Russia Analytical Report, June 18-25, 2018

This Week’s Highlights:

  • U.S. commanders are worried that if they had to head off a conflict with Russia, the most powerful military in the world could get stuck in a traffic jam, writes Michael Birnbaum for The Washington Post. The delays could enable Russia to seize NATO territory in the Baltics while U.S. Army planners were still filling out the 17 forms needed to cross Germany and into Poland.
  • U.S. President Bill Clinton and his advisers naively challenged Russia’s security perimeter, not realizing that “each inch of eastward expansion was bound to increase Russian distrust of the West,” writes Professor Melvyn Leffler, quoting from Ben Steil’s new book. Steil, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, argues that whereas the architects of the Marshall Plan and NATO “acknowledged that a line was being drawn, and were willing to bear the necessary costs to defend it,” the Clinton administration “was denying the line’s existence.” Continue reading

Stakes Are Heightened as Tillerson Arrives in Moscow

A prophecy against Damascus: “See, Damascus will no longer be a city but will become a heap of ruins.”

– Isaiah 17:1

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, pictured earlier this month, said Russia has failed in its commitment to guarantee a Syria free of chemical weapons. PHOTO: JOE RAEDLE/GETTY IMAGES

 

Secretary of State issues a stern warning to Russia

MOSCOW—Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Moscow on Tuesday to face what might be his toughest test yet as chief diplomat as he seeks to convince Russia to back away from its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The visit, Mr. Tillerson’s first as secretary of State, comes as hopes for a broader U.S.-Russian rapprochement have dimmed and as ties between the two former Cold War foes have further soured over President Donald Trump’s decision last week to strike a Syrian air base in response to Mr. Assad’s suspected deadly chemical weapons attack on April 4. Continue reading

Experts say Russia will likely get away with buzzing U.S. destroyer

Russia’s dangerously close flight maneuvers against a U.S. Navy destroyer in the Baltic Sea this week violate a deal signed in 1972, but analysts say there’s not much the U.S. can do to enforce the “rules-of-the-road”-type agreement.

The agreement between the U.S. and Russia on “the prevention of incidents on and over the high seas” was designed to stop incidents like the one this week that saw Russian Su-24 jets fly very close to the USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea. Continue reading