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Lucian Kim

The campus of Moscow State University is located in Sparrow Hills, a leafy haven overlooking Luzhniki Stadium, the main arena for this year's soccer World Cup.

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A simple tombstone marks the grave of the lone American buried in the vast Naval Cemetery in Vladivostok overlooking Russia's Pacific coast.

The words "Secretary H. B. Emmez, American YMCA" are carved in English above a cross into the granite slab. There are no dates, epitaphs or other inscriptions.

When Emmanuel Macron visited the White House a month ago, commentators nicknamed the French president the "Trump Whisperer" for establishing a close personal rapport with President Trump.

Now Macron is in Russia, where he is sidling up to Vladimir Putin on a two-day trip to St. Petersburg, the splendorous czarist-era imperial capital and the Russian president's hometown.

Room 615 in Vladivostok's Hotel Gavan is a cramped, two-room "business suite" with green wallpaper and carpeting. Yet when former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il traveled to Russia's Pacific coast in 2002, the modest digs served as his presidential suite.

Last week, 60 U.S. diplomats and their families boarded a charter plane in Moscow and left Russia — maybe forever.

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Just a week ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin was basking in an election victory that gave him a strong mandate for another six years in power.

But within days of thanking his fellow Russians for handing him nearly 77 percent of the vote, Putin is now dealing with one of the biggest challenges of his 18-year rule.

Vladimir Putin won a fourth term as Russia's president on Sunday in a vote designed to be more of a referendum on his 18 years in power than a competitive election.

According to official results as of Monday morning, Putin swept up almost 77 percent of the vote, with Communist candidate Pavel Grudinin trailing in a distant second with less than 12 percent. None of the other six pre-approved candidates rose above the single digits.

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