Last week new US sanctions against Russia became one of the most popular topics. Ahead of the meeting between the US and Ukrainian presidents Trump’s administration announced imposition of new Ukraine-related sanctions on 38 individuals and entities, which, according to the White House, are involved in tightening the Russian grip on the Crimea and the Donbass regions. The White House claimed that the added restrictive measures were aimed at keeping pressure on the Kremlin and making it comply with the Minsk agreements while emphasizing that there would be no relief until Moscow “meets its obligations” under them. The US press predictably failed to mention that the Minsk agreements stipulate some requirements for Kiev, in particular adopting special law on the status of Lugansk and Donetsk regions, and Ukraine’s attempts to downplay the importance of these articles clearly undermine the whole peaceful process.
Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov characterized the new sanctions as “regrettable” and pointed to “Russophobic obsession” of the United States. As for the experts’ opinion, almost all of them agreed that the White House’s move was carried out as a response to the recent Senate’s bill with sanctions against Russia and Iran, which prevents Trump from unilateral easing of Russia sanctions. In fact this looks as Congress’ effort to redistribute powers limiting the president’s actions. While the bill is considered now in the House of Representatives, analysts believe Trump decided to make some sort of preemptive strike trying to show the Congress that he is tough on Russia and there is no necessity for the special law. It is worth noting that during the election campaign the current president advocated relief of the sanctions and even casted a thought of US recognition of Crimea as a part of Russia. Now, unfortunately, his reasonable ideas obviously fell victim to the internal political struggle in Washington.
Meanwhile, Russia-US tensions in Syria escalated after the America’s military downing of a Syrian warplane. Moscow condemned the US move and suspended operation of a hotline established for preventing accidents in the Syrian sky. Russian Defense Ministry also claimed that Russian air defense systems would consider any US-led coalitions’ aircrafts (planes or drones) west of the Euphrates as targets. In practice all the parties understand that the downing of a plane was a blatant violation of international law but the western media preferred not to draw the readers’ attention to this fact. While the US insists that it was an act of self-defense (de jure it is impossible as the US army is deployed in Syria illegally, according to contemporary international law), some Russian experts believe that the downing was aimed at marking the US controlled territory and its sphere of influence. Amid current escalation in the Russia-US relations observers wait for a personal meeting between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump at the sidelines of the G20 summit in July. However, few expect a breakthrough.
By Marc Champion
Flashback to 1980s Reagan-Europe dispute over Soviet gas link.
By Mike DeBonis and Karoun Demirjian
The Washington Post
A bipartisan bill extending financial sanctions on Russia and Iran and making it more difficult for President Trump to ease Russian sanctions has encountered a major procedural snag, threatening its quick passage into law and prompting Democrats to accuse House Republicans of protecting Trump.
By Alan Rappeport and Neil MacFarquhar
The New York Times
The Trump administration ratcheted up pressure on Russia on Tuesday, unveiling sanctions on more than three dozen additional individuals and organizations that have participated in the country’s incursion in Ukraine.
By John Hudson
A classified document by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson lays out a new path for Russia and the US. But does the president, weighed down by scandal and investigation, support it?
By David Brooks
The New York Times
As the Trump-Russia story has evolved, it is striking how little evidence there is that any underlying crime occurred — that there was any actual collusion between the Donald Trump campaign and the Russians.
By Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima and Adam Entous
The Washington Post
Obama approved a previously undisclosed covert measure that authorized planting cyber weapons in Russia’s infrastructure, the digital equivalent of bombs that could be detonated if the United States found itself in an escalating exchange with Moscow.
By Michael R. Gordon and Ivan Nechepurenko
The New York Times
Long-running tensions between the United States and Russia erupted publicly on Monday as Moscow condemned the American military’s downing of a Syrian warplane and threatened to target aircraft flown by the United States and its allies west of the Euphrates.
By Uri Friedman
Russia and the U.S. are coming into conflict, even as they claim to be fighting the same enemy.
By Rebecca Collard, Erika Solomon, Najmeh Bozorgmehr and Katrina Manson
The Financial Times
Rival forces’ scramble to oust Isis heightens danger of international flashpoint.
By Steven Chase
The Globe and Mail
The former head of Latvia’s armed forces says it’s hard to predict how long NATO members such as Canada will need to deploy troops to Eastern Europe as part of a deterrence force against Russian expansionism.
By Gary Anderson
The Washington Times
Only a credible deterrence can keep the Russians at bay.
By Sean Keeley
The American Interest
Oliver Stone’s interviews with Vladimir Putin tell us more about Putin’s admirers than about the Russian President himself.
By Edoardo Saravalle
Washington is focused on Russia’s political interference—but Moscow’s campaign against the U.S. extends beyond the ballot box.
Despite being cheered on by the West, Navalny is not aligned with most Western interests and will not utilize Western support.
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