KGOU

Russia

The remaining members of the punk rock band Pussy Riot have been released from prison in Russia, a few months short of serving their full two-year sentences for "hooliganism" — a charge that the band's supporters say was just a trumped-up effort to quash free speech.

Suzette Grillot and Rebecca Cruise discuss China 's move to grab airspace over the East China Sea, and ongoing protests in Ukraine over a jailed political leader, and a scuttled trade pact with the European Union.

The Dallas Morning News Mexico Bureau Chief Alfredo Corchado joins Grillot to talk about his 20-year career. His memoir Midnight in Mexico chronicles his coverage of the country’s war against the drug cartels.

Thousands of Ukrainians protest the scrapping of a trade pact with the European Union on the streets of Kiev - November 24, 2013.
Ryan Anderson / Flickr Creative Commons

Thousands of people have gathered in Kiev's Independence Square over the past two weeks, where Orthodox priests chanted prayers at dawn and demonstrators are vowing to keep up their protests.

The government is showing no signs of yielding, suggesting that the tensions that have gripped the country for two weeks are far from a resolution.

Rebecca Cruise, the Assistant Dean of the College of International Studies at the University of Oklahoma, says the protests are about two things: The jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, and the president’s decision not to sign agreements with the European Union that would bring them closer to Europe, both economically and politically.

Rebecca Cruise and Suzette Grillot discuss record levels of smog that are forcing the closure of schools and businesses in Northeast China, and heavy-handed tactics by Russia toward its former Soviet neighbors.

University of Oklahoma historian Kyle Harper joins the program to talk about how smallpox and the bubonic plague contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire. His latest project focuses on the effects of disease and climate change on the history of civilization.

Presidential Press and Information Office / maiak.info / Flickr Creative Commons

European Union trade ministers are warning Russia to stop pressuring neighborhood countries that seek closer ties with the EU.

Suzette Grillot, the Dean of the University of Oklahoma’s College of International Studies, says since the end of the Cold War, countries that once served as Russia’s “buffer zone” increasingly look to the West.

Earlier this week President Obama asked congressional leaders to postpone a vote on legislation that would authorize the use of force against Syria. Joshua Landis provides an update on what's next in the volatile region.

Later, journalist Erielle Reshef joins Suzette Grillot for a conversation about covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Before returning to her home state last year to anchor and report for KOCO-TV, the Oklahoma City native spent several years working for the Israeli Broadcasting Authority.

Pete Souza / The White House

Earlier this week President Obama asked congressional leaders to postpone a vote on legislation that would authorize the use of force against Syria.

“We will work together in consultation with Russia and China to put forward a resolution at the U.N. Security Council requiring Assad to give up his chemical weapons and to ultimately destroy them under international control,” the president said in a televised address to the nation Tuesday night.

Joshua Landis, the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma and the author of the influential and widely-read blog Syria Comment, says the new diplomatic development is a victory for Moscow.

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.)
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) says now is not the time to reduce the country's nuclear arms forces around the globe.

Oklahoma's senior senator made the comments Wednesday in response to President Barack Obama's call during a speech in Berlin to reduce U.S. and Russian nuclear stockpiles by one-third.

KGOU's "World Views" contributor Joshua Landis tells the PBS Newshour more arms will certainly lead to more killing in the short run, but if the Western countries are willing to go toe to toe with Russia, Iran and Hezbollah in Syria, they can certainly give better arms and provide more lethal air power.

University of Oklahoma political economist and European Union expert Mitchell Smith joins the program for a conversation about the eurozone's economy slipping further into recession, and the American kicked out of Russia over accusations of spying for the CIA.

Veteran diplomat Richard Arndt speaks with Suzette Grillot and Joshua Landis about how the national security state changed U.S. diplomatic relations. He's the author of The First Resort of Kings: American Cultural Diplomacy in the Twentieth Century.

Raul P / Panoramio

The embarrassing arrest of a suspected CIA officer in Moscow is the latest reminder that even after the Cold War, the United States and Russia are engaged in an espionage battle with secret tactics, spying devices, and training that sometimes isn't enough to avoid being caught.

"There's nothing new here," says Suzette Grillot, the Dean of the College of International Studies at the University of Oklahoma. "We spy, everybody spies. There's a long history of spying between these two countries."

This time last week Americans were just starting to learn about the troubled Russian region of Chechnya after authorities released the identities of the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings.

Rebecca Cruise discusses women in combat and the U.S. drone program with NPR's Rachel Martin. Before taking over the host's chair of Weekend Edition Sunday, she reported from both Iraq and Afghanistan, and served as the network's national security correspondent.

Gilad Rom / Flickr

Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized the West Thursday for refusing to declare Chechen militants terrorists and for offering them political and financial assistance in the past, in light of the revelation that Boston Marathon bombing suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had Chechen roots.

The U.S. has urged the Kremlin to seek a political settlement in Chechnya and provided humanitarian aid to the region during the two separatist wars that began in 1994.

"Violence and conflict has happened in Chechnya for centuries," University of Oklahoma College of International Studies Dean and KGOU’s World Views host Suzette Grillot says. "This goes back to the 16th Century when there's been war after war after war. So it's been a volatile region for some time."

On Tuesday the U.N. General Assembly approved a treaty to regulate the global arms trade, and the panel explores what role the CIA is playing in Arab and Turkish military aid to Syria.

Ambassador Cynthia Schneider joins Suzette Grillot and Joshua Landis to discuss how culture influenced her diplomacy while representing the United States in the Netherlands between 1998 and 2001.

isafmedia / Flickr

The U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly approved the first international treaty regulating the multi-billion dollar global arms trade Tuesday.

Iran, North Korea and Syria voted "no" on Tuesday, while Russia and China, both major arms exporters, abstained.

Suzette Grillot is the co-author of the 2009 book The International Arms Trade. She says Syria opposed the treaty because it does nothing to prevent weapons from flowing to non-state actors, like the Syrian opposition.

urbanlegend / Flickr

Banks in Cyprus are open for normal business for the second day, but with strict restrictions on how much money their clients can access, after being shut down for nearly two weeks to prevent people from draining their accounts as the country's politicians sought a way out of an acute financial crisis.

"They were weakened by the fact that they had too many investments in Greek companies," said Suzette Grillot. "So they've become another victim of the Greek financial crisis."

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