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
(Source: Ria.ru, July 13, 2018)
Quote Of The Week
Commenting on the upcoming Trump-Putin meeting, Andrey Kortunov, Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council, wrote:
"Putin has to keep in mind possible negative reactions to a new rapprochement with Trump coming from Russia’s traditional partners and allies all over the world. How can President Hassan Rouhani interpret it from Tehran? What should Bashar Assad think in Damascus? Nicolas Maduro in Caracas? Above all, how are they likely react in Beijing? The latter should be of particular concern to Vladimir Putin because the meeting in Helsinki takes place against the background of rapidly deteriorating US — Chinese relations."
"The current positions of Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are asymmetrical. Anything, but a clear and decisive US success will be considered a failure in Washington. Anything, but a clear and decisive Russian failure will be considered a success in Moscow. This asymmetry is a complicating factor, but it should not necessarily prevent the meeting in Helsinki from turning into a diplomatic victory for both sides."
(Russiancouncil.ru, July 13, 2018)
A brief meeting between Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump took place on the sidelines of the G20 summit in 2017.(Source: Kremlin.ru)
In The News
In Anticipation Of Trump-Putin Meeting: Trump Buying Russian Stocks At A Bargain
Previewing the July 16 Summit meeting in Helsinki between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump , Ivan Timofeev, Program Director of the Valdai Discussion Club and Director of Programs at the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), wrote:
"Indeed, the summit has important symbolic meaning. Until recently, the probability of holding it remained low enough due to the burden of contradictions which had accumulated in bilateral relations, as well as the domestic political climate in the United States. Speculation about Donald Trump’s 'collusion' with Russia, as well as the unprecedentedly hostile media background against Moscow put any constructive steps in the Russian direction from the US President under serious risk. However, Trump decisively goes against the current trend. He simply 'buys' foreign-policy assets, rejected by the majority. He throws off the liabilities, which his colleagues on the international arena hold hard. Russian stocks are important. And they are phenomenally cheap. Trump is eager to get the political gains before the rest move in.
"With all the fuss about the United States’ greatness and the negligible role of Russia in the world economy, the American diplomacy has reasons for concern. The ties between Moscow and Beijing are becoming increasingly closer. The Russian Armed Forces receive fundamentally new weapons systems, which must be reckoned with. Despite its limited capabilities, Moscow can change the balance of power in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Finally, conversations between Russians and Americans inevitably boil down to global security issues: the future of the world order, arms control, global problems, balance of power."
(Valdaiclub.com, July 9, 2018)
Boris Johnson's Resignation– No Russian Regrets
Commenting on British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson's resignation, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated on her Facebook page:
"Do you remember that we mentioned how this dirty multi-component scheme would end badly for Theresa May’s government? Here we go. Even the British king of political eccentricity didn’t want to stay on board this sinking ship… A lot on Downing Street is foggy, except for one thing - the outlines of a government crisis are becoming more and more pronounced."
(Tass.com, July 9, 2018)
Senator Konstatin Kosachev, head of the Federal Council's foreign relations committee, stated that the resignation of the "eccentric" Foreign Secretary confirms the presence of serious problems in the Theresa May cabinet.
(Tass.com, July 9, 2018)
Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov commented:
"We clearly can evaluate other countries’ ministers only from the standpoint of their contribution to the development of bilateral relations with Russia. Unfortunately, Boris Johnson’s contribution to the development of Russian-British relations can be described as rather modest, to say the least."
(Tass.com, July 10, 2018)
Prime Minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras and Vladimir Putin. (Source: Kremlin.ru)
As NATO summit began, Greece decided to expel two Russian diplomats and banned the entry of another two Russian citizens.
Athens accused Russia of meddling in Greece's domestic affairs.
According to Greece, Russia tried to foment the opposition in the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to undermine a deal between Athens and the Balkan country. However, the deal was brokered and ended a diplomatic standoff over its name. Macedonia will change its name into Republic of North Macedonia. The deal paved the way for an invitation to the Balkan country to join NATO.
On July 13, Russia decided to summon the Greek Ambassador to Russia Andreas Fryganas.
The Russian MFA commented: "Obviously, Washington stands behind this anti-Russia decision by the Greek Government that was timed to the opening of the NATO summit and was openly supported by a State Department statement."
