The Resistance News
February 22, 2017
G20 meeting chair by one of America’s strongest ally in Western Europe, Germany, is coming up. And yet the Trump and Putin bromance juggernaut is only being slow by criticism from Americans and legal issues being raised about Putin hacking the 2016 American election.
Even while in Washington DC, the question of how deep does Trump and Putin relationship swirls to the point that CNN poll found about 65% OF Americans want an independent investigation into Trump and Putin relationship, Trump has earlier said that he would meet Russia’s leader Putin soon, making Putin one of the first leader he meets.
For a media hound such as Trump, always searching for the big story, G20 and Putin, offer a chance for Trump to be on the global stage, with massive exposure, meaning the type of exposure Trump loves.
As part of preparing for that meet, media reports (source) that a psychological report on Donald Trump is being prepared for the Russian President Vladimir Putin. Typically, such a treatment by Russia is reserved to highly significant meeting, and this psychological profile suggests Putin is planning carefully. According Trump, he and Putin have met before and Trump is found of telling of a story of Putin sending a gift to Trump, when Trump was in Russia.
Mr Trump “doesn’t understand fully who is Mr Putin — he is a tough guy”, former Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Fedorov told NBC. Inside the Kremlin “very serious preparatory work” was taking place that included a seven-page dossier on the mentality of the Republican, he added. The decision to prepare such a detailed psychological profile of a US leader is unusual, according to NBC.
How well Trump and Putin know each other is up for debate. However, even with Trump having said many times, he and Putin have a relationship, the situation in Washington DC, with many old-guard and hawk, sees Russia’s Putin as a threat, Trump has been changing direction, to even saying that he has no relationship with Putin and never met Putin.
That bromance between Putin and Trump, apart from causing alarm in Washington DC, have also caused alarms in Western Europe, particularly with Germany’s Merkel. In fact, only days ago, NATO have echoed Merkel’s warning of a Putin meddling into Western Europe elections, in an attempt to get far extreme right, who are anti-EU, elected, betting that if they come to power, EU would disintegrate.
The bromance between Trump and Putin have also reached a point, where media also reports that a meeting between theTrump and Putin, is possible ahead of a G20 summit in July, media reports the Kremlin said. Germany is currently the chair of G20.
The two men have met or never met, but both have said they want to work to repair damaged US-Russia relations, which took a battering after Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014 and Putin’s continuous build-up military force in the Baltic. Putin propping up Assad, recognized as a mass murderer, by most around the planet, is also an additional point of contention.
Obviously, Putin wants to meet Trump before Trump goes to G20 for a variety of reasons, but namely, it is to reach an understanding with Trump before Trump attend G20, again, which Germany is currently the chair. The meet would also soften the possibility of Trump “Pivoting” to be in favor of Germany, as the G20, is a major global audience, a recognition hungry President, such as Trump, could come to appreciate.
Trump has been battling negative press coverage over his campaign’s ties to Russia. Mr Federov said the issue of the former Soviet state had become “a kind of banana skin for Trump — that’s why we should avoid any kind of step that could damage Trump”.
Trump has avoided saying who he trusts more — German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a longtime US-ally, or Russian President Vladimir Putin.
But to Germany, there is no doubt About Putin. Merkel has attacked Russia for ramping up its “aggressive” propaganda campaigns aimed at Angela Merkel’s government officials in a bid to destabilize the country. Also earlier, Merkel condemned the air raids carried out by Russia and the Syrian government on Syria’s second city of Aleppo as “inhumane and cruel”, after a meeting with Hollande and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Berlin.
Describing the late night talks as “very tough”, Merkel said they “gave Germany the clear chance to define what constitutes a war crime. Bombardments are inhumane and a cruel experience for the people”. It was Putin’s first visit to Berlin since Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014, sending relations with the West plunging to their lowest point since the Cold War.
While the primary aim of the Trump and Putin visit was to discuss the Ukraine conflict, it was confirmed that the Syrian civil war was also on the table.
Another critic of Putin, France’s leader Hollande told Putin bluntly that “what is happening in Aleppo is a war crime, one of the first demands is that the bombardments by the regime and its [Russian] backers must end”. Both leaders warned that they could not exclude imposing sanctions on Russia, hours ahead of an EU summit where Russia’s role in Syria is set to be discussed.
What is G20?
