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Putin-Trump: Uncovered agreement. For Europe this is a disaster

Putin-Trump: Uncovered agreement. For Europe this is a disaster

July 17 2018 LJ cover – Путин-Трамп: недоговоренная договорённость. Для Европы это — катастрофа
Tags: USA, Russia, Trump, Putin, Politics, International relations, Analytics, Europe, EU, Gas, Economics

The contradictions between Russia and the US are so significant, and the points of contact are so small that the overwhelming majority of experts, while acknowledging the importance of the very fact of the meeting in Helsinki, nevertheless stressed that to expect any breakthrough in bilateral relations or at least an agreement on a single secondary issue worth it.

Washington and Moscow have no secondary issues, and given the global level of confrontation, even such unnecessary and burdensome things for the United States as Ukraine (which must be abandoned in the first place) can not be given to Trump without any conditions (they can not yet). This, though garbage, but the asset and its need at least cheap, but sell. At least, Washington is not yet ready to just throw Kiev into a political garbage dump, acknowledging that in 2014, mistakenly purchased foul goods.

So, we have a situation where both sides knew beforehand that they could not reach an agreement. Arrangements were not prepared (according to the results of the talks, nothing was planned for signing). At the same time, both sides needed the event to be successful. Trump clearly blackmails possible agreement with Russia, the European Union. But Putin needs to show Europe that the wedge did not match the light. For too long and uncertainly, the Europeans, already abandoned by the US, are turning towards Russia. Moreover, they constantly send signals to Washington about their readiness to maintain a more or less rigid anti-Russian position (in that it does not concern gas supplies) if Trump stops "undermining transatlantic solidarity".

The position of Europe is understandable. It is no accident that Trump, in his enumeration of the enemies of the United States (EU, China and Russia), made it clear that he considers Russia to be the least problem, since there are practically no economic contradictions with it ("Nord Stream-2" does not count). The main enemy of the United States was not even China, which has the biggest negative trade balance, but the EU, which Trump rightly identified, as the main trade rival receiving unjustified economic benefits from political agreements with the United States.

In these conditions, America's hypothetical settlement of its military-political contradictions with Russia, reduced the value of the EU, as an ally to Washington to zero. And without that European leader Trump, who was already tampered with, could in fact really break all military-political and economic agreements with Europe. That, in turn, was fraught with political and economic catastrophe for the European Union.

Neither the Russian, nor the Chinese market can not simultaneously consume the entire volume of EU exports to the United States. On the contrary, both Beijing and Moscow conduct surplus trade with the European Union. Its deficit in this direction was covered by the EU due to a surplus in trade with the US. As an argument that was to keep Trump from the last step (a complete break with the EU), Europe used (and hoped to continue to use) its role as a springboard for fighting Russia. Merkel in recent days, after the NATO summit, spoke literally in Poroshenko's words, stating that Trump's claims to Europe over the insufficient financial contribution to NATO are not justified, since Europe is fighting with Russia for the interests of the United States.

For the EU, it was critically important that this argument continue to operate. Otherwise, Washington really had more points of contact with Moscow than with Brussels. And Europe is not ready for a sharp confrontation with the United States, resting on its laurels, it was not engaged (unlike, for example, from China) diversification of economic ties and was in the strongest dependence on access to the American market.

Without venturing ahead of Trump in establishing normal relations with Russia, the EU leaders were mortally afraid that Trump and Putin, despite all the difficulties, would do the impossible and agree, especially since both showed themselves to be people ready to take immediate decisions that change the fate of the world.

The position taken by the EU raised the price of the summit for Russia. In terms of relations with the United States, Moscow can wait until Washington ripens to reconciliation on its terms. But, given the obvious intention of Europe to maneuver between Russia and the US, trying to maintain a geopolitical configuration that is advantageous for itself, but which does not suit either Trump or Putin, Russia was also interested in demonstrating to the whole world the success of the summit and the good prospects for reaching final and comprehensive agreements.

This was the most difficult problem for both sides. Think about it. You know that you can not agree. You also know that the whole world is afraid of your agreement, because playing on your contradictions to many countries has allowed you to rise, strengthen and begin to claim the first roles. The Russian-American agreement would at once halve (if not more) these achievements. You know that everyone knows that you can not agree and everyone is following closely the outcome of your meeting.

You can try to inflate the observers and give out for the agreement some meaningless communiqué. Deceived will be hundreds, if not thousands of journalists and "experts" of soap shows. They, in turn, will deceive millions of readers and viewers. But it will not work. Professional politicians and diplomats on chaff are not held. They will immediately realize that you have failed and you are simply trying to hide your failure and will act accordingly. The opinion of "ochlos" in this case does not matter at all: international politics are not elections, decisions are not universally voted on, and there are no transparent decisions.

Before Trump and Putin, the task was to lead the meeting in such a way that no one deceived about its results, nevertheless sell the world the absence of any decisions as a serious success. And they did it.

Expensive is one phrase of Putin that at first he was skeptical about the possible outcome of the meeting, but the conversation turned out to be wonderfully promising and it makes sense in further regular meetings. Approximately the same estimate, only in other expressions, sounded from the mouth of Trump.

For Europe this is a disaster. This means that in the near future Washington should avoid intensifying confrontation with Russia, since it has a dialogue with the possibility of reaching certain agreements. What is there constructive suggested Trump to Putin, that the Russian president immediately sharply raised his assessment of the effectiveness of the meeting, no one knows. But Europeans are aware of the American tradition, perfected by Trump, to solve their problems at the expense of former allies, when their services become unnecessary. And they are afraid and guess who (or what) Washington decided to sacrifice this time.

Absolute predictability of the results of the meeting played a cruel joke with European politicians. They are so used to a two-dimensional world where everything that is not victory or defeat is so much waiting for the clash of personal ambitions of Putin and Trump that the elementary move is to fix the contradictions, discuss the solutions proposed by the parties and, without prejudging the result, agree to continue negotiations, turned out to be an unpleasant surprise for them, worse than if Trump, right in Helsinki, would have recognized Crimea as Russian and withdrew the US from NATO.

It would be at least some, but certainty. It would be clear what to do and how to react. And what to do in this situation? Where to run: to Washington or to Moscow? To keep fidelity to the old suzerain or to try to get to the new before others? How to solve the contradictions within the EU? And there are many, many important questions that are not answered.

And, unlike Russia, Europe can not wait. By his meeting with Putin, Trump brought the US out of zugzwang, transferring to the EU the right to make the same move that only worsens the position.

After all, according to the logic of the development of events, which politicians and diplomats must necessarily take into account, consultations between Moscow and Washington should now begin in order to reach specific agreements. They can fruitlessly last for months and even years, but they can bear fruit almost immediately.

If the EU wants to stay in the game, it must formulate its position and proposals before Moscow and Washington agree. Otherwise, the agreement will be reached at the expense of the EU. Europe in this case will not even be invited to the table, as for more than a year they have not called Ukraine, in a way, among really important problems, trying to define it each other in a load to real bonuses received in other directions.

Rostislav Ishchenko
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