NEWSWATCH: “Leakgate Finds Its Joe McCarthy; On Trump-Russia links, Rep. Schiff tries to fool the public with randomness” – Wall Street Journal/HOLMAN W. JENKINS, JR.

Adam Schiff file photo, adapted from image at congress.gov

“… Schiff, a former prosecutor, … should know better than to treat ‘circumstantial evidence’ as a synonym for guilt by association. There isn’t room to detail the fantastically trivial basis for his portrayal of Trump pilot fish Roger Stone as an intimate of WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange and alleged hacker Guccifer 2.0, or the utter fatuity of his attempt to place pilot […]

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Why the Comey Hearing Was Frightening to a Russian

Gas Facility file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – March 21, 2017) Leonid Bershidsky is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru. Monday’s hearing on Russia’s alleged interference in the U.S. presidential election and the alleged contacts between Donald Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin yielded inspiring news for […]

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NEWSLINK: “Manafort had plan to benefit Putin government” – AP Exclusive/JEFF HORWITZ, CHAD DAY

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

“… Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to advance the interests of … Putin a decade ago and proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics, The Associated Press has learned. The work appears to contradict assertions by the Trump administration and Manafort himself that he never worked for […]

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NEWSLINK: “Key Democratic Officials Now Warning Base Not to Expect Evidence of Trump/Russia Collusion” – The Intercept/Glenn Greenwald

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

“… The principal problem for Democrats is that so many media figures and online charlatans are personally benefiting from feeding the base increasingly unhinged, fact-free conspiracies … there are now millions of partisan soldiers absolutely convinced of a Trump/Russia conspiracy for which, at least as of now, there is no evidence. And they are all waiting for the day, which they […]

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NEWSLINK: “First Encounter Between Trump, Putin Likely To Come At G-20” – Forbes/Kenneth Rapoza

“The much anticipated meeting between President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart may take place in Germany during the G-20, according to press reports …. The meeting is key for setting the direction of Russia-U.S. ties, which have been severed over the last two years of the Obama Administration. …”

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NEWSWATCH: “Down the conspiracy rabbit hole” – Washington Post/Charles Krauthammer

Stylized Artist's Depiction of Shadowy Figures in Dark Coats and Dark Hats, One Carrying a Briefcase

“We learn … from Tuesday’s spectacular WikiLeaks dump that among the CIA’s various and nefarious cybertools is the capacity to simulate intrusion by a foreign power, the equivalent of planting phony fingerprints on a smoking gun. … Washington [is] caught up in one of its periodic conspiracy frenzies. Actually, two. One, anti-Trump, is that he and his campaign colluded with Russian […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Russian pundits praise Trump’s pick for new ambassador to Russia”

File Photo of U.S. Embassy Moscow, with Russian Foreign Ministry Building in Distance

Given the Russia-related political turmoil that has shaken his administration, Donald Trump had little choice in selecting a suitable candidate to serve as ambassador to Russia. However, experts agree that the reasons for choosing Jon #Huntsman go beyond the Trump administration’s internal policy considerations. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – NIKOLAI SHEVCHENKO, RBTH – March 10, 2017) The appointment […]

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VIDEO: “U.S. and Russia relations are very strained. Here’s what’s at stake.” – PBS, with Andrew Weiss and Paul Saunders

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

(PBS Newshour – pbs.org/newshour/bb/u-s-russia-relations-strained-heres-whats-stake/ –  March 3, 2017) “The latest reports on repeated contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials have strained the potential for improved ties between Moscow and Washington. Chief foreign correspondent Margaret Warner reports, then Judy Woodruff gets views on what’s at stake from Andrew Weiss of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Paul Saunders […]

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Contacts with Russian Embassy

File Photo of Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., Adapted From Image at loc.gov

(Jack Matlock – jackmatlock.com – March 4, 2017) Jack Matlock is a career diplomat who served on the front lines of American diplomacy during the Cold War and was U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union when the Cold War ended. Our press seems to be in a feeding frenzy regarding contacts that President Trump’s supporters had with Russian Ambassador Sergei […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Will the U.S. and Russia dance or duel? Why Russia is playing a more muscular role in the world and how that may prevent closer ties between Trump and Putin.” – Christian Science Monitor/Peter Ford

File Photo of G7 Leaders and other Officials Around Round Table at the Hague, with Flags

