The big picture

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
Russian interference, 2020

Polarized Americans are even more exposed to emotional manipulation in 2020.

Aug 22, 2019 - World
What the Mueller report tells us about Trump and Russia

The first part of the Mueller report addresses Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Updated Apr 18, 2019 - Politics & Policy
Russia is winning its war of disinformation

American politics have been further radicalized.

Dec 17, 2018 - World

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15 hours ago - World

U.K. and Canada sanction Belarus dictator over rigged election

Lukashenko. Photo: Siarhei Leskiec/AFP via Getty Images

The U.K. and Canada on Tuesday announced they would impose sanctions on Belarus dictator Aleksander Lukashenko and members of his government for violence against protesters in the wake of August's rigged election.

Why it matters: The sanctions against the Belarus strongman represent the first major penalties enacted by Western powers since a post-election crackdown in which Lukashenko's security forces have brutalized protesters and detained major opposition figures.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Sep 28, 2020 - World

Dozens killed as fighting rages in disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region

Boys play on a street next to a building destroyed by war in Shushi, Nagorno-Karabakh, in 2015. Photo: Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

Fighting has continued for the second day over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, with at least 59 soldiers and civilians reported dead.

The backstory: The mountainous region of around 150,000 people is populated mainly by ethnic Armenians but lies within the borders of Azerbaijan. The countries have both claimed the territory since the collapse of the Soviet Union, fought a war over it from 1992-1994, and stood on the precipice of further conflict since.

Updated Sep 27, 2020 - World

Civilians killed in clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan in disputed region

Boys play on a street next to a building destroyed by war in Shushi, Nagorno-Karabakh, in 2015. Photo: Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

Officials in Azerbaijan and human rights activists in Armenia have reported civilian deaths following clashes between the two nations over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, according to Reuters.

The big picture: The two countries, which were part of the Soviet Union when it collapsed, have had disputes over the region for decades. It is internationally considered part of Azerbaijan but controlled by ethnic Armenians.

Sep 26, 2020 - World

Putin proposes non-interference pact with U.S. amid election meddling accusations

Russian President Vladimir Putin during a conference meeting on Sept. 24. Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev\TASS via Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday proposed a deal with the United States that would guarantee neither country interfere in the other’s elections weeks before the U.S. holds its general election.

Why it matters: Putin's proposal comes amid warnings from U.S. intelligence and cyber experts that Moscow is trying to influence the U.S. presidential election.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Sep 24, 2020 - World

Global coronavirus vaccine initiative launches without U.S. or China

Data: Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance; Map: Naema Ahmed/Axios

A global initiative to ensure equitable distribution of coronavirus vaccines now includes most of the world — but not the U.S., China or Russia.

Why it matters: Assuming one or more vaccines ultimately gain approval, there will be a period of months or even years in which supply lags far behind global demand. The COVAX initiative is an attempt to ensure doses go where they're most needed, rather than simply to countries that can produce or buy them at scale.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Updated Sep 23, 2020 - World

U.S. no longer recognizes Lukashenko as legitimate president of Belarus

Lukashenko at his secret inauguration. Photo: Andrei Stasevich/BELTA/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. no longer recognizes Aleksandr Lukashenko as the legitimate president of Belarus, the State Department said in a statement on Wednesday.

Why it matters: Lukashenko has clung to power with the support of Russia amid seven weeks of protests that have followed a blatantly rigged election. Fresh protests broke out Wednesday evening in Minsk after it emerged that Lukashenko had held a secret inauguration ceremony.

Alexei Navalny released from hospital after one month

Photo: Celestino Arce/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Russian activist Alexei Navalny was released from a German hospital on Wednesday after 32 days of treatment for Novichok poisoning, per the AP.

Why it matters: It is widely suspected that Russian state operatives took part in poisoning Navalny while on a domestic flight. Novichok is a Soviet-era poison often attributed to Russian security services, and Navalny is one of President Vladimir Putin's most outspoken critics.

  • Navalny was kept in a medically induced coma for two weeks after being poisoned. Doctors say it is too soon to know if he will face any long-term side effects from the nerve agent.
Sep 23, 2020 - World

H.R. McMaster: Trump "making it easy" for Putin on U.S. election misinformation

Former National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster in Washington, D.C., in 2018. Photo: Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

H.R. McMaster told CNN Tuesday evening President Trump and other U.S. leaders are "making it easy" for Russian President Vladimir Putin to peddle conspiracy theories on the U.S. election and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

What he's saying: "It's just wrong ... it's really important for leaders to be responsible about this because, really, as you know Putin doesn't create these divisions in our society, he doesn't create these doubts, he magnifies them," Trump's former national security adviser told CNN's Jake Tapper.

Sep 19, 2020 - World

Putin critic Alexei Navalny says he's slowly recovering

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny said he's recovering at a German hospital from a suspected nerve agent poisoning and slowly regaining his verbal and physical capabilities, in an Instagram post on Saturday, according to AP.

The state of play: Navalny, an anti-corruption lawyer and an open critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, fell ill on a flight to Moscow in August and was transferred to Germany for treatment.

Biden's hardline Russia reset

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Getty Images photos: Mark Reinstein

When he talks about Russia, Joe Biden has sounded like Ronald Reagan all summer, setting up a potential Day 1 confrontation with Russian President Vladimir Putin if Biden were to win.

Why it matters: Biden has promised a forceful response against Russia for both election interference and alleged bounty payments to target American troops in Afghanistan. But being tougher than President Trump could be the easy part. The risk is overdoing it and making diplomacy impossible.

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