On October 4, 2016, Russia’s Civil Defense Day, national authorities launched a military exercise to prepare 40 million citizens for emergency evacuation drills of “at-risk areas” in Russia. The four-day drill mobilized 200,000 rescue professionals and tens of thousands of vehicles. As Jon Queally reported for Common Dreams, this year’s drill took place shortly after Russia announced that, if the US and NATO did not reverse their military build-up in eastern Europe and the Baltic, it would pull out of a long-term plutonium disposal agreement. Queally also reported that the US State Department’s “severing diplomatic communications with Russian over the deteriorating situation in Syria following the collapse of a cease-fire agreement” further heightened the tensions between the Russia and the US.
In a special report for Consortium News, Robert Parry condemned US foreign policy positions on Russia and Syria. According to Parry, a “propaganda war” against Russia in the US and western mainstream press “is spinning out of control, rolling ever faster downhill with a dangerous momentum that threatens to drive the world into a nuclear showdown.”
Veteran officials from the US intelligence committee have also raised concerns. In October 2016, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity sent then-President Obama an open memo, warming him against continued erosion of US-Russian relations. They called on Obama to increase cooperation by holding direct one-on-one talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “We strongly recommend that you invite President Putin to meet with you in a mutually convenient place,” the memo asserted, “in order to try to sort things out and prevent still worse for the people of Syria.”
Jon Queally, “Amid Escalating Tensions, 40 Million Russians Practice for Nuclear Emergency,” Common Dreams, October 4, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/10/04/amid-escalating-tensions-40-million-russians-practice-nuclear-emergency.
Robert Parry, “Do We Really Want Nuclear War with Russia?” Consortium News, October 3, 2016, https://consortiumnews.com/2016/10/03/do-we-really-want-nuclear-war-with-russia/.
“Russia May Restart Plutonium Deal if US Cancels Magnitsky Act,” TASS (Russian News Agency), October 3, 2016, http://tass.com/politics/903792.
Student Researcher: Alexander San Juan (Sonoma State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips (Sonoma State University)