Editorial to Geostrategic Pulse 229 - US - Russia at the beginning of Donald Trump’s presidency

US - Russia at the beginning of Donald Trump’s presidency
Corneliu PIVARIU

“If Putin likes Donald Trump, guess what, folks? That’s called an asset, not a liability.
Now, I don’t know that I’m gonna get along with Vladimir Putin. I hope I do.
But there’s a good chance I won’t.”
Press conference of president Donald Trump, New York, 11.01.2017

The date this issue is sent to customers coincides with Innauguration Day of the 45th president of the USA, Donald Trump, an event for which he already collected 90 million dollar. Internationally, there is a strong concern regarding future foreign policy of the Administration and especially how the relationship Washington-Moscova will evolve and how it will influence the international relations in the coming years. Unfortunately, most of the items tackling this theme are biased and therefore it is much more difficult to assess how these relations will actually evolve. What seems to be a common element found in most analysis of the prospects of the American foreign policy during Trump’s presidency is pragmatism that will certainly apply to the relations with Russia.

The evolution of the future USA-Russia relations will be influenced by their situation at the beginning of president Trump’s mandate;  “we have a horrible relationship with Russia”, he said during the press conference of January 11th. The latest evolutions concerning the actions of the Russian hackers in the USA, see the report of January 6th of the Intelligence Community, (ICA 2017-01D), “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections”, as well as the expulsion on January 30th, 2016 by Barack Obama’s Presidential Directive of 35 Russian diplomats, an action Moscow didn’t retaliate in kind for the first time during the history of their bilateral relations (Putin invited instead to the Kremlin the children of 35 American diplomats), is proof of only a small part of the complexity of USA-Russia relations. Certainly they will be influenced by other international files too where the two sides have specific interests. We may assess that at least at their beginning the Kremlin will be favoured not only by president Putin’s international experience but also by the positions won on the international arena during the last years (e.g. only the position in the Middle East, the country’s increased influence within the European Union). On the other side, although president Donald Trump doesn’t have an extensive experience in international relations we think he will succeed, even if not at the beginning of his mandate, in USA’s  better positioning in its relations with Russia.

A first test of the possible evolutions will take place before before a Trump-Putin direct meeting after the Kremlin’s leader visit to Budapest (on February the 2nd, 2017, Putin’s second visit to Hungary during the last three years), followed by the probable visit to Washington of the Hungarian prime minister Victor Orban (although it is circulated that Donald Trump will pay a visit to Budapest in the spring, we do not have confirmations from valuable sources of such a visit). Likewise, we consider a Donald Trump’s first visit to Europe will  be not to Budapest but, most probably (in a likelihood order) to Brussels, London, Berlin or Paris.

Certainly we cannot expect that at their first meeting the two leaders reach understandings lasting for the entire period of Donald Trump’s mandate but, on the contrary,  having in mind the pragmatism of the two we think the relations will evolve with rapid adjusments  of the positions. We assess that Moscow will seek to timely use to its benefit Washington’s option to focus more on domestic issues for consolidating its positions globally. The USA might accept such a situation unless such a strengthening of Moscow’s positions contravenes its interests. A new redivision of the spheres of interests globally on the background of a new Cold War looms more and more visible with new characteristics compared to the post-WWII period, whereby president Donald Trump will not neglect long term political goals such as democracy, human rights, the importance of observing international law and not accepting destabilizing other states through military means or territorial annexations through more or less conventional means.

China, NATO, the European Union, the situation in the Middle East and the energy issues are only some of the subjects that will influence the evolutions of USA-Russia relations.

Read the whole material
back Published in 2017-01-20 Print Download up