The G20 (or G-20 or Group of Twenty) is an international forum for the governments and central bank governors from 20 major economies. It was founded in 1999 with the aim of studying, reviewing, and promoting high-level discussion of policy issues pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability. It seeks to address issues that go beyond the responsibilities of any one organization. The G20 heads of government or heads of state have periodically conferred at summits since their initial meeting in 2008, and the group also hosts separate meetings of finance ministers and central bank governors.
The members include 19 individual countries—Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States—along with the European Union (EU). The EU is represented by the European Commission and by the European Central Bank. Collectively, the G20 economies account for around 85% of the gross world product (GWP), 80% of world trade (or, if excluding EU intra-trade, 75%), and two-thirds of the world population.
With the G20 growing in stature after its inaugural leaders’ summit in 2008, its leaders announced on 25 September 2009 that the group would replace the G8 as the main economic council of wealthy nations. Since its inception, the G20’s membership policies have been criticized by numerous intellectuals, and its summits have been a focus for major protests by anti-globalists, nationalists and others.
Russia–United States relations (From Obama to Trump)
Russia–United States relations is the bilateral relationship between the United States and the Russian Federation, the successor state to the Soviet Union. Russia and the United States maintain diplomatic and trade relations. The relationship was generally warm under Russia’s President Boris Yeltsin (1991–1999) until the NATO bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the spring of 1999, and has since deteriorated significantly under Vladimir Putin. In 2014, relations greatly strained due to the crisis in Ukraine, Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and, in 2015, by sharp differences regarding Russian military intervention in the Syrian Civil War. Mutual sanctions imposed in 2014 remain in place.
Obama’s tenure (2009–2017)
“Reset” under Obama and Medvedev (2009–2011)
Despite U.S.-Russia relations becoming strained during the Bush administration, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev (president from May 2008 until May 2012, with Vladimir Putin as head of government) and U.S. president Barack Obama struck a warm tone at the 2009 G20 summit in London and released a joint statement that promised a “fresh start” in U.S.-Russia relations. The statement also called on Iran to abandon its nuclear program and to permit foreign inspectors into the country.
In March 2009, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov symbolically pressed a “reset” button. The gag fell short as the Russian translation on the button was misspelt by the State Department and actually meant “overload” instead of “reset”. After making a few jokes, they decided to press the button anyway.
In early July 2009, Obama visited Moscow where he had meetings with president Medvedev and prime minister Putin. Speaking at the New Economic School Obama told a large gathering, “America wants a strong, peaceful and prosperous Russia. This belief is rooted in our respect for the Russian people, and a shared history between our nations that goes beyond competition.” Days after president Obama’s visit to Moscow, U.S. vice president Joe Biden, noting that the U.S. was “vastly underestimat[ing] the hand that [it] h[e]ld”, told an American newspaper that Russia, with its population base shrinking and the economy “withering”, would have to make accommodations to the West on a wide range of national-security issues. Biden’s words, published shortly after his visit to Ukraine and Georgia, were interpreted by George Friedman of Stratfor as “reaffirm[ing] the U.S. commitment to the principle that Russia does not have the right to a sphere of influence in these countries or anywhere in the former Soviet Union”; Friedman pointed up a fundamental error in the analysis that underlay such thinking and predicted, “We suspect the Russians will squeeze back hard before they move off the stage of history”.
In March 2010, the U.S. and Russia reached an agreement to reduce their stockpiles of nuclear weapons. The new nuclear arms reduction treaty (called New START) was signed by President Obama and President Medvedev on April 8, 2010. The agreement cut the number of long-range nuclear weapons held by each side to about 1,500, down from the current 1,700 to 2,200 set by the Moscow Treaty of 2002. The New START replaced the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which expired in December 2009.
On a visit to Moscow in March 2011, U.S. vice president Joe Biden reiterated Washington’s support for Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization; he also had a meeting with Russia’s leading human rights and opposition leaders where he reportedly told the gathering at the U.S. ambassador’s Spaso House residence that it would be better for Russia if Putin did not run for re-election in 2012.
At the start of the mass protests that began in Russia after the legislative election in early December 2011, prime minister Vladimir Putin accused the U.S. of interference and inciting unrest, specifically saying that secretary of state Hillary Clinton had sent “a signal” to “some actors in our country”; his comments were seen as indication of a breakdown in the Obama administration’s effort to “reset” the relationship.
By 2012, it was clear that a genuine reset never happened and relations remained sour. Factors in the West included traditional mistrust and fear, an increasing drift away from democracy by Russia, and a demand in Eastern Europe for closer political, economic and military integration with the West. From Russia factors included a move away from democracy by Putin, expectations of regaining superpower status and the tactic of manipulating trade policies and encouraging divisions within NATO.
