Donald Trump denounced the New START Treaty in his first phonecall with Vladimir Putin. Putin brought up the treaty, which is coming up for renewal in 2021, so talks should be starting soon. The treaty limits the numbers of nuclear weapons for Russia and the United States, preventing an arms race. But the treaty was negotiated under Barack Obama, so in Trump’s mind, it is a bad treaty. Read More
Protests across Russia and Belarus over the weekend. The main target is corruption. Here’s a backgrounder about the situation in Belarus. Alexei Navalny, a leader of the opposition in Russia, sparked protests there with a video about Dmitry Medvedev’s corruption (English subtitles). Why the protests focused on Medvedev. They are a problem for Putin too. The discontent is likely to affect Russia’s next election. Photo: A demonstration in Belarus. Read More
Lessons from Reykjavik for Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. Even though the meeting failed to produce agreement on a treaty, it was the basis for later progress.
The state of Trump’s State Department. Where is Rex Tillerson? Does Trump think he can “make deals” just by sitting down with foreign leaders?
This story goes back to 2007, when Israel bombed a nuclear reactor under construction in Syria. It’s a detailed account from Michael Hayden, who was director of the CIA at the time. The uncertainties and the complexity of the story are normal for international affairs, and thus the story is a good example of the kind of thing President Donald Trump will face. Short version: Syria builds a nuclear reactor to produce bomb material. Israel wants America to destroy it. America refuses, Israel bombs the site. The world learns it was a reactor. But the whole thing is worth reading. Photo: The reactor before it was bombed. Read More
Putin’s Chaos Strategy Is Coming Back to Bite Him in the Ass. Also very good.
Russia is trying to hack the election. What should the US do? If you’ve been reading my comments, you already know this. And it looks like Putin realizes that Donald Trump is not going to win, so he seems to have been on good behavior in his speech at the Valdai Club. This is consistent with his “chaos strategy” and the tactical approach described by Fiona Hill. Read More
It’s one thing to act as one thinks a great power would act. It’s another to be acknowledged as a great power. Vladimir Putin thinks a great power would freely take a bite of a neighbor’s land, intervene on behalf of a client, and flaunt its cruise missiles. But the real prize is negotiating with other great powers over spheres of interest. The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.
But the great powers, particularly the United States, are not cooperating. Read More
What does a great-power autocrat have to do to get some respect? Vladimir Putin would like to know. Read More
It seems like there is a competition for worldwide attention. Donald Trump has it wrapped up at the moment, but Vladimir Putin is making a strong attempt. We can expect Kim Jong Un to weigh in soon, especially since his deputy ambassador to the UK has defected to South Korea (photo of North Korean embassy in London from here).
Here’s some of the news about Russia. Read More
The anniversaries of Hiroshima (August 6) and Nagasaki (August 9) are coming up. Peace organizations are planning observances. But we’re not hearing much about them, because Donald Trump and the possibility of his little hands on the nuclear button are getting all the attention. And maybe that’s the most meaningful observance this year. Read More