Posted tagged ‘Putin and Trump’

Russian Reactions To Flynn’s Resignation

February 21, 2017

Russian Reactions To Flynn’s Resignation, MEMRI, February 21, 2017

(Please see also, Is a Trump-Putin Detente Dead? — DM)

While part of Russian officialdom dodged comment on Michael Flynn’s resignation from the post of national security adviser or downplayed its importance, the consensus view was that this represented a negative signal for Russia. Russia would have to retrench its hopes for improved Russia-US relations under President Trump as the new president was finding it difficult to exercise control over an anti-Russian establishment. Some commentators believed that an anti-Russia cabal was behind Flynn’s ouster and that Flynn was merely the appetizer with Trump being the main course. These rogue officials backed by the media would not rest till they had ousted Trump and set back Russian-American relations.

We present a sampling of official and press reactions to the Flynn resignation.

trumpandflynn1Source: Gazeta.ru)

Senator Pushkov’s Tweetstorm

Senator Alexey Pushkov, a member of the Russian Federation Council’s Committee on International Affairs and an avid tweeter, took to Twitter to present his categorical assessment of the forces behind the resignation and their motivation:

“Flynn ‘was forced out’ not due to his missteps, but due to a vast aggressive campaign. “Russian –get out ” clamored the newspapers. This is paranoia and witch hunt.”

(Twitter.com/Alexey_Pushkov, February 14, 2017)

“Flynn leaves, but the Russian problem at Trump’s White House persists” – his enemies write. Flynn’s banishment was only the first act. Now – Trump is the target.”

(Twitter.com/Alexey_Pushkov, February 13, 2017)

“Flynn’s departure is probably the earliest resignation of a US National Security Advisor in history. Yet, Flynn was not the target, relations with Russia were.”

(Twitter.com/Alexey_Pushkov, February 13, 2017)

“It’s not going to end  with Flynn’s resignation. Trump’s enemies with the help of the security special services and media will eradicate him ( Trump) until the impeachment. Trump himself is now the objective.”

impeach(Twitter.com, February 14, 2017)

“Lots of money invested in the new cold war against Russia. Those who oppose the war are at high risk. Flynn’s massacre is clear evidence.”

(Twitter.com, February 14, 2017)

push-shove(Alexey Pushkov, Source: Pravda-tv.ru)

Senator Kosachev: ‘Russophobia Has Already Engulfed The New Administration From Top To Bottom’

Russian Senator Konstantin Kosachev, who chairs the Russian Federation Council’s Committee on International Affairs, wrote on his Facebook page: “Dismissing the national security adviser for contacts with Russia’s ambassador (ordinary diplomatic practice) is not just paranoia, but something much worse.” He then added: “Either Trump has not gained the desired independence and he is being consistently (and not unsuccessfully) pushed into a corner, or Russophobia has already engulfed the new administration from top to bottom.”

(Tass.com, February 14, 2017)

kosKonstantin Kosachev (Source: Rt.com)

Valery Garbuzov, Director of the Institute for US and Canada Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Russian news agency TASS: “I believe the Russian issue is one of the most difficult for the U.S. administration in the sense that it has not yet developed recipes for tackling the Russian issue in general and in particular. These are the issues of sanctions, the issue of Ukraine, Crimea and so on.” He then said: “The U.S. president’s national security adviser is a significant figure who, along with the US secretary of state, takes part in shaping the country’s foreign policy. Flynn’s resignation indicates that internal contradictions, perhaps, internal struggles, begin to appear in the emerging US administration. Flynn’s resignation was a manifestation of this struggle. He was considered if not a pro-Russian member of Trump’s team, then a person who was committed to resuming pragmatic dialogue with Russia.”

(Tass.com, February 14, 2017)

The Deputy Chair of the Duma’s International Affairs committee, Alexey Chepa: “Flynn has just begun working, he did not have an opportunity build himself a reputation. Before the inauguration he’d had some consultations with our ambassador Kislyak. I don’t know to what extent he informed his superiors regarding the consultations. I don’t know either how it could lead to a possible blackmailing… In general, there was not enough time to arrange improved contacts, so I think this [resignation] won’t strongly affect [our relations with the US]”

(Ria.ru, February 14, 2017)

Presidential spokesperson Dmitri Peskov declined comment on Flynn’s resignation: “We do not want to comment on it in any manner. It’s America’s internal affair, the Trump administration’s internal affair. It’s not our business.”

