Sunday, October 16, 2016

Russia, US move past Cold War to unpredictable confrontation

October 16, 2016 (CNN) Washington (CNN)It's not a new Cold War. It's not even a deep chill. It's an outright conflict.
US-Russia relations have deteriorated sharply amid a barrage of accusations and disagreements, raising the stakes on issues ranging from the countries' competing military operations in Syria, disputes over Eastern European independence and escalating cyber breaches. "This is a conflict, there should be no doubt," said Matthew Rojansky, director of the Kennan Institute at the Wilson Center, on the US-Russia confrontation.
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with his President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the G20 Leaders Summit in Hangzhou on September 5, 2016.
 On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the US was considering a "range" of "proportional" responses to alleged Russian hacking of US political groups. Washington publicly accused the Kremlin of cyberattacks on election systems and the democracy itself last Friday. That came after talks on a Syria ceasefire broke down as US officials suggested Russia be investigated for war crimes in the besieged city of Aleppo. Moscow has steadfastly denied that it's meddling in the US presidential election. In an interview this week with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said it was a baseless accusation.
"It's flattering, of course, to get this kind of attention -- for a regional power, as President Obama called us some time ago ... We have not seen a single fact, a single proof," Lavrov said.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has pointed to the hacks as evidence that Russia favors her GOP opponent, Donald Trump. Appearing at an investment forum in Moscow on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed that charge.
"There was a whole hysteria about that being of interest to Russia, but there is nothing within the interest of Russia," Putin said.
"The whole hysteria is aimed at making the American forget about the manipulation of public opinion," he added. "No one is talking about that, everyone wants to know who did that, what is important is what is inside and what that information is about."
Meanwhile, Moscow abruptly left a nuclear security pact, citing US aggression, and moved nuclear-capable Iskandar missiles to the edge of NATO territory in Europe. Its officials have openly raised the possible use of nuclear weapons. And that's just the highlight reel. The friction between Moscow and Washington -- by many assessments at its highest level since the fall of the Berlin Wall -- led Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, to make a plea Monday for dialogue and de-escalation.
"I think the world has reached a dangerous point," Gorbachev warned, according to Agence France Presse. "This needs to stop. We need to renew dialogue," Gorbachev said, commenting on the US decision to call off Syria talks. "Indeed, it's not a Cold War," said Igor Zevelev, former director of the MacArthur Foundation's Russia office. "It's a much more dangerous and unpredictable situation." The full article is available at: