Russia This Week is a weekly review by the MEMRI Russian Media Studies Project, covering the latest Russia-related news and analysis from media in Russia, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe.
Cartoon Of The Week
During a joint press conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed his July 16 meeting with US President Donald Trump that Finland hosted.
"With regard to the meeting with President Trump, I think of it positively and believe it was useful. No one expected a two-hour conversation to resolve every controversial issue. President Trump expressed his position on these matters, I said what I thought. An exchange of views and a direct conversation are always very useful."
Putin also offered his view on the US sanctions against Russia:
"With regard to the sanctions, these actions are counterproductive and meaningless, especially with respect to a country such as Russia. And it is not just the position of the President of the United States that matters. It is the position of the so-called deep state, the ruling class in the broad sense of the word. I hope that the realization that this policy has no future will someday reach our American partners, and we will begin to cooperate in a normal way."
(Kremlin.ru, August 22, 2018)
On July 16, Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump met in Helsinki. (Source: Kremlin.ru)
In The News:
New Round Of US Sanctions Against Russia
The US sanctions on Russia over the Skripal case, announced on August 8, will enter into force on August 27.
It is worth noting that the new sanctions include a ban on the supply of dual-purpose electronic devices and components to Russia.
The US also threatened Russia with another round of sanctions, that would include banning flights by the Russian national carrier Aeroflot the US, limiting diplomatic ties and halting US exports, saying that the second wave of sanctions depends on Moscow's future policies.
(Sputniknews.com, August 24, 2018)
Deputy FM Ryabkov: We Counter The Americans' Hard-Headed, Close-Minded And Aggressive Approach
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov on the US decision to impose new anti-Russia sanctions: "It has become a bad habit to constantly address the issue of Washington's introduction of sanctions against Russia under contrived pretexts.
"This time the Americans have chosen the pretext of our alleged violations of US restrictions on oil product deliveries to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, as well as the notorious 'cyber violations.'
"Two Russian shipping companies and six vessels that belong to them have been 'punished' under the former, while one Russian legal entity and two Russian nationals are accused of attempting to evade US 'anti-hacker' measures.
"As always, there is no evidence or justification, only malicious insinuation. They seem to think the worse the better. What improvement of Russia-US relations is Washington talking about? The United States is seeking to steamroller its anti-North Korean policy through the relevant UNSC committee and insisting on expanding its sanction lists. This is not going to happen.
"We counter the Americans' hard-headed, close-minded and aggressive approach to solving bilateral and international issues with calm and consistent work on a constructive agenda. We will continue to respond to sanctions in a way that doesn't harm our own interests."
(Mid.ru, August 21, 2018)
- Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that anti-Russian sanctions are an important element of the US electoral campaign. (Tass.com, August 22, 2018; read the full article)
- Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov: "We studied [the bill on new sanctions] thoroughly and believe this is a continuation of unfriendly and illegal actions, from the standpoint of international law. Such restrictive measures are detrimental to overall world trade." (Tass.com, August 20, 2018; read the full article)
DASKAA [Defending American Security From Kremlin Aggression Act] And The New Anti-Russia Sanctions: Does The US Want Self-Isolation?
Ivan Timofeev, Program Director of the Valdai Discussion Club and Director of Programs at the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), wrote:
"The US sanctions against Russia have become habitual background news. As in wartime, people get used to daily bombing attacks, so at this point, news on the sanctions will only surprise the few that haven’t been paying attention. However, what US legislators and officials declared in August will have serious repercussions, at least on the stock markets. Russia’s expert community has split into 'defeatists' and 'protectionists.' The former are gloating: At last, they are going to show 'us' what’s what, we’ve really done it. The latter are enthusiastic and brimming with optimism: They are attacking us, but we are all the stronger for it. But, in all evidence, the real state of affairs is in a different system of coordinates. Despite the economic inequality between the US and Russia, Moscow retains enough leverage to influence and control the situation. More than that, Washington’s increased radicalism is something that gives Russian diplomacy even more room to maneuver."