Start of Putin’s third term. Obama’s Syria “red line”
See also: Cold War II
In mid-September 2013, the U.S. and Russia made a deal whereby Syria’s chemical weapons would be placed under international control and eventually destroyed; president Obama welcomed the agreement that was shortly after enshrined in the UNSC Resolution 2118. The Obama administration was criticised for having used the chemical weapons deal as an ineffectual substitute for military action that Obama had promised in the event of use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government. In George Robertson‘s view, as well as many others’, the failure of Obama to follow through on his 2013 “red line” and take promised military action badly hurt his credibility and that of the U.S. with Putin and other world leaders.
On a personal level, the relationship between Obama and Putin went on to be characterised by an observer in 2015 the following way: “There can rarely have been two world leaders so obviously physically uncomfortable in one another’s presence.”
Increased tension: Overview: 2012–2015
In May 2012, Russian general Nikolay Yegorovich Makarov said that there was a possibility of a preemptive strike on missile defense sites in Eastern Europe, to apply pressure to the United States regarding Russia’s demands. In July 2012, two Tu-95 Bears were intercepted by NORAD fighters in the air defense zone off the U.S. coast of Alaska, where they may have been practicing the targeting of Fort Greely and Vandenberg Air Force Base. Later in August 2012, it was revealed that an Akula-class submarine had conducted a patrol within the Gulf of Mexico without being detected, raising alarms of the U.S. Navy’s anti-submarine warfare capabilities.
On December 14, 2012, U.S. president Barack Obama signed the Magnitsky Act, which “[imposed] U.S. travel and financial restrictions on human rights abusers in Russia”. On December 28, 2012, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill, widely seen as retaliatory, that banned any United States citizen from adopting children from Russia.
On February 12, 2013, hours before the 2013 State of the Union Address by U.S. president Obama, two Russian Tu-95 Bear strategic bombers, reportedly equipped with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles, circled the U.S. territory of Guam. Air Force F-15 jets based on Andersen Air Force Base were scrambled to intercept the aircraft. The Russian aircraft reportedly “were intercepted and left the area in a northbound direction.”
In July 2014, the U.S. government formally accused Russia of having violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty by testing a prohibited medium-range ground-launched cruise missile (presumably R-500, a modification of Iskander) and threatened to retaliate accordingly. Concern in the U.S. was also caused by the test-firing in 2014 of the Russian RS-26 Rubezh Intercontinental Ballistic Missile capable of evading the existing anti-ballistic missile defenses.
In early June 2015, the U.S. State Department reported that Russia had failed to correct the violation of the I.N.F. Treaty; the U.S. government was said to have made no discernible headway in making Russia so much as acknowledge the compliance problem.
Edward Snowden affair
See also: 2013 mass surveillance disclosures
Edward Snowden, a contractor for the United States government, copied and released hundreds of thousands of pages of secret American government documents. He fled to Hong Kong, and then to Russia where in July 2013 he was granted political asylum. He was wanted on a criminal warrant by U.S. prosecutors for theft of government property and espionage.
The granting of asylum further aggravated relations between the two countries and led to the cancellation of a meeting between Obama and Putin that was scheduled for early September 2013 in Moscow. Snowden remains in Russia as of 2016
Ukraine crisis, sanctions: 2014-present
Following the collapse of the Viktor Yanukovych government in Ukraine in February 2014, Russia annexed Crimea on the basis of a controversial referendum held on March 16, 2014. The U.S. had submitted a UN Security Council resolution declaring the referendum illegal; it was vetoed by Russia on March 15 with China abstaining and the other 13 Security Council members voting for the resolution. In 2016, in a court in Moscow, former top Ukrainian officials of the Yanukovich administration testified that the collapse of the government was, in their opinion, a coup d’état organized and sponsored by the U.S. government. Russian newspaper Kommersant alleges George Friedman (chairman of Stratfor] had agreed this was the “most blatant coup in history’, which George Friedman says was taken out of context.  
U.S. secretary of state John Kerry in early March 2014 answering the press questions about the Russia’s moves in Crimea said, “This is an act of aggression that is completely trumped up in terms of its pretext. It’s really 19th century behavior in the 21st century, and there is no way, to start with, that if Russia persists in this, that the G8 countries are going to assemble in Sochi. That’s a starter.” On March 24, 2014, the U.S. and its allies in the G8 political forum suspended Russia’s membership thereof. The decision was dismissed by Russia as inconsequential.
