Foreign Press Review (06.02-12.02)

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Last week witnessed another information battle in the US media as Fox News host Bill O’Reilly called Russian President Vladimir Putin “a killer” during an interview with US President Donald Trump, but Trump said in response that “there are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What, you think our country’s so innocent?” reminding the interviewer about the US invasion of Iraq. This statement provoked a burning debate in the US with some hawks accusing Trump of betrayal of his voters and describing his words as “anti-American”. The American belief in the US infallibility is well-known but this time the whole situation seems like another attempt to attack Trump and once again to try to play the card about his alleged ties with Moscow. The basic idea of criticism of Trump’s statement was that it is unacceptable to equate America to Russia’s “authoritarian regime”. Moreover, some Trump’s opponents tried to persuade the public that killings made by US officials are just “innocent mistakes” while Putin is “a bloody dictator”. The argument resembles a well-known, now almost aphoristic statement about Nicaragua’s President Anastacia Samoza since some American officials and journalists managed to separate “our killings”, which are at least justifiable, according to them, from other killings.

However, the situation should not be limited to a discussion of possible “moral equivalence” between America and Russia. The US mainstream media highly discredited itself during this US presidential campaign as many outlets had been caught publishing fake news and practicing witch-hunting. Now the media continues to reach new lows closing eyes to journalism standards since a host of a famous TV-channel can announce absolutely unsubstantiated and evidence-free accusations against a leader of another country and instead of offering an apology make further sarcastic statements. Some analysts even supposed that it could be an intended information attack against Vladimir Putin because given his long record in journalism Bill O’Reilly clearly understood the consequences of his provocative claims. The Kremlin, which called the statement “unacceptable and insulting” rationally decided not to make a big deal of the case pointing at a “different understanding of good manners and etiquette” than that of the Fox News correspondent.

Meanwhile, arms control could become one of the key questions in the relations between Putin and Trump. During his first official call with the Russian President the US leader reportedly called New START treaty, which limits nuclear weapons deployment, a bad deal for the US when Putin raised a question of extending it beyond 2021. American analysts and some officials already expressed their concern about Trump’s stance as New START is considered to be a key element of nuclear arms control and mostly viewed as mutually beneficial. Given Trump’s controversial statements on the topic in the past the situation, according to Russian experts, could unnerve the Kremlin and is likely to be on the agenda during the first meeting between the two leaders. The meeting can be held in Slovenia (native country of Melania Trump and the place of the first meeting between Vladimir Putin and former US President George W. Bush in 2001), which last week the Russian President characterized as an “excellent” venue for possible talks.       

Russia-US relations

We can’t let Trump go down Putin’s path

By Michael McFaul

The Washington Post

06.02.17

For reasons still mysterious to me, U.S. President Donald Trump continues to praise and defend Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Praise for Putin, but Trump’s Russia policy a work in progress

By Nicole Gaouette

CNN

07.02.17

The Kremlin is casting a shadow over Donald Trump’s White House. Trump’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin was once again in the headlines as the President drew sharp criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike by equating Putin’s government with the US’s.

Castigating Trump for Truth-Telling

By Robert Parry

Consortiumnews.com

07.02.17

President Trump says much that is untrue, but he draws some of Official Washington’s greatest opprobrium when he speaks the truth, such as noting that senior U.S. officials have done a lot of killing.

I ran Clinton’s campaign, and I fear Russia is meddling with more than elections

By Robby Mook

The Guardian

07.02.17

Vladimir Putin wants to extend his influence beyond the ballot box and into the very fabric of our public life. We must take action before it’s too late.

The Media’s Self-Defeating Outrage over Trump and Russia

By Daniel McCarthy

The National Interest

08.02.17

A comparison is not the same thing as an equivalence.

National security adviser Flynn discussed sanctions with Russian ambassador, despite denials, officials say

By Greg Miller, Adam Entous and Ellen Nakashima

The Washington Post

09.02.17

National security adviser Michael Flynn privately discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States during the month before President Trump took office, contrary to public assertions by Trump officials, current and former U.S. officials said.

Donald Trump seeks a grand bargain with Vladimir Putin

The Economist

11.02.17

Can he succeed, or will he be the third American president in a row to be outfoxed by Mr Putin?

Arms control

Exclusive: In call with Putin, Trump denounced Obama-era nuclear arms treaty – sources

By Jonathan Landay and David Rohde 

Reuters

08.02.17

In his first call as president with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump denounced a treaty that caps U.S. and Russian deployment of nuclear warheads as a bad deal for the United States, according to two U.S. officials and one former U.S. official with knowledge of the call.

Russia-NATO relations

Flynn to recommend Trump back NATO membership for Montenegro

By Andrew Hanna

Politico

06.02.17

The move will be a major test of the new administration’s policy toward Moscow, which considers any further eastward expansion of the Western military alliance a provocation.

