Russian Foreign Affairs – September, 2017

John Tefft has left his position as Ambassador to Russia. He is due to be replaced by John Huntsman.

Russian Foreign Affairs in the News
September, 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.


US Relations – General

On the Day of My Departure
John F. Tefft, now former US Ambassador to Russia, on his departure from Russia.

CA Governor Jerry Brown Headed to Russia
While Russia may lack the amount of renewable energy infrastructure the U.S. has, it leads the world in protected land by acreage, and the sight of a plastic bag being used for the third or fourth time is ubiquitous.

The Silence of the Doves
Why, unlike during the preceding 45-year Cold War, is there no significant American mainstream opposition to the new (and more dangerous) one? Cohen poses this question as a kind of paradox for the following discussion.

In Russian-US Standoff, Cultural Exchange Suffers
More on the fall out from the current diplomatic sparring.

Travel Barriers Are the Worst of the New Cold War
Leonid Bershidsky of Bloomberg argues that the US should prioritize getting visas to Russians and getting Russians to America.


US Relations – Russia’s Side/Claims

Russia Sought a Broad Reset with Trump, Secret Document Shows
A Russian proposal obtained by BuzzFeed News reveals Moscow’s ambitious plan to break with the past and launch a major rapprochement with the United States.

Russia Gets No “3-Stage Normalization Plan” From US
US media reported that such a secret document either existed or was being prepared by the Department of State in late June.

Russia Condemns US “Plans” to Search Washington Trade Mission
Russia’s foreign ministry has summoned a top US diplomat in Moscow to protest against a search it says American officials are planning of a Russian trade mission building in Washington.

Russia: US Meddles in Russian Regional Elections
Washington was behind some efforts to sway Russia’s regional elections by financing various organizations, head of the Federation Council’s Committee on State Sovereignty Andrey Klimov told RBC.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov: Interview
Sergey Lavrov on the incumbent US administration, North Korea, and paranoid statements.

Russia to Respond to US Restrictions on Observation Flights
Washington’s reported intention to restrict observation flights over the US is yet another example of its tactics to pressure other nations rather than seeking compromise, said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov.

Russia Ready to Counter ‘Excessive Domination’ of Certain Reserve Currencies
“We will also work towards a more balanced distribution of quotas and voting shares within the IMF and the World Bank,” Putin said.


Central-Asia-StudiesUS Relations – Information Warfare

Wanted: Russia Experts, No Expertise Required
What does it say when a new organization appears, with the stated goal of educating the American public about Russia, with apparent ability to accomplish that goal through considerable star power, resources, and public reach, and yet doesn’t actually work with any Russia experts?

The Only Way to Defend Against Russia’s Information War
Opinion: The only way to stop propaganda is to make sure that people can analyze and check the news they consume.

RT, Sputnik and the Slippery Slope
US public radio on Russia state media – they interview the Moscow correspondent for the Financial Times about the extent and power of Russian media in the US – and he argues that the only way to “fight” it is to make sure that people can critically consider the news they consume.

Tillerson Moves Toward Accepting Funding for Fighting Russian Propaganda
The secretary of state came under pressure from Congress, which appropriated $80 million for countering messages from Islamist extremists — and Russia.

FBI Crackdowns on Russian Media Makes American Press Advocates Nervous
“No matter one’s feelings on Russia or Sputnik or RT, I think it’s concerning anytime the FBI gets involved in defining who is and isn’t a journalist,” said Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation.



Washington Will Not Tolerate Russia’s Military Advantage — US Military Chief
The country’s highest ranked military officer was asked by senators on how US should address the military implications” of “Russia’s deployment of a nuclear ground-launched cruise missile.”

Russia Destroys Chemical Weapons, and Faults US for Not Doing So
Yesterday, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia presided over the destruction of his country’s last declared chemical weapons on Wednesday, describing the elimination as a “historic event” and complaining that the United States has failed to purge its own chemical arsenal.