“Twenty years ago, Russia was a member of the Group of Eight industrialized democracies, a NATO partner, and a fledgling but enthusiastic new recruit to a budding ‘new world order.’ Today, Russia has been kicked out of the G8, NATO has suspended all cooperation with Moscow, and … Putin says his nation is engaged in a ‘civilizational’ battle with the West […]

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NEWSLINK: “The Basic Formula For Every Shocking Russia/Trump Revelation” – Michael Tracy/Medium

Satellite Dishes

“The basic formula for every breaking Trump/Russia story is essentially as follows: 1. The New York Times or Washington Post releases an article that at first blush appears extremely damning. 2. Anti-Trump pundits and Democrats react reflexively to the news, express shrieking outrage, and proclaim that this finally proves untoward collusion between Trump and Russia-a smoking gun, at last. 3. […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia dismisses sweeping corruption allegations against Medvedev” – Washington Post/David Filipov

File Photo of Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin with Heads Bowed Over Microphone

… Navalny, who has said he will run for president in 2018, released … a report and … video detailing allegations that Medvedev has funneled more than $1 billion in bribes through companies and charities run by his associates to acquire vineyards, luxury yachts and lavish mansions. The Russian government quickly dismissed the accusations as an attention-grabbing stunt by a self-proclaimed presidential […]

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David Johnson: How we got here: one theory

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

Just for arguments sake here’s one speculative hypothesis about how we got to where we are today vis-a-vis the “Russian hacking” story. In the context of the 2016 highly emotional presidential election pitting Clinton vs. Trump there was a concerted effort on the part of Clinton-partisans to try to make the central campaign theme an expose of alleged Trump-Russia connections. […]

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It’s Time to Make Nuclear Arms Control Great Again; Donald Trump has been sending alarming signals to Moscow on the nuclear issue

File Photo of Stealth Bomber in Flight

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Vladimir Frolov – March 2, 2017) An odd structural problem stands in the way of the Trump administration’s proposed “reset” with Russia: nuclear arms control. Few could have predicted this stumbling block. Every recent rapprochement between Moscow and Washington has begun with negotiated reductions in nuclear weapons, nuclear testing and missile defense. Managing the nuclear […]

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Interfax: Trump continues to follow pragmatic rather than ideological path – Kosachyov

Federation Council file photo

MOSCOW. March 1 (Interfax) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s statement before Congress about the need to search for new allies displays his pragmatic attitude, but a pledged growth of military spending and his position on Iran cause concerns, Federation Council international affairs committee’s head Konstantin Kosachyov said. “America is ready to look for new allies in tackling new threats, so, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Advice to Trump: Beware of Russian Trolls; The recent stray spy ship and the fly-bys in the Black Sea are signs that the Kremlin is engaging in its favorite pastime: pushing America’s buttons” – Foreign Policy Magazine/Mark Galeotti

Russian Jet Buzzing U.S. Navy Destroyer, adapted from U.S. Navy photo

“Last week, a Russian spy ship … spent a few days loitering approximately 30 miles off the East Coast …. up to Connecticut … down to Virginia, generating … consternation …. in the wake … of a few other incidents that set off alarm bells … [it was] reported that #Russia had secretly deployed cruise missiles … in likely defiance […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Trump Attacks FBI on Leakers of Russia Reports: ‘FIND NOW'” – Reuters

FBI Headquarters File Photo

… Trump criticized the FBI … for failing to stop leaks of national security information to the media and directed the agency to find those who pass on classified information. … amid media reports that the FBI has refused a White House request that it refutes recent stories …. The Federal Bureau of Investigation … did not answer a request […]

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NEWSLINK: “Lost in Translation” – Sarah Lindemann-Komarov/Portland Press Herald (Maine)/Medium

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

“Throughout the 25 years I have lived in Siberia people have turned to me as a translator, not of English, but of America. Never more so than now, from my University students to the Kazakh fast food cashier at the mall, “Trump?”. I know they ask hoping I can provide a translation of the meaning of Trump that will reinforce […]

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NEWSLINK: “The ‘Russia Scare’ Coalition: ISIL’s ‘Useful Idiots’? Victory by the ‘Russia scare’ coalition will limit America’s ability to fight ISIL, complicate efforts to win UNSC support for tough enforcement of the Iran nuclear deal and give China more leverage over both Moscow and Washington.” – The National Interest editorial

American Flag and Partial View of U.S. Capitol Dome, adapted from image at aoc.gov

“The turmoil surrounding Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s resignation and wider allegations of links between President Donald Trump, his campaign and Russia seems to have made a strong impression in Moscow. Many there had already calibrated initially unrealistic expectations after Mr. Trump’s initial weeks in office; recent events have tempered even these more limited ambitions. Hopes have long faded that Washington […]

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RUSSIALINK Russia Direct/Ivan Tsvetkov: “After Flynn’s dismissal, Russia starts to doubt Trump. After National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s scandalous resignation and Donald Trump’s tough new rhetoric toward the Kremlin, Russia has started to back away from the U.S. president. That could be dangerous.”

