Letter From the Editors: Feb. 1 - 7, 2016

Author: Matthew Larson

Russia, West Stuck in Vicious Cycle.

Relations between Russia and the West continue to deteriorate as the list of mutual grievances expands and the number of seemingly insurmountable impasses grows. That is the general consensus of the Russian commentators cited in this week's sampling of the Russian press. The most contentious issue continues to be Russia's annexation of the Crimea - the European Parliament reiterated that it constituted a flagrant violation of international law. Dashing hopes that the West was preparing to soften its stance on Russia, European parliamentarians passed a resolution linking the lifting of sanctions against Russia to Moscow's return of the Crimea to Ukraine. The Kremlin almost certainly has no intentions of ever giving back the peninsula.

The Crimean issue aside, fundamental disagreements remain regarding the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Kiev and the separatists don't see eye to eye on just about every major point of the Minsk agreements. Nezavisimaya gazeta writes that as the linchpin in the settlement process, Russia could do a lot more to resolve the conflict: "Where there's a will, there's a way. The question is: Does Russia have the will?" But even if the Ukraine conflict were resolved tomorrow, Russian-Western ties would still be far from normalized. They have effectively been poisoned for years to come, says Vladislav Inozemtsev. He offers a laundry list of sticking points, ranging from Ukraine to Syria, each of which will require tremendous effort and political will to overcome. In particular, he says that Vladimir Putin's attempts to influence the EU's political landscape have made him a personal enemy of many European leaders.

As if to underscore that assessment, the BBC recently released a film, "Putin's Secret Riches," that accuses the Russian leader of involvement in rampant corruption and enrichment schemes. When asked to comment on the allegations made in the film, US White House press secretary Josh Earnest said ...

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