By Paul Goble
Vladimir Putin made it crystal clear in his speech to the Federal Assembly that he wants talks with Donald Trump as an equal, but Washington’s response was to ignore or at least dismiss the Kremlin leader’s message and choose instead to have a summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, Ivan Preobrazhensky says.
This represents almost an American “spitting in the face of Russian politicians” who expected an entirely different response, the Moscow analyst says. But “it turns out that the US doesn’t fear Russia with its enormous nuclear arsenal but has agreed to risk its president by sending him to Pyongyang for talks” (rosbalt.ru/world/2018/03/12/1687989.html).
One can understand Washington’s calculation, he suggests. “If North Korea is a country with obviously unpredictable behavior that might do anything including launching a nuclear attack on the US, then no one seriously expects anything of the kind from Russia.” The Trump Administration simply doesn’t believe Moscow poses that kind of unpredictable threat.
Obviously, one very much wants to hope that the American leadership has “assessed correctly the Kremlin’s level of responsibility for its actions,” Preobrazhensky concludes, thus implicitly suggesting that Putin may decide to adopt even more risky maneuvers to achieve his goals given that in the last two weeks Kim Jong-Un has “eclipsed” him.
If that should prove to be the case, of course, the risks of a graver crisis will increase exponentially, especially if the Kremlin leader is convinced not only that the West will not respond in a tough manner to almost anything he does but also that it may give him what he wants if he behaves even worse than he has.