(Mid.ru, July 13, 2018)
Igor Pshenichnikov, expert for the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, stated:
"It is clear that Greece’s authorities made the decision to expel Russian diplomatic staff members under the pressure of their advisers from Brussels and Washington. This is a gift that [Greek Prime Minister] Alexis Tsipras made for the NATO summit… Any excuse can be found, and it is not worth talking about. May it weigh on the conscience of Greece’s current authorities… Of course, it is being done for a reason. Bad relations with Russia are a condition for Tsipras’ good relations with Washington and Brussels. This is obvious."
(Tass.com, July 12, 2018)
Senator Vladimir Dzhabarov, first deputy chair, of the Federation Council's International Affairs Committee chided the Greek government for its handling of the affair: "If Greece [were] a friendly country, it would simply have invited the [Russian] ambassador and requested that they [the diplomats] leave, without any noise and attracting media attention. Then, there probably would have been no reciprocal measures. These things happen, if the country is friendly, when work mistakes are admitted by diplomats."
He noted that following the Greek announcement doubt arises about its friendliness towards Russia.
"When dealing with such a declaration, serious doubt arises whether the country is friendly or is just following in the wake of all the anti-Russian campaigns. The Greeks did not proceed entirely correctly, it's a mistake", said the senator.
(Ria.ru, July 11, 2018)
Senator Andrey Klimov said that Russia never viewed Greece as its partner or ally in Europe: "Greece is part of NATO, and that alone will suffice", explained the senator.
(Ria.ru, July 11, 2018)
Andrey Kortunov, Russian Council for International Affairs CEO:
"The way it was presented reflects certain processes in the internal Greek political situation. A fierce struggle is proceeding, and the Russian factor is also present. The current Greek authorities decided to insure themselves, yet the situation resembles more a public relations action for domestic consumption. We do remember that Athens declined, being under London's pressure, to expel Russian diplomats after the Skripal poisoning, thus it's not about displaying general Western solidarity. Currently, all the passages about maintaining friendly relations with Russia were made, thus, though Russia will have to reciprocate, this incident will not seriously affect the relations. Both sides are interested in minimizing the negative [effect]."
(t.me/russiancouncil, July 9. 2018)
The Greek newspaper Kathimerini commented:
"In a sign that bilateral relations are taking a turn for the worse, Greece’s ambassador in Moscow was summoned on [July 13] by the Russian Foreign Ministry over the expulsion of two Russian diplomats by Athens.
"Furthermore, in what was seen as a response to the US State Department’s support for Greece’s action, the Russian Foreign Ministry accused the US of being behind the move… The expulsion of the diplomats, it said, went against the nature of bilateral ties and could cause serious damage.
"However, Greek diplomatic sources were quick to dismiss the Russian accusations against the US as unfounded. 'Claims of alleged US pressure on Greece are entirely unfounded. The Russians seem to have difficulty understanding that a small state is able to defend its national interests,' the sources said. 'They are also having difficulty understanding our country’s right to defend its national interests in the region and keep seeing third countries behind [our actions].' they added, noting that Greece does not allow third parties to intervene in domestic affairs."
(Ekathimerini.com, July 14, 2018)
Russian Coastal Missile Ship Defense lock on to NATO ships in the Black Sea
MK reports that the Russian navy and military coast guards conducted a series of drills coinciding with the NATO and US-led Sea Breeze Ukraine –NATO exercise opposite the Crimean peninsula. According to a report the Russian Navy and Coast Guard will "methodically" lock on NATO ships as targets, while SU-30MK aircraft will "grope" NATO's ships. The article stated that coastal missile systems will only simulate a missile launch, yet the lock –on will be for real.
(Mk.ru, July 11, 2018)
The resolution on withdrawal of the Russian military mission from Transnistria, which had been drafted by Moldova’s pro-European government and was later passed by the UN General Assembly, is counterproductive, the pro-Russian Moldovan President Igor Dodon wrote on his Facebook page after the talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin. (Tass.com, July 15, 2018; read the full article)
The Russian and Turkish Presidents, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, discussed international issues in a phone conversation, focusing on joint steps in Syria. (Tass.com, July 14, 2018; read the full article)
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s visit to Russia is planned for October 24.
On July 14, Vladimir Putin met with the President of the Republic of Sudan Omar al-Bashir in the Kremlin. (Kremlin.ru, July 14, 2018; read the full article)