Foreign Press Review (08.08-14.08)

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Last week the media payed a lot of attention to the talks between the Russian and Turkish Presidents, which took place in St. Petersburg on Tuesday. It was the first meeting between Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan after the Russian jet shootdown near the Syrian border. Both parties expressed their intentions to restore bilateral relations and to ensure that economic and trade ties reach the level that had existed before the infamous tragedy. The warming in the relations paves the way for progress in building the first nuclear power plant in Turkey and an ambitious natural gas pipeline project. Journalists noticed that both leaders repeatedly called each other “friends”, and, given the negotiations were held amid the rising tensions between Turkey and the West, after the failed coup (and despite experts’ calls not to dramatize the situation), they have expressed fears that a Russia-Turkey rapprochement could be a serious challenge for the West’s policy aims in Syria, and for NATO and the EU in general.

As for the Syrian conflict itself, the intense fighting in Aleppo continued. A number of media outlets accused Russia of backing the Syrian government forces’ violence and actively disseminated information of a letter sent by Aleppo doctors to the US where they accused the Syrian and Russian forces of “targeting hospitals”. Russia’s Foreign Ministry asserted that journalists frequently try to distort information on the situation in the Syrian city, using unverified information and turning a blind eye to Russia’s humanitarian activities. For example, in its article about the letter, the Guardian expressly admitted that “it has not been possible to verify the names of all the doctors listed in the letter”, while a number of observers claimed there had been some inconsistencies with previous reports. Moreover, the view expressed by former CIA Deputy Director, and twice CIA Acting Director, Michael Morell was rather resonant: in an interview given to “Charlie Rose Show” on PBS, he said that the US should escalate the conflict in Syria and send a message to Moscow by “covertly” killing Russians involved in the conflict. Given that previously he publicly endorsed Hilary Clinton in the presidential race, some observers have wondered whether Mrs Clinton really needs such support. As for the Sky News “sensational” report about Russia’s secret mercenaries from a private military company “Wagner” in Syria, a Russian TV-channel NTV accused Sky News of fabricating the report and exposed a Russian professional actor, who according to the NTV, was hired by English journalists to play the role of a mercenary that had returned from Syria.

Russia-Ukraine relations were also in the limelight last week. After the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) had arrested a Ukrainian “group of saboteurs” in a clash where two Russian servicemen had been killed Russian president Vladimir Putin accused Ukraine of plotting terrorist attacks in Crimea. Ignoring the evidence provided by the FSB the media presented their own versions of the incident with explanations ranging from Putin’s effort to derail credibility of the Ukrainian authorities in the eyes of the West to preparing a pretext for military invasion in the country.

Last but not least, the media tried to find reasons for the replacement of Russian president’s chief of staff. While some assessed the situation as an ordinary reshuffling of the cabinet ahead of parliamentary elections, the others claimed that Putin has been trying to consolidate his personal power pushing alternative sources of power away. Meanwhile, in a televised meeting with Mr Ivanov and Mr Vaino, the Russian president thanked his ex-chief of staff for his work and said that he understands Ivanov’s desire to resign as they had an old agreement according to which Vladimir Putin agreed not to keep Ivanov as chief of presidential staff for more than four years.

Russia-Turkey relations

The Putin-Erdogan Entente

The Wall Street Journal

10.08.16

The Kremlin tries to expand its Middle East influence.

Russia and Turkey’s new friendship is bad news for the West

Telegraph view

The Telegraph

10.08.16

The European Union and Nato face a significant challenge from the unfolding diplomatic rapprochement between Russia and Turkey.

Syrian conflict

Erdogan’s meeting with Putin will tell us what the future holds for Syria

By Robert Fisk

The Independent

09.08.16

Not long ago, it was Hillary Clinton who wanted to press the ‘reset’ button with Putin. Now it’s Erdogan – with, one suspects, a far greater effect.

Revealed: Russia’s ‘Secret Syria Mercenaries’

By John Sparks

Sky News

10.08.16

Sky News speaks to men who claim they were trained and flown on Russian military planes to assist troops loyal to Bashar al Assad.

Could Trump and Putin work together over Syria?

By Tim Whewell

BBC

10.08.16

Donald Trump says if he becomes the next US president, he would like to “get together with Russia” to “knock the hell out of Isis”.

Russia-US relations

America’s Dangerous ‘Putin Panic’

By Ivan Krastev     

The New York Times

08.08.16

WILL Vladimir V. Putin, the president of Russia, elect the next president of the United States? My guess is not.

