The confrontation between Moscow and Washington has become one of the main features of 2017 for the whole world. Russia and the United States exchanged both impartial rhetoric and mutual restrictive measures. How will this story develop in 2018 and in what directions do the parties still have a chance to agree?
Moscow does not have inflated expectations about our relations and so far it has not been possible to achieve improvements because of the Russophobic hysteria that engulfed the Washington political establishment, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in a pre-New Year interview to Interfax. At the same time he made a reservation: "We are still ready to go our part of the way for their recovery."
In a similar vein, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a pre-holiday article in the New York Times. On the one hand, he rather boorishly noted that Washington has no illusions about the "regime we are dealing with." On the other hand, he stressed: in America they realize the need to work with Russia where "mutual interests overlap".
Much more conciliatory statements were heard earlier from the lips of the presidents of Russia and the United States. Donald Trump 15 December phoned Vladimir Putin and they discussed the situation around the DPRK. A week later, both countries synchronously supported the resolution punishing Pyongyang for the next launch of the ballistic missile, and Moscow, for example, for the first time agreed to expel all North Korean guest workers from its territory. So we can assume that the two leaders then made some kind of deal, the details of which we do not yet know.
And yet, at the beginning of the new year, a report of the US Treasury, which the Congress expects in February - about the leaders of the business world of Russia, which overseas is considered "close to the Kremlin", may become a new obstacle in our relations. On these businessmen, obviously, in the congress will try to influence new sanctions.
Editor of Defense & Foreign Affairs, president of the Association for International Strategic Studies (Washington), Gregory Copley, blames Trump's opponents for everything. "This is an attempt by people who lost the elections in the US, and some media, to conserve the cold war. They just needed to find a scapegoat to explain their defeat in the elections, "the source explained. According to Kopli, in fact, the level of relations is not so terrible as some hawks from both sides present it - it can not be compared with the times of the Cold War. "Now the cooperation is carried out on a more pragmatic level. And I think there is a great hope that as soon as some of the media scandals subsided, we will see closer real cooperation, "he told the VZGLYAD newspaper.
"I believe that US-Russian relations are healthy in many respects. We are finally starting to see a turning point in the Cold War thinking that some people have continued to practice in both countries, but especially in the US. Now there is a discussion about the wide interaction between the United States and Russia, what used to be the West and the East, "Copley said. "I am confident that there is room for improvement. There is no doubt that the prerequisites for improving relations began with the coming to power of the Trump administration, "the expert added.
The newspaper VZGLYAD conducted an "inventory" of issues of mutual interest for the US and Russia. On which of them - even in the current hostile atmosphere - you can still agree, perhaps even in 2018-th year? Items are arranged in order of increasing chances of compromise - according to the conventional scale from 1 to 8. The least hope is to agree on Ukraine and sanctions, most of all - about Korea and Syria.
1. Leave Ukraine alone
Russia's position is known - Moscow in categorical form requires Washington not to provide Ukraine with any military assistance so as not to stir up the conflict in the Donbass. The US should stop both directly and through the IMF to finance the Kiev regime. The US should simply leave our most important neighbor alone.
However, it is almost impossible to find a compromise in Ukraine. That's Tillerson calledUkraine the main obstacle to the improvement of Russian-American relations. According to the US, Russia should not simply fulfill all the points of the Minsk agreements (to which Russia is not a party) and stop "aggression in Ukraine", but also return to Crimea, refuse to support the NDP and the LDP, and agree to the introduction of a peacekeeping contingent on the Russian- Ukrainian border. All these requirements for Russia are categorically unacceptable, and there is no compromise at the moment.
2. Remove all sanctions
Russia requires the US to abolish the punitive measures imposed on it and its citizens - both financial and visa. The first such measures were introduced in March 2014 in after reunification with the Crimea, then sanctions only increased. For today, the most important was Moscow's demand to leave the "Nord Stream-2" alone, by abolishing the sanctions imposed by Washington in August against the companies that are involved in the construction of this gas pipeline.
