Foreign Press Review #13 (20.06-26.06)

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Last week Brexit was the top story in Western media. Outlets described Russian president Vladimir Putin as the main winner of the EU referendum as Europe is weakening now with Eurosceptic political movements gaining power. Instead of investigating the true reasons of the disappointing outcome for the EU, it seems that the target, who is to blame for Brexit, was picked well before the voting. Still, it is worth noting that while many world leaders, including Barack Obama, urged the UK to vote “Remain”, the Russian president preferred not to express his personal opinion outlining the fact that the referendum is a matter of British people and the EU.

The Syrian conflict was in the spotlight as usual. The US State Department dissent memo, which called on President Obama to resort to “targeted military strikes in response to egregious regime violations”, triggered serious debates in the foreign media. While one camp supported the 51 diplomats’ position, the majority warned the administration against military intensification. Firstly, it would be illegal due to the absence of a UN Security Council resolution. Secondly, direct American military involvement could lead to a new Iraq-like quagmire and, thirdly, to direct confrontation with Russia, with the conflict thereby spiraling of control. Amid these debates, the press was actively disseminating commentaries on the incident in the Syrian sky that took place on the 16th of June, when, according to the US officials, U.S. F-18 fighter jets tried to intercept Russian Su-34 fighter-bombers, reportedly, bombing US-backed rebels. Journalists fear direct clashes between Russian and US jets could take place with awful consequences for both parties and the whole world. Interestingly, the Russian Defense Ministry has not confirmed the fact of interception. On the contrary, it commented that the country’s air forces had conducted strikes 300 km away from the officially declared opposition destinations and the coalition had been informed about the targets that day. Moreover, Russia was once again blamed for using incendiary weapons. Russian officials already refuted such allegations in the past, with some videos on YouTube posted by the Syrian opposition being previously revealed as fakes.

Russia-NATO relations still draw a lot of media’s attention. Unfortunately, despite some recent influential voices calling for dialogue between both the alliance and Moscow, and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier describing the recent NATO exercise as “sabre-rattling and warmongering”, there are no signs of willingness to put an end to the current confrontation. Instead, the commander of US troops in Europe Lt-Gen Ben Hodges said that he sees Russia as “the only potential threat, that could destroy the United States, or the UK or Germany, or any other country”. Besides, ahead of NATO summit in Warsaw, Nicholas Burns, a former US ambassador to NATO, and Gen James Jones, a former supreme allied commander for Europe, called to deploy the organization’s permanent troops in Eastern Europe in order to discourage Russia from seizing the Baltic states and Poland. The result of such an aggressive rhetoric and NATO moves is unsurprising: it is a new spiral of confrontation with reports that Russia has been considering a possibility of deploying advanced nuclear-capable Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad by 2019 as a response.

Vladimir Putin’s visit to China has received a lot of attention on the part of foreign media. Some experts still claim that the Sino-Russian alliance is impossible due to different political aims and Moscow just wants to show that it has friends on the international arena. However, others emphasize the strengthening of trade and, in particular, military cooperation between the two countries. Gas export plans, an ambitious plan of building a Hyperloop train that would connect Eastern Russia and China and new arms deals induce Western journalists and experts to write about a possible underestimation of the bilateral relations.


If you believe the Remain camp, Putin is the bogeyman of Brexit – but it’s not actually that simple

By Mary Dejevsky

The Independent


For years, the West has exaggerated Putin’s power and authority, by imposing a tsar analogy that does not fit. But in puffing him up as a threat, we serve his ends more than we serve ours.

Vladimir Putin Keeps Mum on ‘Brexit’ Views

By Nathan Hodge

The Wall Street Journal


Some observers believe the Russian president was secretly in favor of the so-called Brexit.

Post-U.K. Europe Won’t Be Friendlier to Putin

By Leonid Bershidsky



Even though Russia had little, if any, influence on the outcome of the Brexit vote, some see the event as a victory for President Vladimir Putin. However, there’s no evidence Russia stands to gain and it even could be one of the losers.

How Brexit is a win for Putin

By Michael McFaul

The Washington Post


Putin, of course, did not cause the Brexit vote, but he and his foreign policy objectives stand to gain enormously from it.

