Foreign Press Review (26.12.16-08.01.17)

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During the last two weeks Russia-US relations were in the limelight. First of all, the Obama administration announced “punitive measures“ against Russia in retaliation for alleged “interference in the presidential elections”. The US President ordered the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats and other officials (suspected Russian intelligence operatives) from the United States and imposed sanctions on Russia’s intelligence services, including individual sanctions on four top officers of the G.R.U. (military intelligence unit), and private companies, which were accused of being involved in the election hacks, and closed a pair of Russian-owned properties. It is worth noting that experts said the report “Grizzly Steppe”, published as a part of the White House’s response, provided no supporting evidence. While observers discussed possible retaliation from Russia, Vladimir Putin decided not to resort to reciprocal punishment and said that he would wait for development of Russia-US relations under the new administration. President-elect Donald Trump highly praised this decision and wrote in his twitter account “Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!”. Analysts also claimed that the Putin’s move was very rational as he outplayed Obama avoiding the trap and clearing the way for starting a new constructive stage in Russia-US relations after January 20.

Additionally, on January 6 the office of the director of national intelligence released an unclassified version of its report for the US President on the Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential elections. The report includes only the conclusions and yet again does not provide the public with evidence or methodology as, according to the intelligence community, otherwise it could “reveal sensitive sources or methods and imperil the ability to collect critical foreign intelligence in the future”. American intelligence officials have concluded that Vladimir Putin personally “ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency”. “Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump”. It is quite interesting that the report includes a note that CIA and FBI have “high confidence in this judgement” while NSA has “moderate confidence”. Despite high expectations, the report has not become a sensation because it fails to provide the smoking gun and seems just a new blockbuster story. After the meeting with the intelligence officials Donald Trump said that “there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election” and refused to name Russia as a perpetrator of the election hacks.

Meanwhile, the New Year holidays witnessed a new scandal with the Washington Post. The newspaper was caught spreading false news about “Russian threat”. The development of the story was extensively described in Forbes while the whole situation casted a shadow on the mainstream press raising new questions about journalism standards and credibility of the media.

Russia-US relations

Obama Options on Russian Hacks Range from Covert to Military

By Nafeesa Syeed



Menu includes deleting bitcoin accounts and hacking companies.

Obama Strikes Back at Russia for Election Hacking

By David E. Sanger

The New York Times


President Obama struck back at Russia on Thursday for its efforts to influence the 2016 election, ejecting 35 suspected Russian intelligence operatives from the United States and imposing sanctions on Russia’s two leading intelligence services.

How Russia Recruited Elite Hackers for Its Cyberwar

By Andrew E. Kramer

The New York Times


Aleksandr B. Vyarya thought his job was to defend people from cyberattacks — until, he says, his government approached him with a request to do the opposite.

Spiteful Obama Lashes Out at Netanyahu and Putin (and Trump) But Hits America Too

Dimitri K. Simes, Paul J. Saunders

The National Interest


Mr. Obama’s efforts seem directed more at his successor than at any serious U.S. foreign policy objective.

WashPost Is Richly Rewarded for False News About Russia Threat While Public Is Deceived

By Glenn Greenwald

The Intercept


In the past six weeks, the Washington Post published two blockbuster stories about the Russian threat that went viral: one on how Russia is behind a massive explosion of “fake news,” the other on how it invaded the U.S. electric grid. Both articles were fundamentally false.

We know what Russia did. But what we really need to understand is why

By Fareed Zakaria

The Washington Post


I’m glad that Donald Trump will finally get a briefing on the unanimous conclusion of America’s intelligence agencies that the Russian government was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman. But he should also request and receive a political briefing on Russia that can shed light on the backdrop to Russia’s actions. We need to understand why Russia behaved the way it has.

U.S. intercepts capture senior Russian officials celebrating Trump win

By Adam Entous and Greg Miller

The Washington Post


U.S. intelligence agencies intercepted electronic communications, known as “signals intelligence,” in which top Russian officials celebrated the outcome of the U.S. election.

What Intelligence Agencies Concluded About the Russian Attack on the U.S. Election

By Scott Shane

The New York Times


The office of the director of national intelligence on Friday released a long-awaited unclassified version of its report for President Obama on what the intelligence agencies said was a multifaceted attempt to influence the 2016 presidential election. The report included only the agencies’ conclusions, not the actual intelligence or technical information on which they were based.

Trump calls Russia hacking furor a ‘political witch hunt’

By Louis Nelson



‘There was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election,’ the president-elect declares after his meeting with U.S. intelligence officials.

Russia’s foreign policy

Putin won 2016, but Russia has its limits as a superpower​

By David Filipov

The Washington Post


In a New Year’s address that came off like a victory lap, Russian President Vladimir Putin thanked his country Saturday in the wake of a wildly successful 2016 that saw the Kremlin leader shore up Russia’s standing abroad and acquire a host of powerful geopolitical friends.

Putin’s Real Long Game

By Molly K. Mckew


The world order we know is already over, and Russia is moving fast to grab the advantage. Can Trump figure out the new war in time to win it?

Russia-NATO relations

Sky Views: Will Russia and NATO clash in 2017?

By Alistair Bunkall

Sky News

As 2017 rounds the corner, I’ve picked out four areas to watch closely.

Syrian conflict

Why Russia-brokered Syrian ceasefire has chance of succeeding

By Patrick Wintour 

The Guardian


Nothing is ever certain, but in the case of Syria peace drive Moscow is at centre of decision making while US is out in the cold.

Russia Looks for an Exit in Syria

The Stratfor


Despite the shared cause of supporting Damascus, Moscow and Tehran will continue to differ in their commitment to the conflict.

Russia-Ukraine relations

Ukraine Must Make Painful Compromises for Peace With Russia

By Victor Pinchuk

The Wall Street Journal


Crimea should not get in the way of a deal that ends the war. The lives that will be saved are worth it.

Internal policy

Trump, Putin, Xi and the rise of nostalgic nationalism

By Gideon Rachman

The Financial Times


Beware of leaders’ pledges to build a future inspired by past glories.

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