(Valdaiclub.com, August 22, 2018)
Reactions To Trump's Statement That He Would Lift Sanctions On Russia For Concessions On Syria And Ukraine
On August 20, during an interview with Reuters, US President Donald Trump declared: "No. I haven't thought about it. But no, I'm not considering it at all. No. I would consider it if they do something that would be good for us. But I wouldn't consider it without that. In other words, I wouldn't consider it, even for a moment, unless something was go — we have a lot of things in common. We have a lot of things we can do good for each other. You have Syria. You have Ukraine. You have many other things. I think they would like economic development. And that's a big thing for them."
(Reuters.com, August 21, 2018; see "HIGHLIGHTS-Key quotes from Reuters interview with Trump")
Russian FM Lavrov: 'Sanctions Against Russia Were Introduced Not Because Of Syria, Ukraine, Crimea Or Anything Else, But Out Of A Desire To Use Dishonest Methods Of Competition And Advance The Absolutely Futile Policy Of Containing Russia'
During a press conference, Lavrov was asked to comment on Trump's statement:
Question: "US President Donald Trump has stated that sanctions against Russia could be revised if Moscow cooperates with Washington on Syria and Ukraine. How do you regard such statements? Have there been any contacts? At what level? UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has urged European partners to slap their own sanctions on Russia in connection with the Salisbury incident. Could you comment on this?"
Sergey Lavrov: "Our contacts with the United States are proceeding on many issues, including on Syria and Ukraine, more intensively on Syria. And on Ukraine, as you know, through a dialogue within the framework of the Surkov-Volker format. They exchange their assessments of the situation and, as far as I understand, are planning a new meeting in the foreseeable future. They met in Belgrade some time ago.
"The problems facing the settlement processes in Syria and Ukraine stem not from Russia's position, but from the unwillingness of certain circles in and around Syria to comply with UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and, as regards Ukraine, from the Ukrainian government's failure to honor its commitments under the Minsk Agreements. It is clear to everyone that sanctions against Russia were introduced not because of Syria, Ukraine, Crimea or anything else, but out of a desire to use dishonest methods of competition and advance the absolutely futile policy of containing Russia. As President of Russia Vladimir Putin said during the press conference with US President Donald Trump in Helsinki, it is sad that in certain political circles in the US, relations with Russia have become a bargaining chip in domestic politics.
"As for Britain, I heard the statements by the new UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who, as far as I understand, is heading for Washington. London is pressing the same things in relations with Europeans, citing the Salisbury incident, which has not yet been investigated. A while ago, Secretary Hunt was asked in Britain if any progress had been made in identifying the suspects. He did not know what to say to his own journalists.
"Our British colleagues have a fairly high opinion of themselves. The country that is leaving the EU – the so-called Brexit – is trying to dictate EU foreign policy. And now it appears that London wants to dictate Washington's policy towards Russia as well.
We have repeatedly urged our British colleagues to come to the negotiating table, lay down all their concerns and figure out where we are in our relations. The response was a haughty refusal. Our proposal stands. Neither on the issue of the investigation of the Salisbury incident, nor on any other matter that the British side is trying to spin in an anti-Russian way, can there be any 'highly likely' any more. Lay the facts on the table, please."
