Last week was dominated by discussions about a potential conflict between Russia and NATO. A whole range of experts described the current level of Russia-West relations as a “new Cold War”. Despite ongoing debates whether the term corresponds to the reality in general, analysts noted its practical relevance for the military sphere and expressed their concern with NATO and Russia’s military build-ups. For instance, on Wednesday following a defense ministers meeting in Brussels it was reported that Britain would send fighter jets to Romania next year, the US would send troops, tanks and artillery to Poland while Germany, Canada and other NATO countries also pledged forces to Eastern Europe. It was characterized as NATO’s biggest military build-up on Russia’s borders since the Cold War with these deployments being aimed at Russia’s deterrence. Meanwhile, Lithuania went even further and on Friday published a manual for its citizens in case of Russia’s invasion. Amid the President Putin’s speech at the session of the Valdai discussion club, when he clearly explained that Russia did not intend to attack any state (Mr Putin said that such speculations are unrealistic and ridiculous at least because Russia’s population is 146 million people while NATO countries comprise 600 million), such Lithuanian manuals seem to be simple fear-mongering among its citizens.
Moreover, during the third presidential debate Hilary Clinton said: “I’m going to continue to push for a no-fly zone and safe havens within Syria not only to help protect the Syrians and prevent the constant outflow of refugees, but to, frankly, gain some leverage on both the Syrian government and the Russians so that perhaps we can have the kind of serious negotiation necessary to bring the conflict to an end and go forward on a political track”. These words provoked Donald Trump’s reaction and on Tuesday the Republican nominee claimed that Hillary Clinton’s plan would “lead to world war three” noting that defeating ISIS should be a higher priority than forcing Assad to step down. Some experts, including retired senior US military pilots, and officials, for example, Director of US National Intelligence James Clapper, expressed similar concerns because, from their point of view, no-fly and safe zones in Syria could result in direct military confrontation with Russia, which had recently deployed S-400 and S-300 missile systems to Western Syria. Moreover, analysts doubt how safe zones are able to bring political settlement to Syria and remind of absence of positive examples when no-fly zones ensured real peace and stability. This debate should be considered even more attentively given that last week witnessed reports of an incident in the Syrian sky when Russian and US aircraft had flown dangerously close to each other. Meanwhile, amid Russia’s pledge to continue a humanitarian pause and refrain from air strikes in Aleppo the West accused Moscow of involvement in attacking a school in the Syrian province of Idlib. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called these accusations a “hoax story” citing Russia’s Defense Ministry, which had already released drone’s photos refuting the accusations.
In addition, last week another resonant event was an alleged hack of the account of senior Kremlin official Vladislav Surkov’s office. A group of Ukrainian hackers released thousands of letters, which, according to the hackers, reveal ties between Moscow and the “separatist” republics in Eastern Ukraine. The authenticity of the documents is still assessed because whereas some messages were confirmed real, others appeared to be fabricated. It is worth noting that many observers supposed that the hack was a pledged US payback for the alleged Russia’s meddling into the American election process.
By Matthew Rojansky and Kathryn Stoner
The New York Times
Russia is enabling the slaughter in Syria, occupies part of Ukraine and threatens action in the Baltic region. But would it still make sense for the United States to try to deal more closely with Russia?
By Nick Wadhams
The U.S. put sanctions on Russia’s main arms exporter, Kremlin aides and the black leather-loving head of a motorcycle gang nicknamed “The Surgeon” after the 2014 invasion of Ukraine. Now, as Washington seeks ways to punish Moscow for its actions in Syria, it may be running out of options.
By Mark Galeotti
The Russian president has sown confusion and conflict around the world the past two years. But his short-sighted meddling isn’t the work of a mastermind.
By Philip Stephens
The Financial Times
Tough management of relations should not preclude recognition of mutual interests.
By Michael Khodarkovsky, a professor of history at Loyola University
The New York Times
And someone should remind Mr. Putin that one reason the Soviet Union collapsed was an arms race that it couldn’t afford.
By Ryan Browne
With US and Russia engaged what some call a new Cold War, some 900 US troops are about to find themselves on its most dangerous front.
By Christopher A. Hartwell , Andreas Umland
Putin can’t afford to cut pensions, salaries and social subsidies to continue financing his hybrid wars.
By Spencer Ackerman
Many in US national security circles consider the risk of an aerial confrontation with the Russians to be severe.
By John R. Schindler
It’s time to accept the painful reality of Syria’s fratricide.
By Samuel Ramani
The Huffington Post
Predictions of imminent Russian territorial expansion are premised on a misinterpretation of Russian foreign policy conduct.
By Leonid Bershidsky
The story of their most recent hack contains valuable lessons for U.S. politicians, particularly Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.
By Marc Champion
The new Cold War is starting to look a lot like the old one, and Russian and U.S. foreign-policy experts at an annual gathering with Kremlin officials this week appear out of ideas on how to even start defusing it.
By Sheena McKenzie
President Putin gives a speech during a meeting of political scientists in Sochi on Thursday.
By John Lloyd
Russia has found a lever to raise its power to global levels. It has not also found a role that will help the world survive.
By Nabarun Roy
The National Interest
The two countries still share values, as well as interests.
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