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SnapshotsJul 1, 2020 | 20:30 GMT
Russia’s Constitutional Changes Appear Headed for Approval
Preliminary results of Russia’s constitutional referendum suggest the amendments will easily be passed despite opposition groups potentially disputing results, thus setting the Kremlin on a course to prepare its political system for a future without President Vladamir Putin. With 55 percent of votes already counted, Russia’s electoral commission announced July 1 that 76.6 percent of voters have approved the proposed constitutional amendments. A turnout of about 65 percent projects a high level of legitimacy for the vote, which will support the Kremlin’s democratic narrative and limit public backlash. 
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Quarterly ForecastsJun 29, 2020 | 00:02 GMT
2020 Third-Quarter Forecast
While many of the trends identified in our annual forecast remain slowed down by COVID-19, their pace is picking up as countries carefully emerge from lockdown.
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SnapshotsJun 22, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
New U.S. Sanctions Will Keep Syria Firmly in Russia and Iran's Corner
New U.S. sanctions against the Syrian government will likely leave Damascus dependent on Russian and Iranian support, while deterring aid from potential future partners such as China and the United Arab Emirates. On June 17, the United States sanctioned 39 individuals associated with the Syrian government, including President Bashar al Assad and his wife. Washington also indicated that more sanctions were to come in order to force the Syrian government back into U.N.-led peace negotiations.  Countries that have shown interest in providing Syria aid in the past are unlikely to risk incurring potentially powerful U.S. sanctions in pursuit of economically limited reconstruction contracts in Syria, leaving Damascus with Russia and Iran as its primary links with the international community. The sanctions will also exacerbate Syria's already dire economic situation, which is producing dissent from inside Syrian loyalist territories, and increasingly threatens the stability of the al Assad family's hold on the state.
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AssessmentsJun 18, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Nuclear-capable ballistic missiles are displayed during a military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, on Oct. 1, 2019.
With U.S.-Russia Talks Ahead, New START’s Future Hangs in the Balance
The United States is seeking to buy time in upcoming arms control discussions with Russia, and could agree to a brief extension of New START in an effort to draw China into a longer-term discussion about its potential inclusion in the treaty. Washington may now be more willing to preserve core New START elements that restrict the number of strategic nuclear weapons and delivery systems that each signatory can have. The White House’s arms control negotiator, Marshall Billingslea, and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov are slated to finally meet in Vienna on June 22 to discuss the future of New START, which came into force in 2011 and is now set to expire in February 2021 unless both parties agree to a five-year extension provided within the treaty itself. Recent leaks from the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump have suggested that a shorter extension (i.e. less than the five
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SnapshotsJun 17, 2020 | 16:31 GMT
Russia Extends a Rare Lifeline to Its Struggling Defense Sector
The Russian government's $3.6 billion bailout plan for the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) may provide some relief for the struggling state-owned defense giant, but it won't fix the perennial low revenues and high development costs that have left Russia's defense sector straddled with debt. Sources quoted by Vedomosti suggested that the company's 400 billion ruble ($5.7 billion) debt will largely be covered by the direct capitalization of the company, as well as a restructuring of its remaining 150 ruble ($2.1 billion) debt over a 15-year period. This will allow the state-owned defense industry conglomerate, which includes critical aerospace producers such as Mikoyan and Sukhoi, to continue its operations despite its mounting debt and losses in recent years. The Kremlin, however, will likely be less forthcoming with such massive bailouts to the country's private defense companies, which are also struggling with similar financial issues.
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AssessmentsJun 15, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Protesters in New York City kneel at an intersection to demand an end to systemic racism and police brutality on June 11, 2020.
