BAD NEWS FOR ‘RESET’
The prepared testimony of Director of National IntelligenceJames R. Clapper before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence predicted that advancing U.S.-Russian relations “will prove increasingly challenging” under the expected elevation again of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to the presidency.
“Nevertheless, Putin’s instinctive distrust of U.S. intentions and his transactional approach towards relations probably will make him more likely to confront Washington over policy differences.”
Three years of efforts to improve ties have produced few, if any, positive results.
The administration caved in to Russian demands not to deploy long-range anti-missile interceptors in Eastern Europe and offered several concessions to cooperate on missile defenses.
Moscow pocketed the concessions and continues to demand legally binding limits on U.S. and NATO defenses.
The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty also was one-sided. Data released by the State Department shows Moscow already was below treaty arms levels, making the heralded agreement a unilateral U.S. disarmament pact.
Meanwhile, Russian armed forces are being modernized with more agile, high-tech capabilities.
“In 2010, [Russian President Dmitri Medvedev] and Putin approved a 10-year procurement plan to replace Soviet-era hardware and bolster deterrence with a balanced set of modern conventional, asymmetric, and nuclear capabilities,” Mr. Clapper stated.
SYRIAN TIPPING POINT?
U.S. intelligence agencies this week detected increasing signs the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad is close to collapsing amid continuing defections by troops and instability.
The most recent indicator is of the declining security situation in areas surrounding the capital of Damascus. On Monday, fighting between the rebel Free Syrian Army of defectors and the Syrian forces was reported to be within 8 miles of the downtown area.