Saturday, 17 November 2018

W Weekly Update

January 27 - February 3

Protests in Russia

The New York Times reports that on January 28 protests called by Russian opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny erupted across Russia against the lack of choice in the upcoming March election in which President Vladimir V. Putin will certainly be chosen for a fourth term.

Navalny, who was almost immediately detained, addressed his supporters in a recorded message: “Every additional year of Putin staying in power is one more year of decay.” According to the report, the boisterous crowd in Pushkin Square chanted slogans including “These are not elections!” and “Down with the czar!”

Senator John McCain expressed his support for the protesters in his Twitter: “Inspiring to watch the Russian people stand up for their rights despite the odds. Putin’s dictatorship can run a sham election, but it can’t silence the Russian people #RussiaWillBeFree”.

Anyway, the sham elections in Russia are likely to proceed without any major obstacles.

 

US in the Caucasus: Beat the Russians at Their Own Game

Stephen Blank in his op-ed for The Hill wrote about practice of Congress’ members to take special interest in foreign policy issues. He implies that in recent years, certain members of Congress “have run afoul of U.S. policy — particularly those lawmakers who disgracefully shill for Russia”, bringing the example of the South Caucasus. The author implies, that “the issue is not the Armenian lobby’s right to petition Congress or the administration in support of their claims. Rather the issue is whether their claims, frequently contrary to the best interests of the Republic of Armenia, really advance American interests”. Blank continues: “Armenia has become increasingly dependent on Russian largess (economic, military, political) to the point of effectively serving a vassal of the Russian Federation and at its pleasure.”  

The author implies, that “the stark reality is that Moscow, whose policies openly benefit from prolongation of war, has used Nagorno-Karabakh to brutally undermine Armenia’s sovereignty to the point that it has little remaining. Russia has installed itself in an Armenian base with a lease running through 2059 and controls Armenia’s ever-besieged economy”. Blank continues by writing, that “perhaps most significantly, due to the conflict, Armenia largely stands apart from the world, and the numerous and vast energy, trade, rail and technology projects that have brought such substantial prosperity to the region — from which Armenia has been excluded”.

Blank writes, that “Azerbaijan’s democratization policies are an obstacle to U.S. support. But Armenia is a significantly less than shining or exemplary democratic state. Moreover, both states’ democratic deficits do not supersede the urgent need of both their peoples for peace or the overriding U.S. interest in peace, prosperity and democratization, none of which are attainable if the war continues to fester or explode.” Blank suggests, that “if Congress wants to help Armenia, the U.S. and even Azerbaijan, it should lend its weight to promoting active U.S. diplomacy that does not leave this crucial region to Moscow’s tender mercies and to war. Uncritical support for Armenia or Azerbaijan ultimately does not benefit either state or serve U.S. interests”.

 

Trump’s State of the Union

On January 30 Donald Trump made his first State of the Union address. Trump spoke about the successes and presented priorities for the following year. The president stressed the strength of the economy, low unemployment, additional job creation by large corporations, the return of manufacturing jobs as a result of tax cuts and deregulations. Trump also raised the issues of immigration and border security.
Trump also paid attention to foreign policy and defense, namely the defeat of ISIS. He implied the importance to fully fund the Defense Department. He insisted on the rebuilding of the nuclear arsenal as a deterrent, especially taking into account the situation with North Korea, noted his recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, spoke of the need for “peace through strength,” and reiterated his support for the uprisings in Iran. Trump also noted the resurgence of great power competition and clearly mentioned China and Russia as rivals.

 

Prepared by Marina Muradyan

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