Russia’s Art of War 

By Michael Cecire

Foreign Affairs

07.02.17

“War is the continuation of politics by other means,” observed the Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz in his classic treatise On War. Although the aphorism has become axiomatic almost to the point of cliché, it is an especially apt prism for understanding Russia’s increasingly adventurous foreign policy.

Russia and the Middle East

Trump, Putin & Khamenei; Countdown to Confrontation?

By Amb. Marc Ginsberg 

The Huffington Post

06.02.17

Weakening Russia’s alliance with Iran would constitute an early, major diplomatic achievement for the Trump team.

How Russia Became the Middle East’s New Power Broker

By Owen Matthews , Jack Moore , Damien Sharkov

Newsweek

09.02.17

After three decades on the sidelines, Russia is once again a major player in the region.

Syrian conflict

The Strategic Suicide of Aligning With Russia in Syria

By Hal Brands, Colin Kahl

Foreign Policy

07.02.17

Cutting a bargain with Moscow to cooperate in the fight against the Islamic State would be a disaster for U.S. security and influence.

Ukranian conflict

Ukraine Revisited

By Stephen F. Cohen

The Nation

09.02.17

Even if Trump and Putin adopt a wise joint policy toward Ukraine, neither leader has much political capital to spare at home.

Hackers and FSB arrests

Making Sense of Russia’s Cyber Treason Scandal

The Stratfor

09.02.17

The guarded nature of Russian organs of state means that the story playing out in the public eye is indicative of more dangerous struggles taking place deep inside the Kremlin.

Russia’s internal politics

Russia opposition leader Navalny says Kremlin sabotaging his presidential bid

By Alexander Reshetnikov and Maria Tsvetkova 

Reuters

09.02.17

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny accused the Kremlin of trying to block him from running in next year’s presidential election after a court on Wednesday found him guilty of embezzlement.

Articles also deserving your attention

  1. Moscow Readies a New, Hard-Line Ambassador for Washington (08.02.17)
  1. Moral Supremacy and Mr. Putin (07.02.17)
  1. How Fair Is It to Call Putin a Killer? (07.02.17)
  1. Senators propose bill to give Congress veto power over Russia sanctions (08.02.17)
  1. US investigators corroborate some aspects of the Russia dossier (10.02.17)
  1. Joe Scarborough: Trump’s dangerous lie about Russia (07.02.17)
  1. Dealing With a Revanchist Russia (08.02.17)
  1. Republican senators urge Trump to get tough on Russia (09.02.17)
  1. S., Europe in Agreement on Russia Sanctions, EU Official Says (10.02.17)
  1. Donald Trump Gives Russia Hope—Sort Of
  1. NATO allies lock in U.S. support for stand-off with Russia (09.02.17)
  1. As Putin Looms And Trump Withdraws, Estonia Is Training Civilians To Fight (09.02.17)
  1. Trump writes to China’s Xi, but Putin may meet him first (09.02.17)
  1. Why Russia Won’t Help Trump On Iran (10.02.17)
  1. Russia and Iran: Split over Syria? (08.02.17)
  1. Russia sends Syria its largest missile delivery to date, US officials say (08.02.17)
  1. Kremlin says Turkey provided intel for “friendly fire” strikes (10.02.17)
  1. Libya: Why the EU is looking to Russia (10.02.17)
  1. Marine Le Pen backs Vladimir Putin and denies invasion of Crimea (07.02.17)
  1. As Trump Weighs Thaw With Putin, EU Set to Renew Its Blacklist (06.02.17)
  1. Russia’s Not-So-Hot Euro-Election Subversion Strategy Is Failing in France (07.02.17)
  1. How Russia Became the Leader of the Global Christian Right (09.02.17)
  1. A European’s appeal: Don’t surrender to Russia on Ukraine sanctions (07.02.17)
  1. Russia’s gradual swallowing of Ukraine (08.02.17)
  1. Kiev Is Fueling the War in Eastern Ukraine, Too (06.02.17)
  1. Can Putin Disentangle Himself From Ukraine? (08.02.17)
  1. Russia suspected over hacking attack on Italian foreign ministry (10.02.17)
  1. Putin approves legal change that decriminalises some domestic violence (07.02.17)
  1. The “Darth Vader” of Russia: meet Igor Sechin, Putin’s right-hand man (08.02.17)
  1. Russia’s Bad Equilibrium (07.02.17)
  1. Cyber expert’s arrest silences Russian contacts of some Western crime fighters (08.02.17)
  1. Russian hacking group’s ‘last member at liberty’ comes out of the shadows (09.02.17)
  1. Vladimir Putin’s Deadly War Against Dissent (09.02.17)
  1. A Stubborn Putin Foe Refuses to Be Silenced (08.02.17)
  1. What Exactly Is Going on Between Russia and Belarus? (06.02.17)

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