Who needs the “false”, pretended, “make believe” improvement, rather than the real one? The Russians have the incorrigible historical affliction with the “Potyomkin villages”, which the American side does not share, wisely and luckily. 

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M.N.: The improvement in the US – Russia relations is needed (it looks like they cannot descend any lower) and is desirable, but: 

Who needs the “false”, pretended, “make believe” improvement, rather than the real one? The Russians have the incorrigible historical affliction with the “Potyomkin villages”, which the American side does not share, wisely and luckily. 

Address the real issues and problems, formulate and resolve the bones of contention, share honestly and fully all the information (and I mean all the information) on the present crisis, clear the mess honestly, in good faith, in-depth. And only after that, you can start rebuilding. 

The key quote: “It just ignores everything that caused the relationship to deteriorate and pretends that the election interference and the Ukraine crisis never happened,” Angela Stent, a former national intelligence officer on Russia during the Bush administration (who reviewed the document) told BuzzFeed.

“CIA Director Mike Pompeo traveled to Moscow in May for talks with Russian intelligence officials, but an agency spokesman declined to discuss the nature of the meeting.”

“Russia confirmed that it sought to reset relations with the Trump administration but was not met with “reciprocity,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said yesterday in response to reports that Russia sent a document to the U.S. in March setting out various initiatives. Thomas Grove reports at the Wall Street Journal.”

See also:

How did these 650,000 emails get into the Abedin -Weiner laptop? | Lawyers: Teen girl Weiner sexted wanted to affect election | EXCLUSIVE: HOW TRUMP BACKERS WEAPONIZED ANTHONY WEINER TO DEFEAT CLINTON

TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION – 9.14.17

The son of Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn has been a subject of the Russia investigation, according to current and former government officials, the probe into Michael G. Flynn has been focused at least partly on his work with his father’s lobbying firm, Flynn Intel Group. Carol E. Lee, Julia Ainsley and Ken Dilanian report at NBC News.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation includes a “red-hot” focus on Russian activities on social media, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter, Mueller’s team has also been seeking additional information from companies like Facebook and Twitter. Chris Strohm reports at Bloomberg.

The representatives of social media companies should appear before the House Intelligence Committee as part of the investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 electionRep. Adam Schiff (D-Califf.) said yesterday, Max Greenwood reporting at the Hill.

Facebook cannot “speculate” whether users will be told that they were targeted by Russian propaganda, a Facebook representative said yesterday, stating that the social media company’s focus is to cooperate with the Russia investigations. Ben Collins and Spencer Ackerman report at The Daily Beast.

Allies of former F.B.I. Director James Comey have hit back at the White House for comments made by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders this week suggesting that Comey should be investigated for criminal activity, Comey’s defenders arguing that the allegations are a political attempt to discredit the original investigator into connections between the Trump campaign and Russia. Niall Stanage reports at the Hill.

The White House smears against Comey have been riddled with flaws and have sometimes offered ridiculous legal arguments that have undermined the credibility of the Trump’s team, and they need “far better legal arguments” if they want to continue the campaign against Comey. Bradley P. Moss writes at POLITICO Magazine.

The revelations connecting the Trump campaign and Russia are likely to continue throughout Trump’s presidency and, as a frenzied summer full of major political stories draws to a close, “let’s not lose sight of the Kremlingate scandal.” Max Boot writes at Foreign Policy, giving an overview of the evidence of collusion that emerged over the summer.

RUSSIA-BELARUS MILITARY EXERCISES

The Russia-Belarus joint “Zapad” military exercises starting today have caused alarm in Western nations concerned that the large-scale war games could be used as a cover for Moscow to establish a permanent military presence on the border with N.A.T.O. countries, with the Secretary General of N.A.T.O. Jens Stoltenberg stating that the “lack of transparency increases the risk of misunderstanding, miscalculations, accidents and incidents that can become dangerous.” Andrew Higgins reports at the New York Times.

The exercises simulate a separatist incursion into Belarus by three imaginary countries and will be overseen by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, demonstrating the importance that Putin attaches to the drills who has promised to prevent “color revolutions” in the former Soviet regions. David Filipov reports at the Washington Post.

Sweden has launched its largest military exercise in two decades amid the “Zapad” exercises, the neutral, non-N.A.T.O. country simulating an attack from the east on a Swedish Baltic island. Johan Ahlander reports at Reuters.

The fears about “Zapad” have been unduly heightened as there is no current political crisis on Russia’s northwestern border that Moscow could take advantage of; instead the West should see the exercise as an opportunity to understand the capabilities of the Russian military. Keir Giles writes at POLITICO.