"But President Donald Trump can not abolish or even weaken them,
- said in this interview in an interview with the newspaper VZGLYAD political analyst Viktor Olevich.
Trump, who in itself could and would have gone on to abandon sanctions, ties the hands of the American establishment. In particular, the law passed in August in the US allows Congress to block the president's attempts to weaken or cancel sanctions. In addition, in this issue the key obstacle is again the Ukrainian issue - only after its decision, negotiations can be started to lift the restrictive measures, insist in Washington. And in this case, sanctions, most likely will not be canceled all at once, but in stages, as in the case with Iran.
3. Agree on non-aggression in cyberspace
Moscow suggests that Washington conclude a non-aggression pact and generally introduce international laws of conduct in the virtual world. We also demand that we stop delusional accusations in our address about the hacker "attack" on American democracy. The chances of agreeing on this are still very small.
Even Trump himself calls these accusations "a myth", but in the Congress and in the US press psychosis on this occasion to weaken and does not think. "Hawks" directly speak about the fact that Russia should be punished for allegedly carried out by her intervention. A more moderate part of the American political establishment, for example, Ambassador John Huntsman of Russia, emphasizes that an "honest" conversation between Washington and Moscow on this issue is necessary. "Honest" in their understanding means that the Russian Federation must recognize the intervention and repent for it, after which the dialogue will begin.
Imagine that Moscow will go for this, it is almost impossible today.
4. To leave alone the Russian NGOs
Russia requires Washington not to interfere in its internal affairs, in particular, not to finance pro-Western public organizations and the media. As you know, in 2015-2018 years on the information broadcasting of foreign structures in Russia will be spent more than 80 million dollars. This, for example, is twice as much as the information support of the Ukrainian Maidan in 2014. But it's also unrealistic to agree on this. If everything depended on Trump, he might have twisted the financial crane simply for reasons of economy, but the money is distributed by Congress, and there they are not going to save on anti-Russian propaganda.
Here, though a little apart is the theme of the media-"foreign agents". The US Justice Department in October forced the Russian TV channel Russia Today in accordance with the law in force in America, register as a foreign agent, which RT was forced to do. In addition, Twitter banned advertising from RT and Sputnik accounts, and TV channel correspondents were denied accreditation in the congress.
In response, the State Duma developed a law that introduces in Russia rules on the media, performing the functions of foreign agents, which was signed by Putin in late November. After that, the Russian Justice Ministry recognized such a number of media: "Voice of America", "Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty", the television channel "Present Time" and others. They are deprived of access to the Federation Council and the State Duma. At the same time, Moscow emphasizes that it is ready to reconsider its decision if Washington abolishes its attitude towards RT. However, it is hardly worth waiting for this in the near future.
5. Stop threatening Iran
Moscow demands leaving both the "nuclear deal" with Iran concluded in 2015 and in general removing from Iran all the sanctions imposed on it by the West, since Moscow hopes to develop trade with the Islamic republic.
Trump has long threatened to break the agreement. In October, he even said that Tehran does not comply with the terms of the treaty, but he himself was careful not to break it and offered to do it to the congress.
The probability of an agreement on this matter is still there. The fact is that Russia's interests in this case coincide with the interests of influential representatives of the Obama team, who two years ago participated in the "deal with Iran." So Congress did not want to take responsibility, refused to accept Trump's pass - and the question so far stalled.
6. Leaving Afghanistan
Russia in 2017 for the first time demanded to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan, because they failed to cope with the task assigned to them by the UN Security Council 16 years ago. They could not defeat the Taliban, they did not build a viable state in Afghanistan and only provoke internal conflicts there. In addition, Americans indulge in drug trafficking from this country through the southern border of the CIS.
The US, in turn, accuses Russia of flirting with the Taliban and even in the supply of weapons. At the same time, Trump in August announced a new strategy for the US in Afghanistan, which involves the rejection of a rapid withdrawal of troops, increasing their numbers and expanding their powers. In addition, Washington will no longer report the size of its contingent.
