Post coup-attempt Turkey and Russia getting friendly

 

The Washington Post reported on a story that worries Turkey’s NATO allies:

“The leaders of Turkey and Russia pledged on Aug. 9 to restart key energy projects and roll back sanctions, seeking to rebuild ties as Turkey looks beyond its NATO partners for support following a failed coup attempt last month.

“In his first trip abroad since the attempted takeover by the military, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan openly courted Russia — in vivid contrast to recent and bitter hostilities with Moscow, especially over Syria’s civil war.

“….The Turkish leader repeatedly thanked Putin for his rapid offer of aid following the coup attempt, and called for relations between the two countries to return ‘to their  pre-{Syrian} crisis level, or even higher.”’

To read the article, please hit this link.

Russians intensifies threats against Ukraine

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In the resort of Yalta, in Crimea.

In what mean more Russian military attacks against Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered naval war games in the Black Sea after he accused Ukraine of sending saboteurs into Crimea, which Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014.

Ukrainian and other observers fear that Russia may plan to ramp up fighting in the war between  Ukraine and pro-Russian and Russian armed separatists.

Reuters speculated: “Such an escalation could be used by Putin to demand better terms in the Ukraine peace process, or to inflame nationalist passions at home ahead of Russian parliamentary elections next month.”

To read the Reuters story, please hit this link.

Moscow crowd denounces ‘antiterrorism’ laws aimed at Internet

In the sort of mass public protest that is increasingly unusual under Russia’s authoritarian government, hundreds of critics of the Russian government of President Vladimir Putin armed with a rare demonstration gathered in Moscow on Aug. 9 to protest  a new set of so-called antiterrorism laws.

The laws include requirements to store all communications data for six months, and phone and texting records for one to three years.

The New York Times reported that protesters “decried the legislation as an assault on privacy and internet freedom. …”

The Times continued: “For just over an hour, speakers at the rally — activists, politicians and technology experts — called on Russians to resist government attempts to tighten control over the internet, which many view as the last safe space for dissent in Russia. For just over an hour, speakers at the rally — activists, politicians and technology experts — called on Russians to resist government attempts to tighten control over the Internet, which many view as the last safe space for dissent in Russia.”

To read The New York Times story, please hit this link.

Why Putin refuses to admit to state-sponsored doping

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Russian President Vladimir Putin  won’t admit to the  massive state-sponsored doping of Russia’s would-be Olympic athletes because that might  be seen as admitting that Mr. Putin  himself

is a criminal.

And so, Bloomberg reports, “Putin appears less and less willing to cooperate with international sports organizations and increasingly inclined to complain about political conspiracies against his country.”

“The issue is no longer just Russian athletes’ participation in the Rio Olympics: It’s about Putin’s state being labeled as criminal. Putin’s reaction under these circumstances — as when a Malaysian airliner was shot down over eastern Ukraine two years ago and Russia and its proxies were strongly implicated — is to deny, deny, deny.”

To read more, please hit this link.

Lucian Kim: The endless lies of Putin’s Russia

 

Lucian Kim writes in a Reuters opinion piece that the Russian athletes’  “doping scandal is a symptom of a much larger problem: the casual disregard for the truth that has become a hallmark of {Russian President Vladimir} Putin’s rule. In a country where elections are rigged, lawsuits are fabricated, and state TV spews lies around the clock, it’s hard to know what ordinary citizens are to believe anymore. Beyond politics, corruption has not only gnawed away at Russia’s reputation as a sports powerhouse, but cheapened the prestige of its once-vaunted institutions of higher education.

“Putin’s initial denial of Russia’s 2014 military intervention in Crimea — followed by a later admission of it — was the clearest demonstration of the Kremlin’s belief that the ends justify the means. Many Russians seem to agree.

