Frau Merkel, you might not like Herr Trump but you need him

John Moody

Here’s some unsolicited advice for German Chancellor Angela Merkel: Achtung!

Merkel’s uncalled-for remarks about the United States no longer being a trustworthy partner for its European allies set off a frenzy. Was she so displeased with President Trump during last week’s G-7 meeting? Was their discourse so strident that she thought a verbal warning shot was necessary?

Or is she just trying to keep her job?

Remember, Germany has federal elections scheduled for September, and Merkel, while slightly ahead in most polls, has no sure lock on keeping her party, the Christian Democrats, in the majority. A strong, though receding surge for Socialist Martin Schulz, and a newly energized far-right party, the Alternative for Germany, has squeezed the chancellor, who has been in power since 2005.

But Merkel’s horrible decision to open the gates of Europe to tens of thousands of refugees from the Middle East and Africa turned her own people against her. Only Germany’s robust economy has saved her from humiliation in the last round of local elections – often an indicator of how federal elections will turn out.

Since she invited migrants into her country, and forced her neighbors to do the same, Europe has suffered nearly a dozen major terror attacks, none more horrific than the December 2016 Christmas market truck massacre in Berlin, which killed 12 and left Germany feeling very exposed to lone-wolf Islamic horror.

And who was among the first to decry Merkel’s come-one, come-all policy? Donald Trump. Who spoke up about the lopsided trade deficit the United States has with Germany? Donald Trump. Who lectured European members of NATO – specifically Germany – about not paying its fair share for the continent’s defense. Same answer.

Among her European counterparts, Merkel is used to being treated with deference. Germany is really the economic engine for the entire continent, and the only country willing to shell out its own resources to bail out the ne’er-do-wells like Greece, who have become addicted to free money.

When the United Kingdom opted out of the European Union last June, Merkel took it as a personal affront and has since schemed to make the U.K. pay a heavy price for its willfulness.

You might not like Mr. Trump, Frau Merkel. He is rude and outspoken and typically, in your view, American. But remember: Russia is to your east. Vladimir Putin is not impressed with the paltry defense force Europe could put together, if it did not have the United States behind it.

Verstehen?

John Moody is Executive Vice President, Executive Editor for Fox News. A former Rome bureau chief for Time magazine, he is the author of four books including “Pope John Paul II : Biography.

Russia’s Gazprom starts building TurkStream gas pipeline under Black Sea

Russia’s Gazprom has begun construction on the TurkStream gas pipeline under the Black Sea to Turkey. Feeder lines are planned to also supply EU markets.

Ostsee Pipelineverlegeschiff Solitaire von Allseas (picture-alliance/dpa/Allseas)

Russian gas giant Gazprom said Sunday it had started construction of a gas pipeline under the Black Sea to Turkey that also aims to provide gas to the European Union.

Gazprom said its Swiss partner Allseas Group’s vessel Audacia had started laying pipes on the Russian shore of the Black Sea.

“By late 2019, our Turkish and European consumers will have a new, reliable source of Russian gas imports,” Alexey Miller, Chairman of the Gazprom Management Committee, said in a statement.

Russian President Vladimir Putin put forward the TurkStream project in 2014 after plans to build a gas pipeline under the Black Sea to Bulgaria, known as South Stream, collapsed under EU pressure during the Ukraine crisis.

The project was later put on ice after Turkey shot down a Russian jet along the Syrian border, triggering a diplomatic crisis between the two countries. The plan was revived after the two sides reconciled their some of their differences in October last year.

Russland Gasförderung (Getty Images/AFP/O. Maltseva)A Nord Stream pipeline operator in northwestern Russia

From southern Russia to northwestern Turkey

TurkStream will run from near Anapa in southern Russia under the Black Sea to northwestern Turkey. A planned feeder line to Greece would then bring gas onwards to southern and southeastern Europe.  Two lines each with an annual capacity of 15.75 billion cubic meters (1.1 trillion cubic feet) will be built.

For Russia, which is already Turkey’s largest gas provider, the pipeline would allow it to reduce dependence on Ukraine and Eastern Europe for transporting gas while helping to further seal its dominance over European gas markets.

Turkey aims to become a regional oil and gas hub for energy from the Caucasus, Central Asia, Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean in order to ensure domestic energy security and cement the country’s geostrategic importance.

Infografik Karte Gazprom Turkish Stream englisch

 

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United for Europe in London

Thousands have turned out for London’s Unite for Europe, March for Europe rally in opposition to the country leaving the EU. Abigail Frymann Rouch reports from London.

