Christian Manrique Valdor’s post
“Welcome to my world/ Won’t you come on in/ Miracles, I guess/ Still happen now and then/ Step into my heart/ Leave your cares behind/ Welcome to my world/ Built with you in mind/ Knock and the door shall be open…” Well, maybe, there is a slight chance, as Elvis Presley lyrics illustrate, to have and understanding between Putin and Trump, though the situation is quite tough right now.
Russia: relations with the new USA Administration
If the new American Administration, under Trump’s leadership, is able to accomplish its electoral promises, we shall get ready to manage huge social, political and economic changes. This situation will come up with a new situation never seen since World War Two. Vladimir Putin’s Russia might profit from this, seeing an opportunity to regain part of its geopolitical hegemony, no matter where the White House might draw the red lines of this relation, today ambiguous and out of focus. On the other hand, this situation can also generate global risks, creating a fall on world trade due to protectionist measures affecting all economies.
Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again” has got an important social, political and economic slope. His two main electoral promises were these: economic nationalism defence and trade protectionism; in the diplomatic field laid regaining Russia relations. He has started to work on the first goal and, so far, it has affected free trade agreements. The second goal is becoming controversial in USA domestic politics. It’s becoming more real through Syria’s situation, counter terrorism and trying to change NATO’s role.
The general trend about relations between Russia and the USA has been instability, as well as, mutual accusations, lack of trust and mutual respect, which has been increasing for the last years. Had both countries found a common space for understanding, their relations would have been different, despite USA’s polarization and Trump’s Administration instability. There is still chance for improvement. On this, Russian Government expects international sanctions to lift, respect to its Syrian interests and recognition of its influence in its western ex-soviet landmarks, against NATO and EU interests. Russia’s preferences are of a more Euro-Asiatic kind, its priorities economic and geopolitical, therefore its aim is a geopolitical equality among the USA, Russia and China. This is quite similar to the cold war situation held until the USSR collapse in 1991. Under these circumstances, China is a player that must be taken into consideration.
In the February meeting between the Russian and the USA secretaries of State, Serguéi Lavrov and Rex Tillerson, different issues were on the agenda and red lines were drawn as well: the Minsk Agreement fulfillment, cooperation between both countries if it had benefits for the USA interests and the fight against ISIS, though without military cooperation. From the Kremlin’s point of view this doesn’t look as what Russia understands as an improvement between both countries.
Russia will prefer a joint military action against ISIS in Syria. This will imply USA’s Moscow recognition as an international and equal player. USA support to political reassurance in Syria will be seen as a good gesture by Moscow. Nevertheless, Russia seems to be focused on its own Middle East strategies, oriented towards its own goals, as is going on with Iran, whose Putin’s aims differ greatly from Trump’s.
USA’s Press Secretary statements, pointing out that Crimea should go back to Ukraine, as well as Michael Flynn’s resignation as National Security Advisor, close to Russia, break any possible paths and makes Russia feel more excluded and harassed, specifically by the EU and the NATO, as Russians claim. Besides all these issues that have to be taken into account, the Kremlin follows with expectations the evolution of their relations seeking for an improvement or, at least, normalization. The Western World deceived Russia as a role model after USSR collapsed in the early nineties. Nowadays Russia hopes the situation with Trump will not be repeated, expecting he will help the country to overcome international conflicts and to regain its influence.