All Washington blames Putin & calls for investigations of Russian villainy. Stephen F. Cohen, @nyu @princeton University EastWestAccord.com

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03-07-2017

(Photo: File:Vladimir Putin on board Peter the Great-1.jpg)

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All Washington blames Putin & calls for investigations of Russian villainy. Stephen F. Cohen, @nyu @princeton University EastWestAccord.com

Washington (CNN)Representatives of key American allies in Eastern Europe called for strong US pushback against Russia at a congressional hearing Tuesday.

Moscow poses a threat "to the whole Western world, the trans-Atlantic alliance," Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin told a Senate subcommittee. "The cyberwar is going on every day, all the time, and it's a threat to everyone because it doesn't matter how far you are from the Kremlin, you can be 500 miles or 5,000 miles."

He warned: "Everyone is vulnerable."

Estonian Ambassador to the US Eerik Marmei added that the US and others shouldn't "be guided by wishful thinking" about Russia and should watch for its attempts to disrupt upcoming elections in the Netherlands, France and Germany.

Putin spokesman on US-Russia relations 02:58

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham called the hearing to "broaden the understanding" of Russia's policies and intentions toward the Eastern European countries who participated. But there was no escaping the domestic subtext: Both branches of Congress are investigating alleged Russian cyberattacks on the 2016 US election, while the FBI is conducting multiple investigations of alleged connections between President Donald Trump's associates and Moscow.

At the same time, the State Department budget could be cut by as much as 37%.

Graham chairs the appropriations subcommittee that funds the State Department and foreign operations, in which capacity he said he would push for a "soft power account" to help counter the tools Russia uses against democracies.

The diplomats testifying Tuesday appealed for continued US support for such "soft power" initiatives, including Radio Free Europe and the Fulbright exchange programs, which project US power and a US voice into their regions and which might be cut by the Trump administration.

"We will not feel safer when the budgets for such projects will be essentially cut," said Polish Ambassador Piotr Wilczek.

Sen. Graham talks Trump wiretap tweets 01:45

Graham has pressed hard on Moscow even as Trump has downplayed Russian activities and urged better relations with Russian officials. The senator has led Senate Republicans with his calls to probe Russian efforts to interfere in the US election, highlighting Moscow's efforts to counter US initiatives across the world and disrupting America's allies. Within the last month, Russian planes buzzed a US Navy vessel and NATO aircraft.

The South Carolina senator has said he'd largely use his position on the Judiciary Committee to pursue Russia inquiries, and is backing two bills. The Counteracting Russian Activities Act, which has 10 Republican and 10 Democratic backers, would punish Russia for its cyberattacks during the US election. The Russia Review Act would make require that Congress weigh in before any sanctions on Russia can be waived.

The Russian Embassy did not respond to requests for comment on the European officials' charges.

At the hearing, however, Graham told the European officials that he'd just come from a lunch with the President and that, "I think you're going to have a good ally in President Trump, in terms of having a rotational troop presence, that the Ukraine will be helped more, not less, and we will push back."

He also told them that he wanted to "give you some hope in the region that America's back."

http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/07/politics/graham-russia-ukraine-poland-hearing/

Mar 08, 04:22 AM
3 comments
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ajea

ajea - 6 months ago

Stephen Cohen is excellent. Extraordinarily well-informed.

carlloeber

carlloeber - 6 months ago

I have lived in Ukraine for ten years .. and watched events in Russia since I was first there in '96 .. Professor Cohen's views are flat wrong .. even his friends in Russia disagree with him about what they know to be the dictatorship run from the Kremlin .. John's fawning show's with him are laughable and blot on his otherwise excellent and information shows .. John should listen to the other experts on Russia like Paul Gregory and others at Stanford .. or interview me John . . I will take you step by step to know what has happened since 1999 ..

CurtCarpenter

CurtCarpenter - 6 months ago

Is the Russian movement of a land-based cruise missiles toward the NATO area of responsibility, in violation of the Nuclear Forces Treaty, a figment of the fevered imagination of those who subscribe to the "New McCarthyism? " It doesn't seem an unreasonable question does it?

I think Professor Cohen protests a little too much, leaving me wondering what exactly is motivating his remarks.