Last week the media was almost totally focused on the US presidential elections and Russia’s role in it. The closer the vote, the more materials on alleged Russia’s meddling are published. Several articles tried to summarize all the speculations about the hacks and Trump’s and his associates’ ties with the Kremlin, but these stories don’t seem to impress the public anymore as a lot of people are likely to consider them as fear-mongering, let alone as simple hoaxes. However, amid polls signalling the tightening of the race and the announcement that the FBI continued to investigate the case with Clintons’ emails, many analysts insist that the appearance of a new “shocking” story about Trump was predictable and such a story appeared in Slate.
It suggests an existence of a server, which belongs to the Trump Organization and is seemingly connected directly to the Russian Alfa Bank. The story immediately was retweeted by Hilary’s camp, quickly became resonant in the western media but then faced strong criticism on the part of experts since it contains only circumstantial evidence and looks like as an attempt to plant an information bomb. The critics drew attention to the fact that the author did not give his own explanation of the situation while the communication could be just a promotional campaign of Trump’s hotels. Moreover, in practice Alfa Bank can hardly be considered close to the Kremlin and the most obvious evidence of it is that Alfa’s business in Ukraine is flourishing whereas other Russian banks, such as Sberbank or VTB, have experienced a lot of difficulties including physical damage to their infrastructure. Besides, what seemed even more shocking for Mrs Clinton is the article published by the New York Times, which tells the readers that the FBI did not find “any conclusive or direct link between Mr. Trump and the Russian government”.
This article clearly marked the final shift of discourse, which had been steadily appearing during the previous weeks. According to it, Russia, whose meddling with the mainstream media is portrayed as a well-established fact even in the absence of evidence, seeks to undermine the whole system of US elections rather than to elect Trump. For example, The Washington Post reported that “U.S. officials said it is more likely that Russia would use hacking tools to expose or fabricate signs of vote-rigging”. A view has already been expressed that the US government, understanding the imperfection and shortcomings of the American electoral system, which in fact does lack transparency, would like to prepare the public opinion in case of claims about rigged elections. For instance, hoping to distract attention from the contents of the leaks, officials disseminate information that it is the Kremlin that feeds WikiLeaks with hacked information. Importantly, WikiLeaks have already mocked these accusations inter alia pointing at the ties of Podesta and Clinton with Moscow as they were “involved in selling 20% of US uranium to Russia”.
While the Russian card is clearly a tool used by the parties during the presidential campaign, its implications could be disastrous for the post-electoral Russia-US relations. For example, later last week NBC reported that “U.S. military hackers have penetrated Russia’s electric grid, telecommunications networks and the Kremlin’s command systems, making them vulnerable to attack by secret American cyber weapons should the U.S. deem it necessary”. The White House has declined to refute this information when asked for comments. The Kremlin said that the country’s systems are well-protected but, as the official representative of Russian MFA noted, if Washington carries out such cyberattacks against Russia, it could be equated to state cyberterrorism.
US presidential elections
By Eric Lichtblau and Steven Lee Myers
The New York Times
Law enforcement officials say that none of the investigations so far have found any conclusive or direct link between Mr. Trump and the Russian government. And even the hacking into Democratic emails, F.B.I. and intelligence officials now believe, was aimed at disrupting the presidential election rather than electing Mr. Trump.
By Leonid Bershidsky
With the polls tightening, and the unexpected announcement that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is still looking into her e-mails, it was perhaps inevitable that Hillary Clinton would strike out at Donald Trump by raising his alleged connection with President Vladimir Putin of Russia. But her latest attack has little basis in fact.
By Timothy B. Lee
Late on Monday afternoon, Slate published a lengthy article by Frank Foer presenting circumstantial evidence that the Trump Organization has a secret online communications link to Alfa Bank, a Russian bank with ties to the Kremlin. Foer never clearly spells out the implications, but he strongly implies there’s something nefarious going on here.
By Patrick Henningsen
21st Century Wire
The longer this soap opera drags on, it’s becoming more and more evident that the Russian government did not ‘hack’ into the DNC, and Moscow is not feeding John Podesta’s emails to Wikileaks. For those who are deeply invested in this now official conspiracy theory, this might be a hard pill to swallow.
By Greg Miller and Adam Entous
The Washington Post
U.S. intelligence agencies do not see Russia as capable of using cyberespionage to alter the outcome of Tuesday’s presidential election, but they have warned that Moscow may continue meddling after the voting has ended to sow doubts about the legitimacy of the result, U.S. officials said.
By Joby Warrick and Karen DeYoung
The Washington Post
In one of her last acts as secretary of state in early 2013, Hillary Clinton wrote a confidential memo to the White House on how to handle Vladimir Putin, the aggressive and newly reinstalled Russian president. Her bluntly worded advice: Snub him.
By Kurt Eichenwald
Inside Vladimir Putin’s complex gambit to weaken NATO.
By: FT Reporters
The Financial Times
Officials say Russia’s interference is unprecedented. Has the Kremlin achieved its goal?
By Mary Dejevsky
Putin may have played a weak hand well, but it’s still a weak hand. Here are a few reasons Andrew Parker might be keen to maintain Russia’s position as bogeyman-in-chief.
By Mike Whitney
Why is Hillary Clinton so eager to intensify US involvement in Syria when US interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya have all gone so terribly wrong? The answer to this question is simple. It’s because Clinton doesn’t think that these interventions went wrong.
By Maria Tsvetkova and Anton Zverev
The start of this year proved deadly for one unit of about 100 Russian fighters supporting President Bashar al-Assad’s troops in northern Syria.
By Fred Weir
The Christian Science Monitor
While Russian and Syrian forces are set for a major offensive on Aleppo after the end of today’s cease-fire, the potential military success is overshadowed by the Kremlin’s inability to return to superpower-style dealing with the US.
By Charles Clover
The Financial Times
Moscow has quietly resumed sales of advanced arms technology to Beijing in a move that signals geopolitics and economics are trumping concerns about Chinese cloning of Russian weapons.
By Daniel W. Drezner
The Washington Post
I was in Sochi all last week with a healthy fraction of the Russian foreign policy elite. Here’s what I learned.
By Neil Buckley
The Financial Times
Putin bravado does not extend to modernisation of the economy.
The articles also deserving your attention
- Trump’s Server, Revisited (02.11.16)
- How Russia is trying to rig the US election (04.11.16)
- The CIA once sponsored coups with guerillas and tanks, now Putin can do it with the click of a mouse (01.11.16)
- Russia may be wounded, but it can still bite (03.11.16)
- The shadowy Russian émigré touting Trump (01.11.16)
- NATO’s ‘Northern Flank’ Vulnerable to Russia (03.11.16)
- Could World War III start here? (05.11.16)
- Russia Is Not as Much of a Threat as Depicted in the Media, But Does Need a Slap in the Face (01.11.16)
- China and Russia: Gaming the West (02.11.16)
- Russia’s Road To Economic Ruin (02.11.16)
- Putin can’t seem to find a ‘national idea’ for Russians, so he’s proposing a law to do it (05.11.16)
- A New Vladimir Overlooking Moscow (04.11.16)