Letter From the Editors: Oct. 10 - 16, 2016

Author: Xenia Grushetsky

Cold War 2.0 to the Rescue - or How to Travel Back in Time Without Really Trying.

Although Paris must be lovely in October, President Vladimir Putin is not about to stroll down the Champs-Elysees anytime soon - the French side canceled the Russian president’s visit this week. According to the Russian president’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov, this was due to the fact that the visit’s agenda was reduced to a minimum. One event that ended up on the chopping block was the opening of a Russian spiritual and cultural center in Paris, which French President Francois Hollande was supposed to dedicate together with Putin. What forced this move? Vladimir Dzhabarov, first deputy chairman of the Federation Council’s international affairs committee, believes Paris was acting hurt because Moscow had vetoed the French side’s draft resolution on Syria in the UN Security Council.

The timing for the visit couldn’t have been worse, writes columnist Tatyana Stanovaya: "In the spring, when Francois Hollande invited Putin to Paris, Moscow was perceived as a player that was putting the rest of the world in the hot seat with its unrelenting battle against ISIS.. .. But during September-October, the defender against the terrorist threat turned into a bloody monster obliterating an entire city [of Aleppo]."

Surprisingly, it’s perennial Kremlin critic Yulia Latynina who comes to Putin’s rescue on this point. She points out that Moscow and Damascus aren’t bombing Aleppo - they are bombing rebel-held east Aleppo. Meanwhile, the rebel forces are shelling the much more populous west Aleppo. Why does the city’s western part have a much greater population (with the resulting greater civilian casualties)? Because most people in west Aleppo are internally displaced refugees fleeing the rebel forces. In Latynina’s opinion, the so-called moderate Syrian opposition is a myth - they are just Islamists in sheep’s clothing. Meanwhile, the Syrian population is forced to flee from the ...

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