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Russian billionaire banker Alexander Lebedev gives an interview at his home in Moscow in 2008. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretareve)

Russia needs to grow, but has no idea how

The Russian media outlet Republic.ru reported this week on a conversation with Alexander Lebedev, a Russian businessman and banking expert. The most striking comment made in the interview was Mr. Lebedev's assertion that at least $100 billion had been illegally smuggled overseas from Russian banks over the last decade. For an economy the size of Russia's, that is an extraordinary amount.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence sgreets troops in a hangar at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017. Mandel Ngan/Pool via AP) **FILE**

Looking for help on the Afghanistan problem

The West cannot solve the problem of Afghanistan alone. The U.S. and its European allies can treat the symptoms, but they can only stave off the absolute disaster for a period of time, at the cost of much blood and treasure.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, left, speaks with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during a round table meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission at foreign ministers level at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

Rampant political corruption harms Ukraine's people

- The Washington Times

One of the most problematic symptoms of Ukrainian corruption is the influence those with money and power have over the criminal justice system. After writing a series of articles on the subject and its implications for continued aid from the West, I'd like to highlight a chilling event that happened earlier this week which dramatically underscores my point.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Syrian President Bashar Assad watch the troops marching at the Hemeimeem air base in Syria in this Monday, Dec. 11, 2017, file photo. Nearly seven years into the conflict, the war in Syria seems on one level to be winding down, largely because of Russian-backed government victories and local cease-fires aimed at freezing the lines of conflict. (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)

Russia to keep permanent forces in Syria

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu declared on Tuesday that the Russian armed forces would have a permanent presence in Syria at two facilities, the naval port at Tartus and the inland airbase at Khmeimim.

President Donald Trump steps off Marine One after landing at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017, in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Trump's tax win will expose poverty of the leftist economics

When it comes to President Trump's big tax plan, Democrats are worried — not that it will fail but that it will succeed, igniting the U.S. economy and providing so much economic growth that all those low-information voters out there will see the leftist scare talk of the last 25 years has been complete rubbish.

A screen shows the prices of bitcoin at a virtual currency exchange office in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. South Korean is studying ways to regulate speculative trading in crypto currencies as the latest surge in prices stokes a craze over bitcoins. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

N. Korea suspected in Bitcoin theft

As more and more people pile into Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, which seem to be springing up like weeds on a warm spring day, many a savvy market participant have wondered what the real risks are regarding this new phenomenon to investors.

Sir Stuart Peach, Britain's Air Chief Marshal

Britain warns of Russian threat to undersea communications cables

British defense officials have warned that Russia, in addition to possibly Iran and China, pose an existential threat to the Western way of life by developing capabilities to target undersea communications cables that carry 97 percent of all digital traffic and $10 trillion in daily financial transactions.

Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic (right) meets with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Podgorica, Montenegro, in October. Despite its small size, Montenegro's NATO bid has already sparked an outsize reaction. (Associated Press) ** FILE **

Haven't we had enough in Montenegro?

Can you name the Balkan leader who has been in high office longer than Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus? If not, I'll do it for you. In Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic has held power and just about every high-level post there is over the past quarter century. Now he's considering running for the presidency. There is usually only one reason for a politician to not want to give up the reins of power — the risk of being prosecuted for corruption. Sometimes the rabbit hole is just too deep.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures while speaking to employees of Rostec Corporation during an awarding ceremony at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. The spokesman for Vladimir Putin says the Russian president has not decided yet whether to run for office next year as an independent candidate or secure support from the ruling party. (Sergei Karpukhin/Pool Photo via AP)

Russia's reform will have to wait for Putin's exit

- The Washington Times

The doping scandal unfolding in front of our eyes, with the International Olympic Committee this week banning Russia from participating as a nation in the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea, is instructive for those trying to chart Russia's future.

Ukrainian lawmakers scuffled during a parliament session in October. Former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, who now heads an opposition party, accuses President Petro Poroshenko of stalling reforms and covering up corruption. (Associated Press/File)

Early promise of Ukraine's war on corruption fades by the day

Two years ago in Kiev, I met with Artem Sytnik and his colleagues at the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, along with the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office, of Ukraine, and wrote a profile headlined, "Can this man save Ukraine?" Mr. Sytnik at the time had just been installed as the head of NABU.

Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to Russian Natural Resources Minister Sergei Donskoi during a meeting at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, Monday, Nov. 27, 2017. (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russia continues to prepare for war

In addition to massive increases in military spending over the last decades, modernization plans to have 70% of the Russian armed forces fitted with modern equipment by 2020, huge snap drills which readily exercise the Russian military, Russian President Vladimir Putin is putting civilians and private companies on notice that they too must be prepared for war.

Ukrainian lawmakers scuffled during a parliament session in October. Former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, who now heads an opposition party, accuses President Petro Poroshenko of stalling reforms and covering up corruption. (Associated Press/File)

Ukraine corruption disputed

After we wrote in our article on October 26th of this year about Ukrainian corruption, titled "Corruption problem in Ukraine cuts far deeper than many know," we received a response from the Chief Military Prosecutor of Ukraine, Anatoly Matios.