No US-Russian Rapprochement in Sight
Berlin, 15.02.2017. Dmitri Trenin, Director of the Carnegie Center Moscow, at a lecture organised by the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute in Berlin: “Russia’s relationship to Europe will depend upon whether Europe chooses to be a strategic player in the geopolitical arena. If it decides not to play a global role, then it will become less interesting for both Russia and the USA.”

At the same time, Trenin sees little potential for US-Russian rapprochement. In Moscow there had been, immediately after Trump’s victory in the US election, some optimism that the longed-for cooperation and end of sanctions might come to pass. With the ousting of Michael Flynn as the president’s national security advisor though, the tide has turned. “The best that can happen is that the conflict remains contained. I say it with a heavy heart, but the worst is a deepening antagonism and, in the long run, even escalation”, stated the Moscow Carnegie boss.

He called Donald Trump a nationalist for whom the US-Russian relationship is of far less importance than internal politics. The confrontation within the US between adherents of national, versus those of globalist-imperial, policies, has just begun. “For Trump, the effort of repairing relations with Russia is not worth the risk that such a policy backfires heavily within the US.”

Geopolitically, Trenin expects the slow emergence of an Anglo-Saxon block, rivalling China and Russia. He characterised the relationship between those two as ‘entente‘, somewhat less than an alliance. Neither one would act against the other, but nor would either one support each and every one of the other’s policies. In any case, China has a singular modus operandi that makes it different from the rest of the world.

Is there potential common ground for Russia and the US? “Being honest, even the mutual disarmament agreements are presently under review. On top of that, there is little or no economic cooperation. There is potential to operate side by side against Islamist terror. Russia’s strength is that apart from terrorist organisations like IS, there is no country or organisation on the Eurasian continent, even including strict adversaries like Israel and Iran, that Moscow does not have close ties with.”

At the end of the day, US politics are determined neither by Russia nor other global players. “It is the people of the United States, their elites, and US civil society who will exert their influence over Donald Trump. It is these forces that Trump, as with any other president in his time, is now confronted with”, Trenin concluded. And since Trump, in Trenin’s own words, is an unpredictable individual, the situation remains compelling.