“In a poll taken by the independent Levada Center in April 2015, 37 percent of respondents said they believed their government that Russia wasn’t militarily involved in eastern Ukraine. An almost equal portion, 38 percent, said that ‘even if there are Russian soldiers and military equipment in Ukraine, it’s the correct policy for Russia to deny these facts in the current global situation.’ ”

To read Mr. Kim’s essay, please hit this link.

Russia pushes to get more citizens to move to its Far East

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The Russian Far East is in red.

Many Russians fear that their nation’s Far East could end up being absorbed by China, with its 1.4 billion people and huge economy.

So the Russian government, following the directive of  strongman President Vladimir Putin, is offering to give  land to  lure Russian settlers to the vast region. The nine Far Eastern regions covered by the program take up more than a third of Russia’s area but are home to only 6.1 million people, compared with the 110 million Chinese living across the border in  Manchuria.

Mr. Putin said in 2013 that the development of Siberia and the Far East must be “our national priority for the entire 21st Century.”

To read a New York Times piece on this, please hit this link.

NATO members very weak on defending themselves from Russian cyberattacks

 

The New York Times reports that “there is a widespread recognition that the Western alliance has yet to develop a strategy” to counter Russia’s increasingly aggressive   actions against NATO members in cyberspace.

“While there are frequent conferences and papers, there are no serious military plans, apart from locking down the alliance’s own networks. Russia, China and Iran have increasingly sophisticated offensive cyberforces; NATO has none, and no established mechanism to draw on United States Cyber Command or its British equivalent.”

To read the entire story, please hit this link.

Merkel: Implementing Minsk Agreement would end sanctions against Russia

(June 13th, 2016) German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on June 10 that implementing the Minsk Agreement to end the conflict between Russia and Ukraine would end sanctions imposed against Russia  for  its seizure of Crimea from Ukraine and its ongoing attacks on the latter nation’s east.

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Mrs. Merkel also said that in the long term, the European Union should aim for a vast common economic zone with Russia extending from Russia’s Pacific coast to Portugal.

“We should move gradually towards this goal,” she said.

The Boston Global Forum last December named Chancellor Merkel a “World Leader for Peace, Security and Development’’.

Hit this link for more details.

Will G7 pushback against Chinese, Russian aggression work?

Do the actions of the G7 nations meeting at their May 26-27 summit in Japan suggest that Russian aggression against Ukraine and Chinese aggression in the South China Sea will not succeed in the long run because of pushback from the G7 industrialized democracies? Joshua W. Walker of the German Marshall Fund discusses this in The National Interest.

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He concludes:

“The significance of this year’s G7 in Japan in advance of the G20 in China in September will be judged by which summit ultimately sets the tone for either the enduring nature of the liberal international order or sweeping tide of revisionist authoritarianism. Obama’s historic Hiroshima and Vietnam visits were symbolic of the legacy he hopes to leave. Yet, symbolism risks complacency without action. The G7’s latest initiative for global infrastructure development confirmed the member countries’ internationalist commitment but whether they can remain unified in the face of Chinese and Russian revisionist alternatives such as OBOR {One Belt, One Road} or the {Russiian-led} Eurasian Economic Union will have to be seen. As Japan passes the G7 baton to Italy next year, the world anxiously expects the world’s seven most advanced democracies and economies to lead toward the triumph of internationalism over revisionism.’’

To read the article, hit this link.

Russian official sees Western sanctions continuing

 

Alexei Pushkov, the Foreign Affairs Committee chairman of the lower house of  the Russian parliament, said that it would be no surprise if the G7 nations extended sanctions against Russia for its occupation of Crimea and its war against the pro-Western government of Ukraine in the eastern part of that country, reports Sputnik News, which acts as a mouthpiece for the Russian government of Vladimir Putin.

But then, the G7 leaders at their May 26-27 summit in Japan had already make it quite clear that the sanctions would be extended.

“The signals from the West on the extension of sanctions are not a surprise. The decision was taken at the G7 [summit]. Since then, other options have been excluded,” Mr. Pushkov wrote on Twitter.

