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October 17, 2017 No.
7136

Russia This Week – October 17, 2017

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.

Photo Of The Week


When Russian President Vladimir Putin turned 65 on October 7, he received a new puppy from Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov as a birthday present. (Source: Kitv.com)

Quotes Of The Week

Kremlin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov: "We definitely hope that the U.S. mission in Moscow headed by the new ambassador will substantially contribute to help in restoring our relations from the damage sustained due to Washington's actions."

(Ria.ru, October 3, 2017)

Prof. Alexander Domrin, a U.S. affairs expert at Moscow's Higher School of Economics, said: "If the new U.S. ambassador will constantly remind Russia that his own president is a 'Kremlin puppet,' then it will be totally absurd."

(Ria.ru, September 28, 2017)


The new U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. (Source: Ru.usembassy.gov)

In The News:

Reactions To The Arrival Of The New U.S. Ambassador To Russia Jon Huntsman

On October 3, Russian President Vladimir Putin received credentials from 20 foreign ambassadors, including the new U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon M. Huntsman, Jr.

Prior to his appointment as ambassador to Russia, Huntsman served as Chairman of the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based foreign policy think-tank. He was also formerly governor of Utah (2005-2009), and served as U.S. Ambassador to Singapore (1992-1993), and China (2009-2011).

The RIA news agency in an article titled "Chemistry with Russia" mentioned that Huntsman's family has business interest in Russia. The ambassador's father remains Chairman of the Board of "Huntsman Corporation", a chemicals production company with offices worldwide including Moscow and St. Petersburg. The company's CEO is the ambassador's brother. Though the ambassador himself is not involved in company's business operations – the news agency found it worth mentioning that the Russian branch of the company signed contracts with Rosatom, Rostech and Sykhoi companies.

(Ria.ru, October 2, 2017)

During the ceremony where the foreign ambassadors presented their letters of credence, Putin told the new U.S. ambassador: "As for bilateral relations with the United States, the current level is unsatisfactory. We favor constructive, predictable and mutually beneficial cooperation. We are convinced that it should be based on the strict observance of the principles of equality, respect for national interests and non-interference in domestic affairs."

(Kremlin.ru, October 3, 2017)


At the diplomatic credentials presentation ceremony,. Putin shakes hands with Huntsman. (Source: Kremlin.ru)

Russia's Deputy FM Ryabkov: 'We Expect Constructive Work With Mr. Huntsman'

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told the Russia 24 TV channel: "We expect constructive work with Mr. Huntsman…We expect to engage in a dialogue immediately after his arrival to Moscow and start 'clearing the debris' that have recently accumulated on the development path of Russian-American relations."

Ryabkov said that he "studied" Huntsman's biography, and added: "I think that he is, directly speaking, a political heavyweight, a diplomat with vast experience and an influential social and political figure."

(Tass.com, September 27, 2017)


Huntsman with Putin and Russia's FM Sergey Lavrov at the ceremony to present foreign ambassadors' letters of credence.

(Source: Kremlin.ru)

Senator Kosachev: Trump's Washington Is Looking At Russia Through The Prism Of China

Senator Konstantin Kosachev, head of the Senate's international relations committee, said: "For obvious reasons, the figure of the new US ambassador to Moscow invokes serious interest. It is obvious that [U.S. President] Donald Trump had to look for a candidate who would be approved by Congress, which currently studies every move regarding Russia under a magnifying glass."

Mindful of the fact that Huntsman had previously served as the U.S. ambassador to China, and therefore has influence in working with great powers, Kosachev added: "This can be viewed as confirmation of the theory that Trump's Washington is looking at Russia through the prism of China. If that's the case, it's a minus, because we see our bilateral relations as valuable in their own right. On the other hand, this can be seen as a plus, because the new head of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Moscow is unlikely to spend much time in attempts to reform Russia or in handing out cookies to protesters (Kosachev is referring to former Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the United States Department of State Victoria Nuland, who handed out cookies during protests in Maidan Square in Kiev)."

(Ria.ru, September 29, 2017; Rt.com, September 29, 2017)

Political Specialist Fenenko: The Best Diplomat Is An Unobtrusive One

Alexey Fenenko, a leading researcher at the Institute of International Security Problems at the Russian Academy of Sciences, said:

"Practice has demonstrated that the best diplomat is a career one, a bureaucrat who grew up in a diplomatic structure… The best diplomat is also an inconspicuous diplomat. We'll see whether Huntsman will be that way.. Let's hope so. It depends on his course of action: if he chooses the course of an unobtrusive ambassador, this will suffice; if he chooses modus operandi of ambassador-politician, that will be extremely dangerous for our relations."

