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IR Insider is a production of NYU's International Relations Society. Our goal is to explain and discuss issues in IR in an engaging and thought-provoking fashion. We are written by students, for students, about issues students care about. 

Russian Oil Monopoly over Belarus Persists in Bilateral Trade Agreements

Long-time trading partners, Russia and Belarus, have recently revised a standing bilateral trade agreement concerning Russian exportation of crude oil and oil products to Belarus. Trade in oil has served as a foundational feature of relations between Russia and Belarus for years, and amendments to the existing oil trade provisions have become a regular point of leverage for Russia to maintain Belarus within the sphere of influence of the near abroad.

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Russian Legislator Claims Russia Able to “Shut Down the Whole Planet"

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a Russian legislator, made comments about a new Russian defense system on a talk show on Oct. 15, claiming that it could “shut down the whole planet”. Zhirinovsky heads the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia and often gives fervent speeches similar to the latest one. In one instance, he said that Russian children should learn how to use a rifle rather than learning English, asserting that the whole world will speak Russian.

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Second Suspect of Skripal Poisoning Identified

On Tuesday, Oct. 9,  Bellingcat reported the identity of the second suspect in the Skripal poisoning case. He has been identified as Dr. Alexander Mishkin, a military doctor and member of the Russian GRU. Bellingcat was able to discover his identity by analyzing the information on his passport, vehicle registration, and other open sources as well as using testimony from people who knew the suspect. The first suspect had previously been identified as GRU Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga, who used the alias Ruslan Boshirov for the alleged attack.

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Investigations Reveal Danske Bank Estonia Funneled Nearly 200 Billion Euros in Largest European Money Laundering Scandal

The Estonian branch of the European bank conglomerate, Danske Bank, has undergone extensive investigation regarding recent connections to a nearly decade-long money laundering scandal. Beginning in the year 2007 and lasting until around 2015, reports conclude that Danske Bank Estonia served as the conduit for the funneling of nearly 200 billion euros through illegal money laundering via various non-resident customer portfolios.

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Lithuania-bound Ferry Stranded in the Baltic Sea After Supposed Engine Fire

A Lithuania-bound ferry was left stranded for hours in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday, October 2, after reports suggest that an engine malfunction rendered the vessel immobile. The boat was en route to Klaipeda, a Lithuanian port, and found itself stuck in international waters at a juncture between Poland and Lithuania, off the coast of Russian Kaliningrad. A distress call from the ferry initiated a nearby international rescue response.

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The Politics of Nomenclature: Macedonia Faces Referendum Over Historic Name Change

Following talks earlier this June between Greece and Macedonia over a decided Macedonian name change, the historic agreement will be brought to referendum in the coming week on September 30th. The culmination of these deliberations highlights the potential end to a decades-long dispute between the two nations, and signals a positive direction for Macedonia’s inclusion into larger European affairs.

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EU Cracks Down on Autocratic Illiberalism in a Vote Favoring Hungarian Sanctions

On the afternoon of Wednesday, September 12th, the European Parliament voted in favor of a process of sanctions against the Hungarian state, which under the leadership of Viktor Orban, has gone down a path of illiberalism, defiant to the basic tenets of rule of law and democracy upheld by the EU. In an over two-thirds majority vote, with 448 to 197 votes in favor, the decision symbolizes a growing intolerance across Europe for rising illiberal and autocratic government behavior.

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