Foreign Press Review (29.08-04.09)

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Last week two remarkable international events took place: the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia, and the opening of the G20 summit in Hangzhou, China. Russian President Vladimir Putin held bilateral discussions with a range of foreign leaders, including Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, South Korean President Park Geun-hye, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, Chinese President Xi Jinping, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and new British Prime Minister Theresa May at these two forums.

Putin’s Sunday meeting with his British counterpart on the sidelines of the G20 summit was a result of a last month telephone conversation between the two leaders. This time they expressed hope to improve bilateral relations through dialogue and, besides, discussed plenty of other issues including terrorism, Syria, security and drug trafficking. The negotiations took place amid the lively debates in the UK media about 11 Eton college schoolboys who had managed to talk to Vladimir Putin earlier than to Theresa May or Boris Johnson. The Russian president welcomed the Eton schoolboys in the Kremlin and spent two hours discussing world affairs with them. Moreover, on Wednesday, Russian and British veterans of World War Two gathered in Arkhangelsk commemorating 75 years of the first Arctic convoy. Britain’s Princess Anne was among the guests who attended the ceremony. All of the mentioned above could be interpreted as first signs of possible thaw in Russia-UK relations.

Meanwhile, whereas last week German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke out in favor of Russia’s returning to the G7 providing progress in Eastern Ukraine and Syria, the US seemed to continue to demonize Russia. The US media was full of fear-mongering articles about Russia-affiliated hackers who had reportedly targeted voter registration systems in Illinois and Arizona despite some reports claiming that it is impossible to influence the voting system itself . Several American lawmakers, who support Hilary Clinton, even asked the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) to investigate senior Trump campaign advisers for collusion in the suspected Russian hacking. During the interview to Bloomberg, Vladimir Putin denied US accusations of Russia’s involvement and, instead, called for more attention to the content of the leaks. Moreover, new accusations against WikiLeaks on the part of American journalists made Julian Assange fire back, claiming that Clinton’s campaign tendency to call opponents “Russian agents” is a mere “neo-McCarthyist hysteria”.

With regard to the Syrian conflict, the agreement between Russia and the US has still not been reached yet with some quite controversial information being published. While on Thursday Vladimir Putin said in an interview that Moscow and Washington “are gradually heading in the right direction” and did not rule out that in the near future the agreement could be presented to the international community, on Sunday Barack Obama voiced skepticism mentioning existing “grave differences”. Although both leaders admit the negotiations are quite difficult, it is important that they are aimed at eventually reaching a long-awaited deal.

Russia-US relations

Harry Reid Cites Evidence of Russian Tampering in U.S. Vote, and Seeks F.B.I. Inquiry

By David E. Sanger

The New York Times

29.08.16

The Senate minority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, asked the F.B.I. on Monday to investigate evidence suggesting that Russia may try to manipulate voting results in November.

How Vladimir Putin Is Using Donald Trump to Advance Russia’s Goals

By Owen Matthews

Newsweek

29.08.16

Not since the beginning of the Cold War has a U.S. politician been as fervently pro-Russian as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

How Russia Often Benefits When Julian Assange Reveals the West’s Secrets

By Jo Becker, Steven Erlanger and Eric Schmitt

The New York Times

31.08.16

American officials say Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks probably have no direct ties to Russian intelligence services. But the agendas of WikiLeaks and the Kremlin have often dovetailed.

If Russia is trying to hack America, it is not to help Donald Trump win

By David Klion

The Guardian

01.09.16

Several prominent hacks have led some to accuse Russia of meddling in the US elections. If true, Putin’s objectives are likely part of a bigger play.

Putin Says DNC Hack Was a Public Service, Russia Didn’t Do It

By Jake Rudnitsky, John Micklethwait and Michael Riley

Bloomberg

02.09.16

Vladimir Putin said the hacking of thousands of Democratic National Committee emails and documents was a service to the public, but denied U.S. accusations that Russia’s government had anything to do with it.

Putin Doesn’t Get American Politics

By Leonid Bershidsky

Bloomberg

02.09.16

President Vladimir Putin is watching the U.S. election campaign with a mixture of irony, disgust and imperfect understanding.

Syrian conflict

Did Putin And Erdogan Have A Deal On The Syrian Crisis?

By Fuad Shahbazov

Forbes

29.08.16

Although the Russian-Turkish summit in St. Petersburg is over, it is quite difficult to predict the possible repercussions both for Ankara and Moscow. One thing is clear: that Erdogan will seek a compromise with Damascus, as it is the only way to cut off the ambitions of PKK-affiliated PYD militants and homegrown Islamist radicals who threaten domestic security.

The Need for U.S.-Russian Cooperation in Syria Is Growing

By Nikolay Pakhomov

The National Interest

31.08.16

Both sides have strong, building reasons to work together.

When Putin Bailed Out Obama on Syria

By Ray McGovern

Consortiumnews.ru

31.08.16

As pressure again builds on President Obama to attack Syria and press a new Cold War with Russia, the extraordinary events of three years ago after a sarin attack near Damascus are worth revisiting.

Russia-UK relations

How to deal with Vladimir Putin – my advice to Theresa May as a former ambassador to Russia

By Anthony Brenton

The Telegraph

03.09.16

The key point for her to make is that the current escalation of Russia/NATO tensions is in nobody’s long-term interests. We should be looking together for ways to reverse it.

Russia, China and the West

3 ways a Russia-China axis is seeking to undermine the West

By Amanda Macias

Business Insider

03.09.16

Supporting rogue regimes economically and militarily, massive military buildups and hostile action to consolidate and expand territorial claims in their spheres.

Russia-Ukraine relations

Putin’s Military Is Playing the Long Game in Ukraine

By Michael Kofman

Foreign Policy

31.08.16

Moscow isn’t looking to escalate the war in the Donbass. But it is laying the groundwork to dominate its neighbor for years to come.

Russia is massing thousands of troops on Ukraine’s border. Here’s why we shouldn’t panic

By Mark Galeotti 

Vox

01.09.16

Barring any unexpected political changes, expect the current bloody status quo — not quite war but certainly not peace — to continue for the foreseeable future.

Russia-Uzbekistan relations

Uzbekistan’s Succession Question Is Russia’s Strategic Opportunity

By Dmitriy Nurullayev

The Diplomat

04.09.16

Whoever succeeds Islam Karimov is likely to bring Uzbekistan closer to Russia, at the expense of the U.S.

Russia’s parliamentary elections

Duma election in Russia. Freer this time?

By Anastasia Sergeeva

New Eastern Europe

02.09.16

The last three State Duma assemblies can hardly be characterised as democratic, and it remains to be seen if this election will bring any changes.

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