On July 30, 2018, the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS), a think tank established by the Russian President, published an analysis, titled "Who to believe: Haley or Trump?," by Vyacheslav Kholodkov, head of the Center for CIS Countries Studies.
In the article, Kholodkov wrote that the Trump administration is sending contradictory signals to Russia. On the one hand, the US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley stressed that the US will never trust Russia, on the other hand, US President Donald Trump was very friendly to Russian President Vladimir Putin, during the Helsinki summit.
However, according to Kholodkov, Trump's smiles at the summit were merely part of a bigger political plan to divide Russia from China and sow distrust between the two countries. The Russians recall the balance of power strategy employed by Nixon's National Security Adviser and then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Kissinger by his opening to China managed to play off China and Russia against each other. Kissinger, however, was exploiting the already existing tension between Russia and China over leadership of the Communist World tensions that even led to border incidents between the two countries.
Kholodkov concluded that things were different now because Moscow harbored no illusions about the possibility of establishing cooperation with the United States on an equal basis. Hence, trust and strategic partnership relations with China were much more valuable now. "As for me, I know who to believe: Haley or Trump," Kholodkov concluded his analysis.
Below are excerpts from Kholodkov's article that has been slightly edited for clarity:
Russian President Vladimir Putin, US President Donald Trump, and Chinese President Xi Jinping
Vyacheslav Kholodkov (Source: Riss.ru.tv)
'We Are Now Witnessing A New Stage In The Battle Of Civilizations'
"The Russian media published an exclusive interview of US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley with CBN News 'The US will never trust Russia. They're never going to be our friend That's just a fact.' At the same time, Haley noted the importance of the Russian-American summit in Helsinki. She gave a similar statement in April. According to her, Washington still works with Moscow 'when we need to, and we slap them when we need to.' It should be noted that Haley is not an ordinary diplomat and foreign Ministry [State Department] employee. The position of the US representative to the UN is extremely high, responsible and is the equivalent of a ministerial position.
"Haley's statement has served as a cold shower for Russian journalists, who were preparing bravura reports about the Helsinki meeting. Of course, these reports were not so optimistic as the reports about the first Russian-American meeting during the G20 Summit in Hamburg in July last year – before the adoption of the law on 'Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act' (CAATSA). However, this time there was also a lot of optimism. Ambiguous Trump's statements shortly before the meeting about the possibility of recognizing the Crimea status and the 'return' of Russia to the 'Big Eight', a positive evaluation of the World Football Championship in Russia, as well as the Helsinki summit; smiles and friendly demeanor of the American President, his agreement on consultations between the security councils of the two countries have caused great excitement among the journalists. They enthusiastically described how long the meeting was, how strong the handshake between the presidents was, which facial expression Melania Trump had, etc.
"There is a natural question: whose words to believe? Haley or Trump (in the interpretation of Russian journalists)?
"I suppose the answer to this question can be given by understanding the motives that guided the American President while initiating the meeting.
"For some reason, the vast majority of journalists didn't even think about this, but some of them put forward strange versions. The funniest version is Trump's desire to learn from the experience of the Russian President how to stay in power for so many years.
"Obviously, the Helsinki summit was extremely necessary to Trump, who of course realized that he would be criticized by his opponents. The President was heavily criticized by the American liberal media and even by politicians in his own party. His political opponents accused him of making excessive concessions, betrayal of national interests, the unwillingness to get tough on alleged Russian interference in the elections of 2016. The leader of the democratic minority in the Senate Chuck Schumer said that the results of the summit were 'an insult to all Americans: Democrats, Republicans, Independents.'... Senator John McCain called the press conference in Helsinki 'one of the most shameful speeches of the American President'. According to McCain, 'the Helsinki summit was a tragic mistake.'
"However, just three days after the Helsinki talks, the American leader said that Putin's arrival in Washington was being prepared.
"The surprising fact is that the Helsinki meeting didn't cause any objections in the Trump team. Secretary of state Mike Pompeo, National Security Advisor John Bolton, Nikki Haley, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Head of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow, and Economic Adviser Peter Navarro – all of them are 'hawks.' However, none of them resigned in protest. In turn, Trump didn't criticize Nikki Haley after her scandalous interview. The President didn't even express his displeasure in the usual manner – via Twitter.
"So why did Trump and his team held the Helsinki summit?
"Of course, understanding the need to reduce tensions between the two major nuclear powers, the desire to find a solution to Syria and Ukraine motivates Trump, but it is unlikely that he will risk his political future because of them.
"The main thing, in my opinion, is different. The Chinese factor primarily encourages Trump to establish a dialogue and (if possible) cooperation with Russia.
"Between the United States and China, which shows amazing progress in economic, scientific, and technological development, is now unfolding a grand battle that covers all new areas. In other words, we are now witnessing a new stage in the 'battle of civilizations,' which will determine the international situation for many years to come. This phenomenon is well described in a recent article by the authoritative Japanese newspaper Yomiuri 'Trade war between the United States and China – a turning point in post-war history.'