Unite for Europe march in London (Bruce Tanner)

A flag held high, a steely determination across her face: Her image epitomized the protests that electrified and paralyzed Paris in 1968 and now, aged 76, former model Caroline de Bendern is bringing her activist spirit to the streets of London on Saturday to fight to keep Britain in the EU.

De Bendern is concerned about the status of British nationals living on the continent, about Britain breaking away from the EU as Russia becomes more assertive, and about politicians’ over-reliance on corporate finance. “The whole [political] system should be changed – that’s what we wanted in 1968: change the system,” says de Bendern, who was famously disinherited when her aristocrat grandfather saw the image of her amid the protesting leftists and workers on a magazine cover.

Unite for Europe march in London (J. Thollot)Caroline de Bendern was part of the ’68 protests in France

The March to June 1968 protests began as “a student thing … people wanted more change, freedom,” she told DW. By contrast, since the referendum, “extreme right-wing ideology has been gaining ground.” De Bendern, who has lived in France since 1968, favors “a soft Brexit – if there has to be a Brexit.”

Read: Thousands march in anti-Brexit protest in London

Tens of thousands of people are expected to take to the streets of London and Edinburgh this weekend for the Unite for Europe march to voice their opposition to Brexit. A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said security would be increased at the march as it has been across the capital, following Wednesday’s terror attack outside the Houses of Parliament.

Organizing committee adviser Roger Casale said he was confident the march would go ahead as planned. “I think we’ll have more people than we were expecting. It’s called Unite for Europe, but it’s also Unite for Britain, Unite for London, and for all people of good faith. It’ll be the first opportunity people will have had since the attack to show they stand up for values of freedom, diversity and equality, values that Europe stands for,” he told DW.

The date – March 25 – was chosen to mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome and it comes just before Prime Minister Theresa May officially triggers Brexit. Groups from all over the country are expected, united by locality or profession, such as Bristol4Europe or Scientists For EU. Casale said he wants the event to be family-friendly, “open and relaxed.”

Not a march of millions

Watch video01:33

London: Tens of thousands march for EU

Spanish-born Carlos de Conde Solares, chairman of North East For Europe (NE4EU), told DW that initial claims that the marches would attract millions were “wishful thinking: we didn’t have enough stewards.” The 200 or so members travelling to the two marches from his group comprise mainly 20- to 45-year-olds “who almost took for granted that they were going to live in a continent with open borders and have seen their opportunities restricted.”

Another protester, Hungarian-born Magdalena Williams, said Hungarians and Poles were “disappointingly” reluctant to march, fearing hostility. “Partly they’re not used to protesting democratically, partly they’re frightened, and partly they’re working in jobs where they can’t take the day off,” she said.

Read: Pro-EU march in London as Gabriel calls for young Brits to be offered citizenship

Williams has been participating in a vigil that has been taking place three evenings a week for the last four weeks opposite the end of Downing Street. Many of her fellow-protesters come from other EU member states or have close ties to people who do. As well as cheerily waving EU flags at passing commuters and tourists, the few dozen protesters DW met had a PA system that played Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” and the Communards’ 1986 hit “Don’t leave me this way.” The group’s guitarist Peter Cook has also revised various lyrics: the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” becomes “We all live in a dictatorship, a dictatorship, a dictatorship” – a reference to how Remainers feel that their concerns have been brushed aside.

However, participants are not united in what they are asking for, and this has been true even of the organizers of Saturday’s march. The London march’s slogan has changed from “Stop Brexit” to “Make your voice heard,” and the event’s originator Peter French abruptly resigned recently.

Unite for Europe march in London (DW/A.Frymann Rouch)Pro-EU groups have been holding regular vigils outside Downing Street

“Don’t mourn, organize”

“We’re not asking anybody to ‘stop Brexit,’ that’s last year’s story,” Casale said. To angry Remainers who still question the legitimacy of the referendum because it was only advisory, he says: “An act of Parliament has been passed.” Just because Article 50 is triggered, doesn’t mean Parliament must accept the final deal, he argues. Some protesters hope that the deal will prove too complicated to negotiate or be so unattractive that voters will pressure MPs to reject it.

One MP who will be addressing marchers in London on Saturday is Labour’s David Lammy, who spoke in similar terms. “My message will be clear: ‘don’t mourn, organize,'” he told DW. “Nigel Farage wouldn’t have given up the fight, so we have to fight for what we believe in when Article 50 is triggered and the impact of this hard Brexit at any cost begins to become clear [and] the wheels begin to fall off.”

