Russia participated in the “Normandy format” talks that were hosted by Germany on Friday. The negotiations lasted the whole day. Representatives from France, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine participated at the summit, which was held in Berlin. The Normandy Format Talks were created in 2014, after Crimea’s annexation by Russia.
This week Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the vote on the proposed Russian constitution amendments will take place on July 1. The amendments include the removal of term limits so Putin can remain in power until 2036 and beyond. On August 9 there will be a presidential election in Belarus; current president Alexander Lukashenko is running for a sixth term.
China launched a new propaganda campaign over the weekend. The campaign is timed with the start of the Russian holidays associated with May 1st celebrations. In 1918, a year after the Russian Revolution, May 1 became an important public holiday, known as the Day of the International Solidarity of Workers in the Soviet Union. Most Soviet cities had parades and obligatory workers’ marches on this day until 1990.
Gen. H. M. Ershad duped the United States after President Ziaur Rahman‘s assassination on May 30, 1981, telling the American ambassador that he had no plans to overthrow Justice Abdus Sattar, who succeeded the slain ruler as acting president.
“Bangladesh Army Chief of Staff Ershad told me June 25 that he had no interest in politics and that the military should not interfere in constitutional government unless there is a complete breakdown of civil authority and effectiveness,” Ambassador David T. Schneider informed the State Department on June 25, 1981.
Russian state sponsored television aired a spook program this week. Russia (the government’s official channel) televised an exclusive interview with retired Colonel Elena Vavilova (aka Tracey Foley) and her husband Andrey Bezrukov (aka Donald Hattfield). These two agents were arrested by the FBI on June 27, 2010 at their residence in Massachusetts and charged with espionage.
Last December President Trump announced that he will be withdrawing U.S. forces from Syria, although he later decided to leave 400 troops in Syria. This hopefully signifies a changing policy for the region. President Trump’s decision reminds me of a similar decision made 50 years ago in 1969. This decision was the beginning of the end of U.S. involvement in an unwinnable war that had been raging on for nearly 20 years. This decision was President Richard Nixon’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Vietnam. It is impossible not to draw a plethora of similarities between the Vietnam War and the current War on Terror.
- Former Secretary of State Colin Powell criticized Trump for moving away from the post-Cold War Order and insulting our allies. He told America that it needs to take a hard look at itself: “We’re walking away from agreements, we’re walking away from the alliances that we used to have.”
- But that international order is under increasing criticism even from Trump critics, who say its dark underbelly has been on painfully display in the case of Syria. They point out that atrocities routinely go unpunished by the primary stewards of international order.
- Meanwhile, Trump has made progress with North Korean denuclearization. Kim Jung-un recently agreed to allow outside inspectors to confirm the destruction of it’s nuclear testing site. A second meeting between the two leaders and a Peace Treaty ending the 66-year old Korean War may be the next steps.
- Proponents of the “Trump Doctrine” praise the President for disrupting a 70 year arrangement they describe as: our “allies” ceding geostrategic control of their own countries and being rewarded with trade deals that come at the expense of domestic American economic interests.
- Critics of Trump’s foreign policy, both internal and international, are rallying. Senior officials from western democracies are meeting regularly across multiple organizations to “save the liberal world order,” advocate for collective actions, and fill gaps left by any American retreat from its global role.