(Ria.ru, February 14, 2017)

The Resignation Reduces Russia’s Confidence In The Trump Administration

According to Leonid Slutsky, chair of the Duma’s International Affairs Committee: “The situation regarding the resignation of national security advisor Michael Flynn, bears a provocative character. This is a form of negative signal concerning the building of a Russia-US dialog. It’s obvious that Flynn was forced to write the resignation announcement under pressure. Trump received this resignation. The excuse, which was chosen, is contacts with the Russian ambassador, though it’s common diplomatic practice.  In these circumstances, the conclusion arises that the Russia-US relations were the set target. This erodes confidence in the US administration”.

(Ria.ru, February 14, 2017)

The TASS agency quotes Slutsky a bit differently: “Flynn’s resignation might be a provocation – it could well be that he will pop up again in US public administration. At the moment, it looks like a thrust and a sort of  negative signal towards Russia, implying that we had discussed something improper with the US national security advisor, for which he paid for with his job … It’s an incredible assumption that Flynn, a very experienced person, divulged some state secrets”. According to Slutsky, “the whole buzz is aimed at Russia’s positioning as a strategic opponent amongst the American establishment”.

(Tass.ru, February 14, 2017)

slutLeonid Slutsky (Source: Polytika.ru)

According to Vladimir Batyuk, head of the Center for Military-Political Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ US and Canada Institute and professor of world politics at the Higher School of Economics :

“Flynn’s resignation is a powerful blow to the US administration. Flynn, as a national security advisor, was one of the key figures. Given that this man turned out to be undisciplined and incompetent, it’s a definite blow to the administration’s authority and to US-Russia relations. Moscow, from now on, will have far less confidence in the new administration and its ability to conduct confidential negotiations on delicate international matters and problems of bilateral relations. It will have negative consequences for the future Russo-American dialog.”  Representatives of the Russian Federation will now fear approaching Trump administration officials. “When Ambassador Kislyak communicated with Flynn he was completely sure that he was talking to the Trump’s representative, rather than to private person, Mr. Flynn. Now, it’s not the case as it turns out and this is a blow to Moscow’s trust in the new administration. This trust usually carries high importance in diplomacy.”

(Ria.ru, February 14, 2017)

The Russian government daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta published an article by Igor Dunaevsky, where the author assumes that Flynn’s resignation was initiated by the secret services:

“It can’t be excluded that Flynn was “taken out” by the secret services. His Russian connections presented themselves as an excuse and were not the real reason. According to local media publications, Flynn, who headed MOD intelligence department in the Obama administration, was not popular in the American intelligence community and he reciprocated this attitude.  Flynn’s resignation will not extensively affect White House’s approaches towards a dialog with Russia, but rather it will prove instrumental for those who want to impede that process.”

(Rg.ru, February 14, 2017)

US-Russian steps vs Iran await new NSC chief

February 14, 2017

US-Russian steps vs Iran await new NSC chief, DEBKAfile, February 14, 2016

flynnout_eng_480

Michael Flynn’s abrupt resignation as National Security Adviser Monday night, Feb. 13, was a crippling blow to Donald Trump’s foreign policy strategy, less than a month after he entered the White House. Flynn was the architect and prime mover of the president’s plans for close cooperation with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He was brought down by misinforming Vice President Mike Pence – and very likely the president too – on the content of the conversation he held with the Russian ambassador before Trump’s inauguration.

Although retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg takes over as acting NSA, the White House is urgently considering a permanent replacement to fill Flynn’s large shoes. Former CIA Director David Petraeus’ name has come up, but his indiscretions over state secrets still count against him. Vice Admiral Robert Harward, a former Navy SEAL, is a strong contender, although more may emerge.

Even before picking his next national security adviser, Trump will need to determine how to proceed with his détente with Putin, the highly sensitive details of which were managed personally and confidentially by Mike Flynn as the centerpiece of the new administration’s foreign policy.

His contacts with Moscow were under heavy fire from the president’s friends and foes alike, both before and after the November election. It was defended stalwartly by Trump himself, Pence and Flynn. However, neither the president nor the vice president can tell exactly what Flynn promised the Russians and to what deals he committed them. Therefore, his successor will be required to start building Washington’s ties with Moscow from scratch.

While Flynn’s departure has caused havoc in the Trump administration, it is a catastrophe for the Middle East, because a core objective of the US-Russian partnership, which he shaped as a model for other regions, was to have been to clip Iran’s wings and cut down its standing down as premier Middle East power conferred by Barack Obama.