Read: EU fleshes out conditions for Brexit deal

Meanwhile, former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg wants a second referendum, while Gina Miller, who successfully challenged the Brexit process in the courts, said she would return to court if she believed the correct process was not being followed.

Clearly the Remain campaign is still finding its feet, but needs to do so quickly to enable its followers to withstand the rhetoric of the Brexiteers. Emily Sawyer, 39, from East London, noted: “The Leave campaign has been campaigning longer than I’ve been alive and we haven’t had time yet to really evolve yet as campaigns would, given time.” At the end of Downing Street, Clive Lewis said his campaigning would not stop even once a deal were reached and Britain left the EU. “My motto is never, never, ever, ever give up.”

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Spanish authorities reveal details of huge black-market weapons cache

Police in Spain have released photos of automatic rifles and other weapons covering a warehouse floor. Authorities fear the trove fed criminal and terrorist organizations in Europe.

Riesiges Waffenarsenal in Spanien ausgehoben (picture alliance/dpa/Policia Nacional Interior )

After two months of examination and categorization, Spanish police on Tuesday finally revealed the extent of the massive weapons haul they undertook in January 2017.

According to the published police statement, the cache included 9,000 CETME fully automatic rifles, anti-aircraft guns, 400 shells and grenades, pistols, and revolvers.

Photos published by the police show piles of assault rifles, guns and weapons parts lying in stacks and leaning against the walls of a warehouse.

Estas son las +10.000 armas de guerra, localizadas en BizKaia, Girona y Cantabria, a raíz de atentado contra museo judío en Bruselas en 2014

Cracking down on Europe’s black market weapons 

Spanish police originally seized the firearms in a raid undertaken on January 12 and 13 in the northern regions of Catalonia, Cantabria and the Basque country. The operation was initiated after the May 2014 shooting at the Jewish Museum in Belgium that left four dead and spurred authorities across Europe to crack down on black market weapons.

Five suspects were also detained in the January raids.

Riesiges Waffenarsenal in Spanien ausgehoben (picture alliance/dpa/Policia Nacional Interior)Europol and Spanish police cooperated on the operation

Police reported the group bought decommissioned weapons that they then reactivated. The pieces needed for such reactivation were found in the trove.

Alongside the thousands of arms, authorities also discovered material needed to falsify arms documentation and tools required to change the weapons’ identification numbers. Europol, the EU police force that worked alongside Spanish authorities in the operation, believe the illegal firearms were intended for sale in Spain, France and Belgium.

“The seized weapons had an easy journey in the black market and posed a significant risk of being acquired by organized crime groups and terrorists,” Europol said in a statement.

cmb/bw (dpa, AFP)

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ECJ headscarf ruling and its consequences

The European Court of Justice ruled that religious symbols may be prohibited in the workplace. To avoid discrimination, the ruling encompasses all religious groups. Critics disagree with this view.

Symbolbild - Kopftuch am Arbeitsplatz (picture-alliance/dpa/K. Nietfeld)

There are mixed feelings about the EU ruling on religious symbols – including headscarves – in the workplace. Is it discriminatory or not? The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has decided that employers may place a general ban on “political, philosophical or religious symbols” in the workplace and that this does not constitute direct discrimination.

Amnesty International contests this claim. “Today’s disappointing rulings by the European Court of Justice give greater leeway to employers to discriminate against women – and men – on the grounds of religious belief.”

Two ECJ cases

A Belgian woman and a French woman took their cases to court. After three years of work as a receptionist in a Belgian security firm, Samira A. decided in 2006 that she would wear her headscarf to work and not just in her spare time, as she had in the past. The company told her this went against its work regulations, which generally prohibited any “political, philosophical or religious” symbols. Soon thereafter, Samira A. was fired and subsequently took her case to court.

In the case of the French software designer Asma B, there were no company regulations in 2008 when she was wearing a headscarf at a meeting with a client. When the client complained about the covering, Asma B.’s employer asked her to not wear a headscarf next time. She continued to wear her scarf, and as a result, she was dismissed.

Judges in Luxembourg said that a ban could not be issued just because a client did not like the headscarf. Furthermore, they stated that all employees in a company must be treated equally, regardless of their personal or religious beliefs.

