Italy’s election can’t keep Vladimir Putin up at night. No matter which party comes out on top, the Russian leader can expect a friendly government in Rome.
The center-left Democrats may be the least Russophile of the four major parties, but they still have a soft spot for Russia. Their leader, Matteo Renzi, threatened to block the renewal of EU sanctions in 2015. Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign-policy coordinator, has been criticized by Eastern Europeans and NGOs for not taking a hard enough line against Russia.
Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister and leader of Forza Italia, is on famously good terms with Putin.
His allies in the Northern League — who, in turn, ally with Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France — are openly sympathetic of Putin, whom they see as a defender of traditional, Christian values.
Because Russia promotes an agenda that is native to Europe, few seem to realize this Second Cold War is just as ideological as the first.
If anything, the fact that Vladimir Putin’s propaganda machine can tap into a homegrown Western reactionary movement that shares its beliefs makes the ideological challenge he poses more insidious. Read more “This New Cold War Is Ideological Too”
Back in March, I wondered if anybody in Donald Trump’s inner circle wasn’t in touch with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The answer, we know now, is no. The Russians were all over Trump’s team.
Whether this was collusion or a case of collective and massive misjudgment is something Robert Mueller, the special counsel, must find out, but clearly the Russians were trying to influence the outcome of the election.
Edward Luce argues in the Financial Times that Donald Trump is allowing China to take the lead in artificial intelligence and robotics. Whereas Trump is sabotaging his own country’s edge by proposing to cut investment spending, reduce visas for high-skilled migrants and pulling out of the Trans Pacific Partnership, China is spending generously, drawing in foreign talent and developing its “One Belt and One Road” trade initiative.
Michael Crowley reports for Politico that Trump is ceding postwar planning in Syria to Vladimir Putin, allowing not only Russia but Iran to maintain a foothold in the Eastern Mediterranean. The effect: Egypt and Turkey, once bulwarks of American influence in the Middle East, are eying an entente with Moscow.
Spanish media exaggerate Russia’s role in the Catalan independence crisis.
Russian state media, like RT and Sputnik, and Russia-friendly trolls, like WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, have predictably sought to exploit the crisis in a major European Union and NATO country, for three reasons:
To encouraging Catalan separatism.
To provoking an overreaction from the Spanish right.
To legitimizing the self-determination referendum it organized in the Crimea in 2014.
US president Donald Trump grudgingly signed into law on Wednesday new sanctions against Russia that Congress had approved overwhelmingly last week, criticizing the legislation as having “clearly unconstitutional” elements.
Ever since the United States entered the stage as a world power, it’s brushed up against Russia. From the 1918-20 international intervention that halfheartedly tried to prevent the rise of Soviet communism to this latest American sanctions bill, the US has long hoped to turn Russia into yet another reliable ally, joined together in a liberal order of peace and prosperity.
It is a relationship between an idealistic, extremely safe nation state and a cynical, deeply insecure one. One finds every betrayal or turnabout shocking; the other sees them as a natural course of events. Read more “So Much for Yet Another Russian Reset”
The G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany has been a mixed success for American president Donald Trump.
On the one hand, Trump negotiated a ceasefire for southwestern Syria with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. American-backed rebels have been fighting the Russian-backed regime of Bashar Assad there.
On the other hand, he didn’t elicit Russia’s support for the war against the self-proclaimed Islamic State, which is Trump’s priority.
On the one hand, G20 leaders conditioned open markets on “reciprocal and mutually advantageous trade” in their summit declaration and recognized the role of “legitimate trade defense instruments” — a political victory for Trump.