The large-scale “Zapad” exercises have increased tensions and caused concerns, Ishaan Tharoor explains the key points about the military drills at the Washington Post.

RUSSIA-U.S. RELATIONS

Russia confirmed that it sought to reset relations with the Trump administration but was not met with “reciprocity,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said yesterday in response to reports that Russia sent a document to the U.S. in March setting out various initiatives. Thomas Grove reports at the Wall Street Journal.

The Trump administration’s decision to stop using products from the Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab moves back the “prospects of bilateral ties recovery,” the Russian embassy in the U.S. said in a statement yesterday, also calling for the U.S. to consider a Russian proposal to form a joint group to address cyber security issues. Reuters reports.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu arrived in Damascus for a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad yesterday, Shoigu handing Assad a letter from Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulating him on lifting the Islamic State group’s siege on the eastern city of Deir al-Zour, the meeting also taking place ahead of a new round of peace talks at the Kazakh capital of Astana due to take place today and tomorrow. Al Jazeera reports.

IRAQ

The Iraqi Kurdistan region “should be aware that there will almost certainly be a price to pay for insisting on its approach for a referendum,” a statement from Turkey’s Foreign ministry said today, the APreports.

The decision to hold a referendum on Sept. 25 “is a historic mistake,” Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said today, welcoming the Iraqi parliament’s vote to reject the referendum. Reuters reports.

The impending defeat of the Islamic State group in Mosul carries risks for the future of the city, opening up the possibility of reemerging sectarian divides, posing challenges in terms of rebuilding and has also been complicated by the upcoming referendum for an independent Iraqi Kurdistan. Liz Sly and Aaso Ameen Schwan explain at the Washington Post.

TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION – 9.13.17

The Department of Justice should “look at” prosecuting former F.B.I. Director James Comey, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said yesterday, emphasizing that the President was “100 percent right” in firing Comey because of his “improper” actions that “likely could have been illegal.” Anne Gearan reports at the Washington Post.

Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn refused to comply with a new request to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee, a congressional source said yesterday, Jim Sciutto reporting at CNN.

RUSSIA

Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed the full normalization of relations with the U.S. in an effort that began in April, according to a document obtained by BuzzFeed News, which called for a reset of diplomatic, military and intelligence interactions to the position before Russia’s interventions in Ukraine and Syria. John Hudson reports at BuzzFeed News.

Two Russian government-backed news outlets have come under the scrutiny of the Justice Department, which is seeking to establish whether they are operating in the U.S. as foreign agents. Byron Tau reports at the Wall Street Journal.

Turkish President Reçep Tayyip Erdogan dismissed concerns raised by N.A.T.O. allies over a deal to purchase Russian air missile defense systems, adding that Turkey would “continue to take precautions when it comes to our security and we’ll fend for ourselves,” the AP reports.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION FOREIGN POLICY

Trump is likely to visit China in November during his first official visit to Asia where he is scheduled to attend three summits, a U.S. official said yesterday, Reuters reports.

Russia Sought A Broad Reset With Trump, Secret Document Shows

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A Russian proposal obtained by BuzzFeed News reveals Moscow’s ambitious plan to break with the past and launch a major rapprochement with the United States.

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Putin proposed a full reset on USRussia relations

AxiosSep 12, 2017
Despite Trump’s public comments on Russia (“I would love to be able to get along with Russia“), engagement between the U.S. and Russia has …

‘Probably bigger than Watergate’: Hillary Clinton frets over Russian influence in 2016 election – Business Insider

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‘Probably bigger than Watergate’: Hillary Clinton frets over Russian influence in 2016 election
Business Insider
While promoting her new memoir on the contentious 2016 US presidential election, Hillary Clinton on Wednesday offered her thoughts on the assessment that Russia had interfered in theelection and potentially colluded with the Trump campaign. “This is a …and more »

 


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9:56 AM 9/4/2017 – Russia’s power play in North Korea aimed at China, US

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russia north korea china us – GS

Russia’s power play in North Korea aimed at China, US

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(CNN) – When Russia sent its bombers flying over the Korean Peninsula last week, it was as much a signal to its allies in Beijing as it was a telegraph to Washington that Moscow too, was pivoting to Asia.

The Kremlin may not become Pyongyang’s most steadfast and critical defender in this newest conflagration, but its cameo in the region is another attempt by Russian President Vladimir Putin to insert himself into a geo-political stalemate involving the U.S.

