Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

ROK President Moon to Visit Russia This week

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Yonhap News Agency reported, citing an anonymous presidential administration official, that ROK President Moon Jae-in will pay a three-day state visit to Russia later this week to meet President Putin. The two presidents will meet on Thursday, shortly after the ROK leader’s arrival in Moscow. This’ll be Moon’s first visit to the Russian capital since his election in May 2017 and the first state visit by a ROK President to Russia since 1999. Most expect Moon and Putin to pay special attention to the DPRK nuclear issue during the summit. Yonhap quoted the anonymous official:

Russia made significant contributions to efforts to denuclearise the DPRK, it also played a significant role in pressuring it, considering its economic relationship with the DPRK. In addition, the visit should help promote strategic cooperation between the two countries to establish peace in Northeast Asia amidst positive developments in security conditions and efforts to denuclearise the Korean peninsula.

Whilst in Moscow, Moon will also meet with Chairman of the RF Government D A Medvedev and other high-ranking officials. He’ll also be the first ROK President to address the RF Gosduma (lower house of the RF Federal Assembly). Later on, Moon will travel to Rostov-on-Don to attend the FIFA World Cup match between the ROK and Mexico before returning home on Saturday.

18 June 2018

TASS

http://tass.com/world/1009968

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US Senate to Ban US Weapon Supplies to Turkey Over Potential Purchase of Russian S-400 System

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On Monday, the US Senate adopted the National Defence Authorisation Act for Fiscal Year 2019, which obliges the Secretary of Defense to present a special report regarding the potential purchase by Turkey of the S-400 air/missile defence system from Russia. The document stated:

Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of the Act, the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on the status of the US relationship with the Republic of Turkey. The Secretary of Defense may not take any action to execute the delivery of a foreign military sale for major defence equipment to Turkey until the report is submitted.

The document stipulates:

The required report should include an assessment of the potential purchase by the Government of Turkey of the S-400 air and missile defence system from the Russian Federation and the potential effects of such purchase on the USA-Turkey bilateral relationship, including an assessment of impacts on other US weapon systems and platforms operated jointly with Turkey to include the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike aircraft, the Patriot surface-to-air missile system, the CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopter, the AH-1 Attack helicopter, the UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopter, and the F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft. The Secretary of Defense isn’t allowed to take any action to execute the delivery of a foreign military sale for major defence equipment subject to congressional notification to the Republic of Turkey until the Secretary submits to the appropriate congressional committees the report.

Earlier reports said that Ankara intends to purchase over 100 F-35 warplanes. The proposed measure may hinder the execution of the contract.

The S-400 Triumf is an advanced long-range antiaircraft missile system that went into service in 2007. It is designed to destroy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles, including medium-range missiles, and surface targets. The S-400 can engage targets at a distance of 400 kilometres and at an altitude of up to 30 kilometres. In November 2016, Turkey and Russia were negotiating a contract for the supply of S-400 air defence systems. Russia confirmed the conclusion of the contract on 12 September 2017.

19 June 2018

TASS

http://tass.com/world/1010065

Pentagon Sez Washington and Seoul Suspend Joint Military Drill

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Late Monday, US officials said that US and ROK forces won’t conduct a joint military drill that scheduled to take place in August, following a historic meeting between US President Donald Trump and DPRK Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un in which the two heads of state agreed to make peace on the Korean peninsula. Trump verbally vowed to end USA-ROK “war games” following the summit with Kim in Singapore on 12 June. An official told Reuters that the Ulchi Freedom Guardian drill wouldn’t take place this year as it did last year. Meanwhile, on Monday, Pentagon source Dana White said in a press release that the USA and the ROK suspended planning for a joint military exercise near the Korean peninsula scheduled to take place in August:

Consistent with President Trump’s commitment and in concert with our ROK ally, the US military suspended all planning for this August’s defensive war-game Freedom Guardian. There have been no decisions on subsequent war-games. Also, this decision hasn’t affected Pacific exercises outside of the Korean peninsula. US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and National Security Advisor John Bolton will meet later this week to discuss the issue.

Last year, Pyongyang requested the UN Security Council to discuss Ulchi Freedom Guardian because it was essentially a rehearsal for an invasion of the DPRK. According to the Pentagon, the drill would involve 17,500 of the 28,000 US troops in the ROK and UN Command forces from seven countries, including Australia, Canada, Columbia, Denmark, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and Britain.

19 June 2018

Sputnik International

https://sputniknews.com/asia/201806191065528849-south-korea-usa-drills-suspension/

Monday, 18 June 2018

Media Reports Speculate that Trump May Meet with Putin in Europe in July

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The Washington Post cited “a senior administration official and two diplomats familiar with his schedule”:

We expect that President Trump shall meet Russian President Vladimir Putin next month while he’s in Europe for a NATO summit. On Friday, in a nod to those plans, Trump told reporters that “it’s possible” he’d meet with Putin this summer.

NATO is going to hold a summit in Brussels 11-12 July. The Post went on:

Trump’s interest in a meeting with Putin became public in March after the Kremlin disclosed that Trump extended an invitation in a phone call with the Russian leader. However, US officials say Trump privately asked his aides for a bilateral meeting ever since he met with Putin in Vietnam in November on the sidelines of a multilateral economic summit. A US official said, “After that meeting, the president said he wanted to invite Putin to the White House. We ignored it. At the time, top aides in the National Security Council opposed the idea of a meeting and said they didn’t view Trump’s interest in a summit as an order to set one up. They decided, ‘Let’s wait and see if he raises it again’”.

The push for engagement with the Kremlin follows months of prodding by Trump, who faced resistance from senior political aides and diplomats questioning the value of meeting with Putin and worry that a tête-à-tête could cast a shadow over the NATO summit in Brussels. Senior officials at the State Department acknowledged that a meeting between the two leaders could, in theory, help resolve long-standing differences on the Ukraine, Syria, cybersecurity issues, and interference in foreign elections. However, some of those officials said a summit between the two leaders is premature given the lack of progress on resolving minor issues, such as the return of Russian dachas on the East Coast seized as punishment for Moscow’s interference in the election.

In late December 2016, the Obama administration introduced a new round of sanctions against some Russian companies, the Federal Security Service, and the Main Intelligence Agency of the General Staff. Besides that, US authorities expelled 35 Russian diplomats and shut down two Russian compounds in New York and Maryland. Washington attributed these sanctions to cyberattacks against US political institutions, accusing Russia of being involved. However, Moscow fully rejected all allegations and refrained from giving a tit-for-tat response at the time.

On Wednesday, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Europe and Russia with the US National Security Council Richard Hooker told us that Washington and Moscow were considering the possibility to arrange a meeting between Trump and Putin. On 20 March, the two presidents held a telephone call and agreed to hand down instructions to start preparations for a Russia-USA summit. Putin and Trump earlier held talks on the sidelines of the G20 summit held in Hamburg in July 2017. They had another opportunity to negotiate during the APEC summit in Vietnam in November 2017 but managed only to exchange a couple of phrases. On 4 June, Presidential Aide Yuri Ushakov said that we’ve taken no specific steps in order to prepare for a summit. Meanwhile, Putin confirmed on 10 June that he was ready to meet with Trump as soon as the USA was also ready for that.

16 June 2018

TASS

http://tass.com/world/1009827

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