Right and Left on the Russia Sanctions and Putin’s Response

Right and Left on the Russia Sanctions and Putin’s Response


Harry J. Kazianis in The Week:

“Washington needs to start worrying about the possibility of an alliance it won’t be thrilled about: Russia and North Korea.”

Another potential unintended consequence of the sanctions is what Mr. Kazianis calls a “reunion of old comrades.” He writes that “shared enemies plus shared interests equal shared goals,” and that the American actions may just align the interests of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader. Read more »


Michael Rubin in Commentary:

“If parity is important, it’s time for Putin to choose which of the Russian consulates get closed. To be frank, the Russian consulates in Seattle and San Francisco probably focus on industrial espionage as much as normal consular duties, anyway.”

Mr. Rubin, unlike the writers above, voices a neoconservative perspective in his reaction to Mr. Putin’s retaliatory sanctions against American diplomats working in Russia. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson and other diplomats and pundits in Washington, he argues, should see the deteriorating relations with Russia as an opportunity and not a tragedy. Read more »


From the Left


President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Sunday in St. Petersburg with the Russian defense minister, Sergei K. Shoigu. Credit Pool photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko

Joshua Yaffa in The New Yorker:

“Putin has not yet given up on Trump entirely. The goal of this latest move is not to break with Trump or to forswear working with him.”

Mr. Yaffa proposes that the response of the Russian president need not be interpreted as an escalation in hostilities between the two countries. Instead, he writes, perhaps it is possible to read Mr. Putin’s decision to expel American diplomats from his country as “both a warning and an opening” for President Trump. Read more »


Abigail Tracy in Vanity Fair:

“For a notoriously thin-skinned president who rarely hesitates to hit back, Donald Trump was notably quiet over the weekend.”

Ms. Tracy finds Mr. Trump’s nonreaction to Mr. Putin’s provocations over the weekend out of character. His silence might be a signal that, at least on the issue of Russia, the president’s hands are “tied by his own party.” Read more »


Brian Beutler in New Republic:

“There are signs that Republicans in Congress are reaching a breaking point. They may continue to turn a blind eye to Trump’s corruption, but they are taking meaningful steps, in concert with Trump subordinates in the executive branch, to slow his authoritarian slide.”

Mr. Beutler uses Congress’s near-unanimous support of sanctions against Russia to examine the state of the relationship of the president with his party. When Republican leaders joined their Democratic colleagues and “stripped Trump of his discretion over Russian sanctions,” it was just one in a series of “meaningful rebellions” that might signal a larger rift in the future. Or not. Read more »


Natalie Nougayrède in The Guardian:

“Redefining Europe-U.S. relations under Trump is no easy task. But if Europe has a card to play in Washington, surely it is more with Congress than with the Oval Office.”

Ms. Nougayrède explains, and bemoans, the European Union’s reaction to the American sanctions against Russia. She criticizes Europe for seemingly prioritizing “large corporations making money in deals with Russia, rather than the wider diplomatic picture.” Ms. Nougayrède, the former executive editor and managing editor of the French newspaper Le Monde, faults the many scandals inside the White House for the “strange impact” on her side of the Atlantic. Read more »


And Finally, From the Center:


President Trump at the White House on Monday. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

Julia Ioffe in The Atlantic:

“The fact is, the situation is bad, for Moscow and for Washington, and it’s been exacerbated by both sides.”

Ms. Ioffe diagnoses the Russian president’s reaction as an attempt to “try to sound like the sole adult in the room, even as you actively make the situation worse.” Moreover, she argues that each country’s set of sanctions is problematic in its own way. Read more »


Leonid Bershidsky in Bloomberg:

“Just as the U.S. sanctions were primarily about playing to a domestic audience — a way to respond to the Trump-Russia scandal — the Kremlin’s response is to use them for domestic fodder.”

Mr. Bershidsky, a Russian journalist now living in Berlin, argues that American sanctions against Russia are a gift to Mr. Putin. Sanctions have not barred the Russian president from annexing Crimea or directing cyberwarfare campaigns against Western countries. He goes on to add that sanctions do not “really hurt his rich friends.” Read more »


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