Experts say it may also help deflect attention from upcoming military exercises in Belarus and western Russia next month, which have upset NATO members concerned about what amounts to a mass buildup of Russian troops on the edges of eastern Europe.

China, which sent bombers into the air itself shortly after, declined to comment about the show of force from Moscow. In its regular press briefing on Wednesday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said it would not “quantify how close China and Russia are cooperating on the North Korean nuclear issue,” said Hua Chunying, a ministry spokeswoman.

“Just like China, Russia plays a pivotal role in maintaining global peace and stability as well as promoting peaceful solutions to hotspot issues in the region,” Hua said. “China is willing to strengthen its cooperation and coordination with Russia to jointly preserve peace and stability in the region and around the world.”

Both countries were quick to condemn North Korea’s latest boast Sunday, the successful testing of its most powerful hydrogen bomb yet.

In a statement, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called for all parties to “immediately return to dialogue,” reaffirming its “readiness for joint efforts in this direction, including in the context of the implementation of the Russian-Chinese road map.”

The real trouble maker

If China is perturbed by its once-dominant Communist partner seeking to commandeer more influence in the region, it’s not outwardly displaying those concerns.

“I think China is confident that its economic development, its military development, takes place at a faster pace than Russia, so in the long run Russia is in no position to seriously challenge Chinese core interests,” said Tong Zhao, a fellow at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy in Beijing. “There are certain elements of competition between the two countries, but their shared concerns about the U.S. very much outweigh that right now.”

Both Moscow and Beijing “share the basic perception of who is the real trouble maker and who is the biggest common threat in the Korean Peninsula,” Tong told CNN.

That trouble maker, he said, is the United States, and more specifically, the occupant in the White House.

“Secretary (Rex) Tillerson says he wants to do diplomacy before considering other options but the rhetoric from other people in the White House — (U.S. President Donald) Trump tweeting that talking is not the answer, I think from the Chinese perspective the U.S. is still considering a military option so that doesn’t reassure leaders in North Korea or China,” Tong said.

Every action Pyongyang takes, said Tong, could be construed by Beijing and Moscow as a reaction to Trump’s escalated posture.

Putin appeared to reiterate this on Thursday when he called attempts to get the regime of Kim Jong Un to cease its nuclear program “a dead-end road.”

“Russia believes that the policy of putting pressure on Pyongyang to stop its nuclear missile program is misguided and futile,” Putin said in an article released by the Kremlin. “Provocations, pressure and militarist and insulting rhetoric are a dead-end road.”

Russia has recently been making inroads to counter China’s perceived clout with North Korea. Overtures include Russia’s forgiveness of Soviet-era debt, of which $10 billion due from Pyongyang was written off by the Kremlin. Moscow is one of the largest donors of food aid to North Korea, and alongside Beijing, was recently hit with U.S. Treasury sanctions for selling oil to the North Korean regime.

This is all intentional, says Samuel Ramani, a Russian foreign policy specialist.

“As Russia takes an increasingly assertive approach to world affairs, it reminds its citizens of the Soviet Union’s status as a superpower that could influence conflicts worldwide,” Ramani wrote in the Washington Post in late July. “In this respect, Russia’s increased attention to North Korea is much like its military intervention in Syria and its expanded diplomatic presence in Libya and Afghanistan. Moscow is trying once again to project itself as a global power.”

Old rivalry reignites

The jostling between the two powers over North Korea has decades-long historical roots.

“To an extent it began when China and Russia became competitors for influence in the Communist world, they fought border battles in the late 1960s,” said Carl Schuster, retired Navy captain and now adjunct professor at Hawaii Pacific University.

Kim Il Sung, North Korea’s founder, was a guerilla leader who became a major in the Soviet Red Army and served in it until the end of World War II. Upon his return to Korea after 26 years in exile, the Soviets installed him as head of the Korean Communist Party. With their help he built up an army and air force, then declared the founding of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in 1948.

“Russia had the greater advantage, they had much more influence in the region,” Schuster recalled. “When the Berlin Wall came down, Russia became very poor and China came to dominate.”

Over the last 25 years Russia had virtually no ability to sway Pyongyang; it wasn’t able to provide technological support or invest significantly in North Korean industry. Now, Schuster says, “Putin sees an opportunity to increase his influence, probably not by much, but it would be better than what he has, and it distracts America.”

Whatever little sway he may obtain, that, coupled with China’s own shaky standing with North Korea, highlights the possibility that neither power enjoys particularly friendly relations with the isolated regime.

