Staunton, February 4 – The wild gyrations in Russian expectations about new US President Donald Trump are continuing with the events of yesterday prompting Veronika Krasheninnikova to say that instead of the change Moscow had expected, “the Trump Administration is the Obama Administration on steroids.”
The Russian political analyst made her comments last night after the US permanent representative to the United Nations said sanctions would continue until Russia returned Crimea to Ukraine, a position the White House subsequently confirmed as settled American policy (kp.ru/daily/26639.7/3657935/).
Krasheninnikova, head of the Moscow Institute for Foreign Policy Research and Initiatives, said that she had never shared the optimistic hopes of some in Moscow that Trumps election would lead to a reset of American policy toward Russia in a way favorable to the interests of the latter.
That is now obvious not only from statements like Ambassador Nikki Haley but also from what some of Trump’s advisors have said. Michael Flynn, his national security advisor, for example, has entitled his Twitter account “Believe in American exceptionalism – it is real” and has labelled Russia and Iran as “the two most active and strong members” of an anti-US alliance.
And Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief political advisor, comes out of “an ultra-right milieu” which informed by the ideas of Oswald Spengler, Julius Evola and other “key ideologues of European fascism and Nazism” and sworn enemies of Russia and promoters of the idea that Russia must be contained and then defeated.
Given this, Krasheninnikova says, it is time for Russians to understand that “the Trump Administration is the Obama Administration on steroids,” that is, “it will continue Obama’s policies but in a much more aggressive way.” It will likely start a war with Iran, a country that is Russia’s “partner with whom we are fighting in Syria against international terrorism.”
Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Federation Council’s International Relations Committee, appeared on the same television program yesterday and offered similar thoughts. Trump is unpredictable, he said, but “the radicalism of Trump’s team will be realized in foreign policy, including in relations with Russia.”
“We will have to deal with a very inconvenient and tough partner,” Kosachev said. “This must be understood now.”
In comments to Vitaly Portnikov of Radio Liberty, Russian analyst Dmitry Oreshkin pointed out that the Kremlin following the election of Donald Trump had fallen into the trap of believing its own propaganda. “Only now,” he said, “has it become clear to the Russian powers that be” that they have miscalculated (ru.krymr.com/a/28277984.html).
Indeed, the Kremlin’s constant refrain that Trump would change American policy toward Russia may have worked against Russia because it meant that the new US leader couldn’t move in that direction at least anytime soon without being accused of “treason.” In short, Moscow gave Trump another reason not to make concessions now.
And that leaves Vladimir Putin in a difficult position: “Russia now does not have the resources for a new round of conflict.” The Kremlin leader wants to get out from under the problems his actions in Ukraine have caused not because he is in a strong position but because he is in a weak one. A pragmatic Trump can certainly sense that too.