Russia And US Relations Restoration Requires Expanding Contacts And Intensifying Dialogue – OpEd


International experts, journalists and politicians continue to discuss the results of the first full-fledged talks between the leaders of Russia and the United States, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, held in Helsinki on July 16.

Commenting on the results of the summit, the Russian president called the talks “were quite successful and beneficial” stressing that they “were held in a candid and business-like atmosphere.”

“We reviewed the current state and prospects of Russia-US relations and key international issues. It is obvious to everyone that our bilateral relations are undergoing a complicated period but there is no objective reason for these difficulties and the current tense atmosphere,” Vladimir Putin said at a news conference following the talks.

“Today’s talks reflected the shared desire of President Trump and myself to correct the negative situation in bilateral relations and map out initial steps to improve them, restore an acceptable level of trust and return to the former level of cooperation on all issues of mutual interest,” the Russian leader said.

In turn, Donald Trump stressed that “constructive dialogue between the United States and Russia forges the opportunity to open new pathways toward peace and stability in our world.”

“I would rather take a political risk in pursuit of peace than to risk peace in pursuit of politics. As President, I will always put what is best for America and what is best for the American people,” the US president said.

“Today’s meeting is only the beginning of a longer process, but we have taken the first steps towards a brighter future, and one with a strong dialogue and a lot of thought. Our expectations are grounded in realism, but our hopes are grounded in America’s desire for friendship, cooperation and peace, and I think I can speak on behalf of Russia when I say that also,” Donald Trump said.

Considerable attention was paid to international security issues, including the situation in Syria, strategic stability and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, as well as the situation in the southeast of Ukraine. In addition, the leaders of the two powers discussed the topic of Moscow’s “interference” in the US elections and the construction of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline.

According the assistant to the Russian leader Yury Ushakov, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump reached a mutual understanding on the need to continue their contacts.

“During their meeting in Helsinki, the presidents reached an understanding that these useful contacts should be continued, And this understanding is shared by both the American and Russian parties,” he stated.

After that Donald Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton reported about the intention of Donald Trump to hold the next meeting with Vladimir Putin in 2019 – when the investigation on “Russian interference” in the US elections is over.

“The President believes that the next bilateral meeting with President Putin should take place after the Russia witch hunt is over, so we’ve agreed that it will be after the first of the year,” the White House press service quotes John Bolton.

According to many political scientists, the Russian-American dialogue inspires some optimism, but a significant part of the influential forces within the United States, including those close to the head of state, and a number of people from his administration, will continue to counter any rapprochement between Russia and the United States.

Commenting on the results of the meeting and its significance for the relations between Moscow and Washington, Pal Steigan, Norwegian politician, publisher, writer, independent entrepreneur in the field of culture and information technology, highly appreciated the importance of bilateral negotiations.

“It was no less than an epoch-making meeting. After years of US-Russia bashing the US president finally met with the president of Russia on equal terms. Vladimir Putin commented the results by saying that ‘the cold war is over.’ If that is even close to the reality it is worth a peace price in itself,” the politician told PenzaNews.

In his opinion, the meeting led to certain concrete results.

“The two presidents seem to have come to terms on how to put an end to the horrific war on Syria that has lasted more than seven years. Putin has made it clear that he won’t budge on Crimea. And Trump and Putin have obviously made a road map for reestablishing economic and diplomatic co-operation,” Pal Steigan explained.

Meanwhile, he reminded that for almost five years the world was on the verge of a serious military crisis.

“World war has hung over the world at least since August 2013 when Barack Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, was hours before ordering a large scale attack on Syria. How that could have avoided igniting a US-Russia war is hard to say. After that there has been Ukraine provocations, so called gas attacks in Syria […], and of course Donald Trump’s war threat on North Korea last year. It has been dangerous brinkmanship for almost five years. And now the possibility of reducing tensions and dangers of war. The world should rejoice, but main stream media do the opposite,” Pal Steigan said.

In his opinion, it will be very difficult for Donald Trump to overcome all the internal obstacles on the way to improving relations with Moscow.

“If that depends on Trump and Putin we should see a very positive development with ending of the war in Syria, de-escalation, throwing away the idiotic sanctions regime etc. But the deep state in the US with close ties to the military-industrial complex hate it. They want war, they want tension, the want the subjugation of the world. They have been crying about “treason”, impeachment calling for a palace revolt in the US,” the politician reminded.

Meanwhile, according to him, the meeting of the two presidents is unlikely to radically change their images in the eyes of representatives of different sectors of society.

“Those who love Trump will love him even more. But those who hate him, and they abound in the media and in politics, they want to tear him apart. For Putin it is yet another win, a crowning of the World Cup, so to speak,” Pal Steigan explained.