(Mid.ru, August 21, 2018)
- Senator Konstantin Kosachev, Chairman of the Federation Council Committee for International Affairs, said that Trump’s pronouncements about possible lifting of the anti-Russian sanctions in exchange for Russia’s concessions on Syria and Ukraine are nothing but sheer rhetoric to meet the popular demand in the United States for better relations with Russia as the ultimate decision on that matter is up to the Congress. (Tass.com, August 21, 2018; read the full article)
- Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the Kremlin is waiting for specific proposals on cooperation to resolve the situation in Syria and Ukraine, which, according to US President Donald Trump, is the condition for lifting anti-Russian sanctions. "We need to understand what conditions [for removing sanctions] are meant specifically. Of course, we welcome statements, which confirm willingness to cooperate. However, we would welcome any specific actions even more," Peskov added. (Tass.com, August 21, 2018; read the full article)
Reactions To Microsoft's Accusations That Russian Hackers Attempted To Interfere In US Midterm Elections
Russian MFA: It Is A Shame That Microsoft Has Been Forced To Participate In The Witch Hunt Gripping Washington
The Russian MFA commented:
"Again we have to state what seems to be obvious. As much as one would like to, it is impossible to comment on statements that are totally unsubstantiated and are clearly aimed at producing the greatest political and public wow-effect.
"As the press secretary of the President of Russia has already said, we do not know what Microsoft is talking about, what attempted interference is meant and who those “Russian hackers,” the more so “associated with the Kremlin,” are.
"As a reminder, we have long been proposing to get down to concrete matters. These include preparing a meeting of the bilateral working group on cyber security, where such problems must, in fact, be discussed with the participation of Russian and US specialists. Apparently, our American colleagues do not want to present any evidence of the alleged Russian cyber interference, which they claim to possess, for fear of embarrassing themselves. Simply, there is none and there cannot be any. Nevertheless, we are ready for such contacts, for normalizing a dialogue of professionals.
"It is a shame that a large international company that has long been actively and successfully operating on the Russian market has been forced to participate in the witch hunt gripping Washington – evidently, in order to demonstrate their loyalty. It is their choice. We will have to make the necessary conclusions."
(Mid.ru, August 21, 2018)
Russia's Response To The Sanctions
Commenting on the new round of sanctions, which include a ban on supplies of dual-purpose electronic devices and components to Russia, Senator Aleksey Kondratiev, deputy chair of the Federation Council Committee for Security and Defense, said:
"Russia's appropriate response will come in short order, 100 %. You can't fly to space using our engines and simultaneously introduce sanctions against us, this goes beyond common sense."
(Ria.ru, August 23, 2018)
Russian deputy FM Sergey Ryabkov stated:
"We will not consider as an option any actions such as curtailing the delivery of rocket engines for the US space program or aviation titanium, which we produce in a joint venture with the Boeing company or any other export to the US. This would be the equivalent of shooting ourselves in the leg."
(Ria.ru, August 23, 2018)
Ryabkov also added:
"Americans should not have a sense of impunity or psychological –political comfort, in thinking that the mere possession of the US passport with the American eagle on the cover provides a path to all countries of the world. It's a subject for a separate discussion whether it is a symbolic or feasible [measure], yet it's our position."
(Ria.ru, August 23, 2018)
- The US ban on the export of high-tech dual-purpose products to Russia will affect certain sectors of the Russian economy, but the impact will not be critical, Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov said. (Tass.com, August 21, 2018; read the full article)
News In Brief:
- Russian First Deputy Defense Minister Col. Gen. Alexander Fomin said that Russia will keep developing military, defense and anti-terrorism cooperation with Iran. (Tass.com, August 21, 2018; read the full article)
- The CEO of the Almaz Central Marine Design Bureau Alexander Shlyakhtenko said that the developers of Project 22800 ‘Karakurt’ missile corvettes expect a whole group of countries, including Iran, to display their interest in the warship’s export version. (Tass.com, August 20, 2018; read the full article)
- The CEO of Russia’s state arms seller Rosoboronexport Alexander Mikheyev said that Russia and the Philippines are holding negotiations on cooperation, including the delivery of Project 636 conventional submarines. (Tass.com, August 21, 2018; read the full article)
- Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks and answers at a joint news conference following talks with Foreign Minister of Serbia Ivica Dacic. "We reiterated our commitment to the all-round strengthening of our strategic partnership as agreed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, including as part of their talks during celebrations of the anniversary of Victory on May 8 and 9." (Mid.ru, August 21, 2018; read the full remarks)