The main event of last week was Secretary of State John F. Kerry’s visit to Moscow. The Obama administration reportedly intended to propose to deepen military cooperation with Moscow in Syria by intelligence information sharing, starting joint air strikes against the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s Syria branch, and opening a new military command-and-control headquarters, which would include military and intelligence officers and subject-matter experts. However, this plan revealed a rift between the State Department and the National Security Council, on the one hand, who are appearing to support the proposal, and the Pentagon and the intelligence community on the other, who are challenging it. Moreover, the media drew the readers’ attention to the fact that earlier this week John Kerry, during the conversation at the Aspen Ideas Festival held in Colorado, classified two so-called rebel groups Jaysh al-Islam, Ahrar al-Sham as terrorists. Interestingly, Washington, in contrast to Russia, has for a long time called them moderate opposition and, therefore, Mr Kerry’s words became a true shock for many among the American establishment. Nevertheless, it is still unclear whether it was an accidental declaration or a deliberate reference, which means a policy shift. As for the results of the two-day negotiations in Moscow, the parties announced that they had reached an agreement that can restore the cessation of hostilities and push the political process forward, but refused to make any details public.
Besides, the NATO-Russia Council met in Brussels on Wednesday. Despite Moscow continuing to criticize the alliance for a military buildup in Eastern Europe and arguing it could destabilize Europe, the Kremlin proposed a new air-safety initiative for the Baltic Sea, which requires all planes flying in the Baltic Sea region to keep their transponders turned on. However, while one part of analysts considers this as a desire to lower tensions, the other thinks that it is a sign of an admittance of a long-term confrontation rather than reconciliation, as, from their point of view, it is a rational attempt to revitalize the old Cold War rules aimed at decreasing the possibility of an accidental war.
In addition, a lot of attention was payed to the doping scandal. A draft letter by the US and Canadian doping agencies to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) leaked ahead of the release of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s report on the 2014 Sochi Olympics. According to it, at least 10 nations and 20 athlete groups will request a total ban on Russia competing at the Rio Olympics and Paralympics if the McLaren Report finds evidence of state-sponsored doping. The paradox is that the results of the report is to be presented only on Monday, July 18, and many high-ranked sports officials around the world have already declared that this letter undermines the credibility of the report, violates the “innocent until proven guilty” principle and raises the question of whether its confidentiality was breached. For example, IOC Executive Board member Patrick Hickey said: “My concern is that there seems to have been an attempt to agree an outcome before any evidence has been presented. Such interference and calls ahead of the McLaren Report publication are totally against internationally recognised fair legal process and may have completely undermined the integrity and therefore the credibility of this important report.”
By Vanessa Beeley
The Centre for Research on Globalization
What John Kerry said in this conversation effectively demolishes the foundations of US “regime change” policy in Syria and its support of the so called “moderate rebels”.
By Barbara Starr, Elise Labott and Ryan Browne
A U.S. proposal to deepen military cooperation with Russia in Syria has sparked a rift at the highest levels of the Obama administration, with the Pentagon openly challenging an idea that the top U.S. diplomat calls critical to moving Syria forward.
By Josh Rogin
The Washington Post
The Obama administration’s new proposal to Russia on Syria is more extensive than previously known. It would open the way for deep cooperation between U.S. and Russian military and intelligence agencies and coordinated air attacks by American and Russian planes on Syrian rebels deemed to be terrorists
By Felicia Schwartz
The Wall Street Journal
Secretary of State, Russian president discuss U.S. proposal to work more closely if Moscow grounds Assad’s air force
By Gardiner Harris
The New York Times
The United States and Russia announced a tentative deal on Friday to coordinate airstrikes against the Islamic State and the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria.
By Sara Miller Llana, Fred Weir
The Christian Science Monitor
Despite the new NATO troops for Eastern Europe, experts said the bloc and Russia must quickly dial back tensions – through constant communication and by finding common ground.
By Julian E. Barnes, James Marson
The Wall Street Journal
Russia pushed a new air-safety initiative for the Baltic Sea in a meeting with North Atlantic Treaty Organization ambassadors Wednesday as it continued to criticize the Western alliance for a planned buildup in the region.
By Stephen F. Cohen
The extremism at NATO’s Warsaw summit revealed doves in opposition to the new Cold War hawks, but not in the United States.
By Fyodor Lukyanov
The Huffington Post
After very vocal statements at the Warsaw Summit, results of the NATO-Russia Council meeting on Wednesday look surprisingly calm. Both sides predictably disagreed on Ukraine but decided to work on a new system to minimize risks.
By Paul Craig Roberts
Foreign Policy Journal
Putin does not want war. He is doing everything in his power to avoid it. But Putin is not going to surrender Russia to Washington.
By Tom Balmforth
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
The surprise appointment of Boris Johnson to head the British Foreign Office is being cautiously welcomed by Moscow — and his predecessor’s exit pointedly cheered.
By Phil Helsel
A draft letter from U.S. and Canadian anti-doping authorities recommends Russia be banned from the summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro if an upcoming report finds evidence of state-sponsored doping.
Russia’s internal policy
By Mark Galeotti
After all, not only is Kadyrov an erratic man who breaks the rules of Russian politics, he does so openly and triumphantly. He has shown that it is possible to challenge the Kremlin and win.
By Andrew Higgins
The New York Times
How to get people to settle in the Far East is a question that has preoccupied and confounded Russian rulers since the establishment of a Russian naval base on the Pacific Ocean at Okhotsk in the 17th century.
By Holly Ellyatt
Russia’s recession has been shallower than expected, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in its latest economic report on the country, and the economy is expected to return to growth next year – unless oil prices take a further tumble.
Articles also deserving your attention
- Russia may have lied about losing a gunship to ISIS (12.07.16)
- As Kerry pushes for coordination with Russia in Syria, others in administration cry foul (14.07.16)
- Putin’s “Threats” to the Baltics: a Myth to Promote NATO Unity (12.07.16)
- Why Does Putin Say Russia Is Not A Threat To Nato States? (16.07.16)
- Engineered Fears: The Fake “Russian Threat”, The Fake “Terrorist Threat” (16.07.16)
- The Role of Sanctions in U.S.-Russian Relations (11.07.16)
- Universal film chief Jeff Shell gets detained in Russia: ‘I did feel like I was in a ‘Jason Bourne’ movie’ (13.07.16)
- Just How Dangerous is Russia’s Military? (15.07.16)
- From the Baltic to the South China Sea, Russia and China See One Foe — the U.S (15.07.16)
- Russian Images of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 Were Altered, Reports Finds (15.07.16)
- Why Putin Loves Brexit (13.07.16)
- Russia’s Sports Minister Strives to Contain Damage (16.07.16)
- The Putin Nemesis Plotting A Post-Putin Russia (11.07.16)
- The simple reasons Russians love Putin (14.07.16)
- In economic crisis, Putin helps a mogul he once attacked (14.07.16)
- Putin Peers Into Shadows Where 30 Million Toil on Fringes (14.07.16)