JRL NEWSWATCH: “The Helsinki Summit: A Good Idea Turns Bad; Mitigating the dangers of a U.S.-Russian escalatory spiral will be difficult” – The National Interest/George Beebe

“George Beebe is director of the Center for the National Interest’s intelligence program. He formerly served as chief of Russia analysis at the CIA, and as special advisor to Vice President Cheney on Russia and the former Soviet Union.”

“… the United States and Russia … managed to sail their listing bilateral ship directly into the rocks of the Russian cyber-meddling controversy. … The chief challenge … preventing tensions from spiraling disastrously ….

The political formula for getting past the cyber controversy had long been obvious: Russia and America agree to disagree over Russian electoral meddling, Washington imposes targeted sanctions incentivizing good behavior … the two presidents task their governments with laying out ground rules limiting future interference in domestic affairs. … Putin played his part … rejecting accusations that Russian state actors interfered in the 2016 election but tacitly acknowledging that non-state actors did, while suggesting that a U.S.-Russian cyber working group begin to establish rules of the game for cyber operations. … Trump failed to use the opportunity afforded by … Mueller’s recent indictments of GRU cyber operators to condemn Moscow’s actions unequivocally, choosing instead to voice doubts about whether Russia was involved …. * * * Deep mistrust on both sides has made them question the utility of diplomatic discussions of their strategic goals. Each side believes the other habitually lies about its activities and intentions. The Helsinki summit has reinforced these perceptions. Yet, if we are to avoid the worst possibilities in our increasingly perilous relations with Russia, the arduous process of reestablishing channels of communication and rebuilding trust is essential. In the wake of a meeting that was intended to renew dialogue but has probably stalled it, that process looks likely to prove longer and more arduous than ever.”

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