Andrew Kugle writes: During eight years of former President Barack Obama’s weakness towards Russia, the country invaded Ukraine, annexed Crimea, propped up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and interfered in the 2016 election.
At the beginning of his administration, Obama and his administration were eager to “reset” the United State’s relationship with Russia. The reset began with the infamous photo of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presenting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov with a red “reset” button in 2009. One of Obama’s first foreign policy decisions was to scrap missile defense in Poland and the Czech Republic, which prompted celebration in Moscow.
In addition to scrapping missile defense, Obama announced in 2010 a historic Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) treaty with Russia. The agreement was supposed to reduce the number of nuclear weapons held by the United States and Russia by a third. Over the course of the Obama administration, the Washington Free Beacon reported numerous violations of the START treaty by Russia as early as 2012.
Obama was caught on a hot mic in 2012 telling then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to give him “space” and that he would have more “flexibility” on missile defense after being reelected. Read the rest of this entry »
Despite Peskov’s best efforts, the theories about what could be behind Putin’s mysterious absence have continued to swirl
Russian President Vladimir Putin hasn’t been seen in public since March 5, and depending on whom you ask, he’s either dead, has had a stroke, has cancer, is being overthrown in a palace coup, or, contrary to his spokesperson’s denials Friday, has been out of the public eye because he has fathered a lovechild.
“Information that a child has been born to Vladimir Putin is not true,” Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Forbes Russia. “I am planning to appeal to people who have money to organize a competition for the best journalistic hoax,” he added.
Speculation on Putin’s whereabouts began when he canceled a high-level trip to Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, and then several other meetings this week, including the signing of a treaty with South Ossetia and an appearance at a meeting of top brass at the FSB, Russia’s domestic intelligence service. Putin’s absence has sent the Russian Twitterverse and media into overdrive, sparking the trending hashtag #ПутинУмер (Putin Died), as well as a cottage industry of theories — some absurd and others more believable believable — to explain what is keeping the usually omnipresent Russian president from the public eye.
Peskov, meanwhile, has been on the offensive, steadfastly denying the Russian rumormill — often with colorful details. After shooting down rumors about Putin’s ill-health earlier this week on the radio station Ekho Moskvy, Peskov added that “his handshake is so strong he breaks hands with it.”
Yet despite Peskov’s best efforts, the theories about what could be behind Putin’s mysterious absence have continued to swirl. The Kremlin’s website has been posting photos of the Russian president attending meetings during his physical absence, but the Russian news outlet RBC investigated Putin’s schedule and found discrepancies. According to RBC, the meeting with the governor of the northwestern region of Karelia, reported on the official site as having taken place on March 11, had actually occurred a week earlier, and a Karelian website had actually already written about it on March 4. On Thursday, the Kremlin claimed that Putin spoke on the phone with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan. Sargsyan’s website issued the call with an identical transcript.
On Friday, the Kremlin issued three images showing Putin in a meeting with the head of the Supreme Court in Moscow on Friday. The state television channel, Rossiya 24, also aired video footage of the meeting. However, the dates of those photos have not been confirmed, and the footage have not been authenticated. Read the rest of this entry »
A year ago, there was a rising fear that the US and Russia were on the verge of a new Cold War. Today the relationship seems to have gone 180. The US and Russia are now on the verge of signing a new nuclear disarmament agreement and look increasingly in sync on Iran. Yesterday, Obama met directly with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific summit in Singapore where both leaders said negotiations on a new START agreement were close to completion. Medvedev also expressed his displeasure with Iran, giving another indication that Russia may back Obama should the Iranians reject the nuclear deal on the table. Following the meeting and Medvedev pronouncements, Obama concluded that “the reset button has worked.”
Putin hasn’t had this much fun since he rode shotgun in George W. Bush’s truck…
This got buried in a New York Times report on Russian resignation over a retaliatory attack from the West on Syria, but it should get a little more attention. Barack Obama lashed out at Vladimir Putin after Russia offered Edward Snowden asylum by publicly ridiculing Putin as having the look of a slacker — and Putin hasn’t forgiven him:
As Apple enthusiasts worldwide gear up for an imminent release of the new iPhone, Apple wants to make sure that Russian citizens don’t miss out.
Apple has sent some of its top executives “to meet with key distributors to revisit how it sells devices” in Russia. TechCrunch reports that Russia has experienced a short supply of iPhones, challenges working with carriers and had a grey market in the past. Hopefully these talks will result in better availability and easier access to iPhones for Russian consumers.
TechCrunch reports that Svyaznoy, a key distributor in Russia, sells half the iPhones sold in Russia in its 3,300 stores. Other distributors of mobile phones may never get iPhones to sell or face high subsidy costs. A July article on AppleInsider reported that three Russian carriers dropped the iPhone due to marketing costs and subsidies.
As Ingrid Lunden of TechCrunch notes, if Apple launches a lower-cost iPhone, it “has a shot of killing two birds with one stone in emerging markets … Apple can use it as an opportunity to finally give consumers there the supply that it has been demanding … finally bring more users into the fold.”