By Adam Dentor*
After the United States 2016 presidential elections, everybody thought the results were in favor of Russia.
At first American media and politicians didn’t seem to have paid any serious attention to Kremlin interference in U.S. elections, but in late 2016, CIA handed a report to Barak Obama about Russia’s cyber activities during elections and how it hacked into the emails of the Democratic Party. The report was the result of collaborative investigations of American intelligence and information agencies.
The CIA report drew serious attention. The orders were given to put sanctions on a number of Russian individuals and organizations that had taken part in hacking American systems. 35 Russian intelligence officers were expelled from U.S.
Trump who did not believe in Russian interference in elections, was forced to accept the CIA report. Subsequently, not long after coming into the office, in April 2017, he put sanctions on seven Russian oligarchs, two of whom were close friends of Putin, as well as 17 major Russian companies in fields of energy and defense industry.
The sanctions, majorly imposed on Russian wealthy and powerful elite who controlled banking, arm trade and energy, came about as a response to Russia’s 70 years of influence on U.S. political and intelligent systems and the Russian cyber campaign that eventually culminated by meddling in 2016 presidential elections.
Special counsel Robert Mueller recently published a report on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign. According to him, the Russian interference was so widespread and well-organized that on January 31, 2016 FBI had to start an investigation about possible collaborations with Russia and Trump campaign.
In his report, however, Mueller rules out the possibility of collusion between Trump and Russian spies and mostly use the word “conspiracy” to describe Russian actions, explaining in 51 pages how Russians used cyber-attacks and social media to make influence on U.S. elections.
Mueller also talks about how republicans are to change their plans in presidential campaigns. He then refers to some weaknesses in Russian political and security systems and implies that U.S. sanctions have changed Russia’s international stance and now the country has to grapple with long-term political and economic issues.
Mueller goes on talking about how Russian spies conspired with Trump team about Russian security strategies. However, in the middle of this, Trump transition team realized that Russia had a threatening stance toward U.S. over 2012 elections and that changed Trump policies that first sought to have friendly relationships with Russia.
Based on a sub-committee held on January 11, 2016, Trump team revised their presidential plan which formerly consisted of giving military support to Ukraine. The plan highlighted Imposing “permanent military sanctions” on Russia and “sending lethal weapons” to Ukraine. However, with Russian lobbying with Trump’s team, this plan changed to some extent, and in the next sub-committee, the phrase “giving proper help” replaced “sending weapons.”
In another part, Mueller mentions other examples of how Moscow plotted with Trump’s team in carrying out its regional plans.
According to him, Kremlin lobby wanted Trump to approve of holding a “peace session” for Ukraine. At the time, the session was part of Russia’s bigger plan to seize control of Eastern Ukraine.
A few months after the elections, in an email between Russians and Trump’s close associates, it was said that the success of the “peace plan” depends upon U.S. with Trump’s support “Donbas would become an autonomous region within Ukraine with its own prime minister. The plan emphasized that Yanukovych would be an ideal candidate to bring peace to the region as prime minister of the republic, and facilitate the reintegration of the region into Ukraine with the support of the U.S. and Russian presidents.”
The report of Mueller and similar investigations of U.S. intelligence organizations have revealed some of Russia’s policy inside and outside the region. It would definitely put pressures on Moscow’s both political and intelligent strategies and will substantially affect Russia-U.S. relations.
Since the Cold War, however, Russia has learned that being under sanctions is just part of the political and economic conditions of the country and Russia will keep strengthening its military and intelligence services with having firm and strong reactions to sanctions imposed by U.S. or Europe.
In the current situation, U.S. will keep insisting on putting more pressure and sanctions on Russia, while Russia keep developing its strategic weapons.
The combination of putting more sanctions and developing more weapons is definitely not a win-win game, but the two countries have accepted that this is the only way they can gain supremacy over each other, but the economy of these countries and the world security have to suffer the consequences.
Surely, this strategy will make the competition for both sides harder and will increase the military threats and the world countries are the ones who need to pay the price.