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Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America launch a Russian-language news network

The flurries of disinformation and fake news obfuscating the current state of affairs in Russia, and the Kremlin’s activity worldwide, have not created a post-truth world, but one in which some find truth increasingly difficult to promote.

“I think we’ve given up on truth way too easily,” said Amanda Bennett, director of Voice of America. Countering the notion that facts are no longer valuable, she said: “to assume the rest of the world doesn’t understand true things and can’t sort out truth and fact… I don’t think that makes it a post-truth world, I just think it makes it more difficult to get the truth out there.”

“In a global information warzone where fake news and false narratives are the weapon of choice… honest and accurate reporting [is] the best defense against falsehoods,” said John Lansing, director of the Broadcasting Board of Governors.
US President Donald J. Trump needs to take a strong stance against Russian aggression in order to protect US national security interests, according to an Atlantic Council expert.

“This is very dangerous for the United States to show such weakness in the face of Kremlin aggression,” said John E. Herbst, director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center, on February 9.  

“I hope that the president and those around him recognize that these policies are policies of weakness, and America cannot be great if it’s not able to defend its principles as well as its interests,” he added.
Rex Tillerson’s confirmation hearing on January 11 put a spotlight on an eventual architect of the next US administration’s Russia policy. Although he holds deep international experience, Tillerson is a highly controversial selection for the job of secretary of state. He has a track record of opposing sanctions on Russia and calling for increased cooperation with Moscow despite Russia’s destabilizing activities around the world. His comments at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee generally reinforced the assumption that US President-elect Donald Trump’s administration is heading toward its own “reset” with Moscow.

Although Tillerson objected to recent Russian actions, he largely demurred to questions on whether it was important to continue sanctions on Russia and stressed the need to work with Russia on areas of mutual interest such as fighting terrorism. His unwillingness to describe Russia as a threat, instead calling it a danger, is unfortunate and showcases a more accommodating position on Russia in the next administration.
At his confirmation hearing on January 11, Rex Tillerson went a long way toward assuaging skeptics who feared that his past relationships with Russian leaders might translate into a naïve and weak approach toward the Kremlin. This was apparent from the start with his confirmation statement that was released the evening before his testimony. He said that we needed to be “clear-eyed” in our relationship with Moscow and that Russia poses a danger, which our allies rightly fear.  He scored Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. While interested in cooperation with Russia where our interests intersect, he noted that where they do not “we should be steadfast in defending the interests of America and her allies” and “Russia must be held to account for its actions.”
US President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for the job of secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, had his confirmation hearing on January 11. Here are our analysts’ takeaways from that session.
US Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson presented a strong testimony at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on January 11. He demonstrated a broad understanding of the US foreign policy agenda, and at times sounded Reaganesque. Also impressive was the combination of US values, democracy, and human rights issues addressed during the hearing—and the hard-nosed realpolitik approach that he espouses.
Russia dominated the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s grilling of Rex Tillerson, whose views on the country have been the subject of much speculation. As chairman and chief executive officer of ExxonMobil, Tillerson had extensive business dealings with Russia. The senators used that experience at Tillerson’s confirmation hearing on January 11 to press US President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for the job of secretary of state on whether he would consider Russian President Vladimir Putin a war criminal (no), his views on continuing sanctions on Russia (unclear), and support for Ukraine (yes). Nevertheless, we still know very little about Tillerson’s worldview when it comes to the US strategy toward Russia. 
With the United States having emerged as an energy superpower, US President-elect Donald Trump’s decision to nominate the former chief executive officer of energy giant ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson, as secretary of state is significant. Under Tillerson’s leadership, the State Department will have an opportunity to pursue a powerful energy diplomacy strategy.
In light of the intelligence report unequivocally attributing cyberattacks during the US presidential election to Russia, US President-elect Donald Trump must take stock of the magnitude and implications of the Kremlin’s actions, and react appropriately, according to John E. Herbst, director of the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center.

“We are facing Mr. Putin, a world leader who is determined to weaken the American position, especially in Europe, but around the world,” said Herbst, a former US ambassador to Ukraine. “It’s very important the incoming administration recognize the seriousness of the problem and take decisive action to deter Russia aggression.” 
The assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey on December 19, while a tragic incident, is unlikely to have a significant impact on the diplomatic relationship between Moscow and Ankara that has been forged over priorities in Syria, according to two Atlantic Council analysts.

“This incident, in theory, could be a pretext for the Russians to do something against the Turks, but there is no interest in Moscow to do that,” said John. E. Herbst, director of the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center at the Atlantic Council.

“This is one of those spectacular incidents that is a one-off,” he added.

Aaron Stein, a resident senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, said: “Russia has every incentive to express its displeasure at the incident and express sorrow at the tragedy that took place, but also to manage it.”


    

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