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"Russia is a bigger problem than Isis for Obama"


Angesichts der aktuellen Konfrontation mit Russland hält Gideon Rachman die zahlreichen Krisen im Nahen Osten nur noch für einen Nebenkriegsschauplatz. Die US-Regierung sehe dies leider noch nicht so. "The phenomenon of policy makers looking in the wrong direction is certainly not unknown in history. In the month before the outbreak of the first world war, 100 years ago, the British government spent far more time discussing the prospect of civil conflict in Ireland than the threat of war in Europe. (...) It will be up to historians to decide whether the Obama administration got its strategic priorities right, or whether it charged off in the wrong direction at a crucial moment. My own instinct is that Russia is now the most important challenge. The rise of China is hugely significant but, for the moment, it feels like a long-term process – without any immediate risk of conflict with the US."

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"Nato-Russia incidents came close to conflict, says think-tank"


Die Londoner Denkfabrik European Leadership Network hat in einer neuen Dokumentation über 40 Beinahezusammenstöße zwischen russischen und NATO-Flugzeugen in den vergangenen acht Monaten zusammengetragen. "According to the European Leadership Network – the body which compiled the report – three incidents in the past year could have escalated into actual conflict, with the possibility of relations between Russia and Nato worsening. The release of the report follows a warning from Mikhail Gorbachev, the former leader of the Soviet Union, that the 'world is on the brink of a new cold war'."

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"Divide opens up over internet privacy between UK and rest of Europe"


Der Financial Times zufolge hat sich zwischen Großbritannien und den anderen EU-Ländern in der Frage des Datenschutzes im Internet ein weiterer Graben aufgetan. Insbesondere die Bundesregierung dränge auf einen stärkeren Schutz der Daten, London habe sich dagegen an die Seite des Geheimdienstes GCHQ gestellt. "Officials in Berlin, while concerned about use of encryption by jihadis, are pushing for greater protection of individual citizens’ data rather than less. The German government has given its backing to proposed EU legislation that would further restrict the sharing of personal data between US companies and intelligence agencies. (...) In Britain, however, the government welcomed GCHQ chief Robert Hannigan’s call for a new deal with technology companies to improve co-operation. 'The prime minister very much shares the view that has been expressed there around the use of web-enabled technologies by violent extremists, among others,' a Downing St spokesman said."

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"The web is a terrorist’s command-and-control network of choice"


Der Chef des britischen Geheimdienstes GCHQ, Robert Hannigan, bezeichnet soziale Netzwerke wie Facebook und Twitter in diesem Gastbeitrag für die Financial Times als "Kommandonetzwerke" internationaler Terroristen. Die westlichen Geheimdienste benötigten eine engere Kooperation des Privatsektors, um sich dieser Bedrohung entgegen stellen zu können, so Hannigan. "For our part, intelligence agencies such as GCHQ need to enter the public debate about privacy. I think we have a good story to tell. We need to show how we are accountable for the data we use to protect people, just as the private sector is increasingly under pressure to show how it filters and sells its customers’ data. GCHQ is happy to be part of a mature debate on privacy in the digital age. But privacy has never been an absolute right and the debate about this should not become a reason for postponing urgent and difficult decisions."

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"Russia’s opposition shows faint signs of life"


In Russland hätten bis zu 50.000 Anhänger der liberalen Opposition gegen die Ukraine-Politik von Präsident Putin demonstriert, berichtet Kathrin Hille aus Moskau. Der im Exil lebende frühere Oligarch Michail Chodorkowski habe zudem angekündigt, künftig für das Amt des russischen Präsidenten bereit zu stehen. "A large contingent of riot police kept watch on the demonstration that was heckled by Putin supporters along its route. Some had hung flags of the self-declared pro-Russian separatist republics in eastern Ukraine out of their windows. Russia’s liberal opposition, briefly resurgent in late 2011 and early 2012 when Mr Putin prepared to return to the presidency after an interlude as premier, has been completely marginalised since Russia’s annexation of Crimea. According to independent pollster Levada Center, 64 per cent of respondents said last month that things were moving in the right direction in the country, the highest figure since before the 2008 financial crisis."

