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Op-Ed: U.S. and Russia’s relationship dangerously close to ‘Rock-bottom’

Over the past month, according to ABC News, Russian media reports have been punctuated with questions asking their audience if they are ready for nuclear war?

And just a few minutes ago, as I write this story, CNN News is reporting that Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a close political ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin is being quoted as saying that if Hillary Clinton is elected president, this will mean war.

Russia’s state-owned television station’s main current affairs show, hosted by Dmitry Kiselyov, dubbed the “Kremlin’s chief propagandist”, is supposedly passing on the latest in threats from the Kremlin, with Kiselyov telling the audience that he is warning the United States that any “impudent behaviour” towards Moscow could have “nuclear” implications, says the Independent.

And while anti-Americanism is to be expected with much of the Russian news media, it has become increasingly nasty over the past few weeks, with a number of Kremlin ministry heads adding their voices to the rhetoric. It seemed that for awhile, Russia was trying hard to regain acceptance into the international community.

After the harsh sanctions imposed on Russia by the U.S. and European allies over their actions in invading Ukraine in 2014, Putin appeared to be working at scoring a diplomatic victory that would restore Russia’s status with the West. And according to the Moscow Times, Russia had largely accomplished that goal by actively participating in fighting ISIS in Syria.

But on Friday last week, the U.S., in no uncertain terms blasted Russia, accusing Moscow of war crimes in the sustained bombardment of the besieged rebel-held Syrian city of Aleppo. So any gains in the relationship with the U.S. that Russia thinks it had were soon blowing in the wind.

But going back to October 3, Moscow pulled out of the U.S.-Russia Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement that was signed in 2002. Then the other day, Putin canceled a visit to Paris that was to be held on October 19, because of a disagreement over Syria. So it makes me wonder if Russia’s military actions in Syria were such a good idea after all.

But even more ominous was the Kremlin’s announcement this week that it was moving nuclear-capable ballistic missiles into its Northern European enclave, Kaliningrad. This puts nuclear missiles within striking distance of Western Capitals, folks. Is it a veiled threat? It could be, but it is still very troubling.

Now, we here that Russian media is saying that if Clinton wins the election, this will mean war with the U.S. So this sounds like extreme meddling in U.S. politics, regardless of who you are voting for. Analysts, who supposedly are smart enough to know these things, are saying all the posturing and blood-curdling threats are just that, threats.

“It’s ridiculous,” said Aleksander Baunov, an analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center. “It’s not preparation for war.” He says all the posturing and media attention is more to let the U.S. know that Russia means business when they say they don’t want us meddling in their military actions in Syria. As for the meddling in our elections? Baunov says for us to not get too excited over that.

Bottom line? Russia is interfering in U.S. politics. What can we do about it? Probably nothing, right now. But Russia does indeed seem really worried that Clinton will win the election. We’ll see, won’t we?

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We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our dear friend Karen Graham, who served as Editor-at-Large at Digital Journal. She was 78 years old. Karen's view of what is happening in our world was colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in humankind's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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