Foreign Press Review (27.02-05.03)

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“A witch hunt”, as Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov called it during his Friday press-conference, continued in the US as attorney general Jeff Sessions was accused of failing to disclose his two last year meetings with Russia’s ambassador Sergey Kislyak during his confirmation hearing in Congress. Sessions’s spokeswoman commented that there had been “absolutely nothing misleading about his answer” as Mr Sessions “was asked during the hearing about communications between Russia and the Trump campaign — not about meetings he took as a senator and a member of the Armed Services Committee”. It seems that looking for alleged “Russian ties” has become a sort of obsession in the US while the media hysteria clearly prevents mending fences between Russia and America since meetings with Russia’s ambassador, whose aim is to maintain relationships, could be immediately labeled, at least, as something inappropriate or, at worst, as a betrayal. Everybody, who is aware of diplomatic work, understands that meetings with foreign officials is something quite ordinary. Jeff Sessions already claimed that he recused himself from “any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for president of the United States”.

Meanwhile, the press went even further and prepared another information bomb argument calling Russia’s ambassador Sergey Kislyak a top Russian spy, who is responsible for recruiting new agents. The reaction of Russia’s Foreign Ministry was harsh, its spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called recent reports “shameful” and said that Mr Kislyak is “a well-known, world-class diplomat”, who had worked in the US for many years and had never been accused by relevant authorities of activities that do not comply with his diplomatic status. It is now difficult to imagine how American politicians could have meetings with Russian diplomats if they clearly understand that irresponsible media outlets could then put their whole careers under threat describing these encounters as meetings with Russian spies. It seems that the times of McCarthyism have not just returned but the situation has deteriorated substantially.

Additionally, last week two big news concerning the Syrian conflict were in the limelight. First of all, Russia and China vetoed a resolution drafted by Britain, France and the US in the UN Security Council. The resolution stipulated imposing sanctions on Syria due to the alleged use of chemical weapons. Russian president Vladimir Putin called this draft resolution “totally inappropriate” because it “would not help negotiation process” and “could undermine confidence” during it while Russia’s envoy Vladimir Safronkov described it as “politically biased”. The draft was obviously an attempt to exert pressure as Russia and China informed in advance that they did not agree with it. Meanwhile, last week the Syrian government announced that it had fully recaptured the historic city of Palmyra with the support of Russian airstrikes.

Russia-US relations

Russia Looks to Exploit White House ‘Turbulence,’ Analysts Say

By Neil MacFarquhar

The New York Times


The Kremlin, increasingly convinced that President Trump will not fundamentally change relations with Russia, is instead seeking to bolster its global influence by exploiting what it considers weakness in Washington, according to political advisers, diplomats, journalists and other analysts.

House Intelligence chairman says he hasn’t found evidence of Trump team’s ties to Russia

By Karoun Demirjian

The Washington Post


Congressional Republicans are divided over how aggressively to pursue the allegations that President Trump’s associates had contact with Russia, with some lawmakers calling for a full-scale look at the former national security adviser’s communication with Russia while others say there is no evidence of such contacts.

Obama Administration Rushed to Preserve Intelligence of Russian Election Hacking

By Matthew Rosenberg, Adam Goldman and Michael S. Schmidt

The New York Times


In the Obama administration’s last days, some White House officials scrambled to spread information about Russian efforts to undermine the presidential election — and about possible contacts between associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump and Russians — across the government.

Sessions met with Russian envoy twice last year, encounters he later did not disclose

By Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller

The Washington Post


Then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) spoke twice last year with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Justice Department officials said, encounters he did not disclose when asked about possible contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign and representatives of Moscow during Sessions’s confirmation hearing to become attorney general.

On Russia, Trump Needs Breathing Room

By Nikolas K. Gvosdev

The New York Times


So far, we’ve seen continuity with Obama’s Russia policy—looking toward a future deal.

Jon Huntsman Is in Running to Be Ambassador to Russia

By Mark Landler

The New York Times


Eight years after he was sent to China by a Democratic president, Jon M. Huntsman Jr., the former Utah governor and Republican presidential candidate, is under consideration to be President Trump’s ambassador to Russia, people briefed on the deliberations said.

What Putin Is Up To

By Strobe Talbott and Jessica Brandt

The Atlantic


And why he may have overplayed his hand.

Sergey Kislyak, Russian Envoy, Cultivated Powerful Network in U.S.

By Neil MacFarquhar and Peter Baker

The New York Times


For Mr. Kislyak, Washington is no longer the place it once was. It has become lonely, and he has told associates that he is surprised how people who once sought his company were now trying to stay away.

If Trump’s goal is friendship with Russia, it’s a prize worth lying for

By Simon Jenkins

The Guardian


Underhand, reckless and naive: the US president has been some, or all, of these in pursuit of a rapprochement. But might he succeed where Obama failed?

Russia-NATO relations

Here’s What Would Happen If Russia and NATO Went to War (or World War III)

By Kris Osborn


How much of a threat do Russia’s emerging 5th-generation stealth fighter, nuclear arsenal, high-tech air defenses, anti-satellite weapons, conventional army and submarines pose to NATO and the U.S.?

Information war

Why Is Finland Able to Fend Off Putin’s Information War?

Foreign Policy

By Reid Standish


Helsinki has emerged as a resilient front against Kremlin spin. But can its successes be translated to the rest of Europe?

Syrian conflict

Russia and China veto UN resolution to impose sanctions on Syria

The Guardian


France, UK and US wanted sanctions over chemical weapon use – but Vladimir Putin rejects ‘totally inappropriate’ proposal.

Both Syrian sides see gains in peace talks as Russia weighs in

By Tom Miles and John Irish



Syrian peace talks in Geneva edged forwards on Wednesday, for the first time in six days of U.N.-led talks, as both sides saw hope of shaping the agenda to their liking and opposition negotiators met a senior diplomat from powerbroker Russia.

Russia’s internal politics

Russia: The Kremlin Moves to Keep Putin in Power

The Startfor


The government isn’t taking any chances when it comes to securing a fourth term for the president.

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