However, the key accent is the Americans in Afghanistan are going to do against such movements as the Taliban and IGIL, which are almost equally dangerous for both our countries. At the same time, the United States ideally would like to seat a moderate part of the Taliban at the negotiating table with the Afghan authorities, which also correlates with Russian desires. They are also interested in attracting other countries - Pakistan, India and, of course, Russia - to the solution of the Afghan question. Therefore, Afghanistan is not a completely dead field for rapprochement, there are chances, and we have experience of cooperation in this direction. The probability of an agreement is average.
7. Stop threatening North Korea
Moscow demands that Trump stop threatening Pyongyang with a war, including stopping maneuvers around the Korean Peninsula temporarily. Russia has a common border with the DPRK, so we need stability in the region. In addition, we do not want from the principle that Americans invade and change regimes in foreign countries. However, further strengthening of Pyongyang's nuclear-missile potential is also useless. But this question Moscow, like Beijing, need to be solved only through diplomatic channels.
From a financial point of view, we want to develop economic ties with both Koreas, ideally - to lay a pipeline and sell gas to the southerners through the territory of the northerners, which will benefit all three parties. And for this, both Koreas must finally find a common language.
Trump since his coming to power took a tough line against the DPRK, using as a pretext the missile launches of Pyongyang. He came to direct threats personally to Kim Jong-un. The US aircraft carriers fired around North Korea, and the complexes of the THAAD missile were delivered to Seoul. However, in mid-December, the degree of tension began to subside.
"We need North Korea to sit down at the negotiating table. We are ready to talk with them whenever they want,
"US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told 12 December. This is a clear break in the American line, and now the State Department will have to turn to Russia and China for help in mediating a dialogue with such an inconvenient interlocutor as Kim.
Americanist Boris Mezhuyev in an interview with the newspaper VZGLYAD does not exclude that Trump will in the near future really stop pressuring Kim, as he realizes his impotence. As the American political scientist Stefan Ebert told the newspaper, the Korean Peninsula could well become the platform where Russia and the US finally find a compromise, the chances for this grow.
8. Forget about the overthrow of Bashar Assad
Russia requires the US to stop its anti-Asiad activity and not provide money and arms to the rebels, especially the explicit terrorists from the "An-Nusra". Also, Moscow insists on the withdrawal of Syrian American interventionists who are there illegally.
The US still refuses to withdraw its troops from the SAR and continues to call Bashar Assad "a bloody tyrant." However, there are shifts. Washington has already begun to fulfill our conditions - for example, stopped demanding the immediate departure of Assad, which he tirelessly demanded for six years. The media reported that the White House is prepared to forget about the overthrow of Assad for at least another four years, simply because now his hands are short of realizing their threats against Damascus. Moreover, our agreement to create a peace zone in south-west Syria, which Putin and Trump reached in July in Hamburg, is actually working. So here the chances are even higher than in the case of Korea.
Yes, the interests of Putin and Trump in the UAR do not coincide in many respects, but a compromise is possible. The probability of making a deal on Syria is above average. "There is a large space for cooperation in the field of security. And I think we see the beginning of this in the Middle East, "Gregory Copley stressed. "Especially considering that the US, because of the policies of the past administration, has already lost a lot of influence in the Middle East, Africa and Asia."
What in the end? On most items on the current agenda, Moscow and Washington do not have potential points of contact, and hope for their appearance in the 2018-th year can only be a very notorious optimist. As predicts in an interview with the newspaper VZGLYAD director of the US Foundation for Studying. Roosevelt at the Moscow State University Yuri Rogulev, except that in about five years, Washington politicians will regret that with such excitement torpedoed relations between our countries. "We again rested on ideology, they see Russia as an enemy," complains the American. - A decade later they aloud admit that it was a myth, but it will be too late. The damage to relations will be dealt with colossal ".
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