U.S. Unrest Further Strains Trump’s Ties With Global Allies
Global U.S. allies are increasingly condemning the White House’s heavy-handed response to the nationwide protests following George Floyd’s death, suggesting a further erosion of U.S. leadership that could compromise Washington’s ability to find consensus on its controversial agenda of multilateral economic and security issues. Commentary from reputable news outlets and elite opinion-makers in Europe over the past week have questioned whether American internal polarization and discord would weaken its ability to function as a reliable ally. Increasingly irritated with the White House’s break from long-standing diplomatic norms, European governments appear to be translating opinion into policy action by challenging Trump’s proposed adjustments to the Group of Seven (G-7) summit and U.S. military posture in Europe.
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AssessmentsJun 9, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, one of the main opposition candidates running in Poland's 2020 presidential election, greets locals and supporters in Wieliczka, Poland, during a campaign event on June 5, 2020. 
Poland After the Presidential Election
Poland’s upcoming presidential election could increase political instability at a time of already mounting economic uncertainty, should a less Euroskeptic opposition candidate defeat President Andrzej Duda and secure the power to veto legislation. Regardless of who wins, in the months ahead the Polish government will need to defend both its economy from further harm due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as its access to EU farming subsidies and cohesion funds in the bloc’s 2021-2027 budget. Over time, growing debt levels and a worsening deficit could damage the government’s popularity and open the door to political change by impeding Warsaw’s ability to expand social welfare benefits.  
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SnapshotsJun 9, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Russia's National Wealth Fund Reaches Its Spending Threshold
Despite the fallout from the COVID-19 crisis, the value of Russia's National Wealth Fund (NWF) has managed to rise above the threshold required for the government to start spending portions of the fund. This development marks a positive note amid Russia's overall negative economic outlook, as the country claws its way out of the pandemic and subsequent oil price collapse earlier this year. The unlocking of the NWF, however, is unlikely to trigger a meaningful spending spree. And even if Moscow does decide to tap into its rainy day fund, budgetary rules will severely constrain the scale. 
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PodcastsJun 5, 2020 | 03:00 GMT
Pen and Sword: Yellow Bird with Sierra Crane Murdoch
This Pen and Sword podcast is about Lissa Yellow Bird -- a Native American investigator who took on her tribe, the legal system and her family to uncover truth and find justice. The book is Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder, and a Woman's Search for Justice in Indian Country and the author is Sierra Crane Murdoch.
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SnapshotsJun 2, 2020 | 14:41 GMT
OPEC+ Moves Toward Early Meeting to Discuss Extending Production Cuts
OPEC+ appears headed for an earlier-than-expected online ministerial meeting on June 4 to discuss how to extend oil production cuts for the rest of the year, given the faster-than-expected recovery in oil prices. During the meeting, members will reportedly consider a Saudi-Russian compromise on a very brief 1-2 month delay in the tapering of current headline cuts from 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd) to 7.7 million bpd. The original limitation of having the deepest production cuts last until only May and June was, in part, based on the intense uncertainty about how much demand destruction would actually occur due to the COVID-19 crisis. But it now appears that the flood in inventories has been less than expected, which has already driven Brent crude prices back into the upper $30s. 
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AssessmentsJun 1, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A satellite image shows the arrival of Russian fighter jets at an air base in Libya controlled by Khalifa Hifter's rebel army.
Russia Deepens Its Commitment to Libya’s War -- and Political Future
Russia's deepening support for the Libyan National Army (LNA) proves the Kremlin views LNA leader Khalifa Hifter as crucial to its greater North African and Mediterranean strategy, and could grant Moscow the upper hand in shaping the war-torn country's political future. The U.S. military, among others, recently released photos confirming the arrival of a fleet of Russian fighter jets at two LNA-controlled air bases in Libya. The deployment will make it more difficult for the U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) to make further military gains beyond Tripolitania. But perhaps most importantly, Russia's growing involvement in Libya's civil war -- alongside Turkey's continued support for the GNA -- will leave Moscow and Ankara at the helm of any potential negotiations between Eastern and Western Libya, much to the dismay of those in Europe and the United States. 
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