Foreign Press Review (03.07-09.07)

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Undoubtedly, a meeting between Russian president Vladimir Putin and US president Donald Trump was the main event last week. Despite some controversy over the format, the talks eventually were held as an official bilateral meeting. All the week before the meeting journalists and experts were concerned over two major questions: what the agenda and what the results would be. Frankly speaking, it is difficult to say that there were debates over these questions. Instead, it seems that almost all had some sort of consensus. Experts pointed that the Kremlin clearly understood the constraints Trump faced in Washington and, therefore, didn’t plan to achieve any breakthroughs that could eventually make the situation even worse for the American president. So lowering the expectations seemed to be a common strategy of both sides. As for the agenda, at the beginning of the week the Kremlin announced that it planned to discuss sanctions, including the return of two diplomatic compounds in New York and Maryland (previously, the US media said  that Trump’s administration could use it as a bargaining chip), the Syrian conflict and nuclear arms control.

Nevertheless, observers disagreed on Russia’s goals with every camp trying to influence Trump before the meeting by issuing warnings or calling for changing Russia policy. Some of them believe that Moscow is genuinely interested in a détente while others still think that anti-American rhetoric is used as an internal political tool and Putin is aimed at overplaying Trump. One article deserves particular attention. Michael McFaul, US ambassador to Russia under Obama’s administration, who once was involved in preparing a meeting between Obama and then-president Dmitry Medvedev, wrote something similar to a letter of advice to Trump on how to negotiate with Putin. For example, among “issues to be avoided” he mentions “NATO (because it’s none of Putin’s business)”. After such advice it not difficult to understand why Russia-US relations reached record lows under the previous US administration.

As for the meeting itself, it lasted longer than expected (2 hours and 15 minutes instead of 30 minutes initially planned) and the presidents had “positive chemistry” as US secretary of state Rex Tillerson said.  According to Reuters, the parties agreed to try to “focus on better ties rather than litigating the past”. As for a deal, Russia and the US reached some agreements on the following: cease-fire in southwest Syria (it was called “an interim step”), establishing a Ukraine channel between Moscow and Washington for discussing the Minsk accords, creating a working group on cybersecurity and accelerating ambassadors’ appointments. They also agreed on necessity of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula but advocated different approaches to achieve that.

Putin-Trump meeting

What Trump needs to read before meeting Putin

By Michael McFaul

The Washington Post

03.07.17

Don’t expect any breakthroughs in this first meeting. Your task is to demonstrate to Putin that you are a tough negotiator committed to pursuing American interests, and one that is not willing to offer concessions simply to win Putin’s praise.

Time for the US to modernize its approach to Russia

By James Durso

The Hill

04.07.17

Calling Russia a “regional power,” as President Obama did, or saying Putin can be a “best friend,” as President Trump did, is counterproductive.

What Russia is expecting from Putin’s meeting with Trump

By Patrick Reevell

ABC News

05.07.17

It’s being billed as one of the biggest political encounters of the year but ahead of Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump’s first meeting, the Kremlin will be happy if it just passes off without too much drama.

Trump’s best deal with Putin: No deal

By Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky

CNN

05.07.17

Fundamental differences between Moscow and Washington on core issues all but guarantee that, at best, this will be a transactional and not transformational moment in the US-Russian relationship.

For Russia, Trump-Putin Meeting Is a Sure Winner

By Neil MacFarquhar

The New York Times

06.07.17

With the long-awaited first meeting between President Vladimir V. Putin and President Trump finally in sight, the Kremlin is hoping at a minimum to inject some clarity into a relationship so far marred by contradictions, anxiety, scattered recriminations and, on occasion, astonishing bonhomie.

So Trump finally met Putin. When do we see the great deal he promised us?

By Paul Waldman

The Washington Post

07.07.17

It’s a little unclear what those “very positive happenings” will be, but given everything that has happened over the last six months, it’s clear that Trump was overmatched coming into this meeting — not because Putin is such a master manipulator, but because Trump is such an awful deal-maker.

The Trump-Putin Bromance Is Back On

By John Cassidy

New Yorker

07.07.17

 All was calm—or so it seemed from the television broadcasts.

The Much-Hyped First Trump-Putin Meeting Was a Farce

By Joan Walsh

The Nation

07.07.17

We’ll never really know what either man said about charges of Russian election meddling, or anything else. Only time—and policy—will give any indication.

Russia sanctions

Oil Giants Lobby Against Bill to Toughen Russia Sanctions

By Bradley Olson and Peter Nicholas

The Wall Street Journal

03.07.17

Pushback from energy companies, other industries threatens to complicate House passage of the legislation.

North Korea issue

U.S. diplomat blasts China and Russia for ‘holding the hands’ of North Korean leader

By David Nakamura and Emily Rauhala

The Washington Post

05.07.17

The top U.S. diplomat at the United Nations blasted Russia and China on Wednesday for “holding the hands” of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, as the Trump administration struggled to respond to Pyongyang’s latest ballistic missile test.

How Russia and China are bonding against the US

By Matthew Chance

CNN

06.07.17

With another crisis looming on the Korean Peninsula, it’s extraordinary how old rivals Russia and China are — yet again — speaking with a single voice.

Syrian conflict

Cooperation with Russia Could Be the Right Step Toward Peace in Syria

By David Ignatius

RealClear Politics

05.07.17

Cooperating with the Russians in Syria would be distasteful, given their past actions. But spurning them would keep this volatile country at the flashpoint and almost certainly make things worse rather than better for all sides.

This Is Trump’s Plan to Team Up With Putin in Syria—and Leave Assad in Power

By Spencer Ackerman

The Daily Beast

06.07.17

Trump finally has a Syria strategy. It relies on Russian soldiers and a dictator who Trump said in April had to go.

Russia’s internal politics

Putin made a lot of promises to Russians on his call-in TV show. Now, he’s delivering

By David Filipov and Natalya Abbakumova

The Washington Post

03.07.17

The event, called “Direct Line,” is carefully staged to show that Russia’s head of state, who probably will  seek a new six-year term next March, understands his people — and can solve their problems — better than ­anyone.

Will Russia’s Only Opposition Leader Become the Next Putin?

By Oleg Kashin

The New York Times

03.07.17

The risk of creating a new authoritarian model even after Vladimir Putin is gone.

Russia’s future looks bleak without economic and political reform

By Kenneth Rogoff

The Guardian

05.07.17

It managed to escape a deep crisis after oil prices plummeted – but prospects don’t look as promising as they did five years ago.

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