January was marked, above all else, by renewed U.S.-Russian dialogue on a range of international issues, including Syria. For example, conditions were set for inter-Syrian dialogue, although hopes for success there are very small.
At the same time, the U.S. side is doing its share to ensure that initiatives for the positive development of U.S.-Russian relations become derailed by making provocative statements, such as the accusations made by U.S. Treasury Department official Adam Szubin about corruption within the Russian government. In the same vein, there was a change made to the military strategy of the European Command of the U.S. Armed Forces (EUCOM) that identifies Russia as a potential threat.
10. Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov’s visit to Indonesia
On Jan. 8, the Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov arrived on a visit to Indonesia. During the talks, he discussed prospective projects in railway construction, the mining industry, civil aviation, metallurgy, shipbuilding, nuclear power, the arms trade and a number of other areas.
During the visit, the Russian minister noted that the Eurasian Economic Union and Indonesia might soon start negotiations on the implementation of a free trade zone. Russia is stepping up its activities in the Asia-Pacific Region, where at this time a new rivalry between the U.S. and China is already unfolding.
9. Emir of Qatar’s visit to Moscow
Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani paid a visit to Moscow. He and Vladimir Putin discussed a number of important issues, including the price of gas and the situation in the Gaza Strip. However, the main topic of their conversation was Syria, in terms of the peace talks between Bashar al-Assad and the opposition that are just starting there.
The talks in Moscow were particularly important, because hitherto, there had been clearly noticeable divergences of opinion on many regional issues between Qatar and Russia. Although it is not possible to list any compromises reached, or any common positions established, the official declarations indicate, at the very least, the willingness to take into consideration each other’s positions.
8. Russia’s reaction to North Korea’s testing of a thermonuclear bomb
The DPRK announced yet another nuclear test – this time, a hydrogen bomb, which, according to North Korean authorities, moved the country’s potential “to a new level.” This event was often discussed between Sergey Lavrov and John Kerry, as well as during telephone conversations between Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama.
Obviously, this challenge to international security coming from North Korea could not pass unnoticed. On Jan. 28, the United States announced the tightening of sanctions against North Korea. However, it is clear that the sanctions path usually does not lead to any rapid and expected results.
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Tensions within Saudi Arabia and on its borders keep worsening. In the meantime, the young Crown Prince, who holds power over most vital domestic and external policies, continues multiplying mistakes. As was expected, 2017 witnessed the two mutually reinforcing tendencies. First, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, son of the current Saudi King, held on to his course of strengthening his positions in power. Second, tensions kept increasing within the royal family in the face of the upcoming change of the order of succession to the throne.
Indeed, Russia is not completely a European country and cannot surmount its un-European living conditions for the objective reasons. The West has difficulty understanding this, though – strangely enough. More importantly, the Russian historic experience is unique – it may not be transposed to other countries, because there are no other countries like Russia.
Heading into the weekend, the leaders and diplomats of the twenty countries with the biggest economies were busy preparing for the G20 Summit, which is taking place in Antalya, Turkey. There are many issues on this year’s agenda – from problems in the world economy and finance to refugee issues, the fight against terrorism and resolving the Syrian crisis. However, in light of the Nov. 13 Paris terror attacks , the issue of fighting terrorism and, in particular, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), has dominated the agenda of the G20 Summit.
Many opponents of Russia are already regarding this as his surrender of the southeast of Ukraine; however in reality, this is just one more step towards the realization of Russian interests in Ukraine. The goal is to minimize potential damage.