Russia

A Russian government task force reported 954 new cases of coronavirus infection on Monday, the largest one-day spike in COVID-19 since Russia began tracking the disease.

Russia now has documented over 6,000 infections and 47 deaths, though government critics argue the real numbers are higher due to problems with the scale and accuracy of testing.

For now, Moscow remains a hot spot — with the vast majority of COVID-19 cases and resources to combat the disease.

Nearly a dozen Russian military planes filled with medical supplies landed in Serbia on Friday — the latest in a series of controversial Kremlin humanitarian aid missions carried out amid the global spread of the coronavirus.

"Now we have everything to fight the virus," said Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic in a statement released by Russia's Defense Ministry. "I want to say a big thank you to the Russian people."

Russian President Vladimir Putin is extending a national no-work order through the end of April, hoping to clamp down on the COVID-19 pandemic. Russia reported a spike of 771 new coronavirus patients on Thursday, sharpening a dreaded upward curve in cases.

Russia has now confirmed more than 3,500 coronavirus cases, and 30 people have died from COVID-19. Moscow and St. Petersburg have been hot spots for the respiratory disease, officials say.

City authorities in Moscow are rolling out new digital "social monitoring" tools targeting the public, after what officials say were constant violations of the city's quarantine imposed this week to fight the spread of the new coronavirus.

Under restrictions in place since Monday, most of the city's 12 million residents must remain indoors, barring a few exceptions — like trips to the supermarket or pharmacy, taking out the trash or briefly walking the dog.

President Trump revealed he'll be speaking with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday about, among other things, oil prices.

In an interview with Fox and Friends on Monday morning, Trump expressed concern that the recent price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia was endangering the oil industry.

In Italy, when political analysts say, "Here comes the cavalry" ("arrivano i nostri"), they're not talking Hollywood Westerns. They're saying, "Here come our guys: the USA has got Italy's back."

But today, the "our guys" have included less traditional friends.

The Justice Department has dropped its prosecution of two Russian firms linked to interference in the 2016 election after accusing them of gaming the U.S. legal system.

The companies, Concord Management and Consulting LLC and Concord Catering, were indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller as part of the investigation into Moscow's campaign of active measures.

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the Justice Department must give House lawmakers secret grand jury materials from former special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

The 2-1 decision from a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upholds a district court ruling from last year and gives House Democrats a victory in their ongoing legal battles with the Trump administration.

Updated at 6:25 a.m. ET Wednesday

Russia's lower house of parliament on Wednesday approved a constitutional amendment to allow President Vladimir Putin — already the country's longest-serving leader since Josef Stalin — to extend his rule until 2036.

Lawmakers in the State Duma voted 383 to 0 in favor of the amendment, with 43 abstentions. Putin said on Tuesday that Russia's Constitutional Court would have to rule on whether the move would contradict Russian law. Putin's critics have said approval by the court is all-but certain.

It's 2016 all over again — at least from Russia's perspective.

Russia's state-sponsored messaging about Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign was more neutral in the fall.

But over the past six weeks, this coverage has shifted to mirror pro-Sanders talking points first used in the last presidential campaign, said Clint Watts of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, who has been monitoring Russian interference continuously.

"What's really come on strong just in the last 30 to 45 days are very similar narratives that we saw in 2016 about Sanders," Watts told NPR.

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