(Ria.ru, October 2, 2017)

Russia-Linked Facebook Ads

Ivan Danilov, an economist and author of the popular Crimson Alter blog, recently published an article, titled "Putin Has Elected Trump For 150 Thousand Dollars. When We Should Expect Retaliation," in the Russian news agency RIA. Danilov asserts the scandal of the Facebook ads linked to Russia aimed at influencing the U.S. elections is nothing but absurd. "It turned out that the 'evil Russians' had spent only about 150 thousand dollars to buy political advertisements during the elections. So, if one seriously believes the theory about Russian intervention, one must admit: this modest sum is the price for electing the U.S. president. It would make sense to assume that the establishment and the mass media would reject this version because it is patently absurd and even offensive to American society," comments Danilov.

The author further states that the story of "a mythical information campaign" that spent only 150 thousand dollars but caused "colossal damage" to the U.S. society and political system would have been amusing, had it not been used for the purpose of promoting "the thesis" about "a war" between Russia and the U.S. Danilov adds: "It is obvious that very influential groups in the American political elite are at pains to form a consensus in the American society surrounding the idea that Washington has a genuine casus belli against Moscow."

Danilov also stresses that now the U.S. establishment will want to "retaliate" against Russia for "a mythical intervention" in the American election. Therefore, Russia may remain vigilant. "One may have every confidence that our Western partners will be ready to spend much more on real interference in the Russian election than the ridiculous sum of 150 thousand dollars," concludes Danilov.

See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7134, Popular Russian Blogger On Russia-Linked Facebook Ads: The Western Budget For Interfering In The Russian Election Will Far Surpass 150 Thousand Dollars, October 16, 2017.

Pushkov's Tweet Storm

Senator Alexey Pushkov (@Alexey_Pushkov) wrote in his Twitter account: "Huntsman is officially appointed as [U.S.] ambassador to Moscow. Prior to that, he headed the Atlantic Council in Washington. According to his critics, there [in the Atlantic Council] are ongoing debates between 'those who hate Russia, and those who really hate Russia' (Ron Paul Institute). But hope still remains that he [Huntsman] is not a part of it."

(Twitter.com/Alexey_Pushkov, September 28, 2017)

Pushkov wrote: "Huntsman has not been seen among the 'doves' in the U.S. – there are almost no doves there. But he also has not been seen in the front ranks of the 'hawks'. He has a diplomatic experience. We'll see".

(Twitter.com/Alexey_Pushkov, September 28, 2017)

Pushkov also stated: "Huntsman will be successful in Moscow, to the extent that the atmosphere in Washington regarding Moscow changes. Hysteria is a bad background for diplomacy."

(Twitter.com/Alexey_Pushkov, October 2, 2017)

Pushkov wrote: "The U.S. authorities' actions create a very negative background for Huntsman's work in Moscow. He does not even start from level zero, he starts from a big minus which he did not create."

(Twitter.com/Alexey_Pushkov, October 2, 2017)

News In Brief

  • Russia's Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu arrived in Israel on October 16 to meet with Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Shoigu's first official visit as Russia's Defense Minister to Israel comes ahead of Liberman's visit to Washington, DC. (Rg.ru, October 16, 2017)
  • The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned the U.S. embassy chief in Moscow to demand the return of Russian flags, which were removed from seized diplomatic properties in the United States. (Rt.com, October 14, 2017, Read full article)
  • The Elysee Palace confirms French President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to visit Russia in the first half of 2018. (Tass.com, October 9, 2017)
  • The British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will visit Moscow at the invitation of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov towards the end of the year. (Tass.com, October 13, 2017)
  • Valdai Club Experts Convene in Sochi to Discuss Challenges in Global Politics. (Sputniknews.com, October 16, 2017)
  • Senator Kosachev: U.S. lawmakers isolated from rest of world when taking decisions on Russia. (Tass.com, October 15, 2017; Read full article)
  • Bitcoin – Russia's Central Bank backs restrictions on operations of external websites selling cryptocurrency (Tass.com, October 10, 2017; Read full article)