Foreign Press Review (27.06-03.07)

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The main topic of last week was the normalization of Russia-Turkey relations. Despite disagreements between two parties whether Erdogan’s letter was an apology or just condolences for the downing of a Russian warplane in November, the fact is that Moscow is satisfied with Ankara’s step. Observers share general consensus that it is a diplomatic victory for the Kremlin as Russia has already flexed its muscles on the world stage by its readiness to take strong measures in response to aggressive actions, and now the normalization of relations will be mutually beneficial in economic and security terms. Nevertheless, the relations’ restoration was marred by the terror act at the Istanbul airport. The western media widely covered the reports that the suspected mastermind was a Russian citizen, but, unfortunately, failed to let their readers’ know that this man had been considered by Russian security services as a terrorist for a long time and had been included on Interpol lists. However, after the Chechen wars he fled to Europe, obtained a refugee status in Austria and was portrayed by human rights activists, including Amnesty International, as a victim of the Russian regime.

Russia-NATO relations have been in the spotlight. Two incidents have recently taken place in the Eastern Mediterranean when Russian and American naval ships had a close encounter on the high seas. Both countries have accused each other of unsafe, provocative behavior and gross breaches of international maritime laws. Moreover, the media has been discussing the upcoming NATO summit in Warsaw which they tend to consider as “a crucial test of the coherence of the western alliance” given Britain’s decision to leave the EU and a number of disagreements in Germany, France and the US over NATO’s future role in the world and its policy towards Russia.

In addition, Brexit itself and its consequences continued to be at the centre of debates in the West. The media call Russian President Vladimir Putin the main winner, as Brexit fuels his hope of new divisions inside the EU and a weaker Europe as a result. However, many experts agree that Russia is interested in stable economic relations with Europe because the EU is still Russia’s biggest trading partner and, that is why, the impact of Brexit is quite ambiguous for Moscow, which Mr Putin admits himself.

A lot of attention has been payed to the Syrian conflict. The Obama administration has reportedly proposed a new agreement on Syria to the Kremlin. The agreement implies unprecedented levels of military cooperation between Russia and the US in the fight against the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front. In exchange Washington wants Moscow to put pressure on Assad so as to stop bombing U.S.-supported rebels. Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov has refused to comment on the reports, which have already triggered heated debates in both countries.

Russia-Turkey relations

If Turkey and Russia restore ties, it will be on Putin’s terms

By Ben Rosen

The Christian Science Monitor

28.06.16

Russia and Turkey even disagree over whether a letter the Turkish president sent his Russian counterpart is an apology or not.

Here’s Why Erdogan Is Cozying Up to Putin

By Keith Johnson

Foreign Policy

01.07.16

Turkey is trying to mend fences with Russia to contain Iran, fight the Islamic State, and improve its standing in an evolving Middle East.

Russia Needs Turkey in the War on ISIS

By Raghida Dergham

The Huffington Post

03.07.16

Putin knows he is not yet out of the woods, and thus sees a huge advantage in Erdogan reconsidering his Syria policies, where he has become a de-facto partner of the US and Russia in the war on ISIS, especially after the latter decided to target Turkey and its security and economy in retaliation.

Syrian conflict

Russia is in Charge in Syria: How Moscow Took Control of the Battlefield and Negotiating Table

By Sam Heller

The War on the Rocks

28.06.16

The Kremlin has successfully made itself the most powerful party to this war. The best the White House can do now is to make them own it.

Obama proposes new military partnership with Russia in Syria

By Josh Rogin

The Washington Post

30.06.16

The Obama administration has proposed a new agreement on Syria to the Russian government that would deepen military cooperation between the two countries against some terrorists in exchange for Russia getting the Assad regime to stop bombing U.S.-supported rebels.

Why Is Obama Getting Into Bed With Putin In Syria?

By Faysal Itani 

Newsweek

02.07.16

A policy of keeping the violence “as low as possible for as long as possible” is odd—a plan to put the war’s killing, suffering and destruction in slow motion.

Russia-US relations

Russia is harassing U.S. diplomats all over Europe

By Josh Rogin

The Washington Post

27.06.16

Russian intelligence and security services have been waging a campaign of harassment and intimidation against U.S. diplomats, embassy staff and their families in Moscow and several other European capitals that has rattled ambassadors and prompted Secretary of State John F. Kerry to ask Vladimir Putin to put a stop to it.

Russia-NATO relations

Hacked Emails Reveal NATO General Plotting Against Obama on Russia Policy

By Lee Fang, Zaid Jilani

The Intercept

01.07.16

Gen. Philip Breedlove, until recently the supreme commander of NATO forces in Europe, plotted in private to overcome President Barack Obama’s reluctance to escalate military tensions with Russia over the war in Ukraine in 2014, according to apparently hacked emails from Breedlove’s Gmail account that were posted on a new website called DC Leaks.

Why Nato Should Hold No Illusions About Moscow’s Intentions

By Anders Fogh Rasmussen

Newsweek

03.07.16

Former NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen offers advice for allies ahead of Warsaw summit.

Brexit

Why Vladimir Putin is cheering Brexit — and why he might soon regret it

By Mark Galeotti

Vox

28.06.16

It’s not so much Brexit itself that matters to the Kremlin, but rather the hope that this will generate yet more division and distraction in the West. But Vladimir Putin ought not to regard this as an undiluted win, because there are some buried risks for Russia, too.

Brexit Could Open the Door to Russia Joining the EU

By Cyrus Sanati

Fortune

28.06.16

And that’s a good thing for everyone. Britain’s exit from the European Union opens the door to a possible Russian entry—a “Rentry” or perhaps “Russ-in”—into the (now) 27-member club.

How Brexit could avert a new Cold War

By Katrina vanden Heuvel 

The Washington Post

28.06.16

Wouldn’t it be ironic if the people’s vote forced the E.U. to lighten its destructive austerity, gave impetus to a negotiated settlement in Syria and led NATO to reconsider its increasingly reckless posture toward Russia? If that happened, the voters in Britain, unknowingly or not, will have done a great service.

Putin Remains Dumb As Europe Crumbles In The West

By Maxim Trudolyubov

Newsweek

02.07.16

The single most important consequence of Brexit, from Russia’s perspective, is the end to future expansion of the EU.

Saint-Petersburg International Economic Forum

Russia Is Far From Isolated

By Nikolay Pakhomov

The National Interest

29.06.16

A recent economic summit shows the world still wants in.

Russia’s internal policy

Russian Strategy: Stop Locals Returning From Syria

By Alan Cullison

The Wall Street Journal

01.07.16

In Dagestan province, once home to an Islamist insurrection, the situation is calmer since men left to join the jihad.

Articles also deserving your attention

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  1. Putin ascendant over NATO as Turkey turns tail (30.06.16)
  1. How the Russian Fighters of ISIS Became a Terror Threat in Turkey (30.06.16)
  1. U.S. eyes military cooperation with Russia in Syria (01.07.16)
  1. U.S., Russia Trade Accusations Over Military Encounter in Mediterranean (29.06.16)
  1. Why Is NATO So Irrational Today? (30.06.16)
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  1. Russian FSB guard attacked U.S. diplomat outside Moscow embassy (29.06.16)
  2. Britain’s Leave Vote Is an Opening for Putin (29.06.16)
  3. New EU Policy Document Calls Russia ‘Strategic Challenge’ (27.06.16)
  4. Russia-China entente: Lofty rhetoric, shifty discourse (03.07.16)
  5. Putin’s New Rival: Stalin (27.06.16)
  6. The Non-Political Political Arrest Of Nikita Belykh In Russia (01.07.16)
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