At the end of March 2014, U.S. president Obama ruled out any Western military intervention in Ukraine and admitted that Russia’s annexation of Crimea would be hard to reverse; however, he dismissed Russia as a “regional power” that did not pose a major security threat to the U.S. In January 2016, when asked for his opinion of Obama’s statement, Putin said, “I think that speculations about other countries, an attempt to speak disrespectfully about other countries is an attempt to prove one’s exceptionalism by contrast. In my view, that is a misguided position.” In November 2016, the president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said this of the statement of Obama: “We have a lot to learn about the depths of Russia, we are very ignorant about it at the moment. I would like to have discussions on a level footing with Russia. Russia is not, as President Obama said, ‘a regional power’. This was a big error in assessment.”
As unrest spread into eastern Ukraine in the spring of 2014, relations between the U.S. and Russia further worsened. The U.S. government imposed punitive sanctions for Russia’s activity in Ukraine. After one bout of sanctions announced by President Obama in July 2014 targeting Russia’s major energy, financial and defence companies, Russia said the sanctions would seriously harm the bilateral ties relegating them to the 1980s Cold War era.
From March 2014 to 2016, six rounds of sanctions were imposed by the US, as well as by the EU, and some other countries allied to the U.S. The first three rounds targeted individuals close to Putin by freezing their assets and denying leave to enter. Russia responded by banning import of certain food products as well as by banning entry for certain government officials from the countries that imposed sanctions against Russia.
The end of 2014 saw the passage by the US of the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014, aimed at depriving certain Russian state firms of Western financing and technology while also providing $350 million in arms and military equipment to Ukraine, and the imposition by the US President’s executive order of yet another round of sanctions.
Russian military intervention in the Syrian Civil War: September 30, 2015–present
Main article: Russian military intervention in Syria
Barack Obama meets with Vladimir Putin to discuss Syria, September 29, 2015
Shortly after the start of the Syrian Civil War in the spring of 2011, the U.S. imposed sanctions on Syria’s government and urged president Bashar al-Assad to resign; meanwhile, Russia, a long-standing ally of Syria, continued and increased its support for the Syrian government against rebels backed up by the U.S. and its regional allies.
On September 30, 2015, Russia began the air campaign in Syria on the side of the Syrian government headed by president Bashar al-Assad of Syria. According to Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov‘s statement made in mid-October 2015, Russia had invited the U.S. to join the Baghdad-based information center set up by Iran, Iraq, Syria and Russia to coordinate their military efforts, but received what he called an “unconstructive” response; Putin’s proposal that the U.S. receive a high-level Russian delegation and that a U.S. delegation arrive in Moscow to discuss co-operation in Syria was likewise declined by the U.S.
In early October 2015, U.S. president Obama called the way Russia was conducting its military campaign in Syria a “recipe for disaster”; top U.S. military officials ruled out military cooperation with Russia in Syria. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and other senior U.S. officials said Russia’s campaign was primarily aimed at propping up Assad, whom U.S. president Barack Obama had repeatedly called upon to leave power.
Three weeks into the Russian campaign in Syria, on October 20, 2015, Russian president Vladimir Putin met Bashar Assad in Moscow to discuss their joint military campaign and a future political settlement in Syria, according to the Kremlin report of the event. The meeting provoked a sharp condemnation from the White House.
While one of the original aims of the Russian leadership may have been normalisation of the relationship with the U.S. and the West at large, the resultant situation in Syria was said in October 2015 to be a proxy war between Russia and the U.S. The two rounds of the Syria peace talks held in Vienna in October and November 2015, with Iran participating for the first time, highlighted yet again the deep disagreement over the Syrian settlement between the U.S. and Russia, primarily on the issue of Bashar Assad‘s political future. The talks in Vienna were followed by a bilateral meeting of Obama and Putin on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Turkey, during which a certain consensus between the two leaders on Syria was reported to have been reached.
Bilateral negotiations over Syria were unilaterally suspended by the U.S on October 3, 2016, which was presented as the U.S. government’s reaction to a re-newed offensive on Aleppo by Syrian and Russian troops. On the same day Putin signed a decree that suspended the 2000 Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement with the U.S. (the relevant law was signed on 31 October 2016), citing the failure by the U.S. to comply with the provisions thereof as well as the U.S.’ unfriendly actions that posed a “threat to strategic stability.” In mid-October 2016, Russia’s U.N. ambassador Vitaly Churkin, referring to the international situation during the 1973 Arab–Israeli War, said that tensions with the U.S. are “probably the worst since 1973”. After two rounds of fruitless talks on Syria in Lausanne and London, the foreign ministers of the U.S. and the UK said that additional sanctions against both Russia and Syria were imminent unless Russia and the “Assad regime” stopped their air campaign in Aleppo.