(How the Flynn mechanism was to work plus detailed analysis of the fallout from his departure will be covered exclusively in the coming issue of DEBKA Weekly out next Friday).

Flynn alone was privy to arrangements concluded with Saudi King Salman in Riyadh, Jordan’s King Abdullah in Amman, President Putin in Moscow, Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisis in Cairo and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

Some of his output began taking shape on the day he stepped down, when Syrian rebel groups led by Jordanian special operations officers attacked Syrian army positions in the southern town of Daraa. This was the start of an operation to drive Syrian government forces and their Iranian and Hizballah allies from the lands bordering on Jordan and Israel.

In Cairo, too, President Michel Aoun of Lebanon and his host, El-Sisi were hashing out a plan for the Egyptian army and Gulf forces to go into action against Hizballah in Syria and Lebanon.

Wednesday, Feb. 15, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is to visit the White House for his first meeting with Trump as president. They too were scheduled to discuss US operations against Hizballah and the role Israel would play.

In the coming hours, Trump will have to decide whether to go ahead with these initiatives in the absence of Flynn and his detailed knowledge of how they should go forward, or simply put them on hold until his successor is in place and has time for a full study of their complicated ins and outs. At the same time, a different national security adviser in the White house might have different plans to those laid out by his predecessor.

Pro-Kremlin Pravda.ru: ‘ Iran Is Becoming A Major Problem, First And Foremost For Russia’s Interests’

February 13, 2017

Pro-Kremlin Pravda.ru: ‘ Iran Is Becoming A Major Problem, First And Foremost For Russia’s Interests’, MEMRI

On January 22, 2017, the Russian media outlet Pravda.ru published an analysis on Russia-Iran relations. According to the article’s author, Dmitri Nersesov, Iran is becoming a problem for Russian interests. Nersesov also added that Iran wants Russia to choose between Iran and Washington. “Iran wants Russia to recognize that Teheran holds the key to the regulation of the Syrian crisis. Should Russia decide that the real strategy is built on the cooperation between Moscow and Washington, rather than Moscow and Teheran; the Islamic Republic will be extremely disappointed,” Nersesov wrote.

Below are excerpts from Pravda.ru’s article:[1]

putrou(Source: Islam.ru)

‘Observers Testify That Iranian Internal Propaganda Blames Russia For The Rise Of Iranian Military Losses In Syria’

“After the strange story of the Russian ACF [Air-Cosmos Force – in 2015, the Military Air Force and the Cosmos Defense were united] usage of the Iranian Hamadan military airbase, it became absolutely clear that Tehran cannot be fully trusted.[2] Events of the last several days only strengthen that feeling. Russian-Iranian contradictions appear not only in the vicinity of Syria, but also start influence the Russian-U.S. relations. And that is very serious…

“The point is that Moscow intended the Astana negotiations to become the initial platform for establishing a practical dialogue with the new American administration. That is what the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov sought to convey at his press-conference. Lavrov said: ‘We consider it right to invite the representatives of the UN and the new U.S. administration to this meeting. We expect that new American administration can accept this invitation and will be represented by its experts of any possible level’… The fact that inviting the Americans was coordinated with Ankara must not be ignored.

“What about Tehran?

“The following was stated there: ‘We did not invite them, we are against their presence’. These words by the Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif are cited by the news agencies. Thus Iran had publicly rejected its allies’ initiative… It seems like that this position of the Iranian leadership does not specifically relate to Syria’s problems. Zarif’s words are a message to Moscow and Washington. We shall try to decipher it.

“The Iranians want Moscow to clearly understand that they intend to control as strictly as possible the implementation of its strategy in Syria, and in the long term– in the Middle East generally. Tehran is able to create problems in fulfilling the combat tasks (by blocking access to the Hamadan airbase), in reaching ceasefire and humanitarian pauses (frequently the pro-Iran Shi’ite units have frustrated these initiatives), and renewing Russia-U.S. contacts on Syria.

“Simultaneously, Tehran’s demarche seemingly forces Moscow to make a choice: between us [Iran], or Ankara define your choice Russians! You can definitely negotiate with the Turks the ceasefire between the Syrian [factions], you can even conduct joint airstrikes against terrorists, but without us, the Iranians, you will not attain any practical goals. Take into account that today Turkey is weak, and it will stay like this indefinitely. And Iran is only getting stronger, as the sanctions against it had been removed, and you will compete with Western corporations for the right to participate in strengthening Iran!

