For those of you who are amazed at Donald Trump’s reputed brilliance at deal-making, recent events suggest that the secret is – no secret. All you have to do is follow Trump’s increasingly apparent ability to stab friends in the back while smiling to their faces. If that hasn’t already become apparent to you, then perhaps this editorial from the New York Times is likely to convince you.

“[Trump] needs to let Mr. Putin know that he recognizes and will work to blunt Moscow’s efforts to destabilize Europe. That starts with clear support for recent NATO decisions to enhance NATO’s deterrence capability in Eastern Europe; but the current lynchpin of Kremlin efforts to undermine European security is eastern Ukraine.  This is where the U.S. needs to withstand Kremlin expansionism.”

 

Without active US engagement in Europe, an aggressively revanchist Russia will step in. Russia is already challenging the US and the EU in Ukraine, Syria, the Baltics, and the Balkans, and it may capitalize on the EU’s looming collapse by reasserting its influence in the former Soviet bloc countries, and supporting pro-Russia movements within Europe. If Europe gradually loses its US security umbrella, no one stands to benefit more than Russian President Vladimir Putin.

 

After months of anticipation, speculation, and hand-wringing by politicians and journalists, American intelligence agencies have finally released a declassified version of a report on the part they believe Russia played in the US presidential election.

Gary Kasparov: “Today, the leaders of the free world must finally recognize that the preservation of Putin’s Russia in its current form is a much greater problem than the potential breakup of the country.”

 

 

The main question at the start of the year is whether the post-1945 world order, now in its eighth decade, can be sustained once US President-elect Donald Trump takes office this month. To address that question, it is essential to understand how sustainable Trump’s power will be.

 

Putin and company continue to enjoy considerable success in masking the level of Cargo 200 [Russian soldiers and mercenaries] coming home to Russia in body bags from Syria and the Donbas. However, the crowd of Kremlin criminals is having less luck at covering up the increasing economic costs of Putin’s foreign adventures as more of the burden gets shifted from the central government budget to the oblasts.

 

John Sipher: “The sanctioning of senior Russian intelligence officers is appropriate but will do little harm to those officers or their services, and will not change Russian behavior.  Only continued U.S. resolve and coordinated action with our allies will be able to impress on the Russians the need to change their behavior.  In this sense, the U.S. should look to means to strengthen our support to NATO and Ukraine.”

 

“Until Russians recognize that they are and must be responsible for their fate rather than blaming others for their problems, the best self of Russia, that of Academician Sakharov, Galina Starovoitova, and so many others, will continue to be betrayed, not by the West but by themselves and their Kremlin leaders.”

Cartoon courtesy Radio Svoboda

 

 

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