“There is a profound sense of mistrust at the basis of the relationship North Korea has with China and even with Russia,” said James Person, an expert on Korea at the Wilson Center. “There’s a perception particularly with China that Beijing has been overly interventionist over the years and not respectful of Korean sovereignty.”

China and Russia both share a border with North Korea, a demarcation that has shifted over time as territorial disputes were resolved, and one that each of them jealously guards.

Person said that China’s determination to establish regional hegemony, or a “zone of deference” which takes in North Korea has created confusion among Western observers about China’s capacity to rein Pyongyang in. “People in Washington, including President Trump, believe China can just pick up the phone and solve the problem but because of this tortured history of relations they don’t have the ability to exercise at will political influence over North Korea.”

Moreover, there is risk in China’s chastising North Korea any further, something that has been compounded by statements as far back as May in which the North Korean state-run news agency publicly rebuked China for banning coal imports from North Korea after a February missile test.

The North Korean statements warned China of “grave consequences,” and said Beijing should “no longer try to test the limits of the DPRK’s patience.”

“The DPRK will never beg for the maintenance of friendship with China, risking its nuclear program which is as precious as its own life, no matter how valuable the friendship is,” the commentary declared.

Yet China chooses to endure this apparent belligerence. Beijing will always prefer the current leadership in Pyongyang to any that might follow should the Kim dynasty fall, says Person.

“I think they would rather deal with the current North Korean regime with nuclear weapons than they would with a basically reunified Korea that places a U.S. treaty ally at the Chinese doorstep,” he said.

Moscow’s own relationship with Washington becomes more fraught each day. On Thursday, Trump’s administration announced it would shut down Russian diplomatic missions in U.S. cities, seemingly in response to an order from the Russian Foreign Ministry in July for Washington to cut its diplomatic staff in Russia by nearly half.

Both Moscow and Beijing seek to keep the U.S. at bay to protect their own interests in the area, something Person says the U.S. could use to its advantage if it can quell North Korea’s panic and pursue diplomacy again. Even now, he said, there are “talks about talks” that could lead to a de-escalation. But that choice belongs with Trump.

“The important thing is, the U.S. has to recognize that only it has the ability to give Pyongyang what it wants,” Person said. “Yes, China is important in the region, but let’s not outsource to China anymore, especially given the fact that China is trying to reassert this hegemony in the region. By outsourcing our North Korea policy to China, we’re only abetting them in doing this.”

The U.S. must also contend with the notion that Moscow too will embrace a larger role.

“Russia wants to be, and be seen as, a great power. It wants to lead the nations that resist Western power and influence. In defying the United Nations and supporting North Korea, Russia bolsters that status at home and abroad,” Ramani says. “And so Moscow’s alignment with North Korea will likely get stronger in the near future.”

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4:26 PM 8/31/2017 – U.S. Kicking Out Russian Diplomats

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Saved Stories – 1. Trump
U.S. Kicking Out Russian Diplomats

Russia and Americas diplomatic tit-for-tat continues, as U.S. orders Russian diplomats to leave the country, in a move that will close Moscows consulate in San Francisco.
U.S. Kicking Out Russian Diplomats
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Key Questions About Clinton and Comey that Mueller’s Russia Investigation Should Answer – Newsweek
Longtime Trump Lawyer Denies Allegations In Infamous Dossier – NPR
Manafort’s notes from the Trump Tower Russia meeting reportedly mention ‘donations’ and the RNC – Business Insider
US will shutter Russian consulate in San Francisco in retaliation against diplomatic cuts in Moscow – PBS NewsHour
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Pro-Kremlin Botnets Pose An Existential Threat To Twitter – Forbes
2 Legal Heavyweights Join Forces In The Paul Manafort Investigation – Newsy
Trump’s Own Lawyers Confirm That The President Is Under Federal Criminal Investigation – PoliticusUSA
Byron York: FBI fights public release of Trump dossier info – Washington Examiner
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Donald Trump – Google News: Russian lobbyist testifies in secret about meeting Donald Trump Jr. – PBS NewsHour
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Russia Probe: Mueller, New York Attorney General Collaborating on Trump Campaign Chairman Investigation – Newsweek
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Most Americans think Trump is ripping the country apart. His Charlottesville response shows how. – Washington Post
Denmark and Sweden boost defence ties to fight Russian cyber-attacks – The Guardian
Russia might be about to invade Europe. Here’s how America should respond – Washington Examiner
The Politics Of Disasters – Rasmussen Reports

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