Kremlin and River

“This week has not been easy for U.S.-Russia relations, especially with the scandalous resignation of President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Russia is now back on the agenda of the U.S. media after a brief period in which U.S. President Donald Trump’s early presidential moves overshadowed any talk of foreign policy. The image of Flynn is controversial in […]

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NEWSLINK: “Survey: U.S. Vital Interests Vis-à-Vis #Russia” – Russia Matters/Thomas Graham, Stephen Kinzer, Jack Matlock, Matthew Rojansky, Paul Saunders

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

“Every new U.S. president assumes office with a firm intention to pursue polices based on national interests, but not every one of them publicly formulates what exactly these interests are. We have asked a handful of top experts on #Russia three related questions: (a) What are America’s top five vital national interests; (b) which of them can Russia significantly impact […]

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President Trump’s Boris Yeltsin Moment

Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – February 15, 2017) Leonid Bershidsky is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru. President Donald Trump is irritated about the media furor surrounding the departure of his national security adviser. “The real scandal here is that classified information is […]

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End of Kremlin’s Dream of ‘Big Deal’ with Trump Makes Putin More Dangerous Not Less

File Photo of Donald Trump Waving Before Large Crowd with Trump Signs, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 16, 2017) Andrey Piontkovsky is undoubtedly correct that “‘a big deal’” between Moscow and Washington has become “impossible” given the fallout from the Flynn scandal because “any step by Trump in this direction would mean for him political death” (nv.ua/opinion/piontkovskiy/novaja-realnost-kremlja-647586.html). But while the Russian commentator doesn’t say so in his latest […]

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The Political Assassination of Michael Flynn

Michael Flynn file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Eli Lake – February 14, 2017) Eli Lake is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the senior national security correspondent for the Daily Beast and covered national security and intelligence for the Washington Times, the New York Sun and UPI. If we are to believe the Trump White House, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn just resigned […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Two explosive reports on Trump and Russia. Zero on-the-record sources.” – Washington Post/Callum Borchers

Satellite Dishes

“… Which is it? Is the media making up fake nonsense? Or is the intelligence community leaking real information? …. anonymity invariably promotes skepticism about sources’ motives. The Times wrote that ‘all of the current and former officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the continuing investigation is classified.’ That makes sense; it also makes sense to wonder whether […]

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NEWSWATCH: “As Trump re-evaluates NATO, NATO must rethink Russia; With tensions running high in NATO, it seems the alliance is in sore need of a fresh course on Russia and a new deal on security. A former US ambassador to Moscow and an ex-German envoy to NATO gave their takes to DW.” – Deutsche Welle/Darko Janjevic

NATO Meeting file photo

… In addition to calling NATO ‘obsolete,’ Trump has pressured … members to increase … defense spending and signaled a more isolationist foreign policy …. * * * Unlike Trump, Matlock believes … boosting defense spending would be a step in the wrong direction. * * * … With the United States changing its stance, European powers will need to […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Why Trump Is Right on Russia” – New York Times/ANATOL LIEVEN

File Photo of Donald Trump Waving Before Large Crowd with Trump Signs, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

“Few of the Trump administration’s priorities have received as much criticism from the American foreign policy establishment as the president’s desire to improve relations with Russia. … This makes little sense. There are many good reasons for the United States to reach conciliation with Moscow on issues from Eastern Europe to the Middle East. … Unlike China, Russia is not […]

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Re: The Gathering Storm

Eurasia Map

Subject: The Gathering Storm Date: Fri, 27 Jan 2017 From: David Law <davidmurraylaw@gmail.com> The Gathering Storm By David Law Senior Associate, Security Governance Group; former Head of NATO Policy Planning and Speechwriting Unit With Donald Trump now sworn in as the American President and Commander-in-Chief, here are some thoughts on where the world may be headed. In 1948, Winston Churchill […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Kremlin: Talks to Decide Future of Nuclear Pact With US” – AP

