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Russia Reform Monitor - No. 2247

New plans for naval modernization;
The end of the Russo-Israeli entente

Edited by Ilan Berman and Margot Van Loon
August 31, 2018


July 27:

How soon can Russia move beyond the scandal engendered by its extensive state-sponsored athletic doping program and return to international competition?
London's Daily Mail writes that the Russia task force of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) is satisfied by the steps that Russia has taken to return to compliance, but that three outstanding conditions must still be met before its membership can be restored: the Russian Athletics Federation must pay for all costs incurred by the IAAF during the inquiry, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) must be reinstated, and all data from all RUSADA's lab testing between 2011 and 2015 must be handed over to investigators in acknowledgement of the government's role in the doping program and its cover-up. If Russia meets these conditions, however, the IAAF may recommend lifting the ban on Russian athletes participating in international competitions as early as this December.

Russia is continuing its attempts to solicit international reconstruction aid for Syria while simultaneously staving off a political resolution that might unseat its ally, Bashar al-Assad.
The Daily Mail reports that Russia's ambassador to the UN, Dmitry Polyansky, urged the Security Council, at its most recent meeting, to "eschew artificial linkages to political momentum" by lifting sanctions on Syria and helping revive its war-torn economy. France – a P5 member speaking on behalf of the European Union – responded that it would not provide reconstruction aid until an electoral political transition takes place, calling it a "sine qua non" for the stability that must exist before the aid can make a meaningful difference.

July 28:

New U.S. measures aimed at improving the space-based architecture supporting American missile defenses have left Moscow on edge.
According to China's Xinhua news agency, the most recent defense spending bill passed this week by the U.S. House of Representatives has elicited a formal statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry comparing the potential militarization of space to a new nuclear arms race. The statement calls on the United States "not to repeat mistakes of the past," and claims that further development of America's space-based missile defense architecture would hurt global security.

Iran's role in the Syrian conflict has met with Moscow’s approval.
According to Russia's TASS news agency and Iran's Financial Tribune, Russian Foreign Ministry Deputy Spokesman Artyom Kozhin has called Iran's role in Syria "constructive" and praised Tehran as a "player with a high sense of responsibility." Kozhin's comments were part of a press conference announcing the tenth meeting of the official Astana negotiating framework aimed at resolving the nearly eight-year-old conflict. The three Astana format governments – Russia, Iran, and Turkey – will attend the parlay, along with representatives from the Syrian government, opposition, UN observers, Jordan, and the United States.

July 29:

Amid heightened tensions with the West, Russia is embarking on a major expansion of its navy.
Newsweek reports that, according to TASS, Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced plans to grow the Russian fleet by 26 new ships – four of which will be outfitted with Kalibr cruise missiles – by the end of 2018. The planned upgrade represents the latest in a series of high-profile military announcements by Putin, which include modernization of the Russian submarine fleet, acquisition of a new assault ship class, and development of hypersonic and nuclear-powered cruise missiles.

July 30:

Now that Bashar al-Assad has nearly regained control of southwestern Syria, the apparent rapprochement between Russia and Israel over the status of Iranian forces in the region may have run its course.
Reuters reports that after weeks of discussions between Jerusalem and Moscow on the matter, Russian ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov has publicly rejected the idea that Russia can compel Iran and the militias it supports to leave the country in accordance with Israeli demands.

Viktorov remarked that Iran is "playing a very, very important role in our common and joint effort to eliminate terrorists in Syria," and thus Israel's demands were "non-realistic." He equated the situation to Russia's inability to prevent Israeli air strikes on Iranian and Hezbollah positions in Syria despite Moscow’s frustration with such operations.


Related Categories: Middle East; Russia; Terrorism; Radical Islam; Iran; China; Space Policy; Israel; Russia and Eurasia Program

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