capitol Hill about the imminent completion of the Russia-to-Germany gas pipeline, which the Biden administration itself has condemned as "a Kremlin geopolitical project that threatens European energy security."

Updated Jul 16, 2021 - World

All passengers on small Russian plane survive after hard landing

Flags of the Russian Federation and the Kamchatka Territory fly at half-mast in memory of the victims of the Antonov An-26 passenger aircraft crash on July 6, 2021. Photo: Yelena Vereshchaka\TASS via Getty Images

All 19 passengers and crew aboard a small Russian plane that went missing earlier Friday survived after the aircraft made a hard emergency landing in Siberia, AP reports.

The big picture: The An-28 plane disappeared from radars on Friday while flying over the Siberian region of Tomsk. Passengers and crew did not sustain any serious injuries and are being flown to the city of Tomsk.

Jul 15, 2021 - World

No deal reached on Nord Stream pipeline as Merkel visits Biden

Merkel (R) speaks with Biden at the G20 summit. Photo: Sandra Steins/Bundesregierung via Getty

The White House is not expecting any agreement on Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline to emerge from President Biden's meeting on Thursday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, despite speculation that such a deal could be close.

Why it matters: The Russia-to-Germany natural gas pipeline faces strong bipartisan opposition in Washington, but Biden in May waived sanctions on the company working to complete it. The White House noted that the pipeline was already mostly finished and said Biden wanted good relations with Germany and "diplomatic space" to reach a deal with Merkel on the pipeline issue.

Russian ransomware group's dark web sites mysteriously go down

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Dark web sites tied to the Russian-based cyber gang REvil were not operating on Tuesday, just two weeks after the group launched a large-scale ransomware campaign that affected more than 1,500 companies around the world, according to CNBC.

Why it matters: It's unclear whether the sites — which REvil uses to facilitate its ransom negotiations — are down because of a technical problem, a law enforcement operation, or some other explanation. The group's public spokesperson has also been silent on message boards since last week, according to Politico.

Jul 8, 2021 - World

Taliban delegation meets with special envoy in Moscow

A Taliban delegate in Moscow in March 2021. Photo: Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Taliban representatives on Thursday met Zamir Kabulov, Russia's special envoy to Afghanistan, in Moscow to stress that its recent territorial gains in the country do not pose a threat to Russia or its Central Asian allies, according to the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The meeting came days after a Taliban offensive forced more than 1,000 members of Afghanistan's security forces to retreat into neighboring Tajikistan, where Russia maintains a military base.

U.S., U.K. intel: Russian military hacking attempts "certainly still ongoing"

Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in December 2020. Photo: Alexei Nikolsky\TASS via Getty Images

United States and United Kingdom intelligence agencies said in a report Thursday that Russian military hackers over the last three years have tried to access the computer networks of "hundreds of government and private sector targets worldwide" and warned that those "efforts are almost certainly still ongoing."

Why it matters: The security agencies cautioned that the military cyber unit, best known for hacking the Democratic National Committee and other political targets during the 2016 election, is still focusing on political consultants, political parties and think tanks, though they did not specify any targets by name.

Russia-based hackers breach more than 1,000 businesses

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A Russia-based hacking group known as REvil has compromised the computer systems of at least 1,000 businesses by targeting managed service providers, according to to the cybersecurity firm Huntress Labs Inc.

Why it matters: It's a large-scale ransomware campaign — the full scope of which is not yet known — and comes on the heels of several other high-profile ransomware attacks this year.

Microsoft sees targeted attacks from Russia-based group

Photo: Chesnot / Getty Images

Microsoft said Friday it has seen new attacks from the Russia-based group responsible for the attacks last winter on SolarWinds customers.

Driving the news: The company indicated the activity was targeted at specific customers including IT companies, government agencies, non-governmental organizations and think tanks, and financial services.

More Russia stories