Russian President Vladimir Putin plans on fully separating the Donbas, two areas of Ukraine that border Russia, by gradually integrating them into Russia, according to a report by Bloomberg. One senior Russian diplomat explained that the Trump administration seemed “totally uninterested” in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, instead focusing more on North Korea and Syria, and that this had resulted in mixed signals from Washington.
Further complicating matters is the news that ExxonMobil, the oil corporation of which Secretary of State Rex Tillerson used to be CEO, applied to the Treasury Department for a waiver from American sanctions against Russia, according to a report by the The Wall Street Journal. These efforts were undertaken more assertively after Tillerson became Secretary of State. If granted, this would allow ExxonMobil to pick up where it left off in a joint venture it had with Rosneft, a Russian-state owned oil corporation. In particular, ExxonMobil would like to drill with Rosneft in areas that are barred by the current sanctions.
While the geopolitical quagmire in Russia and Ukraine worsens due to the Trump administration’s unclear policy stances, Russian journalist Nikolai Andrushchenko died on Wednesday after suffering a severe beating from unknown assailants, according to a report by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. He had been unconscious since the assault on March 9 and never regained consciousness. Denis Usov, the editor of the newspaper that Andrushchenko founded (Novy Petersburg), claims that the attacks were motivated by articles Andrushchenko had written criticizing corruption in St. Petersburg.