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

“The possibility of extending a pivotal Russia-U.S. arms control pact is to be discussed in prospective talks …. Peskov[] said the prospects of extending the New START Treaty … set to expire in 2021 will ‘depend on the position of our American partners’ and require negotiations. … the 2010 pact … limited Russian and U.S. nuclear arsenals to no more […]

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NEWSLINK: “What Russians think when they hear ‘Putin’s a killer'” – Washington Post/Andrew Roth

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

“… Change may be coming under the Trump administration. The State Department and the White House have been silent this week on two events: the latest sentencing of opposition leader Alexey Navalny for embezzlement, likely ending his 2018 bid for president, and the mysterious, life-threatening illness of Vladimir Kara-Murza, another opposition figure, who, his family believes, has been poisoned twice since 2015. …”

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Interfax: Lifting of some restrictions from FSB confirms Trump’s intention to normalize relations with Russia – former FSB Director Kovalyov

Portion of U.S. Treasury Department Building Facade, North Side, with Sculpture of Alexander Hamilton

MOSCOW. Feb 9 (Interfax) – The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s decision to drop some restrictions imposed earlier on the issuance of licenses and permits to export computer technologies to Russia shows that the Donald Trump administration is consistent in its efforts to normalize cooperation with Russia, Nikolai Kovalyov, a State Duma deputy and former head of the Federal Security […]

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Putin’s Tough Choice: China Or The West

Eurasia Map

(Oilprice.com – Robert Berke – February 3, 2017) To many observers, the appointment of Tillerson to the helm the State Dept signaled the Administration’s priority of supporting the oil industry, which in recent years has been under severe pressure from OPEC’s campaign of over-production that forced prices down to a post-recession low. Seen from a different angle, the move also […]

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NEWSLINK: “Kiev Is Fueling the War in Eastern Ukraine, Too; A muted White House isn’t just emboldening the Kremlin — it’s inciting the politics of war throughout Ukraine.” – Foreign Policy Magazine/ISAAC WEBB

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

“… Beginning Jan. 29, rockets rained down on residential and military positions along the front line, killing civilians and soldiers alike. One 60-year-old woman was killed in separatist shelling as she walked from her home to a nearby market; a 24-year-old medic was killed when a shell exploded next to the ambulance she was driving. The fighting decimated local water […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Bad Equilibrium” – project-syndicate/Anders Åslund

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

After more than two years of economic contraction, Russia seems to have achieved some semblance of stability. Though economic growth is expected to reach only about 1% in 2017, the fear of economic destabilization that has permeated the country since its 2014 invasion of Crimea – which was met with crippling sanctions from the West – has all but evaporated. […]

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NEWSLINK: “We can’t let Trump go down Putin’s path; Russia’s experience shows why Americans must act now to safeguard democratic institutions.” – Washington Post/Michael McFaul

File Photo of Barack Obama Sitting at Desk with Mike McFaul Standing Next to Him Facing Him

“Michael McFaul is director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and a Hoover fellow at Stanford University, and a contributing columnist to The Post. He was previously special assistant to President Barack Obama at the National Security Council from 2009 to 2012 and U.S. ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014.”  

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NEWSWATCH: “Trump Administration Looks at Driving Wedge Between Russia and Iran” – Wall Street Journal

Iran Map and Flag

“… Trump … is exploring ways to break Russia’s military and diplomatic alliance with Iran in a bid to both end the Syrian conflict and bolster the fight against Islamic State …. The emerging strategy seeks to reconcile … Trump’s seemingly contradictory vows to improve relations with … Putin and to aggressively challenge the military presence of Iran – one […]

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Moscow Doesn’t Expect Trump to End Sanctions All at Once but ‘Cleverly’ Over Time, Markov Says

File Photo of Donald Trump Waving Before Large Crowd with Trump Signs, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 3, 2017) “Russophobia is so deeply rooted in European-American ideology,” Sergey Markov says, that Moscow doesn’t expect new US President Donald Trump to end all sanctions all at once but rather “in a clever fashion” that avoids problems for him and over a significant period of time. The words of Markov, […]

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Russians Will Pay a High Price for Obsession with US and Trump, Shevtsova Says

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 6, 2017) Russians are obsessed with Donald Trump because he allows them to imagine that they are once again a world power, Liliya Shevtsova says; but that is a dangerous misreading of the new American president and one for which Russians are going to pay a far higher price than they […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Trump-Putin ties now seen as key to peace in eastern Ukraine” – CNBC/Silvia Amaro

