Foreign Press Review (20.02-26.02)

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Last week after Michael Flynn’s resignation US President Donald Trump selected Army Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster as a new national security advisor. His choice was welcomed by numerous US politicians while the media actively tried to compare his background and his views with his predecessor’s ones. Observers suggested that McMaster’s appointment could signal a shift in Trump’s Russia policy because in contrast to Flynn, who was usually portrayed by the media as close to Vladimir Putin, the new advisor considers Moscow as a threat and publicly voiced his concern over it being the director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center. Moreover, his stance directly contradicts not only Flynn’s but also Trump’s take on the issue. Besides, journalists think that McMasters’s appointment was aimed at reassuring NATO allies as the US president previously criticized the alliance and even called it obsolete.

Some observers already questioned the current situation wondering whether a détente ended before its start and what consequences of “the anti-Putin paranoia” would be. It seems that the mainstream media was quite satisfied about the recent developments as McMasters’s selection corresponds to its view on the Kremlin. Russia didn’t comment on the new appointment since it numerously emphasized that Moscow is ready to work with any administration. Therefore, optimists, who can see real benefits Russia-US cooperation could bring to the world, continue to hope that a thaw is possible and the relations would not fall victim of media’s “Russian threat” hysteria.

Meanwhile, the new appointment could cast shadow on UN-brokered talks on Syria, which resumed in Geneva last week. The US administration, according to the media reports, recently cut off (or even stopped) aid it had provided to the Syrian rebels, including the Free Syrian army, and decided to concentrate in fighting ISIS rather than forcing Assad to step down. Experts admit that Russia currently has the strongest hand at these negotiations, however, clarity over America’s policy is necessary in order to move forward as, for example, Trump’s hostile view on Iran could influence results of the talks and the whole political settlement process. Assad’s fate is also still a question for debate as some European countries continue insisting on his resignation whereas even some opposition representative already claimed their readiness to accept the idea of a devolution of powers and national unity government as it was reportedly written in the draft constitution Russia had presented to the participants at the Astana talks.

Russia-US relations

Russia Compiles Psychological Dossier on Trump for Putin

By Bill Neely

NBC News


Among its preliminary conclusions is that the new American leader is a risk-taker who can be naïve, according to a senior Kremlin adviser.

Trump’s Russia Motives

By David Leonhardt

The New York Times


The mystery at the core of the Trump-Russia story is motive.

New national security adviser pick marks big change on Russia

By Katie Bo Williams

The Hill


President Trump’s replacement for former national security adviser Michael Flynn represents a stark new direction, both in policy and approach.

The Trump Administration’s Internal War over Russia

By Nikolas K. Gvosdev

The National Interest


The White House could follow Washington’s drumbeat on Moscow—or ignore it.

Trump, Putin, and the New Cold War

By Evan Osnos, David Remnick, and Joshua Yaffa

The New Yorker


What lay behind Russia’s interference in the 2016 election—and what lies ahead?

Information war

Advice to Trump: Beware of Russian Trolls

By Mark Galeotti

Foreign Policy


The recent stray spy ship and the fly-bys in the Black Sea are signs that the Kremlin is engaging in its favorite pastime: pushing America’s buttons.

The Increasingly Unhinged Russia Rhetoric Comes From a Long-Standing U.S. Playbook

By Glenn Greenwald

The Intercept


As Stone observed in the 1950s, aggression toward and fearmongering over the Kremlin on the one hand, and smearing domestic critics of that approach as disloyal on the other, are inextricably linked.

Vitaly Churkin’s death

Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s U.N. Ambassador, Dies at 64

By Somini Sengupta

The New York Times


Vitaly I. Churkin, the Russian ambassador to the United Nations, who represented his country through times of domestic tumult and rising tensions with the West, died on Monday morning while at work in Manhattan. He would have turned 65 on Tuesday.

Ukranian conflict

The Art of the Deal: Can Trump Reach Agreement on Ukraine with Putin?

By Douglas Macgregor

The National Interest


Washington and Moscow may never be friends, but they can be limited liability partners, a concept President Trump understands well.

Trump lawyer pushed pro-Russia deal for Ukraine, politician claims

By Nick Paton Walsh, Salma Abdelaziz and Victoria Butenko



Ukrainian lawmaker Andrii Artemenko said he discussed his left-field proposal for Ukraine in January with US President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who offered to deliver the plan to the Trump administration.

Syrian conflict

Syria peace talks resume, but Assad is in the driver’s seat

By Ishaan Tharoor

The Washington Post


No one is expecting much progress when United Nations-brokered talks on Syria resume on Thursday in Geneva.

One question at U.N. Syria talks: What does Russia want?

By John Irish, Stephanie Nebehay and Tom Miles



The first U.N.-led Syria peace talks in almost a year are in danger of getting lost in procedure, as officials obsess about who will meet whom, but behind the scenes diplomats say it’s largely up to Russia to call the tune.

Russia and Middle East

A Pax Russica in the Middle East? Putin will have to do more to make it stick

By Luigi Narbone

The Conversation


Can Russia succeed where the West has failed, stabilising the Middle East and North Africa through some kind of Pax Russica?

Russia’s internal politics

4 Warning Signs Of Instability In Russia

By George Friedman



Russia has four areas of instability: the distribution and prevalence of wage arrears, pressure on its banking system, low-level social and economic unrest, and government purges.

Killer, kleptocrat, genius, spy: the many myths of Vladimir Putin

by Keith Gessen

The Guardian


Russia’s role in Trump’s election has led to a boom in Putinology. But do all these theories say more about us than Putin?

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