U.S. election of 2016
Main article: 2016 United States election interference by Russia
See also: Fake news website § Russia
The U.S. presidential election campaign of 2016 saw the U.S. security officials accuse the Russian government of being behind massive cyber-hackings and leaks that aimed at influencing the election and discrediting the U.S. political system. The allegations were dismissed by Putin who said the idea that Russia was favouring Donald Trump was a myth created by the Hillary Clinton campaign. The background of tense relationship between Putin and Hillary Clinton was highlighted by U.S. press during the election campaign. Later, in mid-December 2016, Hillary Clinton suggested that Putin had a personal grudge against her due to her criticism of the 2011 Russian legislative election and his opinion that she was responsible for fomenting the anti-Putin protests in Russia that began in December 2011. She partially attributed her loss in the 2016 election to Russian meddling organized by Putin.
Trump had been widely seen as a pro-Russia candidate, with the FBI investigating alleged connections between Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort as well as Carter Page and pro-Russian interests.
Post-U.S. election of 2016
In mid-November 2016, shortly after the election of Donald Trump as the U.S. president, the Kremlin accused president Barack Obama’s administration of trying to damage the U.S.’ relationship with Russia to a degree that would render normalization thereof impossible for the incoming administration of Donald Trump.
Speaking on a visit to Germany on November 17, President Obama said that his “view on Russia ha[d] not changed since [his] first day in office. Russia is an important superpower, a military superpower, it has influence in the region as well as worldwide.”
In his address to the Russian parliament delivered on December 1, 2016, Russian president Putin said this of U.S.—Russia relations: “We are prepared to cooperate with the new American administration. It’s important to normalize and begin to develop bilateral relations on an equal and mutually beneficial basis. Mutual efforts by Russia and the United States in solving global and regional problems are in the interest of the entire world.”
In early December 2016, the White House said that President Obama had ordered the intelligence agencies to review evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign; Eric Schultz, the deputy White House press secretary, denied the review to be led by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper was meant to be “an effort to challenge the outcome of the election”. Simultaneously, the U.S. press published reports, with reference to senior administration officials, that U.S. intelligence agencies, specifically the CIA, had concluded with “high confidence” that Russia acted covertly in the latter stages of the presidential campaign to harm Hillary Clinton’s chances and promote Donald Trump. President-elect Donald Trump rejected the CIA assessment that Russia was behind the hackers’ efforts to sway the campaign in his favour as “ridiculous”.
While in mid-December president Obama publicly pledged to retaliate for Russian cyberattacks during the U.S. presidential election in order to “send a clear message to Russia” as both a punishment and a deterrent, the press reported that his actionable options were limited, with many of those having been rejected as either ineffective or too risky; The New York Times, citing a catalogue of U.S.-engineered coups in foreign countries, opined, “There is not much new in tampering with elections, except for the technical sophistication of the tools. For all the outrage voiced by Democrats and Republicans in the past week about the Russian action — with the notable exception of Mr. Trump, who has dismissed the intelligence findings as politically motivated — it is worth remembering that trying to manipulate elections is a well-honed American art form.”
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 signed into law by president Obama on 23 December 2016, was criticised by the Russian foreign ministry as yet another attempt to “create problems for the incoming Trump administration and complicate its relations on the international stage, as well as to force it to adopt an anti-Russia policy.”
At the end of 2016, U.S. president-elect Donald Trump praised Russian president Vladimir Putin for not expelling American diplomats in response to Washington′s expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats as well as other punitive measures taken by the Obama administration in retaliation for what U.S. officials had characterized as interference in the U.S. presidential election.
Trump’s tenure (2017–)
A week after the inauguration of Donald Trump on January 20, 2017, the U.S. President Donald Trump had a 50 minute telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin that was hailed by both governments as a step towards improvement of relations between the U.S. and Russia; the presidents agreed to arrange a face-to-face meeting for a later date. On February 16, 2017, President Trump’s Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, declared that the United States was not currently prepared to collaborate with Russia on military matters – including future anti-ISIL US operations.
The following are some reports on Trump & Putin