The Syrian conflict and Russia’s involvement in its settlement was one of the most popular topics last week. Journalists and analysts emphasized Russia’s contribution to the liberation of Palmyra and called for cooperation between Russia and the US, based on the idea that the IS is a common enemy for both parties. Nevertheless, the reports on the increase in shipment by the Russian government via the “Syrian Express” (despite the previously announced partial drawdown) received even more media attention. Moreover, Russian officials have turned the sending of new military equipment to Syria into a profitable arms fair that has resulted in a $ 6-7 billion boost to Russia’s arms export. The use by Russia of mercenaries from a private military company in Syria was also under discussion.
Secondly, despite the fact the Kremlin presented its own arguments to the world community assuming that in the current format the meeting is meaningless, Russia was sharply criticized for its absence at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington this week and for its reluctance to further nuclear arms reduction. According to the foreign press, Russia’s absence inevitably means that the world’s nuclear security is under threat.
Moreover, the German newspaper Bild accused Russia of running a “shadow government” in rebel-held territories of Eastern Ukraine under the control of deputy prime minister Kozak and the FSB intelligence service.
As for Russia’s domestic policy, the so-called “information attack” (previously announced by Mr Peskov, the Kremlin’s press secretary) occurred in different areas including Vladimir Putin’s personal life and a $2 billion offshore network linked to Putin’s associates (“Panamagate”). Whereas Moscow said this series of fibs is not credible and politically biased (according to WikiLeaks, these fakes were funded by the infamous in Russia US Agency for International Development (USAID) and American hedge fund billionaire George Soros and were produced to target directly Russia and Mr Putin).
Last but not least, the western press has remained interested in the situation with the Russian economy: journalists tend to think that falling oil prices and the devaluation of the Russian ruble will decrease the support for the Acting President of Russia. Besides, the possible increase in taxation of the country’s oil industry, which the country’s Finance Ministry pushes in order to support the budget, will cripple Russia’s long-term growth prospects. Unfortunately, it is necessary to admit that the western media pays scant attention to the signs of recovery in a number of economic sectors, considerable results of import substitution policy and other positive trends.
The Huffington Post
Russia still keeps sufficient military contingent in Syria and, what is more, even expanded infrastructure and facilities around its Latakia naval base. It was not the first time Putin used a military drawdown (recall Ukraine) to resolve a deadlocked political scene. However, the Russian elites do not seek confrontation with NATO or the West. Against all odds, Iran, Russia and the United States want to see a strong Syria emerge at the end.
The Washington Post
Russia has been steadily unveiling the secrets about its actions in Syria and already confirmed involvement of its special forces supporting the Syrian army. Nonetheless, Moscow has not disclosed the number of its soldiers who died in Syria.
In spite of the fact Putin announced the withdrawal of most of Russia’s military contingent from Syria, Russia has been increasing its shipment to Syria through the “Syrian Express”. It seems that it is even strengthening military presence in the region.
There are signs Russia and the US have slowly been working more closely to fight the IS and are discussing “concrete” military coordination to liberate the Isis stronghold of Raqqa, according to Russian deputy foreign minister Oleg Syromolotov. The revelation follows visits to Moscow this month by the US secretary of state, John Kerry, and CIA head John Brennan. Besides, Russia and the US military have been working together on monitoring and enforcing the ceasefire and trying to push the peaceful negotiations between parties to the conflict.
Russia has hardly decreased its military contingent in Syria and even deployed additional attack helicopters there. The primary objective of the Kremlin is still keeping the friendly regime in power.
Russia’s domestic policy
The New York Times
Trump called for the United States to “take out the families” of terrorists, the approach Russia had been exploiting since the Chechen war. Despite the fact the idea was dismissed by many as immoral and unlawful, such actions can have their own pluses. Nevertheless, short-term results are likely to be overshadowed by radicalization of whole communities as a direct consequence.
The Washington Post
Mr. Kadyrov has been linked to number of crimes, but Vladimir Putin invited him at the Kremlin at which he praised him for becoming “a good manager”. Either Mr. Putin is far weaker, and his grip on power less secure, than many in the West assume — or he is complicit in acts that should disqualify him from being a strategic partner.
Author: S.Grey, J.Stubbs
A little-known Russian businessman from St Petersburg has provided properties to multiple women who share one common theme: President Vladimir Putin.
Author: D. Thompson
A suspected money laundering ring involving close associates of Vladimir Putin (including Sergey Roldugin, Arkady Rotenberg, Bank Rossiy) has been uncovered in a leak of confidential documents of the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca.
The Washington Times
The World respects Putin for decisively pursuing Russia’s national interests and for not limiting his actions only to the multiculturalism narrative, which is dead in practice. The Russian Federation is not ideal and has a lot of evils but loving your country and putting it first when it comes to dealing with those who may threaten it are absolutely necessary.
The urgent need for European countries and the U.S. to focus on diverting future terrorist attacks and tracking down radicals, should not completely overshadow other foreign policy priorities. Russia has clearly emerged as challenger to the post-Cold War order and it will seek to exploit the EU’s current troubles and America’s distraction with the presidential campaign and the focus on ISIS.
NATO military capabilities and resolve steadily weakened over the past two decades. However, today NATO faces “existential threat” on the side of Russia and terrorists. The alliance must not let Putin benefit from the current NATO problems. That is why, it is necessary to strengthen NATO military presence in Europe reassuring the member-countries that they are absolutely secure.
Nuclear Security Summit
Authors: D. De Luce, R. Standish
Russia’s boycott of the Nuclear Security Summit reflects a widening rift between Moscow and Washington that has undermined the U.S.-led effort to lock down radiological material, effectively destroyed prospects for arms control between the two powers, and even raised the risk of a potential nuclear confrontation not seen since the Cold War
Russia’s foreign policy
Following its withdrawal from Syria, Russia is turning its attention to a battle against terrorism closer to home, to the Tajik-Afghan border area. Meanwhile, Trump’s most recent ad released on twitter shows Putin throwing an opponent over his shoulder while doing judo followed closely by the late Jihadi John brandishing a gun at the camera. American presidential candidates have always criticized Putin but it seems that Trump simply lacks rationality and limits.
The Russia’s Finance Ministry pushes for increased taxation of the country’s oil industry in order to support its budget. This plan likely makes short-term sense to the Kremlin, but it could cripple the oil industry — and by extension Russia’s long-term growth prospects — for years to come.
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