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memri
January 11, 2018 No.
7277

Russian Columnist: Stop Deluding Yourself Trump Is To Blame

Official Russia had great expectations from Donald Trump after he won the 2016 presidential elections. However, the U.S. president did little if anything to justify these expectations. Russian official and editorial comment generally sought to exonerate Trump of responsibility identifying the true culprits as Russophobic members of congress and an American establishment that thwarted the good intentions of the new president. The worst that could be said against Trump was that he had allowed himself to be hamstrung by these elements and therefore was not a factor in U.S.-Russia relations. In some respects the attitude towards Trump was reminiscent of historic Russian attitudes to the leader from Tsarist and even Stalinist times that viewed the leader as kindly and well-meaning whereas injustice and cruelty resulted from actions by his underlings unbeknownst to the leader.

Kommersant columnist Sergey Strokan, in an article titled "The Dashed Hopes of Trump", urged his countrymen to abandon illusions about Trump following the publication of the new US National Security Strategy and the American decision to supply lethal weapons to Ukraine.[1] Trump, who visited far flung regions, made no time to improve Russia-U.S. relations. The reviled Obama Administration at least made an effort to reset the relationship, while the current state of bilateral relations has reached a nadir under Trump..

Below are excerpts from Strokan's article.[2]

 


Caption: "The major disappointment of the year – Gentlemen's friendship goodbye." (Source: Argumenty I Fakty)

 

Trump Exhibited No Desire To Change Things For The Better

"The publication of the new US National Security Strategy, which names Russia as one of the major threats to America, and the decision to supply lethal weapons to Kiev may well become the moment when Russian admirers of Donald Trump part with their last vestiges of illusions regarding the 45th US president and his ability to pull the Russian-American relations out of their tailspin.

It must be admitted: responsibility for the critical mass of negative feelings, accumulated over the past months in the relations between Moscow and Washington, lies not only with the anti-Russian US Congress, but also with the nominally "pro-Russian" head of the White House, who did not exhibit any desire or will to change anything, [and this] mandates naming Donald Trump the chief disappointment of the year.

"The most vivid illustration of the way Russian-American relations are built today, what is the prevailing atmosphere there and how unbalanced the mechanism of decision-making is, is the story of the abortive meeting between the Russian and American presidents during the November APEC summit in Da Nang. When Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump either met or did not (the question is what could be considered a meeting without stretching the truth), it was all dumped on the scapegoats: the teams of the two leaders ostensibly failed to reconcile their work schedules. But when two leaders have something to say to each other, they can always find the time and opportunity. The problem was not with the teams — it’s just that there was no mutual movement towards each other. And there was nothing to talk about.

"During the first year of his rule, Donald Trump conducted dozens of meetings in the White House and paid visits to different regions of the world. But no full-scale Russian-American summit meeting ever came up. Moreover, neither Moscow nor Washington can say today how many months or years have to pass before another summit with a comprehensive agenda and an agreement package will take place [or] whether it will still be during Trump’s term or after his departure.

"Moscow-Washington relations have never yet been at such a nadir since the collapse of the USSR and the declaration of the independent Russian state. But for Moscow, which believed in Trump, this may be the tip of the iceberg. Because the main battle between Trump and his opponents, who continue to look for the 'Russian trail' in his election as president, is still ahead.

"There’s no reason to doubt that Donald Trump will, without much hesitation, abandon his relationship with Russia to his critics if his political survival necessitates this.

What’s left of this relationship, or to be more exact what does he need it for? He understands how toxic it is, and is clearly not ready to fight for it."

By Comparison The Obama Administration Was A Golden Era

"A year later, the legacy of Barack Obama, so little loved in our parts, looks almost like the “Golden Age” of Russian-American relations, compared to Donald Trump’s term. There were not only sanctions then, but an attempted reset as well; there were new arms reduction agreements, not their dismantlement, as today; there were efforts to defend those agreements, overcoming the resistance of that very same anti-Russian Congress.

Having decided that the most important thing was to find a 'their man' in the White House, the one who will say a few caressing words and all the problems will miraculously disappear, Moscow has met disappointment again. Words turned out to be empty, deeds did not follow. As a result, all we have is a huge mess that Russian-American relations stumbled into, and it’s called 'Donald Trump'."


Sergey Strokan (Source: Kommersant.ru)

 

 

[1] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7263, Russia Reacts To The New U.S. National Security Strategy, January 4, 2018; MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7266, Russia This Week – January 5, 2018, January 4, 2018.

[2] Kommersant.ru, December 29, 2017.