To read the Sputnik News article, hit this link.

U.S. warship’s entry into Black Sea irritates Russia

(June 13th, 2016) Tensions between NATO and Russia, already high, have gone a bit higher with the vaguely threatening remarks by the Russian Foreign Ministry that Russian leader Vladimir Putin would respond to a U.S. Navy destroyer’s entry into the Black Sea with unspecified measures, Reuters and other news media report. Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria, all of which border on the Black Sea, are members of NATO.

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Russian state media reported that the USS Porter, a U.S. naval destroyer, entered the Black Sea a few days ago, a move that state media said angered Moscow because the warship was recently fitted with a new missile system.

U.S. Navy officials told reporters on June 8 that the U.S. would also have two aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean this month ahead of a July NATO summit in Warsaw as Washington continues to seek to address Russia’s intensifying military activities in eastern Europe and Syria.

For more details, hit this link.

Russia continuing buildup on its western border

(June 13th, 2016) An increasingly militaristic and aggressive Russia is building new military sites along what the Kremlin sees as its western frontline in a growing confrontation with NATO.

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At the same time the NATO alliance is staging major military exercises and increasing deployments on its eastern flank in response to Russian aggression against Ukraine and threatening actions by the Russian air force over and near the Baltic Sea.

Russia and NATO member states share borders around the Baltic Sea; further south Ukraine and Belarus separate the two blocs.

Russia has pulled out of the treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe, a post-Cold War pact that limits the deployment of troops in Europe. This makes it feel freer to move extra troops and military equipment to its western border.

For more information, hit this link.

Big NATO exercise underway in eastern Europe

(June 13th, 2016) NATO’s largest war game in Europe since the end of the old Cold War is underway in Poland, as alliance members seek to show strength in response to concerns about Russia’s aggression.

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NATO allies have welcomed the 10-day military exercise, involving 31,000 troops and thousands of vehicles from 24 countries, although some defense experts warn that any mishap/miscalculation could prompt an offensive reaction from Moscow.

Hit this link for more information.

NATO struggles to meet Russian challenge

(June 6th, 2016) As Russia becomes more aggressive and implies that it might attack NATO with tactical nuclear weapons, the leadership of the alliance is trying to encourage deadbeat members to step up and pay more attention to the threat from Vladimir Putin’s aggressive dictatorship.

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NATO’s leadership is trying to get all member nations to spend at least 2 percent of their GDP on defense, which is the long-established but often ignored guideline.

There has been a gradual move toward higher NATO defense spending since Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine, attacked the eastern part of that nation, harassed NATO ships and planes in the Baltic, unleashed cyberattacks against NATO members and showed its growing war-making expertise in its highly effective bombing to help Syrian dictator Bashir Assad.

Still, a few NATO members continue to cut defense spending. And while the alliance is carrying more military training and planning exercises in eastern and central Europe, they are little compared to what the Russians are doing. Read this New York Times story.

Merkel warns Russia that sanctions will continue

(May 30th, 2016) German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on May 26 that the Group of Seven will not end sanctions on Russia over its involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine and its seizure of Crimea.

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“For me it’s too early to give the all clear,” Ms. Merkel said in Japan, where she was attending the G7 Summit.

“There is no change of position to be expected” from the G7, she said. Earlier that day European Council President Donald Tusk, also at the summit, said that the G7 needed to take a “clear and tough stance” toward Russia for its moves in Ukraine — as well as toward China for its controversial claims and militarization in the South China Sea.

“The test of our credibility at the G7 is our ability to defend the common values that we share,” he told reporters at the Japan talks. “This test will only pass if we take a clear and tough stance on every topic of our discussions here.”

Ukraine and its Western allies believe that Russia seized and annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014 and fomented an insurgency in the country’s east to keep a grip over the former member of the Soviet Union, and especially to prevent it from seeking membership in the European Union and NATO.