Democrats’ Tactic of Accusing Critics of Kremlin Allegiance Has Long, Ugly History in U.S.

By Glenn Greenwald

The Intercept

08.08.16

A frequent weapon for democrats in the 2016 election is to publicly malign those they regard as critics and adversaries as Russia sympathizers, Putin stooges, or outright agents of the Kremlin.

Alleged Russian involvement in DNC hack gives U.S. a taste of Kremlin meddling

By Michael Birnbaum

The Washington Post

13.08.16

The hacking of Democratic Party computer systems, widely thought by U.S. intelligence officials to be the work of the Russian government, may be giving Washington a new taste of unconventional Kremlin tactics that have long been employed to influence politics in neighboring European countries.

Russia-UK relations

It’s time for a thaw in our relations with Russia

By Tony Brenton

The Telegraph

10.08.16

It is good news that Theresa May has spoken to Vladimir Putin, and that they have agreed to meet at next month’s G20 Summit in China. Our relations have been at a counterproductive low for far too long. A thaw is long overdue.

Russia has edge over us in battle, army admits

By Deborah Haynes

The Times

10.08.16

The Russian military can outgun British troops on the battlefield, the army has admitted in a leaked report laying bare the firepower, hacking technology and propaganda developed by President Putin’s state.

Russia-NATO relations

Are Russia’s military advances a problem for Nato?

By Jonathan Marcus

BBC

11.08.16

What does the performance of Russian forces in Ukraine say about the country’s potential military capability against the Atlantic Alliance?

Russia-Ukraine relations

This Is Why Vladimir Putin Is Accusing Ukraine of Terrorism

By Simon Shuster

Time

11.08.16

Starting another war does not seem to be Russia’s most cogent strategy.

Russia’s internal politics

The Kremlin’s Game Of Thrones

By Brian Whitmore

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

12.08.16

You can call it another day of the long knives. You can call it Kremlin musical chairs. Or you can call it Vladimir Putin’s own personal game of thrones.

Putin reshapes his inner circle

By Kathrin Hille

The Financial Times

13.08.16

There are more questions than answers around Mr Ivanov’s replacement with Anton Vaino, a low-key former diplomat almost 20 years his junior.

Doping scandal

In vilifying Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova, Americans are splashing murky waters

By Sally Jenkins

The Washington Post

10.08.16

But there is a disquieting aspect to the narrative going here at the Olympics. It’s not a moment of perfect American moral clarity.

Articles also deserving your attention

  1. Turkey’s Erdogan, Russia’s Putin reset relationship after jet shootdown (09.08.16)
  1. Russia and Turkey Make Nice (11.08.16)
  1. Can Putin really ‘win’ the Syrian conflict? (09.08.16)
  1. What Russia and Turkey Bring to Syria (11.08.16)
  1. Ex-Cia Director Who Endorsed Clinton Calls for Killing Iranians and Russians in Syria (09.08.16)
  1. Aleppo doctors appeal to US as violence continues during Russian ‘pause’ (11.08.16)
  1. Trump allies, WikiLeaks and Russia are pushing a nonsensical conspiracy theory about the DNC hacks (12.08.16)
  1. Neo-McCarthyite Kremlin-Baiting of Trump Continues to Prevent Urgent Policy Debates (10.08.16)
  1. Considers Sanctions Against Russia in Response to Hacks of Democratic Groups (11.08.16)
  1. Vladimir Putin Has Already Won Our Election (13.08.16)
  1. May and Putin’s first telephone conversation hints at thawing tensions (09.08.16)
  1. Theresa May should beware Putin: he doesn’t do ‘cooperation’ (10.08.16)
  1. Boris Johnson Says Britain Must Normalise Its Relationship With Russia (11.08.16)
  1. Signs of Trouble in Ukraine Prompt Question: What’s Vladimir Putin Up To? (11.08.16)
  1. What lies behind the new Russian threat to Ukraine (12.08.16)
  1. Putin’s Invisible Wall (12.08.16)
  1. What Does It Mean to Be Conservative in Russia? (10.08.16)
  1. Gazprom Soldiers on With Nord Stream II (13.08.16)
  1. Rio 2016: Ban on Paralympians a blow to Russia’s disabled people (11.08.16)
  1. The Soviet Doping Plan: Document Reveals Illicit Approach to ’84 Olympics (13.08.16)

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