Foreign Press Review (13.02-19.02)

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Last week the most resonant event was a resignation of US National Security Advisor Michael Flynn in the wake of information, collected by intelligence services, that he had discussed possible lifting of sanctions with Russia’s Ambassador Sergey Kislyak prior to Trump taking office and had provided “incomplete information” about these contacts. Some even claimed that he supposedly violated the Logan Act, which prevents private citizens from interfering in diplomatic issues and discussing them on behalf of the state. However, some experts drew attention to the fact that the case was not unprecedented and could be a part of an attack on Trump as some presidential candidates and presidents-elects had had contacts with foreign states regarding international issues many times. Among the mentioned cases were Nixon and Vietnam, Reagan and Iran and even former US Ambassador to Russia McFaul who had visited Moscow before Obama’s election.

Moreover, on Tuesday some members of Trump’s presidential campaign and his associates were accused of having repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials. This information was provided to the media by four former and current American officials on the condition of anonymity. They did not present any evidence but cited intercepted phone calls. During his news conference US President Donald Trump defended Flynn saying that he “was doing his job. He was calling countries and his counterparts”. Trump once again repeated that he “owns nothing in Russia”, “has no loans in Russia” and “doesn’t have any deals in Russia”.

Furthermore, Trump continued his war against “biased” media outlets calling them “enemies of state” and pointed at the fact that while “the news is fake”, “the leaks are absolutely real” as journalists had been given classified information illegally. Besides, Donald Trump blamed the media for impeding possible progress in building a better relationship with Russia. While some analysts think that the whole situation isn’t likely to lead to a shift in Trump’s Russia policy, others warn that relations with Moscow could fall victim of US internal political games and controversy.

The military sphere was also in the limelight last week since, according to the media, Washington accused Moscow of deploying a new cruise missile and violating the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. Russia characterized these accusations as unsubstantiated. It is worth noting that previously Russian official claimed that NATO anti-missile defense deployment in Romania violated the INF treaty. Meanwhile, US defence secretary James Mattis called for negotiating with Russia “from a position of strength” and said that US is “not in a position right now to collaborate on the military level”. Russia’s defence minister Sergey Shoigu responded that such stance has not prospects but underlined that Moscow is ready to restore cooperation with Pentagon. Some analysts suggest that the Munich Security Conference can give some answers concerning future developments in the sphere.

Russia-US relations

Putin Has Lessons for Trump in the Art of ‘Great Powerness’

By Marc Champion

Bloomberg

13.02.17

Kremlin has a long history of promulgating ‘altered facts’.

Justice Department warned White House that Flynn could be vulnerable to Russian blackmail, officials say

By Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima and Philip Rucker

The Washington Post

13.02.17

President Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn resigned Feb. 13 after revelations that he had discussed sanctions on Russia with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. prior to Trump taking office.

Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence

By Michael S. Schmidt, Mark Mazzetti AND Matt Apuzzo

The New York Times

14.02.17

Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.

Putin Is Getting All He Ever Wanted From Trump

By Leonid Bershidsky

Bloomberg

14.02.17

For the first time since he came to power, Putin appears free to play his geopolitical game.

Why Trump Is Right on Russia

By Anatol Lieven

The New York Times

14.02.17

There are many good reasons for the United States to reach conciliation with Moscow on issues from Eastern Europe to the Middle East. The real question will be if Washington can control its own desire for global hegemony enough to make that possible.

Putin needs the US as much as Trump does Russia

By Mary Dejevsky

The Guardian

16.02.17

Rex Tillerson’s meeting with Sergei Lavrov is an overture in a relationship that is more essential to Moscow than Trump’s critics have recognised.

Russia-NATO relations

Russia Deploys Missile, Violating Treaty and Challenging Trump

By Michael R. Gordon

The New York Times

14.02.17

Russia has secretly deployed a new cruise missile that American officials say violates a landmark arms control treaty, posing a major test for President Trump as his administration is facing a crisis over its ties to Moscow.

Winning The Russian Game

By Scott Carlson

Geopolitical Monitor

15.02.17

Viewing European politics as a chess game, Mr. Putin is certainly aligning the board to his advantage.

Russia’s foreign policy

Moscow resets expectations as disorder reigns in Washington

By Kathrin Hille

The Financial Times

16.02.17

The west looks fragile but Vladimir Putin’s Russia may be unable to step up to a leading global role.

Ukraine crisis

A Documentary You’ll Likely Never See

By James DiEugenio

Consortiumnews.com

13.02.17

Ukraine on Fire, a new documentary about the Ukraine crisis, might change how people in the West perceive the conflict, but it’s unlikely to get much distribution since it contests the prevailing narrative.

Syrian conflict

U.S.’ Tillerson calms allies on Syria ahead of Geneva talks

By John Irish and Sabine Siebold

Reuters

17.02.17

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, trying to reassure allies that Washington was not tilting towards Moscow over the Syrian conflict, told them on Friday that the United States backed U.N. efforts to broker a political solution to the war, officials and diplomats said.

Russia-Turkey relations

Turkey’s snuggling up to Russia is likely to hurt it

The Economist

16.02.17

Putin and Erdogan expect different and contradictory things from their relationship.

Russia-Iran relations

Trump Won’t Be Able to Talk Putin Out of His Alliance with Iran

The Weekly Standard

14.02.17

Recent press reports indicate the Trump team will try to lure Russia away from Iran. The chances for success are slim.

Russia’s internal politics

I’ve been visiting Russia for nearly 30 years. I’ve never seen Russians prouder than under Putin

By Lisa Dickey

Vox

14.02.17

In the eyes of many Russians, Vladimir Putin has made their country great again.

How Vladimir Putin became one of the most feared leaders in the world

By Pamela Engel

Business Insider

14.02.17

But he’s had a long climb to the top — he spent years working in Russian intelligence and local politics before becoming the leader of the country.

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