Russian economy contracted 3.7% in 2015

  • The Federal Statistics Service released its first estimate of Russia's GDP growth on Monday morning, reporting that the country's economy contracted by 3.7%. *

  • Russia has been hit by the fall in commodity prices and by Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over the annexation of Crimea and its role in the wider conflict in eastern Ukraine. 

  • Last week, the rouble briefly hit an all time low of 85.97 per dollar. 


Putin 'probably approved' Litvinenko killing

  • A British inquiry has concluded that President Vladimir Putin 'probably approved' the murder by poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB officer, in London in 2006.
  • Nikolai Patrushev, who at the time was the head of Russia's Federal Security Service and is currently the chairman of the Russian Security Council, is also likely to have approved the killing according to the report. 

  • Mr. Litvinenko, aged 44, died after drinking a cup of tea at the Millennium Hotel in Mayfair that contained radioactive polonium - Dmitri Kovtun and Andrei Lugovoi are accused of putting polonium in the teapot, allegations which they both deny. 

  • Marina Litvinenko said she was pleased with the report's findings on her husband's murder. 


Syria's War and the spread of ISIS: Germany joins Syria operation

Motion for German operation against ISIS in Syria

Yes

No

Abstained

  • The Bundestag has approved Germany joining military action against ISIS in Syria.

  • Chancellor Merkel's government plans to send send 1,200 troops to the region, as well as reconnaissance aircraft and a warship.  

     

 


December 3rd, 2015

Britain joins Syria airstrkes

Motion approving UK airstrikes against ISIS in Syria

Yes

No

 
  • The RAF bombed an ISIS oil field in Syria overnight as it joined the coalition.
  • The House of Commons overwhelming backed the airstrikes on Wednesday night.

  • British media reports say 67 of 231 Labour MPs voted with the government.


December 1st, 2015

Syrian hospital barrel bombed

  • Médecins Sans Frontières says a hospital it supports it the Syrian province of Homs was bombed on Saturday. 

  • The facility in the town of al-Zafarana was first hit at 9.40am local time, again shortly afterwards and then again around 10.30am.

  • MSF says that a young girl was among seven people killed, while a further 16 people were wounded. 

This bombing shows all the signs of a double-tap, where one area is bombed and then a second bombing hits the paramedic response teams or the nearest hospital providing care.
— Brice de le Vingne, MSF director of operations.

November 18th, 2015



  • The report published on November 5th and entitled 'Between Prison and the Grave' accuses the Assad regime of carrying out tens of thousands of 'enforced disappearances'. An enforced disappearance is defined as the deprivation of a persons liberty by a state or an an agent of the state and the subsequent refusal to either acknowledge the deprivation of liberty in question or to reveal the fate of the person who has been 'disappeared'.  
  • The report claims that friends and families searching for answers about missing love ones are exploited by 'middlemen' with ties to authority. These intermediaries take bribes in return for information about people who have been disappeared. Family members told Amnesty that while sometimes they approached the intermediaries, there were also occasions where the intermediaries approached them.


October 21st, 2015

 Unannounced visit to discuss joint military campaign with Putin


October 20th, 2015

U.S, Russia reach Syria safety deal

Deal to keep aircrafts apart over Syria

  • Agreement designed to prevent confrontation between U.S and Russian military aircraft operating over Syria.

  • Lines of communication and safety protocols will be implemented, but intelligence sharing and 'zones of cooperation' are not involved.

  • The memorandum of understanding, which remains secret, came into effect immediately following its signing on Tuesday. 


October 18th, 2015

Sanafi al-Nasr, leader of the group of Al Qaeda veterans targeted in coalition airstrike

 

  • Al-Nasr, also known as Abdul Mohsen Adballah Ibrahim al Charekh, is the 5th senior Khorasan figure to be killed in the last four months according to the U.S Department of Defence. 

This operation deals a significant blow to the Khorasan Group’s plans to attack the United States and our allies, and once again proves that those who seek to do us harm are not beyond our reach
— Ash Carter, U.S Defense Secretary

October 16th, 2015

U.S and Russia discuss Syria co-ordination

 

  • The United States and Russia are close to agreeing a plan to co-ordinate each others military activity over Syria to ensure there is no accidental confrontation - President Obama and Russia's Defence Ministry both confirmed the talks on Friday. 


October 12th, 2015

Human Rights Watch criticises 'disturbing' use of advanced cluster munition 

 

  • The organisation said on October 10th that an advanced cluster munition had been used in an airstrike near the Syrian town of Kafr Halab, southwest of Aleppo, on October 4th. 

Human Rights Watch cannot conclusively determine whether Russian or Syrian forces were responsible for the attack. Neither country has banned cluster munitions.
— HRW statement
  • Activists have posted videos on YouTube claiming to show the use of cluster munitions. 

October 9th, 2015

$500 million programme to end in failure..
 

  • The U.S will no longer train Syrian opposition fighters, shifting instead to a policy of providing 'equipment packages and weapons' to a group of 'vetted leaders and their units'. The Pentagon said the changes would be refined and adjusted over time and cautioned that the effort to take back territory from ISIS would be a 'long and arduous process'. 


October 2nd, 2015

Russia in Syria: Coalition calls on Russia to only target ISIS

We express our deep concern with regard to the Russian military build-up in Syria and especially ‎the attacks by the Russian Air Force on Hama, Homs and Idlib since yesterday which led to civilian casualties and did not target Da’esh. ‎

These military actions constitute a further escalation and will only fuel more extremism and radicalisation.

We call on the Russian Federation to immediately cease its attacks on the Syrian opposition and civilians and to focus its efforts on fighting ISIL.
— — Statement by France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, UK and U.S
  • Speaking in New York on October 1st, Sergei Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, said that the country's airstrikes 'did not go beyond' ISIS, al-Nusra or other terrorists groups recognised by the UN and by Russian law. 


The spread of ISIS 


Russia and the West


Turkey downs Russian fighter jet

a stab in the back, carried out by the accomplices of terrorists.
— President Putin, speaking on November 24th
  • The Russian SU24 jet was shot down for allegedly violating Turkish airspace along with another SU24 aircraft, Russia says the downed plane was in Syrian airspace.

  • Russia's defence ministry says the plane's pilot survived but the co-pilot was killed, as was a servicemen involved in a helicopter rescue operation.

  • President Putin said the incident was a 'stab in the back', while PM Davutoğlu said it was Turkey's right and its duty to defend its territory.

Turkey says the two SU24 jets violated its airspace for 17 seconds.

Turkey says it warned the two Russian jets ten times as they approach its airspace.

 
I look forward to further contacts between Ankara and Moscow and I call for calm and de-escalation. Diplomacy and de-escalation are important to resolve this situation.
— Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General