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"France to go ahead with warship sale to Russia"


Trotz der Verschlechterung der westlichen Beziehungen zu Russland nach dem Flugzeugabsturz in der Ostukraine wolle Frankreich am Verkauf der beiden Mistral-Kriegsschiffe festhalten, berichtet Hugh Carnegy aus Paris. "Mr Hollande said on Monday night that the first Mistral class ship built under the sale concluded in 2011 under former President Nicolas Sarkozy was 'almost ready and should delivered in October', according to the news agency AFP and other French media. 'The Russians have paid. We would have to repay €1.1bn' if the first ship, called the Vladivostok, was not delivered, Mr Hollande was reported as saying. Some 400 Russian sailors have been in France since last month training on the Vladivostok, which has been undergoing sea trials. But asked if the rest of the contact would be honoured, Mr Hollande added: 'That depends on the attitude of Russia. But at this stage, there are no sanctions imposed that would oblige us to renounce (the contract).'"

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"A farewell to trust: Obama’s Germany syndrome"


Unabhängig von den direkten politischen Folgen hätten die Überwachungs- und Spionageskandale der letzten Zeit in Deutschland vor allem zu einem tiefen Vertrauensverlust gegenüber den USA geführt, schreibt Edward Luce. "Mistrust is a nebulous concept. In the case of Mr Nixon, people rightly suspected he was crooked. In the case of Mr Obama, it is based on the perception that he is ineffectual. His words are so rarely joined to deeds. The net result is not radically different. When Mr Obama promises something will happen – say a tightening of data surveillance safeguards, or a drive to overhaul US immigration policy – people are no longer inclined to take him at his word. They may believe he means what he says. But they do not trust his ability to deliver."

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"German angst is leading Europe back to Yalta"


Philip Stephens hält die "zögerliche" Antwort der Bundesregierung auf die Krise in der Ukraine für eine "Kapitulation" vor Russland, die befürchten lasse, dass Europa erneut in Einflusssphären der Großmächte aufgeteilt werden könnte. "No one should seek confrontation with Mr Putin. If diplomacy can restore stability and democracy to Ukraine, the most hardened hawks should applaud. German politicians may have a point when they say that the west has sometimes been insensitive to Russia’s grievous sense of loss. (...) The problem comes when understanding gives way to surrender – when German sensitivities extend to the assumption that Russia is owed a veto over the choices made by its neighbours, and that Ukraine does belong to Moscow’s sphere of influence. Here 'respect' for Russia merges into contempt for the freedoms of others: the choices available to citizens of Germany should be denied to those of Ukraine. Such logic would allow Mr Putin to march into the Baltics or to demand Poland pay homage to Moscow."

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"Russia’s South Stream gas pipeline to Europe divides EU"


Abseits der Ukraine-Krise treibe Russland den Bau der South-Stream-Ölpipeline durch Südeuropa voran, berichtet die Financial Times. In der vergangenen Woche seien neue Vorverträge in Österreich, Italien und der Schweiz geschlossen worden, die bald die unterschiedlichen Interessen der EU-Länder offen legen könnten. Bereits im Juni sollen demnach Bauarbeiten in Bulgarien gestartet werden. "Europe’s rifts are growing. Italian oil companies Eni and Saipem have important stakes in its construction, although a spur into Italy itself is in doubt. While Hungary has not rallied to defend South Stream as vocally as Bulgaria’s government, Budapest has aligned its energy policy with Moscow more closely this year by granting it a multibillion-dollar nuclear reactor deal. Serbia, which is applying for EU membership, also supports the pipeline. Ironically, Professor Stern noted that the crisis was likely to make pipelines bypassing Ukraine, such as South Stream, even more important for European energy supplies: 'We may be in a situation where we will be accusing Russia of not delivering and preventing them from delivering through these pipelines. It’s a black farce.'"

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"Moscow relief at level of US action"


Die neuen US-Sanktionen gegen Russland seien in Moskau überwiegend mit Erleichterung aufgenommen worden, berichtet die Financial Times. Der Grund: Bisher seien von den Sanktionen zwar Individuen, aber nicht Unternehmen betroffen. "While the seven individuals targeted are among the country’s most powerful and most trusted and relied upon by president Vladimir Putin, the list appears unlikely to have much, if any, new direct economic impact. 'There is no attempt to go at the wider economy yet,' said Neil Shearing, chief emerging markets economist at Capital Economics. 'While they are tightening the sanctions, the pace at which they are doing that is glacial.'"