A backdoor to discrimination

Nonetheless, rights group Amnesty International criticizes the ECJ for having opened a “backdoor to prejudice.” “At a time when identity and appearance have become a political battleground, people need more protection against prejudice, not less.” Hence, the human rights organization has tapped into the pulse of other activists. Islamic associations and the Protestant Church in Germany are also critical of the court’s decision.

Watch video01:57

Max Hofmann on EU workplace headscarf ban

But European conservatives approve of the ruling, which apparently defends European values, says Manfred Weber, a conservative member of European parliament from Germany. He said it is right for “employers to be able to prohibit headscarves in the workplace in certain situations.”

The ECJ ruling will also make it easier for German companies to prohibit “religious or ideological symbols,” says Bernhard Frank from the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency of Germany. Until now, women in the workplace have in principle been allowed to wear a headscarf. This right was established in 2005 in the General Equal Treatment Act, which is supposed to protect people from discrimination because of their ethnic origin or religion. These rights can, however, be restricted if an employer states “objective reasons” like work safety, jeopardizing company peace or possible damage to the business caused by customer complaints.

The right to religion

Employers do not have much leeway, says labor lawyer Manuela Beck. “The interpretation in Germany is very strict because practicing a religion is legally protected.” She adds that the ECJ ruling will not change anything. Nonetheless, Beck lawyer admits, “There will surely be companies that overstep the mark.”

In fact, on different occasions, German courts have already ruled for and against wearing headscarves. In 2002, a federal labor court ruled in favor of a department store saleswoman who had worn a hijab at work. In Germany, the individual states decide whether teachers are allowed to wear headscarves in class. In the states of Schleswig-Holstein or Rhineland-Palatinate, it is permitted to do so, whereas in Bavaria and Berlin, teachers cannot wear headscarves, kippahs or large crosses around their necks.

Visible symbols

This is what employees of private companies can expect in the future. Franke from the Anti-Discrimination Agency does not want to speak of systematic discrimination. “The ECJ ruling relates to the European directive that prohibits discrimination on the grounds of religion or beliefs,” he says. In practice, however, it could affect Muslim women or Sikhs, he admits. The reason is obvious as a cross can be worn under clothing and does not have to be very big. A hijab or Sikh turban is hard to hide but for many, it is an expression of the religious convictions that they do not want to deny.

The head of the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency, Christine Lüders, has a clearer position than her colleague. She suggests employers should “carefully consider whether a headscarf should restrict their choice of staff.” “For Muslim women who wear a headscarf, it could become even more difficult to enter the labor market in the future,” says Lüders.

Watch video02:35

Discrimination against Muslim jobseekers

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WikiLeaks releases ‘entire hacking capacity of the CIA’

WikiLeaks on Tuesday released what it said is the full hacking capacity of the CIA in a stunning 8,000-plus page disclosure the anti-secrecy website contends is “the largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency.”

The 8,761 documents and files — released as “Vault 7 Part 1” and titled “Year Zero” — were obtained from an “isolated, high-security network” at the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Va., a press release from the website said. The trove had been “circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors,” one of whom “recently” gave the archive to WikiLeaks. The CIA allegedly employs more than 5,000 people in its cyber spying operation and had produced more than 1,000 programs as of 2016.

“We do not comment on the authenticity or content of purported intelligence documents,” a CIA spokesperson told Fox News.

The collection of purported intelligence documents includes information on CIA-developed malware — bearing names such as “Assassin” and “Medusa” — intended to target iPhones, Android phones, smart TVs and Microsoft, Mac and Linux operating systems, among others. An entire unit in the CIA is devoted to inventing programs to hack data from Apple products, according to WikiLeaks.

WIKILEAKS OFFERS REWARD FOR INFO ON OBAMA MISDEEDS

Some of the remote hacking programs can allegedly turn numerous electronic devices into recording and transmitting stations to spy on their targets, with the information then sent back to secret CIA servers. One document appears to show the CIA was trying to “infect” vehicle control systems in cars and trucks for unspecified means.

WikiLeaks hinted that the capabilites revealed in Tuesday’s disclosure could have even darker utility than simply spying.

“It would permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations,” the release stated.

WikiLeaks confirms CIA can effectively bypass Signal + Telegram + WhatsApp + Confide encryptionhttps://wikileaks.org/ciav7p1 

FLASHBACK: WIKILEAKS REVEALS CLINTON ‘HITS’ FILE ON SANDERS

The site said the CIA additionally failed to disclose security vulnerabilities and bugs to major U.S. software manufacturers, violating an Obama administration commitment made in January 2014. Instead, the agency used the software vulnerabilities — which could also be exploited by rival agencies, nations and groups — for its own ends, WikiLeaks said.

