Corey Flintoff

Corey Flintoff is NPR's international correspondent based in Moscow. His journalism career has taken him to more than 50 countries, most recently to cover the civil war in Libya, the revolution in Egypt and the war in Afghanistan.

After joining NPR in 1990, Flintoff worked for many years as a newscaster during All Things Considered. In 2005, he became part of the NPR team covering the Iraq War, where he embedded with U.S. military units fighting insurgents and hunting roadside bombs.

Flintoff's reporting from Iraq includes stories on sectarian killings, government corruption, the Christian refugee crisis and the destruction of Iraq's southern marshes. In 2010, he traveled to Haiti to report on the massive earthquake its aftermath. Two years before, he reported on his stint on a French warship chasing pirates off the coast of Somalia.

One of Flintoff's favorite side jobs at NPR is standing in for Carl Kasell during those rare times when the venerable scorekeeper takes a break from Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me!

Before NPR, Flintoff served as the executive producer and host of Alaska News Nightly, a daily news magazine produced by the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage. His coverage of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill was recognized with the 1989 Corporation for Public Broadcasting Award.

In 1977, Flintoff got his start in public radio working at at KYUK-AM/TV, in Bethel, Alaska. KYUK is a bilingual English-Yup'ik Eskimo station and Flintoff learned just enough Yup'ik to announce the station identification. He wrote and produced a number of television documentaries about Alaskan life, including "They Never Asked Our Fathers" and "Eyes of the Spirit," which have aired on PBS and are now in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution.

He tried his hand at commercial herring fishing, dog-mushing, fiction writing and other pursuits, but failed to break out of the radio business.

Flintoff has a bachelor's degree from the University of California at Berkeley and a master's degree from the University of Chicago, both in English literature. In 2011, he was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Drexel University.

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As war rages in eastern Ukraine, European Union foreign ministers are preparing to meet Thursday to consider drastic new sanctions against Russia.

The EU and the United States say Moscow's troops and weapons are directly involved in an offensive by anti-government militias in Ukraine's eastern provinces.

The offensive is the latest phase in a war that has racked the region since last April — and it's grinding hard on the civilians who are caught in the middle.

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Our own Russian correspondent, Corey Flintoff, spends much of his time reporting on the activities of Vladimir Putin in Russia. But sometimes it's what's outside his own window in Moscow that captivates him.

Russia's economy has taken a series of heavy hits in the past few months, and now it seems to be in the midst of a perfect storm.

The country depends heavily on oil exports, and prices are down sharply. The Russian currency is losing value fast. And U.S. and European sanctions, imposed after Russia's takeover of Crimea, are biting hard.

President Vladimir Putin remains defiant, saying sanctions will never bring Russia to its knees.

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Now, in the radio business, we think a lot about sound and what it means. Sound is not always what it seems, as NPR's Corey Flintoff reminds us from Moscow.

It's been six weeks since Moscow slapped a ban on foods imported from the United States, the European Union and other countries that sanctioned Russia for its involvement in Ukraine. The implications of that move are just beginning to be felt.

Many of the Russian capital's trendiest restaurants have been hit hard because they get most of their ingredients from Europe. So they've had to scramble to find replacements.

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U.S. intelligence officials outlined today what they know so far about the downing of the Malaysian Airlines flight in Ukraine. A U.S. spy satellite detected the launch of a surface to air missile from eastern Ukraine at the time the plane went down.

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They were also able to verify the identities of separatist leaders on an intercepted phone call. But U.S. intelligence does not yet know yet who - and this is a quote - "who pulled the trigger."

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Secretary of State John Kerry spent a lot of time on TV yesterday, laying out what he says is extraordinary circumstantial evidence that rebels in Eastern Ukraine shot down the Malaysia Airlines jetliner. Kerry said on NBC's "Meet The Press" they did it with Russian help.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "MEET THE PRESS")

SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: It is clear that Russia supports the separatists, supplies the separatists, encourages the separatists, trains the separatists and Russia needs to step up and make a difference here.

The crash site of the Malaysia Airlines flight in eastern Ukraine holds many important clues about what happened to the plane. But that site is under the control of pro-Russian separatists who are suspected of involvement in shooting the plane down.

The rebel fighters say they are giving access to investigators, including those from the Ukrainian government, though one Ukrainian official who visited the scene Friday said he was not given full access.

Here are some of the key questions on the investigation into Flight MH17:

Russia's recent involvement in Ukrainian political turmoil touched a raw nerve in the Baltic countries of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. All three are now members of the EU and NATO, but they have painful memories of the Soviet occupation. Leaders of the Baltic states are asking for a bigger NATO presence in their countries, a move Russia angrily opposes.

