Letter From the Editors: Jan. 16 - 22, 2017

Author: Matthew Larson

Making Sense of US Presidential Politics, Shifting Alliances in Syria, International Politics, Rosneft Privatization Schemes.

The Russian press continues to weigh in on the change of executive power in the US, assessing the impact of both the incoming and outgoing presidents on Russia’s interests and bilateral relations.

Aleksandr Gabuyev offers a withering criticism of Barack Obama’s presidency, attributing his failures to a hands-off administrative style and reticent personality, and calling him a "nauseating bureaucrat." Gabuyev says that Obama would only get involved on issues that interested him personally, leaving those that didn’t to lower level officials to deal with as they wished. After the failure of the Obama-initiated reset in US-Russian relations, Washington essentially washed its hands of Russia, Gabuyev contends.

Trump is definitely no bureaucrat (though certainly nauseating to many), and he is a fresh if not welcome change for Moscow. But Russian commentators are still trying to figure out just what the change means for Russia. Trump’s top advisers and cabinet figures have differing, even contradictory, views on Russia, making Trump’s Russian strategy hard to pin down. Vladimir Frolov believes Trump may try to use arms reductions as a safe starting place for negotiations that could be tied to a host of other issues such as the Crimea, Ukraine, sanctions, Syria, etc. - offering Russia rock-bottom deals on fundamental issues in exchange for Russian cooperation in fighting terrorism. The Moscow Times writes that the Russian and US presidents are in many respects soul mates, sharing a common worldview and opinions: "They both seem to believe that the world’s liberal order merely hides the Western establishment’s personal interests under a disingenuous mask of values." So will Putin and Trump join forces to bring the "liberal order" to heel? And if Marine Le Pen wins the French presidential election, will she join them? Considering what she told Izvestia reporters in an exclusive interview, ...

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