Russian Foreign Affairs – June, 2017

Russian Foreign Affairs in the News
June, 2017

SSI-banner Russian foreign policy and foreign policies concerning Russia have been of particular interest to those following world affairs lately. With Russia’s more assertive stance on the world stage, Russia’s absorption of Crimea, and resulting sanctions, arms buildups, and global geopolitical restructuring and repositioning, keeping a close eye on this part of the world is especially important to understanding global security and international politics.

This free resource serves to track and analyze these issues as they develop in Eurasia.

 

Russia and the US

Russia Issues Warning After US Coalition Downs Jet
The US shot down a Syrian plane in Syria. In response, Russia has shut down channels of communication and announced that US planes west of the Euphrates will be considered targets.

Hey, Congress, Get off Trump-Russia Probe and Do Something Else, Majority of Americans Say in Poll
A Harvard-Harris poll released Friday found that 64 percent of voters believe the investigations are “hurting the country” and 56 percent want Congress to instead work on issues like national security, the economy and health care.

The Trump Administration Has a New Plan for Dealing with Russia
“Right now, US-Russia relations are in the gutter,” a senior State Department official familiar with the framework told BuzzFeed News. “We want to make sure it doesn’t flush into the sewer.”

Don’t Look Now, but the US-Russia Relationship Is Getting Very Bad
The Russian Foreign Ministry canceled a long-planned meeting between senior US and Russian diplomatic officials. The Kremlin said it was retaliating because the US had just announced increased sanctions on individuals and organizations that helped with Moscow’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine.

Three Overlooked Statements by Comey That Blow Apart the Russian Collusion Narrative
Comey denied several incidents that helped build the initial story of Russian hacking.

Pentagon Seeks To Cool Tensions With Russia After Clash Over Jet Downing
The so-called “deconfliction” hotline in Syria has been a vital tool in protecting both sides’ forces as the risk of accidental clashes has increased with both sides conducting separate campaigns in the same increasingly crowded territory.

House Republicans Block Russia Sanctions Bill
Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said the legislation has been flagged by the House parliamentarian as a “blue slip” violation, referring to the constitutional requirement that revenue bills originate in the House.

America’s Culture War On Russia
The headline they have given this is inflammatory – but the article is much more interesting and nuanced. It essentially argues that Orthodox Christian culture is heir to an entirely different philosophical and social heritage than western Catholicism and Protestantism. It argues that any understanding that can occur between the two cultures must start with an acceptance of their differences.

Moscow’s Assaults on American Democracy Began 80 Years Ago
This is actually an interesting short case study of Soviet espionage in the US. A current SRAS student studying in St. Petersburg, Haley Holt, from The University of Texas at Austin, is credited as a researcher for the article.

How Did Russiagate Start?
“I left it to the judgment [of] Director Comey,” Clapper said, “to decide whether, when and what to tell me about counterintelligence investigations.”

Germany Threatens Retaliation if U.S. Sanctions Harm Its Firms
Berlin fears that could pave the way for fines against German and European firms involved in Nord Stream 2, a project to build a pipeline carrying Russian gas across the Baltic.

Russian Military

Assessing Russia’s Reorganized and Rearmed Military
Impressive capabilities demonstrated in Ukraine and Syria have given rise to concern that Western armed forces may find it difficult to cope with an operating environment dominated by new Russian weapons systems for which they have neglected to adopt countermeasures. But at the same time, a number of veteran scholars of Russian military affairs argue that the power of the current Russian military is commonly overestimated, suggesting that it is hostage to many problems inherited from its traumatic post-Soviet degeneration, critically challenged by overstretch, technologically backward, or all three.

Around 20 Military Bases to be Established in Western Russia Before Year-end
Around 40 garrison towns are currently being built, according to Defense Minister Army General Sergei Shoigu.

Cybersecurity

Suggestions on Russia-U.S. Cooperation in Cybersecurity
This report was put together by a Russian NGO working with an American NGO. The report argues that the first step to cooperation is deciding on what terminology and definitions can be agreed upon.

How Obama Was Blindsided by the “Crime of the Century”
A bombshell reveals how the president struggled to respond to Russia’s 2016 cyberattack.

Russia Hopes U.S. Will Set up Team for Dialogue on Cybersecurity
“I think that in the final end, the U.S. administration will manage to overcome domestic opposition and form a team for a serious and practical dialogue with us on this issue,” Krutskikh said. “There cannot be any other way.”

Elsewhere

Poles on Poland
What was it like growing up in Poland as communism fell? SRAS student Rebekah Switala interviews two of her Polish friends in Warsaw about what they think of the country they call home.

In the Ruins of Eastern Abkhazia’s “Ghost Towns,” Live Goes on
Abkhazia is one of the “Frozen Conflicts.” A separatist war was fought there shortly after the fall of the USSR. The separatists, for all practical purposes, won and now rule there independently. However, they were never recognized by the international community… here, a photographer has documented one area that saw heavy fighting and never recovered. Other areas of Abkhazia have begun to redevelop.

New Fighting in Ukraine’s Language War
Ukraine has recently blocked Russian-language social media sites and is preparing new legislation that would send “language inspectors” to schools, universities, and other government institutions to make sure that Russian is never used in these places.

If Americans Can Find North Korea on a Map, They’re More Likely to Prefer Diplomacy
Knowledge about a country correlates with a preference for diplomatic solutions to conflicts with that country.

About the Author

Katheryn Weaver

Katheryn Weaver is a student of rhetoric and history at the University of Texas, Austin. Her primary areas of investigation include revolution and the rhetorical justification of violence against individuals, state, and society. She is currently studying Russian as a Second Language with SRAS’s Home and Abroad Scholarship.

Josh Wilson

Josh Wilson is the Assistant Director for The School of Russian and Asian Studies (SRAS) and Communications Director for Alinga Consulting Group. In those capacities, he has been managing publications and informative websites covering geopolitics, history, business, economy, and politics in Eurasia since 2003. He is based in Moscow, Russia. For SRAS, he also assists in program development and leads the Home and Abroad Programs.