Syrian conflict

The Slow Death of the Syria Cease-Fire Brings a Hybrid War With Russia Closer

By Alastair Crooke

The Huffington Post


Hot months ahead in Syria. Russia will gradually reenter the conflict, and Iran and Iraq will likely increase their involvement as well.

Russia and Iran move towards a political solution for Syria

By David Gardner

The Financial Times


Mr Assad vaingloriously promises to recover every inch of Syria — but him and whose army?

Russia-NATO relations

Isolating Russia isn’t working. The west needs a new approach

By Mary Dejevsky

The Guardian


When even cautious German politicians are questioning Nato’s ‘war-mongering’ actions, it’s clear that a new tack is required

NATO Sends Clear Message to Putin

By Brad Chojnacki, Luke Coffey

The Daily Signal


Thousands of American troops have been taking part in a large-scale military exercise on NATO’s front-line state of Poland, which borders Vladimir Putin’s Russia, its close ally Belarus, and war-torn Ukraine. The message is unmistakable—letting Moscow know that the U.S. and its allies take its treaty obligation to defend Eastern Europe seriously.

Russia seen putting new nuclear-capable missiles along NATO border by 2019

By Andrew Osborn



Russia is likely to deploy advanced nuclear-capable missiles in its European exclave of Kaliningrad by 2019, casting the move as a reply to a U.S.-backed missile shield, and may one day put them in Crimea too, sources close to its military predict.

Russia-China relations

What is Putin up to in China?

By Damien Sharkov



Selling arms and oil and unnerving the West will be on the agenda for Putin’s China visit.

Russia and China learn from each other as military ties deepen

By Charles Clover

The Financial Times


Russia and China staged a bold new series of military manoeuvres last month. Not a single ship left port, nor did any tank fire up its engine. Instead, a team from China’s People’s Liberation Army sat with their Russian counterparts in Moscow, running a five-day computer simulation of a joint response to a ballistic missile attack.

Doping scandal

What Russia’s Olympic ban means for Vladimir Putin

By Kimberly Marten

The Washington Post


Putin will not be able to restore Russia’s Olympic luster while maintaining the underpinnings of the regime as we now know it.

Russia’s political system

Russia’s opposition descends into infighting before elections

By Shaun Walker 

The Guardian


Members of liberal opposition parties turn on each other as Kremlin tightens screws.

Are Russia’s anti-terror laws designed to fight democracy?

By Roman Goncharenko

Deutsche Welle


While the world has its eyes on a Brexit, the Russian Duma is voting on a set of anti-terror laws that will drastically limit civic freedoms. Above all, social media activities will be harshly penalized in the future.

Putin: A New Cold War?

By Fay Voshell

American Thinker


At the core of the continued antagonism between the West and Russia is the breathtaking shift in ideologies that have occurred in America during the Obama administration and in Russia during Putin’s ascendance to power.

Articles also deserving your attention

  1. How Many Russian Soldiers Have Died in Syria? (22.06.16)
  1. The False Lure of Military Intervention in Syria (22.06.16)
  1. Russia’s Unhelpful Game In Syria (25.06.16)
  1. ‘Second Front of Jihad’ Looms on Russia’s Border in Central Asia (25.06.16)
  1. Cracks emerge in the European consensus on Russia (20.06.16)
  1. West can’t afford to let Putin off the hook (22.06.16)
  1. Is the US Pursuing a Rogue Policy by Waging Undeclared War Against Russia? (22.06.16)
  1. This tiny stretch of countryside is all that separates Baltic states from Russian envelopment (20.06.16)
  1. Eastern Europe needs permanent Nato troops, say ex-US policymakers (21.06.16)
  2. The trap of “countering Russia” (23.06.16)
  3. More on Brexit. Propaganda in High Gear, Russia Bashing… (24.06.16)
  4. Despite Russia’s Somber Facade, Glimpses of Joy Over E.U. Referendum (24.06.16)
  5. Putin Heads to China to Cement Ties, but Obstacles Remain (22.06.16)
  6. China’s Pivot to Putin’s Friends (25.06.16)
  7. How Russia Could Help Curb North Korea’s Nukes (23.06.16)
  8. All Russians Are Tainted by Putin’s Regime (21.06.16)
  9. Rival Kremlin camps prepare for battle over economy (20.06.16)
  10. Hyperloop One Explores Building High-Speed Transport System in Moscow (21.06.16)
  11. A Russian Oil Company Is for Sale — Again (23.06.16)

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