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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – June 30, 2020

Today in Russia: Russia and US among countries excluded from EU; Trump dismisses Russia bounty allegations; More heat records set in Siberia; Russia “reinforces foothold” in Libya; Turkey loses trust in Russia, shifts to US; US may purchase Turkey’s Russian missile system to ease relations; Russia not responding to IAEA over radiation concerns; India-China border issue won’t be allowed to hurt Russian relations

Russia and the United States are among a list of countries excluded from the European Union when travel reopens to the bloc on July 1. The EU cited ongoing coronavirus outbreaks in the banned countries.

US President Donald Trump “has publicly shrugged off allegations that Russia offered bounties to kill American troops in Afghanistan, reigniting concerns that he’s more interested in preserving ties with the Kremlin than defending U.S. interests,” Bloomberg wrote. Politico noted that Congressional Republicans are putting pressure on the Trump Administration to respond: “Senate Republicans are vowing to get to the bottom of bombshell reports that Russia offered bounties to Afghan militants for targeted killings of U.S. troops overseas — and suggesting that retaliation against Moscow may be in order.”

Siberia continues to set heat records as it endures extraordinarily high summer temperatures. The high temps have led to tundra fires, and have raised fears over the specter of melting permafrost, upon which cities are built.

Russia has reinforced its foothold in Libya as its man, Khalifa Haftar, faces removal from the scene. The Wall Street Journal wrote, “Russia is sending reinforcements to Libya to help military leader Khalifa Haftar, who is on the defensive after a failed effort to topple the country’s United Nations-backed government, as Moscow seeks to shape the fate of the nation and its vast oil reserves.”

Turks have lost trust in Russia and have shifted towards the United States. Al-Monitor wrote, “The Turkish public’s trust in Russia has declined in favor of the United States due to the rising conflicts between Ankara and Moscow over the Libyan and Syrian civil wars, according to a survey.”

The United States may purchase the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system from Turkey in attempt to resolve a row between the two NATO allies over its purchase of the Russian-made system. Russian state media agency TASS wrote, “A US senator has prepared a proposal to buy Russian-made S-400 air defense systems from Turkey in a bid to overcome the impasse between Washington and Ankara over Turkey’s participation in a program to produce F-35 Lightning II fifth-generation fighter jets, Defense News reported.

Russia appears to be ignoring the UN nuclear watchdog after it was accused of being behind a mysterious radiation leak into Scandinavia.” The IAEA asked 29 countries to provide information about the increased radiation; all but Russia responded.

China and India’s current impasse poses a huge political challenge for Russia, which has established long-term strategic ties with both countries,” but the current tensions will not result in damaged ties with either side, Danil Bochkov of the Russian International Affairs Council wrote, noting that “[s]taying out of the border tensions without lending support to either side dovetails with Russia’s interests in forging diversified political contacts.”

PHOTO: Temperatures soared across Siberia this month, leading to tundra fires and fears over melting permafrost (Kirill Kukhmar / TASS).