Foreign Press Review (17.04-23.04)

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Ahead of the French presidential elections the foreign media published a lot of articles devoted to another alleged Russian meddling, which, according to the reports, highly resembles the situation with the US presidential elections in 2016. With the American media being the most assertive, journalists tried to portray Russian interference as an established fact. However, now it is even not necessary to say that there is no evidence that Russia attacked the French campaign. Moreover, looking through the articles on the topic with every new report, a reader could have an impression that he has already read it previously as authors use similar arguments. They are so similar that an attempt to write down these arguments in different lists gives us almost the same set with the proof being extremely weak.

For example, following the same twisted logic after a message that Russia tried to sway the US elections journalists tended to tell their readers that Facebook has shut down 30000 fake news accounts in France. That gives an impression that these accounts were linked to Moscow while in practice there is no indication of that. Additionally, the Macron team claimed that its computers were attacked. It therefore seems that the arguments in the press are construed in the following way:

“Well, the computers of a Moscow critic have been attacked. No doubt these were the Russians!”

“But there is no evidence of that”.

“Yeah, but who else could that?!”

“Right, so the Russians”.

This tactic of insinuation is a well-known tool of low-quality journalism, or propaganda in simple terms, and it has become extremely wide-spread in the modern world of conspiracies.

It is also worth noting that the media complains that a large amount of citizens have stopped trusting the mainstream media getting information from alternative sources, which creates a fertile ground for the Russian news outlets. Instead of criticizing RT and Sputnik, maybe the leading western newspapers and channels should ask why people turn away from them. In practice, one of the reasons is that many outlets, unfortunately, replaced the deep analysis of problems with attempts to marginalize alternative points of view immediately labelling them fake news.

Meanwhile, in the US a new story about Russia’s alleged meddling has become resonant. Citing anonymous former and current US officials, Reuters published information that before the US presidential elections Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS) developed a plan of swinging the vote. At the beginning, it recommended the Kremlin support a candidate with a softer stance on Russia, but then instead of supporting Trump, it decided to attack the American electoral system’s legitimacy. The current head of RISS Mikhail Fradkov said in an official statement that this information is aimed at returning people’s attention to the alleged Russia’s interference, which many readers have lost interest in. Some Russian politicians also noted that in practice many countries in the West have institutions with similar responsibilities (providing authorities with analytical materials), however, their analysis of the political situation is not considered to be interference with political process.

French elections

It’s France’s Turn to Worry About Election Meddling by Russia

By Andrew Higgins

The New York Times

17.04.17

Is Moscow meddling covertly, as American intelligence agencies say it did before Donald J. Trump’s victory? Or is it just benefiting from a network of politicians, journalists and others in France who share the Kremlin’s views on politics there, and much else besides?

Russia Campaigns for the French Presidency

Stratfor

21.04.17

The European Union’s busy election season is an important campaign opportunity, not only for the politicians running, but also for the Kremlin.

U.S. Eyes Russian Meddling in French Presidential Campaign

By Leigh Ann Caldwell and Emmanuelle Saliba

NBC News

21.04.17

As voters in France prepare for their presidential election Sunday, U.S. officials are warning of Russian interference in the hotly contested race, saying that the tactics being used are similar to those deployed in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Russia-US relations

On Russia, Trump and his top national security aides seem to be at odds

By Greg Miller

The Washington Post

18.04.17

Over the past several weeks, senior members of Trump’s national security team have issued blistering critiques of Moscow, using harsh terms that have led to escalating tensions between the countries and that seem at odds with the president.

Exxon Seeks U.S. Waiver to Resume Russia Oil Venture

By Jay Solomon and Bradley Olson

The Wall Street Journal

19.04.17

Exxon Mobil applied to Treasury for exemption to resume venture with Rosneft forged in 2012 by Rex Tillerson.

What Does Russia Want? What Does America Need?

By TNI Staff

The National Interest

19.04.17

On April 17, the Center for the National Interest hosted a panel discussion entitled “What Does Russia Want? What Does America Need?”. A summary of the event can be found below.

Why did Putin oppose Clinton? Decades of American hypocrisy

By Simon Waxman

The Washington Post

20.04.17

When the U.S. intervenes abroad, we say it’s justified. When Russia does the same, we say it isn’t.

Inside the hunt for Russia’s hackers

By Sheera Frenkel

BuzzFeed

21.04.17

Russia’s cyberwarfare operations are built on the back of their cybercriminal networks. Can the US and its allies take them down?

Russia-NATO relations

4 times in 4 days: Russian military aircraft fly off US coast

By Zachary Cohen and Ryan Browne

CNN

21.04.17

Russian military aircraft were spotted flying off the coast of Alaska for the fourth time in as many days, a spokesperson for the North American Aerospace Defense Command told CNN on Friday.

Russia-Ukraine relations

Putin Quietly Detaches Ukraine’s Rebel Zones as U.S. Waffles

By Henry Meyer, Ilya Arkhipov, Stepan Kravchenko, and Yuliya Fedorinova

Bloomberg

20.04.17

Vladimir Putin is seizing on mixed signals from the U.S. to quietly tighten Russia’s grip on two rebel regions of Ukraine, burying hopes for a European-brokered peace deal and relief from sanctions anytime soon.

Trump Administration Expected To Open Diplomatic Channel With Top Putin Aide

By John Hudson

BuzzFeed

21.04.17

The new US envoy would be responsible for negotiating over the fate of war-torn Ukraine.

Syrian conflict

US officials: Syria moves planes to Russian base for protection

By Ryan Browne

CNN

19.04.17

The Syrian government has relocated the majority of its combat planes to protect them from potential US strikes, two US defense officials told CNN Wednesday.

Russia’s internal politics

Why Protests Keep Putin Up at Night

By Stephen Crowley

Foreign Affairs

19.04.17

Despite his solid grip on power, Putin appeared alarmed when, at the end of March, Russian citizens in dozens of cities suddenly appeared in the streets to peacefully protest official corruption.

Russia just effectively banned Jehovah’s Witnesses from the country

By Amanda Erickson

The Washington Post

20.04.17

After years, even decades, of persecution against the religious group, the Kremlin moved to get rid of the denomination for good. In February, Jehovah’s Witnesses were labeled “extremists” and locked out of their offices.

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