Foreign Press Review (31.10-06.11)

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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

Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Russia

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.

Clinton Plugs Another Weak Story About Trump’s Ties to Putin

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.

That explosive story about Trump’s secret server for talking to Russia doesn’t add up

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.

Hillary’s ‘Russian Hack’ Hoax: The Biggest Lie of This Election Season

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.

U.S. officials warn of Russian mischief in election and beyond

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.

From ‘reset’ to ‘pause’: The real story behind Hillary Clinton’s feud with Vladimir Putin

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.

Why Vladimir Putin’s Russia Is Backing Donald Trump

By Kurt Eichenwald



Inside Vladimir Putin’s complex gambit to weaken NATO.

US election: The Russia factor

By: FT Reporters

The Financial Times

Officials say Russia’s interference is unprecedented. Has the Kremlin achieved its goal?

Russia-Britain relations

Why is MI5 making such a fuss about Russia?

By Mary Dejevsky

The Guardian


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.

Syrian conflict

How Putin Derailed the West

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.

Ghost soldiers: the Russians secretly dying for the Kremlin in Syria

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.

Despite military successes, Russia’s main goal in Syria remains elusive

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.

Russia-China relations

Russia resumes advanced weapons sales to China

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.

Valdai club

Five things I learned about Russia last week

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.

Russia’s renewed might rests on weak economic foundations

By Neil Buckley

The Financial Times


Putin bravado does not extend to modernisation of the economy.

The articles also deserving your attention

  1. Here’s The Problem With The Story Connecting Russia To Donald Trump’s Email Server (01.11.16)
  1. Trump’s Server, Revisited (02.11.16)
  1. How Russia is trying to rig the US election (04.11.16)
  1. Former CIA chief: Trump is Russia’s useful fool (03.11.16)
  1. The CIA once sponsored coups with guerillas and tanks, now Putin can do it with the click of a mouse (01.11.16)
  1. Russia may be wounded, but it can still bite (03.11.16)
  1. Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin’s Troublemakers (04.11.16)
  1. The shadowy Russian émigré touting Trump (01.11.16)
  1. NATO’s ‘Northern Flank’ Vulnerable to Russia (03.11.16)
  1. Ominous news for Aleppo as Russian frigate reaches Syrian coast (04.11.16)
  1. The Guardian view on Russia: neither a partner nor an enemy (01.11.16)
  1. Could World War III start here? (05.11.16)
  1. Bulgaria warns of Russian attempts to divide Europe (04.11.16)
  1. Russia Is Not as Much of a Threat as Depicted in the Media, But Does Need a Slap in the Face (01.11.16)
  1. Commentary: How Putin is losing his grip on Russia’s pipeline politics (04.11.16)
  1. If the west is weak, Putin’s Russia is a much greater threat (02.11.16)
  1. China and Russia: Gaming the West (02.11.16)
  1. Russia-China Bonhomie: India Has No Reason To Worry – Analysis (03.11.16)
  1. Jailed Russian Activist Alleges Torture, Threats In Prison Letter (01.11.16)
  1. Russia’s Road To Economic Ruin (02.11.16)
  1. Putin can’t seem to find a ‘national idea’ for Russians, so he’s proposing a law to do it (05.11.16)
  1. A New Vladimir Overlooking Moscow (04.11.16)
  1. Liberal Russian Journalist Warns No ‘Thaw’ Looming After Kremlin Reshuffle (04.11.16)
  1. Inside The Ukrainian ‘Hacktivist’ Network Cyberbattling The Kremlin (02.11.16)
  1. These Soldiers On Ukraine’s Front Lines Are Starting To Doubt The War’s Value (02.11.16)

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