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

“Escalating violence in eastern Ukraine … has underlined the importance … Trump now plays in the region … promising to restore peace after a phone call with … Poroshenko. Trump has signaled his intent to have a closer relationship with Russia and … Putin. And with an open line of communication with Poroshenko, Trump could well prove … instrumental. * […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia Open to Pragmatic Relationship With U.S. Despite Differences; Russia and U.S. could benefit from ‘pragmatic mutual relations,’ says Moscow” – Wall Street Journal/JAMES MARSON

Kremlin and River

“… ‘It is no secret that on a whole range of questions of international and regional policy, the positions of Moscow and Washington are diametrically different,’ Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Monday, Russian news agencies reported. But that can’t and shouldn’t be a hindrance for establishing normal communications and pragmatic mutual relations between Russia and the U.S.’ … Trump […]

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NEWSLINK: “U.S. Preps for Infowar on Russia” – DailyBeast/Tim Mak

Satellite Dishes

“While President Trump is still defending Vladimir Putin in public, American policymakers have finally awoken to Russian intervention in the U.S. democratic process-and are pumping tens of millions into a counter-propaganda initiative”

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RUSSIALINK Russia Direct/Michael McFaul: “Steve Bannon, the Grey Cardinal in the White House: Good or bad for Russia?”

Ambassador Mike McFaul file photo

“Michael McFaul is a former ambassador to Russia and the Director of Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. This article is revised and updated version of a blogpost that originally appeared on the Echo of Moscow website in Russian. Russia Direct republishes the article with the permission of Michael McFaul and Echo of Moscow.”

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RUSSIALINK TASS: “Russia ready to take its part of road towards restoration of relations with US”

Putin and Obama with U.S. and Russian Flags

“Moscow is ready to take its part of the road towards restoration of relations with Washington, which suffered major damage at the previous head of the U.S. administration Barack Obama, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with Austria’s Profil weekly. Moscow is watching closely statements made by President Donald Trump about Russia, he said.”

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American Business Lobby In Moscow Sees Sympathetic Ally In President Trump; The American Chamber of Commerce in Moscow isn’t happy about sanctions. But don’t call it a policy position.

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner – February 2, 2017) In mid-December, with Donald Trump’s ascension to the presidency looming, former Republican congressman Jack Kingston flew to Moscow. Kingston, a senior Trump surrogate, was dispatched to liaise with American firms working in Russia. The topic on everyone’s minds was the U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia in response to its […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Five issues on which Putin and Trump might find common ground”

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

Now that Donald Trump is in the White House, Russians are discussing the expected détente with the U.S., and they’re speculating on which issues and under what conditions Moscow and Washington might find common ground. RBTH and various international affairs experts discussed the possible issues and how they might be solved. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ALEXEY TIMOFEYCHEV, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Toward a New Equilibrium in U.S.-Russian Relations; The new administration must understand how Russia relates to American goals” – Thomas E. Graham/The National Interest

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

… Trump will face no more urgent foreign-policy task than developing a Russia policy. … The Russia We Face: The starting point for a new strategy is a clear understanding of how Russia relates to American goals. Its nuclear arsenal, vast natural resources and proximity to regions of undisputed strategic value …. Relations will focus on security matters …. The […]

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Thoughts on first Trump-Putin summit

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

Subject: Thoughts on first Trump-Putin summit Date: Wed, 1 Feb 2017 From: Raymond Smith <ray.smith531@gmail.com> Thoughts on first Trump-Putin summit By Raymond Smith Retired from the U.S. Foreign Service. Served six years in Moscow, including three as the embassy’s political affairs counselor. Participated in drafting numerous briefing memoranda for meetings between U.S. leaders and their counterparts. Author of Negotiating with […]

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What Vladimir Putin Could Explain to Donald Trump

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

(Jack Matlock, U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987 to 1991 – jackmatlock.com – January 31, 2017) The telephone conversation last Saturday between the American and Russian presidents seems to have been amicable and constructive, at least in a general sense. They are reported to have discussed key world issues as potential partners, not as adversaries or enemies. That […]

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NEWSLINK: “A Grand Bargain: What Russia wants from the West” – Matthew Dal Santon/Medium

File Photo of G7 Leaders and other Officials Around Round Table at the Hague, with Flags

“The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States of America has elicited thousands of lines of newsprint as academics, journalists and the wider public seek to make sense of its implications. It has occasioned no less speculation in Russia, much of it shot through with a strong sense of Russia’s unexpected good luck. …”

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