Foreign Press Review #5 (25.04-01.05)

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Syria continues to dominate the international agenda. Russia has expressed its concerns over President Barack Obama’s decision to deploy an additional 250 Special Operations troops in Syria claiming such actions did not get the consent of the legitimate government and, that is why, can be considered a violation of sovereignty. Besides, Moscow has accused Washington of ignoring the presence of terrorists among opposition forces. Given the last week’s reports that Russia had moved artillery units to northern Syria, experts believe the sides have been preparing for an upsurge in fighting amid the cessation of hostilities and the peace negotiations “hang by a thread”, while the parties blame each other for the new hospital attack and clashes in Aleppo. However, there was an optimistic sign at the end of the week: Russia and the US claimed that they had arranged a “regime of quiet” in two parts of Syria (not including Aleppo).

Russia-NATO relations are again in the limelight because of Russia’s interception of a US reconnaissance plane, which was flying over the Baltic Sea with its transponder turned off, the deployment of two US fifth generation fighter jets F-22 Raptor in Romania, and the NATO plans to put four battalions in Poland and other Baltic countries to deter potential Russian aggression. Russia has claimed it has to retaliate and cautioned against possible Sweden’s and Finland’s decisions to join NATO.

Last week the French parliament adopted a non-binding resolution calling for the lifting of EU sanctions against Russia. French parliamentarians claimed that sanctions are not only ineffective in solving the international crisis in Ukraine but also harm the French economy.

The press has vastly covered the first rocket launch from Russia’s new Vostochny cosmodrome. Journalists have drawn the readers’ attention to the first failed attempt due to technical problems, corruption scandals, delays and criticism of Roscosmos and officials responsible for the space programme of the country on the part of Putin. Nevertheless, the media has emphasised that this rocket launch marks a milestone for Russia’s space sector and is a starting point for its rebirth.

Surprisingly, the media has again payed a lot of attention to the creation of the National Guard, which Western journalists tend to call a praetorian guard of Vladimir Putin aimed at suppressing possible protests in the future. It is worth noting that Russian authorities have repeatedly said the Guard was established so as to combat terrorism and organised crime and maintain social order.

Syrian conflict

U.S.-Russia cooperation frays as Syria truce falls apart

By Karen DeYoung

The Washington Post


Barely two months after the United States and Russia joined together to forge a partial cease-fire in Syria, cooperation between them, including on a long-term political solution to that country’s civil war, is rapidly eroding.

Russia-NATO relations

Why Russia has NATO on the ropes

By Kyle Mizokami

The Week


NATO is an alliance that, behind the facade, is deeply fractured. It may even be already dead. The only way to find out is to test the alliance in a true crisis — and there’s a good chance that will happen within our lifetimes.

Russia-US relations

How the next US president should handle Putin

By Michael E. O’Hanlon

Business Insider


The case for working to build a more stable U.S.-Russian relationship in the future is already unpopular enough in American politics—it must not be conflated with a sympathetic or favorable interpretation of the Russian autocrat. It is necessary to avoid an ongoing action-reaction spiral in U.S.-Russian relations, with even worse consequences still to come. 

Donald Trump’s foreign policy speech earns praise in Russia

By Fred Pleitgen



After Donald Trump gave a much-anticipated foreign policy speech Wednesday, some of the most glowing reviews that he received were from a place that doesn’t often see eye-to-eye with American politicians. Trump’s speech was more than well-received in Russia.

Sanctions against Russia

Sanctions Are a Failure…Let’s Admit That”

By David Francis, Lara Jakes

Foreign Policy


From Iran to Russia, Africa, and North Korea, the Obama administration has long relied on financial sanctions as a preferred weapon against U.S. adversaries. But over the past year, it’s America’s allies that are increasingly feeling the pinch, leading Washington to wonder whether its favorite economic power tool has been so overused it’s becoming ineffective and, in some cases, even counterproductive.

Russia’s status in the world arena

Russia Rises From the Mat

By Gilbert Doctorow

Consortium News


The U.S. government doesn’t want to admit that its heady “unipolar” days are over with Russia no longer the doormat of the 1990s, but Washington’s arrogance risks war, even nuclear annihilation.

Triangle of Iran, Russia and Israel

The tricky triangle of Iran, Russia and Israel

By Gareth Smyth

The Guardian


On the complex regional chess board, Iran wants better relations with Moscow even as the Russians have extended their intelligence co-operation with Israel in Syria.

Russia, China and US relations

US defense system for South Korea irks China and Russia

By Bruce I. Konviser

Deutsche Welle


The United States and South Korea are negotiating plans to deploy a missile defense system south of the demilitarized zone. But Russia and China object, saying the deployment would compromise their security needs.

Experts warn weapons gap is shrinking between US, Russia and China

By Kristina Wong

The Hill


Competitors like Russia and China are closing the advanced weapons gap with the United States, aiming to push the U.S. out of areas on their front doorstep.  

First Russia’s rocket launch from new Vostochny cosmodrome

Putin hails first rocket launch from new cosmodrome

By Agence France-Presse in Vostochny

The Guardian


Russia has launched the first rocket from its new Vostochny cosmodrome, with President Vladimir Putin praising the event after dressing down officials over a delay caused by a technical glitch.The launch marks a milestone for Russia’s beleaguered space sector, with the new spaceport in the far east of the country touted to signal a rebirth of an industry plagued by a string of embarrassments in recent years.

Russia’s political system

Putin’s downfall: Here are 3 possible outcomes for the Russian regime

By Jeremy Bender

Business Insider


Russia is facing a governmental crisis that could radically alter the shape and structure of the country in the coming years. Three possible outcomes: 1) Putin manages to mend relations with the West and improve the economy; 2) Putin is replaced; 3) Russia faces regime change.

This is how the Russian police say they will put down mass protests

By Andrew Roth

The Washington Post


Earlier this month, Putin announced the formation of a new, national guard. With the economy now mired in its longest recession in 20 years and parliamentary elections set for this September, Russia’s police are drilling for a new rise in discontent.

Anti-Russian propaganda

Look Who Funds Ukraine’s ‘Anti-Putin’ Internet TV

By Kenneth Rapoza



The best way to raise funds for a media project in Ukraine? Go full-bore anti-Russia to easily woo North American and European governments to give you money.

Russia’s economy

Putin’s Decade-Old Dream Realized as Russia to Price Its Own Oil

 By Eduard Gismatullin 



Russian President Vladimir Putin is on the verge of realizing a decade-old dream: Russian oil priced in Russia. The goal is to increase revenue from Urals crude by disconnecting the price-setting mechanism from the world’s most-used Brent oil benchmark. Another aim is to move away from quoting petroleum in U.S. dollars.  

Yukos case

A Dutch court said Russia doesn’t have to pay Yukos’s investors. Will Russia have to pay anyway?

By Rachel Wellhausen

The Washington Post


In 2014, an international tribunal decided Russia had unlawfully expropriated the Yukos oil company — and owed $50 billion to Yukos shareholders. Last week, a Dutch court found that, no, Russia doesn’t have to pay. Here’s the big catch: International investment law is so complicated that Russia might have to pay anyway.

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