Foreign Press Review (15.08-21.08)

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The Syrian conflict was in the limelight last week as the western media was highly concerned with Russia, who began using a military airbase in Iran on Tuesday and launched cruise missiles from warships in the Mediterranean sea against Syrian militants on Friday. It is the first time since the Islamic Revolution in 1979 that Iran allows foreign troops on its soil. Experts and journalists wonder whether such actions of Russia are only a show of force or a determination to make a strategic boost for Assad’s forces. Nevertheless, they agreed that the events signal a growing cooperation between Moscow and Tehran, which makes the West nervous, since Russia and Iran are the main backers of the Syrian president. Moreover, Russia’s recent actions were perceived as a sign of Kremlin’s mounting influence in the Middle East. And this, given China’s pledge to provide military support for the Syrian government, could eventually become a tremendous challenge for the western countries’ policy aims in the region. Meanwhile, Russian officials have said Moscow is ready to support the UN special envoy’s proposal to establish a weekly 48-hour pause in Aleppo in order to allow humanitarian aid.

Russia continues to be one of the central issues in the US presidential campaign amid new accusations against Moscow, which, according to US newspapers, was involved in hacking the tools allegedly developed by the US National Security Agency. The media discussed Paul Manafort’s, Trump’s former campaign chairman, potential ties to Russia and cashflows from Ukraine. However, Trump is pushing back, claiming in turn that “Clinton’s close ties to Putin deserve scrutiny”. Moreover, journalists published information that the campaign manager for presidential run of Sen. John McCain in 2008 was Paul Manafort’s then-business partner Rick Davis and they had a lobbying firm called Davis Manafort. So it seems that the masterminds of the policy of smearing Trump in the media, which some American experts already refer to as neo-McCarthyism, could themselves fall victims to the current policy’s collateral damage. Nonetheless, a slight shift in the media’s coverage is now observed, as more journalists try to push the idea that Russia has been waging an anti-US establishment campaign aimed at compromising American democracy rather than supporting Trump. It is worth noting that the Kremlin numerously emphasized that Russia does not interfere with foreign elections and called the accusations groundless.

As for Russia-Ukraine relations, the tensions have risen after the Russian Federal Security Service arrested a group of Ukrainian saboteurs in Crimea. The reaction of Moscow was harsh. The Russian president held talks with his security council in Crimea pledging additional security measures in the peninsula. Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s president, warned about a possible invasion by Russia. However, even Pentagon officials said that they do not see any “immediate threat” to Ukraine from Russia, while the Spokesman to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Maria Zakharova claimed that in the MFA they sometimes just cannot understand what Mr Poroshenko is talking about. In general, a number of journalists noted that by the end of last week both parties have downplayed the rhetoric outlining that they do not intent to cut off diplomatic relations even despite Kiev claiming it has no need for a Russian ambassador at present.

Syrian conflict

Russia Asserts Its Military Might in Syria

By Andrew E. Kramer and Anne Barnard

The New York Times

19.08.16

Russia flexed its muscles again over Syria on Friday, for the first time launching cruise missiles at targets from warships in the Mediterranean Sea days after beginning bombing runs from a base in Iran.

Russia-Turkey relations

Turkey-Russia: The Sultan and the Tsar Need for Each Other

By Raghida Dergham 

The Huffington Post

15.08.16

The Battle of Aleppo has changed the parameters of bargaining between Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Erdogan, forcing the tsar and the sultan into a position where they need each other equally.

Russia-US relations

Putin’s praise for Trump may mask ‘conflicted’ feelings, Kremlin watchers say

By Shaun Walker

The Guardian

16.08.16

The Russian president has shown warmth for the Republican nominee, and some fear a nefarious plot – but the ‘hysteria and paranoia’ may not be justified.

Why Putin wants a Trump victory (so much he might even be trying to help him)

By Michael McFaul

The Washington Post

17.08.16

Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to see Donald Trump become the next president of the United States. To that end, Putin and his government have taken unprecedented steps to influence our electoral process to help the Republican Party’s nominee. Whether Russia’s interventions will succeed is not obvious. But it’s clear that Putin’s government has the motives — and the means — to try.

How Russia Saw Donald Trump’s Big Speech On Foreign Policy

By Simon Shuster

Time

16.08.16

What matters to Moscow is not Trump’s rhetoric but the fact that a candidate like him has gotten this far.

