Foreign Press Review #9 (23.05-29.05)

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Last week’s key topic was a prisoner swap between Russia and Ukraine, which the foreign media depicted as Nadezhda Savchenko’s release. Journalists highlighted her colorful defiance to Moscow and bestowed their encomium upon her. Unfortunately, few media outlets mentioned her ultranationalist views and the Aidar battalion operations in the Donbass region. It is worth noting that some experts believe that by releasing her the Kremlin wants to fuel a new political crisis in Ukraine, as Savchenko will immediately become an independent and influential actor. Generally both Russian and Western experts have agreed that the event would hardly lead to a major improvement in Russia’s relations with Ukraine and the West.

The Syrian conflict was not as well-documented by the media this week as it used to be during the previous month. Nevertheless, Western media has rapidly disseminated reports alleging that ISIS had attacked the T4 base in Syria, which is used by the Russian forces, and had destroyed four helicopters, twenty lorries loaded with missiles and supply depots at the base. Stratfor commented that “the attack, and the considerable losses on the Russian side, stress the continued threat to supply lines for Russia and regime forces”. However, the Russian Ministry of Defense denied the reports claiming that “all Russian military helicopters that are currently in Syria are on the planned mission to destroy terrorists”. More than that the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman expressed regret that the Western media disseminated misleading reports, apparently, “making its would-be fair share of contribution into the fight against international terrorism”. Additionally, because of the recent terrorist attacks in Syria Moscow has yet again expressed its concern over the support that a number of foreign states have allegedly been providing to ISIS.

As for Russia-NATO relations, the media has been discussing possible war scenarios. Experts note that despite the changing character of war in the modern world and the low possibility of a large-scale conventional war, the ramifications of a possible Russia-NATO war could be even more dreadful and the death toll even higher in comparison to the World War II. Amid such scaring deliberations one of the NATO generals asserted that Russian leaders respect only power, which is why, the alliance plans to build up presence on its eastern flank. Moreover, given the deepening of the cooperation with Sweden, which has already allowed NATO to deploy its troops on the Swedish territory, and Finland, Putin’s words that Russia will have to respond were unsurprising.

The placement of the 1.75 billion Russian bonds at 4.75 percent was also in the limelight last week. In spite of some problems with central securities depositories and the skepticism on the part of a number of investors, this event symbolizes Russia’s return to international capital markets and in practice suggests a relative failure of Western sanctions against Russia.

Syrian conflict

Did ISIS attack Russian military equipment at key Syrian base?

By Joshua Berlinger



Russia is denying reports that ISIS struck and destroyed a significant amount of its military equipment at an important military base in Syria.

Is Syria Another Afghanistan for Russia?

By Micah Halpern



ISIS intends to force Russia into another costly quagmire like its miserable failure in Afghanistan (1979-1989).

Russia and the Middle East

Modest Objectives for the Russian-Gulf Dialogue

By Raghida Dergham

The Huffington Post


The objectives of the strategic dialogue between Russia and the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council are not complicated, but fulfilling them requires the Gulf states to take clear decisions on several issues.

Savchenko case

Putin Is the Loser in Prisoner Swap With Ukraine

By Leonid Bershidsky



Neither Russia nor Ukraine is blameless in the conflict. Aidar, Savchenko’s ultranationalist battalion, would probably be outlawed in any European country. Yet the story of Savchenko and the two GRU men shows why it’s easier to sympathize with Ukraine.

Analyst: Savchenko Release Shows Russia Wants Negotiations

By Daniel Schearf

Voice of America


“I regard the swap as Moscow’s step in order to minimize its own negative image and show the West its readiness to discuss a broader compromise, taking into account the interests of Russia,” said Alexander Gushchin, head of the Center of Ukrainian Studies at the Russian State University for Humanities.

Russia-NATO relations

The U.S. and Russia Plan for Conflict



Washington and Moscow are hoping to settle their differences peacefully, but that will not stop them from building up their military capabilities anyway.

NATO Assesses Ukraine And Invites Montenegro: Who’s Afraid Of Vladimir Putin?

By Doug Bandow



Europe no longer requires America’s protection. Washington should allow the Europeans to defend themselves.

Could NATO go to war with Russia… and what would happen if it did?

By Ian Shields

The Independent


In this account, Russia rapidly expands its war aims by invading the Baltic States, which are NATO members, and world war ensues.

Russian Eurobonds

Markets return a negative verdict on Obama’s Russian sanctions

By L. Todd Wood

The Washington Times


There is demand for Russian paper and it will grow. The Kremlin will survive this crisis. I’m not talking politics or the morality of Russia’s behavior here, I’m talking market realities.

Russia-West relations

Tokyo moves to normalise relations with Moscow

By Neil Buckley and Hiroyuki Akita

The Financial Times


The question of whether and how to talk to Moscow presents several difficulties. It exposes differences of opinion, too, between the G7’s Euro-Atlantic members and Tokyo.

Cracks Begin to Show in German Support for Russia Sanctions

By Andrea Thomas

The Wall Street Journal


Merkel says it’s too early to lift Ukraine-related measures, but some Social Democrats disagree.

Will Russia Succumb To Washington’s Economic Attack?

By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Centre for Research on Globalization


The only risk American corporations face from doing business in Russia is from the US government. Washington will punish the US companies unless, of course, the companies are part of the corporate oligarchy which has been granted immunity to the sanctions.

Russia’s political system

Mikhail Gorbachev: Putin Is an Obstacle to Progress

By Mikhail Gorbachev



The present Russian regime need have no delusions that conservatism is a panacea for our problems, lulling themselves with the belief that for the sake of peace and quiet people will agree to put up with stagnation. They are wrong. I am increasingly convinced that all they are doing is playing for time, clinging to power for its own sake, clutching at the benefits a minority extract from the current state of affairs.

Last Man Standing

By Mark Leonard

The Project Syndicate


Much of modern geopolitics seems to be following the plot from Game of Thrones. Russian President Vladimir Putin is the prime example. His recent campaigns in Syria and Ukraine may look like the actions of a geopolitical buccaneer. But the root of his adventurism is domestic weakness.

Doping scandal

The Sore Losers of Russia

By Maxim Trudolyubov

The New York Times


Everyone loves to win. But in Russia, obsessing about victories past or present, military or artistic, is a national pastime.

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  4. Pilot’s Release Seen Unlikely to Aid Russia’s Relations With West (26.05.16)
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