Publications By Category

Publications By Type


In-House Bulletins


Policy Papers


Russia Reform Monitor - No. 2172

Deepening tensions over RT designation;
A lucrative Mideast arms market

Edited by Ilan Berman
December 11, 2017

November 13:

CNN reports that Russian state broadcaster RT has bowed to U.S. government demands and registered as a foreign agent. The requirement, levied by the Justice Department earlier this Fall, stipulates that T&R Productions LLC, the production company behind the American version of the Russian state-funded TV network, must register as a foreign agent under the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA. That law requires "persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal," according to its official website (

Russia's ties to Turkey continue to improve.
According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Russian President Vladimir Putin has held a summit in the Black Sea town of Sochi with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The meeting was ostensibly intended to address the Syrian civil war, and to coordinate policy between Moscow and Ankara toward that conflict. But it was also something more - an affirmation of the steady improvement in the once-tenuous political ties between the two countries. "I want to note at the beginning of our meeting that our relations can be considered practically completely restored," Putin told reporters.

November 14:

Russian authorities have carried out a major counterterrorism operation in Moscow, the Associated Press reports. The FSB, Russia's main security agency, has announced that it detained 69 suspected members of Tablighi Jamaat, a "Sunni missionary movement." The Islamist group, though nonviolent, has been outlawed in Russia since 2009.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: The November 14th raid undoubtedly represents a significant counterterrorism success for the Kremlin. However, it also reflects a troubling development: rising activism by an array of of Islamist groups within the Russian Federation, beyond activity manifested by well-known terror organizations like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.]

November 15:

Russia's legislature is moving forward with legislation targeting foreign media outlets.
The Washington Post reports that the State Duma has unanimously passed legislation giving the country's authorities the right to compel any foreign media organization to register as a "foreign agent." Under the draft law, failure to comply can result in heavy fines, or in the outright banning of the media outlet in question from the country. The bill did not include a list of organizations to be targeted, however. That determination, Russian lawmakers say, will be made by the country's Justice Ministry on a case-by-case basis. However, likely future targets of the measure will include U.S. official news outlets like Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Voice of America.

Russia's military footprint in the Middle East continues to expand. The country's state arms exporter, ROSOBORONEXPORT, signed a series of major new contracts with Saudi Arabia in recent weeks, and a number of other regional states (including Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Tunisia) are now said to be interested in Russian military hardware. The result is an increasingly large - and lucrative - presence in the region for Russia's defense industry. "We have signed a number of deals," ROSOBORONEXPORT's CEO, Alexander Mikheev, has confirmed to reporters in
comments carried by Sputnik. "Russia's portfolio of weaponry orders from the country's of this region is $8 billion."

Just how pervasive is corruption in Russia? The answer, according to a new assessment from global watchdog Transparency International, is "very."
The Moscow Times reports that Transparency's 2016 Global Corruption Barometer - an annual tally of corruption worldwide - has rated Russia "one of the most corrupt countries in Europe and Central Asia." The study found that one in every three Russians interviewed paid a bribe over the course of the last year.

Related Categories: Russia; Turkey; Russia and Eurasia Program; Ukraine

Downloadable Files: N/A