Cold-War Casualties From Ukraine and Syria to the New York Times’s ‘Standards’

By Stephen F. Cohen

The Nation

17.08.16

Factional politics may have killed Obama’s proposed détente with Russia and the Minsk peace process in Ukraine, while the Times publishes another gutter article—this one about Paul Manafort.

Russian Propaganda Isn’t Pro-Donald Trump: It’s Anti-U.S. Establishment

By Ben Nimmo

The Wall Street Journal

19.08.16

Amid all the debate over Donald Trump’s rhetoric about Russia, his relationship with Vladimir Putin, and his former campaign chairman’s ties to Ukraine, it should be noted: Russia’s propaganda machine isn’t supporting Mr. Trump. It is busy attacking the United States’ democratic credentials.

Cyber espionage: A new cold war?

By Sam Jones

The Financial Times

19.08.16

An online ‘auction’ signals a build-up of tension between Russia and America.

Russia-West relations

We Need a New Grand Bargain With Russia

By James Stavridis 

Time

15.08.16

As we contemplate the lazy days of late August, we need to bear in mind that a reckoning is coming sooner rather than later in Western relations with the Russian Federation.

Defeating Russia’s Ambitions In Europe

By Dan Goure

The National Interest

16.08.16

It has become absolutely clear to any reasonable observer that it is not possible either to give Russian President Vladimir Putin what he wants nor to simply ignore his threats and wait him out.

These are the only sanctions that Russia cares about

By Holly Ellyatt

CNBC

16.08.16

Russia can expect ‘indefinite’ sanctions for its illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, according to a Russia specialist who says the country is unlikely to ever hand the territory back to Ukraine.

Russia-Ukraine relations

How Culture Keeps the Russians and Ukrainians Steps Away from War

By Geopolitics Made Super

Atlantic Sentinel

18.08.16

The two Slavic peoples are willing to suffer far more than Westerners for their perceived national interests.

Ukraine at a Crossroads: Could Putin Lose His Job Over Mishandling the Crisis?

By Joseph V. Micallef 

The Huffington Post

20.08.16

Now, in the wake of Brexit, any hope of becoming a full-fledged member of the EU has receded into the indefinite future. In the meantime, of late, Moscow has been reminding Kiev of its strategic vulnerability by ratcheting up tension with Ukraine.

Russia’s internal politics

Could Putin Be Ousted In A Kremlin Coup?

By Anders Åslund

Newsweek

16.08.16

Putin has failed to seize control of the Security Council, which could oust him for his adventurous foreign policies.

Putin’s purge of old friends points to tightening grip on power

By Shaun Walker

The Guardian

18.08.16

Russia is about to hold its first elections for five years, but movements within president’s inner circle appear to show president’s desire to curb all opposition.

Articles also deserving your attention

  1. Strikes from Iranian air base show Russia’s expanding footprint in the Middle East (16.08.16)
  1. Exclusive: Behind Closed Doors at the U.N., Russia and Turkey Are Still Battling (15.08.16)
  1. There will be no ‘reset’ with Russia (18.08.16)
  1. Russia is now a threat. The U.S. should treat it like one (18.08.16)
  1. Is Putin playing Trump like he did Berlusconi? (17.08.16)
  1. Trump’s embrace of Russia is very unusual — and it could cause future headaches (17.08.16)
  1. Trump: Clinton has Russia ties, too (18.08.16)
  1. The Associated Press Smears Trump (18.08.16)
  1. Manafort’s man in Kiev (18.08.16)
  1. Russian hacks against the Democrats and the NSA expose the weaknesses of our democracy (20.08.16)
  1. WikiLeaks Game Can Turn Kremlin Fortress Into Glass House (16.08.16)
  1. Crimea: Russia’s Little Pawn (16.08.16)
  1. Putin Poised For New Assault Upon Ukraine (17.08.16)
  1. Russia ups the ante in Ukraine with eye on G20 (17.08.16)
  1. Putin’s Aggressive Opening Gambit For Talks On Ukraine (15.08.16)
  1. Russia prefers to forget the August coup on its 25th birthday (19.08.16)
  1. Putin’s Savage War Against Russia’s ‘New Muslims’ (20.08.16)
  1. What Is Really Going On In Vladimir Putin’s Head? (18.08.16)
  1. Putin aide Volodin faces his big test — winning an election (18.08.16)

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