Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during his annual news conference in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 14.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge
A story that will likely garner no coverage at all in Russia’s state-sponsored press, appeared recently on the front pages of many American newspapers, including one with this eye-popping headline: “Putin thanks Trump for tip from CIA.”
Here is the gist of what happened: U.S. intelligence enabled Russia’s top security agency to locate a group of suspects who had planned to bomb a centrally located cathedral in St. Petersburg along with other crowded sites in the city, potentially killing hundreds. Mr. Putin expressed his gratitude and promised to return the favor if the tables were ever turned.
It was a happy ending to a potentially devastating tragedy. But it would be happier if more people in both countries heard about it. Kremlin election meddling and collusion with Trump campaign leaders dominates our news cycle. Russian state media, meanwhile, is overrun with anti-American conspiracy-theorizing presented as straight reporting.
It ought to be worth notice that the new nations can co-operate to fight terrorists.
A second Cold War is not in the best interests of either Russia or America. Yet public opinion in both countries is hostile. Indeed, hostility is more rampant than it has been in years. And a wave of anti-Russian hysteria seems to be sweeping through much of U.S. media. Roughly 70 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of Russia according to Gallup Polls, while only 15 percent of Russians have a favorable view of America, according to Pew Research.
Unfortunately, Mr. Putin needs a foreign enemy to rally his political support, and his government largely controls the country’s media.
Had Russian intelligence thwarted a major plot in the U.S., it would surely have also been on Page 1. But its legitimacy and Russia’s motive would have been questioned, and co-operation would be met with skepticism, as the CIA’s action has in fact been met with skepticism here.
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