Foreign Press Review (08.05-14.05)

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Last week, on May 9, Russia commemorated the soviet victory over Nazism. The Great Patriotic War claims lives of many Russian people and almost every family was touched by this war. For Russians Victory Day is a really sacred day, which symbolizes the country’s self-sacrifice and its contribution to Hitler’s defeat. However, the western coverage of the commemoration events in Russia was almost totally limited to the idea of politicisation of Victory Day by the government, which, according to journalists, uses it in order to strengthen the regime, and efforts to link it to Russia’s current foreign policy. Unfortunately, western journalists showed that they still misunderstand Russian people and their attitude to May 9. It is worth noting, that every time the media covers protests in Russia it tries to speak to ordinary people participating in the demonstration and to publish their personal views in their papers. This gives the readers some sort of involvement in the situation. Nevertheless, now, when hundreds of thousands of Russians marched in the so-called Immortal Regiment in tribute to the memory of their relatives who saved the country, almost none of the outlets tried to do the same thing while personal feelings of these people could tell foreign readers much more about May 9 for Russia than all the articles published last week.

Meanwhile, amid a resonant story about firing of FBI director James Comey a meeting between Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and US president Donald Trump took place in the White House (WH) in Washington with the American media trying to do its best to create a negative background and shift the attention from the essence of the meeting. The biggest story around this meeting was a Russian state news agency photographer, who was granted access to what meant to be a private meeting while American journalists and cameras were not allowed. The American media said that the WH was furious as Russians tricked it and the understanding was that the parties would publish only official photos. One of the photos then published by Russia showed that the Russian ambassador to the US also took part in the talks (it’s a standard diplomatic practice) while it was not mentioned in the official readout of the WH. Russian MFA spokeswoman than claimed that “the format did not imply that the photos were being kept secret”. Moreover, some US experts and ex-top security officials even went further and suggested that a Russian photographer could have smuggled spying equipment into the Oval Office posing a risk to US security.

As for the content of the negotiations, Trump “emphasized his desire to build a better relationship between the United States and Russia” and “the need to work together to end the conflict in Syria, in particular, underscoring the need for Russia to rein in the Assad regime, Iran, and Iranian proxies”. So it is possible to conclude that the participation of Iran in the “de-escalation zones” in Syria was on the agenda. During his press-conference in the Russian embassy following meeting with President Trump and State Secretary Tillerson Russian foreign minister confirmed that Syria was one of the topics and, what is important, emphasized that “the dialogue between Russia and the US is now free from the ideology that characterised it under the Barack Obama Administration”.

Victory Day

Putin uses the Soviet defeat of Hitler to show why Russia needs him today

By David Filipov

The Washington Post

08.05.17

The Soviet victory in World War II — called the Great Patriotic War here — is central to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s effort to portray his regime as the logical outcome of the country’s history.

At Russia’s Victory Day Parade, Vladimir Putin Calls for Alliance

By Neil MacFarquhar

The New York Times

09.05.17

Russia rolled out a rather subdued version of its annual Victory Day parade on Tuesday, with President Vladimir V. Putin calling for international cooperation in fighting terrorism even though foreign leaders had mostly stayed away.

Victory Day: Why Is the May 9 Commemoration So Important to Russia?

By Damien Sharkov

Newsweek

09.05.17

Under Vladimir Putin Victory Day has become the second most popular anniversary in Russia, only eclipsed by New Year’s Eve in the nation’s affections.

Russia-US relations

Russia’s Oval Office Victory Dance

By Susan B. Glasser

Politico

10.05.17

The cozy meeting between President Trump and Russia’s foreign minister came at Vladimir Putin’s insistence.

Trump’s decision to fire Comey is another win for Vladimir Putin

By Phillip Carter

Vox

11.05.17

In his wildest dreams, Russian leader (and former Soviet intelligence officer) Vladimir Putin could have never imagined the extent of his success during President Donald Trump’s first five months in office.

Exclusive: Russian Hackers Attacked the 2008 Obama Campaign

By Jeff Stein

Newsweek

12.05.17

Russian hackers targeted the 2008 Barack Obama campaign and U.S. government officials as far back as 2007 and have continued to attack them since they left their government jobs, according to a new report scheduled for release Friday.

Don’t forget those smiling images of Trump and the Russians

By Anne Applebaum

The Washington Post

11.05.17

President Trump, who fired his FBI director a day earlier, is grinning for the cameras and shaking hands with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, and the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov. They, too, smile and laugh, relishing the many ironies of the moment.

French elections

Did Russia Hack Macron? The Evidence Is Far From Conclusive

By Thomas Fox-Brewster

Forbes

08.05.17

It looks like Russia, it smells like Russia, so it’s probably Russia. So goes the current line of thinking in the security community as it tries to figure out who leaked reams of files pilfered from the campaign staff of the incoming French President Emmanuel Macron.

U.S. increasingly convinced that Russia hacked French election: sources

By Mark Hosenball

Reuters

09.05.17

Hackers with connections to the Russian government played a role in an effort to damage centrist French politician Emmanuel Macron’s presidential campaign by hacking and leaking emails and documents ahead of the election, according to two U.S. intelligence officials.

Russia’s foreign policy

Putin is not the geopolitical genius the world makes him out to be

By Carl Bildt

The Washington Post

11.05.17

Occasionally, people claim that Vladimir Putin is a geopolitical player of extraordinary competence and success. The jury is still out on that, if history is anything to go by.

Sorry, but Putin’s still winning

By Christian Caryl

The Washington Post

12.05.17

Yes, Putin has experienced a few setbacks lately. But that’s no reason for him to give up. After all, what’s stopping him?

Russia’s internal politics

Putin Is Taking Lessons From Trump on How to Win at the Polls

By Stepan Kravchenko, Evgenia Pismennaya and Ilya Arkhipov

Bloomberg

10.05.17

The Kremlin thinks it knows the secret to Donald Trump’s election victory — and it’s not the kind of hacking you might think.

Ukrainian conflict

Ex-rebel leaders detail role played by Putin aide in east Ukraine

By Anton Zverev

Reuters

11.05.17

A top aide to Vladimir Putin decides how the pro-Moscow administration of eastern Ukraine is run and who gets what jobs there, three former rebel leaders said, challenging Kremlin denials that it calls the shots in the region.

Syrian conflict

Trump Should Be Wary of Putin’s Syria Plan

By Stephen Sestanovich

The New York Times

12.05.17

Mr. Trump’s willingness to endorse Russian proposals to “de-escalate” the civil war in Syria will be a crucial test of policy normalcy.

North Korea issue

How Russia Could Help Solve the North Korea Crisis

By Lyle J. Goldstein

The National Interest

11.05.17

At this point, Pyongyang might trust Moscow more than it trusts Beijing.

Articles also deserving your attention

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  1. Don’t Pin the Macron Email Hack on Russia Just Yet (08.05.17)
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  1. LGBT activists detained in Moscow while petitioning against Chechen purge (11.05.17)
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  1. Russia’s Putin may be starting to lose his grip on power (11.05.17)
  1. Russia: Authorities Appear to Deem Original Historical Research Dangerous (09.05.17)
  1. A Message to Putin From 42 Million Dead (10.05.17)

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