Tonight’s Trump-Russia news dump comes from the Washington Post, presaged earlier in the day by an article in Sputnik tweeted out by the Russian Embassy in the United States.
Last December, in response to Russian hacking of the election and harassment of American diplomats in Moscow, President Barack Obama ordered 35 Russian diplomats out of the country and demanded that Russia vacate properties in Long Island and on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, supposedly for rest and recreation of the Russian diplomatic corps in the United States but suspected of also functioning to gather intelligence.
That was on December 29. The next day Michael Flynn, President-elect Trump’s presumptive National Security Advisor, spent a lot of time on the phone with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States. After those phonecalls, Russian President Vladimir Putin magnanimously decided against reciprocating, an unexpected move. Usually expulsion of diplomats is followed by an equal and opposite expulsion of the first country’s diplomats. But it was the Christmas season.
Earlier today, the Russian government Sputnik reminded the United States government of this principle of reciprocity. The Russian Embassy in the United States emphasized it with a tweet.
And a few hours later, Karen DeYoung and Adam Entous tell us that the United States government is indeed thinking of allowing the Russians to reoccupy the properties. Earlier, the United States had linked reoccupation to allowing the United States to build a consulate on a particular piece of land in St. Petersburg that the Russians had been blocking. But then that link was dropped.
Supposedly nothing is decided yet. It looks like Trump is willing to end part of the sanctions against the Russians for their election hacking just because he’s a nice guy. Or because the Russians were nice guys and didn’t reciprocate the expulsion.
The story of Donald Trump’s Russia connections has so many players and connections that it’s hard to to follow it in any cogent way, let alone connect all the dots. A great many dots still seem to be missing.
What I find illuminating is to look carefully at details. In my scientific career, I found that the most enlightening path might start with a small piece of information seemingly out of place. I’ve been collecting information about the various players. Putting that information in chronological order seems most helpful to me. Read More
After the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, the directors of the nuclear weapons laboratories on both sides quickly got together to work on securing nuclear weapons and the materials they are made from. They were supported by their governments. NATO helped. The cooperation was a marvelous thing to see and to experience. I had a small part in dealing with leftover Soviet nuclear problems.
In 1998, I traveled to Estonia to help deal with a former Soviet uranium-processing plant. I’ve written up my experience. Siegfried Hecker, the director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory and a primary mover in the lab-to-lab cooperation, has collected the experiences of many participants in a two-volume set, Doomed to Cooperate. He has also set up a website for more information, which is where my story appears.
Check it out. The top photos are mine, of one part of the site in 1998 and in 2011.
Russia has been violating the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, but the United States won’t say exactly what the violation is. The INF Treaty prohibits intermediate-range missiles with nuclear warheads. Back in the 1980s, both the US and Russia had such missiles aimed at each other in Europe. The problem with missiles like this is that there is no warning time whatsoever, and thus a heavy motive to strike the other party first. James Action suggests a strategy for getting the treaty back on track. Top photo from here: Soviet inspectors and their American escorts standing among dismantled Pershing II missiles in Colorado as other missile components are destroyed nearby under the INF Treaty, January 1989. Read More
Almost immediately after Robert Mueller was named as special prosecutor, Wikileaks released something about him delivering highly enriched uranium to Russia when he was FBI director. And it’s secret! Scary, right?
Dmitry Gorenburg comments on the Russian military. He recently attended the Moscow Conference on International Security (MCIS). He also happened to see part of a rehearsal for the May 9 military parade. He links his photos and videos of that event here.
Gorenburg kindly shares slides from MCIS and a few comments on them. Links to them follow.
A devoted corps of North Korea watchers analyzes information coming out of North Korea on its missile and nuclear tests. I sometimes chime in, but missiles are not my thing. Much of the conversation takes place on Twitter, so you can see people figuring things out in real time.
First, a summary of this latest test. It seems to have been a successful test of an intermediate-range ballistic missile that North Korea is calling the Hwasong-12. This article summarizes the early information and analysis and links to many of the people who participate in those discussions. Read More