Letter From the Editors: July 11 - 17, 2016

Author: Xenia Grushetsky

All Quiet on the Western Front - on the Eastern Front, Not so Much.

The much-anticipated NATO summit this week failed to bring any surprises. Just as expected, the hawks outnumbered the doves. While still speaking about a need for "constructive dialogue," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg still pushed for a tough stance toward Moscow, including reinforcing NATO’s eastern flank with four multinational battalions - one for each Baltic state plus Poland.

Russian officials weren’t present at the meeting (unlike the 2012 summit, for instance). But a couple of Russian experts were, and their comments do not sound optimistic. Dmitry Trenin, director of the director of the Carnegie Moscow Center who spoke at an expert forum, said that the current situation is not similar to the cold war - it’s worse. "During the cold war, despite all the differences and hatred, we still had dialogue and respect, and now we don’t even have that," the expert lamented.

But perhaps such dour forecasts are exaggerated? One sign of improvement in US-Russian relations was US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Moscow. This is Kerry’s second trip in four months, writes Yevgeny Medvedev. In what experts see as highly unusual, Kerry is meeting with Putin personally - this is a major departure from protocol, since heads of state usually don’t engage with lower-ranking officials. According to sources, this is further evidence that Moscow and Washington are beginning to coordinate their actions when it comes to Syria. Secretary Kerry’s trip did not sit well with everyone - Pentagon officials were supposedly incensed with the Barack Obama administration’s "overtures" to Russia. Considering that this week, a Syrian helicopter manned by a Russian crew was shot down by rebels over Palmyra with a US-made antitank guided missile, it seems there is disorder in Washington’s ranks.

This puts the extension of the New START treaty in ...

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