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"US revives cold war thinking on Russia"


US-Präsident Obama wolle in seiner Russland-Politik offenbar auf Teile der Eindämmungs-Strategie des Kalten Krieges zurückgreifen, schreibt Geoff Dyer. Da sich die Welt seit 1947 erheblich verändert habe, werde dieser Plan allerdings nur schwer umzusetzen sein. "The global economy is much more interlinked and political power more dispersed, making it harder to think about marginalising an important country such as Russia. 'Tough sanctions will have some impact on Russia, but the idea of long-term global isolation is unrealistic,' says Tom Wright, a scholar at the Brookings Institution in Washington. 'If the administration tries to do that, it is unlikely to succeed in holding together an international coalition.' (...) The underlying approach of the Obama administration is that globalisation gives the US leverage over a country such as Russia. Yet, the same economic interdependence also acts as a restraint on the western response to Russian land-grabs."

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"German business concerns grow over Russia ties"


Deutsche Unternehmen machen sich der Financial Times zufolge zunehmend Sorgen um ihr Russland-Geschäft. "German entities have invested roughly €20bn in Russia and some 6,200 companies – mostly small and medium-sized Mittelstand businesses – are active there. Last year trade between the two countries totalled more than €76bn. (...) Germans tends to be at ease with Russian clients, sharing a tacit but fragile understanding, born of a shared Cold War history. Russia supplies 35 per cent of German gas and 30 per cent of its oil. In return Germany delivers cars (Volkswagen, Opel, Daimler), consumer goods (Adidas, Metro), chemicals (BASF) and machinery (Siemens)."

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"Ukraine is a test case for American power"


Gideon Rachman überlegt, wie der Westen reagieren würde, wenn China sich ein Beispiel am russischen Präsidenten Putin nehmen und die umstrittenen Senkaku-Inseln militärisch übernehmen würde. "Unlike the Ukrainians, the Japanese have the protection of a security treaty with the US. But China, like Russia, might still calculate that America would not really risk going to war with another nuclear power – particularly over some uninhabited rocks on the other side of the globe. (...) The knowledge that the Chinese – as well as the Iranians, Syrians and others – are watching increases the incentive for America to act over Ukraine. The 'weak Obama' narrative, while unfair and oversimplified, has gained a certain currency around the world."

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"Russia needs to be offered a 'Finland option' for Ukraine"


Um eine russische Intervention in der Ukraine auszuschließen, empfiehlt Zbigniew Brzezinski dem Westen, die Beziehungen zwischen beiden Ländern nach dem Vorbild Finnlands neu zu ordnen. "The US could and should convey clearly to Mr Putin that it is prepared to use its influence to make certain that a truly independent and territorially undivided Ukraine pursues policies towards Russia similar to those so effectively practised by Finland: mutually respectful neighbours, wide-ranging economic relations both with Russia and the EU, but no participation in any military alliance viewed by Moscow as directed at itself – while also expanding its European connectivity. In brief, the Finnish model as the ideal example for Ukraine, and the EU, and Russia."

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"US v China: is this the new cold war?"


Der englische Autor Geoff Dyer meint, dass der sich abzeichnende Machtkampf zwischen China und den USA im pazifischen Raum zum vorherrschenden geopolitischen Konflikt des 21. Jahrhunderts werden wird. Bisher habe China die militärische Dominanz der USA in der Region akzeptiert, jetzt wolle Peking die eigene Führungsrolle wieder herstellen. "In the decades when China had little more than a coastguard, it was largely unaware that the US Navy was patrolling waters near its shores. But now that its capabilities are more advanced, it witnesses on a daily basis that the American navy is superior and operating only a few miles from many of China’s major cities. (...) For the more pessimistic observers, the US and China are doomed to repeat the intense security competition of the cold war. John Mearsheimer, the University of Chicago scholar, argues that the rivalry could be even more volatile than with the Soviet Union because there are more potential disputes. He also says he would not be surprised if China and Japan 'start shooting at each other' at some stage over the next five years. Such bleak outcomes are not inevitable, of course – powerful economic connections narrow the space for reckless behaviour. Yet a previous era of globalisation failed to prevent the UK and Germany from going to war."