US, Russian Militaries Hold Unprecedented Talks on Syria
The meeting suggests an expanded U.S. and Russian effort to coordinate their efforts, raising questions about how the Pentagon is adhering to an American prohibition against military-to-military cooperation with Moscow. Congress enacted that law in the wake of Russia’s annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine in 2014.

NATO Accuses Russia of Blocking Observation of Massive War Game
Jens Stoltenberg, Nato’s secretary general, said an offer from Russia and Belarus for three of their experts to attend some aspects of the huge exercise fell short of the Kremlin’s international obligations.

Russia Invites Foreign Military Top Brass and Journalists to West-2017 Drills
A source in the Russian Defense Ministry said that special press tours would be arranged for Russian and Western journalists in order to provide “the most possible transparency.”

Comment by the Information and Press Department on Compliance with Transparency Measures During Preparation for West 2017 Drills
Comment by the Russian government on compliance with transpareny measures during preparation for the West 2017 drills.


North Korea

What’s the US’s Best Chance with North Korea? Russia
“Vladivostok, its gateway to the Asia-Pacific region, the headquarters of its Pacific Fleet and a hub for its energy trade, is just a couple hundred miles away from several of North Korea’s nuclear and missile sites. Any malfunction or other mishap with North Korea’s nuclear tests or missile launches could mean contamination in Russia itself…”

Why Russia Won’t Help More on North Korea
SRAS alum Nick McCarty contributed research used in this article. He currently serves as the Russian and Eastern European Affairs intern at the Hudson Institute.

Do Not Drive N. Korea into Corner, Sanctions Alone Will Not Solve Problem — Putin
South Korean President Moon Jae-in told Putin that the situation on the Korean Peninsula could become unpredictable if Pyongyang does not cut short its “provocative actions” following its latest nuclear bomb test.


Policy and Conflict Post SovietUkraine

US Senate Allocates $500mln in Security Assistance for Ukraine, Authorizes Lethal Aid
The U.S. Senate has passed the draft of the National Defense Authorization Act 2018, which provides for the allocation of $500 million to support Ukraine in the field of security and defense, that’s according to a tweet by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who continues his U.S. visit.

As Reforms Stall, a Ukrainian Cultural Revolution
Ukraine’s political reformers and corruption-busters might be disappointed. However, local culture is booming – a “buy local” movement is finding traction inside the country, Ukrainian artists are starting to find their creations exported and used in Western art/pop culture, and historical Ukrainian giants are finding a new place in contemporary youth culture.

Ukraine Reports a 4-Fold Drop in FDI in January-June
Inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) to Ukraine dropped four-fold year-on-year to $711mn over the first six months of this year, according to the Ukrstat state statistics agency in Kyiv.

Ukraine-EU Association Takes Full Effect
Ukraine is set to adopt judiciary standards that will introduce rule of law to a country where it’s almost non-existant.

Kerch Bridge to Hurt Ukraine’s Trade
There is no land route between Russia and Crimea that does not cross over Ukrainian territory so the Kremlin a bridge to connect its new territory, which would otherwise be cut off economically, to the mainland.



Putin’s Vladivostok Forum a Reality Check for China-Russia Ties
If Russia and China cannot deliver more concrete results, their rhetoric will increasingly ring hollow.

Can Russia’s Own ‘Belt and Road’ Project Make a Big Difference?
Some dismiss it as a neo-imperial idea, empty of substance and meant merely to bolster Russia’s great power image. Others – mostly Kremlin-inspired pundits – see it as Russia’s new civilisational project of the century, bound to propel it towards leadership in all Eurasia.

Russian-Chinese University Opens Its Doors in Shenzen
A trilingual university (Russian/Chinese/English) has just been opened in Shenzhen, China. A partnership between the Russian and Chinese governments, graduates will receive degrees from both Moscow State University and from the Chinese-accredited Russian-Chinese University.

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.