Foreign Press Review (21.11-27.11)

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Last week witnessed the war of words between NATO and the Kremlin over the information that Russia deployed Bastion anti-ship missiles in Kaliningrad, which borders NATO members Poland and Lithuania. Moreover, on Monday head of the defence committee in Russia’s upper house of parliament Victor Ozerov claimed that Moscow would station Iskander ballistic missiles and S-400 missile-defence systems in its Baltic Sea exclave. NATO accused the Kremlin of “assertive military posturing” (at first many articles cited the word “aggressive” but then some of them, for example the Guardian, made amendments changing it to “assertive”) while the US State Department spokesman John Kirby described the decision as “destabilising to European security”.

Russia rejected Western criticism saying it was just an equivalent response to the alliance’s military buildup near Russia’s borders. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with American filmmaker Oliver Stone that Moscow is “forced to take countermeasures”, including aiming missile systems at the foreign facilities that could pose a threat to Russia. He explained that the Kremlin is concerned by NATO’s decision-making when small countries cannot resist US pressure making them deploy missile systems and host military bases. It is worth noting that some analysts suggested that the interview was filmed before the US presidential elections and the message was supposed to be addressed to Hillary Clinton. However, on Tuesday the Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov implicitly confuted this argument calling NATO “an aggressive bloc” and highlighting that Russia “has the sovereign right to take necessary measures across its whole territory” in the face of the alliance’s expansion.

In practice Moscow’s decision could hardly be qualified as surprising since earlier NATO had announced the biggest military buildup on Russia’s borders since the Cold War, deploying 4000 troops in Poland and the Baltics and  sending jets, artillery and tanks to Eastern Europe. It is important that later last week fourteen European countries led by Germany voiced concern over “the continuing erosion of the rules-based European security order” and called for a relaunch of arms control talks with Russia in order to prevent an arms race in Europe.

Meanwhile, the European Parliament adopted a resolution to counter “Russian propaganda”. 304 voted in favor of the document, 179 voted against and 208 abstained. The resolution says that “hostile propaganda against the EU and its member states seeks to distort the truth, provoke doubt, divide the EU and its North American partners, paralyse the decision-making process, discredit the EU institutions and incite fear and uncertainty among EU citizens”. The most shocking thing is that Russia was mentioned in the same resolution as ISIS, with the Russian media being portrayed at the same level as ISIS beheadings. Many of those who voted against the resolution, as well as independent experts called it an infringement on media freedom, “neo-McCarthyism”, “shame” and “bad day for democracy”. Russia’s reaction was harsh with Putin claiming that the EU tries to “silence alternative opinions” and described the resolution as a “degradation of democracy”. It seems that Europe, which once was considered a bulwark of free press, is no better than the autocrats it had criticized for suppressing journalism.

Russia-US relations

Get Ready for the Most Violent Détente Ever

By Ivan Krastev, Stephen Holmes

Foreign Policy


Trump and Putin want to reset U.S.-Russian relations on the basis of a shared worldview. But that might just increase the chances of a conflict.

Why everyone misunderstands Russia

By Pascal-Emmanuel Gorby

The Week


How should the West deal with Russia? The perennial question has reached a new level of intensity since the election of Donald Trump to the White House .

Cooperation With Russia Is Possible

By Kathryn Stoner

The Atlantic


… but it will depend on what, exactly, Trump is trying to achieve.

Why Vladimir Putin Hates Us

By John R. Schindler



Western inability to grasp what motivates our enemies is nothing new.

Commentary: Putin will pay a high price for Trump’s friendship

By William E. Pomeranz



While the Kremlin clearly is smiling, it also has tried to lower expectations regarding what to expect from a Trump presidency.

Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say

By Craig Timberg

The Washington Post


The flood of “fake news” this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy, say independent researchers who tracked the operation.

How President Trump Could Actually Reduce Danger Of War In Europe For The U.S.

By Loren Thompson 



Here are five likely developments under Trump that would reduce the danger to America of war in Europe.

Information War

The EU Moves to Counter Russian Disinformation Campaign

By Kavitha Surana

Foreign Policy


The links between anti-establishment voices and the Kremlin are far from clear, but many Europeans want the EU to be more aggressive against Russian spin.

French elections

Vladimir Putin Is Winning the French Election

By Leonid Bershidsky



While it’s unclear how well Russian President Vladimir Putin will get along with Donald Trump and his team of Republican hawks, it looks as though he has already won the French presidential election. The front-runner in the primary vote of the French center-right, Francois Fillon, is nearly as enthusiastic a Russophile as Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front, and the center-left hardly stands a chance in next year’s presidential election.

Syrian conflict

Exclusive: Russian tankers defy EU ban to smuggle jet fuel to Syria – sources

By Guy Faulconbridge and Jonathan Saul



Russian tankers have smuggled jet fuel to Syria through EU waters, bolstering military supplies to a war-torn country where Moscow is carrying out air strikes in support of the government, according to sources with knowledge of the matter.

Donald Trump Jr. Held Talks on Syria With Russia Supporters

By Jay Solomon

The Wall Street Journal


Disclosure of the Paris meetings in October could heighten focus on the president-elect’s desire to cooperate with the Kremlin.

US-Russia Clash at Biological Weapons Convention Meeting

By Janet Phelan

Centre for Research on Globalization


Conflict broke out on the floor of the Biological Weapons Convention in Geneva on the third day of the three week long meeting, with the growing division between Russia and her allies on the one hand and the US and hers on the other, evidencing in verbal accusations launched by both sectors.

Russia-Asia relations

Russia’s pivot to Asia

The Economist


Vladimir Putin is leaning east, but his engagement is superficial.

Russia-Japan relations

Abe’s Russian Dream

By J. Berkshire Miller

The American Thinker


Japanese Prime Minister Abe is staking political capital on an accord with Putin, who isn’t particularly interested.

Arctic question

Russia suggests it wants thawed relations with Canada in Arctic

By Mike Blanchfield

The Globe and Mail


A Russian politician who laments the decline of his country’s relations with Canada suggested Thursday that his homeland might be willing to play nice in its long-standing dispute over who controls the North Pole.

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