Foreign Press Review (28.11-04.12)

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Last week Vladimir Putin delivered the Annual Presidential Address to the Russia’s Federal Assembly. The foreign media noted that most of the speech was devoted to domestic issues instead of foreign affairs, with Mr Putin focusing on Russia’s economic development. The President pointed out the optimistic signs in the country’s economy, such as high growth in agriculture and high-tech and record-low inflation rates. Moreover, Vladimir Putin claimed that he had directed “the Government, together with the leading business associations, no later than May 2017, to develop a detailed plan of action through 2025, the implementation of which will make it possible to achieve economic growth rates higher than in the [rest of the] world as early as 2019−2020, and therefore strengthen Russia’s positions in the global economy”.

As for the international arena, Russia’s leader refrained from harsh or sarcastic words against the West and the US in particular. In contrast this address was considered by experts and observers as mostly pacifist and showing the Kremlin’s willingness and readiness to cooperate with the West or, at least, to start a dialogue aimed at alleviating the current tensions. Mr Putin said: “We do not want confrontation with anyone. We have no need for it and neither do our partners or the global community. Unlike some of our colleagues abroad, who consider Russia an adversary, we do not seek and never have sought enemies. We need friends. But we will not allow our interests to be infringed or ignored. We want to and will decide our destiny ourselves and build our present and future without others’ unasked for advice and prompting”. However, in practice his position is quite similar to the words, which Russia’s foreign elites have repeatedly claimed for many years: Russia wants cooperation and friendship, but will never accept ignoring its national interests or meddling in its internal affairs. The most anticipated part (concerning foreign policy) was devoted to the relations with the US in the context of Donald Trump’s election. Mr Putin emphasized that “Russia is also ready to work with the new US Administration. It is important to put bilateral relations back on track and to develop them on an equal and mutually beneficial basis”.

Meanwhile, amid a clear opposition of American political elites headed by the Congress to any rapprochement in Russia-US relations, the media still pays a lot of attention to the alleged Russian propaganda in the US presidential elections. The recent article in the Washington Post became extremely resonant, as many journalists and experts expressed their concern about a growing tendency of dissident voices being immediately labelled as Russian propaganda or fake news. Whereas previously only few observers openly pointed out some tendencies of neo-McCarthyism, now the work of anonymous “research groups”, such as PropOrNot, made journalists ring alarm bells. For example, PropOrNot uses an overly broad definition of “Russian propaganda” as, according to the group, it includes almost every story criticizing “the U.S., Obama, Hillary Clinton, the EU, Angela Merkel, NATO, Ukraine, Jewish people, U.S. allies, the “mainstream media”, and democrats, the center-right or center-left, and moderates of all stripes”. The problem is that those who claim to be fighters against fake news in reality create these fake news themselves witchhunting media outlets, which do not agree with the US government and its policy.

Russia-US relations

Symposium: Advice to President Trump on U.S.-Russia Policy

The National Interest

28.11.16-02.12.16

These stimulating and enlightening essays, written by an impressive array of leading experts, offer a possible roadmap forward for a new U.S. administration.

A Russia reset? Maybe not yet

By Michael Crowley

Politico

28.11.16

As Moscow talks up a possible Putin-Trump meeting, officials in Congress and the Pentagon are ready to block any attempt to appease the Russian president.

If Trump wanted a US-Russia ‘grand bargain,’ what would it look like?

By Fred Weir

The Christian Science Monitor

29.11.16

There is little optimism in Russia that there could be a serious reconciliation between Washington and Moscow, even if Donald Trump is in the White House. But if it happened, this is what Russian analysts say it would have to entail.

Putin didn’t undermine the election. We did

By Katrina vanden Heuvel

The Washington Post

29.11.16

It doesn’t take alleged Russian propaganda operations to reveal that the way we run elections is a disgrace. Leaders of both parties, if they had any concern for the republic, would move expeditiously to reform our election laws.

What Russian President Vladimir Putin hopes to get from a Trump administration

By Laura King

The Los Angeles Times

01.12.16

Perhaps more than at any time since the Cold War, Kremlinologists are working overtime to decode Russia — galvanized, in part, by Donald Trump’s election as the next U.S. president.

Information war

The Propaganda about Russian Propaganda

By Adrian Chen

The New Yorker

01.12.16

The prospect of legitimate dissenting voices being labelled fake news or Russian propaganda by mysterious groups of ex-government employees, with the help of a national newspaper, is even scarier.

The reality behind Russia’s fake news

By Jill Dougherty 

CNN

02.12.16

The 2016 presidential race was rife with disinformation, none more blatant than fake news — hoaxes, half-truths, outright lies — that flashed through the internet at warp speed.

Russia-NATO relations

What Trump Means for Central and Eastern Europe

By Linda Kinstler

The Atlantic

28.11.16

Some nations are excited for the new president-elect. But others question what he means for their security.

Russia-Europe relations

French Election Hints at a European Shift Toward Russia

By Max Fisher

The New York Times

30.11.16

The victory of François Fillon in France’s center-right presidential primary is the latest sign that a tectonic shift is coming to the European order: toward accommodating, rather than countering, a resurgent Russia.

Russia’s Path to Another Resurgence

Stratfor

01.12.16

The turning political tides in Brussels and Washington could give the Kremlin the leeway to increase its influence in the former Soviet Union, leading the countries in Russia’s periphery to re-evaluate their foreign policy positions.

Syrian conflict

A Syria Policy for Trump

By Andrew J. Tabler and Dennis Ross

The Foreign Affairs

28.11.16

How Washington Can Get to a Settlement.

Syrian rebels in secret talks with Moscow to end Aleppo fighting

By Erika Solomon, Mehul Srivastasa and Geoff Dyer  

The Financial Times

01.12.16

Turkey-facilitated negotiations without US show how Washington could become sidelined.

Russia-Ukraine relations

Ukraine, Russia spin their stories as tensions soar

By L. Todd Wood

The Washington Times

01.12.16

As winter approaches, the temperature has gotten exponentially hotter on the Crimean Peninsula and Ukraine’s border with Russia.

Russia’s internal politics

A Subdued Vladimir Putin Calls for ‘Mutually Beneficial’ Ties With U.S.

By Andrew Higgins

The New York Times

01.12.16

After the outpouring of euphoria among Russia’s political elite over the victory of Donald J. Trump, President Vladimir V. Putin on Thursday gave a more measured response in his annual address to the nation, calling for cooperation but expressing misgivings over some of Mr. Trump’s statements about nuclear weapons.

Putin Gets His Self-Confidence Back

By Leonid Bershidsky

Bloomberg

01.12.16

Putin’s annual state of the nation speech on Thursday resembled Karjakin’s chess game: The Russian president was almost preternaturally calm and his message was designed to make the best of a bad situation.

Russia-OPEC oil deal

You Can Thank Putin for OPEC’s Cut

Oil and Gas 360

01.12.16

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s key role in brokering the OPEC agreement.

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