"The American mass media periodically publishes remarks of anonymous senior Trump administration officials. Their meaning is simple: the US has begun with China a large-scale and destructive economic war for world domination. It will cause damage to both countries, but it is better to start it now, before China has gained full strength, and America [still] has a chance to win.
"The latest US National Security Strategy, approved by Trump in December 2017, called China as a 'strategic competitor.' And the growing economic, scientific, and technical potential of China, which challenges the technological dominance of Washington, is called the main threat to US security. The document also highlights the inevitability of 'long-term strategic rivalry' with China.
"The program of innovative development 'Made in China-2025' approved by the China's State Council in May 2015 concerns the American establishment. The document aims to surpass the US in 10 advanced technologies by 2025 (in terms of GDP calculated by purchasing power parity, China has already surpassed the US – 23.1 trillion dollars against 19.3 trillion).
Trump Tried To Create Distrust In The Relations Between Beijing And Moscow
"In this long and exhausting struggle, one of the main tasks of the US administration is to break the strategic link between China and Russia. But if in the 70-ies of the last century the Americans tried to tear China from their main enemy – the Soviet Union, now they have castled politically [a chess idiom] and try to tear Russia from China.
"This is hard for Trump's political opponents, who consider him an amateur and an upstart, to understand and accept this goal. In addition, congressmen from both parties are blinded by messianic ideas and hatred for Russia, which allegedly dared to interfere in the American democratic electoral system. They see America as a kind of superhero who is able to crush all the enemies at the same time.
"Trump thinks more pragmatically and knows America's limited opportunities. He has begun a long-term trade war with China after the introduction of new import duties on Chinese goods. One of his tasks in this war is to reduce the huge deficit in trade with China (375.2 billion dollars in 2017). During the negotiations, the Americans demanded that China abandon the program 'Made in China-2025.' As Chief Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow told CNBC, 'the issue of leadership in innovation is more important to us than the problem of the trade deficit. We believe the main value of the US is technological advantage. Without American software, China will not survive.'
"On July 6, 2018, the White House introduced a 25% duty on 818 Chinese goods with a total value of 34 billion dollars. It is planned to introduce similar duties on goods with a total value of 16 billion dollars. This list includes goods that are produced by the technologies listed in the program 'Made in China-2025.' The goal of the US is quite clear – to slow down China's scientific and technological development. Trump said that if China dares to introduce reciprocal duties, the list will be expanded. After that the US administration published a new list of Chinese goods with a total value of 200 billion dollars. In his usual manner, Trump ordered not to impose duties on goods from the new list immediately and to give Beijing some time to think.
"It is clear that during the period of the ultimatum to Beijing, Trump will use all measures to blackmail the opponent, in particular, to meet with the Russian leader and demonstrate rapprochement with Russia. It is obvious that on the eve of the Helsinki meeting, Trump said that along with Syria and Ukraine he would like to discuss the Chinese issue with the Russian leader. It is clear that this statement was addressed not to Moscow, but to Beijing. All Trump's flattering statements about Russia, his vogue speeches about the status of Crimea and our membership in the 'Big Eight' are aimed to create and expand a 'crack', to create distrust in the relations between Beijing and Moscow. That's the goal of a successful businessman and a gambling poker player who exchanged the card table for the globe.
"The true Trump's attitude to our country can be seen from one simple fact. In the US National Security Strategy of December 18, 2017, Russia along with China is called the main threat to US security, which seeks to 'challenge American influence, values, and wealth.' It is important that this document was developed not in the Congress, but in Trump's administration and approved personally by him. The National Security Strategy indicates the main directions of the domestic and foreign policy of the president. Against the background of heated discussions in Congress about the 'Trump's betrayal of national interests' and 'Russian interference in the US elections,' the FBI Director Christopher Ray called China the largest and most dangerous threat to the US, as the country, which is trying to 'position itself as a major superpower and the only dominant economic force.'
"But this doesn't mean that we should reject Trump's insidious attempts to intensify political dialogue with Russia in the interests of pressure on China. In order to reduce tensions between the two major nuclear powers and to find ways to resolve conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, we should develop a Russian-American political dialogue. However, the goals of the US Administration show the limits of this dialogue. I think that people in Moscow don't have any illusions about the possibility of establishing equal cooperation with the United States and the West after the 90s. Trust and strategic partnership relations with China are much more valuable now.
"Therefore, our path is obvious. The first step is not to 'melt' from the flattering speeches and smiles of the American President. The second step is to inform the Chinese partners as much as possible about the results of the Helsinki meeting (especially about the talks between the two leaders in the 'one on one' format). The third step is to work with China to develop a common concept of behavior in international affairs.
"As for me, I know who to believe: Haley or Trump."
 Riss.ru, July 30, 2018.