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"Rand Paul sues government over NSA spying"


Der republikanische US-Senator Rand Paul hat US-Präsident Obama und NSA-Offizielle wegen der Überwachung von US-Bürgern verklagt, berichtet Richard McGregor aus Washington. "Mr Paul’s case, although widely seen as a stunt, could help lift the political salience of an issue which crosses partisan boundaries to bring both Democrats and Republicans together. 'The more the left and the right consider [opposition to metadata collection] to be organic to their views on liberty, the harder it will be for the intelligence community,' said Benjamin Wittes, of the Brookings Institution."

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"Jingoistic nationalism replaces revolution in Egypt"


Borzou Daragahi beschreibt die gegenwärtige politische Stimmung in Ägypten als "kollektive Massenpsychose". Die Sicherheitsinstitutionen würden glorifiziert, der zum Feldmarschall beförderte Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi werde beinahe kultähnlich verehrt. "'It’s as if they are trying to weed out any desire of dissent and non-submission to anything other than the state,' says Mohamed Dahshan, a Harvard scholar specialising in Egypt. 'It’s like I bow to you and do whatever you want. There’s this voluntary submission. It’s shocking because it’s also humiliating.' (...) Although the 2011 revolution was against authoritarian rule, Egyptian politics to its practitioners remains a zero-sum, winner takes all game. Wael Abdel-Fatah, a columnist, lamented in an essay last week that Egypt was stuck in a vicious circle where 'hysteria is a substitute to political and social participation' characterised by public 'festivals' of power. 'It is a fascism without any political programme or agenda,' he wrote."

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"Australia accuses Snowden of 'treachery'"


Die australische Außenministerin Julie Bishop habe Edward Snowden aufgrund der Enthüllung des australischen Spionageprogramms gegen Indonesien als "Verräter" beschimpft, berichtet Jamie Smyth aus Sydney. "Ms Bishop’s outspoken attack on Mr Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor turned whistleblower, follows a damaging rift between Australia and Indonesia, one of Canberra’s most important foreign relationships. (...) 'Australia has really borne the brunt of the Snowden revelations and it has caused significant difficulties for Tony Abbott’s new government in its first few months,' said James Brown, defence analyst at the Lowy Institute. 'This may explain Ms Bishop’s colourful comments about Mr Snowden,' he said."

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"Get ready, the indispensable Americans are pulling back"


Financial-Times-Kolumnist Gideon Rachman stellt fest, dass durch die zurückhaltende amerikanische Außenpolitik der letzten Jahre ein sicherheitspolitisches "Vakuum" entstehe. "It is possible that America’s isolationist mood will simply be a phase. The US went through similar, inward-looking periods after the first world war and after Vietnam. In both cases, international events compelled America to plunge back into global affairs. An economic resurgence in the US may create a more outward-looking mood. But it is also possible that, this time, the shift towards non-intervention is structural rather than cyclical – reflecting a US that is quietly adjusting to the rise of other major powers, in particular China. For the moment, however, it is the rest of the world that is adjusting to an emerging political and security vacuum."

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"Gates hits out at Obama foreign policy"


Der frühere US-Verteidigungsminister Robert Gates hat die Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik von US-Präsident Obama in einem neuen Buch scharf kritisiert und dabei die Afghanistanstrategie Obamas besonders hervorgehoben. "He describes a scene in 2011 when Mr Obama admonishes his advisers at a meeting of the National Security Council after military leaders had publicly questioned whether there should be a fixed date for withdrawal from Afghanistan. 'As I sat there, I thought: The president doesn’t trust his commander, can’t stand (Hamid) Karzai, doesn’t believe in his own strategy and doesn’t consider the war to be his,' Mr Gates writes. 'For him, it’s all about getting out.' 'I was deeply uneasy with the Obama White House’s lack of appreciation, from the top down, of the uncertainties and unpredictability of war,' he writes elsewhere."

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