Foreign Press Review #7 (09.05-15.05)

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The celebration of the Victory Day in Russia was in the limelight last week. Noting Russia’s enormous contribution to the victory over Nazism some journalists have drifted into criticism and compared the military parade in the Red Square to muscle flexing. According to them, the holiday has become overly politicized. Nevertheless, some newspapers have drawn readers’ attention to different perceptions of this holiday in Russia and Western countries, in particular the US, where often the victim of the Soviet Union in that war is underestimated.

Last week one of the main topics was the deployment of an American anti-ballistic missile defense system in Romania. Despite the United States claiming it would protect only against “rogue” states, i.e. Iran and North Korea, and it is not aimed against Russia, Moscow called the opening of this ABM system a direct threat to the country’s national security and a violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). More than that, the Kremlin emphasized the fact that the system is “practically identical” to the one deployed aboard Aegis warships which possess capability to launch cruise missiles.

As for Syria, amid an intensification in fighting in Aleppo and concerns that ISIS can launch an offensive in Palmyra, the announcement that Russia and the US have agreed to cooperate so as to revive a nationwide ceasefire in Syria seems an optimistic sign. Moreover, negotiations over Syria may restart next week in Geneva. Additionally, the reports by numerous Western journalists, who were invited to visit Syria by the Russian authorities, were also featured in the media.

The statements of former director of the Russian antidoping laboratory Grigory Rodchenkov, who has accused Russia of a state-run doping program, which helped the country’s athletes to win medals at the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014, has also been in the spotlight. Russia has denied these accusations calling the allegations groundless, not supported by any evidence and a continuation of information attacks on Russian sport.

Victory Day

Voices: On Victory Day, Russia flexes its muscles

By Anna Arutunyan

USA Today


For veterans, their families, and millions of Russians touched by the war, Victory Day has always been a holiday celebrated “with tears in our eyes.” That piety has been replaced by a theatrical obsession with might. 

How the Soviet Union helped save the world from Hitler during World War II

By Ishaan Tharoor

The Independent


In the Western popular imagination — particularly the American one — World War II is a conflict we won. But that narrative shifts dramatically when you go to Russia, where World War II is called the Great Patriotic War and is remembered in a vastly different light.

Russia-NATO relations

Russia Calls New U.S. Missile Defense System a ‘Direct Threat’

By Andrew E. Kramer

The New York Times


As American and allied officials celebrated the opening of a long-awaited missile defense system in Europe with a ribbon cutting and a band, the reaction in Russia on Thursday suggested the system had raised the risks of a nuclear war.

Cold War Theater

By Fred Kaplan


An American missile defense system was activated with great fanfare in Romania on Thursday and Russian officials instantly denounced it as a provocation that might trigger a nuclear arms race and possibly war. The Russians are being paranoid in typically Russian fashion; but, as has often been the case, there’s some logic to their madness.

Arms control

Size Matters for Putin’s Nuclear Arsenal

By Jeffrey Lewis

Foreign Policy


Russia’s whipping out the biggest nuclear missile the world has ever seen and laying it on the table. Should we feel inferior — or scared?

Syrian conflict

Russia’s military in Syria: Bigger than you think and not going anywhere

By Frederik Pleitgen



While the exact size of Russia’s military presence in Syria is still unclear, the things we saw while embedded with them indicate that it is bigger and more sophisticated than most believe. It does not look like an army that plans on leaving Syria any time soon.

56 hours with the Russian army in Syria

By Andrew Roth

The Washington Post


Russia’s military is crafting a new, media-friendly (or at least media-tolerant) image. And, probably for that reason, Russia threw open the doors this time, taking print journalists from The Washington Post and the New York Times, along with the usual TV teams from CNN and BBC to Syria.

Why Middle Eastern Leaders Are Talking to Putin, Not Obama

By Dennis Ross



Russia’s less dominant militarily but more willing to act, and that has changed the dynamics in the region.

Russia-US relations

American Power Under Challenge

By Noam Chomsky

The Huffington Post


The Western response to Russia’s collapse was triumphalist. It was hailed as signaling “the end of history,” the final victory of Western capitalist democracy, almost as if Russia were being instructed to revert to its pre-World War I status as a virtual economic colony of the West. NATO did begin to move beyond, right to the borders of Russia. Of particular concern to Russia are plans to expand NATO to Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin: The 21st Century’s Greatest Statesman or Its Greatest Threat?

By Stephen F. Cohen

The Nation


Cohen argues that a factual and balanced evaluation is of vital importance because the demonization of Putin personally, which indicts him for most everything from ripping apart the world order to murdering his personal opponents, is the central element in the orthodox American political-media narrative of the new Cold War that is leading increasingly to the possibility of actual war between the United States and Russia.

Russia-Turkey relations

Turkey Adopts a Defiant Stance Toward Russia



The nature of hostilities between Turkey and Russia are complicated, well beyond the simple downing of a plane or the shooting of a pilot. The countries’ fraught relationship is predicated on competition for influence in the Middle East, particularly in Syria. And the Turkish decision to free the man accused of killing a Russian pilot dampens chances of reconciliation.

Doping scandal

Russian Insider Says State-Run Doping Fueled Olympic Gold

By Rebecca R. Ruiz and Michael Schwirtz

The New York Times


Dozens of Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, including at least 15 medal winners, were part of a state-run doping program, meticulously planned for years to ensure dominance at the Games, according to the director of the country’s antidoping laboratory at the time.

Night Wolves

Putin and the Night Wolves vs. Poland

By Masha Gessen

The New York Times


The Night Wolves isn’t just any motorcycle club; it’s the motorcycle club that’s shaping Russia’s foreign policy.

Elections in Russia

Meet the woman who says she’s going to fix Russia’s rigged elections

By Andrew Roth

The Washington Post


From the fringes of power, Ella Pamfilova has spent decades fighting against the odds. But as the newly appointed head of Russia’s Central Elections Commission, she faces an improbable task: ensuring that Russia’s notorious parliamentary elections this fall are free and fair.

Russian economy

Panama Files Show Russian Crackdown on Offshoring Is Failing

By Nataliya Vasilyeva

ABC News


The thousands of Russian names on a list of offshore companies suggests President Vladimir Putin’s effort to crack down on such entities is ineffective, experts say, and highlights how keeping wealth abroad remains one of the few ways to keep it safe from corrupt local officials.

Articles also deserving your attention

  1. Russia’s New Missile Means the Nuclear Arms Race Is Back On (11.05.16)
  2. Georgia’s long and winding road to Europe (10.05.16)
  3. Russian Victory Day Celebration Short on Jabs at US (09.05.16)
  4. Young Russians should view the Victory Day Parade as a warning rather than a celebration (11.05.16)
  5. How to avoid WWIII while celebrating the victory in WWII (09.05.16)
  6. A Russian Concert in Syria? I Took a Bulletproof Vest (09.05.16)
  7. A diplomatic breakthrough is a long way off in Syria’s deadly war (11.05.16)
  8. Putin Is Selling A Narrative On Syria And Some Media Organizations Are Buying It (12.05.16)
  9. Russia-Saudi Relations Still On Ice (15.05.16)
  10. Russia hit by fresh doping claims from Winter Olympics in Sochi (12.05.16)
  11. Pro-Putin Biker Gang Revs Up Russia (10.05.16)
  12. Obama banana ‘jokes’ show Soviet-era racism remains alive in Russia (12.05.16)
  13. Eurovision 2016: Furious Russia demands boycott of Ukraine over Jamala’s ‘anti-Kremlin’ song (15.05.16)
  14. Russia’s love for damned lies and statistics (15.05.16)

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