CIA hackers celebrated what they saw as the financial largesse of Obama towards them with “Make It Rain” gifhttps://wikileaks.org/ciav7p1/cms/files/makeitrain.gif 

“As an example, specific CIA malware revealed in ‘Year Zero’ is able to penetrate, infest and control both the Android phone and iPhone software that runs or has run presidential Twitter accounts,” the WikiLeaks release stated.

Digital rights non-profit Access Now said in a statement on Tuesday it was “fantasy to believe only the ‘good guys'” would be able to use the discovered vulnerabilities.

“Today, our digital security has been compromised because the CIA has been stockpiling vulnerabilities rather than working with companies to patch them,” Senior Legislative Manager Nathan White said.

The CIA allegedly also maintains a database of malware created in other nations — WikiLeaks specifically cites Russia — in order to disguise its own hacking attempts as the work of another group.

In what is described by WikiLeaks as “one of the most astounding intelligence own goals in living memory,” the CIA is said to have made most of its programs unclassified to avoid legal consequences for transmitting classified information through the Internet — a move that increased the risk of outside groups pirating the cyber spying tools.

WikiLeaks also revealed the U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt is a hacking base, and the website provided the methods by which agents obfuscate customs officers to gain entry to Germany, pretending to provide technical consultation.

WikiLeaks said its source released the files because they believed questions surrounding the CIA’s reach “urgently need to be debated in public,” echoing the motives of many previous leakers.

PSA: This incorrectly implies CIA hacked these apps / encryption. But the docs show iOS/Android are what got hacked – a much bigger problem. https://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/839120909625606152 

Still working through the publication, but what @Wikileaks has here is genuinely a big deal. Looks authentic.

One such former leaker, Edward Snowden, tweeted Tuesday afternoon about the WikiLeaks release.

“Still working through the publication, but what @Wikileaks has here is genuinely a big deal. Looks authentic,” wrote Snowden, who has been granted asylum in Russia as he seeks to avoid criminal prosecution in the U.S.

Some of the WikiLeaks files include redacted information, such as tens “of thousands of CIA targets and attack machines throughout Latin America, Europe and the United States.”

Russia Looks to Exploit White House ‘Turbulence,’ Analysts Say

MOSCOW — The Kremlin, increasingly convinced that President Trump will not fundamentally change relations with Russia, is instead seeking to bolster its global influence by exploiting what it considers weakness in Washington, according to political advisers, diplomats, journalists and other analysts.

Russia has continued to test the United States on the military front, with fighter jets flying close to an American warship in the Black Sea this month and a Russian naval vessel steaming conspicuously in the Atlantic off the coast of Delaware.

“They think he is unstable, that he can be manipulated, that he is authoritarian and a person without a team,” Alexei A. Venediktov, the editor in chief of Echo of Moscow, a liberal radio station, said of President Trump.

The Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, has long sought to crack the liberal Western order, both as a competitor and as a champion of an alternative, illiberal model. To that end, he did what he could to buttress the electoral chances of Mr. Trump, who seemed like a kindred spirit with his harsh denunciations of NATO and the European Union, his endorsement of the British withdrawal from the European Union and his repeated shrugs over Russia’s destabilizing Ukraine.

Continue reading the main story

In this context, Mr. Trump’s election was an unexpected bonus, but the original giddiness has worn off, and Moscow has returned to its tried-and-true formula of creating turmoil and exploiting the resulting opportunities.

“They are all telling each other that this is great, he created this turbulence inside, as we wanted, and now he is focused on his domestic problems and we have more freedom to maneuver,” Mr. Venediktov said. “Let them deal with their own problems. There, not in Ukraine. There, not in the Middle East. There, not in NATO. This is the state of mind right now.”

Sergei A. Markov, a leading analyst friendly to the Kremlin, made much the same point. “Right now the Kremlin is looking for ways that Russia can use the chaos in Washington to pursue its own interests,” said Mr. Markov, a member of the Civic Chamber, a Kremlin advisory group. “The main hope is that the U.S. will be preoccupied with itself and will stop pressuring Russia.”

Any turbulence that Russia foments also gives the Kremlin leverage that it can try to trade in the global arena at a time when it does not have much that others want.