“The Iranians present Moscow with a similar choice regarding the relations with Washington: will Iran or remain Russia’s leading partner in Syria and in the region generally or [will it be] Washington? If Moscow does not fully and decisively acknowledge that the keys to managing the Middle East are in Tehran, and only the intimate team work with Iran makes possible to promote the Russian interests here; if Moscow will ‘suddenly’ decide that the ‘real strategy’ is built not along the Tehran-Moscow axis, but along the Moscow-Washington one – the Islamic Republic will be very disappointed. And will find – definitely find! – the means to punish the ‘arrogant Russians’.

“In this context one should note that during the recent funeral of Hashemi Rafsanjani…was accompanied by the chanting of anti-Russian slogans. Observers testify that Iranian internal propaganda blames Russia precisely for the rise of Iranian military losses in Syria. This should not come as a surprise, because the Russian ACF were kicked out of the Hamadan [military airbase] for ‘ungentlemanly behavior’ and ‘arrogance’. Iran quite willingly believes that any foreigner only thinks about showing them his ‘arrogance’, and they do not forgive this sin. All the more so when it is Russia – the ‘small Satan’ for those who inherited Imam Khomeini’s set of values…

‘It Depends On The U.S. When Iran Will Become A Full-Fledged Nuclear Power’

“Washington? What message did Tehran send to the new president Trump?

“The main thesis is the same: Iran is the leading player in the regional arena, it has the capacity to exert a critical influence on Russia’s position and actions even with regards to Russian-American contacts. In a language resembling Trump’s, it sounds something like this: Tehran is the blocking shareholder in Syria and in the Middle East. Draw your conclusions, Mr. President!

“To talk this way with great powers, Iran must hold strong trump cards. It has them. The main one is the notorious ‘nuclear program’ and the famous deal about it.

“What is the heart of the matter? Ten years of struggle (since Bush-junior) against Iran getting the nuclear missiles brought Iran to the threshold of owning such a weapon. It has the carriers. The warheads which it ostensibly does not have (yet?) can be almost surely made within 15 years, when the limitations imposed as part of the ‘deal’ expire.

“That ‘deal’ was Obama’s favorite baby, his fundamental foreign policy achievement (by his own admission). This achievement means that now it depends on the U.S. when Iran will become a full-fledged nuclear power. For Tehran, just after signing the ‘deal’ (the full text of which no one has seen) had promptly warned everybody: any act which the Iranians will consider to be its violation will mean the abnegation of agreements, and then the Islamic Republic of Iran  will consider itself free to implement its nuclear program.

“Of all the ‘deal’ participants (the U.S., Russia, China, France, Britain, Germany, Iran), only the U.S. is interested and capable of provoking Iran to such a step, for even under Obama, Washington did not lift all the sanctions imposed on Iran. And Trump even claims the intent to renege on Iran’s nuclear program agreement. And if he will really do it, Tehran will have carte blanche to continue the work the result of which may become (with intolerably high probability) the appearance of her nuclear weapon.

“In view of this logic, Iran’s message to Trump is: ‘Mr. President! Upon your first signal, we shall do what your predecessors had steadily led us to! To build our blocking shares into controlling ones we need only a nuclear truncheon. When we get it depends on your decision’.

“Against this background, it is desirable to note a significant detail: several weeks ago, Iran announced the beginning of a program for building a nuclear navy. This means its transformation in the near future into an ocean power capable of ‘force projection’ in the Persian Gulf, in the Indian Ocean, and in the Red and Mediterranean Seas.

“It appears that all this suffices to understand: Iran is becoming a major problem, first and foremost for Russia’s interests. Surely, much can be explained by the upcoming May presidential elections in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Nevertheless, it would be useful to find a way of making Tehran politicians understand that their behavior is becoming too provocative.

“Perhaps the launch of cruise missiles from the Caspian flotilla bears repetition?”

___________________________

[1] Pravda.ru, January 22, 2017.

[2] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6577, Russian Strategic Bombers Deployed To Iran; Russian Senator Says Nuclear Weapons, Heavy Bombers Will Not Be Permanently Deployed In Syria, August 16, 2016.

See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6589, Russia This Week – August 22-29, 2016, August 28, 2016.

See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6582, Russia This Week – August 15 – 22, 2016, August 21, 2016.