Foreign Press Review (05.06-11.06)

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Last week the Qatar crisis was one of the most covered topics in the foreign media. However, what started with attempts to analyze the relationship between the Middle East countries (experts had warned for a long time that the region is not as homogeneous as ordinary people tend to perceive it and fault lines are not limited to Shiite-Sunni conflicts), eventually ended with a new “sensational” version that the crisis was provoked by Russian hackers. According to the information published by CNN, they were supposedly connected with the Russian government and sought to drive a wedge between the US and its allies. Such reports based on citing anonymous sources have become usual practice in the US media, but now they cause only an ironic smile since covering a serious crisis resembles tabloid’s manner to report information about show business stars basing it on numerous  rumours. Russian hackers have already become a universal jump scare, which not only contributes to demonizing the Kremlin but also could “explain” the roots of almost every conflict.

If journalists had at least tried to provide their report with some explanations of the crisis or add some experts’ comments they would have realized that the world does not revolve around America and Russia seeks to build relationship with many countries in the region. Concerning the parties of this conflict, Russia is a part of an oil deal with OPEC countries where Saudi Arabia plays a key role, while Moscow also has economic interests in Qatar (for example, Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund has participated recently in the purchase of 19.5 % stake in Russia’s biggest oil company Rosneft). Moreover, experts on the Middle East clearly pointed to the fact that the story with Qatar’s emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani praising good relations with Israel, Iran and US on TV had been at most only an excuse for the crisis.

Additionally, Russian president Vladimir Putin’s interviews have led to some sort of furor in the foreign media. First of all, during the Saint-Petersburg International Economic Forum Putin gave an interview to NBC News’s star Megyn Kelly. The talk was mostly devoted to Russia’s alleged interference in the US presidential elections 2016. Moreover, this week Showtime will air the first part of an exclusive documentary on Vladimir Putin The Putin Interviews. It was filmed by Oliver Stone and even before the premier has made a lot of splash in the media. Journalists discuss almost every word showed in the promo-campaign while experts give a lot of different versions of Putin’s behavior. Some of them believe that the interviews mark a significant shift in Russia’s information approach. They think that now instead of trying to send a message to ordinary western citizens the Russian president now tries to talk with the elites and even uses these interviews to manipulate Trump. Other analysts assert that the primary audience is domestic as Putin wants to show that Russia is not isolated in the world arena. The third version is that he just behaves normally and does not care about the West’s reaction. Now one thing is obvious: the upcoming The Putin Interviews by Oliver Stone is going to become a big event and will be highly discussed in the world.   

Russia-US relations

Top-Secret NSA Report Details Russian Hacking Effort Days before 2016 Election

By Matthew Cole, Richard Esposito, Sam Biddle, Ryan Grim

The Intercept

05.06.17

Russian military intelligence executed a cyberattack on at least one U.S. voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before last November’s presidential election, according to a highly classified intelligence report obtained by The Intercept.

Putin’s campaign of personal revenge against the United States

By David Ignatius

The Washington Post

06.06.17

Russia is the rare nation run by a former intelligence officer, who sees the world through a very particular lens.

It’s Not Trump, But Public Intellectuals & Lobbyists Who Are Advancing Putin’s U.S. Agenda

By Paul Roderick Gregory

Forbes

06.06.17

We live in a crazy world: Contacts with Russia by a new administration are represented as possible treason, not as normal diplomacy.

Trump’s Republican Problem on Russia Sanctions

By Dimitri Alexander Simes

The National Interest

07.06.17

Democrats have undoubtedly spearheaded the push to prevent Trump from pursuing his own “reset” with Russia. Republicans have also played a substantial role.

Putin wanted to upend the US political system. Comey’s testimony shows he succeeded.

By Yochi Dreazen

Vox

08.06.17

Comey says Russia has “tried to shape the way we think, we vote, we act.”

Breathing Room for the Kremlin

By Lilia Shevtsova

The American Interest

05.06.17

The West’s new pragmatism could be a shot in the arm for Russia’s decaying system of personalized power.

Putin’s interviews

Putin Doesn’t Care If You Think He Was Rude to Megyn Kelly

By Matthew Bodner

Foreign Policy

07.06.17

The Russian president’s recent Western media blitz is aimed at winning over an audience of one: Donald Trump.

So has Oliver Stone unpicked the mystery of pin-up Putin?

By Mary Dejevsky

The Guardian

08.06.17

With unprecedented access to the bare-chested macho man and tiger hunter, the Putin Interviews gazes approvingly on the manufacturing of a modern tsar.

Russia-NATO relations

If Russia and NATO Went to War Would It Go Nuclear (And Kill Millions)?

By Kris Osborn

The National Interest

08.06.17

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.?

British parliamentary elections

From Russia with likes: embassy tweets prove a hit for Moscow

By Neil Buckley

The Financial Times

09.06.17

Moscow’s mission in London wins plaudits and followers with digital diplomacy.

Russia-China relations

Russia and China Are Bulking Up in the U.S.’s Backyard

By Ezra Fieser

Bloomberg

05.06.17

Putin and Xi are working to win over small, poor countries with promises
of aid, military support, and investment, even as Trump scales back.

Qatar crisis

CNN Exclusive: US suspects Russian hackers planted fake news behind Qatar crisis

By Evan Perez and Shimon Prokupecz

CNN

07.06.17

US investigators believe Russian hackers breached Qatar’s state news agency and planted a fake news report that contributed to a crisis among the US’ closest Gulf allies, according to US officials briefed on the investigation.

Russia Has Nothing to Gain by Undermining Qatar

By Leonid Bershidsky

Bloomberg

07.06.17

Punching holes in this alleged case of Russian hacking, starting with its flashpoint.

Syrian conflict

U.S., Russia discuss de-escalation zone for southwest Syria: diplomats

By Suleiman Al-Khalidi

Reuters

09.06.17

The United States and Russia are quietly holding talks on creating a “de-escalation zone” in southwestern Syria, Western diplomats and regional officials said, but could face fierce opposition from Iran.

Russia-Venezuela relations

Why Venezuela Proves That Russia Is Still a World Power

By Nikolas K. Gvosdev

The National Interest

07.06.17

Russia has acquired in Venezuela, as it has in Syria, a need to preserve the current regime in order to safeguard its investments.

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