Mr. Venediktov compared the Russian position to an intrusive neighbor who promises to be helpful by avoiding noisy restoration activity at night even though it breaks the apartment building rules in the first place.

Analysts say the Kremlin is aware that the tactic of creating and exploiting disarray can become self-defeating, in that prolonged instability could allow threats like the extremist group Islamic State to flourish.

“It is important for Russia that America does its job in foreign policy,” said Alexey Chesnakov, a periodic Kremlin political adviser and the director of the Center for Current Politics, a trend analysis group in Moscow. “If there is nobody to do that job, it might not be good for us, either.”

The Middle East provides examples of both vectors, analysts say, a moment of chaos to exploit and concerns about achieving stability for the long-term future.

Moscow has begun courting Libya, where Mr. Putin seems to want to prove that the Obama administration and other Western powers made a mistake by working to force Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi from power in 2011. Russia invited various powerful figures to Moscow and sent the country’s lone aircraft carrier, the somewhat dilapidated Admiral Kuznetsov, on a port call to Libya on its way back from Syria last month. Khalifa Haftar, the military commander in eastern Libya, got a tour. The government invited veteran officials and analysts from around the Arab world this week to discuss the future of Libya and Yemen, among other topics.

Photo

Residents at a humanitarian food distribution site in Avdiivka, Ukraine, this month. Some analysts say American attention could be diverted from areas of conflict with Russia, like Ukraine, while President Trump focuses on domestic concerns. CreditBrendan Hoffman/Getty Images

Syria, on the other hand, underscores the limits to Russian power. In the two months since Russian-backed government forces took back the city of Aleppo, there has been little movement in forging peace.

Not least, Russia can ill afford the billions of dollars needed to rebuild the country. For that it needs Washington to help persuade its allies like Qatar and Saudi Arabia, who all seek a political transition away from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Like much of the world, nobody in Moscow can figure out who makes Mr. Trump’s foreign policy, never mind what it will be. Since the inauguration, it has become clear that Mr. Trump’s rosy view of Mr. Putin is not shared by the president’s top foreign policy advisers, with the possible exception of Stephen K. Bannon, his chief White House strategist.

“We cannot understand how they will work in concert,” said Igor Yurgens, a Russian economist who is prominent in business and development.

The Kremlin has adopted a wait-and-see attitude toward Mr. Trump, analysts said, expecting the first meeting with Mr. Putin in Europe sometime this summer to set the course for relations.

Dmitry K. Kiselyov, the anchor of the main state propaganda program “News of the Week,” recently pronounced what seemed to be the new party line on the air. “Let’s not judge too harshly, things are still unsettled in the White House,” he said. “Still not a word from there. Only little words, and that doesn’t amount to a policy.”

Just how unsettled was underscored on Monday, when the White House announced plans to increase military spending by $54 billion, an amount just about equal to what Russia spends in total on its military annually.

While the appearance of such turmoil in the White House has probably been surprising, even gratifying, to the Kremlin, analysts say Russia’s government is worried about having too much of a good thing. “It would be better for us to have a predictable partner,” Mr. Markov said. “An unpredictable one is dangerous.”

The perception of weakness calls into question here in Moscow whether Mr. Trump can ever live up to the many statements he made during the campaign about forging closer ties with Mr. Putin and Russia. “The overwhelming view of the Kremlin is that Trump is not very strong,” said Valeriy Solovey, a professor at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. “He might have sympathy toward Russia, but he is contained within the political establishment.”

Russia’s far right regularly predicts Mr. Trump’s assassination at the hands of the American establishment, a view occasionally echoed on state television.

Alexander Dugin, a nationalist Russian philosopher, called Mr. Trump’s inauguration the happiest day of his life because it signified the demise of the liberal international order. Mr. Dugin seemed most eager for Mr. Trump to get on with his promise to “drain the swamp” in Washington, although he worried about the consequences. “It can kill,” Mr. Dugin said in an interview. “It is not so easy to drain the swamp.”

Since the inauguration, however, enthusiasm for Mr. Trump in official Russia lurched from cool to uncool seemingly overnight. Dmitri S. Peskov, the presidential spokesman, denied that the new skepticism had been ordered from the top. The speed of the change was striking, however.

Russia’s political class marvels at how much time it now spends chewing over the minutiae of the American political system. Some attribute that to the fact that domestic politics are comatose, with Mr. Putin assured of winning another six-year term in 2018.

“Nobody is talking about the Putin election,” said Mr. Chesnakov, the political consultant. “We are discussing relations between Congress and Trump.”

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