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Russia says it has cut natural gas supplies to Ukraine after Kiev missed a deadline to pay part of its huge outstanding energy debt. The Russians say that in the future the state-run company Gazprom will only supply gas to Ukraine in return for pre-payment.

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U.S. relations with Russia are at their lowest point since the Cold War thanks to the crisis in Ukraine. Russian defense officials are talking about a new doctrine of subversive warfare between major world powers. They accuse the West of using popular uprisings to topple unfriendly governments. And some analysts say Moscow itself is employing that strategy in eastern Ukraine. More from NPR's Corey Flintoff.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says Moscow will respect the outcome of the upcoming election in Ukraine but later said he still has concerns about the legitimacy of the vote.

As Ukraine prepares for presidential elections on Sunday, a social media struggle is underway in the country's eastern provinces.

That's where pro-Russian separatists have seized government buildings in many towns and declared independence after a much-disputed referendum. The separatists have vowed to block the vote in at least two key regions, Donetsk and Luhansk.

In eastern Ukraine, pro-Russian separatists are claiming independence based on a victory in a hastily organized referendum. Now, they're resisting a nationwide presidential election that's scheduled for May 25.

With Russian troops still massed near the border, Ukrainian and international mediators are trying to find a solution for the crisis.

There are some very different visions of the future for the volatile region.

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Russia reacted to news of the Ukrainian offensive in Slavyansk with outrage. The Russian mission at the United Nations has called for a meeting of the Security Council to discuss the issue. A spokesman for President Vladimir Putin said the action had effectively destroyed all hope for the Geneva Peace Accords. NPR's Corey Flintoff reports on the view from Moscow.

Ukraine's interim government is facing major obstacles: a separatist uprising in the east of the country, an economy in tatters and a presidential election next month.

But the leadership is also facing a longer-term challenge, one that will shape the future of the country: the creation of a new constitution.

The task will be complicated by pressure from Russia, which has already made clear what kind of constitution it thinks Ukraine should have. Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, laid out Russia's position in an interview last month.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he hopes he won't have to move troops into Ukraine to protect the local Russian-speaking population, but he reserves the right to do so. He made the comments on a televised call-in show.

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In the political battle between Ukraine and Russia, one of the biggest pawns is chocolate.

That's because the current front-runner in Ukraine's presidential race is Petro Poroshenko, known as "the Chocolate King." His billion-dollar empire was founded on candy factories.

The contrast couldn't have been greater: the protest band Pussy Riot in colorful ski masks and mini dresses, attempting to film a segment for a new video on Sochi's waterfront; and Cossacks in traditional uniform with black sheepskin hats and riding boots, patrolling Sochi streets as part of security for the Olympics.

The Cossacks, trying to enforce a government ban on protests, knocked band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova to the ground, lashed her with a horse whip, and roughed up other musicians.

Forests cover about half of Russia's land mass, an environmental resource that President Vladimir Putin calls "the powerful green lungs of the planet."

But Putin himself acknowledges that Russia, the world's biggest exporter of logs, is having its timber stolen at an unprecedented rate.

The demand for high-value timber is fueling organized crime, government corruption and illegal logging in the Russian Far East. The hardwood cut in the endless forests often ends up as flooring and furniture in the United States, Europe, Japan and China.

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Russian prosecutors have filed charges of piracy against 14 people who were aboard a Greenpeace boat during a protest last month in the Russian Arctic. Under Russian law, piracy is punishable by as much as 15 years in prison. Greenpeace says it was peacefully protesting the dangers of oil drilling in the Arctic and that the Russian government is violating international law.

NPR's Corey Flintoff reports from Moscow.

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And I'm David Greene. Climate change is melting ice in the Arctic. And that is opening up the top of the world to drilling, shipping traffic, and also concerns about the environment. Earlier this month, Greenpeace activists were arrested trying to board an oil platform that's owned by Russia's state gas company.

Greenpeace reports that its vessel, the Arctic Sunrise, has been boarded by the Russian Coast Guard after a protest against oil and gas drilling in the Russian Arctic.

The crew of the vessel tweeted throughout the drama. A tweet by Greenpeace HQ indicated that everyone was safe but that the crew was not "in control of the ship at this point."

For months, Russia has been playing a defensive game on Syria, blocking U.N. resolutions that could have led to the ouster of its ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad.

But Russia is now on the offense, running with a plan that could avert U.S.-led strikes against Syria by having Syria place its chemical weapons under international control.

So why the change in tactics?

There are several different strands in Russian thinking on the issue.

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