Foreign Press Review (19.12-25.12)

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Last week the Russian ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov was shot dead at the opening of an art exhibition in Ankara. The killer was a Turkish police officer, who shouted after firing “Don’t forget Aleppo. Don’t forget Syria”. Some experts initially expressed concern that the assassination could result in a new standoff in Russia-Turkey relations similar to the consequences of shooting down a Russian fighter jet in 2015 while others even compared it to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914, which led to World War I. However, almost immediately the leadership of both countries emphasized that they consider Karlov’s murder as a “provocation” aimed at undermining rapprochement between Moscow and Ankara. Moreover, officials put clearly that they are committed to fighting terrorism and cooperation on Syria including current evacuation process in Aleppo. The countries did not delay with the demonstration of it as on Tuesday Russia, Turkey and Iran released a declaration that stresses states’ plans to draft an agreement between the Syrian government and the opposition and to be its guarantors.

The western media predictably discussed how Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan could use the killing for political gain. Nevertheless, while these debates, although seemed inappropriate at that tragic moment, were mostly carried out in restrained language, one particular article was so disgusting that got criticism at the highest level. Gersh Kuntzman in his article in the New York Daily News wrote that he is “shedding no tears for Andrei Karlov”, compared the situation with the assassination of a Nazi diplomat Ernst vom Rath in 1938 and claimed that Karlovs’s “killer was also a soldier — not a terrorist” as he murdered another “soldier”, the Russian ambassador. Moscow condemned the article and demanded apologies, but the author went further and presented another article, where blaming Russia he operates with many unproved speculations and which he ended by the phrase “So make up your mind, America — are you with the self-styled freedom fighter or Russia?”. Given, according to the media, terrorists already claimed responsibility for the assassination, does Gersh Kuntzman justify terrorism? The rational people have repeatedly stressed that terrorists should not be classified into “good” and “bad” with Moscow clearly remembering the times when the term “freedom fighters” was applied by western journalists to terrorists operating within the territory of Russia. We should not go back to that period as history proved that terrorism can be combated only though joint efforts of all nations.

As for Russia-US relations, after the Electoral College’s vote the Clintons’ camp and the mainstream media once again tried to accuse Russia of hacking the elections and helping Trump win. However, last week they got a strong response as many voices pointed to the fact that the Democrats just tried to find an excuse for their defeat while the mainstream press has proved it totally incredible due to its biased news coverage during this election campaign. Moreover, they demanded conclusive evidence that Russia is involved into the hacking, otherwise it looks like a simple whipping up of the passions, which seems to be more dangerous for the democratic principles of the US than “foreign ghosts”. The topic was also touched on by Russian President Vladimir Putin during his annual press-conference. Taking into consideration the above, it is worth noting that in Trump administration’s top “defense priorities” Russia was not mentioned, which gives hope for resolving the crisis in Russia-US relations.

Russia-Turkey relations

Why killing of Russian diplomat may well bring Turkey and Russia closer

By Julian Borger 

The Guardian


Putin and Erdoğan are likely to find common ground in their desire to blame third parties for death of Andrei Karlov.

Five Things to Worry About After the Assassination of Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey

By Robbie Gramer, Emily Tamkin

Foreign Policy


Given tense relations between Ankara and Moscow over the past year, centuries of historical rivalry and animosity, and colliding foreign policies in the carnage of the Syrian civil war, there are a few potential escalatory scenarios to keep in mind.

Syrian conflict

What Tillerson’s Relationship With Russia Could Mean for Syria

By Yanni Kotsonis



Tillerson is likely to privilege American business interests over any exercise of power that is not tethered to economic gain.

It’s Time For Russia To Broker A Deal Between Assad And The Rebels

By Vladimir Frolov

The Huffington Post


If Moscow doesn’t end the war now, it risks mission creep and bloodshed that is even worse than in Aleppo.

Russia-US relations

What Obama Said to Putin on the Red Phone About the Election Hack

By William M. Arkin, Ken Dilanian and Cynthia Mcfadden

NBC News


Obama used ‘red phone’ to warn Russia not to meddle in US election.

Russia-Hack Story, Another Media Failure

By Joe Lauria


The mainstream U.S. media’s gullible acceptance of unproven CIA claims about Russian interference in the U.S. elections is another reason to doubt the media and fear for the future of American democracy.

Former NSA Analyst Debunks Three Myths About Russian Hacking

By John R. Schindler 



Only we—not Putin—can truly undermine our republic.

Russia Missing from Trump’s Top Defense Priorities, According to DoD Memo

By John Hudson, Paul Mcleary, Dan De Luce

Foreign Policy


Meanwhile, Pentagon brass say Moscow is the No. 1 threat to the United States.

Don’t Be Putin’s Useful Idiot

By Leon Aron



In Donald Trump, the Kremlin sees not a fellow dealmaker, but an easy mark. Trump shouldn’t be fooled.

Why I Still Don’t Buy the Russian Hacking Story

By Leonid Bershidsky



I’m willing to believe that Russia sought to hack the U.S. election, but I still find the evidence lacking.

Russia State Television: Don’t Blame Us For Trump

By Margarita Simonyan



Why did Hillary Clinton decide to run against Russia? And why is establishment media so set on continuing to build up the supposed Russian threat?

Trump can lift some Russia sanctions. But it won’t be easy 

By Zeeshan Aleem



If he wants to give Putin a helping hand, there will be some obstacles.

Russia-NATO relations

Heavy Metal Diplomacy: Russia’s Political Use of its Military in Europe since 2014

By Mark Galeotti 

European Council on Foreign Relations


Since 2014, Russia has mounted an extensive, aggressive, and multi-platform attempt to use its military and the threat of force as instruments of coercive diplomacy, intended to divide, distract, and deter Europe from challenging Russia’s activities in its immediate neighbourhood.

Russia internal politics

Buoyant Putin still needs Washington to cut a deal on sanctions

By Neil Buckley

The Financial Times


Russian president can look back on a successful year but domestic issues are pressing.

Putin press conference: don’t blame me for Democrats’ election loss – as it happened

By Luke Harding

The Guardian


The Russian president has given his annual presser with Russian and international journalists in Moscow.

Articles also deserving your attention

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  1. Turkey, Russia and an Assassination: The Swirling Crises, Explained (19.12.16)
  1. Will Putin Use His Ambassador’s Assassination to Gain a Political Edge? (21.12.16)
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  1. Russia, Iran and Turkey Meet for Syria Talks, Excluding U.S. (20.12.16)
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