Russia

Military Leaders Worried They Could Not Fend Off Russia

Washington Post: “Although many barriers would drop away if there were a declaration of war, the hazy period before a military engagement would present a major problem. NATO has just a skeleton force deployed to its member countries that share a border with Russia. Backup forces would need to traverse hundreds of miles. And the delays — a mixture of bureaucracy, bad planning and decaying infrastructure — could enable Russia to seize NATO territory in the Baltics while U.S. Army planners were still filling out the 17 forms needed to cross Germany and into Poland.”

“During at least one White House exercise that gamed out a European war with Russia, the logistical stumbles contributed to a NATO loss.”

Britain’s Collusion Scandal Looks Exactly Like Trump’s

Jonathan Chait: “The most important thing to understand about the Russia scandal is that it perfectly fits a clear pattern of behavior. What Vladimir Putin is accused of doing to help Donald Trump win the presidency is essentially identical to what he is either accused of or proven to have done to help many other right-wing candidates in many other countries. As the plot in the United States is slowly exposed, a remarkably similar one in the United Kingdom is quickly surfacing.”

“Months before the United States narrowly elected Trump, the United Kingdom narrowly elected to withdraw from the European Union. Both votes advanced Russian foreign policy goals — in the latter case, by splitting up the Western alliance. (Trump has energetically pursued this strategy, too.) Russia employed many of the same tools to influence both elections. It deployed social-media bots and trolls to spread its message. It recruited friendly candidates who gave voice to previously marginal Russophile positions. And, as the newly surfaced evidence suggests, it indirectly financed the campaign.”

Trump Insists on Summit with Russia

A senior official familiar with internal deliberations tells the New Yorker: “He’s going to do it. He wants to have a meeting with Putin, so he’s going to have a meeting with Putin.”

Two former senior U.S. officials said that “they had also been briefed on Trump’s orders to his staff to plan for the Putin summit soon. One of them said it could even occur on the first leg of Trump’s trip to Europe next month, before Trump attends the annual NATO meeting.”

Trump Told World Leaders that Crimea Is Russian

President Trump “told G7 leaders that Crimea is Russian because everyone who lives there speaks Russian,” BuzzFeed News reports.

“Russia invaded and then annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, leading to widespread international condemnation and sanctions. It also directly led to Russia being kicked out of the then-G8. Russian President Vladimir Putin defended Russia’s intervention in Crimea at the time saying that he had the right to protect Russian citizens and Russian speakers in Ukraine.”

British Donor Met with Russians Before Brexit Vote

“Arron Banks, the millionaire businessman who bankrolled Nigel Farage’s campaign to quit the European Union, had multiple meetings with Russian embassy officials in the run-up to the Brexit referendum,” the Observer reports.

“Banks, who gave £12m of services to the campaign, becoming the biggest donor in UK history, has repeatedly denied any involvement with Russian officials, or that Russian money played any part in the Brexit campaign.”

Coats Warns Russia Is Trying to Influence Midterms

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the Atlantic Council that Russia “is attempting to influence the midterm elections in the United States in November as well as divide the transatlantic alliance.”

Coats said Russia had already undertaken an “unprecedented influence campaign to interfere in the US electoral and political process” in 2016 and has also meddled in France, Germany, Norway, Spain, and Ukraine.

He added: “These Russian actions are purposeful and premeditated and they represent an all-out assault, by Vladimir Putin, on the rule of law, Western ideals and democratic norms.”

Trump Is Fulfilling Russia’s Dream

Jonathan Chait: “One of Russia’s principal foreign-policy goals for decades has been to split the United States from is allies. Whether by accident or by design, President Trump appears intent on bringing that dream to fruition.”

“The most immediate theater of Western disarray is today’s G7 meeting in Canada. Trump has been fomenting a trade war, hurling wild and largely groundless accusations at America’s allies… Western trade partners have attempted to reason with Trump’s demands, but the problem is that the basis for his beliefs and actions is entirely fantastical. If your neighbor is irate that you let your dog run loose in his yard, you can pacify him. If he’s irate that you are reading his thoughts through his tinfoil hat, there’s nothing you can do except disengage. And that is what they are doing.”

Trump Calls for Readmitting Russia Into G7

“President Trump said Russia should be readmitted to the Group of Seven leading economies, breaking with other world leaders who have insisted Moscow remain ostracized following its involvement in the 2014 Crimean crisis,” the Washington Post reports.

“Trump’s comments, made as he was departing to Canada for the annual G-7 summit, have the potential to further upend talks with other world leaders. U.S. officials believe Russia interfered in the 2016 election, and part of this year’s G-7 summit was supposed to focus on protecting democracies from foreign meddling.”

Quote of the Day

“You should ask our colleagues in the United States. In my opinion, this is the result of the ongoing acute political struggle in the United States. Indeed, Donald Trump and I have, firstly, met more than once at various international venues and secondly, we regularly talk over the phone.”

— Russian President Vladimir Putin, quoted by Axios, on why there hasn’t been a U.S.-Russian summit meeting yet.

New Russian Site Is Designed to Sway U.S. Voters

McClatchy: “A new Russian influence operation has surfaced that mirrors some of the activity of an internet firm that the FBI says was deeply involved in efforts to sway the 2016 U.S. elections, a cybersecurity firm says.”

“A website called usareally.com appeared on the internet May 17 and called on Americans to rally in front of the White House June 14 to celebrate President Trump’s birthday, which is also Flag Day… The website’s operators once worked out of the same office building in St. Petersburg, Russia, where the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency had its headquarters.”

FBI Warned of Spy Links To Oligarch Who Paid Cohen

“The FBI warned four years ago that a foundation controlled by the Russian oligarch who allegedly reimbursed Donald Trump’s personal lawyer might have been acting on behalf of Russia’s intelligence services,” NPR reports.

“FBI Special Agent in Charge Lucia Ziobro wrote an unusual column in the Boston Business Journal in April of 2014 to warn that a foundation controlled by Russian energy baron Viktor Vekselberg might be part of a Moscow spying campaign that sought to siphon up American science and technology.”

Trump Really Wants to Meet with Putin

Susan Glasser: “This coming Monday, Putin, already Russia’s longest-serving leader since Joseph Stalin, will be inaugurated to a new six-year term. In March, Trump defied his own advisers to congratulate Putin in a post-election phone call, then surprised them again by inviting Putin to Washington for a summit meeting. It seems implausible and politically insane to imagine that Trump would even consider a chummy one-on-one with Putin now, especially when the risks to Trump from the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Trump’s Russia ties appear so significant. And yet the invitation, I’m told, was real, and reflects the President’s strongly expressed personal preference.”

“Will Trump follow through with it—and add yet another high-drama plotline to the already oversubscribed Trump show?”