“Meetings between Russian and US presidents used to be normal diplomacy. Roosevelt met with Stalin, Kennedy met with Khrushchev and Reagan – with Gorbachev. All of these meetings were historic, but they were accepted, even by main stream media. Their reaction today is unprecedented, foolish and dangerous,” he added.

In turn, Louis Fisher, former Senior Specialist in Separation of Powers at Congressional Research Service, the Library of Congress, said that there has been great political unease in the United States about Donald Trump’s continued praise for Vladimir Putin.

“I am not aware of any political candidate running for the [US] presidency who praised a Russian leader. For several years there has been concern that Donald Trump and members of his family, long active with business ventures in Europe and Russia, may have stepped over legal limits and Putin has access to that information, putting those family members at risk,” the analyst said and added that there is great concern in the United States that this can be used as leverage not merely over US-Russia relations but in influencing other Trump positions on foreign policy, including US relations with allies and NATO.

“Although contacts and dialogue are important between the United States and other countries, including Russia, those contacts and dialogue must reflect informed and credible statements by a US President. Trump has not met that standard,” Louis Fisher stressed.

In his opinion, the American leader “seems willing and able to put Russian interests over US interests.”

“As for the meeting at Helsinki, Trump repeatedly accepted Putin’s statement that Russia had no involvement in the 2016 presidential campaign. No one could come away with a different impression. But then Trump, after being attacked not merely by Democrats but by leading Republicans, chose to ‘apologize,’ explaining that he said ‘would’ when he meant to say ‘wouldn’t.’ [The sentence was the following: I have President Putin — he just said it’s not Russia. I don’t see any reason why it would be] Given the context of that sentence, with Trump regularly accepting Putin’s assertion over US intelligence analysis, that explanation has zero credibility,” the expert explained.

Meanwhile, Clive Williams from the Australian National University suggested that the meeting will enhance Putin’s reputation of being a clever operator at the expense of Trump’s.

“Many will wonder if there is not more to the relationship between the two – for example, has Russia got information that is being used to blackmail Trump – or have the two come to a strategic business understanding for when they both leave office?” the analyst said.

However, in his opinion, the meeting is unlikely to change the atmospherics of mutual suspicion and hostility between the two countries.

“This does not necessarily extend to Americans and Russians at a personal level – they seem to work well enough together when the need arises,” Clive Williams added.

He also stressed that many US commentators are concerned about the possible influence of Russia on the results of voting in America.

“According to them, it as a threat to democracy. The concern is however more about unexpected effects from covert foreign interference in American politics, as most outsiders would view the US political system as being far from ‘democratic’,” the expert explained.

But high-level contact and dialogue is obviously better than confrontation, he said.

“The establishments and bureaucracies on both sides tend to see concessions and attempts to gain better understanding of the other’s motivations as weakness – but breakthroughs on key issues need unconventional leaders – like Reagan and Gorbachev – for any real bilateral progress to be made,” Clive Williams said and stressed that a longstanding American failing has been in not seeing the long-term consequences of its actions.

Meanwhile, Edward Lozansky, President and Founder of the American University in Moscow, paid special attention to the firmness of the US leader’s position.

“Despite all his shortcomings, Donald Trump has proved that his strategic vision is not subject to change in order to please his political opponents and lessen their criticism. Rejecting the summit with Vladimir Putin and bringing angry rhetoric on him, he could disarm his enemies, but he understands that the cooperation of the two main nuclear powers is more important for his country, therefore he is ready to face flurry of hatred, but not compromise his principles,” the analyst said, stressing that concrete results were achieved during the negotiations.

“I would note the agreement on easing tensions on the Syrian-Israeli border, as well as the creation of several expert groups at the state and public level to find ways of cooperation between the two countries. The upcoming meeting between the head of the Pentagon, James Mattis and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu is the first important evidence of the seriousness of these intentions,” Edward Lozansky said.

At the same time, in his opinion, Vladimir Putin has a more advantageous position, since he has the opportunity to fulfill all his obligations.

“It will be much more difficult for Donald Trump, since he is practically alone in matters of foreign policy, even in the White House. He needs to significantly reconsider his staff, which is not so simple, but without this great progress will not be achieved,” the analyst said.

He also shared the view that the attempt to start the dialogue is better than the state of hostility.

“However, [American] elites do not want to hear about it, since it is more important for them to get rid of Trump by impeachment than to think about the interests of the country. Therefore, the US president can rely mainly on his electoral base, which should nominate from its ranks new experts to replace the current ones,” the expert said.

“The important role should now be played by the American and Russian people, who, within the framework of people’s diplomacy, should help their leaders achieve progress and normalize relations between the two countries,” Edward Lozansky concluded.


Penza News

News agency PenzaNews is Russian independent information project, which supplies a steady stream of news. The website is constantly updated to bring the top stories from the city of Penza and the Penza region. The Analysis center of the agency covers important political, economic, cultural and other significant events in Russia and abroad.

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